Santa Clara University

SCU in the News (April 17 - May 1, 2012)

SCU in the News (April 17 - May 1, 2012)

Report Overview:
Total Clips (173)
Alumni (5)
Center for Science, Technology, and Society (3)
College of Arts and Sciences (2)
Jesuit School of Theology (1)
Leavey School of Business (6)
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (52)
Retail Management Institute (5)
School of Engineering (2)
School of Engineering; Solar Decathlon (5)
School of Law (72)
Students (3)
Other (17)


Headline Date Outlet Links

Alumni (5)
Letters: Reader says media bias exists 04/27/2012 Monterey County Herald - Online Text View Clip
Secretary of Defense 04/24/2012 Marines - Online Text View Clip
Michael A. Hackworth - Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist - dies at 71 04/22/2012 Alameda Times-Star Text
ENTREPRENEUR WAS COMMUNITY LEADER 04/22/2012 San Jose Mercury News Text
Meet The Iranian Musician Who Hammered Out Facebook's $1 Billion Instagram Deal In Zuckerberg's Living Room 04/18/2012 Business Insider - Online, The Text View Clip

Center for Science, Technology, and Society (3)
Carters take part in Santa Clara University India immersion trip 04/24/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
New Invasive Species Research from Santa Clara University Described 04/19/2012 NewsRx.com Text
Santa Clara University Announces 10th Annual Class of Social Entrepreneurs for the Global Social Benefit Incubator Training and Mentoring Program 04/18/2012 Fort Mill Times - Online Text View Clip

College of Arts and Sciences (2)
Kelley: Telling the stories of a thinning number of vets 04/24/2012 Ventura County Star - Online Text View Clip
Remembering a Tragedy 04/17/2012 Chronicle of Higher Education - Online, The Text View Clip

Jesuit School of Theology (1)
Convention highlights changing face of priesthood, laity 04/30/2012 Catholic Post - Online Text View Clip

Leavey School of Business (6)
Business Schools 05/01/2012 Bloomberg Businessweek - Online Text View Clip
A Conversation With Intuitive Life And Business Designer Maureen Simon 05/01/2012 Technorati.com Text View Clip
With the ACPE 04/29/2012 Running a Hospital Text View Clip
Investing in the wretched: James Saft 04/27/2012 Reuters - Analysis & Opinion Text View Clip
*The Tech Bubble Question 04/17/2012 Marketplace - American Public Media Text View Clip
*COLUMN-What's on your investing bucket list? 04/16/2012 Reuters Text View Clip

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (52)
*Who should pay for college – parents or students? 05/08/2012 USA Today Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/29/2012 Broadcast Newsroom Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/27/2012 Lexington Dispatch - Online, The Text View Clip
San Jose Pension System Questioned 04/26/2012 KNTV-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/25/2012 KTVU-TV - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case Hearing to set ground rules for ethics hearing for SF sheriff suspended after domestic case By The Associated Press 04/25/2012 Oceania - Digital Media News and Technology Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 U-T San Diego - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Ventura County Star - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 US Daily, The Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Helena Independent Record - Online Text View Clip
Ross Mirkarimi Ethics Committee Hearing Begins 04/24/2012 Huffington Post, The Text View Clip
Protesters Descend on Wells Fargo, 24 Arrested 04/24/2012 KQED-FM - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 KIRO-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel Meets to Set Rules in Sheriff's Ethics Case 04/24/2012 ABC News - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Buffalo News - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 La Crosse Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Middletown Journal - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Lincoln Journal Star - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/24/2012 Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Occupy San Francisco 04/24/2012 KCBS-AM (740 AM) Text
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Sacramento Bee - Online, The Text View Clip
Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF 04/23/2012 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Southern Illinoisan - Online Text View Clip
The Surprising Secret Behind Doctor Referrals 04/23/2012 SmartMoney - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Seattle Times - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 seattlepi.com Text View Clip
Hearing to Begin for Suspended San Francisco Sheriff 04/23/2012 Officer.com Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Palm Beach Post - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 KTVU-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Houston Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Houston Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
SF panel meets to set ground rules for ethics against sheriff charged with domestic violence 04/23/2012 FOXNews.com Text View Clip
Hearing to Set Procedures in San Francisco Sheriff's Ethics Case 04/23/2012 Governing - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 KOTV-TV - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 KREM-TV - Online Text View Clip
• Ground Rules Set for Mirkarimi Hearing 04/23/2012 KRON-TV - Online Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 KENS-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Associated Press (AP) Text
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Bay News 9 - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 Times Union Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 U.S. News & World Report Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 WJAC-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case 04/23/2012 WNYW-TV - Online Text View Clip
Panel meets to set rules in sheriff s ethics case 04/23/2012 WCBD-TV - Online Text View Clip
*State audit reaffirms Burnham Wood issues 04/23/2012 El Paso Times Text View Clip
Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case 04/22/2012 Associated Press (AP) Text
State audit reaffirms Burnham Wood issues 04/22/2012 El Paso Times - Online Text View Clip
Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF 04/22/2012 Inside Scoop SF Text View Clip
Day 1 for sheriff's removal hearing 04/22/2012 San Francisco Chronicle Text
Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District plans new $2.6M lab 04/20/2012 Desert Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
The Surprising Secret Behind Doctor Referrals 04/18/2012 Yahoo! Finance Text View Clip

Retail Management Institute (5)
Safeway seen as likely target of buyout attempt 04/27/2012 Press Democrat - Online Text View Clip
Safeway could be a potential takeover target 04/26/2012 Marin Independent Journal - Online Text View Clip
IS SAFEWAY THE NEXT TAKEOVER TARGET? 04/25/2012 San Jose Mercury News Text
Safeway could be a potential takeover target 04/25/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Safeway could be a potential takeover target 04/24/2012 Contra Costa Times Text

School of Engineering (2)
EPA Awards More Than $1 Million to College Teams for Innovative Environmental Solutions 04/26/2012 Environmental Protection Text View Clip
15 College Teams Win EPA P3 Award for Environmental Solutions 04/25/2012 ecogeek Text View Clip

School of Engineering; Solar Decathlon (5)
Hot Topics Recap: Earth Day 04/26/2012 Apache Developer's Journal Text View Clip
Sneak Peek of Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon House Available at Earth Day Event 04/20/2012 Optimum Online - Finance Text View Clip
Sneak Peek of Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon House Available at Earth Day Event 04/20/2012 Morningstar.com Text View Clip
Earth Day Events in the Bay Area 04/19/2012 Marin Independent Journal - Online Text View Clip
Earth Day Events in the Bay Area 04/18/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip

School of Law (72)
Deregulate the Lawyers 05/01/2012 Brookings Institution Text View Clip
Is a Facebook Like Protected Under the First Amendment? A Court Says No 04/30/2012 TheAtlantic.com Text View Clip
technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University school block 04/30/2012 KCBS-AM (Radio) Text
*Oracle v. Google 04/30/2012 KCBS-AM (740 AM) Text
Fatal choking brings to light other alleged victims, issues Leonard Johnson Jr. (left) is charged in the strangulation of Sarah Billingsley-Walker... 04/28/2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch Text
Convicted Modesto arson killer can appeal 04/28/2012 Individual.com Text View Clip
Maurice Possley. 04/27/2012 Salon.com Text View Clip
The Crime Report 04/27/2012 Salon.com Text View Clip
*California opposing Arizona immigration law 04/27/2012 Los Angeles Daily Journal Text
Small firm takes on Apple, Google, over voice patent 04/26/2012 Network World - Online Text View Clip
We need a troll-free number 04/24/2012 San Francisco Chronicle Text
If health care is undecided… 04/23/2012 Politico - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to Limit Use of Patents in Lawsuits 04/21/2012 New York Times - Online, The Text View Clip
Privacy experts warn that new car black box bill doesn't go far enough 04/20/2012 Ars Technica Text View Clip
Of Law and Self-Loathing 04/20/2012 Concurring Opinions Text View Clip
Patent wars, patent trolls: why they're a problem 04/20/2012 Vancouver Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/19/2012 Chicago Tribune Collections Text View Clip
Can Couple Break the Lease on 'Haunted House?' 04/19/2012 KSEE-TV - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Toronto Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Oracle kicks off busy trial season against Google 04/18/2012 Vancouver Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Can N.J. Couple Break the Lease on Their 'Haunted House'? 04/18/2012 Yahoo! News Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Yahoo! Finance Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Winnipeg Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Software Patents at Santa Clara 04/18/2012 madisonian.net Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 London Free Press - Online, The Text View Clip
CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java 04/18/2012 PredictWallStreet.com Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Ottawa Sun - Online Text View Clip
Twitter gives inventors control over patents 04/18/2012 MSNBC.com Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 South Bend Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F. 04/18/2012 San Francisco Chronicle - Online Text View Clip
Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet 04/18/2012 San Bernardino Sun - Online Text View Clip
Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents 04/18/2012 Republic - Online, The Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Reuters - Online Text View Clip
Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet 04/18/2012 Press-Telegram - Online Text View Clip
Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet 04/18/2012 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
Twitter to Limit Use of Patents in Lawsuits 04/18/2012 Insurance Journal Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 KDAL-AM - Online Text View Clip
Twitter Announces Innovator's Patent Agreement To Limit Patent Use Lawsuits 04/18/2012 Huffington Post, The Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Edmonton Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Calgary Sun - Online, The Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Canoe Technology Text View Clip
Tech stocks CEO summit: Can it solve Apple, Samsung patent dispute? 04/18/2012 Christian Science Monitor - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/18/2012 Chicago Tribune - Online Text View Clip
The problem with patent wars 04/17/2012 Regina Leader-Post - Online Text View Clip
Judge Overturns Conviction and Vacates Life Sentence of Northern California Innocence Project Client 04/17/2012 Salem News - Online, The Text View Clip
Man released after 21 years in murder case sues S.F. 04/17/2012 San Francisco Chronicle Text
APPLE, SAMSUNG AGREE TO PATENT SETTLEMENT TALKS 04/17/2012 San Jose Mercury News Text
Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness 04/17/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet 04/17/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents 04/17/2012 News & Observer - Online Text View Clip
Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents 04/17/2012 PredictWallStreet.com Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 KWCH-TV - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 KWGN Online Text View Clip
COURTS 04/17/2012 Los Angeles Times Text
CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java 04/17/2012 Los Angeles Times - Online Text View Clip
The problem with patent wars 04/17/2012 Calgary Herald - Online, The Text View Clip
CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java 04/17/2012 American News - Online Text View Clip
Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness 04/17/2012 Contra Costa Times - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 Hartford Courant - Online Text View Clip
Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness 04/17/2012 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin - Online Text View Clip
Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F. 04/17/2012 Inside Scoop SF Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 International Business Times Text View Clip
Talks during coming days 04/17/2012 John Lott's Website Text View Clip
Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness 04/17/2012 InsideBayArea.com Text View Clip
Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents 04/17/2012 Telegraph - Online, The Text View Clip
Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents 04/17/2012 Tribune - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 WHTC-AM - Online Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 wsau.com Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 wtaq.com Text View Clip
Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits 04/17/2012 Yahoo! News Text View Clip
*Lawyer pursuing El Salvador massacre case honored with SCU law award 04/17/2012 Valley Catholic, The Text View Clip
*Silicon Valley Spats 03/13/2012 CNN International Text View Clip

Students (3)
Upstart Mountain View robotics team looking to next year's competition 05/01/2012 Alameda Times-Star Text
*Day of Silence at Santa Clara University 05/01/2012 KGO-AM (News Talk AM 810) Text
One Dramatic Summer 04/19/2012 Monterey County Weekly - Online Text View Clip

Other (17)
NFPC convention highlights changing face of priesthood, laity 04/27/2012 Compass - Online, The Text View Clip
National conference calls for immigration policy change 04/27/2012 National Catholic Reporter Online Text View Clip
Bret Harte eighth-graders explore the future at Passport to Success at the San Jose campus 04/27/2012 San Jose Mercury News - Online Text View Clip
Stimulus Doesn't Always Mean Jobs 04/26/2012 KNTV-TV - Online Text View Clip
Abuse crisis topic of Santa Clara University conference 04/25/2012 Catholic San Francisco - Online Text View Clip
California University Student Hacks Online Election 04/25/2012 Brad Blog, The Text View Clip
Methodist-Catholic dialogue issues statement on connection between Eucharist, environmental stewardship: The Catholic Sun 04/24/2012 Catholic Sun - Online Text View Clip
* St. Clare topic of Santa Clara University series of events to celebrate saint's 800th anniversary 04/23/2012 Valley Catholic, The Text View Clip
Misuse of legal drugs can have fatal results 04/21/2012 Albany Herald - Online Text View Clip
But can it find the perfect parking spot, too? 04/20/2012 MarketWatch Text
hacking into the school s computer system 04/20/2012 SecurityNewsDaily Text View Clip
Lhamo Tso brings fight for husband's freedom to Auburn, 04/19/2012 Auburn Journal - Online Text View Clip
All Over Creation: I, Witness 04/19/2012 Austin Chronicle - Online, The Text View Clip
*Walking the Missions 04/19/2012 KNTV-TV Text View Clip
Cristo Rey Offers New School Model 04/17/2012 San Jose Inside Text View Clip
SFist Memoirs: Kylee Swenson Gordon, Small Town Girl 04/17/2012 SFist Text View Clip
*An immoral budget that shuns social justice 03/26/2012 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Text View Clip


Letters: Reader says media bias exists | View Clip
04/27/2012
Monterey County Herald - Online

April 28, 2012 4:36 AM GMT

Updated:

04/27/2012 09:34:39 PM PDT

Editorial cartoon

Says media bias exists

I read another Herald editorial denying media bias expecting a chuckle or two and was not disappointed! Your comparison of two brutal stories was factually correct but a poor analogy.

