Santa Clara University

SCU in the News: April 12 to April 27, 2010

Report Overview:
Total Clips (185)
CSTS (1)
Other (184)


Headline Date Outlet Links

CSTS (1)
Indian social entrepreneurs go global 04/13/2010 IndianExpress.com Text

Other (184)
Companies should monitor bloggers for disclosure of gifts, says FTC 04/27/2010 Law.com Text View Clip
Dire job market offers graduates hidden chances to find life's true calling 04/27/2010 Sacramento Bee - Online, The Text View Clip
Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case 04/27/2010 Press-Telegram - Online Text View Clip
Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case 04/27/2010 Reporter - Online, The Text View Clip
Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case 04/27/2010 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
Stocks of Admired and Spurned Companies 04/27/2010 Journal of Investing Text View Clip
U.S. high court to hear violent video game ban 04/27/2010 San Francisco Chronicle Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/27/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/27/2010 Oroville Mercury-Register Text View Clip
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/27/2010 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
Violent video game ban for kids to get hearing 04/27/2010 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Violent video game ban for kids to get hearing 04/27/2010 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Church scandal`s next wave: Abused girls 04/26/2010 Mathaba News Network Text View Clip
Diocese installs solar panels at schools, cemetery 04/26/2010 National Catholic Reporter Online Text View Clip
Facebook Scores Partial Victory In Click Fraud Case 04/26/2010 MediaPost.com Text View Clip
The abuse crisis and the facts 04/26/2010 Busy Catholic, The Text View Clip
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 Tri-Valley Herald Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 San Mateo County Times Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 Oakland Tribune Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 Daily Review, The Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 Argus, The Text
U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law 04/26/2010 Alameda Times-Star Text
Violent video-game ban for kids to get hearing 04/26/2010 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Abused girls: Church scandal's next wave 04/25/2010 Hamilton Spectator - Online, The Text View Clip
GOOGLE TALK 04/25/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text
Google's word of mouth creates the buzz 04/25/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Next wave in scandal Abused girls catholic church More accusations ahead as new generation of female victims seeks justice, lawyers say 04/25/2010 Toronto Star Text
Church scandal's next wave: Abused girls 04/24/2010 Toronto Star - Online Text View Clip
Google's word of mouth creates the buzz 04/24/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
Google's word of mouth creates the buzz 04/24/2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online Text View Clip
Google Sued Over Search Suggestion 04/23/2010 TechWeb Text View Clip
Google Sued Over Search Suggestion 04/23/2010 InformationWeek - Online Text View Clip
Google Sued Over Search Suggestion 04/23/2010 TechWeb Text
Google Sued Over Search Suggestion 04/23/2010 NBC.com Text
SCI-Arc & CalTech Join Forces to Compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon 04/23/2010 INHABITAT Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/23/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
» » » Psychology Drives Bizarre Advertisements 04/22/2010 PsychCentral.com Text View Clip
Retailer Dodges FTC Freebie Blogger Bullet 04/22/2010 MediaPost.com Text View Clip
The Unchanging Foundation of Copyright 04/22/2010 Law Librarian Blog Text View Clip
Guest Commentary: Some facts to remember in clergy sexual abuse discussions 04/21/2010 Catholic San Francisco Text View Clip
Revealing Statistics 04/21/2010 National Catholic Register - Online Text View Clip
ANIWhy grotesque fashion ads grab consumers' attention 04/20/2010 Yahoo! India Text View Clip
In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook 04/20/2010 philly.com Text View Clip
THE LAW PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY AND AN EXPERT IN INELECT WALL PROPERTY SAYS THIS IS A MAJOR SLIP IN THE TIGHT MEASURES APPLE TAKES TO GUARD ITS TRADE SECRETS. 04/20/2010 ABC 7 News at 6 PM- KGO-TV Text View Clip
Things are looking up for the economy 04/20/2010 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Tiny Panoptes technology holds promise for military surveillance and iris recognition 04/20/2010 Gizmag Text View Clip
Tiny Panoptes technology holds promise for military surveillance and iris recognition 04/20/2010 Gizmag Text View Clip
Viacom Hits Out At Google In Copyright Case 04/20/2010 EWeek Europe Text View Clip
Why Do Grotesque Fashion Ads Lure Consumers? 04/20/2010 RedOrbit Text View Clip
Why Do Grotesque Fashion Ads Lure Consumers? 04/20/2010 ScienceDaily Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/20/2010 Asian Lite Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/20/2010 AlbuquerqueNews.net Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/20/2010 BaltimoreNews.net Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/20/2010 AustinNews.net Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/20/2010 BombayNews.net Text View Clip
Why grotesque fashion ads grab consumers' attention 04/20/2010 DailyIndia.com Text View Clip
George Will: Unconfirmed 04/19/2010 Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - Online Text View Clip
In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook 04/19/2010 Pantagraph - Online Text View Clip
Lots of fool's gold in Internet branding rush; Wordplay getting wild as supply of available website-domain names dries up 04/19/2010 Edmonton Journal, The Text
No (political) experience required: George F. Will 04/19/2010 Cleveland.com (Plain Dealer - Online) Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/19/2010 Los Angeles Daily News - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/19/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Viacom Slings More Mud at Google in YouTube Copyright Case 04/19/2010 NewsGang Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/19/2010 PhysOrg.com Text View Clip
Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? 04/19/2010 Science Blog Text View Clip
Are Gay Priests the Problem? 04/18/2010 ABC News - Online Text View Clip
Clergy Sexual Abuse 04/18/2010 Roy Green Show - CHML-AM (Hometown Radio), The Text View Clip
Confirmation process sees rapid change 04/18/2010 Lawrence Journal-World - Online Text View Clip
From partial renovation to 'Extreme Makeover' 04/18/2010 Observer Text View Clip
In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook 04/18/2010 Austin American-Statesman - Online Text View Clip
Order in the court 04/18/2010 Times of Trenton, The Text
SHREWD -- AND PROFITABLE 04/18/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text
Supreme Court pick is about more than left v. right 04/18/2010 Poughkeepsie Journal - Online Text View Clip
Supreme Court: High Court's makeup evolves through the ages 04/18/2010 Tallahassee Democrat -- Online Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/18/2010 American Chronicle Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/18/2010 Saratoga News Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/18/2010 iStockAnalyst Text View Clip
Things looking up - really 04/18/2010 San Francisco Chronicle Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/17/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/17/2010 Press-Telegram - Online Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/17/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/17/2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online Text View Clip
SV 150 companies nearly double profits 04/17/2010 iStockAnalyst Text View Clip
Clergy Sexual Abuse 04/16/2010 Cable News Network International (CNNI) Text
Conservatives should worry about protecting liberty, not 'judicial activism' 04/16/2010 Daily Journal, The Text View Clip
Court fight shapes up wrong way 04/16/2010 Times Union - Online Text View Clip
Court opening has pols sharpening swords 04/16/2010 Free Lance-Star - Online, The Text View Clip
In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook 04/16/2010 PopMatters Text View Clip
Justice wanted: no political experience required 04/16/2010 phillyburbs.com Text View Clip
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Oroville Mercury-Register Text View Clip
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Los Angeles Daily News - Online Text View Clip
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 SiliconValley.com Text View Clip
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Tri-Valley Herald Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 San Mateo County Times Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Oakland Tribune Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Daily Review, The Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Argus, The Text
Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent 04/16/2010 Alameda Times-Star Text
VALLEY HOUSING MARKET RALLIES 04/16/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text
A Summer long struggle over Supreme Court Justice? 04/15/2010 Daily Press - Online, The Text View Clip
Are Gay Priests the Problem? 04/15/2010 ABC News - Online Text View Clip
Confirm with care 04/15/2010 News & Observer - Online Text View Clip
Conservatives should watch rhetoric about 'judicial activism' 04/15/2010 Press of Atlantic City Text
Factions lining up for battle over Supreme Court seat 04/15/2010 Houston Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
George F. Will: No politicians needed 04/15/2010 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Online Text View Clip
George Will Supreme Court justice nomination process has seen many changes 04/15/2010 Green Bay Press-Gazette - Online Text View Clip
George Will: No (political) experience needed 04/15/2010 Monitor, The Text View Clip
George Will: Politics and the Supreme Court 04/15/2010 Union Leader - Online Text View Clip
GEORGE WILL: Supreme Court nominations weren't always nasty affairs 04/15/2010 Register-Guard - Online Text View Clip
Hawaii, NASA form research partnership 04/15/2010 Washington Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
Hawaii, NASA form research partnership 04/15/2010 Business Review - Online Text View Clip
History shows change in high court confirmations 04/15/2010 Deseret News - Online Text View Clip
History shows change in high court confirmations 04/15/2010 Deseret News Text
IT'S THEIR PARTY 04/15/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text
Justices don't need to be politicians 04/15/2010 Columbus Dispatch - Online Text View Clip
Michael Newdow: An atheist with a cause 04/15/2010 Michigan Daily, The Text View Clip
NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science 04/15/2010 Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - Online Text View Clip
No political experience necessary for high court 04/15/2010 Cincinnati Enquirer - Online Text View Clip
Now where will the Supreme Court go? Political savvy, judicial activism, judicial inactivism? 04/15/2010 Charleston Daily Mail Text
Opinion: Conservatives should rethink ‘judicial activisim' 04/15/2010 Daily Republic - Online, The Text View Clip
Opinion: Conservatives should rethink ‘judicial activisim' 04/15/2010 Daily Republic - Online, The Text View Clip
Question on high court pick lies with protecting liberty 04/15/2010 Daily News Journal - Online, The Text View Clip
Rethink 'judicial activism' 04/15/2010 Palladium-Item - Online Text View Clip
Supreme Court doesn't need a political justice 04/15/2010 News Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Supreme Court doesn't need a political justice 04/15/2010 News Tribune - Online Text View Clip
The Supreme Court, politics and the next nominee 04/15/2010 Staten Island Advance Text View Clip
Viewpoints: Supreme Court confirmations were mostly civil till mid-1980s 04/15/2010 Sacramento Bee - Online, The Text View Clip
Will nominee put liberty before popular sovereignty? 04/15/2010 Island Packet - Online Text View Clip
Will nominee put liberty before popular sovereignty? 04/15/2010 Island Packet, The Text
Will: First protect liberty 04/15/2010 Austin American-Statesman - Online Text View Clip
Conservatives should rethink judicial rhetoric 04/14/2010 Arizona Republic - Online Text View Clip
Homosexuality to blame for abuse crisis top cardinal; 'No relationship between celibacy and pedophilia' 04/14/2010 National Post Text
Homosexuality to blame for abuse crisis: top cardinal 04/14/2010 National Post - Online Text View Clip
In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook 04/14/2010 Bellingham Herald - Online Text View Clip
NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science 04/14/2010 Business Review - Online Text View Clip
PUBLIC SERVICE OR PUBLICITY FOR DA? 04/14/2010 San Jose Mercury News Text
U.S. Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 USA Today - Online Text View Clip
U.S. church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 Northwest Herald - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 News 25 at 10 PM - WEHT-TV Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 Daily Press Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 Sentinel, The Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 News & Observer - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 Denver Post - Online, The Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/14/2010 WXVT-TV Text View Clip
Workers' comp billboards feature District Attorney's Dolores Carr's name 04/14/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Workers' comp billboards feature District Attorney's Dolores Carr's name 04/14/2010 Whittier Daily News Text View Clip
Workers' comp billboards feature district attorney's name 04/14/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Archbishop Reported Priest Allegations To Police 04/13/2010 KCNC-TV - Online Text View Clip
Bankrupt video-sharing website Veoh Networks was denied... 04/13/2010 Warren's Washington Internet Daily Text
Commissioner bows out of vote on bayfront 04/13/2010 San Diego Union-Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Commissioner bows out of vote on bayfront 04/13/2010 San Diego Union-Tribune Text
Hawaii, NASA form research partnership 04/13/2010 Pacific Business News - Online Text View Clip
Indian social entrepreneurs gain global attention 04/13/2010 Silicon India Text View Clip
Indian social entrepreneurs go global 04/13/2010 Financial Express Text
Indian social entrepreneurs go global 04/13/2010 Indian Express - Online Text View Clip
Microfinance: Extending financial services to the poor 04/13/2010 National Catholic Reporter Online Text View Clip
NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science 04/13/2010 San Francisco Business Times - Online Text View Clip
Symons is a former three-sport starjoining the Los Gatos Hall of Fame 04/13/2010 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Washington Post - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Philippine Star Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Omaha World-Herald - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Connecticut Post - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 San Francisco Examiner - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Buffalo News - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Forbes - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Associated Press (AP) Text
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Bay News 9 - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases 04/13/2010 Washington Examiner - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases, balancing rights of victims and accused 04/13/2010 Los Angeles Times - Online Text View Clip
US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases, balancing rights of victims and accused 04/13/2010 Canadian Press Text
Vatican Cardinal links homosexuality with pedophilia and abuse scandal 04/13/2010 National Post - Online Text View Clip
Worker's comp billboards feature district attorney's name 04/13/2010 Pasadena Star-News - Online Text View Clip
Worker's comp billboards feature district attorney's name 04/13/2010 Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online Text View Clip
Worker's comp billboards feature district attorney's name 04/13/2010 Press-Telegram - Online Text View Clip
Worker's comp billboards feature district attorney's name 04/13/2010 San Gabriel Valley Tribune - Online Text View Clip
A taxing mission 04/12/2010 New York Post - Online Text View Clip
A TAXING MISSION 04/12/2010 New York Post Text
Considering ethics in government 04/12/2010 Barrow County News - Online, The Text View Clip
Indian social entrepreneurs go global 04/12/2010 Financial Express (India) - Online, The Text View Clip
Tech startups seek fame and fortune with names we often can't spell or pronounce 04/12/2010 Los Angeles Daily News - Online Text View Clip
The Experts Predict: Kagan Will Be Pick 04/12/2010 National Journal - Online Text
What Would Mary Do? 04/12/2010 Newsweek Text
Banishing Eve 03/21/2010 BBC4 Text View Clip


Indian social entrepreneurs go global
04/13/2010
IndianExpress.com

Rajiv Tikoo Tags : Rural Empowerment, social entrepreneurs Posted: Tuesday , Apr 13, 2010 at 2206 hrs New Delhi:

Young social entrepreneurs from India are now making their mark globally. As many as five Indians figure in the list of 23 entrepreneurs selected for the global social benefit incubator (GSBI) enterprise-building programme at Santa Clara University, US. Most entrepreneurs are targeting customers at the base of the pyramid.

While a few entrepreneurs are harnessing renewables, others are making affordable devices for underserved markets. Rajnish Jain of Avani India supplies cooking gas extracted from pine needles to people in Uttarakhand at the same cost as subsidised LPG while Somnath Pyne of the Force for Rural Empowerment and Economic Development helps people cultivate Jatropha in areas adjacent to railway lines. Vivek Gupta of Saran Renewable Energy generates electricity from dhaincha, a plant grown in waterlogged land, with the help of a biomass gasification system.

While Anita Moura of Solar Ear employs physically-challenged people to make solar powered hearing aids, Devendra Shukla of Jaipur Rugs Foundation serves around 40,000 artisans in tribal areas by offering them integrated supply chain management services, including market linkages.

It is not Indians alone, even people from other countries are looking at Indian markets. Sam White of Massachusetts-based Promethean Power Systems makes solar-powered refrigeration systems for preserving perishable food items like vegetables and milk for use by farmers in India.

GSBI is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs take their innovative business models to the next level through mentoring and linking them with markets and venture capitalists. The programme is known for its successful incubated initiatives like Kiva.org, a popular micro-lending online hub, and Vision Spring, which trains entrepreneurs to check up rural populations and sell glasses at a cost of $2.50-$4.

The GSBI recognition is another feather in the cap of young Indian social and cleantech entrepreneurs who have made waves in the recent past. Recently, MIT's Technology Review India recognised Achira Labs' Dhananjaya Dendukuri as the humanitarian of the year for devising a way to load load samples of blood and other body fluids on to a plastic microfluidic chip in order to enable low-cost testing.

The list recognises Manoj Kumar Mandelia for wastewater management, Aravind A Narayan for recovering oil for reuse and Rikin B Gandhi for using participatory videos to help farmers engage in better farmer practices.

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Companies should monitor bloggers for disclosure of gifts, says FTC | View Clip
04/27/2010
Law.com

Companies should insist that bloggers disclose any gifts they are given and should monitor posts to ensure that disclosure follows, according to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Consumer regulator the FTC published guidelines to force publishers to be clear about anything that might influence their coverage of a company or event. The guidelines say that bloggers should disclose gifts so that the reader can judge whether or not an article functions as a paid endorsement.

Women's clothing company AnnTaylor Stores was investigated by the FTC over an event it held to promote its LOFT range. Attendees, some of whom were bloggers, were given gifts.

The FTC has dropped the investigation, though, partly because the company has adopted a policy which commits it to telling bloggers to disclose any gifts and to monitor blogs to ensure this happens. 'LOFT adopted a written policy in February 2010 stating that LOFT will not issue any gift to any blogger without first telling the blogger that the blogger must disclose the gift in his or her blog,' said the letter announcing the end of the investigation. 'The FTC staff expects that LOFT will both honor that written policy and take reasonable steps to monitor bloggers' compliance with the obligation to disclose gifts they receive from LOFT.' The FTC said that it began the investigation because Section 5 of the FTC Act might have been broken by the provision of gifts to bloggers. 'We were concerned that bloggers who attended a preview on January 26, 2010 failed to disclose that they received gifts for posting blog content about that event,' its letter said. 'Section 5 of the FTC Act requires the disclosure of a material connection between an advertiser and an endorser when such a relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication that contains the endorsement.' 'Depending on the circumstances, an advertiser's provision of a gift to a blogger for posting blog content about an event could constitute a material connection that is not reasonably expected by readers of the blog,' it said. The FTC said that the company had in fact displayed a sign at the event telling bloggers that they should disclose the gifts in any material they published about it. Though the FTC said that 'it was not clear how many bloggers actually saw that sign', it conceded that disclosure did happen. 'Only a very small number of bloggers posted content about the preview, and several of those bloggers disclosed that LOFT had provided them gifts at the preview,' said the letter. The closure of the investigation suggests that notice at events and a policy of insisting on and checking on disclosure would be enough to clear US companies of charges that they broke the FTC's rules.

Those rules have come under heavy criticism. Technology and marketing law blogger Eric Goldman, who is associate professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law in the US, that they unfairly punish bloggers when traditional media outlets are often in receipt of gifts or products to review. 'The FTC does not clarify what constitutes a disclosable conflict of interest. For example, if the post qualifies as an endorsement, 'disclosure of the connection between the speaker and the advertiser will likely be warranted regardless of the monetary value of the free product provided by the advertiser',' he wrote earlier this month. 'The guidelines define an 'endorsement' as 'any advertising messagethat consumers are likely to believe reflects the opinions, beliefs, findings, or experiences of a party other than the sponsoring advertiser, even if the views expressed by that party are identical to those of the sponsoring advertiser'.' 'This is a circular definition! Conflicts of interest become disclosable only when the content qualifies as an 'advertising message,' but editorial content can become an advertising message based on the author's conflicts of interest. Stuff like this makes my brain hurt,' he wrote.

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Dire job market offers graduates hidden chances to find life's true calling | View Clip
04/27/2010
Sacramento Bee - Online, The

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- This spring 16 million college graduates will face a job market with nearly 10 percent unemployment and more than 7 million people out of work. Finding a job, any job, will be challenging. Yet, paradoxically, this challenge offers a hidden opportunity to pursue a meaningful life, not merely a livelihood.

In stronger economic times, many graduates made hasty career decisions, picking the high-paying or prestigious job offered by recruiters at college job fairs without reflecting on their own strengths and values.

By taking that first job, they would jump onto a career track, only to wake up years later realizing they'd been living somebody else's life.

Today's challenging job market gives graduates time: time to focus on their strengths, ask important questions, and anchor their work to their deepest values. Used wisely, this time can enrich their futures with discernment practices often ignored during times of job abundance.

Of course, we must all find work to support ourselves, but since work occupies nearly half our waking hours, it should mean more than a paycheck. Research shows that people who find meaning in their work are happier and healthier, able to see new possibilities and make it through difficult times. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl even found that a sense of meaning gave people the strength to survive in a Nazi concentration camp while others lost hope and died.

Finding meaningful work in these turbulent times takes strategic planning. By balancing purpose with practicality, graduates can make this time work for them. I recommend three key strategies.

One, don't panic. Stress and anxiety only sabotage us.

Neuroscientists have learned that fear shuts down our capacity for long-range planning, impulse control, creativity, and problem-solving - skills needed to meet the current challenge. Reduce stress by reflecting on your values, which a recent UCLA study found lowers cortisol levels and strengthens our immune systems. Then begin a daily stress management practice: exercise, meditate, stay connected with friends.

Two, build positive momentum by discovering your strengths. Recent Gallup studies have found that most people dwell on their weaknesses, but when we focus on our strengths, we are happier, healthier, and more successful. Ask "What am I good at? What do I love to do?" Reflect on what brings you joy, take a personal inventory at the college career center, or find your "signature strengths" with the VIA-IS survey on www.authentichappiness.org.

Three, make a plan. Short term: get a temporary job to pay the bills through the college career center but don't give up on your dreams. Chart a direction that combines your strengths and values and set a specific "stretch" goal you could reach in six months. Map out three steps to your goal - you might join a professional organization, do volunteer work, get advice from alumni, find an internship, or arrange an information interview in your field.

Then think strategically: come up with one possible roadblock and back-up plan for each step - what you'll do if that step doesn't work out. Maintain your motivation: see yourself achieving your goal, remember a time when you overcame a challenge, and tell yourself, "I can do this, too."

Finally, keep your eyes and ears open. Learn from the process and build on your plan. If something doesn't work out, try something else - but keep moving forward. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."

ABOUT THE WRITER

Diane Dreher (www.dianedreher.com) is a professor of English at Santa Clara University and the author of "Your Personal Renaissance: 12 Steps to Finding Your Life's True Calling" and "The Taos of Inner Peace." Readers may write to her at Santa Clara University, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, Calif. 95053.

This essay is available to McClatchy-Tribune News Service subscribers. McClatchy-Tribune did not subsidize the writing of this column; the opinions are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of McClatchy-Tribune or its editors.

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Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case | View Clip
04/27/2010
Press-Telegram - Online

The Northern California Innocence Project will be reviewing DNA evidence from a 2006 trial that resulted in a murder conviction for a former Sacramento laborer arrested for the 1982 slaying of a Vacaville woman.

Innocence Project supervising attorney Maitreya Bodami appeared briefly before Solano County Superior Court Judge Peter B. Foor Monday, requesting appointment to the case of murder defendant Vincent Carl Ortiz and an order for new DNA testing. The California DNA Project will be joining in the probe.

Foor subsequently granted the request. No date for further hearing on the matter has yet been scheduled.

The Innocence Project of Northern California is a nonprofit legal service based at Santa Clara University that works to exonerate prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted.

Following a lengthy jury trial in the Vallejo branch of Superior Court four years ago, Ortiz was found guilty of second-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon in the 1982 knife slaying of 27-year-old Rosa Castaneda in her Vacaville home. He later received a 16-years-to-life prison sentence and was fined $10,000.

Ortiz was arrested by Vacaville police in 2003 after detectives reportedly obtained DNA evidence linking him to Castaneda at the time of her death. That evidence included material taken from beneath the slain woman's fingernails which investigators claimed was a match for Ortiz's DNA profile.

The DNA evidence used in the case was twice attacked by defense

attorneys. Ortiz's first attorney, Robert Fracchia -- now a Superior Court judge -- charged that DNA evidence from Ortiz used by Vacaville police was improperly obtained from another law enforcement agency in connection with a case for which Ortiz was never convicted.

His trial attorney, Daniel Healys, later argued that the amount of DNA obtained from the victim's body was too small to be accurately analyzed or interpreted. He charged that the state Department of Justice analysis was "junk science."

Ortiz appealed his conviction in 2008, but it was rejected by a three-judge panel of the state's First District Court of Appeal.

Ortiz remains in state prison custody.

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Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case | View Clip
04/27/2010
Reporter - Online, The

The Northern California Innocence Project will be reviewing DNA evidence from a 2006 trial that resulted in a murder conviction for a former Sacramento laborer arrested for the 1982 slaying of a Vacaville woman.

Innocence Project supervising attorney Maitreya Bodami appeared briefly before Solano County Superior Court Judge Peter B. Foor Monday, requesting appointment to the case of murder defendant Vincent Carl Ortiz and an order for new DNA testing. The California DNA Project will be joining in the probe.

Foor subsequently granted the request. No date for further hearing on the matter has yet been scheduled.

The Innocence Project of Northern California is a nonprofit legal service based at Santa Clara University that works to exonerate prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted.

Following a lengthy jury trial in the Vallejo branch of Superior Court four years ago, Ortiz was found guilty of second-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon in the 1982 knife slaying of 27-year-old Rosa Castaneda in her Vacaville home. He later received a 16-years-to-life prison sentence and was fined $10,000.

Ortiz was arrested by Vacaville police in 2003 after detectives reportedly obtained DNA evidence linking him to Castaneda at the time of her death. That evidence included material taken from beneath the slain woman's fingernails which investigators claimed was a match for Ortiz's DNA profile.

The DNA evidence used in the case was twice attacked by defense

attorneys. Ortiz's first attorney, Robert Fracchia -- now a Superior Court judge -- charged that DNA evidence from Ortiz used by Vacaville police was improperly obtained from another law enforcement agency in connection with a case for which Ortiz was never convicted.

His trial attorney, Daniel Healys, later argued that the amount of DNA obtained from the victim's body was too small to be accurately analyzed or interpreted. He charged that the state Department of Justice analysis was "junk science."

Ortiz appealed his conviction in 2008, but it was rejected by a three-judge panel of the state's First District Court of Appeal.

Ortiz remains in state prison custody.

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Legal group to review Vacaville slaying case | View Clip
04/27/2010
InsideBayArea.com

The Northern California Innocence Project will be reviewing DNA evidence from a 2006 trial that resulted in a murder conviction for a former Sacramento laborer arrested for the 1982 slaying of a Vacaville woman.

Innocence Project supervising attorney Maitreya Bodami appeared briefly before Solano County Superior Court Judge Peter B. Foor Monday, requesting appointment to the case of murder defendant Vincent Carl Ortiz and an order for new DNA testing. The California DNA Project will be joining in the probe.

Foor subsequently granted the request. No date for further hearing on the matter has yet been scheduled.

The Innocence Project of Northern California is a nonprofit legal service based at Santa Clara University that works to exonerate prisoners who may have been wrongfully convicted.

Following a lengthy jury trial in the Vallejo branch of Superior Court four years ago, Ortiz was found guilty of second-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon in the 1982 knife slaying of 27-year-old Rosa Castaneda in her Vacaville home. He later received a 16-years-to-life prison sentence and was fined $10,000.

Ortiz was arrested by Vacaville police in 2003 after detectives reportedly obtained DNA evidence linking him to Castaneda at the time of her death. That evidence included material taken from beneath the slain woman's fingernails which investigators claimed was a match for Ortiz's DNA profile.

The DNA evidence used in the case was twice attacked by defense

attorneys. Ortiz's first attorney, Robert Fracchia -- now a Superior Court judge -- charged that DNA evidence from Ortiz used by Vacaville police was improperly obtained from another law enforcement agency in connection with a case for which Ortiz was never convicted.

His trial attorney, Daniel Healys, later argued that the amount of DNA obtained from the victim's body was too small to be accurately analyzed or interpreted. He charged that the state Department of Justice analysis was "junk science."

Ortiz appealed his conviction in 2008, but it was rejected by a three-judge panel of the state's First District Court of Appeal.

Ortiz remains in state prison custody.

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Stocks of Admired and Spurned Companies | View Clip
04/27/2010
Journal of Investing

Deniz Anginer , Meir Statman

To order reprints of this article, please contact Dewey Palmieri at dpalmieri@iijournals.com or 212-224-3675.

Do stocks of admired companies yield admirable returns? Are increases in admiration followed by high stock returns, and how reliable is the relation between admiration and returns? These questions are answered by Anginer and Statman based on their study of Fortune magazine's annual list 'America's Most Admired Companies.” They find that from April 1983 through December 2007 stocks of admired companies had lower returns, on average, than stocks of spurned companies and that increases in admiration were followed, on average, by lower returns. The authors also find that the dispersion of returns is high, especially in the portfolio of spurned company stocks, implying that investors who would like to benefit from the return advantage of spurned company stocks must diversify widely among them.

Deniz Anginer,

Deniz Anginer, is an economist in the Finance and Private Sector Research Team of the Development Research Group at the World Bank in Washington DC. danginer@worldbank.org

Meir Statman

Meir Statman is the Glenn Klimek Professor of Finance in the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, CA, and visiting professor at Tilburg University in the Netherlands. mstatman@scu.edu

References

Anderson, J., and Smith. G. 'A Great Company Can Be a Great Investment.” Financial Analysts Journal, July/August 2006, pp.86-93.CrossRef

Antunovich, P., Laster, D. and Mitnick. S. 'Are High-Quality Firms Also High-Quality Investments?” Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Vol. 6, No. 1 (2000), pp. 1-6.

Clayman, M. 'In Search of Excellence: The Investor's Viewpoint.” Financial Analysts Journal, May/June 1987, pp. 54-63.CrossRef

Clayman, M. 'Excellence: Revisited.” Financial Analysts Journal, May/June 1994, pp. 61-65.CrossRef

Fama, E. 'Market Efficiency II.” Journal of Finance, Vol. 66, No. 5 (December 1991), pp. 1575-1617.CrossRef

Fama, E., and French. K. 'The Cross-Section of Expected Stock Returns.” Journal of Finance, 47 (1992), pp. 427-465.CrossRef

Lakonishok, J., Shleifer, A. and Vishny. R.W. 'Contrarian Investment, Extrapolation, and Risk.” Journal of Finance, Vol. XLIX, No. 5 (December 1994), pp. 1541-1578.CrossRef

Peters, J., and Waterman. R. In Search of Excellence. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1982.

Shefrin, H., and Statman. M., Coggin D. and Fabozzi, F. 'Style of Investment Expectation.” In eds., The Handbook of Equity and Style Management. New York, NY: Wiley, 2003.

Skinner, D., and Sloan. R. 'Earnings Surprises, Growth Expectations, and Stock Returns or Don't Let an Earnings Torpedo Sink Your Portfolio.” Review of Accounting Studies, Vol. 7, Nos. 2-3 (June/September 2002), pp. 289-312.CrossRef

Slovic, P., Finucane, M., Peters, E. and MacGregor. D., Gilovich, T., Griffin, D. and Kahneman, D. 'The Affect Heuristic.” In eds., Heuristics and Biases. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Statman, M., Fisher, K. and Anginer. D. 'Affect in Behavioral Asset-Pricing Model.” Financial Analysts Journal, Vol. 64, No. 2 (March/April 2008), pp. 20-29.CrossRef

Tversky, A., and Kahneman. D. 'The Belief in the Law of Small Numbers.” Psychological Bulletin, 76 (1971), pp. 105-110.CrossRef

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U.S. high court to hear violent video game ban
04/27/2010
San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether California can ban the sale of violent video games to minors, a law that lower courts have declared an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

The high court will review a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out the ban on the grounds that government has no authority to restrict even the most violent games. The appeals court rejected proponents' arguments that graphic games can cause youths who play them to behave aggressively, saying research offered no proof.

The ban, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became law in October 2005 but has never been enforced. It would bar the sale of an interactive video game to anyone under 18 if the game was so violent, it was "patently offensive," according to prevailing community standards for minors, and lacked literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Violent video games would carry a large "18" label on their packages. Anyone who sold such a game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

Federal courts have overturned similar laws in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Yee said Monday, "I am hopeful that the high court will determine our law to be constitutional, but, regardless, states are now certain to receive direction on how to proceed with this important issue."

The Entertainment Software Association, a video industry group that took part in the lawsuit challenging the law, said the state has no evidence that virtual violence causes real-life mayhem.

"Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional," association President Michael Gallagher said. "Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

Porn rulesThe state argued that violent content should be judged by the same obscenity standards as sex. Just as the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, state lawyers contended, it should be allowed to establish an adults-only category of ultra-violent video games.

In February, the appeals court disagreed. A 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed tighter restrictions on selling explicit materials to minors than to adults applies only to sexual content and not to violence, the appellate panel said.

"The Supreme Court has carefully limited obscenity to sexual content," Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 3-0 ruling. "We decline the state's invitation to apply the (same) rationale to materials depicting violence."

Callahan said video games "are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment."

The appeals court also said the state has failed to demonstrate the need for a ban on sales to minors, noting that the industry has a voluntary rating system that includes an adults-only category.

Animal-cruelty videosThe Supreme Court's decision to hear the case comes a week after the high court struck down a federal law banning videos showing animal cruelty.

But Yee said that if the high court had thought the two cases were similar, it "would have thrown out our law as well. Clearly, the justices want to look specifically at our narrowly tailored law that simply limits sales of ultra-violent games to kids without prohibiting speech."

Margaret Russell, a professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, cautioned against making comparisons between the two cases. Although both have to do with violence, she said, the animal-cruelty video case "really focused on how overly broad the law was, rather than the core content."

Still, the high court made clear in both cases that it was intent on examining First Amendment issues, Russell said.

"The animal-cruelty video case reflects the Supreme Court's reinforcement of the principle that carving out exceptions to the First Amendment is a risky and flawed approach to solving the very serious problem of violence in our society," Russell said. "I regard the court's decision to examine the California violent video game law as another indication of its concern with the constitutional constraints on limiting expression, even if that expression is disturbing and controversial."

The court will hear arguments this fall in the video-game case, Schwarzenegger vs. Video Software Dealers Association, 08-1448.

"Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

Michael Gallagher, Entertainment Software Association

Copyright © 2010 San Francisco Chronicle

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law | View Clip
04/27/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video-game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be

decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee,

D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more realistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," players can use a chain saw bayonet to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three children who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let my kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has a 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would prevent those younger than 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards." Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations. In addition, the law would require video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games.

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot-button issue that is not predictable."

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News Staff Writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law | View Clip
04/27/2010
Oroville Mercury-Register

Good Morning Silicon Valley

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video-game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be

Have your say

decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee,

D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more realistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," players can use a chain saw bayonet to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics

of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three children who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let my kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has a 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would prevent those younger than 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards." Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations. In addition, the law would require video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games.

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot-button issue that is not predictable."

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News Staff Writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236.

Return to Top



U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law | View Clip
04/27/2010
InsideBayArea.com

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video-game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee,

D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more realistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," players can use a chain saw bayonet to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three children who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let my kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has a 16-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would prevent those younger than 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards." Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations. In addition, the law would require video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games.

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot-button issue that is not predictable."

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News Staff Writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236.