In the Trayvon Martin death, I would have respected your attempt had you addressed the recent journalistic embarrassments by NBC, CBS and CNN, each with doctored or fabricated coverage for which they had to apologize.

Three instances designed to make George Zimmerman appear guilty. Any bias here? Of course.

Study the coverage of the tea party and the Occupy movement. Tea party was portrayed as old white people, racist, Bible-thumping neo-conservatives with questionable intentions. The occupiers were depicted as a noble, freedom fighting, compassionate group. It was shameful how skewed the coverage was. And the Occupy people ended up looking like punks with nationwide reports of rape, murder, riots and vandalism. Never saw that at a tea party protest.

We expect our media to have liberal and conservative perspective. That makes for enlightening discussions. We don't like it being so one sided that the real "news" we read is peppered with an agenda. You can keep insisting it doesn't exist, but the national networks are making your job very difficult.

Steve Stelter

Marina

Del Piero can lead us out of water mess

For the past 16 years, Dave Potter has been 5th District Monterey County supervisor and a director of the Monterey

Peninsula Water Management District, two major positions from which he could have provided leadership in solving our long simmering water crisis.

Has he done so? Absolutely not!

He has, however, been tainted by his relationship with Steve Collins, who is facing a court hearing on charges relating to his misuse of his county water board position in accepting $160,000 under the table for allegedly helping arrange a no-bid $25 million contract on the failed Marina Coast desal project. After 16 years in office, Potter has become the poster boy for term limits.

The good news is that we have an outstanding candidate to replace Potter in the upcoming election.

Marc Del Piero is a former supervisor, having served with distinction from 1981 to 1992. He is a lawyer specializing in water and issues and served on the State Water Resources Board for eight years. Marc was born and raised in Monterey County, attended public schools, went to Santa Clara University, came back home to practice water law again and has forever been active in community affairs. There could be no better qualified person in the county to lead us out of the water abyss.

Skip Keyzers

Carmel

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Secretary of Defense | View Clip
04/24/2012
Marines - Online

MARFORCOM Portal Access

Marine Corps Social Network

Welcome Aboard

Leon E. Panetta

Secretary of Defense - United States of America

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Leon Edward Panetta was sworn in as the 23rd Secretary of Defense on July 1, 2011.

Before joining the Department of Defense, Mr. Panetta served as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency from February 2009 to June 2011. Mr. Panetta led the agency and managed human intelligence and open source collection programs on behalf of the intelligence community.

Secretary Panetta has dedicated much of his life to public service. Before joining CIA, he spent 10 years co-directing with his wife, Sylvia, the Leon & Sylvia Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay. The Institute is a nonpartisan, non-for-profit center that seeks to instill in young men and women the virtues and values of public service. In March 2006, he was chosen as a member of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan committee established at the urging of Congress to conduct an independent assessment of the war in Iraq.

From July 1994 to January 1997, Mr. Panetta served as chief of staff to President Bill Clinton. Prior to that, he was director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position that built on his years of work on the House Budget Committee. Mr. Panetta represented California's 16th (now 17th) Congressional District from 1977 to 1993, rising to House Budget Committee chairman during his final four years in Congress.

Early in his career, Mr. Panetta served as a legislative assistant to Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel of California; special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare; director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights; and executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsay of New York. He also spent five years in private law practice.

He served as an Army intelligence officer from 1964 to 1966 and received the Army Commendation Medal.

Mr. Panetta holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a law degree, both from Santa Clara University. He was born on June 28, 1938 in Monterey, where his Italian immigrant parents operated a restaurant. Later, they purchased a farm in Carmel Valley, a place Secretary and Mrs. Panetta continue to call home. The Panettas have three grown sons and six grandchildren.

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Michael A. Hackworth - Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist - dies at 71
04/22/2012
Alameda Times-Star

Michael L. Hackworth, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist who had the IMAX theater at the Tech Museum of Innovation named after him, has died at 71.

Surrounded by his family, Hackworth passed away at his home in Saratoga on Saturday, according to his daughters.

He was a 40-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, working for Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and Signetics. His greatest claim to fame was as a co-founder in 1985 of Cirrus Logic, a supplier of high-precision analog and digital signal processing components for audio and energy markets. He served in several roles there, including CEO and chairman of the board.

He also served on several private high-tech company boards and coached entrepreneurs in their company formation phases.

Hackworth was a strong believer in hard work, community service and ethics, taking a leadership role in several local nonprofits, including the Tech Museum, San Jose Ballet Silicon Valley, the San Jose Symphony, the Montalvo Arts Center, the Santa Clara County Children's Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Silicon Valley Charity Ball.

He also served on many boards, including the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He also created the Hackworth Fellowships at Santa Clara University 10 years ago.

"He will be remembered as living his guiding principles to their fullest: Dream big, work hard and do the right thing," his family said in a written statement.

Born in San Mateo, he spent the first five years of his life in Atwood, Kan. He had fond memories of the family farm and relatives there who supported him and his mother while his father served in World War II, according to the family's statement.

Hackworth graduated from Serra High School and Santa Clara University with a degree in electrical engineering. He began his career in high school in 1957 working part time for a passive component startup, Ultronix, serving the instrumentation and aerospace industries, and continued with them until several years out of college.

Ernst & Young recognized his management acumen in 1990 when he was named Semiconductor Entrepreneur of the Year. He was honored again as a nominee for this recognition in 1994. In 2001, he was the recipient of the third annual Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award presented by the Fabless Semiconductor Association.

Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482.

Copyright © 2012 Alameda Times-Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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ENTREPRENEUR WAS COMMUNITY LEADER
04/22/2012
San Jose Mercury News

Michael A. Hackworth, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and philanthropist who had the IMAX theater at the Tech Museum of Innovation named after him, has died at 71.

Surrounded by his family, Hackworth passed away at his home in Saratoga on Saturday, according to his daughters.

He was a 40-year veteran of the semiconductor industry, working for Motorola, Fairchild Semiconductor and Signetics. His greatest claim to fame was as a co-founder in 1985 of Cirrus Logic, a supplier of high-precision analog and digital signal processing components for audio and energy markets. He served in several roles there, including CEO and chairman of the board.

He also served on several private high-tech company boards and coached entrepreneurs in their company formation phases.

Hackworth was a strong believer in hard work, community service and ethics, taking a leadership role in several local nonprofits, including the Tech Museum, San Jose Ballet Silicon Valley, the San Jose Symphony, the Montalvo Arts Center, the Santa Clara County Children's Shelter, Second Harvest Food Bank and the Silicon Valley Charity Ball.

He also served on many boards, including the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. He also created the Hackworth Fellowships at Santa Clara University 10 years ago.

"He will be remembered as living his guiding principles to their fullest: Dream big, work hard and do the right thing," his family said in a written statement.

Born in San Mateo, he spent the first five years of his life in Atwood, Kan. He had fond memories of the family farm and relatives there who supported him and his mother while his father served in World War II, according to the family's statement.

Hackworth graduated from Serra High School and Santa Clara University with a degree in electrical engineering. He began his career in high school in 1957 working part time for a passive component startup, Ultronix, serving the instrumentation and aerospace industries, and continued with them until several years out of college.

Ernst & Young recognized his management acumen in 1990 when he was named Semiconductor Entrepreneur of the Year. He was honored again as a nominee for this recognition in 1994. In 2001, he was the recipient of the third annual Dr. Morris Chang Exemplary Leadership Award presented by the Fabless Semiconductor Association.

Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482.

Copyright © 2012 San Jose Mercury News

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Meet The Iranian Musician Who Hammered Out Facebook's $1 Billion Instagram Deal In Zuckerberg's Living Room | View Clip
04/18/2012
Business Insider - Online, The

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pretty much handled his company's $1 billion acquisition of Instagram all by himself, according to tick tock story from the WSJ.

He called Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom on a Thursday and signed the deal, in his living room, on Sunday.

The report does give credit to one other Facebook exec for finishing the deal so fast, however: director of corporate development Armin Zoufonoun, who hammed out the merger's details during a 12 hour meeting Sunday night.

Zoufonoun has only been at Facebook for just more than a year, having joined from Google in March 2011.

At Google, Zoufonoun did what he does for Facebook now: close deals. According to his LInkedIn profile, he played a big role in closing Google's acquisitions of On2, Grandcentral, Metaweb, Widevine, Feedburner, and Simplify Media.

Oddly for a non-engineer, Zoufonoun listed as the "inventor" for several of Google's patents. Maybe it helps that before Google, Zoufonoun was an IP lawyer for a firm called ArrayComm LLC. Unlike many Ivy League/Stanford Googlers, Zoufonoun went Santa Clara University for undergrad and law school.

Zoufonoun's family is from Tehran, Iran. His family left the country when his brother, Omid, was two.

Both Omid and Amin are musicians following in the footsteps of their (relatlively) famous father, Ostad Mahmoud Zoufonoun. Omid has made a profession out of it. Amin has obvious ely not. The whole gang is big on YouTube.

Here is a song Ostad wrote on the occasion of Amin's birth:

Here is Amin (far left) playing with his father and uncle:

And this is Amin on a panel, talking about the "the good, the bad, and the ugly of the acquisition process":

Please follow SAI on Twitter and Facebook.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Carters take part in Santa Clara University India immersion trip | View Clip
04/24/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

INDIA IMMERSION: Bill and Susan Carter of Los Gatos were part of an India immersion trip of engineering professors and board members from Santa Clara University recently. The group wanted to see the results of projects started by SCU alums who use technology to help establish jobs for underserved communities.

The team visited Anudip's new training center in Gocharin, especially meaningful for the Santa Clara team since Anudip's founder, Dipak Basu, attended the Global Social Benefit Incubator at SCU in 2005.

"The most fascinating thing about the trip was what we went there to see: The clever and innovative ways the entrepreneurs are working to impact for the better the lives of their own people," emails Susan.

Social entrepreneurs from all over the world are trained and mentored through the Global Social Benefit Incubator. "They then take their newfound skills and understanding home to their countries to make what improvements they can.

"The biggest surprises to us both were the crush of people in Calcutta ... the poverty everywhere, sometimes right next to affluence, the decaying infrastructure. So many problems, and if you wanted to fix them, where would you start?" Sounds like Anudip is making a significant start.

The Carters and SCU are very much intertwined. The couple met there as undergrads, married there and their children attended the school. Bill is a university trustee and its engineering school

will honor him with an award this month to celebrate the centennial. Mr. C. was a semiconductor designer for Xilinx and retired as chief technical officer.

Carter offspring: Kate Wilson was a reporter for this newspaper, is now married, has two children and works for Second Harvest. She has an MBA from SCU. Son Ted got his law degree there; Maggie is an ear, nose and throat medical resident in Boston. Lizzie, too, has an SCU degree, works there in the event planning office. Now that's involvement.

PRUNE PICKERS: Tim Stanley, author of The Last of the Prune Pickers, grew up in Saratoga, now lives in Irvine, and has written a comprehensive history of the agricultural past of the valley, from the Indian to mid-20th century. The book is extensively researched and full of photos.

Stanley's personal reminiscences centered on the Pitman Farm, now Argonaut Shopping Center. He worked there for five summers in the '50s, making him one of "the last of the prune pickers." His recollections were colored by his admiration for Robert Pitman.

The orchardist was a major influence in his life and the main impetus for writing this book.

Some audience members, prune pickers themselves, reminded him what hard work it was, which he granted with a grin. But for Stanley, working with Mr. Pitman made up for all the sweat, stings and sore muscles.

SUNDAY SALES: Friends of the Library have started to hold book sales in the children's area of the old library on Sundays from 1-5 p.m. on a temporary basis. The temporary bookstore will be called Second Hand Prose, a name suggested by library director and wordsmith Linda Dydo.

All genres of nearly new books will be for sale, not just children's books. This is a temporary move since the town hasn't made a final decision on how the old library space will be used. The Friends have permission to use it while the process of determining its reuse is under way, said Pamela Jacobs, assistant town manager.

BIRDATHON: The Snipe Hunters again took home honors in the annual Audubon Society Birdathon. They sighted 135 different species in their cold and muddy count and endured from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Locations touched down on included Calero, Shoreline, Lake Cunningham and points in between.

The Snipes are led by Laurie West Roberts, and the newest Snipe is Edward Rooks, a fit name for a bird watcher. Others are Rick Roberts, Linda Johnson, Kathy Hendig, Cynthia Berg and Marilyn Waterman. The Snipes have won distinction previously as the largest fundraisers and for best sighting--a short-eared owl.

Have a tip for Main Street? Contact Columnist Mary Ann Cook at maryannck8@gmail.com or 408.540.7977.

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New Invasive Species Research from Santa Clara University Described
04/19/2012
NewsRx.com

"Social networks of stakeholders are necessary to foster public support for classical biological control for nature," scientists in Santa Clara, California report (see also ).

"Drawing from recent scholarship in policy-relevant social science fields, this article describes two key concepts that can improve science communication strategies to support invasive species management and biocontrol: lay public risk perception, and public engagement with science. This article then recommends a fundamental communication strategy: construct public trust in invasive species control efforts using public engagement processes that link trustworthy messengers and appropriate messages with the public," wrote K.D. Warner and colleagues, Santa Clara University.

The researchers concluded: "It draws examples from biocontrol projects that used pathogens as the natural enemy of choice, but more broadly seeks to inform efforts to engage the public about the use of classical biocontrol agents in nature conservation efforts."

Warner and colleagues published their study in Biocontrol (Fighting pathophobia: how to construct constructive public engagement with biocontrol for nature without augmenting public fears. Biocontrol, 2012;57(2):307-317).

For additional information, contact K.D. Warner, Santa Clara Universtiy, Center Sci Technol & Soc, Santa Clara, CA 95053, United States.

The publisher's contact information for the journal Biocontrol is: Springer, Van Godewijckstraat 30, 3311 Gz Dordrecht, Netherlands.

Copyright © 2012 Health & Medicine Week via NewsRx.com

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Santa Clara University Announces 10th Annual Class of Social Entrepreneurs for the Global Social Benefit Incubator Training and Mentoring Program | View Clip
04/18/2012
Fort Mill Times - Online

Until recently, small-scale farmers in Kenya who spent their household savings on seeds could lose everything in the case of severe drought or excess rain. Rahab Karanja helped start a unique type of insurance company for such farmers—Kilimo Salama—that pays farmers if extreme weather wipes them out. For simplicity, payments are made through the popular M-Pesa mobile-phone payment system, and the price of the insurance is embedded in the seed or fertilizer prices.

“Until now the only thing Kenyan farmers could do about the risk of extreme weather was to pray,” said Karanja. “We are offering some protection for their livelihoods.”

Karanja is one of 20 socially minded entrepreneurs, and one of 10 women, from around the globe who have been chosen to participate in Santa Clara University's intensive, eight-month Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™) program this year, the 10th anniversary of GSBI. The final phase of the Silicon Valley-based program is a two-week in-residence “boot camp” on SCU's campus, Aug. 12 to Aug. 24, culminating in public business-plan summary presentations Aug. 23.

For a decade, GSBI has helped mission-driven enterprises build, sustain, and increase the reach and impact of their businesses. Collectively, alumni of the program have provided essential products and services to an estimated 74 million underserved people worldwide, and more than 90 percent of the organizations are still operating.

The program features mentoring by Silicon Valley executives and experts, collaboration for the social entrepreneurs, and MBA-caliber classes during the summer in-residence program. More on GSBI can be found at http://www.scu.edu/socialbenefit/entrepreneurship/gsbi

The other enterprises that have been chosen from among 180 applicants to receive full scholarships to GSBI 2012 include:

*Backpack Farm Agriculture Program, training and unique backpacks containing advanced products for small-crop vegetable farmers, from drip irrigation to soil protectants and crop journals, East Africa. www.backpackfarm.com

*BaNaPads Social Enterprise, affordable sanitary pads from banana stems to help Ugandan girls attend school, Uganda. www.scu.edu/profiles/?p=4999

*Carbon Keeper, mobile customer and supply-chain management for household energy project developers, East Africa. www.carbonkeeper.org

*EarthSpark International, clean-energy supply chain and product purveyor, Haiti. www.earthsparkinternational.org

*EcoEnergyFinance, clean energy products and business opportunities, Pakistan. www.ecoenergyfinance.org

*Edom Nutritional Solutions, micronutrient-rich porridge and maize, East Africa. www.scu.edu/profiles/?p=5003

*InVenture, methods for investors to make business loans and otherwise help successful sole proprietors in developing countries, Global. www.inventure.org.

*Lifeline Technologies Trading Ltd., solar and crank-powered MP3 player for education, Sub-Saharan Africa. www.lifelinetrading.net

*M-Farm, SMS alerts for crop pricing and collective-selling opportunities, Kenya. mfarm.co.ke

*MaliBiocarburant, biodiesel processing of Jatropha curcas, a non-edible oil crop, West Africa. www.malibiocarburant.com

*Nazava Water Filters, affordable and safe household water filters, Indonesia. www.nazava.com

*Nokero, solar light and phone chargers for 125 countries, United States and Hong Kong. www.nokero.com

*OneChildOneLight, solar powered LED lights, India. www.onechildonelight.org

*Potential Energy (formerly Darfur Stoves Project), fuel-efficient cook stoves, Sudan. www.darfurstoves.org

*SalaUno, free or low-cost cataract surgery for impoverished Mexicans, Mexico. www.salauno.com.mx

*Sarvajal, clean water franchising using “water ATMs” and social-impact tracking, India. www.sarvajal.com

*Solanterns, for-rent or purchasable durable solar lanterns, Kenya. www.solanterns.com

*Sustainable Health Enterprises, nontraditional business opportunities solving social problems, such as girls missing school due to lack of sanitary products, Global. www.sheinnovates.com

* UbiLuz, solar LED lighting and other products, Central America. www.scu.edu/profiles/?p=5017

GSBI alumni include: the micro-lending website Kiva.org; Indian safe-drinking water distributor Naandi; “cloud phone” service provider Movirtu; Indian rural electrification pioneer Husk Power Systems; physical mobility device producer and advocate MAARDEC; optical health leader VisionSpring; and the earthquake-resistant construction nonprofit Build Change. A complete list of alumni can be found at: www.scu.edu/socialbenefit/entrepreneurship/gsbi/alumni.

GSBI is the signature program of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society at Santa Clara University. It is currently funded in part by a grant from the Skoll Foundation and individual donors. The Center partners with Social Edge, the Skoll Foundation's online community for social entrepreneurs (www.socialedge.org) to administer the online GSBI application process.

For more details about the program and this year's GSBI class, visit the Center for Science, Technology, and Society's website at www.scu.edu/socialbenefit.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

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Kelley: Telling the stories of a thinning number of vets | View Clip
04/24/2012
Ventura County Star - Online

PARIS — We can see the Arc de Triomphe from our hotel room at Le Bristol. The massive monument — 164 feet in height — stands at the heart of a plaza presently known as Place Charles de Gaulle and serves as the center point of 12 outwardly radiating streets. Formerly known as Place Etoile, it was renamed in 1970 to honor the deceased general and president of France.

In 1990, the 100th anniversary of de Gaulle's birth, President Francois Mitterrand, de Gaulle's most formidable rival, checked the latest opinion polls, held his nose, and lied: "Gen. de Gaulle has entered the pantheon of great national heroes, where he ranks ahead of Napoleon and behind only Charlemagne."

"A hero is someone we can admire without apology," writes Kitty Kelley, the unauthorized biographer of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Reagan and Oprah Winfrey. Slate's Michael Crowley, however, called her "the consummate gossip monger, a vehicle for all the rumor and innuendo surrounding her illustrious subjects."

Is Kelley confusing heroism with celebrity?

She's not alone. When administrators of the Gloria Barron Prize polled American teenagers about their heroes, Superman and Spider-Man were nominated twice as often as Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Abraham Lincoln.

Astoundingly, one in 10 claimed various winners on "American Idol" as their heroes.

"Hero" in Greek translates as "protector" or "defender," and referred to individuals who, in the face of danger or adversity, displayed significant courage or self-sacrifice. As Joseph Campbell, the master of myths wrote, "A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."

Heroes have stature, if not size. While "a hero is no braver than an ordinary man — but he is brave five minutes longer," according to Ralph Waldo Emerson, we also concur with respect to heroic traits.

A Cornell University business school study of 526 World War II combat veterans found that the 83 individuals decorated for battlefield valor described themselves as "loyal, self-disciplined, selfless and adventurous."

When boomers, who first arrived on the scene in 1946, got around to asking their fathers, "What did you do in the war, Daddy?" the members of the Tom Brokaw's "Greatest Generation" typically changed the subject. They held that their battlefield experiences were not an appropriate dinner table topic.

In fact, for many boomers, the initial 27 minutes of Steven Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan," taught them that, indeed, those sexually uptight, politically conservative, Lawrence Welk-loving parents of theirs — qualified as bona fide heroes.

According to the 2009 American Community Survey, approximately 21.9 million military veterans live in the United States. California counts 2 million among its residents.

The largest chunk, 35 percent (7.6 million) served during Vietnam (1964-1975). Next up, 20.7 percent (4.5 million) fought during the Gulf War (Aug. 2, 1990 to present). Most important, however, is the total number of veterans from World War II (1941-1945) and the Korean War (1950-1953). It's fewer than 5 million and dwindling every day.

As the lyrics from "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" poignantly points out, "But as year follows year, more old men disappear."

Their stories, however, are being read. In fact, first-person accounts of all wars, but particularly World War II and Korea, are flying off the shelves of bookstores. Publishers, who claim their readers yearn for a heroic-heavy peek behind the fog of war, say the military memoir genre has never been more popular.

Right here in Ventura County, Jannette Jauregui chronicles the lives of local veterans for The Star. In 2011, she compiled a number of them in her first book titled "Ventura County Veterans: World War II to Vietnam."

"We need heroes because they define the limits of our aspirations," writes Santa Clara University ethics scholar, Scott LaBarge. "We largely define our ideals by the heroes we choose, and those ideals — largely define us."

Yet, the greatest obstacle to the appreciation and adoption of heroes in this society seems to be a post-Watergate cynicism that is both corrosive and widespread.

The best antidote, responds LaBarge, "is realism about the limits of human nature. We are cynical because so often our ideals have been betrayed. Washington and Jefferson held slaves and Martin Luther King is accused of philandering and plagiarizing. We need to separate out the things that make our heroes noteworthy, and forgive the shortcomings that blemish their heroic perfection."

In a letter to Anthony Eden just before D-Day, Winston Churchill said of de Gaulle, "There is not a scrap of generosity about this man, who only wishes to pose as the saviour of France in this operation … he is a wrongheaded, ambitious and detestable Anglophobe."

Nevertheless, after VJ day and upon reflection, Churchill admitted, "I knew he was no friend of England, but I understood and admired, even while I resented his arrogant demeanor."

Arrogant demeanor? He's French.

© 2012 Ventura County Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Remembering a Tragedy | View Clip
04/17/2012
Chronicle of Higher Education - Online, The

At 7:30 a.m. today—the approximate time of the first two shootings in the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech—students, faculty, and others gathered at Santa Clara University, in California, as part of an unusual tribute to the victims of the deadly rampage five years ago.

The daybreak event commemorated the 32 lives claimed by a gunman five years ago through the performance of a play called "What a Stranger May Know," by Erik Ehn, director of playwriting and a professor of theater at Brown University.

The play is a suite of 90-minute monologues, delivered simultaneously by performers spread across an open space, with each actor reciting a script about one of the victims. The texts, drawn from public records and collected from their family members, give viewers "a surprisingly holistic sense of the person—their character, their interests, what their plans were for the future," says Kristin Kusanovich, co-director of the Santa Clara performance. Visitors can wander through the scenes or stay with one drama as the stories unfold.

The tribute was mirrored in similar performances on nearly two dozen other campuses across the country.

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Convention highlights changing face of priesthood, laity | View Clip
04/30/2012
Catholic Post - Online

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNS) -- Priests from across the country met in Nashville April 23-26 to learn about and discuss "The Emerging Church of the 21st Century," the theme for the 44th annual convention of the National Federation of Priests' Councils.

Speakers addressed a range of topics including immigration and multiculturalism in the church today; how American Catholics engage religion in modern-day secular society; and the changing nature of priestly ministry.

One of the conference's keynote speakers, Jerome Baggett, a sociologist and professor of religion and society at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, relayed his findings about American Catholics' struggle to live faithfully amidst the challenges of the modern world. Baggett's talk drew largely from research that was eventually distilled into his 2009 book, "Sense of the Faithful: How American Catholics Live their Faith."

For that, he conducted hundreds of interviews at six disparate parishes in the San Francisco Bay area, and included "everybody," he said: Anglo, Latino, Asian, African-American, men, women, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, urban, suburban. Baggett wanted to look at "what is happening rather than what you or I think ought to happen," in the faith lives of ordinary Catholics.

"It's messy, but it's worth paying attention to," he said.

Baggett addressed the pastoral challenges of pluralism, authority and traditionalism, presenting the priests gathered with "conversational shards" of interviews to illuminate these ideas. He noted that he was not passing judgment on the findings, but was presenting them to the priests "for your discernment."

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Business Schools | View Clip
05/01/2012
Bloomberg Businessweek - Online

Photograph by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

B-School Twitter Roundup

Posted by: Alison Damast on May 01, 2012

This week's Twitter roundup of happenings in the business school world includes the winner of the world's largest international case competition, an original B-school musical, and a rising media mogul who got his start building a Harry Potter website.

Students from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business put on the school's first originally produced musical, which chronicles the journey of MBA students from orientation to graduation (@DukeFuqua, 4/26).

Rutgers Business School tweets about some of the most popular MBA jargon (@RutgersBSchool, 4/27).

An inside look at how an MBA intern from University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business helped one of Canada's fastest-growing technology companies launch a product (@UBCMBA,  4/27).

Teams from NYU Abu Dhabi, Hult International Business School and Carnegie Mellon University win the top prizes at the Hult Global Case Challenge in New York (@hultglobalcase, 4/27).

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev visits the Thunderbird School of Global Management to discuss global leadership (@thunderbird, 4/28).

Emerson Spartz, 25, an alum of University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business and founder of mugglenet.com, the popular Harry Potter fan website, now runs his own media company, Spartz Media, (@NDBusiness, 4/25).

Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business will host a business plan competition seeking ideas specifically for the baby boomer generation (@AlanaTweets, 4/30).

Julia Michienzi, a member of the MBA admissions team at the University of Western Ontario's Richard Ivey School of Business, blogs about the pros and cons of a one-year MBA program vs. a two-year program (@iveymba, 4/27).

Second-year MBA students in the leadership-immersion course at University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler Business School produce a series of videos on the school's core values (@DeanJimDean, 4/24).

Justin Bieber, Twitter co-Founder Jack Dorsey, and actor Ed Burns win the Tribeca Film Festival's Disruptive Innovation Awards, which took place this year at New York University's Stern School of Business (@NYUStern, 4/30).

Damast is a staff writer for Bloomberg Businessweek.

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A Conversation With Intuitive Life And Business Designer Maureen Simon | View Clip
05/01/2012
Technorati.com

A Conversation With Intuitive Life And Business Designer Maureen Simon

Author: Carol Lawrence

Published: May 01, 2012 at 6:13 pm

I recently sat down with Maureen Simon to talk about her book, Awakening The Essential Feminine Claiming Your Influential Power and The Essential Feminine Company.