Return to Top



Violent video game ban for kids to get hearing | View Clip
04/27/2010
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

(04-26) 15:02 PDT WASHINGTON

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether California can ban the sale of violent video games to minors, a law that lower courts have declared an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Organic, small farmers fret over FDA regulation 04.26.10

Motorcyclist killed in crash was S.F. man, 21 04.26.10

Democrats, undaunted, keep focus on Wall Street 04.27.10

A history of Anchor Brewing Co. 04.27.10

The high court will review a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out the ban on the grounds that government has no authority to restrict even the most violent games. The appeals court rejected proponents' arguments that graphic games can cause youths who play them to behave aggressively, saying research offered no proof.

The ban, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became law in October 2005 but has never been enforced. It would bar the sale of an interactive video game to anyone under 18 if the game was so violent, it was "patently offensive," according to prevailing community standards for minors, and lacked literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Violent video games would carry a large "18" label on their packages. Anyone who sold such a game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

Federal courts have overturned similar laws in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Yee said Monday, "I am hopeful that the high court will determine our law to be constitutional, but, regardless, states are now certain to receive direction on how to proceed with this important issue."

The Entertainment Software Association, a video industry group that took part in the lawsuit challenging the law, said the state has no evidence that virtual violence causes real-life mayhem.

"Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional," association President Michael Gallagher said. "Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

Porn rules

The state argued that violent content should be judged by the same obscenity standards as sex. Just as the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, state lawyers contended, it should be allowed to establish an adults-only category of ultra-violent video games.

In February, the appeals court disagreed. A 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed tighter restrictions on selling explicit materials to minors than to adults applies only to sexual content and not to violence, the appellate panel said.

"The Supreme Court has carefully limited obscenity to sexual content," Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 3-0 ruling. "We decline the state's invitation to apply the (same) rationale to materials depicting violence."

Callahan said video games "are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment."

The appeals court also said the state has failed to demonstrate the need for a ban on sales to minors, noting that the industry has a voluntary rating system that includes an adults-only category.

Animal-cruelty videos

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case comes a week after the high court struck down a federal law banning videos showing animal cruelty.

But Yee said that if the high court had thought the two cases were similar, it "would have thrown out our law as well. Clearly, the justices want to look specifically at our narrowly tailored law that simply limits sales of ultra-violent games to kids without prohibiting speech."

Margaret Russell, a professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, cautioned against making comparisons between the two cases. Although both have to do with violence, she said, the animal-cruelty video case "really focused on how overly broad the law was, rather than the core content."

Still, the high court made clear in both cases that it was intent on examining First Amendment issues, Russell said.

"The animal-cruelty video case reflects the Supreme Court's reinforcement of the principle that carving out exceptions to the First Amendment is a risky and flawed approach to solving the very serious problem of violence in our society," Russell said. "I regard the court's decision to examine the California violent video game law as another indication of its concern with the constitutional constraints on limiting expression, even if that expression is disturbing and controversial."

The court will hear arguments this fall in the video-game case, Schwarzenegger vs. Video Software Dealers Association, 08-1448.

Return to Top



Violent video game ban for kids to get hearing | View Clip
04/27/2010
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

Organic, small farmers fret over FDA regulation 04.26.10

Motorcyclist killed in crash was S.F. man, 21 04.26.10

Democrats, undaunted, keep focus on Wall Street 04.27.10

A history of Anchor Brewing Co. 04.27.10

(04-26) 15:02 PDT WASHINGTON

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide whether California can ban the sale of violent video games to minors, a law that lower courts have declared an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

The high court will review a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out the ban on the grounds that government has no authority to restrict even the most violent games. The appeals court rejected proponents' arguments that graphic games can cause youths who play them to behave aggressively, saying research offered no proof.

The ban, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became law in October 2005 but has never been enforced. It would bar the sale of an interactive video game to anyone under 18 if the game was so violent, it was "patently offensive," according to prevailing community standards for minors, and lacked literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Violent video games would carry a large "18" label on their packages. Anyone who sold such a game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

Federal courts have overturned similar laws in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Yee said Monday, "I am hopeful that the high court will determine our law to be constitutional, but, regardless, states are now certain to receive direction on how to proceed with this important issue."

The Entertainment Software Association, a video industry group that took part in the lawsuit challenging the law, said the state has no evidence that virtual violence causes real-life mayhem.

"Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional," association President Michael Gallagher said. "Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

Porn rules

The state argued that violent content should be judged by the same obscenity standards as sex. Just as the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, state lawyers contended, it should be allowed to establish an adults-only category of ultra-violent video games.

In February, the appeals court disagreed. A 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed tighter restrictions on selling explicit materials to minors than to adults applies only to sexual content and not to violence, the appellate panel said.

"The Supreme Court has carefully limited obscenity to sexual content," Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 3-0 ruling. "We decline the state's invitation to apply the (same) rationale to materials depicting violence."

Callahan said video games "are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment."

The appeals court also said the state has failed to demonstrate the need for a ban on sales to minors, noting that the industry has a voluntary rating system that includes an adults-only category.

Animal-cruelty videos

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case comes a week after the high court struck down a federal law banning videos showing animal cruelty.

But Yee said that if the high court had thought the two cases were similar, it "would have thrown out our law as well. Clearly, the justices want to look specifically at our narrowly tailored law that simply limits sales of ultra-violent games to kids without prohibiting speech."

Margaret Russell, a professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, cautioned against making comparisons between the two cases. Although both have to do with violence, she said, the animal-cruelty video case "really focused on how overly broad the law was, rather than the core content."

Still, the high court made clear in both cases that it was intent on examining First Amendment issues, Russell said.

"The animal-cruelty video case reflects the Supreme Court's reinforcement of the principle that carving out exceptions to the First Amendment is a risky and flawed approach to solving the very serious problem of violence in our society," Russell said. "I regard the court's decision to examine the California violent video game law as another indication of its concern with the constitutional constraints on limiting expression, even if that expression is disturbing and controversial."

The court will hear arguments this fall in the video-game case, Schwarzenegger vs. Video Software Dealers Association, 08-1448.

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Church scandal`s next wave: Abused girls | View Clip
04/26/2010
Mathaba News Network

Expect numbers of women victimized by priests as children to rise over next few years, say lawyers.

By Mary Ormsby, Apr 24, (thestar) -- Father Charlie told the girl with the cascading brown curls and frilly frocks that she was pretty. Special. One of his favourites.

In the small Ontario town of Pain Court, a French-Canadian community near Chatham, Father Charlie’s attention was prized by devout Roman Catholic families like Cecilia McLauchlin’s. His interest in their daughter meant the popular priest, once described as “next to God,” publicly approved of how she was being raised.

So when a gynecologist examined the girl for recurring vaginal infections, it didn’t occur to anyone that Father Charlie was the cause of her physical pain.

Cecilia McLauchlin was only 5 years old.

Now 32, the Chatham woman is the youngest known victim of Father Charles Sylvestre, the smooth-talking priest who groomed his young prey with candies, trinkets and praise. He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting 47 girls over four decades in southwestern Ontario — despite abuse complaints from victims to police, school and church officials during that time.

McLauchlin came forward after his conviction, as did 30 more women in a movement some expect foreshadows the church’s next crisis: a groundswell of female victims seeking justice.

From Mount Cashel to Ireland, most sex abuse scandals have involved boys as altar servers, at boarding schools or in orphanages. The most recent trouble also surrounds boys, with allegations Pope Benedict — who celebrates his fifth anniversary this week as head of all Catholics — knew about an American priest molesting 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee but failed to act.

An American study commissioned eight years ago and paid for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that boys were overwhelmingly the likeliest target of predator priests. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, based on voluntary disclosure from church authorities (some refused to comply), determined boys accounted for 81 per cent of sex assaults. Most abuse for all victims occurred between 1960 and the 1980s.

But London-based lawyer Robert Talach, who represented McLauchlin and other Sylvestre victims, expects that male-female ratio to change within five to 10 years to reflect a trend that began in the 1970s when the church welcomed female altar servers. Researchers say disclosure of abuse is typically delayed for about 30 years, which means women assaulted as children are just starting to come to terms with what happened.

“In some of our Sylvestre cases, which are (from) the ‘70s, many of the women were victimized under the pretenses of ‘I’m training you to be one of these new, upcoming female altar servers,’" said Talach, who has represented more than 100 victims of clergy abuse, most of them male.

“We’ve seen priests using that to look innovative to their parishioners, but in reality it was to allow them access to women if their predilection was female.”

Father Donald Holmes, a modern cleric who rode a motorcycle, sported a beard, played hockey and preferred street clothes to his Roman collar, also preyed on girls as they began taking bigger roles in the church. He was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing 12 girls around the Sudbury area between 1972 and 1984.

In general, girls in Canada are four times more likely than boys to be victims of sexual offences, according to police figures reported to Stats Canada.

Females are more likely to be attractive to clergy because the majority of priests are heterosexual — but some are psychologically and sexually immature, says former priest-turned-lawyer Patrick Wall.

“If they’re going to explore sexually, they’re going to explore with a little girl,” said Wall, a California-based expert on Catholic clergy abuse who now works with victims.

Wall’s perspective on the degree of female abuse is unique. He was a Benedictine monk for 12 years, working as a “fixer” dispatched to tidy up messy sexual problems of priests and laymen at troubled parishes and schools. He said when a girl required surgery after rape, the code was that she needed a “hernia” operation.

In a bizarre twinning, he counselled accused priests and heard confessions from traumatized victims. He also worked on cases where priests impregnated girls then procured abortions for them.

“That is so prevalent, it happens all the time,” he said of the abortion runs, which in part accounts for his belief that teenaged girls are the silent majority of priest-related sexual abuse.

By age 33, Wall deduced most, if not all, of the 195 parishes and hundreds of religious orders in the U.S. employed “fixers” like him to wipe down crime scenes that involved children. He quit religious life in disgust and scoffs at the Vatican’s pledge to better protect boys and girls from its surpliced predators.

“This is the biggest company in the world, they are not going to shift and move,” Wall said. “They’re going to keep building the Ford Pinto, they’re going to take their lumps (from public opinion) and move on.”

“It doesn’t matter what the law is, whether it’s the Canadian police or the U.S. police. They’re not going to tell anybody (about criminal behaviour),” he added.

Santa Clara University psychology professor Thomas Plante has treated and evaluated about 60 clergy sex offenders, including Catholic priests. He said most exhibited a variety of psychiatric troubles, such as personality and impulse control disorders, even brain damage as comorbidity factors complicating their sexual behaviours.

Plante said differing degrees of disorders means “these guys aren’t all alike” and range from ruthless serial offenders like Sylvestre to those who commit one act.

If mentally unhealthy priests are attacking children, it doesn’t prevent the church from using its formidable financial and legal resources to defend their accused, said Wall.

The former priest said the church is particularly vicious with women, deploying its “whore defence” to paint schoolgirls as harlots and intimidate them from pursuing criminal and civil complaints.

McLauchlin, now working and married, said victims “need to outlast” the church as she did during a three-year civil case against the London archdiocese. It was settled last September for an undisclosed amount.

During her case, the diocese demanded McLauchlin submit to a psychological assessment in Toronto. She said she was “interrogated” for 10 hours by a clinician and made to relive Sylvestre’s assaults in graphic detail — even though her mother had kept the “horrific” gynecologist’s report from 27 years ago.

“(The assessment) was very demeaning and at certain times, it was crude and it didn’t need to be,” said McLauchlin, whose abuse began when she was about 4 and ended at 6 when her unsuspecting family moved to Chatham.

“Ultimately, I stood my ground,” she said. “It’s a game of survivor (and church officials) just want to wear you down.”

McLauchlin kept Sylvestre’s abuse a secret from her family until the priest was arrested. By the time she approached Crown prosecutors, a deal had been struck with Sylvestre — then 84 years old, feeble and brain-addled with dementia — to plead guilty to all counts.

The priest who duped her parents with friendship to gain their trust — and access to their daughter — died three months into his three-year sentence in 2007. Though McLauchlin feels resolving her court case has given her a fresh start in life, she is haunted by why, despite 1962 police reports from girls he abused, the church shielded Sylvestre.

“I wish every single day of my life they had done something,” said McLauchlin of high-ranking officials in the London diocese, including archbishops who reigned during Sylvestre’s tenure.

“The last place he was a priest was Pain Court (and) this would never have happened to me.” #

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Diocese installs solar panels at schools, cemetery | View Clip
04/26/2010
National Catholic Reporter Online

What started out as parish meetings about recycling, conserving energy and eliminating water bottles has become part of a broad movement in the San Jose, Calif., diocese that has made green efforts a top priority, literally, by installing solar panels on the rooftops of five of its Catholic elementary schools.

Solar panels also were installed this year at Gate of Heaven diocesan cemetery.

As of this February, solar power has been operating at all six sites and plans are under way to add more locations.

According to diocesan new releases about the installation, the current system of more than 5,000 solar panels, which cover 70,000 square feet of rooftop space, will eliminate approximately 21,000 tons of carbon dioxide in 25 years -- equivalent to planting 377 acres of trees or removing 5,179 cars from the nation's roads for one year.

San Jose Bishop Patrick McGrath called the installation an “outstanding achievement” that “strengthens our goal of encouraging the Catholic community and all people of faith to examine how we use and share the earth's resources.”

Perpetual Energy Systems, a Los Angeles-based group that finances solar-powered energy, put up the initial funds for the project and the diocese in turn buys power back. MBL-Energy and Photon Energy Services -- California energy firms -- designed and constructed the solar plans for the diocese.

Scott Springborn, solar energy chairman for the Catholic Green Initiative of Santa Clara County, which includes the San Jose diocese, Santa Clara University, Catholic Charities and the Presentation Retreat and Conference Center in Los Gatos, said the diocesan solar planning involved a fair amount of education and discussion at the parish level.

For his part, Springborn talked to a lot of parishioners and prepared information for parish bulletins on the project. He said people were primarily excited about it but also had a lot of unrealistic expectations of “super, super low costs.”

He said the diocese will save money in the long run, and will be providing a lesson for young people about the importance of caring for the environment.

“Our spirituality forces us to think of how we care for earth,” he said.

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Facebook Scores Partial Victory In Click Fraud Case | View Clip
04/26/2010
MediaPost.com

In a mixed ruling in a click fraud lawsuit, U.S. District Court Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose, Calif., has held that marketers can sue Facebook for allegedly charging them for "invalid" clicks, but not for "fraudulent" ones.

In the decision, issued Thursday, Fogel tentatively agreed with Facebook that a disclaimer in its ad contract protects it from liability for fraudulent clicks generated by third parties -- such as clicks generated by an advertisers' competitors. But Fogel also ruled that the disclaimer was ambiguous regarding Facebook's liability for its own errors in counting clicks.

The decision means that marketers can proceed to discovery on claims that Facebook overcharged them for clicks that never occurred. Fogel also allowed the advertisers to amend their complaint regarding allegations of fraudulent clicks, but it's not clear whether they will be able to overcome the language in Facebook's disclaimer.

The decision grew out of potential class-action lawsuits filed against Facebook last summer by sports site RootZoo and several other online marketers. The lawsuits, filed shortly after TechCrunch reported on an influx of complaints by marketers about perceived click fraud on Facebook, have been consolidated into one action.

RootZoo initially

alleged there were significant discrepancies between the data provided by its own analytics programs and the numbers claimed by Facebook. For instance, the original RootZoo complaint alleged that its analytics showed 300 clicks were generated by Facebook on June 2, 2008, but that Facebook charged the company for 804 clicks.

Facebook argued that the litigation should be dismissed because all cost-per-click advertisers were required to check agree to the company's terms and conditions, which allegedly included the following language: "I understand that third parties may generate impressions, clicks, or other actions affecting the cost of the advertising for fraudulent or improper purposes, and I accept the risk of any such impressions, clicks, or other actions."

But the marketers argued that the disclaimer was ambiguous and inconsistent with Facebook's advertising policies. For instance, they argued, Facebook's glossary states: "We have a variety of measures in place to ensure that we only report and charge advertisers for legitimate clicks, and not clicks that come from automated programs, or clicks that may be repetitive, abusive, or otherwise inauthentic."

While Fogel agreed with Facebook that its disclaimer for "fraud" by third parties, was clear, he also accepted the marketers' arguments that clicks can be invalid without being fraudulent, such as when marketers are erroneously charged for clicks that never occurred due to technical problems.

Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman says the decision appeared good for Facebook overall. "The judge has made it clear that Facebook's advertising terms and conditions preempt a lot of the things that plaintiffs might care about," he said.

He added that Facebook likely attempted to protect itself with a disclaimer because it had seen how vulnerable Google and Yahoo were to click fraud claims. Several years ago, both companies settled class-action click fraud lawsuits.

"Over time, we've learned a bunch of things about how to manage click fraud exposure," Goldman said. "As a result, Facebook's in a much better position than the search engines were five years ago."

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The abuse crisis and the facts | View Clip
04/26/2010
Busy Catholic, The

Prof. Thomas Plante is a professor of psychology and director of the spirituality and health institute at Santa Clara University in California, and for 20 years he has helped screen applicants for the priesthood. In an interview with Roy Green on CKNW, Plante puts the sexual abuse crisis in perspective, acknowledging where the Church must do better, but also pointing out where misconceptions

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
Tri-Valley Herald

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 Tri-Valley Herald. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
San Mateo County Times

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 San Mateo County Times. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
Oakland Tribune

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 The Oakland Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
Daily Review, The

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 The Daily Review. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
Argus, The

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 The Argus. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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U.S. Supreme Court to consider California's violent video game law
04/26/2010
Alameda Times-Star

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to jump into the controversial world of kids, joysticks and violent video games such as "Grand Theft Auto" and "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare."

In a case that pits the right to limit children's exposure to video game mayhem against traditional free speech protections, the Supreme Court on Monday agreed to consider the constitutionality of a 2005 California law barring the sale or rental of violent video games to minors.

"Quite a few states feel this needs to be regulated, and I think (the justices) might be saying this is an issue of national importance," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California-Los Angeles law professor who has followed the case closely. "That this is the sort of thing that ought to be decided by the Supreme Court."

The justices will review a decision last year by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which struck down the law, concluding it trampled on free speech rights and that California had not proven enough connection between violent video games and youth troubles to show the state had a "compelling interest" in such strict regulation. A San Jose federal judge previously put the law on hold shortly after it went into effect.

Despite the fact lower courts around the country have consistently invalidated similar laws, the Supreme Court decided to hear the Schwarzenegger administration's appeal, which argued California has the right to limit "ultraviolent" material sold to minors. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco and author of the law, also had urged the justices to take the case.

Yee said Monday that California's law, because it only restricts sales to minors, should be narrow enough to hold up in the Supreme Court. At least six other states have enacted similar laws, which target games replete with images of bloody, graphic violence that includes killing and maiming characters.

"These games are hurtful for kids," he said.

Game violence has been getting increasingly graphic in recent years, as video games have become more photorealistic and as the industry has shown fewer inhibitions about depicting such bloodshed. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" includes an optional level where players are expected to simply watch as terrorists massacre civilians at an airport, shooting some in the back of the head. Another recent game, "Dante's Inferno" includes a level where players slash and stab demonized babies. And in "Gears of War," one weapon you can use is a chain saw bayonet that can be used to slash enemies and slice them in half.

The video game industry, which has fought to overturn the law, criticized the state's appeal as a move to threaten free speech protections, not only for video games but also for movies, books, music and other artistic material. Critics of the law also say it's an attempt to supplant the role of parents in deciding what video games their children can play.

"We have the opportunity to make our case again and hopefully put this issue to rest," said Mike Gallagher, CEO for the Entertainment Software Association, the video game industry's trade group.

Some parents say they support the law because the industry's own labeling system for video games may not be enough, while others say parents — not the state — should handle the controls.

"There's no way to block what (kids) are getting," said Lisa Pelgrim, a San Jose mother of three kids who played games on their Nintendo Wii until it broke. "I don't let me kids watch violent TV, and games are even more interactive and real than the TV."

Robin Wolaner, who founded Parenting magazine and has two adolescent sons, is concerned about violent games, but doesn't think laws such as California's can replace parental responsibility.

"They trample on the constitution or they trample on common sense," said the 55-year-old San Francisco woman.

The law would have prevented those under 18 from buying or renting video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children and are patently offensive to prevailing community standards. " Retailers would face a $1,000 fine for violations In addition, the law required video game publishers to put an "18" label prominently on excessively violent video games. .

Legal experts say the outcome in the Supreme Court is uncertain. The justices often are reluctant to curtail First Amendment rights, as they showed last week in a decision striking down a federal ban on video depictions of animal cruelty. At the same time, legal experts say they may find a state's argument for limiting the sale of violent material to minors appealing, as long as it doesn't go too far.

Brad Joondeph, a Santa Clara University law professor, said the case will not necessarily fall into the usual liberal vs. conservative divide inside the court.

"This is different," he said. "This is one of those cases that's a hot button issue that is not predictable.".

The Supreme Court will be in largely uncharted territory, having considered restrictions on sexually explicit material through the years but not violent images common in a host of new video games. Attorney General Jerry Brown has argued that regulating violent video games should be "subject to the same flexible legal standard" applied to sexually explicit material sold to children.

The 9th Circuit, in the decision written by Judge Consuelo Callahan, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, found that California officials did not establish a scientific connection between violent video games and physical and psychological harm to minors. And the court found the law's definition too vague.

Volokh said the 9th Circuit may have been correct in finding that the California law is simply too broad in its reach. Referring to the ban on sales of video games that "appeal to a deviant or morbid interest of children," he said: "It's extremely hard to tell what that would mean."

Mercury News staff writer Chris Strach contributed to this report. Contact Howard Mintz at 408-286-0236

Copyright © 2010 Alameda Times-Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Violent video-game ban for kids to get hearing | View Clip
04/26/2010
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

(04-26) 11:48 PDT WASHINGTON

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether California can ban the sale of violent video games to minors, a law that lower courts have declared an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

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The high court will review a decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to throw out the ban on the grounds that government has no authority to restrict even the most violent games. The appeals court rejected proponents' arguments that graphic games can cause youths who play them to behave aggressively, saying research offered no proof.

The ban, sponsored by state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, became law in October 2005 but has never been enforced. It would bar the sale of an interactive video game to anyone under 18 if the game was so violent it was "patently offensive," according to prevailing community standards for minors, and lacked literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

Violent video games would carry a large "18" label on their packages. Anyone who sold such a game to a minor could be fined as much as $1,000.

Federal courts have overturned similar laws in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Minnesota, Michigan, Illinois and the cities of St. Louis and Indianapolis.

Yee said in a statement today, "I am hopeful that the high court will determine our law to be constitutional, but regardless, states are now certain to receive direction on how to proceed with this important issue."

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed Yee's bill into law, said, "I am pleased the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up this issue, and I look forward to a decision upholding this important law that gives parents more tools to protect their children, including the opportunity to determine what video games are appropriate."

The Entertainment Software Association, a video industry group that took part in the lawsuit challenging the law, has said the state has no evidence that virtual violence causes real-life mayhem. The appeal, the group said, was a waste of money by a state that faces a multibillion-dollar deficit.

"Courts throughout the country have ruled consistently that content-based regulation of computer and video games is unconstitutional," association president Michael Gallagher said today. "Research shows that the public agrees, video games should be provided the same protections as books, movies and music."

In defending the law, the state argued that violent content should be judged by the same obscenity standards as sex. Just as the government can prohibit the sale of explicit pornography to minors, state lawyers contended, it should be allowed to establish an adults-only category of ultra-violent video games.

In February, the appeals court disagreed. A 1968 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed tighter restrictions on selling explicit materials to minors than to adults applies only to sexual content and not to violence, the appellate panel said.

"The Supreme Court has carefully limited obscenity to sexual content," Judge Consuelo Callahan said in the 3-0 ruling. "We decline the state's invitation to apply the (same) rationale to materials depicting violence."

Callahan said video games "are a form of expression protected by the First Amendment."

The appeals court also said the state has failed to demonstrate the need for a ban on sales to minors, noting that the industry has a voluntary rating system that includes an adults-only category.

The Supreme Court's decision to hear the case comes a week after the high court struck down a federal law banning videos showing animal cruelty.

Citing that ruling, Gallagher said, "We are hopeful that the court will reject California's invitation to break from these settled principles by treating depictions of violence, especially those in creative works, as unprotected by the First Amendment."

But Yee said that if the high court had thought the two cases were similar, it "would have thrown out our law as well. Clearly, the justices want to look specifically at our narrowly tailored law that simply limits sales of ultra-violent games to kids without prohibiting speech."

Margaret Russell, a professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, cautioned against making comparisons between the two cases. Although both have to do with violence, she said, the animal-cruelty video case "really focused on how overly broad the law was, rather than the core content."

Still, the high court made clear in both cases that it was intent on examining First Amendment issues, Russell said.

"The animal cruelty video case reflects the Supreme Court's reinforcement of the principle that carving out exceptions to the First Amendment is a risky and flawed approach to solving the very serious problem of violence in our society," Russell said. "I regard the court's decision to examine the California violent video game law as another indication of its concern with the constitutional constraints on limiting expression, even if that expression is disturbing and controversial."

The court will hear arguments this fall in the video-game case, Schwarzenegger vs. Video Software Dealers Association, 08-1448.

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Abused girls: Church scandal's next wave | View Clip
04/25/2010
Hamilton Spectator - Online, The

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Chatham woman is youngest known victim of Father Charles Sylvestre

Mary Ormsby

Father Charlie told the girl with the cascading brown curls and frilly frocks that she was pretty. Special. One of his favourites.

In the small Ontario town of Pain Court, a French-Canadian community near Chatham, Father Charlie's attention was prized by devout Roman Catholic families like Cecilia McLauchlin's.

His interest in their daughter meant the popular priest, once described as “next to God,” publicly approved of how she was being raised.

So when a gynecologist examined the girl for recurring vaginal infections, it didn't occur to anyone that Father Charlie was the cause of her physical pain.

Cecilia McLauchlin was only 5 years old.

Now 32, the Chatham woman is the youngest known victim of Father Charles Sylvestre, the smooth-talking priest who groomed his young prey with candies, trinkets and praise.

He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting 47 girls over four decades in southwestern Ontario — despite abuse complaints from victims to police, school and church officials during that time.

McLauchlin came forward after his conviction, as did 30 more women in a movement some expect foreshadows the church's next crisis: a groundswell of female victims seeking justice.

From Mount Cashel to Ireland, most sex abuse scandals have involved boys as altar servers, at boarding schools or in orphanages. The most recent trouble also surrounds boys, with allegations Pope Benedict — who celebrates his fifth anniversary this week as head of all Catholics — knew about an American priest molesting 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee but failed to act.

An American study commissioned eight years ago and paid for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that boys were overwhelmingly the likeliest target of predator priests.

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, based on voluntary disclosure from church authorities (some refused to comply), determined boys accounted for 81 per cent of sex assaults. Most abuse for all victims occurred between 1960 and the 1980s.

But London-based lawyer Robert Talach, who represented McLauchlin and other Sylvestre victims, expects that male-female ratio to change within five to 10 years to reflect a trend that began in the 1970s when the church welcomed female altar servers.

Researchers say disclosure of abuse is typically delayed for about 30 years, which means women assaulted as children are just starting to come to terms with what happened.

“In some of our Sylvestre cases, which are (from) the ‘70s, many of the women were victimized under the pretenses of ‘I'm training you to be one of these new, upcoming female altar servers,'" said Talach, who has represented more than 100 victims of clergy abuse, most of them male.

“We've seen priests using that to look innovative to their parishioners, but in reality it was to allow them access to women if their predilection was female.”

Father Donald Holmes, a modern cleric who rode a motorcycle, sported a beard, played hockey and preferred street clothes to his Roman collar, also preyed on girls as they began taking bigger roles in the church. He was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing 12 girls around the Sudbury area between 1972 and 1984.

In general, girls in Canada are four times more likely than boys to be victims of sexual offences, according to police figures reported to Stats Canada.

Females are more likely to be attractive to clergy because the majority of priests are heterosexual — but some are psychologically and sexually immature, says former priest-turned-lawyer Patrick Wall.

“If they're going to explore sexually, they're going to explore with a little girl,” said Wall, a California-based expert on Catholic clergy abuse who now works with victims.

Wall's perspective on the degree of female abuse is unique. He was a Benedictine monk for 12 years, working as a “fixer” dispatched to tidy up messy sexual problems of priests and laymen at troubled parishes and schools. He said when a girl required surgery after rape, the code was that she needed a “hernia” operation.

In a bizarre twinning, he counselled accused priests and heard confessions from traumatized victims. He also worked on cases where priests impregnated girls then procured abortions for them.

“That is so prevalent, it happens all the time,” he said of the abortion runs, which in part accounts for his belief that teenaged girls are the silent majority of priest-related sexual abuse.

By age 33, Wall deduced most, if not all, of the 195 parishes and hundreds of religious orders in the U.S. employed “fixers” like him to wipe down crime scenes that involved children. He quit religious life in disgust and scoffs at the Vatican's pledge to better protect boys and girls from its surpliced predators.

“This is the biggest company in the world, they are not going to shift and move,” Wall said. “They're going to keep building the Ford Pinto, they're going to take their lumps (from public opinion) and move on.”

“It doesn't matter what the law is, whether it's the Canadian police or the U.S. police. They're not going to tell anybody (about criminal behaviour),” he added.

Santa Clara University psychology professor Thomas Plante has treated and evaluated about 60 clergy sex offenders, including Catholic priests. He said most exhibited a variety of psychiatric troubles, such as personality and impulse control disorders, even brain damage as comorbidity factors complicating their sexual behaviours.

Plante said differing degrees of disorders means “these guys aren't all alike” and range from ruthless serial offenders like Sylvestre to those who commit one act.

If mentally unhealthy priests are attacking children, it doesn't prevent the church from using its formidable financial and legal resources to defend their accused, said Wall.

The former priest said the church is particularly vicious with women, deploying its “whore defence” to paint schoolgirls as harlots and intimidate them from pursuing criminal and civil complaints.

McLauchlin, now working and married, said victims “need to outlast” the church as she did during a three-year civil case against the London archdiocese. It was settled last September for an undisclosed amount.

During her case, the diocese demanded McLauchlin submit to a psychological assessment in Toronto. She said she was “interrogated” for 10 hours by a clinician and made to relive Sylvestre's assaults in graphic detail — even though her mother had kept the “horrific” gynecologist's report from 27 years ago.

“(The assessment) was very demeaning and at certain times, it was crude and it didn't need to be,” said McLauchlin, whose abuse began when she was about 4 and ended at 6 when her unsuspecting family moved to Chatham.

“Ultimately, I stood my ground,” she said. “It's a game of survivor (and church officials) just want to wear you down.”

McLauchlin kept Sylvestre's abuse a secret from her family until the priest was arrested. By the time she approached Crown prosecutors, a deal had been struck with Sylvestre — then 84 years old, feeble and brain-addled with dementia — to plead guilty to all counts.

The priest who duped her parents with friendship to gain their trust — and access to their daughter — died three months into his three-year sentence in 2007. Though McLauchlin feels resolving her court case has given her a fresh start in life, she is haunted by why, despite 1962 police reports from girls he abused, the church shielded Sylvestre.

“I wish every single day of my life they had done something,” said McLauchlin of high-ranking officials in the London diocese, including archbishops who reigned during Sylvestre's tenure.

“The last place he was a priest was Pain Court (and) this would never have happened to me.”

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GOOGLE TALK
04/25/2010
San Jose Mercury News

Was it a family camping trip, or a Silicon Valley product announcement?

Folding deck chairs and gray fleece blankets were tied with neat bows and emblazoned with Google's "Campfire One" logo. Baked beans and hamburgers were served in a tent to software developers and journalists, and lighting effects made the auditorium in Building 43 -- Google's corporate nerve center -- look like a shadowy nighttime forest. A Google executive wore a wool lumberjack shirt to demo the product announced that night, an online marketplace for those developers. The entire scene was captured on a live YouTube feed.

For years, Google has used events like Campfire One and other carefully scripted product launches to create buzz and free media coverage for its products. But as Google approaches its 12th birthday, some observers wonder whether the company that sprang to public consciousness in part through endless free media about its "Don't Be Evil" motto and company cafeteria run by the Grateful Dead's chef can continue to rely on word of mouth to preserve its "Googley" image.

Where a brand like Google "has to be consistent is when they've decided that the concept of 'Don't Be Evil' is a driving force," said Paul Rand, president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, a nonprofit group whose more than 300 member companies range from American Express to General Mills. (Google is also a member.) "That becomes the filter that they have told the world they want to be judged by."

From Apple to Yahoo, an array of big Silicon Valley companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to burnish their brands and products on TV and in other media. With Google's rapid growth creating new rivalries and triggering an array of un-Googley headlines -- from antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and Europe to a privacy outcry about its Buzz social network -- some observers say Google may need to steal a clue from Apple and use paid media to shape how outsiders see the company.

Like Apple, Google is a company that has very strong internal values, said Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business who studies how companies build their brands, but it lacks Apple's keen sense of how it is viewed by the outside world.

"I think most consumers see them as a much more mature company than they necessarily see themselves," Aaker said. "Just like any teenager grows up, in my opinion, they have struggled significantly in the last three or four years migrating their self-image to a more mature place."

In February, Google embraced an anchor of mainstream American advertising culture -- it bought its first Super Bowl ad. But Google says it has no plans to move away from relying on word of mouth to drive interest in its products.

That strategy allows Google to spend a fraction of what its competitors spend on marketing and advertising -- an irony for what is arguably one of the world's most successful advertising companies.

"I marvel at what I see Google able to do in terms of driving word of mouth for their business," said Rand, who is also CEO of the Zocalo Group, a Chicago advertising agency that specializes in word of mouth. "There is a constant stream of talkable innovation coming out of the company."

Some experts say Google's products have become so central to people's lives that there may be no need to ever make a TV campaign.

"To have 'googled' enter the dictionary, their level of brand awareness has got to be close to 99 percent," said Buford Barr, a marketing professor at Santa Clara University who is a former Silicon Valley corporate communications officer. "My first question is, why should they advertise at all?"

'Google, Kansas'

Google scored another PR coup this spring when it announced it would install a free broadband network 100 times faster than what most Americans have today, and asked communities across the nation to enter proposals. In bergs from Tupper Lake, N.Y., to Anchorage, Alaska, the proposal made not just local, but national news as mayors and city council members scrambled for Google's attention. Topeka, Kan., temporarily changed its name to "Google, Kansas," while the mayor of Duluth jumped in a freezing lake.

It was yet another example of the promise of a highly desirable product combined with extensive free media, generating huge word of mouth.

"Our user base has grown primarily by word of mouth," Google said in its recently filed 2009 10-K report to government regulators. "Our early marketing efforts focused on feeding this word-of-mouth momentum and used public relations efforts to accelerate it. Through these efforts and people's increased usage of Google worldwide, we have been able to build our brand with relatively low marketing costs as a percentage of our revenues."

Indeed, Google spends a fraction of what competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and eBay spend on marketing and advertising as a percentage of sales. Over the past five years, Google's marketing and advertising expenses have averaged 8 percent of total sales, compared with 21 percent for Yahoo and eBay, and 22 percent for Microsoft, according to an analysis of Bloomberg Financial data by the Mercury News.

Google also sponsors industry conferences -- its developer conference in San Francisco in May, where the company often announces new products, is already sold out -- and it maintains strong ties with an "ecosystem" of developers who build software products on Google's platform and often serve as apostles for its products.

Word of mouth doesn't always work, though -- even for Google. In the weeks before release of its Nexus One smartphone, Google cribbed a page from Apple and generated plenty of buzz by releasing the phone in advance to its own employees and to a few carefully chosen bloggers and websites, causing a surge of interest around the January launch.

The Nexus One received good reviews, and Google's decision to sell the phone directly to customers through the Internet got plenty of buzz, but its sales have been a fraction of initial sales for the iPhone.

Other ad efforts

Hewlett-Packard is spending a reported $40 million on a new TV campaign, enlisting New Zealand comic actor Rhys Darby playing a disarming rube -- he thinks "HP" stands for "Have Printers" -- who discovers the company's technology with photographer Annie Leibovitz and rapper Dr. Dre. Cisco Systems, meanwhile, has enlisted actress Ellen Page, star of the independent hit "Juno," who experiences Cisco's video technology in a visit to her hometown of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Yahoo launched a $100 million ad campaign last fall, and many analysts credit Microsoft's TV ads for its Bing search engine for nibbling at Google's still-commanding lead in search. Meanwhile, Apple is hawking the new iPad on TV, employing its standard I'm-way-cooler-than-you musical soundtrack.

Compared with most Super Bowl ads, Google's was a relatively pedestrian affair, a series of shots of Google search queries called "Parisian Love," that starts with "How to Impress A French Girl" and ends with "How to Assemble a Crib."

While Google's spending on marketing and advertising increased to 9 percent of sales in 2009, Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, said in an interview that it is not planning to abandon its reliance on word of mouth.

"That's the core of the company -- it's an engineering company, creating really innovative solutions where people want them," Pichette said. "You don't need to do that kind of advertising when you have those kinds of products."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories.

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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Google's word of mouth creates the buzz | View Clip
04/25/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Vic Gundotra announces Google Apps Marketplace during a campfire-themed press conference, complete with s'mores, at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

Was it a family camping trip, or a Silicon Valley product announcement?

Folding deck chairs and gray fleece blankets were tied with neat bows and emblazoned with Google's "Campfire One" logo. Baked beans and hamburgers were served in a tent to software developers and journalists, and lighting effects made the auditorium in Building 43 — Google's corporate nerve center — look like a shadowy nighttime forest. A Google executive wore a wool lumberjack shirt to demo the product announced that night, an online marketplace for those developers. The entire scene was captured on a live YouTube feed.

For years, Google has used events like Campfire One and other carefully scripted product launches to create buzz and free media coverage for its products. But as Google approaches its 12th birthday, some observers wonder whether the company that sprang to public consciousness in part through endless free media about its "Don't Be Evil" motto and company cafeteria run by the Grateful Dead's chef can continue to rely on word of mouth to preserve its "Googley" image.

Where a brand like Google "has to be consistent is when they've decided that the concept of 'Don't Be Evil' is a driving force," said Paul Rand, president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, a nonprofit group whose more than 300 member companies range from American Express to General Mills. (Google is also a member.) "That becomes the filter that they have told the world

they want to be judged by."

From Apple to Yahoo, an array of big Silicon Valley companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to burnish their brands and products on TV and in other media. With Google's rapid growth creating new rivalries and triggering an array of un-Googley headlines — from antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and Europe to a privacy outcry about its Buzz social network — some observers say Google may need to steal a clue from Apple and use paid media to shape how outsiders see the company.

Like Apple, Google is a company that has very strong internal values, said Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business who studies how companies build their brands, but it lacks Apple's keen sense of how it is viewed by the outside world.

"I think most consumers see them as a much more mature company than they necessarily see themselves," Aaker said. "Just like any teenager grows up, in my opinion, they have struggled significantly in the last three or four years migrating their self-image to a more mature place."

In February, Google embraced an anchor of mainstream American advertising culture — it bought its first Super Bowl ad. But Google says it has no plans to move away from relying on word of mouth to drive interest in its products.

That strategy allows Google to spend a fraction of what its competitors spend on marketing and advertising — an irony for what is arguably one of the world's most successful advertising companies.

"I marvel at what I see Google able to do in terms of driving word of mouth for their business," said Rand, who is also CEO of the Zocalo Group, a Chicago advertising agency that specializes in word of mouth. "There is a constant stream of talkable innovation coming out of the company."

Some experts say Google's products have become so central to people's lives that there may be no need to ever make a TV campaign.

"To have 'googled' enter the dictionary, their level of brand awareness has got to be close to 99 percent," said Buford Barr, a marketing professor at Santa Clara University who is a former Silicon Valley corporate communications officer. "My first question is, why should they advertise at all?"

'Google, Kansas'

Google scored another PR coup this spring when it announced it would install a free broadband network 100 times faster than what most Americans have today, and asked communities across the nation to enter proposals. In bergs from Tupper Lake, N.Y., to Anchorage, Alaska, the proposal made not just local, but national news as mayors and city council members scrambled for Google's attention. Topeka, Kan., temporarily changed its name to "Google, Kansas," while the mayor of Duluth jumped in a freezing lake.

It was yet another example of the promise of a highly desirable product combined with extensive free media, generating huge word of mouth.

"Our user base has grown primarily by word of mouth," Google said in its recently filed 2009 10-K report to government regulators. "Our early marketing efforts focused on feeding this word-of-mouth momentum and used public relations efforts to accelerate it. Through these efforts and people's increased usage of Google worldwide, we have been able to build our brand with relatively low marketing costs as a percentage of our revenues."

Indeed, Google spends a fraction of what competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and eBay spend on marketing and advertising as a percentage of sales. Over the past five years, Google's marketing and advertising expenses have averaged 8 percent of total sales, compared with 21 percent for Yahoo and eBay, and 22 percent for Microsoft, according to an analysis of Bloomberg Financial data by the Mercury News.

Google also sponsors industry conferences — its developer conference in San Francisco in May, where the company often announces new products, is already sold out — and it maintains strong ties with an "ecosystem" of developers who build software products on Google's platform and often serve as apostles for its products.

Word of mouth doesn't always work, though — even for Google. In the weeks before release of its Nexus One smartphone, Google cribbed a page from Apple and generated plenty of buzz by releasing the phone in advance to its own employees and to a few carefully chosen bloggers and websites, causing a surge of interest around the January launch.

The Nexus One received good reviews, and Google's decision to sell the phone directly to customers through the Internet got plenty of buzz, but its sales have been a fraction of initial sales for the iPhone.

Other ad efforts

Hewlett-Packard is spending a reported $40 million on a new TV campaign, enlisting New Zealand comic actor Rhys Darby playing a disarming rube — he thinks "HP" stands for "Have Printers" — who discovers the company's technology with photographer Annie Leibovitz and rapper Dr. Dre. Cisco Systems, meanwhile, has enlisted actress Ellen Page, star of the independent hit "Juno," who experiences Cisco's video technology in a visit to her hometown of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Yahoo launched a $100 million ad campaign last fall, and many analysts credit Microsoft's TV ads for its Bing search engine for nibbling at Google's still-commanding lead in search. Meanwhile, Apple is hawking the new iPad on TV, employing its standard I'm-way-cooler-than-you musical soundtrack.

Compared with most Super Bowl ads, Google's was a relatively pedestrian affair, a series of shots of Google search queries called "Parisian Love," that starts with "How to Impress A French Girl" and ends with "How to Assemble a Crib."

While Google's spending on marketing and advertising increased to 9 percent of sales in 2009, Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, said in an interview that it is not planning to abandon its reliance on word of mouth.

"That's the core of the company — it's an engineering company, creating really innovative solutions where people want them," Pichette said. "You don't need to do that kind of advertising when you have those kinds of products."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories.

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Next wave in scandal Abused girls catholic church More accusations ahead as new generation of female victims seeks justice, lawyers say
04/25/2010
Toronto Star

News

Father Charlie told the girl with the cascading brown curls and frilly frocks that she was pretty. Special. One of his favourites.

In the small Ontario town of Pain Court, a French-Canadian community near Chatham, Father Charlie's attention was prized by devout Roman Catholic families like Cecilia McLauchlin's. His interest in their daughter meant the popular priest, once described as "next to God," publicly approved of how she was being raised.

So when a gynecologist examined the girl for recurring vaginal infections, it didn't occur to anyone that Father Charlie was the cause of her physical pain.

Cecilia McLauchlin was only 5 years old.

Now 32, the Chatham woman is the youngest known victim of Father Charles Sylvestre, the smooth-talking priest who groomed his young prey with candies, trinkets and praise. He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting 47 girls over four decades in southwestern Ontario - despite abuse complaints from victims to police, school and church officials during that time.

McLauchlin came forward after his conviction, as did 30 more women in a movement some expect foreshadows the church's next crisis: a groundswell of female victims seeking justice.

From Mount Cashel to Ireland, most sex abuse scandals have involved boys as altar servers, at boarding schools or in orphanages. The most recent trouble also surrounds boys, with allegations Pope Benedict - who celebrates his fifth anniversary this week as head of all Catholics - knew about an American priest molesting 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee but failed to act.

An American study commissioned eight years ago and paid for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that boys were overwhelmingly the likeliest target of predator priests. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, based on voluntary disclosure from church authorities (some refused to comply), determined boys accounted for 81 per cent of sex assaults. Most abuse for all victims occurred between 1960 and the 1980s.

But London-based lawyer Robert Talach, who represented McLauchlin and other Sylvestre victims, expects that male-female ratio to change within five to 10 years to reflect a trend that began in the 1970s when the church welcomed female altar servers. Researchers say disclosure of abuse is typically delayed for about 30 years, which means women assaulted as children are just starting to come to terms with what happened.

"In some of our Sylvestre cases, which are (from) the '70s, many of the women were victimized under the pretenses of I'm training you to be one of these new, upcoming female altar servers,'" said Talach, who has represented more than 100 victims of clergy abuse, most of them male.

"We've seen priests using that to look innovative to their parishioners, but in reality it was to allow them access to women if their predilection was female."

Father Donald Holmes, a modern cleric who rode a motorcycle, sported a beard, played hockey and preferred street clothes to his Roman collar, also preyed on girls as they began taking bigger roles in the church. He was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing 12 girls around the Sudbury area between 1972 and 1984.

In general, girls in Canada are four times more likely than boys to be victims of sexual offences, according to police figures reported to Stats Canada.

Females are more likely to be attractive to clergy because the majority of priests are heterosexual - but some are psychologically and sexually immature, says former priest-turned-lawyer Patrick Wall.

"If they're going to explore sexually, they're going to explore with a little girl," said Wall, a California-based expert on Catholic clergy abuse who now works with victims.

Wall's perspective on the degree of female abuse is unique. He was a Benedictine monk for 12 years, working as a "fixer" dispatched to tidy up messy sexual problems of priests and laymen at troubled parishes and schools. He said when a girl required surgery after rape, the code was that she needed a "hernia" operation.

In a bizarre twinning, he counselled accused priests and heard confessions from traumatized victims. He also worked on cases where priests impregnated girls then procured abortions for them.

"That is so prevalent, it happens all the time," he said of the abortion runs, which in part accounts for his belief that teenaged girls are the silent majority of priest-related sexual abuse.

By age 33, Wall deduced most, if not all, of the 195 parishes and hundreds of religious orders in the U.S. employed "fixers" like him to wipe down crime scenes that involved children.

He quit religious life in disgust and scoffs at the Vatican's pledge to better protect boys and girls from its surpliced predators.

"This is the biggest company in the world, they are not going to shift and move," Wall said. "They're going to keep building the Ford Pinto, they're going to take their lumps (from public opinion) and move on.

"It doesn't matter what the law is, whether it's the Canadian police or the U.S. police. They're not going to tell anybody (about criminal behaviour)," he added.

Santa Clara University psychology professor Thomas Plante has treated and evaluated about 60 clergy sex offenders, including Catholic priests. He said most exhibited a variety of psychiatric troubles, such as personality and impulse control disorders, even brain damage.

Plante said differing degrees of disorders means "these guys aren't all alike" and range from ruthless serial offenders like Sylvestre to those who commit one act.

If mentally unhealthy priests are attacking children, it doesn't prevent the church from using its formidable financial and legal resources to defend their accused, said Wall.

The former priest said the church is particularly vicious with women, deploying its "whore defence" to paint schoolgirls as harlots and intimidate them from pursuing criminal and civil complaints.

McLauchlin, now working and married, said victims "need to outlast" the church as she did during a three-year civil case against the London archdiocese. It was settled last September for an undisclosed amount.

During her case, the diocese demanded McLauchlin submit to a psychological assessment. She said she was "interrogated" for 10 hours by a clinician and made to relive Sylvestre's assaults in graphic detail - even though her mother had kept the "horrific" gynecologist's report from 27 years ago.

"(The assessment) was very demeaning and at certain times, it was crude and it didn't need to be," said McLauchlin, whose abuse began when she was about 4 and ended at 6 when her unsuspecting family moved to Chatham.

"Ultimately, I stood my ground," she said.

"It's a game of survivor (and church officials) just want to wear you down."

Copyright © 2010 Toronto Star Newspapers Limited, All Rights Reserved.

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Church scandal's next wave: Abused girls | View Clip
04/24/2010
Toronto Star - Online

Expect numbers of women victimized by priests as children to rise over next few years, say lawyers

Share Share

Cecilia McLauchlin, who was a sex abuse victim of Charles Sylvestre when she was a young child, is pictured here in her hometown of Chatham, Ontario on April 22nd, 2010.

CRAIG GLOVER FOR THE TORONTO STAR

Father Charlie told the girl with the cascading brown curls and frilly frocks that she was pretty. Special. One of his favourites.

In the small Ontario town of Pain Court, a French-Canadian community near Chatham, Father Charlie's attention was prized by devout Roman Catholic families like Cecilia McLauchlin's. His interest in their daughter meant the popular priest, once described as “next to God,” publicly approved of how she was being raised.

So when a gynecologist examined the girl for recurring vaginal infections, it didn't occur to anyone that Father Charlie was the cause of her physical pain.

Cecilia McLauchlin was only 5 years old.

Now 32, the Chatham woman is the youngest known victim of Father Charles Sylvestre, the smooth-talking priest who groomed his young prey with candies, trinkets and praise. He was convicted in 2006 of sexually assaulting 47 girls over four decades in southwestern Ontario — despite abuse complaints from victims to police, school and church officials during that time.

McLauchlin came forward after his conviction, as did 30 more women in a movement some expect foreshadows the church's next crisis: a groundswell of female victims seeking justice.

From Mount Cashel to Ireland, most sex abuse scandals have involved boys as altar servers, at boarding schools or in orphanages. The most recent trouble also surrounds boys, with allegations Pope Benedict — who celebrates his fifth anniversary this week as head of all Catholics — knew about an American priest molesting 200 deaf boys in Milwaukee but failed to act.

An American study commissioned eight years ago and paid for by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops found that boys were overwhelmingly the likeliest target of predator priests. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, based on voluntary disclosure from church authorities (some refused to comply), determined boys accounted for 81 per cent of sex assaults. Most abuse for all victims occurred between 1960 and the 1980s.

But London-based lawyer Robert Talach, who represented McLauchlin and other Sylvestre victims, expects that male-female ratio to change within five to 10 years to reflect a trend that began in the 1970s when the church welcomed female altar servers. Researchers say disclosure of abuse is typically delayed for about 30 years, which means women assaulted as children are just starting to come to terms with what happened.

“In some of our Sylvestre cases, which are (from) the ‘70s, many of the women were victimized under the pretenses of ‘I'm training you to be one of these new, upcoming female altar servers,'" said Talach, who has represented more than 100 victims of clergy abuse, most of them male.

“We've seen priests using that to look innovative to their parishioners, but in reality it was to allow them access to women if their predilection was female.”

Father Donald Holmes, a modern cleric who rode a motorcycle, sported a beard, played hockey and preferred street clothes to his Roman collar, also preyed on girls as they began taking bigger roles in the church. He was convicted in 2002 of sexually abusing 12 girls around the Sudbury area between 1972 and 1984.

In general, girls in Canada are four times more likely than boys to be victims of sexual offences, according to police figures reported to Stats Canada.

Females are more likely to be attractive to clergy because the majority of priests are heterosexual — but some are psychologically and sexually immature, says former priest-turned-lawyer Patrick Wall.

“If they're going to explore sexually, they're going to explore with a little girl,” said Wall, a California-based expert on Catholic clergy abuse who now works with victims.

Wall's perspective on the degree of female abuse is unique. He was a Benedictine monk for 12 years, working as a “fixer” dispatched to tidy up messy sexual problems of priests and laymen at troubled parishes and schools. He said when a girl required surgery after rape, the code was that she needed a “hernia” operation.

In a bizarre twinning, he counselled accused priests and heard confessions from traumatized victims. He also worked on cases where priests impregnated girls then procured abortions for them.

“That is so prevalent, it happens all the time,” he said of the abortion runs, which in part accounts for his belief that teenaged girls are the silent majority of priest-related sexual abuse.

By age 33, Wall deduced most, if not all, of the 195 parishes and hundreds of religious orders in the U.S. employed “fixers” like him to wipe down crime scenes that involved children. He quit religious life in disgust and scoffs at the Vatican's pledge to better protect boys and girls from its surpliced predators.

“This is the biggest company in the world, they are not going to shift and move,” Wall said. “They're going to keep building the Ford Pinto, they're going to take their lumps (from public opinion) and move on.”

“It doesn't matter what the law is, whether it's the Canadian police or the U.S. police. They're not going to tell anybody (about criminal behaviour),” he added.

Santa Clara University psychology professor Thomas Plante has treated and evaluated about 60 clergy sex offenders, including Catholic priests. He said most exhibited a variety of psychiatric troubles, such as personality and impulse control disorders, even brain damage as comorbidity factors complicating their sexual behaviours.

Plante said differing degrees of disorders means “these guys aren't all alike” and range from ruthless serial offenders like Sylvestre to those who commit one act.

If mentally unhealthy priests are attacking children, it doesn't prevent the church from using its formidable financial and legal resources to defend their accused, said Wall.

The former priest said the church is particularly vicious with women, deploying its “whore defence” to paint schoolgirls as harlots and intimidate them from pursuing criminal and civil complaints.

McLauchlin, now working and married, said victims “need to outlast” the church as she did during a three-year civil case against the London archdiocese. It was settled last September for an undisclosed amount.

During her case, the diocese demanded McLauchlin submit to a psychological assessment in Toronto. She said she was “interrogated” for 10 hours by a clinician and made to relive Sylvestre's assaults in graphic detail — even though her mother had kept the “horrific” gynecologist's report from 27 years ago.

“(The assessment) was very demeaning and at certain times, it was crude and it didn't need to be,” said McLauchlin, whose abuse began when she was about 4 and ended at 6 when her unsuspecting family moved to Chatham.

“Ultimately, I stood my ground,” she said. “It's a game of survivor (and church officials) just want to wear you down.”

McLauchlin kept Sylvestre's abuse a secret from her family until the priest was arrested. By the time she approached Crown prosecutors, a deal had been struck with Sylvestre — then 84 years old, feeble and brain-addled with dementia — to plead guilty to all counts.

The priest who duped her parents with friendship to gain their trust — and access to their daughter — died three months into his three-year sentence in 2007. Though McLauchlin feels resolving her court case has given her a fresh start in life, she is haunted by why, despite 1962 police reports from girls he abused, the church shielded Sylvestre.

“I wish every single day of my life they had done something,” said McLauchlin of high-ranking officials in the London diocese, including archbishops who reigned during Sylvestre's tenure.

“The last place he was a priest was Pain Court (and) this would never have happened to me.”

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Google's word of mouth creates the buzz | View Clip
04/24/2010
SiliconValley.com

Vic Gundotra announces Google Apps Marketplace during a campfire-themed press conference, complete with s'mores, at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

More Google

Was it a family camping trip, or a Silicon Valley product announcement?

Folding deck chairs and gray fleece blankets were tied with neat bows and emblazoned with Google's "Campfire One" logo. Baked beans and hamburgers were served in a tent to software developers and journalists, and lighting effects made the auditorium in Building 43 — Google's corporate nerve center — look like a shadowy nighttime forest. A Google executive wore a wool lumberjack shirt to demo the product announced that night, an online marketplace for those developers. The entire scene was captured on a live YouTube feed.

For years, Google has used events like Campfire One and other carefully scripted product launches to create buzz and free media coverage for its products. But as Google approaches its 12th birthday, some observers wonder whether the company that sprang to public consciousness in part through endless free media about its "Don't Be Evil" motto and company cafeteria run by the Grateful Dead's chef can continue to rely on word of mouth to preserve its "Googley" image.

Where a brand like Google "has to be consistent is when they've decided that the concept of 'Don't Be Evil' is a driving force," said Paul Rand, president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, a nonprofit group whose more than 300 member companies range from American Express to General Mills. (Google is also a member.) "That becomes the filter that they have told the world

they want to be judged by."

From Apple to Yahoo, an array of big Silicon Valley companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to burnish their brands and products on TV and in other media. With Google's rapid growth creating new rivalries and triggering an array of un-Googley headlines — from antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and Europe to a privacy outcry about its Buzz social network — some observers say Google may need to steal a clue from Apple and use paid media to shape how outsiders see the company.

Like Apple, Google is a company that has very strong internal values, said Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business who studies how companies build their brands, but it lacks Apple's keen sense of how it is viewed by the outside world.

"I think most consumers see them as a much more mature company than they necessarily see themselves," Aaker said. "Just like any teenager grows up, in my opinion, they have struggled significantly in the last three or four years migrating their self-image to a more mature place."

In February, Google embraced an anchor of mainstream American advertising culture — it bought its first Super Bowl ad. But Google says it has no plans to move away from relying on word of mouth to drive interest in its products.

That strategy allows Google to spend a fraction of what its competitors spend on marketing and advertising — an irony for what is arguably one of the world's most successful advertising companies.

"I marvel at what I see Google able to do in terms of driving word of mouth for their business," said Rand, who is also CEO of the Zocalo Group, a Chicago advertising agency that specializes in word of mouth. "There is a constant stream of talkable innovation coming out of the company."

Some experts say Google's products have become so central to people's lives that there may be no need to ever make a TV campaign.

"To have 'googled' enter the dictionary, their level of brand awareness has got to be close to 99 percent," said Buford Barr, a marketing professor at Santa Clara University who is a former Silicon Valley corporate communications officer. "My first question is, why should they advertise at all?"

'Google, Kansas'

Google scored another PR coup this spring when it announced it would install a free broadband network 100 times faster than what most Americans have today, and asked communities across the nation to enter proposals. In bergs from Tupper Lake, N.Y., to Anchorage, Alaska, the proposal made not just local, but national news as mayors and city council members scrambled for Google's attention. Topeka, Kan., temporarily changed its name to "Google, Kansas," while the mayor of Duluth jumped in a freezing lake.

It was yet another example of the promise of a highly desirable product combined with extensive free media, generating huge word of mouth.

"Our user base has grown primarily by word of mouth," Google said in its recently filed 2009 10-K report to government regulators. "Our early marketing efforts focused on feeding this word-of-mouth momentum and used public relations efforts to accelerate it. Through these efforts and people's increased usage of Google worldwide, we have been able to build our brand with relatively low marketing costs as a percentage of our revenues."

Indeed, Google spends a fraction of what competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and eBay spend on marketing and advertising as a percentage of sales. Over the past five years, Google's marketing and advertising expenses have averaged 8 percent of total sales, compared with 21 percent for Yahoo and eBay, and 22 percent for Microsoft, according to an analysis of Bloomberg Financial data by the Mercury News.

Google also sponsors industry conferences — its developer conference in San Francisco in May, where the company often announces new products, is already sold out — and it maintains strong ties with an "ecosystem" of developers who build software products on Google's platform and often serve as apostles for its products.

Word of mouth doesn't always work, though — even for Google. In the weeks before release of its Nexus One smartphone, Google cribbed a page from Apple and generated plenty of buzz by releasing the phone in advance to its own employees and to a few carefully chosen bloggers and websites, causing a surge of interest around the January launch.

The Nexus One received good reviews, and Google's decision to sell the phone directly to customers through the Internet got plenty of buzz, but its sales have been a fraction of initial sales for the iPhone.

Other ad efforts

Hewlett-Packard is spending a reported $40 million on a new TV campaign, enlisting New Zealand comic actor Rhys Darby playing a disarming rube — he thinks "HP" stands for "Have Printers" — who discovers the company's technology with photographer Annie Leibovitz and rapper Dr. Dre. Cisco Systems, meanwhile, has enlisted actress Ellen Page, star of the independent hit "Juno," who experiences Cisco's video technology in a visit to her hometown of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Yahoo launched a $100 million ad campaign last fall, and many analysts credit Microsoft's TV ads for its Bing search engine for nibbling at Google's still-commanding lead in search. Meanwhile, Apple is hawking the new iPad on TV, employing its standard I'm-way-cooler-than-you musical soundtrack.

Compared with most Super Bowl ads, Google's was a relatively pedestrian affair, a series of shots of Google search queries called "Parisian Love," that starts with "How to Impress A French Girl" and ends with "How to Assemble a Crib."

While Google's spending on marketing and advertising increased to 9 percent of sales in 2009, Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, said in an interview that it is not planning to abandon its reliance on word of mouth.

"That's the core of the company — it's an engineering company, creating really innovative solutions where people want them," Pichette said. "You don't need to do that kind of advertising when you have those kinds of products."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories.

Return to Top



Google's word of mouth creates the buzz | View Clip
04/24/2010
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online

Vic Gundotra announces Google Apps Marketplace during a campfire-themed press conference, complete with s'mores, at Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on Tuesday, March 9, 2010.

More Google

Was it a family camping trip, or a Silicon Valley product announcement?

Folding deck chairs and gray fleece blankets were tied with neat bows and emblazoned with Google's "Campfire One" logo. Baked beans and hamburgers were served in a tent to software developers and journalists, and lighting effects made the auditorium in Building 43 — Google's corporate nerve center — look like a shadowy nighttime forest. A Google executive wore a wool lumberjack shirt to demo the product announced that night, an online marketplace for those developers. The entire scene was captured on a live YouTube feed.

For years, Google has used events like Campfire One and other carefully scripted product launches to create buzz and free media coverage for its products. But as Google approaches its 12th birthday, some observers wonder whether the company that sprang to public consciousness in part through endless free media about its "Don't Be Evil" motto and company cafeteria run by the Grateful Dead's chef can continue to rely on word of mouth to preserve its "Googley" image.

Where a brand like Google "has to be consistent is when they've decided that the concept of 'Don't Be Evil' is a driving force," said Paul Rand, president of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, a nonprofit group whose more than 300 member companies range from American Express to General Mills. (Google is also a member.) "That becomes the filter that they have told the world

they want to be judged by."

From Apple to Yahoo, an array of big Silicon Valley companies are spending tens of millions of dollars to burnish their brands and products on TV and in other media. With Google's rapid growth creating new rivalries and triggering an array of un-Googley headlines — from antitrust inquiries in the U.S. and Europe to a privacy outcry about its Buzz social network — some observers say Google may need to steal a clue from Apple and use paid media to shape how outsiders see the company.

Like Apple, Google is a company that has very strong internal values, said Jennifer Aaker, a professor at Stanford's Graduate School of Business who studies how companies build their brands, but it lacks Apple's keen sense of how it is viewed by the outside world.

"I think most consumers see them as a much more mature company than they necessarily see themselves," Aaker said. "Just like any teenager grows up, in my opinion, they have struggled significantly in the last three or four years migrating their self-image to a more mature place."

In February, Google embraced an anchor of mainstream American advertising culture — it bought its first Super Bowl ad. But Google says it has no plans to move away from relying on word of mouth to drive interest in its products.

That strategy allows Google to spend a fraction of what its competitors spend on marketing and advertising — an irony for what is arguably one of the world's most successful advertising companies.

"I marvel at what I see Google able to do in terms of driving word of mouth for their business," said Rand, who is also CEO of the Zocalo Group, a Chicago advertising agency that specializes in word of mouth. "There is a constant stream of talkable innovation coming out of the company."

Some experts say Google's products have become so central to people's lives that there may be no need to ever make a TV campaign.

"To have 'googled' enter the dictionary, their level of brand awareness has got to be close to 99 percent," said Buford Barr, a marketing professor at Santa Clara University who is a former Silicon Valley corporate communications officer. "My first question is, why should they advertise at all?"

'Google, Kansas'

Google scored another PR coup this spring when it announced it would install a free broadband network 100 times faster than what most Americans have today, and asked communities across the nation to enter proposals. In bergs from Tupper Lake, N.Y., to Anchorage, Alaska, the proposal made not just local, but national news as mayors and city council members scrambled for Google's attention. Topeka, Kan., temporarily changed its name to "Google, Kansas," while the mayor of Duluth jumped in a freezing lake.

It was yet another example of the promise of a highly desirable product combined with extensive free media, generating huge word of mouth.

"Our user base has grown primarily by word of mouth," Google said in its recently filed 2009 10-K report to government regulators. "Our early marketing efforts focused on feeding this word-of-mouth momentum and used public relations efforts to accelerate it. Through these efforts and people's increased usage of Google worldwide, we have been able to build our brand with relatively low marketing costs as a percentage of our revenues."

Indeed, Google spends a fraction of what competitors like Yahoo, Microsoft and eBay spend on marketing and advertising as a percentage of sales. Over the past five years, Google's marketing and advertising expenses have averaged 8 percent of total sales, compared with 21 percent for Yahoo and eBay, and 22 percent for Microsoft, according to an analysis of Bloomberg Financial data by the Mercury News.

Google also sponsors industry conferences — its developer conference in San Francisco in May, where the company often announces new products, is already sold out — and it maintains strong ties with an "ecosystem" of developers who build software products on Google's platform and often serve as apostles for its products.

Word of mouth doesn't always work, though — even for Google. In the weeks before release of its Nexus One smartphone, Google cribbed a page from Apple and generated plenty of buzz by releasing the phone in advance to its own employees and to a few carefully chosen bloggers and websites, causing a surge of interest around the January launch.

The Nexus One received good reviews, and Google's decision to sell the phone directly to customers through the Internet got plenty of buzz, but its sales have been a fraction of initial sales for the iPhone.

Other ad efforts

Hewlett-Packard is spending a reported $40 million on a new TV campaign, enlisting New Zealand comic actor Rhys Darby playing a disarming rube — he thinks "HP" stands for "Have Printers" — who discovers the company's technology with photographer Annie Leibovitz and rapper Dr. Dre. Cisco Systems, meanwhile, has enlisted actress Ellen Page, star of the independent hit "Juno," who experiences Cisco's video technology in a visit to her hometown of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.

Yahoo launched a $100 million ad campaign last fall, and many analysts credit Microsoft's TV ads for its Bing search engine for nibbling at Google's still-commanding lead in search. Meanwhile, Apple is hawking the new iPad on TV, employing its standard I'm-way-cooler-than-you musical soundtrack.

Compared with most Super Bowl ads, Google's was a relatively pedestrian affair, a series of shots of Google search queries called "Parisian Love," that starts with "How to Impress A French Girl" and ends with "How to Assemble a Crib."

While Google's spending on marketing and advertising increased to 9 percent of sales in 2009, Patrick Pichette, Google's chief financial officer, said in an interview that it is not planning to abandon its reliance on word of mouth.

"That's the core of the company — it's an engineering company, creating really innovative solutions where people want them," Pichette said. "You don't need to do that kind of advertising when you have those kinds of products."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories.

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Google Sued Over Search Suggestion | View Clip
04/23/2010
TechWeb

Google on Tuesday was sued in a Wisconsin court for allegedly violating the privacy rights of Beverly Stayart, an animal rights activist and the CFO and director of business development at Stayart Law Offices, the firm filing the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that Google is responsible for suggesting the search term "bev stayart levitra" as a user types "bev stayart" and is profiting from this association through the sale of ads on search results pages triggered by those keywords.

Levitra is a sexual dysfunction drug, and thus a term to which some might wish to avoid being linked.

"Google is misleading consumers, in Wisconsin and throughout the world, by selling the keyword phrase 'bev stayart levitra' and placing 'sponsored links' advertisements for Levitra, other male sexual dysfunction drugs, and other medicines and products on the page 'bev stayart levitra' on Google's Web site," the complaint states.

Filing a lawsuit, and the publicity that follows through articles like this one, will unfortunately only strengthen the association of the terms.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eric Goldman, associate professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, doesn't think the complaint has much merit, noting that the plaintiff

lost a similar "mockable" claim against Yahoo last year.

In

, he says that the claim fails to grasp that a search for the term "bev stayart levitra" may return ads based on "levitra," regardless of the presence of the the plaintiff's name or other keywords.

That's aside from the fact that Google is only indexing Web pages created by others. By virtue of her visibility online, Stayart's name appears to have been co-opted by "sploggers" (those who create spam Web pages) to drive traffic to their pharmaceutical sites.

Nonetheless, Goldman acknowledges that the lawsuit points to an issue that could become problematic for Google in the future: publicity rights in the context of domain names.

Google has a policy for dealing with the sale of keywords that are trademarked, but publicity rights are governed by a different set of rules.

Whereas trademark claims have to establish that another party's use of the trademark confuses consumers, there's no such requirement to assert a publicity rights claim. Thus a domain name, or keyword search term, that's also a famous person's name, could have legal protection not available to mere trademarks.

"Publicity rights are very powerful because they don't require consumer confusion," he said in a phone interview. "I don't think we've seen the last of this."

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Google Sued Over Search Suggestion | View Clip
04/23/2010
InformationWeek - Online

A Wisconsin resident blames Google for Web content that links her name to a drug for sexual dysfunction.

Google on Tuesday was sued in a Wisconsin court for allegedly violating the privacy rights of Beverly Stayart, an animal rights activist and the CFO and director of business development at Stayart Law Offices, the firm filing the complaint.

The lawsuit claims that Google is responsible for suggesting the search term "bev stayart levitra" as a user types "bev stayart" and is profiting from this association through the sale of ads on search results pages triggered by those keywords.

Levitra is a sexual dysfunction drug, and thus a term to which some might wish to avoid being linked.

"Google is misleading consumers, in Wisconsin and throughout the world, by selling the keyword phrase 'bev stayart levitra' and placing 'sponsored links' advertisements for Levitra, other male sexual dysfunction drugs, and other medicines and products on the page 'bev stayart levitra' on Google's Web site," the complaint states.