Maureen Simon is founder of The Essential Feminine Company™ (TEF)-a lifestyle and business design company that supports women to create successful powerful lives that incorporates their feminine attributes and gifts. The company provides learning environments and products that support women in claiming, living and leading with their natural strengths and talents. TEF believes that it is now time for women step forward and makes a major contribution in the world.

Maureen has worked with women representing a wide range of businesses including Fortune 100 corporations, worldwide entertainment and media industries, government, and the creative arts. She mentors both Fortune 100 executives as well as leading edge business entrepreneurs. She is founding member of the Global Women's Leadership Network at Santa Clara University's Leavey School of Business in Silicon Valley. She is a graduate of the State University of New York and has studied community organization, human services and public policy. Maureen's work has been featured in numerous printed publications, including London's Vogue, Marie Claire, Self, Women & Home, Good Housekeeping, Bay Area Business Women, Marin Independent Journal, The Financial Times, and many others.

Carol Lawrence: Maureen, what inspired you to write Awakening The Essential Feminine Claiming Your Influential Power?

Maureen Simon: The need to bring the 26 attributes together in one place so that women can learn them, claim them, live and lead with them. The research took a year and half and the writing took a year. Women hold strong feminine attributes and are pre-disposed to the feminine because of our socialization and biology "brain and hormonal." When the world is in the state she's in it's because the feminine is not known or respected at the world's tables where decisions are being made. I felt a need to identify the attributes so that she could begin to step forward and contribute in the world. She lives in all women.

Carol Lawrence: What is the essential feminine?

Maureen Simon: The essential feminine is an essential nature that holds twenty-six attributes that when learned and claimed will change the world as we now know it. They include care, compassion and relationship building, advanced intuition, right use of power and verbal agility.

Continued on the next page

Add your comment, speak your mind

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With the ACPE | View Clip
04/29/2012
Running a Hospital

I had the pleasure of addressing the Vanguard Program of the American College of Physician Executives at the ACPE annual meeting in San Francisco.  The goal of this program is to empower and inspire this group of 100-125 senior physician leaders to practice transformational leadership in health care, something they are uniquely gifted and positioned to do.  After they were welcomed by ACPE CEO Peter Angood (seen here), I gave a talk focused on the the leader as coach.  My lead was borrowed from the legendary coach John Wooden, who once said "You haven't taught until they have learned," suggesting that a failure of a team to learn is more a statement of the teacher's inability to present the lesson well than the students' inability to learn.

My talk was followed by that of Andre Delbecq, McCarthy University Professor at Santa Clara University (seen here), who presented similar themes.  In particular, Andre reinforced the message that while managing change is a key leadership challenge, change requires movement away from "expert decision making" to managing a discovery process and pooling judgments.

This theme of physician leadership and innovation was pervasive during the day, and the group was fortunate to hear from a number of experts in both the plenary sessions and workshops.  I was pleased, for example, to have a chance to talk with Dr. James Thompson, of The Hayes Group International, who likewise reinforced the idea of physicians as mentors and the concept of servant leadership.

Attendees included people from many parts of the country, with highly varied backgrounds.  It was a convivial and good humored group, especially when one took into account a Sunday morning 7am starting time!

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Investing in the wretched: James Saft | View Clip
04/27/2012
Reuters - Analysis & Opinion

(Reuters) – At a time when one super-stock, Apple, is driving returns and portfolio construction, it is important to remember that there is usually more to be gained from the widely derided than from the universally loved.

Choosing stocks like Apple, which makes great products and has the glow of success about it, is an easy and comfortable choice. Investors feel they are affiliating with something successful, and they get that blast of pleasurable chemicals to the brain every time they see a positive story in the press or a surge in share price.

That success comes with a price tag. A review of the literature shows that portfolios with stocks in widely admired companies usually underperform baskets of stocks with companies nobody much likes.

A 2010 study by Meir Statman, a professor at Santa Clara University, and Deniz Anginer, a World Bank economist, found sustained outperformance from what they called ‘spurned' companies.

The study used the annual survey of analysts and executives, conducted by Fortune Magazine, of the most and least admired U.S. companies as a benchmark. They found that over a 24-year period you'd actually be better off holding stocks of the least admired companies.

“We studied Fortune Magazine's annual list of ‘America's Most Admired Companies' to find that stocks of admired companies had lower returns, on average, than stocks of spurned companies over the period April 1983-December 2007. Moreover, we find that increases in admiration were followed, on average, by lower returns,” Anginer and Statman wrote in the study, published in The Journal of Portfolio Management.

here Think about it: not only are you better off with, for lack of a more polite term, dog stocks, you had better monitor your portfolio for companies which are becoming admired with an eye to perhaps lightening your exposure. The annualized return between April 1982 and December 2007 of the un-loved portfolio was 18.34 percent, easily beating the admired stocks' return of 16.27 percent. That sort of performance difference, over that sustained a period, is very significant; to be able to generate it simply by buying what others don't love is amazing. FEELING GOOD VERSUS MAKING MONEY The question you have to ask yourself: do you want to make money or do you want to feel good? Owning highly regarded stocks is a way for people to affiliate with success, just as people buy more Yankees caps when they are in first place. People like success and tend to be overly simplistic about it, feeling that it is a hard-wired trait rather than the result of the interplay between hard work, opportunity and – crucially for investors – valuation. Statman did further work in 2011 and concluded that the difference in performance between hot and not-hot stocks was not, as many assert, tied to company characteristics – such as market capitalization or market-to-book ratios – but rather to the fact that positive sentiment by investors who then make unrealistic assumptions about future returns and risks. Human beings love to take the immediate past and then discount it into the indefinite future, assuming that a track record can in some way be a guarantee – irrespective of what price you pay for that record. Investors pay for that magic glow of success, and they usually pay dearly. None of this is to say that people are wrong about which companies are excellent; they often are right. The problem is that they get carried away in what they are willing to pay to affiliate with excellence. One important note of caution: returns were highly dispersed, meaning that quite a few of the unloved companies were disliked for a very good reason. They were on the way down the drain. Since it can be extremely difficult to glean the winners from the losers, the best response is probably to be widely diversified within the category. All of this demonstrates that investing, in many ways, is like trying to play three-dimensional chess. You have to do more than simply understand the reality of the marketplace – who has a good product, how demand will develop, how input costs may grow. You can do all of the securities and company analysis you want, but if you simply make your decisions on that evidence you ignore the source of perhaps your biggest risk and opportunity: the other investors who set valuations. Other investors are going to do any number of things – fall in love with Apple, fall out of love with financials – that set the price at which you can buy exposure to those companies and industries. It's a bit like driving; obviously you need to pay attention to road conditions, but your biggest risk probably comes from the hot shot in the next lane. (James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.) (At the time of publication, Reuters columnist James Saft did not own any direct investments in securities mentioned in this article. He may be an owner indirectly as an investor in a fund. For previous columns by James Saft, click on) (Editing by Jennifer Merritt; and James Dalgleish)

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*The Tech Bubble Question | View Clip
04/17/2012
Marketplace - American Public Media

Kai Ryssdal: Never fear -- Apple's back. After a big sell-off the past couple of days, shares were up hard today, back over $600 a share. Here's another recent number from tech land: A billion dollars. That's what Facebook's paying for Instagram, that crazy popular photo app with -- it must be said -- no profits. And millions upon millions more are flooding into all sorts of other tech startups and apps-of-the-moment.

Can you spell 'tech bubble'? Marketplace's Queena Kim reports.

Queena Kim: Here's the thing. We won't know for sure if we're in a tech bubble, until it bursts. And since Silicon Valley has yet to invent a time machine app, it's still an open question.

Alex Field, an economics professor at Santa Clara University, says history has shown us that there are signs.

Alex Field: The kind of thinking that well i don't think this valuation is particularly justified but everybody else seems to be thinking that way and therefore if I buy this and sell it subsequently, I'm going to make money.

In other words, leaving behind your critical mind and going with the crowd. Field doesn't think we're in a tech bubble yet.

Field: You know the Nasdaq peaked, I think it was in March of 2000, at over 5,000 and here we are more than 10 years later and we're not even close to that.

And unlike the last time around, he says the environment in Silicon Valley is very different now. Companies like Apple, Google, Facebook are making tons of money. Unlike, say, the flameouts of the last boom. Remember Pets.com?

Henry Blodget is a former tech analyst who got fined for his part in inflating the bubble the last time around.

Henry Blodget: I think if you're asking if any particular investment is a bubble or was stupid you have to look at it within the individual investor or the company that's playing the price.

Unlike the rest of us, venture capitalists are laying down chips on companies knowing that most of them will fail. But says Alex Field, the economics professor, given the climate the media frenzy surrounding stories like Instagram, that's hard to do.

I'm Queena Kim for Marketplace.

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*COLUMN-What's on your investing bucket list? | View Clip
04/16/2012
Reuters

(Reuters) - Got travel or mountain climbing on your bucket list? How about taking up the guitar? If you really want to live life to the fullest in your remaining days, then what you should also add to those goals is a list of your investment priorities and adjusting your risk accordingly.

This idea doesn't come from a cheesy Hollywood movie, but rather from the study of behavioral portfolio theory put forward by Nobel Prize-winner Harry Markowitz and leading behavioral economics expert and finance professor and author Meir Statman. They theorize that if investors divide their portfolios into mental account layers measured by risk, they can counter nervous investment errors.

This is how it works: let's say you have a $1 million portfolio. You can divide it up into different-sized buckets with goals for items like college savings and retirement. For example:

* The largest bucket, or sub-account, would be for retirement. Assume that about $800,000 is in this bucket for an event that's 15 years away. Ultimately, you would like to build this to $2 million.

* Saving for college? Earmark $150,000 for a goal that's three years away, eventually totaling $180,000 when your student matriculates.

* Want to fund a bequest for your alma mater or your favorite charity? Put aside $50,000 for a goal that's 25 years away.

If all of these goals were equal - and they are not - you might leave them in one portfolio. However, you want to take much less risk with the college fund than with the bequest goal that is 25 years away.

By marking each bucket high, low or medium risk, you've identified some prospective allocations in this behavioral approach. In this case, risk is roughly equivalent to the time you have to save for each goal. The shorter the time horizon, the lower the risk you can assign to the bucket.

The short-term bucket should be invested mostly in bonds or cash equivalents in which you cannot lose principal. This is your most secure bucket and it's for goals such as saving for a down payment on a home or a car, or to set aside money for a known expenditure like property taxes. Don't expect much, if any, return on these funds. Federally-insured money-market accounts, Treasury bills and certificates of deposit are probably the safest assets.

The medium-term bucket can be for major emergency expenses such as unemployment and out-of-pocket medical expenses. I keep that money in a short-maturity bond fund. It's not principal-protected, but it pays a somewhat higher return than a money-market fund.

A medium-term bucket is also a good place for college savings. For the biggest chunk of college funds for my two daughters, for example, I have money set aside in automatically age-adjusted 529 savings plans. As they get older, the fund company shifts more money from stocks into bonds. I like this approach because the accounts are rebalanced every year, so I don't fret about market risk. All I worry about is putting enough money in to cover soaring education bills.

Your longer-term goals can be weighted more heavily toward stocks and alternative vehicles. Again, you can choose an automatic approach through a target-date maturity fund that ratchets down stock-market risk as you age, balance your own portfolio of low-cost exchange-traded funds or hire a fiduciary adviser to select passive funds for you (the most expensive route).

As you create your bucket list, don't get tripped up by things like projected or "desired" returns. Guess on the conservative side - less than 4 percent for bonds and 6 percent for stocks.

It's also important not to try to overthink your decisions. Be flexible and try different scenarios. Use allocation engines to guide you through determining a comfortable portfolio mix. For some good calculators, see websites like those of Yahoo Finance, TIAA-CREF or T. Rowe Price.

Any comprehensive financial planner who works on a fee-only basis (no commissions) will be able to fine-tune your strategy if your needs are complex. Brokers and insurance agents should be avoided.

If you do this right, you'll be able to see a range of investing possibilities that you may not see today. There is no one right way to go about this, but if it is done with care, you can avoid a leaky investing bucket.

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*Who should pay for college – parents or students? | View Clip
05/08/2012
USA Today

By Miriam Schulman

By now, all the college acceptance letters have been opened and read, and the jubilant admits and their families have come to the second phase of the admission process: How on earth are we going to pay for this?

For many, the answer will be to take out a loan.

The Project on Student Debt calculates that “two-thirds of college seniors graduated with loans in 2010, and they carried an average of $25,250 in debt.”

Parents are also carrying debt for sending their children to school — an average of $34,000 for those with loans, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org. All told, in 2011, parents paid 37% of all college costs through income, savings and borrowings, according to a study by Sallie Mae, a financial services company specializing in education.

Whose responsibility is it to pay for college?

There are those who believe parents should exhaust all their own resources for their children's education.

In this view, parents should have saved sufficient money in a college fund to cover these expenses, and if they haven't, they should borrow to fund university enrollment. Many students are also ready to allow their parents to drain their retirement savings in order to send them to school.

That's the money Mom and Dad have put aside to eat when they're too old to work.

On the other side are those who believe students should cover all of their college expenses, even if Mom and Dad can afford to chip in.

U.S. News College blogger Lynn O'Shaughnessy writes, “Some of these parents believe their children should shoulder the entire obligation because they had to pay for their own schooling decades earlier. Some believe that requiring their children to foot the bill will build character. Others simply don't want to reduce their lifestyle.”

As a consequence, these students, who often will not qualify for financial aid because it is based on their parents' income, must take out major loans to go to school.

To these parents, O'Shaughnessy urges, “If you're a parent contemplating making your child pay for college on his or her own, please give it more thought.”

So what is fair?

Should you let Mom and Dad go deeply into the hole to fund your education? Should your parents leave you to start your post-college life with massive debt? Here are some issues to consider:

Be realistic

When it comes to saving for college, Americans are dreamers. That was the finding of a survey by Alliance Bernstein Investments, Inc., “Failing Grades? American Families and Their College Saving Efforts.”

Over 70% of parents surveyed believed that their children were so talented their special skills would allow them to win scholarships. If this were so, that would leave only 30% of families paying tuition. No wonder almost all of the financial aid administrators surveyed reported that parents had “a false sense of security” that colleges would help them cover costs.

You and your parents should be talking realistically about how your family will pay for college. If you have to take out loans, make sure you have a clear understanding about how much you'll need to be making post-college in order to pay them off in a timely way, and let that knowledge guide your borrowing. There's a useful calculator that allows you to compute how high a salary you would need in order to pay off your loan. If you borrow $100,000 at 6.8 percent interest for example, the program calculates that you would need to make at least $138,096 to comfortably afford the payments.

Separate needs and wants

Let's do this one by example. Julia has been accepted to two schools, Harford, a prestigious private college, and the honors college at XYU, her state university. The former has a tuition of $40,000/year; the latter will cost $9,000. Julia needs to go to college; she wants to go to Harford. If Julia's parents are well-off, then Harford may be the right choice. But if her parents are scraping by, then she must balance her wants against the family's needs, and needs will tend to trump wants.

Sacrifice

Parents make sacrifices for their children. Most of us understand this to be the duty of providing for the next generation; it's Darwinian (with a healthy helping of love thrown in). You might reasonably expect parents to go without vacations or dining out in order to save money for the college fund or even to take out modest loans to help finance your education. But don't ask them to give up security in old age by dipping into retirement or borrowing too much. Kantrowitz told CNBC, “By the time they retire, (parents) should have no debt remaining since they will have no income to repay that debt.” Instead of saddling your parents with debt they can't repay, think about some of the sacrifices (Limited data plan? Covering your personal expenses?) that you might make to help pay for your own education.

Turnabout is fair play

Today, your parents are raiding their retirement fund to help you pay for college. Tomorrow your parents will be too old to work but may have insufficient funds to stop. Are you ready to support them in old age in return for the way they supported you in college?

Work on systemic solutions

Student loans have become so common and so large that some commentators foresee another financial bubble popping when today's borrowers are unable to repay. But what alternatives do students have? Especially with Pell Grants for low-income students on the chopping block in budget proposals now circulating in Congress, the chances are you may have to bare even more of the cost of college than past generations. And with cash-strapped public schools cutting the number of spaces for incoming freshmen, more people will have no choice for college other than a more expensive private education. If you're not already, you will soon be of voting age. Will you vote for the taxes needed to fund public higher education?

You can win a $100 Amazon gift certificate for the best undergrad response to the issue, Who should pay for college? Go to www.facebook.com/mybigq and click the contest tab to enter. The contest is part of The Big Q, an online dialog for college students about the ethical issues in their everyday lives. Miriam Schulman, assistant director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, manages the program.

Miriam Schulman is assistant director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. The Center's Big Q Project offers a $100 Amazon gift certificate for the best student comment on ethical issues in the everyday lives of college students.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/29/2012
Broadcast Newsroom

Hearing to set ground rules for ethics hearing for SF sheriff suspended after domestic case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/27/2012
Lexington Dispatch - Online, The

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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San Jose Pension System Questioned | View Clip
04/26/2012
KNTV-TV - Online

Does a conflict of interest exist in San Jose's Retirement Services Department?

By Jenna Susko, Julie Putnam and Mark Villarreal | Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 | Updated 2:27 PM PDT

This story was published March 26, 2012, at 8 a.m."/>

Internal documents uncovered by NBC Bay Area's Investigative Unit tell the story of what city officials are calling "conflict of interest" in San Jose's pension system. Watchdog reporter, Jenna Susko explains. This story was published March 26, 2012, at 8 a.m.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/news/politics/SJ-Pension-System-Questioned/144184295

Conflict of interest?

That's the question some officials are asking about San Jose's pension system after seeing internal city documents uncovered by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.

Now we examine the possible influence city officials have had on what's supposed to be independent information.

The internal emails tell the story.

“Do you feel like you've been lied to?” Watchdog Reporter Jenna Susko asks Police and Fire Retirement Board member David Bacigalupi.

“I do, I do,” Bacigalupi responds.

“And you feel like information has been withheld?” Susko asks.

“It's obvious from the emails you've shown me,” he says, “it's incredible.”

He's talking about emails between city employees that show conversations about San Jose's future retirement costs. They are discussing filtering information.

“My fellow new board members, they are going to be shocked when they see all this,” Bacigalupi comments after seeing the emails.

He's talking about members of San Jose's two retirement boards. They oversee multi-billion dollar retirement plans and make critical decisions about how much public money goes toward funding pensions.

To help make decisions, the board hires an independent actuary to analyze the city's finances and project future retirement costs.

The company currently doing the job is Cheiron.

However, Cheiron's independence is now being questioned by board members.

“When we use outside consultants the entire foundation of the plan's concept is built on the fact that they are independent,” Chair of the Police and Fire Retirement Board, Sean Kaldor, tells NBC Bay Area

“Is any amount of influence acceptable?” Susko asks Bacigalupi.

“No, Not at all,” he responds.

We obtained emails between San Jose's Retirement Services Director, Russell Crosby and that independent actuary, Cheiron.

In this message, Cheiron sent Crosby the draft version of a report to be presented to the board.

Crosby wrote back, requesting Cheiron alter slides.

Cheiron apparently planned to show extending amortization to 25 years, but Crosby was “against” that, so the information was removed.

“There is definitely influence going on,” Mike Pisula, an actuary in Pittsburgh, tells NBC Bay Area.

Pisula's company provides actuarial services for smaller municipalities and says he is not a competitor of Cheiron.

We asked him to look through presentations, city emails and public documents then give his professional opinion via satellite interview.

“Overall, do you believe information was withheld that could have affected decision making by the retirement board?” Susko asked Pisula.

“The information on slide six was withheld from the December presentation,” Pisula responds.

“It would have been better to have both the current and prior table side by side,” Pisula tells NBC Bay Area

And Cheiron agreed.

After Crosby asked if both tables were needed in another email, Cheiron's CEO responded, yes, but Crosby asked him to reconsider and so he acquiesced.

The presentation was changed.

Gene Kalwarski is the CEO of Cheiron.

We caught up with him at a Retirement Board meeting last month.

“Has anyone with the city ever asked you to change slides or delete slides from your presentations?” Susko asks Kalwarski.

“No,” Kalwarski pauses, “when you say from the city do you include staff here?”

“I do. I include Russell Crosby,” Susko responds.

“They make suggestions, we give them draft slides, and if we think their suggestions would enhance,” Kalwarski trails off, “there's give and take so there may be changes, but nothing strikes me as significant here,” he says.

“To say, ‘I don't like this recommendation and I want you to change it', that's not how the process is supposed to work,” Chair of Police and Fire Retirement Board, Sean Kaldor tells NBC Bay Area.

We found other information being withheld. This time from Kaldor.

Kaldor emailed a city employee asking how pay-cuts would affect pension projections in this note.

That city employee, Mike Mohele, sent an email to Russell Crosby, saying

“savings for the 10% reduction in pay would be greater than I calculated.”

However, he says, “I would rather not point this out” to Kaldor, the board's chair.

You can view the email chain here.

“Does it make you upset to see that?” Susko asks Kaldor as he reads over the emails.

“I would want to know the motivation behind it,” he says, “maybe there was a perfectly good reason, but facts are facts, and I think that's the job of staff: to provide factual information to the board.”

“And you were not provided that information?” Susko asks.

“That is correct,” Kaldor replies.

“I would be very concerned if I was on that board,” Judy Nadler is a senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University and is a former mayor of the city of Santa Clara.

We showed her some of the emails.

“Why that information is not being made available to the individuals who are making decisions is inexplicable,” Nadler tells NBC Bay Area, “I think they have good cause to be outraged.”

And some board members are.

“So, you have no doubt in your mind that Russell Crosby over-stepped his boundaries?” Susko asks board member Bacigalupi.

“Absolutely, absolutely,” Bacigalupi responds, “if he worked for me, I'd be looking at the board, recommending termination, but he doesn't work for me. He works for the city manager and it shows.”

Russell Crosby and his boss, City Manager Debra Figone, declined our requests for an interview.

Instead, Figone issued us this statement.

In it, City Manager Figone says steps have been taken to restructure the Retirement Board already.

She also says "if either of the retirement boards were dissatisfied with the Director of Retirement Services, the board could report their concerns to me. I would consider this feedback as part of the perofrmance appriasal process."

And remember Mike Moehle, the city employee who didn't want to tell the board's chair about the real numbers?

Guess where he works now?

“Could this be a problem?” Susko asks Nadler about Moehle now working for Cheiron on city projects.

“Yes, it could be,” Nadler replies, “Blending his role as a city official into this role with the contractor raises some red flags for me.”

According to Cheiron's contract with the city, San Jose employees are “disqualified” from employment (see page 9 of the contract) because it's a violation of the Revolving Door Ordinance.

Moehle requested a waiver of this policy and the city council approved it August 23, 2011. (See item 3.6)

However, if you look at the dates onthese emails, it appears he began working for Cheiron on San Jose projects before he got the OK from the city council.

“I'm hard pressed to understand the critical nature of this fast track process,” Nadler comments on Moehle getting a waiver of the city policy, “I would question whether or not bringing in someone with that much experience, would compromise the independence of the work they do.”

And with so many numbers crunched and data presented, board members say any filtering of information ultimately cheats the taxpayer

“Should the public be outraged by this?” Susko asks board member Bacigalupi.

“They should. They are the ones on the hook for the bill,” Bacigalupi replies, “the system is broken.”

The structure of the retirement system is also in question.

Do you have something you want us to check out?

Email us: TheUnit@nbcbayarea.com

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/25/2012
KTVU-TV - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case Hearing to set ground rules for ethics hearing for SF sheriff suspended after domestic case By The Associated Press | View Clip
04/25/2012
Oceania - Digital Media News and Technology

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
U-T San Diego - Online

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Return to Top



Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Ventura County Star - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Return to Top



Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
US Daily, The

Hearing to set ground rules for ethics hearing for SF sheriff suspended after domestic case

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ' The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Helena Independent Record - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Jeff Chiu

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Posted in National

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Monday, April 23, 2012 11:38 pm

Updated: 1:08 am. | Tags:

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Ross Mirkarimi Ethics Committee Hearing Begins | View Clip
04/24/2012
Huffington Post, The

Ross Mirkarimi

SAN FRANCISCO — The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

FOLLOW SAN FRANCISCO

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Protesters Descend on Wells Fargo, 24 Arrested | View Clip
04/24/2012
KQED-FM - Online

KQED News

Two women are arrested at Tuesday's protest.

Hundreds of protesters today blocked entrances at the Merchants Exchange Building in San Francisco, where Wells Fargo Bank shareholders held their annual meeting. Police have arrested 24 people. Occupy San Francisco and other groups organized the event in protest of Wells Fargo's lending and foreclosure policies.

Protesters, including some local clergymembers and Wells Fargo shareholders, said they want a moratorium on all foreclosures and principal reductions on mortgages for homes whose values have dropped. The banks got bailed out and now, protesters say, families are getting kicked out of their homes. So what are Wells Fargo's obligations to borrowers, shareholders and the greater good?

We hear from Reverend Richard Smith, a priest associate at an Episcopal parish in San Francisco's Mission District who took part in today's protest. And host Cy Musiker talks with Kirk Hanson, executive director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

More Info

24 Arrested During Wells Fargo Protest: from KQED's News Fix blog

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
KIRO-TV - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel Meets to Set Rules in Sheriff's Ethics Case | View Clip
04/24/2012
ABC News - Online

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Buffalo News - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
La Crosse Tribune - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Posted in National

on

Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:38 am

Updated: 2:03 am. | Tags:

Copyright 2012, lacrossetribune.com , 401 N. Third Street La Crosse, WI | Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Middletown Journal - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Lincoln Journal Star - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Story

A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Posted in National

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:38 am

Updated: 2:04 am. | Tags:

Copyright 2012, JournalStar.com , 926 P Street Lincoln, NE | Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/24/2012
Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Online

SAN FRANCISCO - A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Occupy San Francisco
04/24/2012
KCBS-AM (740 AM)

Santa Clara University Markkula Center for Applied Ethics Executive Director Kirk Hanson was interviewed on KCBS about the Occupy Movement's demonstration at Wells Fargo's annual meeting.
\

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Sacramento Bee - Online, The

SAN FRANCISCO -- The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF | View Clip
04/23/2012
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

The city's slow-moving effort to oust suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office moves Monday afternoon to a misconduct hearing before the Ethics Commission, but don't expect any courtroom fireworks. Or even a courtroom.

Attorneys for Mirkarimi and the city will be in a City Hall hearing room, hashing out what the commission's agenda calls "the process, parameters and protocol for the hearing."

It's not the stuff that Perry Mason or John Grisham novels are made of, but those rules will be desperately important to Mirkarimi's effort to hold on to his job, said Steven Gruel, the attorney who represented former Supervisor Ed Jew in 2007, the only other time a misconduct hearing has come before to the commission.

"Procedure is everything when it comes to protecting your client's right to due process," he said. With the commission's inexperience with this type of proceeding, "it's uncharted waters. For a creative lawyer, you have a canvas to paint however you wish."

The commission never has completed a misconduct hearing, as Jew resigned after the opening session. He was later convicted and sentenced to prison for extorting $80,000 in bribes from small businesses in his district. Because he didn't live in San Francisco when he was elected to the board, he also was convicted of perjury.