Filing a lawsuit, and the publicity that follows through articles like this one, will unfortunately only strengthen the association of the terms.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eric Goldman, associate professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, doesn't think the complaint has much merit, noting that the plaintiff

lost a similar "mockable" claim against Yahoo last year.

In

, he says that the claim fails to grasp that a search for the term "bev stayart levitra" may return ads based on "levitra," regardless of the presence of the the plaintiff's name or other keywords.

That's aside from the fact that Google is only indexing Web pages created by others. By virtue of her visibility online, Stayart's name appears to have been co-opted by "sploggers" (those who create spam Web pages) to drive traffic to their pharmaceutical sites.

Nonetheless, Goldman acknowledges that the lawsuit points to an issue that could become problematic for Google in the future: publicity rights in the context of domain names.

Google has a policy for dealing with the sale of keywords that are trademarked, but publicity rights are governed by a different set of rules.

Whereas trademark claims have to establish that another party's use of the trademark confuses consumers, there's no such requirement to assert a publicity rights claim. Thus a domain name, or keyword search term, that's also a famous person's name, could have legal protection not available to mere trademarks.

"Publicity rights are very powerful because they don't require consumer confusion," he said in a phone interview. "I don't think we've seen the last of this."

Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco brings together the designers, developers, entrepreneurs, VCs, marketing professionals, product managers, and business strategists building the next-generation Web. It happens May 3-6. Find out more here.

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Google Sued Over Search Suggestion
04/23/2010
TechWeb

Google on Tuesday was sued in a Wisconsin court for allegedly violating the privacy rights of Beverly Stayart, an animal rights activist and the CFO and director of business development at Stayart Law Offices, the firm filing the complaint.

claims that Google is responsible for suggesting the search term "bev stayart levitra" as a user types "bev stayart" and is profiting from this association through the sale of ads on search results pages triggered by those keywords.

Levitra is a sexual dysfunction drug, and thus a term to which some might wish to avoid being linked.

"Google is misleading consumers, in Wisconsin and throughout the world, by selling the keyword phrase 'bev stayart levitra' and placing 'sponsored links' advertisements for Levitra, other male sexual dysfunction drugs, and other medicines and products on the page 'bev stayart levitra' on Google's Web site," the complaint states.

Filing a lawsuit, and the publicity that follows through articles like this one, will unfortunately only strengthen the association of the terms.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eric Goldman, associate professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, doesn't think the complaint has much merit, noting that the plaintiff last year.

In , he says that the claim fails to grasp that a search for the term "bev stayart levitra" may return ads based on "levitra," regardless of the presence of the the plaintiff's name or other keywords.

That's aside from the fact that Google is only indexing Web pages created by others. By virtue of her visibility online, Stayart's name appears to have been co-opted by "sploggers" (those who create spam Web pages) to drive traffic to their pharmaceutical sites.

Nonetheless, Goldman acknowledges that the lawsuit points to an issue that could become problematic for Google in the future: publicity rights in the context of domain names.

Google has a policy for dealing with the sale of keywords that are trademarked, but publicity rights are governed by a different set of rules.

Whereas trademark claims have to establish that another party's use of the trademark confuses consumers, there's no such requirement to assert a publicity rights claim. Thus a domain name, or keyword search term, that's also a famous person's name, could have legal protection not available to mere trademarks.

"Publicity rights are very powerful because they don't require consumer confusion," he said in a phone interview. "I don't think we've seen the last of this."

Copyright © 2010 CMP Media LLC

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Google Sued Over Search Suggestion
04/23/2010
NBC.com

Google on Tuesday was sued in a Wisconsin court for allegedly violating the privacy rights of Beverly Stayart, an animal rights activist and the CFO and director of business development at Stayart Law Offices, the firm filing the complaint.

claims that Google is responsible for suggesting the search term "bev stayart levitra" as a user types "bev stayart" and is profiting from this association through the sale of ads on search results pages triggered by those keywords.

Levitra is a sexual dysfunction drug, and thus a term to which some might wish to avoid being linked.

"Google is misleading consumers, in Wisconsin and throughout the world, by selling the keyword phrase 'bev stayart levitra' and placing 'sponsored links' advertisements for Levitra, other male sexual dysfunction drugs, and other medicines and products on the page 'bev stayart levitra' on Google's Web site," the complaint states.

Filing a lawsuit, and the publicity that follows through articles like this one, will unfortunately only strengthen the association of the terms.

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eric Goldman, associate professor of Law at Santa Clara University School of Law, doesn't think the complaint has much merit, noting that the plaintiff last year.

In , he says that the claim fails to grasp that a search for the term "bev stayart levitra" may return ads based on "levitra," regardless of the presence of the the plaintiff's name or other keywords.

That's aside from the fact that Google is only indexing Web pages created by others. By virtue of her visibility online, Stayart's name appears to have been co-opted by "sploggers" (those who create spam Web pages) to drive traffic to their pharmaceutical sites.

Nonetheless, Goldman acknowledges that the lawsuit points to an issue that could become problematic for Google in the future: publicity rights in the context of domain names.

Google has a policy for dealing with the sale of keywords that are trademarked, but publicity rights are governed by a different set of rules.

Whereas trademark claims have to establish that another party's use of the trademark confuses consumers, there's no such requirement to assert a publicity rights claim. Thus a domain name, or keyword search term, that's also a famous person's name, could have legal protection not available to mere trademarks.

"Publicity rights are very powerful because they don't require consumer confusion," he said in a phone interview. "I don't think we've seen the last of this."

Copyright © 2010 CMP Media LLC

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SCI-Arc & CalTech Join Forces to Compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon | View Clip
04/23/2010
INHABITAT

The 2011 Solar Decathlon is over a year and a half away, but teams around the world are already gearing up for the hottest competition in sustainable building. A brand new union has formed between the Southern California Institute of Architecture and CalTech – a collaboration which could likely result in a formidable competitor. Much like Team California , which was a team made up of Santa Clara University and California College of the Arts, the SCI-Arc and CalTech team (maybe Team SoCal?) will be packing some big guns with their prefabulous entry – CH IP, which stands for Compact Housing Increasing Possibility.


Read the rest of SCI-Arc & CalTech Join Forces to Compete in the 2011 Solar Decathlon http //www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/ohttp //www.inhabitat.com/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=better_feedptions-general.php?page=better_feed

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Post tags 2011 solar decathlon , eco design , green design , off-grid , prefab design , Sci-Arc , sci-arc and caltech , Solar Decathlon , solar design , solar houses , southern california institute of architecture , Sustainable Building

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SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/23/2010
SiliconValley.com

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT (publ. 4/21/2010)

A story on the SV150 mischaracterized the number of mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley. There were 12 by the 10 companies that made the most deals, not 12 for the entire region.

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants

and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

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» » » Psychology Drives Bizarre Advertisements | View Clip
04/22/2010
PsychCentral.com

Psychology Drives Bizarre Advertisements

Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on April 22, 2010

A new study analyzes the trend for magazines to embed ads that feature peculiar, and at times grotesque images, to attract attention.

The setting — women's fashion magazines — is a Mecca for the outlandish. According to the study found in the Journal of Consumer Research, the ads were very effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines such as Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of a man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

“Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?” ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

“These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, ‘What is happening here?' and ‘What will happen next?'” the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. “These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity,” the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

“The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue,” the authors write.

“For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery — roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis — the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand.”

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Retailer Dodges FTC Freebie Blogger Bullet | View Clip
04/22/2010
MediaPost.com

Retailer Ann Taylor Loft seems to have dodged a Federal Trade Commission action for allegedly providing bloggers with gifts at a January preview of the store's summer line. But other companies might not be as lucky.

In a

letter sent to Ann Taylor's lawyers this week, FTC associate director Mary Engle reiterates the agency's stance that bloggers must disclose all material connections to companies they write about. "Depending on the circumstances, an advertiser's provision of a gift to a blogger for posting blog content about an event could constitute a material connection that is not reasonably expected by readers of the blog," states the letter.

She also says that the FTC ultimately decided against bringing an enforcement action for a few reasons, including that only a small number of bloggers posted about the event; many of the ones who did so disclosed the gifts.

Another factor, according to Engle, was that Ann Taylor now has a written policy to tell bloggers who receive gifts to make disclosures. The letter states that Ann Taylor adopted that policy in February -- which would have been after the preview.

Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, speculates that the FTC might have other companies in its sights. "The letter makes me wonder how many FTC blog-related investigations are pending," he

writes. "I would be shocked if this were the only one."

But should the commission bring an enforcement action, the agency could have a very hard time justifying why gifts to bloggers should be treated differently than gifts to writers for mainstream media outlets.

The fact is, many reporters at mainstream newspapers and magazines accept swag from advertisers without making disclosures.

The FTC's decision to investigate marketers for giving freebies to bloggers -- but not to newspapers -- simply doesn't make sense. What's more, it seems like the FTC's stance could spur marketers to steer clear of bloggers, while continuing to offer swag to newspapers. It's hard to see how that result would benefit consumers.

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The Unchanging Foundation of Copyright | View Clip
04/22/2010
Law Librarian Blog

« Workshare's Best Practices Guide on Metadata | Main April 22, 2010 The Unchanging Foundation of Copyright Copyright Clearance Center CEO Tracey Armstrong discusses her belief that copyright holders have the right to price and term their works and the ways in which this can be achieved in the digital world in Edward Nawotka's All Information Doesn't Want to Be Free . Nawotka writes "Armstrong maintains that despite the transition from analog to digital culture, the foundation of copyright hasn't changed. It has only created a greater and more urgent need for expeditious means of licensing the material -– or clearing copyright." Do you agree? Or is Ken Schneyer's comment to the Publishing Perspectives article more in tune with the changes taking place in the publishing industry? Copyright is an artifact of the printing press. It was designed to solve a specific set of problems. It solved those problems tolerably well. Just as a technological development made copyright necessary, technological developments are making it counterproductive. The recent, “stronger” forms of copyright, which have taken such absurd turns as outlawing technology itself, creating harsher sentences for bringing video cameras into movie theaters than for assault and battery, and creating a “limited time” of copyright ownership that cannot provide reasonable incentives to any mortal human, are evidence of how badly stressed the paradigm has become. A new model is needed, one that will protect the interests of creators without giving a small minority of corporations a virtual stranglehold on culture or sacrificing the interests of nearly everyone else. I do not claim to know what that model is, although I have made some suggestions in the area. I applaud the drive to develop creative ways of organizing relationships between adapters and original creators. It is certainly a step in the right direction. But saying that “the foundation of copyright has not changed” is absurd. "Copyright Law is Out of Balance." Snips from Register of Copyrights Maybeth Peters from BNA's Electronic Commerce & Law Report's "On Copyright's 300th Anniversary, Scholars Question Effectiveness of Current Formulation " Technological, social, and international evolutions are combining in ways that compel policy makers to act, Peters said at a conference on the 300th anniversary of modern copyright law sponsored by University of California at Berkeley, Santa Clara University's High Tech Law Institute, and the Copyright Society of the U.S.A. Copyright is about incentivizing, creating, and making works available, said Peters, who is retiring at the end of the year. “Copyright should be seen as part of the solution, not as creating the problem,'' she said. “But I do admit that when you have a statute that is crafted around photocopying and you are now in the digital age, it doesn't work very well.'' Copyright law “is out of balance, and I think it's perceived by many as out of balance, and we have lost the respect of the public in many ways,'' Peters said. Copyright law has to be updated “so that it makes sense for the copyright owners but also for the consuming public.'' See also Lawrence Lessig's EDUCAUSE Review article, Getting Our Values around Copyright Right The existing system of copyright cannot work in the digital age. ... There is a growing copyright abolitionist movement—people who believe that copyright was a good idea for a time long gone and that we need to eliminate it and move on in a world where there is no copyright. I am against abolitionism. I believe copyright is an essential part of the cultural industries and will be essential in the digital age—even though I also believe it needs to be radically changed in all sorts of important ways and doesn't apply the same in science and in education. Copyright is essential to a diverse and rich (in all senses of that word) culture. While pondering this issue, take a moment to consider the economic effects of piracy of digital content in the context of the GAO's recent report, Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods  reviewed in Mark Giangrande's LLB post, GAO Report Says Economic Effects Piracy of Goods and Files Can't Be Measured . [JH] April 22, 2010 in Current Affairs , Information Technology , Publishing Industry | Permalink Comments Post a comment Name Email Address URL Remember personal info? Comments

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Guest Commentary: Some facts to remember in clergy sexual abuse discussions | View Clip
04/21/2010
Catholic San Francisco

There are a lot more myths than facts bantered around about clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Here are six important points you don't hear about in discussions regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.


1. Catholic clergy aren't more likely to abuse children than other clergy or men in general.
According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies), 4 percent of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time that states that this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4 percent figure is lower than school teachers (at 5 percent) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men. Research states that 17 percent of American women and 12 percent of American men were sexually violated when they were children by an adult. Sexual victimization is tragically fairly common in the general population but luckily these numbers have been dropping in recent years.


2. Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church can't be blamed on celibacy. Not having sex doesn't make children the object of one's desire.
First, if Catholic clergy aren't more likely to be sex offenders than other clergy or men in general, then celibacy can't be blamed by itself. Most sex offenders are not celibate clergy. Most are married or partnered. Furthermore, many men who don't have sex for a variety of reasons (e.g., no suitable partners, marital or relationship distress) don't turn to children for sexual gratification. They turn to other consenting adults. Think about it: If you don't have sex who becomes the object of your desire? Children or other adults?


3. Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church can't be blamed on homosexuality.
Although the vast majority of victims are boys (80 percent according to the 2004 John Jay study and other studies) and the Catholic Church has a large number of priests who are homosexual in orientation, homosexuality doesn't make men sex offenders. No evidence exists that suggest that sexual orientation, in and of itself, makes someone at risk to commit sex crimes against children or others. Sexual orientation is not a risk factor for crime.


4. Clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church can't be blamed on an all male clergy.
If Catholic clergy aren't more likely to be sex offenders than other clergy from other traditions, then an all male clergy can't be blamed. Having women clergy doesn't stop sex offenders from offending.


5. Almost all of clergy sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church that we hear about in the news are from decades ago (usually the 1960's and 70's).
Although these stories are horrific to hear, they are almost never about incidents that occurred since the late 1980's. Incidents of abuse in the past 20 to 25 years are quite rare compared to incidents during the 60's and 70's. This is also true for other groups such as school teachers. Incidents since the 2002 crisis in the USA unfolded are especially rare. Most of the more recent cases are from international priests who were both born and formed (i.e., trained and ordained) overseas who generally didn't go through the screening and training process that local men go through. Some argue that more recent victims (i.e., since the mid 1980's) just haven't come forward yet. Perhaps that is true but thus far no published data supports this theory.


6. Most clergy sex offenders aren't pedophiles.
Research tells us that about 80 percent of clergy sex offenders abuse post pubescent teens, not pre pubescent children. So, the phrase “pedophile priest” is a misnomer. You might say that it doesn't matter. Both categories involve victimizing minors. True, but the risk factor profile as well as the evaluation and treatment prognosis is much different between the two groups. Besides, while people may be worried about young children being victimized they may neglect the more likely victim, the teen.


Perhaps the real issue here is that many are outraged with Church leaders (especially bishops) whom they believe have been defensive and arrogant. People demand responsibility and accountability and they don't see it happening. Clearly, some Church leaders treated victims and their families very poorly. For many rank-and-file Catholics who often put priests on a pedestal, it is shocking to hear that some of these men have sexually violated anyone, let alone children. The Church's unpopular positions on sexual ethics (e.g., masturbation, contraception, homosexuality, divorce) make sex crimes committed by priests even more scandalous. The secrecy and otherworldliness of the Catholic Church also make the story of child sexual abuse committed by priests of great interest to the media and to the general population.


Finally, many of the 25 percent of Americans who are Catholic have ambivalent feelings about their Church to begin with even before the clergy abuse crisis unfolded. Many who were raised in the Church during previous generations have deeply emotional stories of priests and nuns who had impossibly high standards for thought and behavior which makes stories of clergy sexually violating children so hypocritical. Perhaps the Gospel verse “he who is without sin may cast the first stone” from John 8:7 sums up this sentiment.


Let me be very clear. The sexual victimization of children by priests (or by anyone for that matter) is inexcusable. Church officials protecting offenders rather than victims is also inexcusable. There is much to be angry about. Many get even more upset when accountability and responsibility in the Church doesn't seem to occur.


Many reasonable and thoughtful people argue that the Catholic Church should allow married men, women, and those who are homosexual to be ordained as priests and deacons (as the Episcopals do) to prevent clergy abuse from occurring. But the current data on clergy abuse just doesn't seem to support these arguments. Perhaps future data will change current findings but you have to go with the best available data to inform one's thinking now.


The recent clergy abuse stories coming out of Europe and South America are not surprising but we have to be reasoned, letting good data and logic inform us rather than relying on myths, anger, and hysteria. If someone (or some group) has empirical data that can contradict the six points mentioned above, please present it and let it be subjected to academic peer review. We all may have particular beliefs and perspectives about the causes, contexts, nature, and scope of clergy sexual abuse in the Church but we should be informed by empirical quality data and reason.


Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP, is professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavior sciences at Stanford School of Medicine. He is the author of “Sin against the Innocents: Sexual Abuse by Priests and the role of the Catholic Church” (2004) and “Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned: Perspectives on Sexual Abuse Committed by Roman Catholic Priests” (1999). The commentary above was published in the March 24, 2010 issue of Psychology Today.

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Revealing Statistics | View Clip
04/21/2010
National Catholic Register - Online

Sexual Abuse of Children Runs Spectrum of Society

PORTLAND, Ore. — No more tellingly could the prevalence of sexual abuse in America have been demonstrated than it was in a Portland, Ore., courtroom in March.

There, in a civil suit against the Boy Scouts of America, the lawyer for an alleged victim of sexual molestation by a repeat-offender troop leader recited the Boy Scout oath and promised to be “trustworthy.” Then the attorney vowed to prove “how the Boy Scouts of America broke that oath.”

He presented six boxes of the so-called secret “perversion files” that the Scouts used to keep tabs on leaders suspected of sexual misconduct, arguing their confidentiality prevented their effectiveness in preventing misconduct.

The jury delivered a $1.4 million verdict April 13. The Scouts plan to appeal, arguing the “perversion files” are outdated and do not reflect current prevention efforts or even past policy, AP reported.

A 2002 study of professional sexual misconduct by German psychiatrist Werner Tschan found that at the height of the problem in the 1960s and 1970s, 15% of psychotherapy patients reported sexual relations with their therapists, while it occurred with 7.5% of physiotherapy patients, and with 4% of medical patients and their doctors. Though Canada, with the United States, is a leader in cracking down on professional sexual misconduct, a 1999 Ontario study found that 1% of the population there reported “inappropriate professional behavior in the previous five years.”

Those who study sexual misconduct, like psychologist Thomas Plante of Santa Clara University, say there is no evidence that sexual predators gravitate to jobs like doctors or priests or volunteer posts like scout leaders or sports coaches, the better to find and groom victims.

“There's no data to support that theory,” said Plante, who has edited several academic examinations of priestly abuse.

Priests at Half the Rate

Plante said that about 4% of Catholic clergy were sexual abusers in the 1950s through 1980s and that “this is about the same as it was among other clergy … and less than it was in the general population of males,” which was about 8%.

Statistics are hard to come by, he admits. In fact, the John Jay study on priestly abuse commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is the hardest data available.

“The good news is that it is coming down,” he noted, for males generally, and across the range of trust professions and positions.

Everyone interviewed for this article agrees. According to Finkelhor, it's partly due to the publicity around these cases making it clear that it's wrong to do it and wrong to cover it up; but that it's also de-stigmatized as far as victims' talking about it and getting counseling for it. Victims are therefore less likely to become victimizers.

The John Jay study also supports the Tschan study: Priestly abuse was mainly a phenomenon of the '50s, '60s and '70s, a function, Plante believes, partly of the repressive sexual culture in which candidates for the priesthood were raised and their immaturity when they entered seminary. The average age of current postulants, he notes approvingly, is 53. In those days, says Plante, psychotherapists had more confidence in their curative powers. But their judgment was probably marred by another factor, says Plante: “It has been estimated that 40 years ago about 23% of male psychotherapists have been sexually involved with their clients.”

A 2002 study across the spectrum of Christian churches by Christian Ministry Resources, a publisher of church administration literature, indicated at least 3,500 reported cases of child sexual abuse in Protestant churches yearly, with volunteers rather than staff being the typical suspects.

Complaints peaked in 1994 and have declined since, perhaps, according to The Christian Science Monitor, because of preventive measures instituted in the meantime. Three years earlier, the Presbyterian Church reported that “between 10% and 25% of [its] clergy nationwide have engaged in sexualized behavior or sexual contact with parishioners, clients, employees, etc.”

The fact that other denominations have the same problems as the Catholic Church is reflected in malpractice insurance premiums, reported Newsweek this month in an online feature titled “Mean Men.”

One insurer specializing in church clients, the GuideOne Center for Risk Management, reported no difference in the incidence of sexual-misconduct claims across denominations.

Charol Shakeshaft is the leading researcher into sexual abuse in the public schools and author of a much-repeated, and much-misunderstood, statement that “the physical sexual abuse of students in [public] schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

Chairwoman of the department of education leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Shakeshaft told the Register that the comment is based on the certainty that, “since there are many more students in public schools than children in Catholic churches or schools, there will be more victims.”

7% in Public Schools

Shakeshaft's mammoth research project for the federal government indicates 7% of public-school students will be sexually molested by staff or teachers, or about 4.2 million victims, while the abuse of various sorts by fellow students will be greater.

Shakeshaft, too, said the problem is getting better — but not much.

“If the problem were being taken seriously,” she said, school systems and education faculties across the U.S. would be training teachers about “educator sexual misconduct,” liability insurance rates would be tied to anti-abuse training in schools, there would be regular federal studies on sexual misconduct (instead of just the one she did), and adults who sexually abuse children “would be reported to the police and charged … and automatically lose their teaching licenses.”

Shakeshaft did her federal study when there was a Republican majority in Congress to order the federal Department of Education to commission it. The bureaucracy in the federal Department of Education has never shown any willingness to pursue the issue on its own, she said, and added that the current Congress appears not to be interested either.

Shakeshaft did a second study of 125 cases of public-school teachers whose school districts were convinced by the evidence they were abusers. In only one case, she said, did an administrator not only fire the teacher but made sure he got no further work in schools.

“In most of the cases, nothing was done. Maybe they would say, ‘Don't do that again.' Sometimes they did move them along to different schools.”

David Finkelhor, executive director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said that the scandal of priestly sexual abuse has had a positive effect on the public schools by raising awareness both with the public and with administrators.

‘Passing the Trash'

“Before that, it was a case of ‘passing the trash,'” he told the Register. If the teacher would agree to resign without a fuss, he said, the administration wouldn't blackball him with other school districts.

In a famous Canadian case of “passing the trash,” British Columbia public-school teacher Robert Noyes is believed to have molested hundreds of male and female primary-school students in a succession of schools and districts during the 1970s and 1980s. He pleaded guilty to 19 assaults in 1985. The case resulted in a Royal Commission and the creation of the College of Teachers to discipline the profession, separate from the provincial teachers' union.

Having adequate disciplinary bodies has been crucial to cracking down on sexual misconduct in the health professions and the clergy of many denominations, said John Gonsiorek, a professor of clinical psychology at Minnesota's Argosy University Twin Cities.

His own profession of psychotherapy was typical of the health field in the 1970s, Gonsiorek said.

“The licensing boards for psychologists and doctors were insensitive to the issue of sexual misconduct. Some boards did not even respond to complaints at all.”

Lawsuits changed that.

“I would argue that without the pressure from the legal community the health professions wouldn't be where they are today,” he said.

But victims' suits and pressure from legislators made licensing boards realize that their state-appointed job was actually “to protect the public from the profession.”

“The boards had the power to discipline, and now they began to use it,” said Gonsiorek. The professions responded in the 1980s and 1990s with serious ethical guidelines regarding sexual misconduct with patients, which then were reflected in university curriculums.

Steve Weatherbe writes from Victoria, British Columbia.

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ANIWhy grotesque fashion ads grab consumers' attention | View Clip
04/20/2010
Yahoo! India

Washington, Apr 20 (ANI): Women's fashion magazines, which contain some featuring bizarre and grotesque images, are effective in luring consumers. Now, a new study has found the reason behind it.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce and Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

"These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery-roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis-the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand." (ANI)

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In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook | View Clip
04/20/2010
philly.com

SAN JOSE, California - Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere - Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true "I-just-googled-her" fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation points where they have no business being (Center'd).

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups in Silicon Valley and beyond falling over themselves to create cool names with an AdMob's swagger and a Twitter's zip, the word-play is getting wild. To make matters worse, as the supply of good available names dries up, the envelope is being pushed right over the cliff of clever into the canyon of overly cute.

"We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken," said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. "We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime slushies, so he said, 'How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name."

With the low-hanging fruit pretty much picked over, name-hungry entrepreneurs are in a branding frenzy. Whether they're compiling kitchen-table lists or paying professional consultants, the startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks - slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends. And each company founder thinks he or she has found the perfect one.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of an online dating site called Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

"My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever," he said. "We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a 'z' or an 'x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two 'o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect."

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, sees the current crisis as part of a larger historical arc. Ten years ago, "everything was very dot-commish - punchy, short names like Yahoo. But when the bubble burst, a lot of the more frivolous names went out of vogue and suddenly sounded very dated."

Addis said the pendulum swung the other way for a while, as everyone fled dot-comania like the plague. But lately, "the world has gone back to a more dot-com sort of feel, out of necessity because everything normal is taken," said Addis, referring to the despised "domain squatters" - folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along. "There's such hatred for these guys, because they just hijack these great URLs."

Which leads us to the misspelled, nonsensical, copycatting mess we're now knee-deep in. Smule and Skimble, anyone?

And when the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni. Get it?

"We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot," Brezina said. "Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get. Users say Xobni's really memorable - especially once they know it's 'inbox' spelled backward."

And even though a consulting firm gave it a trophy for having the worst company name of 2008, Brezina says his San Francisco firm, now housed in Twitter's old offices, has 34 employees and has seen one of its tools downloaded more than 5 million times.

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name. Branding guru and author Naseem Javed says "we are at a crossroads right now because naming has become global. And your name must project the right strength, so if you think you can call yourself Boohoo or LalaLand, you're dreaming in Technicolor."

Apparently, the folks over at Fecalface (an art-scene site) and Booyah (an entertainment purveyor) didn't get the memo.

"A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand," says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. "These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something - it was a cola! We don't do that anymore. I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?"

Pronounceability, if that's even a word, is key, says Joe Fahrner, who co-founded a "question-and-answer search engine" called Answerly.

"We were inspired by Writely, which was acquired by Google. Answerly was available for $6.99. We also bought Questionly and Askerly just in case, all for under 100 bucks."

In the end, nothing spells success like success. Caterina Fake - yes, her real name! - knows the thrill of watching one's company name ascend into the rarefied air of common parlance. She co-founded and created the name Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site that was later sold to Yahoo for a rumored $40 million.

"We wanted Flicker, but the guy who had it wouldn't sell," says Fake, 40. "So I suggested to the team, 'Let's remove this "e" thing.' They all said, 'That's too weird,' but I finally ground everyone down. Then of course, it became THE thing and everyone started removing vowels right and left."

And the rest - from Scribd to Jangl to Jaxtr to Qik - is, well, Hstry.

QUIZ:

Guess which one of these five company names is fake:

- Zencoder

- Etacts

- Rockyrowed

- JamBase

- Heyzap

(Answer: Rockyrowed).

(c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.).

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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THE LAW PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY AND AN EXPERT IN INELECT WALL PROPERTY SAYS THIS IS A MAJOR SLIP IN THE TIGHT MEASURES APPLE TAKES TO GUARD ITS TRADE SECRETS. | View Clip
04/20/2010
ABC 7 News at 6 PM- KGO-TV

NEXT TIME, I WON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. NO. THE SPOKESPERSON HERE AT SFO SAYS THAT THE SAN FRANCISCO CONVENTION BUREAU HAS BEEN WORKING WITH THE HOTELS TRYING TO PERSUADE THEM TO CUT SOME OF THE RATES FOR THE STRANDED PASSENGERS HERE. LIVE IN SFO, ABC 7 NEWS. THANK YOU. AND THE BANNED STUDENTS FROM LOS GATOS HIGH SCHOOL CAUGHT A LUFTHANSA FLIGHT TODAY. AND FOR DOZEN MARIN COUNTY STUDENTS ARE STILL STRANDED TONIGHT. 28 THEATER STUDENTS ARE SPENDING AN ADDITIONAL WEEK IN LONDON. ALSO, 24 FRENCH STUDENTS FROM TAM HIGH ARE STRANDED IN PARIS. THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL SAYS THIS TIME ABROAD IS NOT GOING TO WASTE. WELL, MAYOR MAKING DO. VISITING LIBRARIES AND VISITING MUSEUMS AND WENT TO THE PANTHOEN. IT'S TOUGH TO ENDURE SITTING IN A CAFE, THEY'RE MAKING THE MOST OF IT RIGHT NOW. THEY'LL BE HEADING HOME THURSDAY. THE THEATER GROUP FINDS OUT TOMORROW IF THEY'VE SECURED A FLIGHT BACK TO THE STATES. MAYBE MORE DAYS SITTING IN HOTELS BUT THEY'LL BE OKAY. APPLE HAS ITS MISSING iPHONE PROTOTYPE BACK TONIGHT I WAS ACCIDENTALLY LEFT ON A PENINSULA BAR STOOL BY AN APPLE EMPLOYEE CELEBRATING HIS BIRTHDAY. NEXT THING HE KNEW, THE WHOLE WORLD SAW EVERY SECRET DETAIL AROUND THE INTERNET. AN EMBARRASSING MISTAKE. Reporter: WAITS A BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AT THIS GERMAN BEER GARDEN. AN APPLE ENGINEER SAYS HIS STOOL, BUT LEFT SOMETHING BEHIND, IMPORTANT. A TOP SECRET PROTOTYPE OF THE NEXT APPLE iPHONE. IT'S FUNNY. BECAUSE THE FIRST OFF, APPLE DOESN'T HAVE TOO MANY OF THESE FLOATING AROUND. FOR ONE OF THESE TO BE LOST BY ONE EMPLOYEE IS VERY UNUSUAL. JASON SHEN IS EDITOR AT GIZMOTO THE PROTOTYPE ENDED UP IN HIS HANDS THCHL INDICATES ITS UNLIKE ANY CURRENT iPHONE THERE. IS A SECOND CAMERA FACING FRONT AND A FLASH AND THE DESIGN WAS NEW. A SCOOP WHICH THEY POSTED ONLINE. SKEPTICS WONDER FD IT WAS A PUBLICITY STUNT THAT. WAS DISPELLED WHEN THIS LETTER ARRIVED FROM APRIL YAELS TOP LEGAL OFFICER ASKING FOR THE RETURN OF ITS PROPERTY. GIZMOTO SAYS THE WORKING PHONE WAS QUICKLY DEACTIVATED. THE 27-YEAR-OLD IS A APPLE ENGINEER. THE PHONE WAS NEVER TURNED IN AS FOUND PROPERTY. GIZMOTO ISN'T SAYING WHO TOOK IT. THE EMPLOYEE IS POPE TEN SHALLLY IN SERIOUS TROUBLE. CERTAINLY COULD BE FIRED. FOR DOING THIS. AND APPLE WOULD BE WELL WITHIN ITS RIGHTS TO FIRE SOMEONE FOR DOING THAT. THE LAW PROFESSOR AT SANTA CLARA UNIVERSITY AND AN EXPERT IN INELECT WALL PROPERTY SAYS THIS IS A MAJOR SLIP IN THE TIGHT MEASURES APPLE TAKES TO GUARD ITS TRADE SECRETS. A C NET TECH BLOGGER PUTS IT BLUNTLY TO LOSE A PRODUCT THAT BELONGS TO THEM AND FOR IT TO BE SHOWCASED? THIS IS AS BAD AS IT CAN GET FOR APPLE SECURITY. APPLE DID NOT RESPOND TO A REQUEST FOR INTERVIEW. PERHAPS THE WORST DAMAGE IS THE FACT THAT HE'S GIVING THE COMPETITION A LEG UP ON WHAT APPLE IS GOING TO BE COMING OUT WITH LATER THIS YEAR. WELL, APPLE HAS THE iPHONE TO THANK FOR A VERY GOOD EARNINGS REPORT ISSUED THIS AFTERNOON. APPLE TOLD EIGHT MILLION iPHONES DURING THE QUARTER, MORE THAN DOUBLE OF NUMBER OF LAST YEAR, AND TOLD 10 MILLION iPODS. MACINTOSH SALES WERE UP BY A THIRD. STEVE JOBS CALLS IT THE BEST NONHOLIDAY QUARTER EVER. APPLE SURPASSED GOOGLE AS THE MOST VALUABLE COMPANY. STILL AHEAD TONIGHT ANNUAL 420 SMOKEOUT IN JANT CRUZ. HUNDREDS OF MARIJUANA USERS LIGHTING UP AT APPOINTED DATE AND TIME, IN SACRAMENTO, ONE STATE LAWMAKER WANTS TO CHARGE INMATES FOR THEIR STAY BEHIND BARS Y THIS PAY TO STAY PROPOSAL IS DEAD UPON ARRIVAL. ALSO TONIGHT, BAY AREA IMPACT OF THE LEHMAN BROTHERS COLLAPSE. LOCAL LAWMAKERS DEMANDING A BAILOUT FROM A COMPANY THAT WASN'T TOO BIG TO FAIL. SWAUB PAYS OUT MILLIONS TO CLOSED CAPTIONING BROUGHT TO YOU BY MANCINI SLEEPWORLD.

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Things are looking up for the economy | View Clip
04/20/2010
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

Cash for appliances rebate may take some work 04.20.10

Things are looking up for the economy 04.18.10

Answering readers' income tax questions 04.15.10

Debt - forgiven but not forgotten at tax time 04.13.10

Unless you are looking for a job, selling a house or trying to balance a city or state budget, the economy is looking pretty good.

Despite some trouble spots, a string of positive reports last week helped cement the idea that a recovery is under way. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon both said on Wednesday that the risk of a double-dip recession is fading.

Among last week's promising indicators:

-- Strong earnings. Bellwether companies including Intel, JPMorgan, UPS, Google and railroad operator CSX delivered better-than-expected earnings gains.

-- Retail sales rise. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 1.6 percent in March from February. That was the biggest gain in four months and better than the 1.2 percent economists were expecting. Compared with a year ago, March sales were up 7.6 percent. This suggests those who have a job are more willing to spend.

-- Inflation under control. The Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index rose a tiny 0.1 percent in March. This means the economy can grow some more before the Federal Reserve feels the need to raise interest rates.

-- Manufacturing rises. Three reports showed the nation's factories continue to pick up steam. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its Empire State Manufacturing index soared to 31.9 in April from 22.9 in March. Economists were expecting a reading of 24. The Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing index rose to 20.2 from 18.9 in March.

U.S. industrial production rose 0.1 percent in March, which was smaller than expected but its ninth monthly increase. The manufacturing component rose 0.9 percent but it was largely offset by a 6.4 percent fall in utilities output as people were able to turn down their heat.

-- Widespread recovery. In its monthly Beige Book report, the Fed noted that overall economic activity increased since the last report in 11 of its 12 districts.

One of the week's few dark spots: On Thursday the Labor Department reported that first-time unemployment claims had unexpectedly risen by 24,000, following an increase of 18,000 the week before.

Jobs picture

But there was also good news on the jobs front: Intel said it plans to hire 1,000 to 2,000 workers this year, JPMorgan is looking to hire 9,000. Google said it added almost 800 employees in the first quarter and plans to hire "aggressively" the rest of the year. Investors, worried about Google's spending plans, drove down its stock price on Friday.

On Monday, the committee that semi-officially dates business cycles said it could not yet conclude that the recession had ended. By the end of the week, however, many economists were writing its obituary.

"Talk of a double-dip recession has evaporated. Now people are talking about whether we will have a V-shaped recovery," says James Paulsen, chief investment strategist with Wells Capital Management.

Deja vu

Paulsen envisions a recovery like the one that started in 1982. "When we started to grow in late 1982, we had high unemployment for years, banks going under for years, state and local fiscal problems for years. Yet we had tremendous growth in profits, job creation and fabulous gains in the stock market," he says.

Paulsen believes the economy will grow 4 percent this year and next. That's not quite a V-shaped recovery, but "it will be above average, at least compared to the last two," he says.

By the second half of this year, he predicts, the economy will be creating 200,000 jobs a month, but unemployment will remain high - above 7 percent - for three or four years as discouraged workers re-enter the labor market.

Paulsen says more banks will fail, commercial and residential real estate will remain weak and local governments will continue to struggle with budget problems.

"The reason we have snapped back so fast is not because we have helped the impaired parts of our economy," he says. It's because the unimpaired parts, which had been "paralyzed by fear," have bounced back.

"When you take 90 percent of the population and freeze them, then you thaw them out, that's a lot of growth. They don't need a job, they have a job. The headlines are getting better, that is going to help confidence and will inspire employers to hire," he says.

Paulsen predicts the S&P 500 could hit 1,350 this year, up 13 percent from Friday's close. But it will struggle next year as inflation picks up or the Fed raises rates.

The risks

Mario Belotti, a Santa Clara University economics professor, says he sees "no possibility of a double-dip recession." He thinks the economy will grow 3.5 to 4 percent this year, a bit higher than the consensus.

As the news improves, the economy "will feed upon itself on the way up, the same way it feeds upon itself on the way down," he says.

Belotti, a follower of Silicon Valley CEOs, is encouraged that so many have said their business is improving.

Another positive indicator: Business sales are growing faster than inventories.

The stock market, a leading economic indicator, is also flashing positive signs. Despite a bout of profit taking on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up a fraction of a percent. It is up 5.6 percent this year and up 68 percent from its March 2009 low.

"If people who invest in the stock market are thinking about a double dip, they would not have pushed the market as far as they did," he says. Likewise, the price of petroleum products and commodities would not be rising "if people did not expect the economy to grow."

The big risk, Belotti says, "is if the unemployment rate starts going up instead of down. That could scare people. Fear of unemployment causes people to cut back their consumption."

We also might have problems if gasoline reaches $3.50 or $4 per gallon or widespread inflation flares up.

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Tiny Panoptes technology holds promise for military surveillance and iris recognition | View Clip
04/20/2010
Gizmag

The Panoptes platform will support tiny cave cameras and iris recognition technology suitable for the military and homeland security

Image Gallery (3 images)

Researchers at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas are developing new miniature camera technology and an iris recognition application built on a high-resolution, light and compact platform known as Panoptes. The technology is designed to help the military and border patrol to track combatants in dark caves or alleys and airport security personnel to quickly and unobtrusively identify a subject from an iris scan.

Led by Marc Christensen from SMU, the project has received a $1.6 million grant by the Department of Defense.

The name “Panoptes” comes from the Greek mythological character – Argos Panoptes – a giant sentry with a hundred eyes and in case you were curious, is also short for: "Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor". The new applications have been dubbed AIM-CAMS, for "Active Illumination with Micro-mirror-arrays for Computational Adaptive Multi-resolution Sensing," and Smart-Iris, for "SMU's Multi-resolution Adaptive Roving Task-specific Iris Recognition Imaging System."

"The Panoptes technology is sufficiently mature that it can now leave our lab, and we're finding lots of applications for it," said Christensen, an expert in computational imaging and optical interconnections. "This new money will allow us to explore Panoptes' use for non-cooperative iris recognition systems for Homeland Security and other defense applications. And it will allow us to enhance the camera system to make it capable of active illumination so it can travel into dark places — like caves and urban areas."

Panoptes Technology

Panoptes technology is capable of producing sharp and clear images without the size and weight of a traditional camera system. It uses arrays of agile and finely controlled microelectromechanical system (MEMS) mirrors - which are integrated with low-resolution sub-imagers on a silicon base - allowing sampling of a wide field of view. The MEMS mirrors are steerable and can redirect plexiglas sub-imagers to zoom in on regions of interest. The images are stored in the onboard computer and are converted to high-resolution images by a super-resolution algorithm.

The sub-imagers are tiny, flat, off-axis-shaped paraboloids and are small enough to fit on the surface of a small coin. This makes them ideal to be tiled, undetected, almost anywhere – on the underside of a small drone, along the walls of a hallway or on the outside of a soldier's helmet. They measure just 8mm x 5.7mm x 4mm (approx. 0.32” x 0.22” x 0.16”) and have an effective focal length of 4mm (approx. 0.16”).

The micro mirror array is honeycomb-shaped and is made up of 61 hexagonal mirrors - each with three actuators that can move and control the mirrors. The usable circular aperture is 3.9 mms (approx. 0.15”) in diameter. The researchers claim that the digitally restored image - whilst not super-resolution - approaches optical limit. The architecture of Panoptes is unique as it can adapt its field of view to focus on a region of interest, therefore capturing only those images value, and preserving computer power.

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman has field-tested the Panoptes imaging in tactical environment stimulations and it is currently being tested independently by Draper Laboratory. According to Christensen, it could be available for fielded demonstrations by late 2011.

Smart-Iris Technology

The Smart-Iris will use the adaptive resolution of Panoptes and iris recognition technology. "It's very challenging to get the resolution with a wide field-of-view camera, but with a zoom camera, it's hard to find the iris because it's like looking through a soda straw," Christensen said.

Iris recognition is the is the most accurate biometric available because no two irises are alike, said Delores Etter, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense who leads SMU's Biometrics Engineering Research Group. However, there are problems with existing technology due to glare, eyelashes, eyelids or dim lighting.

Panoptes will start the iris-recognition process with a wide field-of-view at low resolution, find a face, and finally narrow to the iris. The Smart-Iris will then extend the range of iris acquisition, so it will be possible for people to move through a doorway and for each one to have their iris scanned – without having to pause. No more need for standing motionless with one's eye pressed to a scanner. And the camera can maintain a high resolution and more than 150 pixels across the iris.

"Our goal is to develop an iris recognition system that is unobtrusive and accurate. We want to ensure that the right people have access, and that potential intruders are identified, all without impacting flow in high-traffic areas," said Etter, who directs the Lyle School's Caruth Institute for Engineering Education. Good news for the airline security personnel who rely on the latest technology to screen millions of people who pass through airlines security each year.

AIM-CAMS Technology

The AIM-CAMS will use Panoptes technology with Pico projectors. Using Pico projectors will make it possible for the low-resolution camera to be used in dark areas, like caves and alleyways by projecting digital pictures taken by portable devices onto any wall for large-format viewing.

SMU is collaborating on the research with Santa Clara University in California, Northrop Grumman and Draper Laboratory. Funding came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Office of Naval Research and Army Research Laboratory.

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Tiny Panoptes technology holds promise for military surveillance and iris recognition | View Clip
04/20/2010
Gizmag

Researchers at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas are developing new miniature camera technology and an iris recognition application built on a high-resolution, light and compact platform known as Panoptes. The technology is designed to help the military and border patrol to track combatants in dark caves or alleys and airport security personnel to quickly and unobtrusively identify a subject from an iris scan.

Led by Marc Christensen from SMU, the project has received a $1.6 million grant by the Department of Defense. The name ?Panoptes? comes from the Greek mythological character ? Argos Panoptes ? a giant sentry with a hundred eyes and in case you were curious, is also short for: "Processing Arrays of Nyquist-limited Observations to Produce a Thin Electro-optic Sensor". The new applications have been dubbed AIM-CAMS, for "Active Illumination with Micro-mirror-arrays for Computational Adaptive Multi-resolution Sensing," and Smart-Iris, for "SMU's Multi-resolution Adaptive Roving Task-specific Iris Recognition Imaging System."

"The Panoptes technology is sufficiently mature that it can now leave our lab, and we're finding lots of applications for it," said Christensen, an expert in computational imaging and optical interconnections. "This new money will allow us to explore Panoptes' use for non-cooperative iris recognition systems for Homeland Security and other defense applications. And it will allow us to enhance the camera system to make it capable of active illumination so it can travel into dark places ? like caves and urban areas." Panoptes technology is capable of producing sharp and clear images without the size and weight of a traditional camera system. It uses arrays of agile and finely controlled microelectromechanical system (MEMS) mirrors - which are integrated with low-resolution sub-imagers on a silicon base - allowing sampling of a wide field of view. The MEMS mirrors are steerable and can redirect plexiglas sub-imagers to zoom in on regions of interest. The images are stored in the onboard computer and are converted to high-resolution images by a super-resolution algorithm.

The sub-imagers are tiny, flat, off-axis-shaped paraboloids and are small enough to fit on the surface of a small coin. This makes them ideal to be tiled, undetected, almost anywhere ? on the underside of a small drone, along the walls of a hallway or on the outside of a soldier?s helmet. They measure just 8mm x 5.7mm x 4mm (approx. 0.32? x 0.22? x 0.16?) and have an effective focal length of 4mm (approx. 0.16?). The micro mirror array is honeycomb-shaped and is made up of 61 hexagonal mirrors - each with three actuators that can move and control the mirrors. The usable circular aperture is 3.9 mms (approx. 0.15?) in diameter. The researchers claim that the digitally restored image - whilst not super-resolution - approaches optical limit. The architecture of Panoptes is unique as it can adapt its field of view to focus on a region of interest, therefore capturing only those images value, and preserving computer power.

Defense contractor Northrop Grumman has field-tested the Panoptes imaging in tactical environment stimulations and it is currently being tested independently by Draper Laboratory. According to Christensen, it could be available for fielded demonstrations by late 2011.

The Smart-Iris will use the adaptive resolution of Panoptes and iris recognition technology. "It's very challenging to get the resolution with a wide field-of-view camera, but with a zoom camera, it's hard to find the iris because it's like looking through a soda straw," Christensen said.

Iris recognition is the is the most accurate biometric available because no two irises are alike, said Delores Etter, a former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense who leads SMU's Biometrics Engineering Research Group. However, there are problems with existing technology due to glare, eyelashes, eyelids or dim lighting.

Panoptes will start the iris-recognition process with a wide field-of-view at low resolution, find a face, and finally narrow to the iris. The Smart-Iris will then extend the range of iris acquisition, so it will be possible for people to move through a doorway and for each one to have their iris scanned ? without having to pause. No more need for standing motionless with one?s eye pressed to a scanner. And the camera can maintain a high resolution and more than 150 pixels across the iris.

"Our goal is to develop an iris recognition system that is unobtrusive and accurate. We want to ensure that the right people have access, and that potential intruders are identified, all without impacting flow in high-traffic areas," said Etter, who directs the Lyle School's Caruth Institute for Engineering Education. Good news for the airline security personnel who rely on the latest technology to screen millions of people who pass through airlines security each year.

The AIM-CAMS will use Panoptes technology with Pico projectors. Using Pico projectors will make it possible for the low-resolution camera to be used in dark areas, like caves and alleyways by projecting digital pictures taken by portable devices onto any wall for large-format viewing.

SMU is collaborating on the research with Santa Clara University in California, Northrop Grumman and Draper Laboratory. Funding came from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Office of Naval Research and Army Research Laboratory.

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Viacom Hits Out At Google In Copyright Case | View Clip
04/20/2010
EWeek Europe

Viacom claims Google's YouTube prove the video-sharing site tried to make money from copyright infringement

Viacom claimed nine new documents from its $1 billion (£654m) lawsuit versus Google's YouTube prove the video-sharing site tried to make money from copyright infringement.

Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement in March 2007, with the case winding its way through court amid a sea of confidential filings. Many of those filings became public March 18 in motions for summary judgment from the parties.

The media giant contended in its motion that Google acquired YouTube in 2006 because it was a “haven of infringement” and planned to profit from it. Google believes content placed on YouTube is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Viacom, looking to bolster its case in the court of public opinion, said that comments made by Google executives prove the search engine made a deliberate decision to make money from content it didn't own and had no authority to offer to users.

Deliberately Made Money From Content

Viacom included the following comments in this document, which was shared internally among Google executives before Google acquired YouTube: “YouTube's business model is completely sustained by pirated content” and “YouTube's content is all free, and much of it is highly sought after pirated clips.”

In this document, Viacom cites this comment from Jonathan Rosenberg, who leads Google's product offerings, to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin: “We may be able to coax or force access to viral premium content… Threaten a change in copyright policy… use threat to get standard deal sign-up.”

Viacom pulled out this comment to underscore points how Google seeks to advance its business interests despite the copyright issue. The comments themselves appear devious, but they are taken out of context and the judge will consider that when weighing Viacom's arguments.

One of the hurdles Viacom must work around is the fact that its own employees used YouTube to upload video content even after the lawsuit was filed.

Viacom addresses that in the latest disclosure, but blames Google and YouTube. Stanley Pierre-Louis, Viacom vice president, and associate general counsel, noted:

“Google's public relations machine has been trying to shift the blame to us, because some Viacom employees did in fact use YouTube for promotional purposes.

An Example Of Willful Blindness

But this is a problem YouTube and Google created, not Viacom. We asked for the ability to identify to YouTube which clips were promotional, but YouTube and Google did nothing because they didn't want to know. In the law this is called “willful blindness.”

A prominent law expert told eWEEK when the first batch of documents were unsealed last month that Viacom may have a hard time making a case against because it has evolved into a recognizable brand.

“In 2006, a judge might not have heard of YouTube, let alone used it,” said Eric Goldman, associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of the High Tech Law Institute. “By 2010, a lot of judges know YouTube before it even gets into their court room. I'm guessing most judges have positive thoughts about YouTube.”

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Why Do Grotesque Fashion Ads Lure Consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
RedOrbit

Women's fashion magazines are chock full of ads, some featuring bizarre and grotesque images. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, these ads are effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. "These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery—roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis—the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie. "Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2010.

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Why Do Grotesque Fashion Ads Lure Consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
ScienceDaily

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2010) — Women's fashion magazines are chock full of ads, some featuring bizarre and grotesque images. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, these ads are effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. "These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery -- roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis -- the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

Adapted from materials provided by University of Chicago Press Journals, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie. Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising. Journal of Consumer Research, October 2010

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
Asian Lite

Date: 20/04/2010

Women`s fashion magazines are often full of ads featuring bizarre and grotesque images. Now a study has found that these are not only effective at grabbing consumer attention but also promise a more intense experience of the brand.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains the floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads. They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

"These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad`s pictures, asking themselves, `What is happening here?` and `What will happen next?`" the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. "These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colours, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging, says a Saskatchewan and Santa Clara University release.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write.

"For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery - roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis - the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
AlbuquerqueNews.net

Women's fashion magazines are often full of ads featuring bizarre and grotesque images. Now a study has found that these are not only effective at grabbing consumer attention but also promise a more intense experience of the brand.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains the floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

'Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?' ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads. They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

'These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'' the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. 'These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colours, lines, composition, and creativity,' the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging, says a Saskatchewan and Santa Clara University release.

'The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue,' the authors write.

'For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery - roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis - the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand.'

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
BaltimoreNews.net

Women's fashion magazines are often full of ads featuring bizarre and grotesque images. Now a study has found that these are not only effective at grabbing consumer attention but also promise a more intense experience of the brand.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains the floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

'Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?' ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads. They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

'These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'' the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. 'These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colours, lines, composition, and creativity,' the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging, says a Saskatchewan and Santa Clara University release.

'The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue,' the authors write.

'For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery - roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis - the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand.'

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
AustinNews.net

Women's fashion magazines are often full of ads featuring bizarre and grotesque images. Now a study has found that these are not only effective at grabbing consumer attention but also promise a more intense experience of the brand.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains the floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

'Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?' ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads. They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

'These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'' the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. 'These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colours, lines, composition, and creativity,' the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging, says a Saskatchewan and Santa Clara University release.

'The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue,' the authors write.

'For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery - roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis - the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand.'

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

-Indo-Asian News Service

St/pg

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/20/2010
BombayNews.net

Women's fashion magazines are often full of ads featuring bizarre and grotesque images. Now a study has found that these are not only effective at grabbing consumer attention but also promise a more intense experience of the brand.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains the floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

'Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?' ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University).

The researchers interviewed women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads. They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction.

'These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'' the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. 'These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colours, lines, composition, and creativity,' the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging, says a Saskatchewan and Santa Clara University release.

'The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue,' the authors write.

'For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery - roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis - the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand.'

These findings were published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

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Why grotesque fashion ads grab consumers' attention | View Clip
04/20/2010
DailyIndia.com

From ANI

Washington, Apr 20: Women's fashion magazines, which contain some featuring bizarre and grotesque images, are effective in luring consumers. Now, a new study has found the reason behind it.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce and Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

"These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery-roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis-the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

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George Will: Unconfirmed | View Clip
04/19/2010
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer - Online

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience, he was confirmed 15 days later.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.” But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will, Washington Post Writers Group. 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071; georgewill@washpost.com.

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In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook | View Clip
04/19/2010
Pantagraph - Online

SAN JOSE, California -- Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere -- Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true "I-just-googled-her" fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation points where they have no business being (Center'd).

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups in Silicon Valley and beyond falling over themselves to create cool names with an AdMob's swagger and a Twitter's zip, the word-play is getting wild. To make matters worse, as the supply of good available names dries up, the envelope is being pushed right over the cliff of clever into the canyon of overly cute.

"We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken," said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. "We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime slushies, so he said, 'How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name."

With the low-hanging fruit pretty much picked over, name-hungry entrepreneurs are in a branding frenzy. Whether they're compiling kitchen-table lists or paying professional consultants, the startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks -- slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends. And each company founder thinks he or she has found the perfect one.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of an online dating site called Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

"My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever," he said. "We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a 'z' or an 'x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two 'o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect."

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, sees the current crisis as part of a larger historical arc. Ten years ago, "everything was very dot-commish -- punchy, short names like Yahoo. But when the bubble burst, a lot of the more frivolous names went out of vogue and suddenly sounded very dated."

Addis said the pendulum swung the other way for a while, as everyone fled dot-comania like the plague. But lately, "the world has gone back to a more dot-com sort of feel, out of necessity because everything normal is taken," said Addis, referring to the despised "domain squatters" -- folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along. "There's such hatred for these guys, because they just hijack these great URLs."

Which leads us to the misspelled, nonsensical, copycatting mess we're now knee-deep in. Smule and Skimble, anyone?

And when the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni. Get it?

"We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot," Brezina said. "Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get. Users say Xobni's really memorable -- especially once they know it's 'inbox' spelled backward."

And even though a consulting firm gave it a trophy for having the worst company name of 2008, Brezina says his San Francisco firm, now housed in Twitter's old offices, has 34 employees and has seen one of its tools downloaded more than 5 million times.

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name. Branding guru and author Naseem Javed says "we are at a crossroads right now because naming has become global. And your name must project the right strength, so if you think you can call yourself Boohoo or LalaLand, you're dreaming in Technicolor."

Apparently, the folks over at Fecalface (an art-scene site) and Booyah (an entertainment purveyor) didn't get the memo.

"A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand," says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. "These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something -- it was a cola! We don't do that anymore. I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?"

Pronounceability, if that's even a word, is key, says Joe Fahrner, who co-founded a "question-and-answer search engine" called Answerly.

"We were inspired by Writely, which was acquired by Google. Answerly was available for $6.99. We also bought Questionly and Askerly just in case, all for under 100 bucks."

In the end, nothing spells success like success. Caterina Fake -- yes, her real name! -- knows the thrill of watching one's company name ascend into the rarefied air of common parlance. She co-founded and created the name Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site that was later sold to Yahoo for a rumored $40 million.

"We wanted Flicker, but the guy who had it wouldn't sell," says Fake, 40. "So I suggested to the team, 'Let's remove this "e" thing.' They all said, 'That's too weird,' but I finally ground everyone down. Then of course, it became THE thing and everyone started removing vowels right and left."

And the rest -- from Scribd to Jangl to Jaxtr to Qik -- is, well, Hstry.

Quiz:

Guess which one of these five company names is fake:

Zencoder

Etacts

Rockyrowed

JamBase

Heyzap

(Answer: Rockyrowed).

(c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.). Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Posted in Business on Sunday, April 18, 2010 12:00 pm Updated: 3:22 pm.

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Lots of fool's gold in Internet branding rush; Wordplay getting wild as supply of available website-domain names dries up
04/19/2010
Edmonton Journal, The

Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere -- Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true 'I-just-googledher' fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation points where they have no business being (Center'd).

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups falling over themselves to create cool names, and as the supply of good available names dries up, the wordplay is getting wild.

"We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken,' said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. 'We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime Slurpees, so he said, 'How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name.'

The startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks -- slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of an online dating site called Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

"My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever," he said. 'We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a 'z' or an 'x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two 'o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect.'

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, blames the despised 'domain squatters' -- folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along. 'There's such hatred for these guys, because they just hijack these great URLs.'

When the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni. Get it?

"We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot,' Brezina said. 'Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get.'

And even though a consulting firm gave it a trophy for the worst company name of 2008, Brezina says his San Francisco firm, now housed in Twitter's old offices, has 34 employees and has seen one of its tools downloaded more than five million times.

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name.

"A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand,' says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. 'These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something -- it was a cola! We don't do that anymore.

"I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?'

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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No (political) experience required: George F. Will | View Clip
04/19/2010
Cleveland.com (Plain Dealer - Online)

WASHINGTON -- Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. President Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George F. Will is a columnist for The Washington Post.

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SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/19/2010
Los Angeles Daily News - Online

SV150

Analysis, charts and stock listings.

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop

in sales

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase

in cash

-4%

Decrease in

administrative costs

+15.2%

Increase in

shareholder equity

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

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US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/19/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

FILE - In this January 5, 2007 file photo, Archbishop Charles Chaput is speaks during an interview at the church's headquarters in Denver. Chaput acted swiftly suspending Rev. Melvin Thompson from Saint Thomas More Parish after decades-old child sex abuse allegations were presented against the priest.

DENVER—The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish—practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes

to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry—including saying Mass and working as a parish priest—while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

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Viacom Slings More Mud at Google in YouTube Copyright Case | View Clip
04/19/2010
NewsGang

Viacom claimed new documents from its $1 billion lawsuit versus Google's YouTube prove the video-sharing site tried to make money from copyright infringement. The media giant, looking to bolster its case in the court of public opinion, said that comments made by Google executives prove the search engine made a deliberate decision to make money from content it didn't own and had no authority to offer to users. One of the hurdles Viacom must work around is the fact that its own employees used YouTube to upload video content.

Viacom claimed nine new documents from its $1 billion lawsuit versus Google's YouTube prove the video-sharing site tried to make money from copyright infringement.

Viacom sued YouTube and Google for copyright infringement in March 2007, with the case winding its way through court amid a sea of confidential filings. Many of those filings became public March 18 in motions for summary judgment from the parties.

The media giant contended in its motion that Google acquired YouTube in 2006 because it was a "haven of infringement" and planned to profit from it. Google believes content placed on YouTube is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Viacom, looking to bolster its case in the court of public opinion, said that comments made by Google executives prove the search engine made a deliberate decision to make money from content it didn't own and had no authority to offer to users.

Viacom included the following comments in this document, which was shared internally among Google executives before Google acquired YouTube: "YouTube's business model is completely sustained by pirated content" and "YouTube's content is all free, and much of it is highly sought after pirated clips."

In this document, Viacom cites this comment from Jonathan Rosenberg, who leads Google's product offerings, to Google CEO Eric Schmidt and co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin:

"We may be able to coax or force access to viral premium content... Threaten a change in copyright policy... use threat to get standard deal sign-up."

Viacom pulled out this comment to underscore points how Google seeks to advance its business interests despite the copyright issue. The comments themselves appear devious, but they are taken out of context and the judge will consider that when weighing Viacom's arguments.

One of the hurdles Viacom must work around is the fact that its own employees used YouTube to upload video content even after the lawsuit was filed.

Viacom addresses that in the latest disclosure, but blames Google and YouTube. Stanley Pierre-Louis, Viacom vice president, and associate general counsel, noted:

"Google's public relations machine has been trying to shift the blame to us, because some Viacom employees did in fact use YouTube for promotional purposes. But this is a problem YouTube and Google created, not Viacom. We asked for the ability to identify to YouTube which clips were promotional, but YouTube and Google did nothing because they didn't want to know. In the law this is called "willful blindness."

A prominent law expert told eWEEK when the first batch of documents were unsealed last month that Viacom may have a hard time making a case against because it has evolved into a recognizable brand.

"In 2006, a judge might not have heard of YouTube, let alone used it," said Eric Goldman, associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and director of the High Tech Law Institute. "By 2010, a lot of judges know YouTube before it even gets into their court room. I'm guessing most judges have positive thoughts about YouTube."

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/19/2010
PhysOrg.com

Women's fashion magazines are chock full of ads, some featuring bizarre and grotesque images. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, these ads are effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. "These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery—roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis—the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

More information: Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie. "Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2010.

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Why do grotesque fashion ads lure consumers? | View Clip
04/19/2010
Science Blog

Women's fashion magazines are chock full of ads, some featuring bizarre and grotesque images. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, these ads are effective at grabbing consumers' attention.

The study lists the following examples from fashion magazines like Vogue: a Jimmy Choo ad depicting a woman fishing a purse out of a pool that contains a floating corpse of man, and a Dolce & Gabbana ad that features one beautiful woman in period costume skewering another in the neck.

"Why do we see such bizarre imagery in ads for clothing that cost several hundreds or even thousands of dollars?" ask authors Barbara J. Phillips (University of Saskatchewan) and Edward F. McQuarrie (Santa Clara University). The researchers interviewed 18 women who regularly read fashion magazines to examine their reactions to macabre ads.

They found that in addition to expected modes of engagement with ads, some women approached fashion advertisement as a type of fiction. "These women would be transported into the story world set in motion by the ad's pictures, asking themselves, 'What is happening here?' and 'What will happen next?'" the authors write.

Still others sought out imagery that could be approached like a painting in a gallery. "These women would immerse themselves in the images, examining its lighting, colors, lines, composition, and creativity," the authors explain.

Overall, the researchers found that in many cases, the key to constructing an engaging fashion ad was not to make it likeable or conventionally pretty, but to make it engaging.

"The merely pretty was too easily passed over; grotesque juxtapositions were required to stop and hold the fashion consumer flipping through Vogue," the authors write. "For the brands that choose to use grotesque imagery -- roughly one-fourth, according to a content analysis -- the promise is that greater engagement with ad imagery will lead to a more intense and enduring experience of the brand."

Barbara J. Phillips and Edward F. McQuarrie. "Narrative and Persuasion in Fashion Advertising." Journal of Consumer Research: October 2010. A preprint of this article (to be officially published online soon) can be found at http://journals.uchicago.edu/jcr).

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Are Gay Priests the Problem? | View Clip
04/18/2010
ABC News - Online

What Is the Truth Behind Any Association of Pedophilia and Homosexuality

The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church took yet another turn this week when statements by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, second only to Pope Benedict, linked pedophilia to homosexuality.

Father Beck says the majority of gay priests are celibate.

Bertone said: "Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have demonstrated that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia."

France, where an estimated 60 percent of the population is Catholic, became the first country to officially dismiss the remarks when foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters, "This is unacceptable linkage and we condemn this. France is firmly engaged in the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity."

Other church and lay leaders similarly have called the remarks outrageous and ill-informed. While en route to the United States in 2008, Pope Benedict said he considered homosexuality and pedophilia to be separate matters. So why would Cardinal Bertone make his statements? And what is the real truth behind any association of pedophilia and homosexuality?

Medical professionals agree that the majority of known pedophiles are heterosexual. Although statistics vary slightly, according to Thomas Plante of the department of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, most professionals agree that between 4 percent and 7 percent of people are pedophiles and that statistics in the priesthood roughly correspond to those findings.

It is also statistically verifiable that 80 percent of victims of sexual abuse are abused by a family member. The father of a family is 36 times more likely to abuse a child than a priest is, according to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Of about 3,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct among priests committed in the past 50 years, only 300, or 10 percent, of those cases involved true pedophiles. Pedophilia is psychologically classified as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, younger than 13. Ninety percent of the reported abuse cases involved Roman Catholic priests classified as ephebophiles, those attracted to teens between 13 and 19. Of those reported cases, 60 percent were homosexual abuse and 30 percent heterosexual abuse, according to the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Clergy Sexual Abuse | View Clip
04/18/2010
Roy Green Show - CHML-AM (Hometown Radio), The

Santa Clara University Psychology Professor Thomas Plante was interviewed about the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.

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Confirmation process sees rapid change | View Clip
04/18/2010
Lawrence Journal-World - Online

Washington — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.” But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

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From partial renovation to 'Extreme Makeover' | View Clip
04/18/2010
Observer

As one of the organizers of the Hesburgh Library petition, I wish to clarify our platform concerning the Library's facilities. It seems most logical to shift the discourse away from simply remodeling part of the main Library toward an expansion of the entire Library system. I suggest this should be accomplished in four phases, in order of priority:

(1) We should construct a depository — a high-density, temperature-controlled warehouse that can hold millions of books. Notre Dame requires it for two reasons. In the short-term, we need a location where we can store materials without disrupting service whenever we renovate the Library. In the long-term, a depository is essential for expanding collections. Though it has long been known that the stacks are approaching capacity, we have tried to circumvent the problem by reducing book acquisition, even as our competitors are increasing theirs.

Next year, the University of Chicago will unveil a $42 million depository that can hold 3.5 million volumes, more than Notre Dame's entire collection. The British Library just opened a £26 million storage unit, while Harvard is planning further expansion of its depository. Top institutions understand that even with the growth of information technology, print holdings will always keep expanding.

A depository is thus a crucial investment, probably costing less than our new hockey arena ($50 million). Because it is a warehouse, it can be quickly constructed. It may not excite benefactors, but that hardly negates its absolute necessity: Even if we cannot find donors, its funding should come directly from the endowment.

(2) Our Library is often torn between the competing needs of group study and quiet research, which instead should have separate facilities. Collaborative study needs should be addressed by an information commons, which would be open to the entire University, though primarily serving undergraduates. It should be a state-of-the-art, 24-hour complex adjacent to the main Library that provides print materials, but specializes in digital resources.

In 2008, Loyola University Chicago opened a 67,000 square-foot facility connected to its main library, with 35 group study rooms, 216 computer workstations, technical support, library reference and an all-glass, lakefront façade. It cost $28 million, about what we spent on remodeling the Joyce Center. Consider that Loyola's donor base is comparatively small, while its endowment is one-seventeenth of ours.

Santa Clara University, with an endowment one-ninth of ours, recently invested $95 million in a new library complex, including a depository and a “learning commons” similar to Loyola's. While Notre Dame has postponed the Library's renovation every year since 2001 because of a lack of benefactor interest, Santa Clara garnered two donations of $20 million each, demonstrating what expanded library advancement can accomplish.

(3) An information commons should precede renovation of the entire Hesburgh Library, which will be the costliest step: Ohio State recently spent $120 million to renovate its main library. While remaining open to all, our modernized library should emphasize research and scholarship. To quote Professor Jeffrey's letter to The Observer (“Library will be fine under proper custodian,” April 12), if it tries “to compete with Barnes & Noble in providing cute coffee bars and comfy couches, we are certain to lose.”

Therefore, the first two floors should be dominated by large reading rooms with enforced quiet, decor that is conducive to research (i.e. no IKEA sofas or amoeba-shaped tables) with reference material and scholar-librarians at hand. On the first floor, there should be a consolidated area for computers, scanners and copy machines, together with a new acquisitions section and a dissertation office.

We should look to other research libraries for examples. The new British Library, built in 1997, has separate reading rooms for the humanities, social sciences, manuscripts, rare books and music. We can accommodate similar facilities only after the creation of the depository and the information commons. If we bypass these two steps, however, even the renovated Hesburgh Library will remain a cluttered mess, inadequate for either group study or quiet research.

(4) Notre Dame has sought to bridge the divide between academic and residential life with classrooms in the new halls. In the future, Notre Dame should also consider designing its residences so that they have small libraries. The presence of “house libraries” is a feature of other residential systems, as at Harvard or Oxford, giving students ready access to study areas and basic materials needed for classes.

These facilities are crucial to our stated goals of providing an unsurpassed undergraduate education and becoming a preeminent research university. These aspirations are not mutually exclusive, but they both require firm commitment to and substantial investment in an enhanced library system, which is the bedrock of virtually all great universities.

David Morris is a Ph.D. student in medieval history. He can be reached at dmorris1@nd.edu

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook | View Clip
04/18/2010
Austin American-Statesman - Online

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true "I-just-googled-her" fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation where it has no business being (Center'd).

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups in Silicon Valley and beyond falling over themselves to create cool names with an AdMob's swagger and a Twitter's zip, the wordplay is getting wild. To make matters worse, as the supply of good available names dries up, the envelope is being pushed right over the cliff of clever into the canyon of overly cute.

"We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken," said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. "We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime slushies, so he said, 'How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name."

With the low-hanging fruit pretty much picked over, name-hungry entrepreneurs are in a branding frenzy. Whether they're compiling kitchen-table lists or paying professional consultants, the startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks — slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends. And each company founder thinks he or she has found the perfect one.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of the dating site Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

"My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever," he said. "We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a 'z' or an 'x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect."