Stakes are high

The stakes couldn't be higher for Mirkarimi, the former supervisor who is facing an abrupt end to his political career just months after being elected to one of the city's highest - and highest-paying - elective offices.

After the hearing, the commission will send its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final determination of Mirkarimi's fate. It would take nine votes from the 11-member board to permanently remove him from office.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to a single misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment in connection with a Dec. 31 altercation with his wife and was fined, sentenced to three years probation, and ordered to attend a year of domestic violence intervention classes.

Two days after the sentencing, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi from office without pay for official misconduct, saying in the charges that the sheriff's conduct "falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action ... required of all public officers."

Avoiding drama

Despite the controversy and public interest surrounding the case, an April 17 list of recommendations for the commission makes it clear that Executive Director John St. Croix would prefer to keep the proceedings as drama-free as possible.

Rather than a courtroom-style trial before the five commission members - which could involve witnesses, exhibits, cross-examination and surprise testimony - the tentative plan for the hearing calls for a series of written legal briefs from the city and Mirkarimi.

The hearing would be a slow-motion affair, with the city's opening brief, along with its evidence in the case, due a week after Monday's hearing. Mirkarimi's response, with his own evidence, would come two weeks later and the city's reply a week after that. One suggested option would cut the timeline by a week.

After all the briefs had been filed and read, the commission would hear oral arguments from the attorneys, discussing whether live witnesses would need to be heard.

"Live testimony may not be necessary," St. Croix's letter said, but if it is, potential witnesses "should indicate all weekdays on which they have an unavoidable conflict within the next 90 days."

Objections raised

Mirkarimi's attorney already is challenging the commission's hearing plan.

In Superior Court on Friday, attorney David Waggoner argued that the review process is "extremely inadequate in practically every way. There's no standard of proof. There are no rules of evidence. There are no rules of procedure. ... They're going to make it up essentially as they go along."

Judge Harold E. Kahn disagreed and denied Mirkarimi's request to halt the removal proceedings.

It's important to remember that this is a hearing on ethics, not law, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," said Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

The hearing should go beyond the simple question of what Mirkarimi did or didn't do, added Richard DeLeon, retired professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

"Standards should be higher for public officials ... so there's a much wider field of what's relevant" in a hearing like this one, he said. The discussion should go into "broad areas of moral character, integrity and his fitness to perform his job - the whole range of Mirkarimi's public utterances can be taken into account."

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Coté contributed to this report.

Panel's hearing

The Ethics Commission's special hearing will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Room 400 of City Hall.

This article appeared on page A - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Southern Illinoisan - Online

Breaking News: Elkville man charged with child's murder

Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case

Jeff Chiu

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Monday, April 23, 2012 1:25 pm

Updated: 2:07 pm. | Tags:

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The Surprising Secret Behind Doctor Referrals | View Clip
04/23/2012
SmartMoney - Online

It's early Tuesday morning and Ashleigh McKenzie is behind the wheel of her Toyota Sequoia, iPhone in hand, squinting as she navigates the rural back roads of southwestern Alabama. The petite, energetic blonde has a full day of doctor visits ahead -- and the first one, she says, is "kind of out in the boonies." When she finally locates the modest one-story building (tucked off the main road, a few long blocks from both the Baptist church and the tanning salon), McKenzie catches a lucky break: The waiting room's almost empty. So after greeting the front-desk staff with a cheery "Hey, y'all!" and inquiring whether the doctor has a few minutes, she's ushered straight to a sunny private office.

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The appointment starts with a little get-to-know-you chitchat, during which McKenzie learns that this internal medicine doctor, who started her practice a few months earlier, is already busy with a growing roster of patients. In the sports-crazy South, the newly minted M.D. says she's already seen a few teenage concussions. And of course, U.S. demographics being what they are, she's got a steady influx of aging patients complaining of everything from chest pains to backaches to scary-looking skin growths. In short, plenty of folks who might need to be referred to a specialist.

The Referral Road Map

With health care spending in the U.S. dipping after a 15-year rise, doctors and medical facilities are competing fiercely for patients. Take a look at what's at stake when your physician hands you a referral slip.

All good news for McKenzie -- because even though she is nursing a lingering cold, that's not what brings the 32-year-old University of Alabama grad, stylishly turned out in a black dress and triple strand of pearls, to the small town of Bay Minette (population: 8,500). She's making the trek as a principal of AdvisorsMD, one of a small but growing number of health care consultancies around the country that promise to help specialist physicians reel in more referrals by marketing their services to fellow doctors.

In this business, it's all about pitching one doctor to another -- often without one having seen the other in action, or face-to-face. On this morning, McKenzie is promoting two clients: a 20-doctor orthopedic group trying to fend off a nearby competitor and a solo urogynecologist who handles pelvic and bladder issues. But she knows she has only a few minutes to get through her pitch, a spiel that touches on a host of body parts, from arthritic hands and hips ("We've got some top surgeons") to leaky bladders ("Do you get many older patients complaining of incontinence?"). Not an expert on medicine herself, McKenzie has brought along some show-and-tell, including a glossy flier that looks like a yearbook page for the lab-coat set, complete with 20 smiling head shots of doctors posing with diplomas or spinal vertebrae models.

The internist, with patients waiting outside, nods absently. There is no discussion about the physicians' credentials or experience. (McKenzie later says she has met this doctor before and that clinical quality of AdvisorsMD's clients is assumed.) She doesn't describe the nonsurgical treatments the bladder guy offers, nor how the orthopedists handle pain management. But wait times are a different matter; McKenzie excitedly describes a referral hotline that guarantees appointments within 24 hours. A business card, with an X-ray of a skeletal hand holding a phone, completes the pitch. "This is good for the girls at the front desk to keep handy," she says.

Most patients assume that if they've got an ailment their family doctor can't fix, they'll be referred to a specialist who's, well, special for reasons they expect: They are board-certified, are skilled in the latest techniques and boast an impressive track record of healing. Most also presume that their own doctor has pretty thoroughly vetted the "ologist" professionally, if not personally -- after all, their health and well-being are at stake. So it may come as a surprise that the nattily dressed guy or gal sitting two chairs down in the waiting room, the one who brought that jumbo tin of caramel popcorn for the front-desk staff, may play a role in determining the next surgeon they see.

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Photograph by Gregg Segal for SmartMoney

Physician liaison Mary Baker arranged a sit-down for specialist clients Corey Gould (center left) and Robert Sklar (right) with pain doctor Frank King (center right).

With specialists' operating margins having fallen in the past decade and health care reforms putting increasing pressure on their bottom line, more are turning to this burgeoning group of marketing pros to open new-patient pipelines. For anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a month, these so-called referral-development consultants will provide marketing plans and dispatch a "physician liaison" to pound the pavement and praise the doctors' prowess. The pitches can focus as much on waiting-room decor as on clinical credentials, but in the end, marketers say, they're sparing doctors the roadside-billboard approach to bringing in patients, and reshaping a long-ignored, but important component of doctoring. "I tell doctors how to sell their business without looking needy, cheesy, greedy or sleazy," says Stewart Gandolf, founding partner of Healthcare Success Strategies, a Southern California medical marketing firm, which says it helped double referrals for one Midwest ophthalmologist in a six-month period.

But while no one can fault a doctor for trying to drum up business in tough times, critics say that medicine and marketing can make for strange bedfellows. To be sure, accepting payment for a referral is illegal and patient advocates say that no doctor will intentionally make a bad referral. Physicians who accept marketing pitches insist they're not unduly influenced. But even proponents of the process say it's easy to see how carefully crafted messaging -- the better-looking brochure, the faster-talking liaison -- could subtly sway doctors. Or how a steady stream of thank-you gifts might keep a specialist top-of-mind. (Even years later, the Mobile, Ala., dental community still raves about one oral surgeon's gift basket: ribs and bottles of Jack Daniels.) "This isn't supposed to be something where referrals are facilitated by slickness," says Lawrence Nelson, a bioethicist at California's Santa Clara University. "That's kind of shallow."

Especially, experts say, in an age when care options are proliferating at a dizzying rate. Got nagging back pain? Choices include not only orthopedists, chiropractors and osteopaths, but also neurologists, rheumatologists and physiatrists. (And that's not counting controversial laser-spine-surgery centers.) Indeed, the number of specialist (and subspecialist) categories has nearly doubled in the past decade and a half, making it all the more complicated for patients to be shipped off to the right office. But even for simple referrals, critics complain that patients -- who get nearly 70 percent of specialist referrals from their primary care doctors -- have no idea that this world of white-coat wooing exists. The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics requires doctors to provide patients with "relevant information" about potential procedures, but has no guidelines on what to tell them about the specialist to whom they're being sent. "It goes against the basic trust that is the centerpiece of the physician patient relationship," says Peter Clark, director of the Institute of Catholic Bioethics at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University.

Most people, of course, rarely give the source of a medical referral any thought. It's just a name scribbled on a pad -- until something goes wrong. Curtis Brown, a 56-year-old New Yorker, remembers his general practitioner choosing from a list of insurance-approved names when he started losing a lot of weight from an apparent stomach problem. The specialist, he says, put him through nine months of invasive tests before telling him to just "eat more." Two years, two more referrals and four pants sizes later (he dropped more than 35 pounds), Brown finally got a diagnosis: celiac disease.

According to most doctors, in the past, referrals were handled through a fairly simple professional network, with specialists meeting internists and family doctors at hospitals, conferences and, yes, occasionally in the golf clubhouse. It wasn't a perfect pipeline -- critics say too many referrals could be based on personal relationships. Still, Dr. Bernard Lown, a now-retired Nobel Prize winning cardiologist who practiced for more than five decades in the Boston area, says the emphasis was usually on someone's medical bona fides -- where they trained, what they published and what they've accomplished as a healer. The bottom line, he says: "They looked for patient outcomes."

Today, a lot of that pipeline has evaporated. Many educational events where doctors used to mingle have moved online. Doctors struggling with shrinking reimbursements and rising costs say they have no time for recreational bonding. And the world of big-box medicine is making it tougher for independent doctors to develop referral-worthy relationships. Not only are health systems and hospitals buying up more medical practices -- and directing their doctor employees to keep all their referral business in-house -- but they're also increasingly shutting many doctors out of the hospital altogether and using their own on-site physicians, called hospitalists. These developments are troubling to specialists because, according to one national survey, four in 10 medical-office managers flagged referrals from other physicians as the most effective way to attract new patients.

It's numbers like those that got the attention of the Neck & Back Medical Center, a doctors group in Laguna Hills, Calif. With business down 40 percent in four years, the group decided to wade into the marketing waters by hiring a local outfit, The Referral Specialists. On a recent rainy Friday, two of the partners are cooling their heels in a treatment room at a nearby pain doctor, chaperoned by their physician liaison. "I've been wanting to do this for years," says Dr. Corey Gould, whose partner arrived still wearing his dark-blue scrubs. The two have been promised a chance to liaise with the pain guy over a lunch, but are forced to idle for nearly an hour in a windowless room with a view of the medical-waste bin. Lunch consists of sandwiches and mini tarts eaten off a nearby exam table.

Ultimately, the face time with the pain doctor lasts less than 20 minutes. Medical procedures are briefly discussed, including the merits of induced microfractures. But the conversation quickly turns to business -- which insurance they take, what's happening with a competitor down the road. When the pain doctor queries Gould and his partner about their marketing firm, the rep perks up. On her way out, she catches up with him, eager to schmooze with a potential new client. "I'm sure people tell you that you look like Robert Downey Jr.," she says.

If doctors are just getting in on the referral game, hospitals have been at it for some time -- and on a larger scale. Whereas patients see a hospital only as a place for serious tests and procedures, administrators see a hospital also as a collection of business areas (radiology, ORs, cancer centers) with specific revenue targets -- goals most readily reached when providers send along more patients. When hospitals buy physician practices and become their bosses, federal law prevents them from tying doctors' compensation to in-house referrals. But they are allowed to incentivize them by offering bonuses based on the overall performance of the hospital. "Go into a hospital board room, and 99 percent of the time they're talking about referrals and physician relations," says Timothy Crowley, a former managing director at Leerink Swann, a health care investment bank.

Indeed, at a recent Hospital and Physician Relations Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital administrators and doctors gathered for three days to collectively fret about everything from "physician alignment" to "referral leakage." In one session, a Pennsylvania hospital official identifies one type of leak -- proactive patients doing their own doctor research -- as a growing challenge. Not that patients can't be corralled. Many hospitals now employ staffers called "navigators," who help recovering patients with paperwork and follow-up appointments. Part of their job, though, is insuring that the patients' next specialist has the same hospital logo on his or her lab coat.

For advocates, the problem with all this is just how little consumers are aware of the invisible hand of medical marketing and how it might affect their care. "I never think you should make a referral without telling [the patient] why you're making it," says William Andereck, medical director of the California Pacific Medical Center's program in medicine and human values, who lectures widely on ethical and economic issues in health care. In general, though, most doctors say marketing campaigns won't affect care because they're always going to vet referrals. When he's not selling his own practice, and he's the one listening to the pitch, Gould is often familiar with the names marketers are throwing out, he says; if he's not, he researches them. Would he tell patients the source of a referral? "I have never been asked that," he says. "If they asked, I'd tell them how I met them."

Advocates say patients now need to be more vigilant about how they're getting shipped around. Besides querying the doctor who's giving the name, they can use websites (like certificationmatters.org and castleconnolly.com) that verify and rate specialists. For those who want more details, the federal government will soon launch a major new resource: comprehensive physician "report cards." Based on the mother lode of records -- millions of Medicare files -- the reports will offer details on things like doctors' complication rates and their patients' hospital readmission rates. "It's an almost universal view into the behavior of doctors around the country," says David Lansky, CEO of Pacific Business Group on Health, a nonprofit coalition of employers concerned about quality and affordability in health care.