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, sees the current crisis as part of a larger historical arc. Ten years ago, "everything was very dot-commish — punchy, short names like Yahoo. But when the bubble burst, a lot of the more frivolous names went out of vogue and suddenly sounded very dated."

Addis said the pendulum swung the other way for a while, as everyone fled dot-comania like the plague. But lately, "the world has gone back to a more dot-com sort of feel, out of necessity because everything normal is taken," said Addis, referring to the despised "domain squatters" — folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along.

Which leads us to the misspelled, nonsensical, copycatting mess we're now knee-deep in. Skimble, anyone?

And when the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni.

"We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot," Brezina said. "Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is, the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get. Users say Xobni's really memorable — especially once they know it's 'inbox' spelled backward."

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name. Branding guru and author Naseem Javed says "we are at a crossroads right now because naming has become global. And your name must project the right strength, so if you think you can call yourself Boohoo or LalaLand, you're dreaming in Technicolor."

Apparently, the folks over at Fecalface (an art-scene site) and Booyah (an entertainment purveyor) didn't get the memo.

"A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand," says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. "These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something — it was a cola! We don't do that anymore. I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?"

Pronounceability, if that's even a word, is key, says Joe Fahrner, who co-founded a "question-and-answer search engine" called Answerly.

"We were inspired by Writely, which was acquired by Google. Answerly was available for $6.99."

In the end, nothing spells success like success. Caterina Fake — yes, her real name! — knows the thrill of watching one's company name ascend into the rarefied air of common parlance. She co-founded and created the name Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site that was later sold to Yahoo for a rumored $40 million.

"We wanted Flicker, but the guy who had it wouldn't sell," says Fake, 40. "So I suggested to the team, 'Let's remove this "e" thing.' They all said, 'That's too weird,' but I finally ground everyone down. Then of course, it became THE thing and everyone started removing vowels right and left."

And the rest — from Scribd to Jangl to Jaxtr to Qik — is, well, Hstry.

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Order in the court
04/18/2010
Times of Trenton, The

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no questions about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98 to 0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Education Secretary and former South Carolina governor Richard Riley, Interior Secretary and former Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt, and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." Although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare, and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress's expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

georgewill@washpost.com

Copyright © 2010 The Times, Trenton N.J. All Rights Reserved.

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SHREWD -- AND PROFITABLE
04/18/2010
San Jose Mercury News

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

SILICON VALLEY'S TOP 150 COMPANIES ENJOY BIG PROFITS AFTER SOME HEAVY COST CUTS AND PAYROLL TRIMS. THE ONLY QUESTION NOW IS WHAT THEY PLAN TO DO WITH THEIR BOUNTY.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development -- the valley's lifeblood -- dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments -- up 25 percent from 2008 -- that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies -- Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google -- are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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Supreme Court pick is about more than left v. right | View Clip
04/18/2010
Poughkeepsie Journal - Online

WASHINGTON — Pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a fight over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should ponder how recently and radically the process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by trying to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter for a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the vote.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion at his confirmation hearing. Things changed in 1987, as Ted Kennedy used a Senate speech to start a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are products of Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes that the court has often included judges with political experience. Until 1952, most justices had legislative or executive political experience. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because Dwight Eisenhower, like many others, thought politics sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his other nominees.

Peretti thinks that when, with the 1954 Brown ruling, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent.

Though the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it now, so there is slight need to pick politically experienced justices.

Conservatives seeking a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), which upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to that government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments.

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric on "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be active enough in protecting liberty from attacks perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. Write him at 1150 15th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071-9200.

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Supreme Court: High Court's makeup evolves through the ages | View Clip
04/18/2010
Tallahassee Democrat -- Online

George Will • The Washington Post • April 18, 2010

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

(2 of 2)

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Write George Will at Washington Post Writers Group, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

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SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/18/2010
American Chronicle

Apr. 17--Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development -- the valley's lifeblood -- dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments -- up 25 percent from 2008 -- that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies -- Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google -- are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop in sales

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase in cash

-4%

Decrease in administrative costs

+15.2%

Increase in shareholder equity

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

To see more of the San Jose Mercury News, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.mercurynews.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, San Jose Mercury News, Calif.

NASDAQ-NMS:GOOG, NASDAQ-NMS:CSCO, NYSE:HPQ, NASDAQ-NMS:ORCL,

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

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SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/18/2010
Saratoga News

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase

-4%

Decrease in

+15.2%

Increase in

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

Return to Top



SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/18/2010
iStockAnalyst

Apr. 18--Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development -- the valley's lifeblood -- dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments -- up 25 percent from 2008 -- that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies -- Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google -- are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

Return to Top



Things looking up - really
04/18/2010
San Francisco Chronicle

Unless you are looking for a job, selling a house or trying to balance a city or state budget, the economy is looking pretty good.

Despite some trouble spots, a string of positive reports last week helped cement the idea that a recovery is under way. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon both said on Wednesday that the risk of a double-dip recession is fading.

Among last week's promising indicators:

-- Strong earnings. Bellwether companies including Intel, JPMorgan, UPS, Google and railroad operator CSX delivered better-than-expected earnings gains.

-- Retail sales rise. The Commerce Department reported that retail sales rose 1.6 percent in March from February. That was the biggest gain in four months and better than the 1.2 percent economists were expecting. Compared with a year ago, March sales were up 7.6 percent. This suggests those who have a job are more willing to spend.

-- Inflation under control. The Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index rose a tiny 0.1 percent in March. This means the economy can grow some more before the Federal Reserve feels the need to raise interest rates.

-- Manufacturing rises. Three reports showed the nation's factories continue to pick up steam. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York said its Empire State Manufacturing index soared to 31.9 in April from 22.9 in March. Economists were expecting a reading of 24. The Philadelphia Fed said its manufacturing index rose to 20.2 from 18.9 in March.

U.S. industrial production rose 0.1 percent in March, which was smaller than expected but its ninth monthly increase. The manufacturing component rose 0.9 percent but it was largely offset by a 6.4 percent fall in utilities output as people were able to turn down their heat.

-- Widespread recovery. In its monthly Beige Book report, the Fed noted that overall economic activity increased since the last report in 11 of its 12 districts.

One of the week's few dark spots: On Thursday the Labor Department reported that first-time unemployment claims had unexpectedly risen by 24,000, following an increase of 18,000 the week before.

Jobs pictureBut there was also good news on the jobs front: Intel said it plans to hire 1,000 to 2,000 workers this year, JPMorgan is looking to hire 9,000. Google said it added almost 800 employees in the first quarter and plans to hire "aggressively" the rest of the year. Investors, worried about Google's spending plans, drove down its stock price on Friday.

On Monday, the committee that semi-officially dates business cycles said it could not yet conclude that the recession had ended. By the end of the week, however, many economists were writing its obituary.

"Talk of a double-dip recession has evaporated. Now people are talking about whether we will have a V-shaped recovery," says James Paulsen, chief investment strategist with Wells Capital Management.

Deja vuPaulsen envisions a recovery like the one that started in 1982. "When we started to grow in late 1982, we had high unemployment for years, banks going under for years, state and local fiscal problems for years. Yet we had tremendous growth in profits, job creation and fabulous gains in the stock market," he says.

Paulsen believes the economy will grow 4 percent this year and next. That's not quite a V-shaped recovery, but "it will be above average, at least compared to the last two," he says.

By the second half of this year, he predicts, the economy will be creating 200,000 jobs a month, but unemployment will remain high - above 7 percent - for three or four years as discouraged workers re-enter the labor market.

Paulsen says more banks will fail, commercial and residential real estate will remain weak and local governments will continue to struggle with budget problems.

"The reason we have snapped back so fast is not because we have helped the impaired parts of our economy," he says. It's because the unimpaired parts, which had been "paralyzed by fear," have bounced back.

"When you take 90 percent of the population and freeze them, then you thaw them out, that's a lot of growth. They don't need a job, they have a job. The headlines are getting better, that is going to help confidence and will inspire employers to hire," he says.

Paulsen predicts the S&P 500 could hit 1,350 this year, up 13 percent from Friday's close. But it will struggle next year as inflation picks up or the Fed raises rates.

The risksMario Belotti, a Santa Clara University economics professor, says he sees "no possibility of a double-dip recession." He thinks the economy will grow 3.5 to 4 percent this year, a bit higher than the consensus.

As the news improves, the economy "will feed upon itself on the way up, the same way it feeds upon itself on the way down," he says.

Belotti, a follower of Silicon Valley CEOs, is encouraged that so many have said their business is improving.

Another positive indicator: Business sales are growing faster than inventories.

The stock market, a leading economic indicator, is also flashing positive signs. Despite a bout of profit taking on Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average ended the week up a fraction of a percent. It is up 5.6 percent this year and up 68 percent from its March 2009 low.

"If people who invest in the stock market are thinking about a double dip, they would not have pushed the market as far as they did," he says. Likewise, the price of petroleum products and commodities would not be rising "if people did not expect the economy to grow."

The big risk, Belotti says, "is if the unemployment rate starts going up instead of down. That could scare people. Fear of unemployment causes people to cut back their consumption."

We also might have problems if gasoline reaches $3.50 or $4 per gallon or widespread inflation flares up.

Copyright © 2010 San Francisco Chronicle

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent | View Clip
04/17/2010
SiliconValley.com

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee,

More real estate

president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It

definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median

prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

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SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/17/2010
Press-Telegram - Online

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase

-4%

Decrease in

+15.2%

Increase in

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

Return to Top



SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/17/2010
SiliconValley.com

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase

-4%

Decrease in

+15.2%

Increase in

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

Return to Top



SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/17/2010
Santa Cruz Sentinel - Online

Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development — the valley's lifeblood — dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments — up 25 percent from 2008 — that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies — Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google — are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

"It's amazing how much money these companies have," said Matt Murphy, a partner at venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. "They can dividend it to shareholders, hoard it or be strategic with it, and this feels like the year they want to be the latter."

Mergers and acquisitions in Silicon Valley shot up in the first quarter of 2010. There were 12 deals compared with four a year earlier. The value of the deals was $875 million, up 48 percent from the first quarter of 2009, according to the 451 Group, a technology industry analysis firm.

Cisco has announced five acquisitions since October. HP announced a major acquisition in November of 3Com, which wasn't finalized until last week.

Investors have reacted favorably to the valley's performance, sending the combined value of all its stock up 63.8 percent as of March 31 from the year before. That reversed a 32 percent decline from the prior year. The value of their shares reached $1.4 trillion, up from $849.9 billion in 2008. At their lowest point in March 2009, they had sunk to $699 billion.

But the year also brought another slide in the number of publicly traded companies, which fell for the ninth consecutive year to 242 from 261 in 2008.

So far, 2010 has gotten off to the best start since 2007 for new initial public offerings, with three valley companies going public in the first quarter of this year. That was as many as in the last two years combined.

Contact Pete Carey at 408-920-5419.

SV150, BY THE NUMBERS

-5.8%

Drop

-5.6%

Cut in work forces

+88%

Increase in profits

+24.8%

Increase

-4%

Decrease in

+15.2%

Increase in

The recession caused sales to drop among the Valley"s 150 largest companies in 2009. In Response, Companies cut expenses of all sorts.

the Cuts helped the companies" combined profits rebound last year after plummeting by half the year before. the companies also fattened their bank accounts, refinanced their debt and improved shareholder equity.

Return to Top



SV 150 companies nearly double profits | View Clip
04/17/2010
iStockAnalyst

Apr. 17--Silicon Valley's top 150 companies snapped back from a grueling recession last year, nearly doubling their profits by slashing costs and laying off workers.

Now many of the companies have accumulated large amounts of cash and are in position to hire and acquire other companies, observers say.

Even with sales dropping 5.8 percent, last year was the second most profitable year since the Mercury News began tracking the SV150's performance 25 years ago. The SV150's collective profit was $47.4 billion, up 88 percent and nearly bouncing back to the prerecession level of 2007.

The SV150 list ranks companies on the basis of worldwide revenue, and the year covers the most recent four quarters.

In a sign that the valley has begun to climb back from the bottom of the recession, sales have increased in the last two quarters and were higher on a yearly basis for the first time since 2008.

But the surge in black ink was uneven. Profits soared at some companies like Apple and Google, and one sector, biomedical, saw sales climb 26 percent. But six out of 10 companies had sales declines last year, and they responded by sharply cutting costs. They shed 62,800 employees globally. Spending on plants and equipment declined 21 percent. Even spending on research and development -- the valley's lifeblood -- dropped by 3.9 percent. Many companies also reduced debt. Short-term borrowings by the SV150 dropped 31 percent in 2009.

"Companies

did the basics," said Kevin Walsh, a venture capitalist who is also a management professor at Santa Clara University. "They got their costs under control, and made sure they were cash flow positive."

The cost-cutting was deep because valley companies feared the worst from the national recession, said Ron Conway, special partner in SV Angel, a venture firm. "Now these companies have even more cash to do very strategic acquisitions with," he said.

Even companies with yearly sales declines ended the year with plenty of cash. For example, Intel, hit by a 7 percent drop in sales, ended the year with 18 percent more cash on hand. That's because it cut costs, reducing its workforce 5 percent and slashing capital expenditures by 13 percent. Even Intel's research and development took a hit, reduced by 1 percent.

The valley's top companies have accumulated $213.5 billion in cash and other near-liquid investments -- up 25 percent from 2008 -- that they could use to acquire smaller companies, observers say. Six large companies -- Cisco Systems, Apple, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Oracle and Google -- are sitting on a combined $134 billion in cash or near-cash assets.

Return to Top



Clergy Sexual Abuse
04/16/2010
Cable News Network International (CNNI)

Santa Clara University Psychology Professor Thomas Plante was interviewed by CNN International's Becky Anderson about whether pedophilia is linked to homosexuality.

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Conservatives should worry about protecting liberty, not 'judicial activism' | View Clip
04/16/2010
Daily Journal, The

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision, as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

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Court fight shapes up wrong way | View Clip
04/16/2010
Times Union - Online

First published in print: Friday, April 16, 2010

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it. Yet when, on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas. Although Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

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Court opening has pols sharpening swords | View Clip
04/16/2010
Free Lance-Star - Online, The

Date published: 4/16/2010

--Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience--he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission--and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti,

a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama.

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In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook | View Clip
04/16/2010
PopMatters

San Jose Mercury News (MCT)

SAN JOSE, California — Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere — Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true “I-just-googled-her” fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation points where they have no business being (Center'd).

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups in Silicon Valley and beyond falling over themselves to create cool names with an AdMob's swagger and a Twitter's zip, the word-play is getting wild. To make matters worse, as the supply of good available names dries up, the envelope is being pushed right over the cliff of clever into the canyon of overly cute.

“We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken,” said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. “We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime slushies, so he said, ‘How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name.”

With the low-hanging fruit pretty much picked over, name-hungry entrepreneurs are in a branding frenzy. Whether they're compiling kitchen-table lists or paying professional consultants, the startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks — slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends. And each company founder thinks he or she has found the perfect one.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of an online dating site called Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

“My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever,” he said. “We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a ‘z' or an ‘x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two ‘o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect.”

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, sees the current crisis as part of a larger historical arc. Ten years ago, “everything was very dot-commish — punchy, short names like Yahoo. But when the bubble burst, a lot of the more frivolous names went out of vogue and suddenly sounded very dated.”

Addis said the pendulum swung the other way for a while, as everyone fled dot-comania like the plague. But lately, “the world has gone back to a more dot-com sort of feel, out of necessity because everything normal is taken,” said Addis, referring to the despised “domain squatters” — folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along. “There's such hatred for these guys, because they just hijack these great URLs.”

Which leads us to the misspelled, nonsensical, copycatting mess we're now knee-deep in. Smule and Skimble, anyone?

And when the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni. Get it?

“We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot,” Brezina said. “Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get. Users say Xobni's really memorable — especially once they know it's ‘inbox' spelled backward.”

And even though a consulting firm gave it a trophy for having the worst company name of 2008, Brezina says his San Francisco firm, now housed in Twitter's old offices, has 34 employees and has seen one of its tools downloaded more than 5 million times.

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name. Branding guru and author Naseem Javed says “we are at a crossroads right now because naming has become global. And your name must project the right strength, so if you think you can call yourself Boohoo or LalaLand, you're dreaming in Technicolor.”

Apparently, the folks over at Fecalface (an art-scene site) and Booyah (an entertainment purveyor) didn't get the memo.

“A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand,” says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. “These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something — it was a cola! We don't do that anymore. I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?”

Pronounceability, if that's even a word, is key, says Joe Fahrner, who co-founded a “question-and-answer search engine” called Answerly.

“We were inspired by Writely, which was acquired by Google. Answerly was available for $6.99. We also bought Questionly and Askerly just in case, all for under 100 bucks.”

In the end, nothing spells success like success. Caterina Fake — yes, her real name! — knows the thrill of watching one's company name ascend into the rarefied air of common parlance. She co-founded and created the name Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site that was later sold to Yahoo for a rumored $40 million.

“We wanted Flicker, but the guy who had it wouldn't sell,” says Fake, 40. “So I suggested to the team, ‘Let's remove this “e” thing.' They all said, ‘That's too weird,' but I finally ground everyone down. Then of course, it became THE thing and everyone started removing vowels right and left.”

And the rest — from Scribd to Jangl to Jaxtr to Qik — is, well, Hstry.

QUIZ:

Guess which one of these five company names is fake:

—Zencoder

—Etacts

—Rockyrowed

—JamBase

—Heyzap

(Answer: Rockyrowed).

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Justice wanted: no political experience required | View Clip
04/16/2010
phillyburbs.com

WASHINGTON - Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations: New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare, and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government's using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group. His column appears on Thursdays and Sundays. Send e-mail to georgewill@washpost.com.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent | View Clip
04/16/2010
Oroville Mercury-Register

More real estate

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It

definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

March home sales

In most Bay Area counties, median prices of houses sold last month rose compared with a year ago, the sixth consecutive month that"s happened after about two years of falling median prices. Data below are for resale houses, unless noted.

County or area

Number sold

Change from March "09

Median price

Change from March "09

Alameda

1,082

15.2%

$400,000

40.4%

Contra Costa

1,064

-18.4%

$272,000

26.5%

Marin

172

55.0%

$725,250

8.2%

Napa

115

10.6%

$310,000

-5.1%

San Francisco

247

39.5%

$734,000

17.2%

San Mateo

387

31.6%

$700,000

27.3%

Santa Clara

1,108

26.8%

$550,000

29.4%

Santa Cruz

111

-5.9%

$517,000

34.3%

Solano

535

-15.3%

$210,000

15.4%

Sonoma

343

-8.0%

$349,000

10.8%

Bay Area

5,053

5.1%

$400,000

35.6%

Santa Clara condos

358

23.4%

$345,000

50.0%

Bay Area condos

1,389

34.2%

$301,500

37.0%

Santa Clara all

1,602

24.4%

$500,000

28.2%

Bay Area all

6,992

10.5%

$380,000

31.0%

Santa Cruz County is not included in the Bay Area totals. Data based on completed sales of previously owned single-family houses or condos as recorded by counties in March 2010. The Bay Area and Santa Clara County "all— figures are for new and resale houses and condos, combined.

Return to Top



Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent | View Clip
04/16/2010
Los Angeles Daily News - Online

(Mercury News)

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee,

More real estate

Sales and foreclosure databases, local and national news.

president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It

definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median

prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Return to Top



Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent | View Clip
04/16/2010
SiliconValley.com

More real estate

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It

definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

March home sales

In most Bay Area counties, median prices of houses sold last month rose compared with a year ago, the sixth consecutive month that"s happened after about two years of falling median prices. Data below are for resale houses, unless noted.

County or area

Number sold

Change from March "09

Median price

Change from March "09

Alameda

1,082

15.2%

$400,000

40.4%

Contra Costa

1,064

-18.4%

$272,000

26.5%

Marin

172

55.0%

$725,250

8.2%

Napa

115

10.6%

$310,000

-5.1%

San Francisco

247

39.5%

$734,000

17.2%

San Mateo

387

31.6%

$700,000

27.3%

Santa Clara

1,108

26.8%

$550,000

29.4%

Santa Cruz

111

-5.9%

$517,000

34.3%

Solano

535

-15.3%

$210,000

15.4%

Sonoma

343

-8.0%

$349,000

10.8%

Bay Area

5,053

5.1%

$400,000

35.6%

Santa Clara condos

358

23.4%

$345,000

50.0%

Bay Area condos

1,389

34.2%

$301,500

37.0%

Santa Clara all

1,602

24.4%

$500,000

28.2%

Bay Area all

6,992

10.5%

$380,000

31.0%

Santa Cruz County is not included in the Bay Area totals. Data based on completed sales of previously owned single-family houses or condos as recorded by counties in March 2010. The Bay Area and Santa Clara County "all— figures are for new and resale houses and condos, combined.

Return to Top



Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
Tri-Valley Herald

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 Tri-Valley Herald. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
San Mateo County Times

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 San Mateo County Times. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
Oakland Tribune

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 The Oakland Tribune. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
Daily Review, The

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 The Daily Review. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
Argus, The

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 The Argus. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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Silicon Valley median home price rises 29 percent
04/16/2010
Alameda Times-Star

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price — which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period — does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 Alameda Times-Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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VALLEY HOUSING MARKET RALLIES
04/16/2010
San Jose Mercury News

In one of the strongest signs yet that the Silicon Valley housing market is recovering, the median price of houses sold in Santa Clara County last month shot up 29 percent from a year earlier, hitting $550,000, the biggest year-over-year increase in almost a decade.

San Mateo County saw a similar phenomenon, with the median house price leaping 27 percent to $700,000, according to a report released Thursday by MDA DataQuick. That was the county's biggest year-over-year increase in nine years.

"In the last four to six months, we've been seeing multiple offers, and there are definitely a lot of incentives" for people to buy homes, including both state and federal tax credits for home purchases, said Karl Lee, president of the Santa Clara County Association of Realtors. "I think there's an undercurrent of demand even without the tax credit. The two greatest factors are the low interest rates, and that buyers believe prices have come down to where they think it's attractive."

Those low prices helped spur Richard Jackman and his wife, Gina, to buy a three-bedroom house in San Jose's Willow Glen neighborhood last month. After a little remodeling, they hope to move in next week. The Jackmans began looking for a home a year and a half ago, and in late 2008, they made an offer of about $700,000 on one, but ultimately did not buy it. This time, they won out over three other bidders, and paid $560,000 for a house that had been priced at $540,000.

"It definitely seemed more competitive" this spring than in late 2008, Richard Jackman said. "A year and a half ago, it was a lot of people buying for investment. This time the families are moving in."

Last month's Santa Clara County figure was up from $510,500 in February, according to the DataQuick report, which reflects data gathered from public records. In San Mateo County, the median price jumped by $100,000 from $600,000 in February.

The big year-over-year increase in Santa Clara County was the largest since November 2000, when the median price climbed to $515,000. The last time the median price in the county hit March's figure of $550,000 was in November of last year.

Santa Clara County condominiums also posted an increase last month, with the median price rising 50 percent from March 2009, to $345,000.

While median home prices may be up from last year, they are still far lower than three years ago, when the median house price crossed the $800,000 mark in both counties.

But the big increases in median price -- which measures the halfway mark among the homes sold in a given time period -- does not mean a correspondingly generous increase in the value of all homes in the county.

Median prices have risen sharply in recent months compared with year-ago levels primarily because the mix of homes selling is more balanced now than it was a year ago, when post-foreclosure resales were a bigger portion of the completed transactions.

In Santa Clara County in March 2009, for example, 44 percent of all homes sold had been foreclosed upon sometime in the previous 12 months. Last month, only 22 percent of sales were post-foreclosure homes, DataQuick said. In San Mateo County, such sales made up 29 percent of the total in March 2009, but only 13 percent last month.

Of all home sales in Santa Clara County last month, 51 percent cost $500,000 or more. A year earlier, only 35 percent of sales were for more than a half-million.

Fred Foldvary, who teaches real estate economics at Santa Clara University, said March home prices illustrate that "real estate generally is bottoming out. I don't see any great big additional falls" in prices. He said the federal homebuyer tax credit, which expires at the end of April, accelerated some sales and helped boost prices. And as the economy recovers and inflation increases, he said, more people will seek out real estate investments as a hedge against inflation, and that demand will hold prices up.

The number of homes sold last month also rose significantly from March 2009, which posted the second-lowest sales of any March on record.

A total of 1,108 previously owned single-family homes changed hands in Santa Clara County last month, up 27 percent from a year earlier. Condo sales rose 23 percent, to 358.

San Mateo County sales surged 32 percent from a year earlier, to 387 houses sold last month.

Although the steep rise in median prices speaks to a real estate recovery, that recovery is still fragile.

Andrew LePage, an analyst with DataQuick, said "significant threats" still loom from higher interest rates, a weak economy and the likelihood of a rising inventory of homes being sold either after foreclosure or in an attempt to avoid foreclosure.

Contact Sue McAllister at 408-920-5833.

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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A Summer long struggle over Supreme Court Justice? | View Clip
04/15/2010
Daily Press - Online, The

George Will Washington Post Writers Group

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

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Are Gay Priests the Problem? | View Clip
04/15/2010
ABC News - Online

What Is the Truth Behind Any Association of Pedophilia and Homosexuality

OPINION By FATHER EDWARD L. BECK C.P.

The sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church took yet another turn this week when statements by the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, second only to Pope Benedict, linked pedophilia to homosexuality.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone speaks during an interview with The Associated...

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the Vatican. The Vatican Wednesday moved to defuse growing anger over remarks by the pope's top aide that the 'problem'' behind the pedophile priest scandals is homosexuality, and not the church's celibacy requirement for clergy.

(AP Photo)

Bertone said: 'Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have demonstrated that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia.'

France, where an estimated 60 percent of the population is Catholic, became the first country to officially dismiss the remarks when foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters, 'This is unacceptable linkage and we condemn this. France is firmly engaged in the struggle against discrimination and prejudice linked to sexual orientation and gender identity.'

Other church and lay leaders similarly have called the remarks outrageous and ill-informed. While en route to the United States in 2008, Pope Benedict said he considered homosexuality and pedophilia to be separate matters. So why would Cardinal Bertone make his statements? And what is the real truth behind any association of pedophilia and homosexuality?

Medical professionals agree that the majority of known pedophiles are heterosexual. Although statistics vary slightly, according to Thomas Plante of the department of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, most professionals agree that between 4 percent and 7 percent of people are pedophiles and that statistics in the priesthood roughly correspond to those findings.

It is also statistically verifiable that 80 percent of victims of sexual abuse are abused by a family member. The father of a family is 36 times more likely to abuse a child than a priest is, according to the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Of about 3,000 reported cases of sexual misconduct among priests committed in the past 50 years, only 300, or 10 percent, of those cases involved true pedophiles. Pedophilia is psychologically classified as sexual attraction to prepubescent children, younger than 13. Ninety percent of the reported abuse cases involved Roman Catholic priests classified as ephebophiles, those attracted to teens between 13 and 19. Of those reported cases, 60 percent were homosexual abuse and 30 percent heterosexual abuse, according to the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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Confirm with care | View Clip
04/15/2010
News & Observer - Online

WASHINGTON -- Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments.

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

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Conservatives should watch rhetoric about 'judicial activism'
04/15/2010
Press of Atlantic City

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summerlong struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?\

George Will is a syndicated columnist at The Washington Post. E-mail him at georgewill@washpost.com.

Copyright © 2010 The Press of Atlantic City

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Factions lining up for battle over Supreme Court seat | View Clip
04/15/2010
Houston Chronicle - Online

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.”

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Will's e-mail address is georgewill@washpost.com .

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George F. Will: No politicians needed | View Clip
04/15/2010
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Online

The next Supreme Court justice must protect liberty from popular majorities

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy.

Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Justice Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Justice Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Chief Justice Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Mr. Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Chief Justice Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Justice Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George F. Will is a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post (georgewill@washpost.com).

Cartoonist Rob Rogers does "Rob's Rough," an early look at his work and his creative process, exclusively at PG+, a members-only web site of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Our introduction to PG+ gives you all the details.

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George Will Supreme Court justice nomination process has seen many changes | View Clip
04/15/2010
Green Bay Press-Gazette - Online

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor.

(2 of 2)

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George F. Will writes about foreign and domestic politics and policy for the Washington Post Writers Group. E-mail: georgewill@washpost.com.

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George Will: No (political) experience needed | View Clip
04/15/2010
Monitor, The

Syndicated columnist

WASHINGTON Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience – he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission – and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations – New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Letters to the Editor: E-mail to letters@ocregister.com. Please provide your name and telephone number (telephone numbers will not be published). Letters of about 200 words will be given preference. Letters will be edited for length, grammar and clarity.

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George Will: Politics and the Supreme Court | View Clip
04/15/2010
Union Leader - Online

NH REAL ESTATE

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Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former President, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will's e-mail address is georgewill@washpost.com.

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GEORGE WILL: Supreme Court nominations weren't always nasty affairs | View Clip
04/15/2010
Register-Guard - Online

Appeared in print: Thursday, Apr 15, 2010

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summerlong struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.”

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will (georgewill@washpost.com) is a columnist based in Washington, D.C.

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Hawaii, NASA form research partnership | View Clip
04/15/2010
Washington Business Journal - Online

Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Hawaii is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to further develop scientific research in the state.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a three-year Space Act Agreement Tuesday with S. Pete Worden, NASA's Ames Research Center director, establishing a partnership for space exploration, scientific research and education initiatives, including robotics.

“This alliance represents a truly exceptional and timely opportunity for our state that will help diversify our economy by developing the local aerospace industry,” Lingle said.

The goal of the partnership is to develop a Hawaii-based program for small spacecraft missions, as well as a satellite project developed and managed by students to help future NASA space missions, according to a NASA press release.

Under the agreement, University of Hawaii students and professors will work with scientists and engineers at Ames Research Center in California to design and build small satellites.

The UH students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors at the NASA Research Park, including Santa Clara University, also in California.

Hawaii has pioneered programs in astronomy, planetary geosciences, broadband satellite communications, space-based environmental monitoring, and deep-space surveillance for nearly 50 years, said Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr., who is a vice chairman of the national Aerospace States Association.

“This new agreement builds upon a dynamic partnership with NASA that over the next three years will substantially increase Hawaii's competitive advantages and help to enhance our long-term economic prosperity,” he said.

NASA has a satellite tracking station on Kauai and has conducted deep-space observations from telescopes on the Big Island. It also supports local educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

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Hawaii, NASA form research partnership | View Clip
04/15/2010
Business Review - Online

Pacific Business News (Honolulu)

Hawaii is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to further develop scientific research in the state.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a three-year Space Act Agreement Tuesday with S. Pete Worden, NASA's Ames Research Center director, establishing a partnership for space exploration, scientific research and education initiatives, including robotics.

“This alliance represents a truly exceptional and timely opportunity for our state that will help diversify our economy by developing the local aerospace industry,” Lingle said.

The goal of the partnership is to develop a Hawaii-based program for small spacecraft missions, as well as a satellite project developed and managed by students to help future NASA space missions, according to a NASA press release.

Under the agreement, University of Hawaii students and professors will work with scientists and engineers at Ames Research Center in California to design and build small satellites.

The UH students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors at the NASA Research Park, including Santa Clara University, also in California.

Hawaii has pioneered programs in astronomy, planetary geosciences, broadband satellite communications, space-based environmental monitoring, and deep-space surveillance for nearly 50 years, said Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr., who is a vice chairman of the national Aerospace States Association.

“This new agreement builds upon a dynamic partnership with NASA that over the next three years will substantially increase Hawaii's competitive advantages and help to enhance our long-term economic prosperity,” he said.

NASA has a satellite tracking station on Kauai and has conducted deep-space observations from telescopes on the Big Island. It also supports local educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

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History shows change in high court confirmations | View Clip
04/15/2010
Deseret News - Online

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, Roosevelt nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight D. Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, front, stands with other justices as they leave a memorial for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist in Washington in June 2006.

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History shows change in high court confirmations
04/15/2010
Deseret News

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, Roosevelt nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight D. Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. President Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations: New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." Although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare, and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will's e-mail address is georgewill@washpost.com.

Copyright © 2010 Deseret News Publishing Co.

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IT'S THEIR PARTY
04/15/2010
San Jose Mercury News

Val McMurdie, 63, grew up among rugged individualists on a remote Montana ranch. Elly Varbanets, 29, lived under communist rule in the Ukraine. Deanna Doyon, 42, came of age surrounded by poverty and welfare in East San Jose.

The disparate life journeys of these three local Tea Party activists will converge today at a tax day rally in downtown San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez, the second such rally there in as many years and one of hundreds planned across the country. These three people who barely know each other but whose careers have all been hit hard by the recession will be united in the latest wave of political protest that has proved more enduring than some critics thought.

What started as a rant by CNBC broadcaster Rick Santelli calling for a "Boston Tea Party" over bank bailouts led to a Facebook- and Twitter-propelled movement that now claims millions of supporters, with Tea Party chapters in every state. And while critics have called some of its supporters extreme, simplistic and hypocritical, the movement has drawn in the likes of Sarah Palin and Fox News commentator Glenn Beck.

Like scores of disgruntled voters nationwide, Doyon tapped into her online social network to organize the first local tax day protest a year ago.

"It was me and six or seven people who met through Facebook. We had a conference call and said, 'Let's do this,'"?" Doyon said. "We thought maybe five would show up. Little did we know that 2,000 would show up."

With the mounting frustration brought on by the passage of the controversial health care bill last month, Doyon is hoping even more people will join the protest this year. Her Web site (www.siliconvalleyteaparty.com) has received more than 20,000 unique visitors over the past year and Doyon answers daily e-mails from people saying, "I'm really angry. I want to get involved. What can I do?"

Mark Meckler, a Grass Valley lawyer who is the cofounder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, says the purpose of the movement is "to keep an eye on politicians of all stripes" and make sure they live up to the country's principles of limited government, fiscal responsibility and free markets.

Today's rally, he said, will show "we're growing in sophistication, we're growing in power and we're growing in numbers."

A CBS News-New York Times poll released Wednesday shows that 54 percent of Tea Partiers consider themselves Republicans, 41 percent say they are independents and 5 percent call themselves Democrats. They are overwhelmingly white (89 percent) and better educated than most Americans and the majority of them (58 percent) say they keep a gun at home.

What binds the group, said political science professor Larry Gerston of San Jose State University, is dissatisfaction.

"I firmly believe that most of their anguish centers not around Obama or health care, but the state of the economy," Gerston said. "If you drill down deep enough, that's what hits them. They're out of a job or they're going to lose their house. I think that's more of a driver than anything else."

That Doyon, McMurdie and Varbanets have been hurt by the recession is undeniable. Doyon said her marketing consulting business is down 80 percent. McMurdie of Campbell says his commercial real estate business has dropped 70 percent. And Varbanets, who lives with her 83-year-old grandmother in Mountain View, was laid off five months ago from her job in product development from a semiconductor company.

But each has come to their own political philosophy, and their own outrage, they say, for their own reasons.

Doyon is aggravated by what she considers mushrooming entitlement programs. Growing up in a lower middle class household in East San Jose in the 1970s and '80s, many of her neighbors filled the welfare rolls.

"I saw a lot of people wanting to game the system, get work under the table and be really careful of what their earnings were to qualify for certain programs," she said. "There are people around me from high school that still live in the East Side, still on welfare. They never did anything on their own to better their lives."

Doyon considered herself a lifelong Democrat, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. She put herself through Santa Clara University, got jobs at Apple and Silicon Graphics and, when she was just 29, bought her condo near Los Gatos. "I wanted to be proud that I was able to live that American dream and I did it all on my own with no help from anyone."

She supported Hillary Clinton for president but was so turned off by what she considered media bias toward Obama that she registered as a Republican as a protest against the Democratic Party. With the economy spiraling downward and plenty of blame to go around, she found kindred spirits in the Tea Party movement.

For McMurdie, nothing rankles like politicians who call themselves fiscal conservatives but don't act like them. Growing up in Montana, speaking truthfully can mean the difference between life and death when you're breaking mustangs or pulling calves in 30-degree below zero weather.

"When you grow up on a ranch, you just want to survive the night," he said. "You can't do it if you lie about real-life facts."

While politicians may say more government spending and health care legislation will help the nation, he said, they "don't get it. We'll have massive human suffering because of the stimulus, deficit spending and the health care bill."

His grandchildren, he said, will "never have what we had."

He left Montana, joined the Navy, earned a degree from San Jose State and became a lawyer before working in commercial real estate. He considers himself a Jacksonian Democrat -- defender of the common man and guardian of the Constitution -- but just registered as a Republican and will vote in the June GOP primary for California governor and U.S. Senate, even though he hasn't chosen a candidate yet.

The Tea Party appeals to him, he said, because it focuses on the fiscal responsibility mantra he believes in. And its members tend to be less interested in party affiliation and more in individual candidates. "It's not the horse you ride," he said. "It's who the rider is."

Varbanets gets roiled at the faint echo of the socialistic rhetoric of her youth. And she says she has heard a lot of that from Obama, especially with his health care legislation. Since she lost her job late last year, she doesn't have health insurance, but is opposed to health care legislation. She stays healthy, she says, by working out and eating right.

Though she is against entitlement programs, she collects unemployment benefits and her grandmother lives comfortably on Social Security and Medicare benefits.

"Yes, grandma gets a benefit, but who's going to pay for it? Me, my children, my grandchildren. In the long run, it doesn't help," Varbanets said. Besides, "If I didn't have to pay all these taxes, I would have had savings to use now."

Propelled by their convictions, the trio will rally in San Jose today, just like tens of thousands drawn to more than 800 similar planned protests nationwide.

"For a whole year people said we're going to just disappear," Meckler said. Today's rallies, he said, will "let people know we're not going away."

Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409.

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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Justices don't need to be politicians | View Clip
04/15/2010
Columbus Dispatch - Online

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight D. Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations: New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George F. Will writes for the Washington Post Writers Group.

georgewill@washpost.com

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Michael Newdow: An atheist with a cause | View Clip
04/15/2010
Michigan Daily, The

“Why do we have the Fifth Amendment right to protect people from testifying against their own interests? Shouldn't the law be able to compel us to tell the truth?”

Michelle Oberman, a friend and former Law School classmate of University Law School alum Michael Newdow, recalled Newdow asking these questions in class one day during a lesson on the Bill of Rights.

“He was known for asking questions that tended to derail class, although that was not his intention,” Oberman said.

This habit of questioning the status quo of existing governmental procedures and documents has earned Newdow a reputation as one of the leading activists in the country working to have the words “Under God” expunged from federal documents and declarations like the United States Constitution and the Pledge of Allegiance.

Newdow, who graduated from the University's Law School in 1988, is best known for a lawsuit he filed, which claimed that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional for including the words “Under God.” The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, though Newdow was eventually defeated.

In addition, Newdow is also trying to get the words “In God We Trust” removed from U.S. currency and is working to eliminate the presidential inaugural prayer.

Mike's mother Roz Newdow said she and her husband didn't try to persuade their children to take up any specific beliefs. Instead all the members of the family, which she described as Jewish but secular, independently became atheists.

“We're all atheists,” Roz said. “But it was all their decision.”

But Newdow, who was born in 1953 in New York, claims he was an atheist since he was in the womb.

“I was born an atheist, as we all were,” he said in an interview over the summer. “And I never changed.”

Julie Newdow, Newdow's younger sister, said the family never overtly discussed their religious beliefs among one another until her brother's court cases started.

But Newdow's work to reform governmental language as it pertains to religion doesn't stem so much from his religious convictions as it does from his passion for law, said Oberman, now a professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law.

Newdow's fervor to preserve the foundations of the Bill of Rights has influenced his endeavor to reverse Americans' standard to “profess and even embrace a God-centered rhetoric in the public sphere,” Oberman said.

“His research shows unequivocal proof of the founders' intention to make this country free from persecution on account of one's personal religious beliefs,” Oberman said.

Newdow developed his passion for the constitution during his time at the University's Law School. After earning his bachelor's degree in biology from Brown University in 1974 and his medical degree from the University of California at Los Angeles Medical School in 1978, he decided several years later to pursue his law degree at Michigan.

In his early thirties when he started law school, Newdow was older than most students at the University. Employing his medical background, he worked as a locum tenens ER physician — a physician who substitutes for other physicians — at various hospitals in Michigan during his time as a law student.

While in Ann Arbor, Newdow also grew to have a close friendship with his professor, Peter Westen.

The two — who still keep in touch today — would meet during office hours to talk about class material, though their discussions often meandered beyond the course subject matter.

“He has maybe the most eager-to-learn mind than anyone I know, and it's certainly one of his best qualities,” Weston said. “He always wants to learn.”

Julie said that, as a kid, Newdow would study the dictionary; simply open the heavy book and learn words he didn't know. She said he'd also write songs about some of the words, choosing the most obscure vocabulary to fold into the next verse.

“He was always just in another stratosphere, another world,” Julie said.

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NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science | View Clip
04/15/2010
Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal - Online

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the state of Hawaii agreed Tuesday to collaborate on small satellite development, advanced aviation, space exploration, education and science.

During a ceremony at the state capitol in Honolulu, S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed a three-year non-reimbursable agreement establishing the partnership.

"NASA and Hawaii have collaborated in space exploration since the early years of our space program when Apollo astronauts trained for their missions on the lunar-like volcanic terrain on the Big Island of Hawaii," said Worden. "With this agreement, we look forward to extending that partnership even further as we continue to explore and expand into space."

NASA maintains a satellite tracking station on the island of Kauai and has a long history of conducting deep space observations from the advanced telescopes on the Hawaiian Islands. It also supports a broad range of educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

Students and professors from the university will be sent to Ames to work with scientists and engineers to design, integrate and manage small satellites. During their training, the visiting students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors in NASA Research Park, such as Santa Clara University.

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No political experience necessary for high court | View Clip
04/15/2010
Cincinnati Enquirer - Online

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need for politically experienced justices.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

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Now where will the Supreme Court go? Political savvy, judicial activism, judicial inactivism?
04/15/2010
Charleston Daily Mail

WASHINGTON - Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections.

Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy.

Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986.

Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama.

Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem:

Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations - New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire."

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language.

The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism."

The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Will may be reached by e-mail at georgewill@washpost.com.

Copyright © 2010 Charleston Daily Mail

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Opinion: Conservatives should rethink ‘judicial activisim' | View Clip
04/15/2010
Daily Republic - Online, The

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy.

Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decisionmaking, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.” But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Return to Top



Opinion: Conservatives should rethink ‘judicial activisim' | View Clip
04/15/2010
Daily Republic - Online, The

Published April 15 2010

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy.

Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decisionmaking, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.” But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Return to Top



Question on high court pick lies with protecting liberty | View Clip
04/15/2010
Daily News Journal - Online, The

WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Return to Top



Rethink 'judicial activism' | View Clip
04/15/2010
Palladium-Item - Online

WASHINGTON -- Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

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Supreme Court doesn't need a political justice | View Clip
04/15/2010
News Tribune - Online

WASHINGTON – Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections.

Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience – he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission – and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations – New York Gov. Mario Cuomo; Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley; Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt; and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.”

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare. There is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post and Newsday, can be contacted at georgewill@washpost.com.

Return to Top



Supreme Court doesn't need a political justice | View Clip
04/15/2010
News Tribune - Online

WASHINGTON – Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections.

Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience – he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission – and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations – New York Gov. Mario Cuomo; Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley; Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt; and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.”

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare. There is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.” The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

George Will, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Washington Post and Newsday, can be contacted at georgewill@washpost.com.

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The Supreme Court, politics and the next nominee | View Clip
04/15/2010
Staten Island Advance

April 15, 2010, 7:30AM WASHINGTON — Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade.

It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to “pack” the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections.

Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days.

It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later.

No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing.

He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986.

Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges.

Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman.

Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience.

Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor.

Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama.

Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell.

The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge.

Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was “short and non-legalistic” and was “a public appeal” accessible to a broad public rather than “a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire.”

But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language.

The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious “public use” of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government.

Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about “judicial activism.”

The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

(George Will's column appears each Monday and Thursday on the Advance editorial pages. His e-mail address is georgewill@washpost.com. )

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Viewpoints: Supreme Court confirmations were mostly civil till mid-1980s | View Clip
04/15/2010
Sacramento Bee - Online, The

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience – he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission – and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman.

Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight Eisenhower, like many others, believed that Warren's political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four politicians for Supreme Court nominations – New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.) The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Return to Top



Will nominee put liberty before popular sovereignty? | View Clip
04/15/2010
Island Packet - Online

Published Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty

Return to Top



Will nominee put liberty before popular sovereignty?
04/15/2010
Island Packet, The

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens . They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience -- he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of The New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork .

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti , a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall , who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft , a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes , a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell . The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor , who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations -- New York Gov. Mario Cuomo , Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley , Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell .

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty

Copyright © 2010 McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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Will: First protect liberty | View Clip
04/15/2010
Austin American-Statesman - Online

George F. Will, THE WASHINGTON POST

Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summer-long struggle over President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience — he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission — and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse noted in The New York Times that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, Nov.-Dec. 2007) that the court has often included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem: Because President Dwight Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for nominations — New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad public rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

georgewill@washpost.com

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Conservatives should rethink judicial rhetoric | View Clip
04/14/2010
Arizona Republic - Online

WASHINGTON - Stiffening their sinews and summoning up their blood, pugnacious liberals and conservatives who relish contemporary Washington's recurring Armageddons are eager for a summerlong struggle over Barack Obama's nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. They should pause and ponder how recently and radically the confirmation process has changed.

By 1939, the Supreme Court had been embroiled in political controversy for half a decade. It had declared unconstitutional some important New Deal policies, and FDR had reciprocated by attempting to "pack" the court by enlarging it, which had earned him a rebuke in the 1938 elections. Yet when on Jan. 5, 1939, he nominated Felix Frankfurter to fill a court vacancy, the Harvard law professor sailed through Senate hearings and the confirmation vote in 12 days. It was a voice vote, with no audible dissent.

On March 20, FDR nominated William O. Douglas to fill another vacancy. Although the 40-year-old Douglas had no judicial experience - he was chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission - and would be the youngest justice in more than a century, he was confirmed 15 days later. No witness testified against him.

Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times notes that when Stevens was nominated in 1975 to fill the first vacancy since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, he was asked no question about abortion during his confirmation hearing. He was confirmed 98-0, as was Antonin Scalia in 1986. Things changed the next year, when Ted Kennedy used a demagogic Senate speech to launch a successful liberal crusade against Robert Bork.

As Stevens departs, the eight remaining justices are all products of the Harvard, Yale or Columbia law schools; all are former federal judges. Professor Terri L. Peretti, a Santa Clara University political scientist, notes (in Judicature, November-December 2007) that the court often has included judges with political experience.

The greatest justice, John Marshall, who made the court a nation-shaping force, had been a state legislator and congressman. Between 1789 and 1952, most justices had some legislative or executive political experience. Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former president, was followed by Charles Evans Hughes, a former New York governor. Hugo Black had been a senator from Alabama. Earl Warren had been California's governor, which became a problem. Because President Eisenhower, like many others, believed that political thinking sometimes supplanted jurisprudential reasoning in Warren's decision-making, he sought judicial experience in his remaining four nominees.

In 1971, Richard Nixon nominated the last two justices without such experience, William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell. The last justice with experience in elective politics was Sandra Day O'Connor, who had been an Arizona state legislator before becoming a judge. Bill Clinton seriously considered four prominent politicians for Supreme Court nominations - New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, Secretary of Education and former South Carolina Gov. Richard Riley, Secretary of the Interior and former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell.

Peretti believes that when, with the 1954 Brown decision, the court began the dismantling of segregation, Warren's political skills were apparent in the unanimity of the decision as well as the fact that it was "short and non-legalistic" and was "a public appeal" accessible to a broad population rather than "a cogent legal argument whose reasoning lawyers and academics would admire." But although the court played a crucial role in overturning the South's social structure, the need for such a dramatic judicial role is rare and there is no visible occasion for it today, so there is slight need to select politically experienced justices.

Conservatives spoiling for a fight should watch their language. The recent decision most dismaying to them was Kelo (2005), wherein the court upheld the constitutionality of a city government using its eminent-domain power to seize property for the spurious "public use" of transferring it to wealthier interests who will pay higher taxes to the seizing government. Conservatives wish the court had been less deferential to elected local governments. (Stevens later expressed regret for his part in the Kelo ruling.)

The recent decision most pleasing to conservatives was this year's Citizens United, wherein the court overturned part of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The four liberal justices deplored the conservatives' refusal to defer to Congress' expertise in regulating political speech.

So conservatives should rethink their rhetoric about "judicial activism." The proper question is: Will the nominee be actively enough engaged in protecting liberty from depredations perpetrated by popular sovereignty?

Return to Top



Homosexuality to blame for abuse crisis top cardinal; 'No relationship between celibacy and pedophilia'
04/14/2010
National Post

The Vatican's second-in-command says the pedophilia scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Church can be blamed mainly on homosexuals in the priesthood, remarks that have outraged gay rights groups and rekindled criticism over the Church's history with homosexuality.

"Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated there exists no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia,' Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, said in Santiago on Monday. 'But many others have demonstrated, and have told me recently, that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. This is true, this is the problem.'

The controversial view has been expressed by other conservative Catholics. In a recent full-page ad in The New York Times, the U.S. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights also blamed homosexual priests as being the underlying cause of the crisis. There is no 'pedophilia crisis' but a 'homosexual crisis,' the ad read.

"While homosexuality does not cause predatory behaviour, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.'

Critics suggest that such remarks say more about the Church's history and the Vatican's attempt to distance itself from the current crisis.

"The truth is that Bertone is clumsily trying to shift attention to homosexuality and away from the focus on new crimes against children that emerge every day,' said Aurelio Mancuso, former president of an Italian gay rights group, in response to the Vatican official's statement.

Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, said the concern about gay priests likely starts with the Church's basic view of homosexuality.

"The Catholic Church sees homosexuality differently than the mental-health community,' he said. 'It's not a disorder and we're pretty adamant about that.'

The Church describes homosexuals as "objectively disordered," though it states homosexuals 'must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.' It also calls on homosexuals to live a life of chastity.

Prof. Plante also noted a 2005 Vatican instruction that discouraged the ordination of men with 'deep-seated homosexual tendencies.'

The instruction said those tendencies "gravely hinder [homosexuals] from relating to men and women.'

Prof. Plante helps the Catholic Church screen candidates for the priesthood and has interviewed more than 600 men over the past 20 years as well as dealing with abusive priests.

"Before 2005 I would ask candidates their orientation to make sure they had a healthy psycho-sexual development, to see if they were mature enough,' Prof. Plante said. 'Now we don't ask because some seminaries will reject them for being gay.'

He said there is no scientific proof that homosexuals have more trouble remaining celibate than heterosexuals. And the one aspect he agreed with Cardinal Bertone is that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia. 'Just because someone is celibate doesn't make little kids appealing,' Prof. Plante said.

"I've talked to a lot these abusers and it comes down to who they have contact with and whose trust they can gain. It's not a gay problem and if you get the gays out this situation the problem won't go away.'

Sister Miriam Ukeritis, chief executive of the Southdown Institute, an Ontario group that works with troubled priests, said the statements blaming homosexuals reflect an inherent flaw in the notion of the abuse of minors.

"There is an assumption that the sexual object for abusers is consistent with their sexual orientation -- the assumption that a heterosexual would necessarily be attracted to young girls and a homosexual would be necessarily attracted to young boys. That's not true,' she said. 'There is no scientific correlation.'

Regardless, the president of the group behind the newspaper ad blaming gays said there is statistical evidence for the argument.

"The Catholic Church, under Pope Benedict XVI, has made it more difficult for practicing homosexuals to enter the priesthood. That is as it should be,' said Bill Donohue, Catholic League president. 'Indeed, it is has been harder for gays to get into the priesthood for some time, the result being that the incidence of abuse has declined.'

Color Photo: / Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Copyright © 2010 National Post; with files from Agence France-Presse

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Homosexuality to blame for abuse crisis: top cardinal | View Clip
04/14/2010
National Post - Online

'No relationship between celibacy and pedophilia'

The Vatican's second-in-command says the pedophilia scandal plaguing the Roman Catholic Church can be blamed mainly on homosexuals in the priesthood, remarks that have outraged gay rights groups and rekindled criticism over the Church's history with homosexuality.

"Many psychologists, many psychiatrists have demonstrated there exists no relationship between celibacy and pedophilia," Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, said in Santiago on Monday. "But many others have demonstrated, and have told me recently, that there is a link between homosexuality and pedophilia. This is true, this is the problem."

The controversial view has been expressed by other conservative Catholics. In a recent full-page ad in The New York Times, the U.S. Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights also blamed homosexual priests as being the underlying cause of the crisis. There is no "pedophilia crisis" but a "homosexual crisis," the ad read.

"While homosexuality does not cause predatory behaviour, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay."

Critics suggest that such remarks say more about the Church's history and the Vatican's attempt to distance itself from the current crisis.

"The truth is that Bertone is clumsily trying to shift attention to homosexuality and away from the focus on new crimes against children that emerge every day," said Aurelio Mancuso, former president of an Italian gay rights group, in response to the Vatican official's statement.

Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University in California, said the concern about gay priests likely starts with the Church's basic view of homosexuality.

"The Catholic Church sees homosexuality differently than the mental-health community," he said. "It's not a disorder and we're pretty adamant about that."

The Church describes homosexuals as "objectively disordered," though it states homosexuals "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity." It also calls on homosexuals to live a life of chastity.

Prof. Plante also noted a 2005 Vatican instruction that discouraged the ordination of men with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies."

The instruction said those tendencies "gravely hinder [homosexuals] from relating to men and women."

Prof. Plante helps the Catholic Church screen candidates for the priesthood and has interviewed more than 600 men over the past 20 years as well as dealing with abusive priests.

"Before 2005 I would ask candidates their orientation to make sure they had a healthy psycho-sexual development, to see if they were mature enough," Prof. Plante said. "Now we don't ask because some seminaries will reject them for being gay."

He said there is no scientific proof that homosexuals have more trouble remaining celibate than heterosexuals. And the one aspect he agreed with Cardinal Bertone is that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia. "Just because someone is celibate doesn't make little kids appealing," Prof. Plante said.

Return to Top



In rush for new names, tech startups spew gobbledygook | View Clip
04/14/2010
Bellingham Herald - Online

SAN JOSE, California Born of too much brainstorming or not enough sleep, the names come flying out of nowhere - Crocodoc, Yext, Nowmov.

They turn nouns into adverbs (Answerly) or aspire to become brand-new verbs in true "I-just-googled-her" fashion.

And in the process, they drop vowels like a clumsy waiter (Flickr), spell perfectly good words backward (Xobni) and insert punctuation points where they have no business being (Center'd).

http://www.mercurynews.com

It's the Great Internet Branding Gold Rush. And with tech startups in Silicon Valley and beyond falling over themselves to create cool names with an AdMob's swagger and a Twitter's zip, the word-play is getting wild. To make matters worse, as the supply of good available names dries up, the envelope is being pushed right over the cliff of clever into the canyon of overly cute.

"We were brainstorming for two weeks, but all the names we came up with were taken," said Mo Al Adham, 25, who co-founded his video-sharing service while tethered to a tight budget. "We were still poor students, looking for a $10 domain name. My business partner used to love 7-Eleven lime slushies, so he said, 'How about EatLime?' If we'd had a hundred grand, we probably could have come up with a much better name."

With the low-hanging fruit pretty much picked over, name-hungry entrepreneurs are in a branding frenzy. Whether they're compiling kitchen-table lists or paying professional consultants, the startup crowd is resorting to all sorts of tricks - slapping words together, like Cardpool; lodging inside jokes into their names, like Lolapps; mixing up numbers and letters, like 500Friends. And each company founder thinks he or she has found the perfect one.

Take Shayan Zadeh, co-founder of an online dating site called Zoosk. Why Zoosk? Blame it on the drugs he was taking.

"My co-founder and I were both home with colds and a fever," he said. "We were trying to come up with something and we wanted it to start with a 'z' or an 'x' because they're sexy letters and we were a dating company. And after seeing the success of Google and Yahoo, we liked having two 'o's. Then the light bulb went off and Zoosk just sort of stuck. Plus, we were so sick and tired by that point that it must have been the NyQuil effect."

Steven Addis, a Berkeley, Calif.-based consultant who's been in the branding business for a quarter-century, sees the current crisis as part of a larger historical arc. Ten years ago, "everything was very dot-commish - punchy, short names like Yahoo. But when the bubble burst, a lot of the more frivolous names went out of vogue and suddenly sounded very dated."

Addis said the pendulum swung the other way for a while, as everyone fled dot-comania like the plague. But lately, "the world has gone back to a more dot-com sort of feel, out of necessity because everything normal is taken," said Addis, referring to the despised "domain squatters" - folks who grab the best names, then pay a small fee to sit on them until a desperate buyer comes along. "There's such hatred for these guys, because they just hijack these great URLs."

Which leads us to the misspelled, nonsensical, copycatting mess we're now knee-deep in. Smule and Skimble, anyone?

And when the going gets tough, the tough spell words backward. One of the investors in Matt Brezina's e-mail-organizing startup came up with Xobni. Get it?

"We hopped on the computer and saw the domain was available and bought it for eight bucks on the spot," Brezina said. "Names with just five letters are hard to get, because the shorter it is the easier it is to type and the more traffic you get. Users say Xobni's really memorable - especially once they know it's 'inbox' spelled backward."

And even though a consulting firm gave it a trophy for having the worst company name of 2008, Brezina says his San Francisco firm, now housed in Twitter's old offices, has 34 employees and has seen one of its tools downloaded more than 5 million times.

Still, everyone's got their own ideas about what makes a great name. Branding guru and author Naseem Javed says "we are at a crossroads right now because naming has become global. And your name must project the right strength, so if you think you can call yourself Boohoo or LalaLand, you're dreaming in Technicolor."

Apparently, the folks over at Fecalface (an art-scene site) and Booyah (an entertainment purveyor) didn't get the memo.

"A lot of these companies will have a major marketing job to build awareness for their brand," says Buford Barr, a marketing expert at Santa Clara University. "These names tell you nothing. At least Coca-Cola told you something - it was a cola! We don't do that anymore. I don't want to sound like an old guy, but how will people remember your name if they can't even pronounce it?"

Pronounceability, if that's even a word, is key, says Joe Fahrner, who co-founded a "question-and-answer search engine" called Answerly.

"We were inspired by Writely, which was acquired by Google. Answerly was available for $6.99. We also bought Questionly and Askerly just in case, all for under 100 bucks."

In the end, nothing spells success like success. Caterina Fake - yes, her real name! - knows the thrill of watching one's company name ascend into the rarefied air of common parlance. She co-founded and created the name Flickr, the photo-sharing Web site that was later sold to Yahoo for a rumored $40 million.

"We wanted Flicker, but the guy who had it wouldn't sell," says Fake, 40. "So I suggested to the team, 'Let's remove this "e" thing.' They all said, 'That's too weird,' but I finally ground everyone down. Then of course, it became THE thing and everyone started removing vowels right and left."

And the rest - from Scribd to Jangl to Jaxtr to Qik - is, well, Hstry.

QUIZ:

Guess which one of these five company names is fake:

-Zencoder

-Etacts

-Rockyrowed

-JamBase

-Heyzap

(Answer: Rockyrowed).

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NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science | View Clip
04/14/2010
Business Review - Online

Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the state of Hawaii agreed Tuesday to collaborate on small satellite development, advanced aviation, space exploration, education and science.

During a ceremony at the state capitol in Honolulu, S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed a three-year non-reimbursable agreement establishing the partnership.

"NASA and Hawaii have collaborated in space exploration since the early years of our space program when Apollo astronauts trained for their missions on the lunar-like volcanic terrain on the Big Island of Hawaii," said Worden. "With this agreement, we look forward to extending that partnership even further as we continue to explore and expand into space."

NASA maintains a satellite tracking station on the island of Kauai and has a long history of conducting deep space observations from the advanced telescopes on the Hawaiian Islands. It also supports a broad range of educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

Students and professors from the university will be sent to Ames to work with scientists and engineers to design, integrate and manage small satellites. During their training, the visiting students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors in NASA Research Park, such as Santa Clara University.

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PUBLIC SERVICE OR PUBLICITY FOR DA?
04/14/2010
San Jose Mercury News

Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr will soon have her name on billboards throughout Silicon Valley, but they aren't for her re-election campaign.

The billboards -- 21 of them -- are being paid for by a state campaign against workers' compensation fraud. "Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr" is featured prominently above the slogan "No Workers' Comp? That's Criminal."

Last year Carr's office launched an anti-gang billboard campaign that included the more generic "Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney" below that campaign's slogan.

Two experts and her opponent, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said they thought featuring Carr's name on the billboard was questionable; the billboards debuted less than two months from the June 8 election.

"The timing of this is suspicious," said Rosen, who has taken a leave of absence to try to unseat his boss for her job. "Why does it have to have her name on it? Why doesn't it just say, District Attorney's Office? It looks like just another example of her trying to promote herself."

Part of the job

Carr defended the move.

"My name is on many things that go out of our office, including every pleading and document filed in court. Being the DA means the good things inure to my benefit, just like the few negative issues," Carr said in an e-mail to the paper.

Carr did not address why she decided to include her name on this year's billboard when she didn't last year.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said the use of Carr's name on the billboards is "no coincidence."

"It's certainly taking advantage of her position," Stern said.

"When they say, Avoid the 13, on billboards to crack down on drinking, they don't have 'Public Service Message from Sheriff Laurie Smith,'"?" said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics from Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "The public service message should be from the office and not from the elected district attorney who is up for re-election."

But Roman Porter, spokesman for the FPPC, said the use of Carr's name on the billboard is not illegal as long as she doesn't use it for advocacy such as "Vote for me."

The billboards are the focal point of a 90-day campaign to raise awareness among employers that they must have workers' compensation insurance for their employees. It also warns employees that there are penalties for filing a false workers' comp claim. "This is nothing new," said Deputy District Attorney Janice Doi, a prosecutor in the insurance fraud unit. "But it's the next phase in letting the community know we take this seriously."

What is new is the large-scale effort the insurance fraud unit embarked on last year.

Checking companies

Over nine months, district attorney investigators knocked on the doors of 520 businesses. Did they have workers' compensation insurance for their employees? Mark Hatcher, a lieutenant in the investigations unit, said about 29 percent of the companies contacted didn't have the proper insurance. After speaking with investigators, though, two-thirds of the companies that were out of compliance started insuring their employees. At the end of the effort, Hatcher said 37 were cited for not being in compliance.

There was no particular reason to announce the campaign Tuesday, other than that the department has been working on this issue for "some time," Carr said at a heavily attended news conference. But with the economy being so "challenging," she and others said it simply isn't fair for some businesses to not offer workers' comp and compete for bids for perhaps 30 percent less than a legitimate company that insures its workers for injuries.

The insurance fraud unit works on a $2 million annual grant handed out by the California Department of Insurance and funded by a portion of insurance premiums. Hatcher said it's not taxpayer money, and it's a goal of the grant program to conduct public outreach. That money pays the salaries of prosecutors, investigators, forensic accountants, as well as the $57,000 billboard campaign, which includes six large billboards and 15 smaller ones.

The billboards urge people to report workers' comp fraud to 1-408-808-3737, which is a voice mail-answered referral line where callers can leave messages.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.

Copyright © 2010 San Jose Mercury News

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U.S. Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
USA Today - Online

DENVER — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

FAITH & REASON: Psychologists, Catholic leaders conflict on what's behind sex abuse

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their websites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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U.S. church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
Northwest Herald - Online

DENVER – The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese said Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action “painful but necessary.”

The episode highlights the challenges that American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish – practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law.

Some Catholics, while saying that protecting children must be the overriding concern, worried that church officials were moving too quickly in some cases.

“The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults,” said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. “If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children.”

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry – including saying Mass and working as a parish priest – while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case fell outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese would conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has “no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history.” He said Thompson has been a “popular and effective priest,” and emphasized that a presumption of innocence “must be respected.”

“Prompt action is painful for the whole local church,” Chaput wrote, “but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese.”

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

“But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different,” he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

“You're damned if you do and damned if you don't,” said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. “That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason.”

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage “has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast.”

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses “to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved.” It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

“I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past,” Reese said. “My impression is this is the wave of the future.”

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
News 25 at 10 PM - WEHT-TV

DENVER (AP) - The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
Daily Press

DENVER (AP) — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
Sentinel, The

> News Elsewhere > National News

DENVER (AP) — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
News & Observer - Online

DENVER -- The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

FILE - In this January 5, 2007 file photo, Archbishop Charles Chaput is speaks during an interview at the church's headquarters in Denver. Chaput acted swiftly suspending Rev. Melvin Thompson from Saint Thomas More Parish after decades-old child sex abuse allegations were presented against the priest.

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(04-13) 16:25 PDT DENVER (AP) --

The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
Denver Post - Online, The

DENVER—The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish—practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry—including saying Mass and working as a parish priest—while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/14/2010
WXVT-TV

AP National Writer

DENVER (AP) - The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Workers' comp billboards feature District Attorney's Dolores Carr's name | View Clip
04/14/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr will soon have her name on billboards throughout Silicon Valley, but they aren't for her re-election campaign.

The billboards — 21 of them — are being paid for by a state campaign against workers' compensation fraud. "Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr" is featured prominently above the slogan "No Workers' Comp? That's Criminal."

Last year Carr's office launched an anti-gang billboard campaign that included the more generic "Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney" below that campaign's slogan.

Two experts and her opponent, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said they thought featuring Carr's name on the billboard was questionable; the billboards debuted less than two months from the June 8 election.

"The timing of this is suspicious,'' said Rosen, who has taken a leave of absence to try to unseat his boss for her job. "Why does it have to have her name on it? Why doesn't it just say, District Attorney's Office? It looks like just another example of her trying to promote herself.''

Part of the job

Carr defended the move.

"My name is on many things that go out of our office, including every pleading and document filed in court. Being the DA means the good things inure to my benefit, just like the few negative issues," Carr said in an e-mail to the paper.

Carr did not address why she decided

to include her name on this year's billboard when she didn't last year.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said the use of Carr's name on the billboards is "no coincidence.''

"It's certainly taking advantage of her position,'' Stern said.

"When they say, Avoid the 13, on billboards to crack down on drinking, they don't have 'Public Service Message from Sheriff Laurie Smith,' '' said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics from Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "The public service message should be from the office and not from the elected district attorney who is up for re-election.''

But Roman Porter, spokesman for the FPPC, said the use of Carr's name on the billboard is not illegal as long as she doesn't use it for advocacy such as "Vote for me.''

The billboards are the focal point of a 90-day campaign to raise awareness among employers that they must have workers' compensation insurance for their employees. It also warns employees that there are penalties for filing a false workers' comp claim. "This is nothing new,'' said Deputy District Attorney Janice Doi, a prosecutor in the insurance fraud unit. "But it's the next phase in letting the community know we take this seriously.''

What is new is the large-scale effort the insurance fraud unit embarked on last year.

Checking companies

Over nine months, district attorney investigators knocked on the doors of 520 businesses. Did they have workers' compensation insurance for their employees? Mark Hatcher, a lieutenant in the investigations unit, said about 29 percent of the companies contacted didn't have the proper insurance. After speaking with investigators, though, two-thirds of the companies that were out of compliance started insuring their employees. At the end of the effort, Hatcher said 37 were cited for not being in compliance.

There was no particular reason to announce the campaign Tuesday, other than that the department has been working on this issue for "some time,'' Carr said at a heavily attended news conference. But with the economy being so "challenging,'' she and others said it simply isn't fair for some businesses to not offer workers' comp and compete for bids for perhaps 30 percent less than a legitimate company that insures its workers for injuries.

The insurance fraud unit works on a $2 million annual grant handed out by the California Department of Insurance and funded by a portion of insurance premiums. Hatcher said it's not taxpayer money, and it's a goal of the grant program to conduct public outreach. That money pays the salaries of prosecutors, investigators, forensic accountants, as well as the $57,000 billboard campaign, which includes six large billboards and 15 smaller ones.

The billboards urge people to report workers' comp fraud to 1-408-808-3737, which is a voice mail-answered referral line where callers can leave messages.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.

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Workers' comp billboards feature District Attorney's Dolores Carr's name | View Clip
04/14/2010
Whittier Daily News

Politics page

Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr will soon have her name on billboards throughout Silicon Valley, but they aren't for her re-election campaign.

The billboards — 21 of them — are being paid for by a state campaign against workers' compensation fraud. "Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr" is featured prominently above the slogan "No Workers' Comp? That's Criminal."

Last year Carr's office launched an anti-gang billboard campaign that included the more generic "Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney" below that campaign's slogan.

Two experts and her opponent, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said they thought featuring Carr's name on the billboard was questionable; the billboards debuted less than two months from the June 8 election.

"The timing of this is suspicious,'' said Rosen, who has taken a leave of absence to try to unseat his boss for her job. "Why does it have to have her name on it? Why doesn't it just say, District Attorney's Office? It looks like just another example of her trying to promote herself.''

Part of the job

Carr defended the move.

"My name is on many things that go out of our office, including every pleading and document filed in court. Being the DA means the good things inure to my benefit, just like the few negative issues," Carr said in an e-mail to the paper.

Carr did not address why she decided

to include her name on this year's billboard when she didn't last year.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said the use of Carr's name on the billboards is "no coincidence.''

"It's certainly taking advantage of her position,'' Stern said.