Still, that's months away, and most experts say referral marketing will only become more entrenched as health care cuts continue. Back at AdvisorsMD in Alabama, McKenzie says the company's expecting a strong 2012, with plans to launch new software that reps and doctors will be able to use to build more relationships. Like many in this field, she says, the firm is careful about which doctors it works with; she adds that the firm's efforts improve patient service by keeping doctors on their toes. After all, the best referral in the world won't keep the patients coming back if the doctor runs late, has bad bedside manners and overcharges. "We're not going to represent any Joe Blow who botches up patients," she says.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Seattle Times - Online

Originally published Monday, April 23, 2012 at 6:43 AM

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

A San Francisco ethics commission has started setting ground rules for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The Associated Press

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SAN FRANCISCO -

A San Francisco ethics commission has started setting ground rules for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member commission gathered Monday for its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF) reports the commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs. The panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
seattlepi.com

« Back to Article

Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case

Updated 11:30 a.m., Monday, April 23, 2012

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication.

Photo: Jeff Chiu

/ AP

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco...

Page 1 of 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi , the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez , during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee 's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors , which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University , emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle . "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to Begin for Suspended San Francisco Sheriff | View Clip
04/23/2012
Officer.com

The commission hearing Monday comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On...

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Palm Beach Post - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

___

April 23, 2012 11:21 PM EDT

Copyright 2012, The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

We'd like your thoughts on this story and appreciate your willingness to share them. At PalmBeachPost.com, we want to avoid comments that are obscene, hateful, racist or otherwise inappropriate. If you post offensive comments, we will delete them as soon as we can. If you see such comments, please report them to us.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
KTVU-TV - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Houston Chronicle - Online

� Back to Article

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Updated 10:18 p.m., Monday, April 23, 2012

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication.

Photo: Jeff Chiu

/ AP

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco...

Page 1 of 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi , the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez , during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee 's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors , which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University , emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle . "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Houston Chronicle - Online

� Back to Article

Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case

Updated 01:03 p.m., Monday, April 23, 2012

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication.

Photo: Jeff Chiu

/ AP

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco...

Page 1 of 1

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi , the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez , during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee 's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors , which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University , emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle . "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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SF panel meets to set ground rules for ethics against sheriff charged with domestic violence | View Clip
04/23/2012
FOXNews.com

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Published April 23, 2012

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO _ The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to Set Procedures in San Francisco Sheriff's Ethics Case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Governing - Online

Hearing to Set Procedures in San Francisco Sheriff's Ethics Case

BY: The Associated Press | April 23, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
KOTV-TV - Online

NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com | Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

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Updated:

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News ( http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
KREM-TV - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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• Ground Rules Set for Mirkarimi Hearing | View Clip
04/23/2012
KRON-TV - Online

Ground Rules Set for Mirkarimi Hearing

By: Brian Shields - Mon, 23 Apr 2012 23:05:27 -0800

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
KENS-TV - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case
04/23/2012
Associated Press (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO_The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - Online

SAN FRANCISCO — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Bay News 9 - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

(AP) — The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All right reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
Times Union

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (Jeff Chiu / AP)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco ethics commission began setting ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The five-member panel held its first meeting to consider the fate of Ross Mirkarimi, a former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

The commission set a timetable for both sides to submit legal briefs, and its chairman, Benedict Hur, said the panel will meet again on May 29 to decide if, when and how testimony will be heard, the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/J6dwpF ) reported.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

"Because I made a mistake with my wife does not detract from my ability ... of being a very capable sheriff," he said after Monday's hearing.

At the meeting, backers lined up to speak in support of Mirkarimi. Some questioned the commission's ability to be fair after ignoring significant transgressions by other city officials.

Mirkarimi is "a gentle soul with a tender heart toward his community ... but especially toward his wife and child," said Tammy Bryant, a San Francisco resident. "This case is based on an after-the-fact, hearsay statement."

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
U.S. News & World Report

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
WJAC-TV - Online

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 file photo, San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, right, and his wife Eliana Lopez walk away after speaking to reporters at City Hall in San Francisco. On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, the suspended sheriff is disputing prosecutors' version of the events that led to domestic violence charges against him, saying much of the District Attorney's case was a fabrication. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
WNYW-TV - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

Posted:

Updated:

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Panel meets to set rules in sheriff s ethics case | View Clip
04/23/2012
WCBD-TV - Online

Panel meets to set rules in sheriff's ethics case

By: |

Associated Press

Published: April 23, 2012 Updated: April 23, 2012 - 11:17 PM

SAN FRANCISCO --

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) The city ethics commission met Monday to set the ground rules for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission came after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners met to consider St. Croix's recommendation Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

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*State audit reaffirms Burnham Wood issues | View Clip
04/23/2012
El Paso Times

By Hayley Kappes \ El Paso Times

Administrators and school board members at the Burnham Wood Charter School District misused public funds on some business deals, resulting in private benefits for some of the district's leaders, according to a Texas Education Agency audit of the district.

The audit, released in late March after a two-year investigation, also found that the district's board of directors breached its fiduciary duty when it approved buying property for the school from Superintendent Iris Burnham, who also is president of the district's board of directors.

Burnham is challenging all of the agency's findings, and the district has already responded to most of the allegations, which district leaders said were made by disgruntled employees.

"An agency that size gets lots of complaints and they were sucked into this complaint, and when they came out, they had to justify the expenditure of coming out here and spending all this time and finding nothing," Burnham said.

Other problems at the charter school, according to the audit, include that Burnham had a conflict of interest by leasing property she owned on the far East Side on Bob Hope Drive to the district for the Vista Del Futuro school. And that a private school operated by Burnham in a district charter campus was not paying rent on time for about three years, taking advantage of state funds.

Auditors took issue with the fact that Burnham, her daughter and son-in-law all work as administrators in the district, where they "generate,
review and approve financial transactions."

The report confirms irregularities, including the private school's use of public school resources, first reported by the El Paso Times last August.

The investigation has put Burnham Wood's accreditation status in limbo. Agency officials are expected to decide the district's accreditation soon, TEA spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman said.

Losing accreditation would force the district, which operates three charter schools in El Paso, to shut down.

The district maintains that the TEA's findings regarding conflicts of interest are inappropriate and beyond the agency's scope.

The agency failed to identify the state law and rules applied to its findings and did not show a legal basis for its charge that administrators got a private benefit from the school's business arrangements, the district wrote in response to preliminary findings of the audit presented to the district last October.

Burnham said the state agency chased complaints made by former employees and was unfairly punishing the district.

"What they're looking for is not material or substantive, it's all appearance, when they know that we have handled appearance appropriately according to the law," she said.

Some of the audit findings mirrored claims made by a former textbook administrator who worked at the district from January 2007 to July 2009. The administrator, Rebeca Perez, says she was fired partly for raising concerns to the school.

Perez in 2009 told the TEA the School for Educational Enrichment, a private school owned and operated by Burnham in leased space at a charter campus, used textbooks she believed belonged to the taxpayers.

The TEA asked Burnham about the matter and she told state officials that the literature textbooks, which the school ordered in 2000, were "out of adoption," or no longer official state textbooks. The education agency responded that the books still were under adoption.

Perez also told TEA auditors the charter district was not tracking the private school's use of public school resources.

"The findings corroborate what I indicated and reported," Perez said. "I'm not surprised they found them because it is the truth."

The state report found inherent problems with the fact that the charter district's key administrators are related.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Esther Furrer is the superintendent's daughter. Both women serve on the district's board of directors.

Furrer's husband, Robert Furrer, is the district's purchasing director and also is the business agent for the School for Educational Enrichment, a private school owned by Burnham.

State guidelines for charter schools say relatives of board members cannot be hired to work for the school district and two or more relatives can't serve on the board.

But there is an exception: If district schools are rated "satisfactory" for at least two of the past three years, "then that charter holder is exempt from the general nepotism rule and possibly the employee rule."

Howard Burnham Elementary, El Paso's oldest charter school, received an "exemplary" designation in 2011 from the education agency -- the highest possible rating.

Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts, 785 Southwestern, was rated "recognized," the second-highest designation.

But Vista Del Futuro, which serves elementary students at 1671 Bob Hope, was rated "academically unacceptable."

West Side property sale

Questionable financial transactions between the district and its superintendent also are a significant part of the audit report and the agency's concern about conflicts of interest.

State auditors determined the charter district's board of directors misused public funds by buying property on the West Side at 7310 Bishop Flores, land that Burnham owned.

The superintendent was operating the private School for Educational Enrichment on the site and was leasing space to the charter school Howard Burnham Elementary, named after Burnham's late husband.

Before buying the property, the district paid Iris Burnham $73,990 to lease space on Bishop Flores Drive for the school year that ended Aug. 31, 2006, according to the report.

Board members in September 2006 approved using $1.2 million in revenue bonds to buy the property from Burnham, which far exceeded the property value, according to the TEA audit.

The El Paso Central Appraisal District in 2006 valued the land, buildings and equipment at 7310 Bishop Flores at $809,000.

The charter school relied on a single appraisal to determine the purchase price of the property, the audit report states.

The appraiser for Burnham used four comparable properties to determine the market value of the Bishop Flores Drive land and buildings at $1.3 million, according to documents the district sent to the TEA in its response to the preliminary audit.

Burnham said the property on Bishop Flores Drive was an ideal location since the charter school had established an attendance base there.

Moving the school would have jeopardized its standing with bond purchasers, said Jerry Wallace, an attorney for the district.

"What was being presented as security for the bonds that were issued was the enrollment base," Wallace said. "The only thing that the charter school had to pledge for the payment of the bonds was the potential revenue from the enrollment. They were concerned that they maintained their enrollment. If they moved, it might impact their enrollment."

Law does not require the board to consider other properties, Wallace said.

Burnham said she and her daughter abstained from board discussions of the property purchase.

In purchasing the property, the board relied on outside legal opinion and a statement from the state Attorney General confirming compliance with all legal requirements by the board.

The Attorney General's office issued an opinion finding that the charter school had the legal authority to issue the bonds. The Attorney General's office, however, did not investigate the underlying transaction, TEA spokeswoman Marchman said.

"The board's failure to actively consider alternatives to the purchase of the superintendent's property unreasonably diminished the board's bargaining power in relation to its purchase of that property," the report states.

East Side lease

The state agency also found issue with the board's approval of leasing charter school facilities at 1671 Bob Hope, property Burnham owns.

On April 1, 2008, the board approved a proposal for leasing property on Zaragoza Road from Amex Properties for a new charter school. But the following month, the superintendent informed the board that those lease negotiations had failed. She asked the board to consider leasing property she owns on Bob Hope Drive, the report states.

Burnham said she would build a school, lease it to the district and could ultimately offer it for sale.

On Aug, 27, 2009, the superintendent presented and the board approved leasing the property on Bob Hope Drive, according to the report.

This year, the district is paying Burnham $187,500 to lease the 15,000 square-foot school.

Burnham's interest in negotiating the lease for the Zaragoza Road property conflicted with the school's interest, the report states. The successful negotiation of that lease would have prevented the superintendent from leasing her property to the charter school, according to the report.

Burnham argued there was no conflict of interest because she and her daughter abstained from lease discussions.

Other board members did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Burnham said becoming landlord to the district she runs is not unusual because charter schools don't get money for facilities from the state.

The schools get state and federal, but not local, tax dollars.

Charter schools are subject to fewer state regulations than other public schools.

The idea is to ensure fiscal and academic accountability, but allow room for innovation.

"I agreed that I would personally take out a loan, which was over $700,000 of my own credit, and because the school couldn't do it," Burnham said. "This is what I did for the school. And that I would build the building and that they would not have to give me a penny for the rent until not only was the building built but they had a whole month of enrollment so they would have money to pay the first month's rent. Who else would do that? That's what charter operators have to do in Texas."

TEA auditors, however, contend Burnham had a personal interest in suggesting property she owned for the lease and there was a conflict of interest regardless of the benefit the lease transaction offered the district.Ê

"For the superintendent to recommend her own property to the board for lease is, on its face, a glaring conflict of interest," the report states. "Abstention from voting by the superintendent and assistant superintendent does little to mitigate the conflict."

Being landlord to a district where Burnham also serves as the superintendent and board member is troubling, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.

"The property dealings give the impression that being on the inside will allow you to have many benefits," Nadler said.

The district arguing that officials didn't violate laws in its property dealings with the superintendent doesn't imply administrators acted ethically.

"Whether or not it's allowed is not the issue," Nadler said. "The question I think is, is it good policy to have this level of involvement and therefore what might be undue influence on the decision-making process by one individual and or her family? It doesn't afford the public a kind of confirmation of openness and fairness and transparency if it continues to look like everything is kind of an inside deal. That's a problem."

Hayley Kappes may be reached at hkappes@elpasotimes.com; 546-6168.

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Hearing to set procedures in sheriff's ethics case
04/22/2012
Associated Press (AP)

SAN FRANCISCO_The city ethics commission plans to set the ground rules Monday for the misconduct case against Ross Mirkarimi, the sheriff who was suspended after being charged with domestic violence.

The meeting of the five-member commission comes after months of drama surrounding the former city supervisor and recently elected sheriff.

Mirkarimi last month pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor false imprisonment after being accused of bruising the arm of his wife, Venezuelan actress Eliana Lopez, during a dispute on New Year's Eve.

Prosecutors originally charged him with misdemeanor domestic violence, child endangerment and dissuading a witness after a next-door neighbor turned over a video to police showing a tearful Lopez displaying a bruised arm.

Mirkarimi is fighting Mayor Ed Lee's effort to suspend him without pay and permanently remove him from office. Mirkarimi argues the domestic violence charges were politically motivated.