"When they say, Avoid the 13, on billboards to crack down on drinking, they don't have 'Public Service Message from Sheriff Laurie Smith,' '' said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics from Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "The public service message should be from the office and not from the elected district attorney who is up for re-election.''

But Roman Porter, spokesman for the FPPC, said the use of Carr's name on the billboard is not illegal as long as she doesn't use it for advocacy such as "Vote for me.''

The billboards are the focal point of a 90-day campaign to raise awareness among employers that they must have workers' compensation insurance for their employees. It also warns employees that there are penalties for filing a false workers' comp claim. "This is nothing new,'' said Deputy District Attorney Janice Doi, a prosecutor in the insurance fraud unit. "But it's the next phase in letting the community know we take this seriously.''

What is new is the large-scale effort the insurance fraud unit embarked on last year.

Checking companies

Over nine months, district attorney investigators knocked on the doors of 520 businesses. Did they have workers' compensation insurance for their employees? Mark Hatcher, a lieutenant in the investigations unit, said about 29 percent of the companies contacted didn't have the proper insurance. After speaking with investigators, though, two-thirds of the companies that were out of compliance started insuring their employees. At the end of the effort, Hatcher said 37 were cited for not being in compliance.

There was no particular reason to announce the campaign Tuesday, other than that the department has been working on this issue for "some time,'' Carr said at a heavily attended news conference. But with the economy being so "challenging,'' she and others said it simply isn't fair for some businesses to not offer workers' comp and compete for bids for perhaps 30 percent less than a legitimate company that insures its workers for injuries.

The insurance fraud unit works on a $2 million annual grant handed out by the California Department of Insurance and funded by a portion of insurance premiums. Hatcher said it's not taxpayer money, and it's a goal of the grant program to conduct public outreach. That money pays the salaries of prosecutors, investigators, forensic accountants, as well as the $57,000 billboard campaign, which includes six large billboards and 15 smaller ones.

The billboards urge people to report workers' comp fraud to 1-408-808-3737, which is a voice mail-answered referral line where callers can leave messages.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.

Return to Top



Workers' comp billboards feature district attorney's name | View Clip
04/14/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr will soon have her name on billboards throughout Silicon Valley, but they aren't for her re-election campaign.

The billboards — 21 of them — are being paid for by a state campaign against workers' compensation fraud. "Santa Clara County District Attorney Dolores Carr" is featured prominently above the slogan "No Workers' Comp? That's Criminal."

Last year Carr's office launched an anti-gang billboard campaign that included the more generic "Santa Clara County Office of the District Attorney" below that campaign's slogan.

Two experts and her opponent, Deputy District Attorney Jeff Rosen, said they thought featuring Carr's name on the billboard was questionable; the billboards debuted less than two months from the June 8 election.

"The timing of this is suspicious,'' said Rosen, who has taken a leave of absence to try to unseat his boss for her job. "Why does it have to have her name on it? Why doesn't it just say, District Attorney's Office? It looks like just another example of her trying to promote herself.''

Part of the job

Carr defended the move.

"My name is on many things that go out of our office, including every pleading and document filed in court. Being the DA means the good things inure to my benefit, just like the few negative issues" Carr said in an e-mail to the paper.

Carr did not address why she decided

to include her name on this year's billboard when she didn't last year.

Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles and former general counsel for the California Fair Political Practices Commission, said the use of Carr's name on the billboards is "no coincidence.''

"It's certainly taking advantage of her position,'' Stern said.

"When they say, Avoid the 13, on billboards to crack down on drinking, they don't have public service message from Sheriff Laurie Smith,'' said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics from Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. "The public service message should be from the office and not from the elected district attorney who is up for re-election.''

But Roman Porter, spokesman for the FPPC, said the use of Carr's name on the billboard is not illegal as long as she doesn't use it for advocacy such as "Vote for me.''

The billboards are the focal point of a 90-day campaign to raise awareness among employers that they must have workers' compensation insurance for their employees. It also warns employees there are penalties for filing a false workers' comp claim. "This is nothing new,'' said Deputy DA Janice Doi, a prosecutor in the insurance fraud unit. "But it's the next phase in letting the community know we take this seriously.''

What is new is the large-scale effort the insurance fraud unit embarked on last year.

Checking companies

Over nine months, DA investigators knocked on the doors of 520 businesses. Did they have workers' compensation insurance for their employees? Mark Hatcher, a lieutenant in the investigations unit, said about 29 percent of the companies contacted didn't have the proper insurance. After speaking with investigators though, two-thirds of the companies who were out of compliance started insuring their employees. At the end of the effort, Hatcher said 37 were cited for not being in compliance.

There was no particular reason to announce the campaign Tuesday, other than that the department has been working on this issue for "some time,'' Carr said at a heavily attended news conference. But with the economy being so "challenging,'' she and others said it simply isn't fair for some businesses to not offer workers' comp and compete for bids for perhaps 30 percent less than a legitimate company that insures its workers for injuries.

The insurance fraud unit works on a $2 million annual grant funded by a portion of insurance premiums handed out by the California Department of Insurance. Hatcher explained it's not taxpayer money, and it's a goal of the grant program to conduct public outreach. That money pays the salaries of prosecutors, investigators, forensic accountants, as well as the $57,000 billboard campaign, which includes six large billboards and 15 smaller ones.

The billboards urge people to report workers' comp fraud to 1-408-808-3737, which is a voice mail-answered referral line where callers can leave messages.

Contact Lisa Fernandez at 408-920-5002.

Return to Top



Archbishop Reported Priest Allegations To Police | View Clip
04/13/2010
KCNC-TV - Online

Police spokesman Lt. Matthew Murray Tuesday said that Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput is cooperating with police. He says Chaput promptly contacted police last week to report the allegations against Father Mel Thompson of Parish in Centennial. Chaput relieved Thompson of his duties a day after the man accused the priest. The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary." The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused. The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles. For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish -- practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s. Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt. This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002. Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts. Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases. "The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children." Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry -- including saying Mass and working as a parish priest -- while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases. Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood. Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible. The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol. On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest. Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served. The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation. Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful. In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected." "Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese." Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy. "But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said. Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said. "You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason." Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances. Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast." The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served. Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests. But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S. The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said. "I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

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Bankrupt video-sharing website Veoh Networks was denied...
04/13/2010
Warren's Washington Internet Daily

Bankrupt video-sharing website Veoh Networks was denied attorney's fees following its costly win in Universal Music Group's copyright infringement lawsuit, a ruling that helped solidify the protections for user-generated content sites under the DMCA (WID Sept 15 p1). "There is no doubt that some of UMG's copyrights had, in fact, been infringed," said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Howard Matz in Los Angeles. UMG's decision not to send takedown notices to Veoh "could as easily reflect a good-faith belief on UMG's part that Veoh did not qualify" for DMCA safe harbors as it could "willful indifference" by UMG. The record label's legal analysis was "not unreasonable" and there was "no clear appellate precedent" either way, the judge said.

"There has not been a great deal of caselaw interpreting under what circumstances a service provider's termination policies are 'reasonably implemented' (or what are the 'appropriate circumstances' for terminating a repeat infringer)." Despite Veoh's claim that UMG was "unnecessarily aggressive" in discovery, many of UMG's discovery motions were granted, and Veoh was aggressive in other ways, such as filing too many ex parte applications, he said. UMG's lawsuit was "consistent with the kind of vigorous advocacy that can lead to clarification and more predictable application of principles of secondary copyright liability," which on balance argues against fees for Veoh, he said. Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University, said on a blog that Matz's decision is a "fair application of the statute" but has bad consequences for similar parties. "UMG helped drain Veoh's coffers through the litigation, yet the court does not impose any disincentives for plaintiffs to bring such a lawsuit," he said. "As a result, UMG walks away from the lawsuit while Veoh goes belly-up."

Copyright © 2010 Warren Publishing, Inc.

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Commissioner bows out of vote on bayfront | View Clip
04/13/2010
San Diego Union-Tribune - Online

Coastal Commissioner Pat Kruer won't vote on a bayfront plan.

“He didn't know anything about it. He doesn't follow what his brother does. He was quite upset that anyone would impugn his integrity.”

Peter Douglas, executive director of the California Coastal Commission

California Coastal Commissioner Pat Kruer, a builder and investor in La Jolla, has decided to abstain from voting on a plan to overhaul San Diego's waterfront after he was asked about his brother's financial involvement in the project.

Kruer, who championed the plan when it came before the commission in February, will recuse himself on the issue at Wednesday's meeting, even though state law doesn't require that, said Hope Schmeltzer, the commission's chief counsel.

“Commissioner Kruer has always been exceedingly meticulous about avoiding any appearance of conflict, and so he chose to recuse himself from this matter,” Schmeltzer told the Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit investigative reporting center based at San Diego State University.

J.T. Kruer & Co., which is run by Kruer's brother Jonathan, is in charge of planning construction and estimating costs for the first phase of the plan to remake the waterfront at Harbor Drive and Broadway. So far, the company has been paid $78,150, and the total contract is worth $92,250. Work is ongoing.

State law requires commissioners to recuse themselves from any vote that could affect the financial interest of an immediate family member, which is defined as a spouse or dependent children — not siblings or parents.

Peter Douglas, executive director of the Coastal Commission, called Kruer a week ago April 5after the institute asked whether he had a conflict of interest in voting on the project. Douglas said Kruer told him he didn't know his brother was part of the project's design team.

“He didn't know anything about it. He doesn't follow what his brother does,” Douglas said. “He was quite upset that anyone would impugn his integrity.”

Douglas also said Kruer does not have a financial stake in his brother's business.

Pat Kruer did not return phone calls and e-mails last week and on Monday from the Watchdog Institute and The San Diego Union-Tribune asking him to comment on his brother's involvement in the development.

In an interview Wednesday, Jonathan Kruer said he told his brother he was working on the project, but that was the extent of their conversation.

“We've got better things to talk about when we get together,” he said.

J.T. Kruer & Co. is a subcontractor of Project Design Consultants, which was hired to work on the waterfront project. The Port of San Diego and Centre City Development Corp. split the cost of the contract.

J.T. Kruer's headquarters is on Vista Sorrento Parkway in Sorrento Valley. Jonathan Kruer said he leases the property from his brother's real estate investment company, the Monarch Group, which is based in La Jolla.

In February, Pat Kruer made the motion to approve the project. He said he thought “everybody should jump up and down” to support it.

“The truth is, the architects and the people who did this improvement project,” he said, pausing, this “is a very a nice plan, is a very world-class plan. … We should not miss this opportunity.”

In the end, the commission delayed the vote until Wednesday's meeting. Judy Nadler, a government ethicist at Santa Clara University, said it is troubling that Pat Kruer advocated for the project.

“You might not talk business (with your brother) — and you might not even talk to one another — but the public perception is that this looks like an insider deal,” Nadler said.

Douglas said he has worked with Kruer for a decade, and during that time the commissioner has recused himself if there was any concern about a conflict of interest.

“He is very particular and very attentive to avoid any conflicts,” Douglas said.

The agency's staff had recommended rejecting the plan in February, pointing to the lack of open, public space on the bayfront. Coastal planner Diana Lilly compared the initial plan, which had green open space, and the current plan, which is mostly gray.

The agency's staff is now recommending the project's approval with several additional conditions, including construction of a park elsewhere on the bayfront.

Brookewilliams@watchdoginstitute.org; (619) 594-5318

The Watchdog Institute is a nonprofit reporting unit based at San Diego State University. The San Diego Union-Tribune provides financial support to the institute.

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Commissioner bows out of vote on bayfront
04/13/2010
San Diego Union-Tribune

California Coastal Commissioner Pat Kruer, a builder and investor in La Jolla, has decided to abstain from voting on a plan to overhaul San Diego's waterfront after he was asked about his brother's financial involvement in the project.

Kruer, who championed the plan when it came before the commission in February, will recuse himself on the issue at Wednesday's meeting, even though state law doesn't require that, said Hope Schmeltzer, the commission's chief counsel.

"Commissioner Kruer has always been exceedingly meticulous about avoiding any appearance of conflict, and so he chose to recuse himself from this matter," Schmeltzer told the Watchdog Institute, a nonprofit investigative reporting center based at San Diego State University.

J.T. Kruer & Co., which is run by Kruer's brother Jonathan, is in charge of planning construction and estimating costs for the first phase of the plan to remake the waterfront at Harbor Drive and Broadway. So far, the company has been paid $78,150, and the total contract is worth $92,250. Work is ongoing.

State law requires commissioners to recuse themselves from any vote that could affect the financial interest of an immediate family member, which is defined as a spouse or dependent children — not siblings or parents.

Peter Douglas, executive director of the Coastal Commission, called Kruer a week ago after the institute asked whether he had a conflict of interest in voting on the project. Douglas said Kruer told him he didn't know his brother was part of the project's design team.

"He didn't know anything about it. He doesn't follow what his brother does," Douglas said. "He was quite upset that anyone would impugn his integrity."

Douglas also said Kruer does not have a financial stake in his brother's business.

Pat Kruer did not return phone calls and e-mails last week and on Monday from the Watchdog Institute and The San Diego Union-Tribune asking him to comment on his brother's involvement in the development.

In an interview Wednesday, Jonathan Kruer said he told his brother he was working on the project, but that was the extent of their conversation.

"We've got better things to talk about when we get together," he said.

J.T. Kruer & Co. is a subcontractor of Project Design Consultants, which was hired to work on the waterfront project. The Port of San Diego and Centre City Development Corp. split the cost of the contract.

J.T. Kruer's headquarters is on Vista Sorrento Parkway in Sorrento Valley. Jonathan Kruer said he leases the property from his brother's real estate investment company, the Monarch Group, which is based in La Jolla.

In February, Pat Kruer made the motion to approve the project. He said he thought "everybody should jump up and down" to support it.

"The truth is, the architects and the people who did this improvement project," he said, pausing, this "is a very a nice plan, is a very world-class plan. … We should not miss this opportunity."

In the end, the commission delayed the vote until Wednesday's meeting. Judy Nadler, a government ethicist at Santa Clara University, said it is troubling that Pat Kruer advocated for the project.

"You might not talk business (with your brother) — and you might not even talk to one another — but the public perception is that this looks like an insider deal," Nadler said.

Douglas said he has worked with Kruer for a decade, and during that time the commissioner has recused himself if there was any concern about a conflict of interest.

"He is very particular and very attentive to avoid any conflicts," Douglas said.

The agency's staff had recommended rejecting the plan in February, pointing to the lack of open, public space on the bayfront. Coastal planner Diana Lilly compared the initial plan, which had green open space, and the current plan, which is mostly gray.

The agency's staff is now recommending the project's approval with several additional conditions, including construction of a park elsewhere on the bayfront.

Brookewilliams@watchdoginstitute.org; (619) 594-5318 The Watchdog Institute is a nonprofit reporting unit based at San Diego State University. The San Diego Union-Tribune provides financial support to the institute.

Copyright © 2010 San Diego Union-Tribune

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Hawaii, NASA form research partnership | View Clip
04/13/2010
Pacific Business News - Online

Hawaii is partnering with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to further develop scientific research in the state.

Gov. Linda Lingle signed a three-year Space Act Agreement Tuesday with S. Pete Worden, NASA's Ames Research Center director, establishing a partnership for space exploration, scientific research and education initiatives, including robotics.

“This alliance represents a truly exceptional and timely opportunity for our state that will help diversify our economy by developing the local aerospace industry,” Lingle said.

The goal of the partnership is to develop a Hawaii-based program for small spacecraft missions, as well as a satellite project developed and managed by students to help future NASA space missions, according to a NASA press release.

Under the agreement, University of Hawaii students and professors will work with scientists and engineers at Ames Research Center in California to design and build small satellites.

The UH students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors at the NASA Research Park, including Santa Clara University, also in California.

Hawaii has pioneered programs in astronomy, planetary geosciences, broadband satellite communications, space-based environmental monitoring, and deep-space surveillance for nearly 50 years, said Lt. Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona Jr., who is a vice chairman of the national Aerospace States Association.

“This new agreement builds upon a dynamic partnership with NASA that over the next three years will substantially increase Hawaii's competitive advantages and help to enhance our long-term economic prosperity,” he said.

NASA has a satellite tracking station on Kauai and has conducted deep-space observations from telescopes on the Big Island. It also supports local educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

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Indian social entrepreneurs gain global attention | View Clip
04/13/2010
Silicon India

Now the idea of young Indian entrepreneurs is not limited to their own country. Five entrepreneurs figured in the list of 23 entrepreneurs selected for the global social benefit incubator enterprise-building programme at Santa Clara University, U.S.

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Indian social entrepreneurs go global
04/13/2010
Financial Express

Young social entrepreneurs from India are now making their mark globally. As many as five Indians figure in the list of 23 entrepreneurs selected for the global social benefit incubator (GSBI) enterprise-building programme at Santa Clara University, US. Most entrepreneurs are targeting customers at the base of the pyramid.

While a few entrepreneurs are harnessing renewables, others are making affordable devices for underserved markets. Rajnish Jain of Avani India supplies cooking gas extracted from pine needles to people in Uttarakhand at the same cost as subsidised LPG while Somnath Pyne of the Force for Rural Empowerment and Economic Development helps people cultivate Jatropha in areas adjacent to railway lines. Vivek Gupta of Saran Renewable Energy generates electricity from dhaincha, a plant grown in waterlogged land, with the help of a biomass gasification system.

While Anita Moura of Solar Ear employs physically-challenged people to make solar powered hearing aids, Devendra Shukla of Jaipur Rugs Foundation serves around 40,000 artisans in tribal areas by offering them integrated supply chain management services, including market linkages.

It is not Indians alone, even people from other countries are looking at Indian markets. Sam White of Massachusetts-based Promethean Power Systems makes solar-powered refrigeration systems for preserving perishable food items like vegetables and milk for use by farmers in India.

GSBI is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs take their innovative business models to the next level through mentoring and linking them with markets and venture capitalists. The programme is known for its successful incubated initiatives like Kiva.org, a popular micro-lending online hub, and Vision Spring, which trains entrepreneurs to check up rural populations and sell glasses at a cost of $2.50-$4.

The GSBI recognition is another feather in the cap of young Indian social and cleantech entrepreneurs who have made waves in the recent past. Recently, MIT's Technology Review India recognised Achira Labs' Dhananjaya Dendukuri as the humanitarian of the year for devising a way to load load samples of blood and other body fluids on to a plastic microfluidic chip in order to enable low-cost testing.

The list recognises Manoj Kumar Mandelia for wastewater management, Aravind A Narayan for recovering oil for reuse and Rikin B Gandhi for using participatory videos to help farmers engage in better farmer practices.

Copyright © 2010 The Indian Express Online Media Ltd, Source: The Financial Times Limited

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Indian social entrepreneurs go global | View Clip
04/13/2010
Indian Express - Online

Young social entrepreneurs from India are now making their mark globally. As many as five Indians figure in the list of 23 entrepreneurs selected for the global social benefit incubator (GSBI) enterprise-building programme at Santa Clara University, US. Most entrepreneurs are targeting customers at the base of the pyramid.

While a few entrepreneurs are harnessing renewables, others are making affordable devices for underserved markets. Rajnish Jain of Avani India supplies cooking gas extracted from pine needles to people in Uttarakhand at the same cost as subsidised LPG while Somnath Pyne of the Force for Rural Empowerment and Economic Development helps people cultivate Jatropha in areas adjacent to railway lines. Vivek Gupta of Saran Renewable Energy generates electricity from dhaincha, a plant grown in waterlogged land, with the help of a biomass gasification system.

While Anita Moura of Solar Ear employs physically-challenged people to make solar powered hearing aids, Devendra Shukla of Jaipur Rugs Foundation serves around 40,000 artisans in tribal areas by offering them integrated supply chain management services, including market linkages.

It is not Indians alone, even people from other countries are looking at Indian markets. Sam White of Massachusetts-based Promethean Power Systems makes solar-powered refrigeration systems for preserving perishable food items like vegetables and milk for use by farmers in India.

GSBI is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs take their innovative business models to the next level through mentoring and linking them with markets and venture capitalists. The programme is known for its successful incubated initiatives like Kiva.org, a popular micro-lending online hub, and Vision Spring, which trains entrepreneurs to check up rural populations and sell glasses at a cost of $2.50-$4.

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Microfinance: Extending financial services to the poor | View Clip
04/13/2010
National Catholic Reporter Online

When the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh and its founder, Muhammad Yunus, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, “microfinance” was suddenly thrust into the global limelight. Though microfinance is mostly associated with microcredit or lending, it also includes other financial services such as savings, money transfers, and even insurance provided to those at the base of the economic pyramid.

This population has mostly been denied access to financial services provided by large banks, because of lack of collateral, as the Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto alluded to in his book The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Thus, the poor, who nonetheless have financial needs, are forced to use the services of a local moneylender who often charge exorbitant interest rates.

While there are varied opinions with regard to the delineation of the poorest segment in society, it suffices to describe this group in the context of microfinance as those who do not qualify to be catered to by the traditional banking system. In order to be able to extend loans to the poor, Yunus pioneered an innovative model of lending that used peer pressure as collateral. Thus, Grameen Bank would lend to a group of women who would lend to individual members of the group. Repayment rates much higher than those in the traditional banking sector -- Grameen claims to have a repayment rate of over 96 percent.

Over the last two to three decades there has been phenomenal growth of microfinance institutions across the world. For instance, the Microfinance Summit Campaign Report 2009 includes reporting over a 10-year period, 1997-2007, from over 3,500 microfinance institutions across the world serving over 154 million clients, about 83 percent of whom are women.

The increased interest in microfinance has sparked an intense debate about whether microfinance is an effective tool for poverty alleviation. A prominent critic of microfinance's claim of poverty alleviation is Aneel Karnani at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. In an article appearing in the summer 2007 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Karnani argues that flourishing enterprises offering stable jobs at reasonable wages are better able to eradicate poverty than micro-entrepreneurs.

Other criticisms of microfinance include charges of multiple borrowing, in which clients borrow from multiple microlenders, often falling into a debt trap as they borrow from one microfinancer to repay another; and critiques of increased consumption, which holds that because of the lower rates of finance availability, clients end up purchasing many things that they would not otherwise have purchased.

One concern arising in the field of microfinance is the emergence of unethical financial lenders who are attracted to the field and charge exorbitant interest rates, sometimes as high as 120 percent. If the involvement of the corporate sector in this field is truly to help the poor, then it is imperative that their efforts be based on an ethical framework. This writer's research, under Gene Laczniak, an internationally renowned expert in marketing ethics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, has been aimed at providing such an ethical framework for companies interested in assisting impoverished populations in a fair and just manner.

What is the future of microfinance? Despite some criticisms, microfinancing will likely thrive in the coming years. There is already a growing interest in related areas such as microsavings and microinsurance. Many supporters say microfinance serves an important need, of extending financial services to the poor, and that need is far from met.

[Jesuit Fr. Nicholas Santos is a visiting professor from Pune, India, at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, California. He is also the chair of the income issues work group of “Step Up Silicon Valley,” the campaign to end poverty in Silicon Valley.]

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NASA, Hawaii partner on space exploration, science | View Clip
04/13/2010
San Francisco Business Times - Online

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the state of Hawaii agreed Tuesday to collaborate on small satellite development, advanced aviation, space exploration, education and science.

During a ceremony at the state capitol in Honolulu, S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, and Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle signed a three-year non-reimbursable agreement establishing the partnership.

"NASA and Hawaii have collaborated in space exploration since the early years of our space program when Apollo astronauts trained for their missions on the lunar-like volcanic terrain on the Big Island of Hawaii," said Worden. "With this agreement, we look forward to extending that partnership even further as we continue to explore and expand into space."

NASA maintains a satellite tracking station on the island of Kauai and has a long history of conducting deep space observations from the advanced telescopes on the Hawaiian Islands. It also supports a broad range of educational programs through the Hawaii Space Grant Consortium at the University of Hawaii.

Students and professors from the university will be sent to Ames to work with scientists and engineers to design, integrate and manage small satellites. During their training, the visiting students and professors also will work with other small satellite contractors in NASA Research Park, such as Santa Clara University.

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Symons is a former three-sport starjoining the Los Gatos Hall of Fame | View Clip
04/13/2010
San Jose Mercury News - Online

It's Jenni with an "i" and Symons with a "y," but there's no questioning why Jenni Symons has earned a place in the Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Symons was a soccer, field hockey and softball sensation who ranks as one of the high school's all-time best, and she has the Most Valuable Player awards at home to prove it. She won five team MVP awards in three varsity sports and helped the Wildcats reach the Central Coast Section playoffs in two of them.

Soccer was arguably her best sport and the one that gave her the opportunity to play on beyond high school, but she was also an exceptional competitor on the diamond as a softball player and on the turf in field hockey.

For her outstanding accomplishments as a Wildcat, Jenni Symons will be among the 11 members that make up the seventh class of inductees in the Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame. Induction ceremonies will be held May 1 at La Rinconada Country Club.

Symons made an immediate impact as a soccer player for the Wildcats. She was a freshman starter for the Wildcats, finishing the year as the Gatos team MVP. She helped the Cats win the West Valley Athletic League title and reach the CCS playoffs that winter, but they lost in the first round 1-0 to Woodside.

In the years ahead, though, it would get better.

She was the team MVP for the Cats again as a sophomore when Los Gatos won a second WVAL crown in a row. Gatos beat Silver Creek and Lynbrook

but lost to Palo Alto in the CCS semifinals.

Symons was a key player on a third straight league championship team that opened CCS with a 3-1 win over Leland before losing 3-0 to Lynbrook.

It was in her senior year, though, when Symons truly shone. She was the team captain and MVP on the Los Gatos team that won a fourth league title in a row. She won a place on the all-Central Coast Section team that season.

Symons earned a soccer scholarship to Santa Clara University. She was a four-year starter for the Broncos and was twice named to the NCAA Division I All-American first team.

She ranks third on the all-time scoring list for Santa Clara with 63 goals and sixth in assists with 35. Her 161 points from 1985-88 rank third all-time at Santa Clara. Her single-season high of 20 in 1996 is the fifth best in school history and her 16 goals in 1985 rank ninth.

But soccer was only one of the sports that defined Symons as an outstanding high school athlete.

Symons, the MVP of the Los Gatos JV field hockey team as a freshman, won the field hockey MVP award as a junior.

Symons was a four-year varsity softball player for the Wildcats, earning the team MVP award in 1982. She helped the Cats reach the CCS Division I playoffs in 1983 and again in 1984, when they defeated Cupertino in the first round before losing to Mountain View in the quarterfinals.

The three-sport standout was the winner of the United States Army Reserve National Scholar Athlete Award in 1983, and now she's adding one more award to her crowded trophy case—the trophy inscribed with the words: Jenni Symons, Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame.

Los Gatos High School Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will be held on May 1 at La Rinconada Country Club. Tickets for the Hall of Fame dinner are priced at $90. For ticket information, call the Los Gatos Athletic Association at 408.395.2002.

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US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Washington Post - Online

DENVER -- The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action 'painful but necessary.' The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases. 'The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults,' said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. 'If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children.' Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has 'no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history.' He said Thompson has been a 'popular and effective priest,' and emphasized that a presumption of innocence 'must be respected.' 'Prompt action is painful for the whole local church,' Chaput wrote, 'but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese.' Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy. 'But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different,' he said. Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said. 'You're damned if you do and damned if you don't,' said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. 'That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason.' Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage 'has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast.' The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses 'to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved.' It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said. 'I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past,' Reese said. 'My impression is this is the wave of the future.'

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US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Philippine Star

DENVER

(AP) – The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some US church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by US bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the US efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by US bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the US bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, US bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All US dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said yesterday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The US bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the US

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Omaha World-Herald - Online

DENVER (AP) - The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Connecticut Post - Online

ERIC GORSKI, AP National Writer Published: 05:14 p.m., Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A statue of Saint Thomas More is seen at Saint Thomas More Parish in Centennial, Colo., on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against St. Thomas More Parish assistant pastor Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, deemed the accusation credible, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public. Photo: Ed Andrieski / AP

FILE - In this January 5, 2007 file photo, Archbishop Charles Chaput is speaks during an interview at the church's headquarters in Denver. Chaput acted swiftly suspending Rev. Melvin Thompson from Saint Thomas More Parish after decades-old child sex abuse allegations were presented against the priest. Photo: David Zalubowski / AP

The Saint Thomas More Center is pictured in Centennial, Colo. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against St. Thomas More assistant pastor Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, deemed the accusation credible, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public. Photo: Ed Andrieski / AP

DENVER (AP) — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
San Francisco Examiner - Online

DENVER — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Buffalo News - Online

The Saint Thomas More Center is pictured in Centennial, Colo. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against St. Thomas More assistant pastor Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, deemed the accusation credible, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public." vocusinstance="1">

The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Forbes - Online

DENVER -- The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish - practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry - including saying Mass and working as a parish priest - while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases
04/13/2010
Associated Press (AP)

DENVER_The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish _ practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry _ including saying Mass and working as a parish priest _ while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Bay News 9 - Online

DENVER (AP) -- The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish _ practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry _ including saying Mass and working as a parish priest _ while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. That same day Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases | View Clip
04/13/2010
Washington Examiner - Online

In this January 5, 2007 photo, Archbishop Charles Chaput is speaks during an interview at the church's headquarters in Denver. Chaput acted swiftly suspending Rev. Melvin Thompson from Saint Thomas More Parish after decades-old child sex abuse allegations were presented against the priest. (AP file photo)

DENVER — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a diocese would move so fast. When a clergyman, teacher, professor or Boy Scout leader is accused of child sexual abuse, it's more typical to investigate fully before making public statements, he said.

"You're damned if you do and damned if you don't," said Plante, vice chairman of the National Review Board. "That's part of the challenge now. People have demands and want to know, but we do have laws and due process for a reason."

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of canon law at the Catholic University of America, voiced a similar concern while emphasizing that the proper response to an allegation hinges on the circumstances.

Green said legitimate outrage "has led to a situation where I think we've maybe reacted the other way, gone in the other direction and therefore we've gone gangbusters at times and maybe deal with it too fast."

The U.S. bishops' 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People calls for dioceses "to be open and transparent in communicating with the public about sexual abuse of minors by clergy within the confines of respect for the privacy and the reputation of the individuals involved." It said it's especially important at parishes where the accused served.

Starting with Baltimore in 2002, between 15 and 20 dioceses have used their Web sites to list the names of credibly abused priests.

But pockets of resistance exist, too. The Diocese of Lincoln, Neb., has refused to take part in annual audits tracking compliance with the 2002 reforms. The holdout diocese illustrates the limitations of the charter, which does not carry the authority of the separate Vatican-approved norms for handling sex abuse claims in the U.S.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior fellow at Georgetown University's Woodstock Theological Center, said there's no way to fully investigate complaints confidentially. While terrible for an innocent priest, going public invites more victims to come forward and gives dioceses a better chance to reach the right conclusion, he said.

"I don't know of any other way to handle this today, granted how badly the bishops handled it in the past," Reese said. "My impression is this is the wave of the future."

Return to Top



US Catholic church moving faster on abuse cases, balancing rights of victims and accused | View Clip
04/13/2010
Los Angeles Times - Online

DENVER (AP) — The action against the priest was swift and public.

Within five days of receiving a decades-old child sex abuse allegation against the Rev. Melvin Thompson, Denver's Roman Catholic Archdiocese investigated, alerted law enforcement and announced his suspension to parishioners and the public.

The archdiocese says Thompson, 74, maintains his innocence. Some parishioners have complained the process was unfair and too fast. However Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput called prompt action "painful but necessary."

The episode highlights the challenges American Catholic Church leaders face as they follow through on a promise to be more transparent in dealing with priests accused of abuse, while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused.

The case comes amid a worsening global clergy abuse scandal focused on how Pope Benedict XVI has dealt with problem priests in his past church roles.

For years, some U.S. church officials kept mum about abuse allegations and shuffled problem priests from parish to parish — practices first exposed in the 1980s and then on a larger scale in the early 1990s.

Denver's handling of the Thompson case is the latest example of American Catholic leaders shifting from secrecy to greater openness, an attitude church leaders elsewhere in the world have been slower to adopt.

This week, the Vatican for the first time made it clear that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law, matching a policy worked out by U.S. bishops after an explosion of sex abuse cases in 2002.

Critics of the church remain dubious of the U.S. efforts.

Some Catholics, while saying protecting children must be the overriding concern, worry church officials are moving too quickly in some cases.

"The church at this point is simply recognizing that children are more vulnerable than adults," said Diane Knight, the retired head of Catholic Charities in Milwaukee and chairwoman of the National Review Board, an advisory panel created by U.S. bishops in 2002. "If we're going to err, we're going to err more on the side of protecting children."

Policies approved by the Vatican as church law in the U.S. bar credibly accused priests from public ministry — including saying Mass and working as a parish priest — while allegations are investigated. Diocesan review boards, comprised mostly of lay people, help bishops oversee cases.

Initial inquiries to determine whether a claim is credible tend to focus on making sure dates and places named in allegations stand up. A more in-depth investigation, also involving lay diocesan review boards, is then carried out. Clergy found guilty are permanently barred from public ministry and, in some cases, ousted from the priesthood.

Under the 2002 reforms, U.S. bishops are to comply with state laws for reporting abuse, and to cooperate with authorities. All U.S. dioceses were also instructed to advise victims of their right to contact authorities themselves. Most cases are old and fall outside statutes of limitations, making criminal prosecution impossible.

The Denver archdiocese, Knight said, acted more quickly than most but essentially followed protocol.

On April 7, the archdiocese said it received a complaint from a man who alleged he was sexually abused by Thompson in the early 1970s. The next day, Chaput said he removed the popular Thompson from his position as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish in suburban Centennial and suspended his ability to function publicly as a priest.

Over the weekend, a letter from Chaput was read at seven Colorado parishes where Thompson has served.

The Denver Police Department said Tuesday the archdiocese reported the allegation last week, but that no police investigation would be launched because the case falls outside the statute of limitations. Jeanette DeMelo, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said the archdiocese will conduct its own investigation.

Efforts to reach Thompson for comment were unsuccessful.

In his archdiocesan newspaper column this week, Chaput wrote that Thompson has "no previous allegation of any sexual misconduct with a minor in his priestly history." He said Thompson has been a "popular and effective priest," and emphasized that a presumption of innocence "must be respected."

"Prompt action is painful for the whole local church," Chaput wrote, "but it's a necessary course to protect people's trust in their parish and in the archdiocese."

Victims' advocates, who have criticized the 2002 reforms for not going far enough, remain skeptical. David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said it's understandable that some bishops will move more quickly now given the intense public pressure about church delays and secrecy.

"But I would caution against assuming that this was a purely voluntary, incredibly responsible proactive step when we just don't have enough information to corroborate that and when the historic pattern is so radically different," he said.

Thomas Plante, a Santa Clara University psychology professor who has counseled both victims and accused priests, said he found it curious a