John St. Croix, the commission's executive director, has recommended the advisory body solicit briefs from Mirkarimi's lawyers and the San Francisco city attorney before scheduling hearings for oral arguments and possible witness testimony.

Commissioners are expected to consider St. Croix's recommendation on Monday and to set a timetable for the proceedings.

After hearing evidence, the commission is required to forward its findings to San Francisco's Board of Supervisors, which would make the final decision on whether the sheriff should lose his job.

Nine of the 11 supervisors would have to agree for Mirkarimi to be permanently removed.

Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, emphasized that the commission is charged with evaluating the evidence from an ethical, not legal, perspective.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

Mirkarimi has said he accidentally bruised his wife while they were arguing over whether she could take their 3-year-old son to Venezuela for an extended stay.

Mirkarimi claimed his son panicked when Lopez left the car and tried to get him out of his car seat. Mirkarimi said he put his hand underneath her arm to bring her back into the seat.

Copyright © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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State audit reaffirms Burnham Wood issues | View Clip
04/22/2012
El Paso Times - Online

elpasotimes.com

Posted:

04/23/2012 12:00:00 AM MDT

Reporter

Hayley Kappes

Burnham Wood

Administrators and school board members at the Burnham Wood Charter School District misused public funds on some business deals, resulting in private benefits for some of the district's leaders, according to a Texas Education Agency audit of the district.

The audit, released in late March after a two-year investigation, also found that the district's board of directors breached its fiduciary duty when it approved buying property for the school from Superintendent Iris Burnham, who also is president of the district's board of directors.

Burnham is challenging all of the agency's findings, and the district has already responded to most of the allegations, which district leaders said were made by disgruntled employees.

"An agency that size gets lots of complaints and they were sucked into this complaint, and when they came out, they had to justify the expenditure of coming out here and spending all this time and finding nothing," Burnham said.

Other problems at the charter school, according to the audit, include that Burnham had a conflict of interest by leasing property she owned on the far East Side on Bob Hope Drive to the district for the Vista Del Futuro school. And that a private school operated by Burnham in a district charter campus was not paying rent on time for about three years, taking advantage of state funds.

Auditors took issue with the fact that Burnham, her daughter and son-in-law all work as administrators in the district, where they "generate,

review and approve financial transactions."

The report confirms irregularities, including the private school's use of public school resources, first reported by the El Paso Times last August.

The investigation has put Burnham Wood's accreditation status in limbo. Agency officials are expected to decide the district's accreditation soon, TEA spokeswoman Suzanne Marchman said.

Losing accreditation would force the district, which operates three charter schools in El Paso, to shut down.

The district maintains that the TEA's findings regarding conflicts of interest are inappropriate and beyond the agency's scope.

The agency failed to identify the state law and rules applied to its findings and did not show a legal basis for its charge that administrators got a private benefit from the school's business arrangements, the district wrote in response to preliminary findings of the audit presented to the district last October.

Burnham said the state agency chased complaints made by former employees and was unfairly punishing the district.

"What they're looking for is not material or substantive, it's all appearance, when they know that we have handled appearance appropriately according to the law," she said.

Some of the audit findings mirrored claims made by a former textbook administrator who worked at the district from January 2007 to July 2009. The administrator, Rebeca Perez, says she was fired partly for raising concerns to the school.

Perez in 2009 told the TEA the School for Educational Enrichment, a private school owned and operated by Burnham in leased space at a charter campus, used textbooks she believed belonged to the taxpayers.

The TEA asked Burnham about the matter and she told state officials that the literature textbooks, which the school ordered in 2000, were "out of adoption," or no longer official state textbooks. The education agency responded that the books still were under adoption.

Perez also told TEA auditors the charter district was not tracking the private school's use of public school resources.

"The findings corroborate what I indicated and reported," Perez said. "I'm not surprised they found them because it is the truth."

The state report found inherent problems with the fact that the charter district's key administrators are related.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Esther Furrer is the superintendent's daughter. Both women serve on the district's board of directors.

Furrer's husband, Robert Furrer, is the district's purchasing director and also is the business agent for the School for Educational Enrichment, a private school owned by Burnham.

State guidelines for charter schools say relatives of board members cannot be hired to work for the school district and two or more relatives can't serve on the board.

But there is an exception: If district schools are rated "satisfactory" for at least two of the past three years, "then that charter holder is exempt from the general nepotism rule and possibly the employee rule."

Howard Burnham Elementary, El Paso's oldest charter school, received an "exemplary" designation in 2011 from the education agency -- the highest possible rating.

Da Vinci School for Science and the Arts, 785 Southwestern, was rated "recognized," the second-highest designation.

But Vista Del Futuro, which serves elementary students at 1671 Bob Hope, was rated "academically unacceptable."

West Side property sale

Questionable financial transactions between the district and its superintendent also are a significant part of the audit report and the agency's concern about conflicts of interest.

State auditors determined the charter district's board of directors misused public funds by buying property on the West Side at 7310 Bishop Flores, land that Burnham owned.

The superintendent was operating the private School for Educational Enrichment on the site and was leasing space to the charter school Howard Burnham Elementary, named after Burnham's late husband.

Before buying the property, the district paid Iris Burnham $73,990 to lease space on Bishop Flores Drive for the school year that ended Aug. 31, 2006, according to the report.

Board members in September 2006 approved using $1.2 million in revenue bonds to buy the property from Burnham, which far exceeded the property value, according to the TEA audit.

The El Paso Central Appraisal District in 2006 valued the land, buildings and equipment at 7310 Bishop Flores at $809,000.

The charter school relied on a single appraisal to determine the purchase price of the property, the audit report states.

The appraiser for Burnham used four comparable properties to determine the market value of the Bishop Flores Drive land and buildings at $1.3 million, according to documents the district sent to the TEA in its response to the preliminary audit.

Burnham said the property on Bishop Flores Drive was an ideal location since the charter school had established an attendance base there.

Moving the school would have jeopardized its standing with bond purchasers, said Jerry Wallace, an attorney for the district.

"What was being presented as security for the bonds that were issued was the enrollment base," Wallace said. "The only thing that the charter school had to pledge for the payment of the bonds was the potential revenue from the enrollment. They were concerned that they maintained their enrollment. If they moved, it might impact their enrollment."

Law does not require the board to consider other properties, Wallace said.

Burnham said she and her daughter abstained from board discussions of the property purchase.

In purchasing the property, the board relied on outside legal opinion and a statement from the state Attorney General confirming compliance with all legal requirements by the board.

The Attorney General's office issued an opinion finding that the charter school had the legal authority to issue the bonds. The Attorney General's office, however, did not investigate the underlying transaction, TEA spokeswoman Marchman said.

"The board's failure to actively consider alternatives to the purchase of the superintendent's property unreasonably diminished the board's bargaining power in relation to its purchase of that property," the report states.

East Side lease

The state agency also found issue with the board's approval of leasing charter school facilities at 1671 Bob Hope, property Burnham owns.

On April 1, 2008, the board approved a proposal for leasing property on Zaragoza Road from Amex Properties for a new charter school. But the following month, the superintendent informed the board that those lease negotiations had failed. She asked the board to consider leasing property she owns on Bob Hope Drive, the report states.

Burnham said she would build a school, lease it to the district and could ultimately offer it for sale.

On Aug, 27, 2009, the superintendent presented and the board approved leasing the property on Bob Hope Drive, according to the report.

This year, the district is paying Burnham $187,500 to lease the 15,000 square-foot school.

Burnham's interest in negotiating the lease for the Zaragoza Road property conflicted with the school's interest, the report states. The successful negotiation of that lease would have prevented the superintendent from leasing her property to the charter school, according to the report.

Burnham argued there was no conflict of interest because she and her daughter abstained from lease discussions.

Other board members did not return phone calls seeking comment.

Burnham said becoming landlord to the district she runs is not unusual because charter schools don't get money for facilities from the state.

The schools get state and federal, but not local, tax dollars.

Charter schools are subject to fewer state regulations than other public schools.

The idea is to ensure fiscal and academic accountability, but allow room for innovation.

"I agreed that I would personally take out a loan, which was over $700,000 of my own credit, and because the school couldn't do it," Burnham said. "This is what I did for the school. And that I would build the building and that they would not have to give me a penny for the rent until not only was the building built but they had a whole month of enrollment so they would have money to pay the first month's rent. Who else would do that? That's what charter operators have to do in Texas."

TEA auditors, however, contend Burnham had a personal interest in suggesting property she owned for the lease and there was a conflict of interest regardless of the benefit the lease transaction offered the district.Ê

"For the superintendent to recommend her own property to the board for lease is, on its face, a glaring conflict of interest," the report states. "Abstention from voting by the superintendent and assistant superintendent does little to mitigate the conflict."

Being landlord to a district where Burnham also serves as the superintendent and board member is troubling, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University in California.

"The property dealings give the impression that being on the inside will allow you to have many benefits," Nadler said.

The district arguing that officials didn't violate laws in its property dealings with the superintendent doesn't imply administrators acted ethically.

"Whether or not it's allowed is not the issue," Nadler said. "The question I think is, is it good policy to have this level of involvement and therefore what might be undue influence on the decision-making process by one individual and or her family? It doesn't afford the public a kind of confirmation of openness and fairness and transparency if it continues to look like everything is kind of an inside deal. That's a problem."

Hayley Kappes may be reached at hkappes@elpasotimes.com; 546-6168.

Copyright by the El Paso Times and MediaNews Group and/or wire services and suppliers.

None of the content on this site may be republished or reused in any way without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF | View Clip
04/22/2012
Inside Scoop SF

Article:Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF:/c/a/2012/04/22/MNM21O6T5D.DTL

Article:Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF:/c/a/2012/04/22/MNM21O6T5D.DTL

Mirkarimi ethics hearing 'uncharted waters' for SF

John Wildermuth

San Francisco Chronicle

April 22, 2012 04:00 AM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Brant Ward / The Chronicle

Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi pleaded guilty to unlawfully imprisoning his wife.

The city's slow-moving effort to oust suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office moves Monday afternoon to a misconduct hearing before the Ethics Commission, but don't expect any courtroom fireworks. Or even a courtroom.

Attorneys for Mirkarimi and the city will be in a City Hall hearing room, hashing out what the commission's agenda calls "the process, parameters and protocol for the hearing."

It's not the stuff that Perry Mason or John Grisham novels are made of, but those rules will be desperately important to Mirkarimi's effort to hold on to his job, said Steven Gruel, the attorney who represented former Supervisor Ed Jew in 2007, the only other time a misconduct hearing has come before to the commission.

"Procedure is everything when it comes to protecting your client's right to due process," he said. With the commission's inexperience with this type of proceeding, "it's uncharted waters. For a creative lawyer, you have a canvas to paint however you wish."

The commission never has completed a misconduct hearing, as Jew resigned after the opening session. He was later convicted and sentenced to prison for extorting $80,000 in bribes from small businesses in his district. Because he didn't live in San Francisco when he was elected to the board, he also was convicted of perjury.

Stakes are high

The stakes couldn't be higher for Mirkarimi, the former supervisor who is facing an abrupt end to his political career just months after being elected to one of the city's highest - and highest-paying - elective offices.

After the hearing, the commission will send its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final determination of Mirkarimi's fate. It would take nine votes from the 11-member board to permanently remove him from office.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to a single misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment in connection with a Dec. 31 altercation with his wife and was fined, sentenced to three years probation, and ordered to attend a year of domestic violence intervention classes.

Two days after the sentencing, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi from office without pay for official misconduct, saying in the charges that the sheriff's conduct "falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action ... required of all public officers."

Avoiding drama

Despite the controversy and public interest surrounding the case, an April 17 list of recommendations for the commission makes it clear that Executive Director John St. Croix would prefer to keep the proceedings as drama-free as possible.

Rather than a courtroom-style trial before the five commission members - which could involve witnesses, exhibits, cross-examination and surprise testimony - the tentative plan for the hearing calls for a series of written legal briefs from the city and Mirkarimi.

The hearing would be a slow-motion affair, with the city's opening brief, along with its evidence in the case, due a week after Monday's hearing. Mirkarimi's response, with his own evidence, would come two weeks later and the city's reply a week after that. One suggested option would cut the timeline by a week.

After all the briefs had been filed and read, the commission would hear oral arguments from the attorneys, discussing whether live witnesses would need to be heard.

"Live testimony may not be necessary," St. Croix's letter said, but if it is, potential witnesses "should indicate all weekdays on which they have an unavoidable conflict within the next 90 days."

Objections raised

Mirkarimi's attorney already is challenging the commission's hearing plan.

In Superior Court on Friday, attorney David Waggoner argued that the review process is "extremely inadequate in practically every way. There's no standard of proof. There are no rules of evidence. There are no rules of procedure. ... They're going to make it up essentially as they go along."

Judge Harold E. Kahn disagreed and denied Mirkarimi's request to halt the removal proceedings.

It's important to remember that this is a hearing on ethics, not law, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University .

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," said Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

The hearing should go beyond the simple question of what Mirkarimi did or didn't do, added Richard DeLeon, retired professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

"Standards should be higher for public officials ... so there's a much wider field of what's relevant" in a hearing like this one, he said. The discussion should go into "broad areas of moral character, integrity and his fitness to perform his job - the whole range of Mirkarimi's public utterances can be taken into account."

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Coté contributed to this report.

Panel's hearing

The Ethics Commission's special hearing will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Room 400 of City Hall.

John Wildermuth is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. jwildermuth@sfchronicle.com

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Day 1 for sheriff's removal hearing
04/22/2012
San Francisco Chronicle

The city's slow-moving effort to oust suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi from office moves Monday afternoon to a misconduct hearing before the Ethics Commission, but don't expect any courtroom fireworks. Or even a courtroom.

Attorneys for Mirkarimi and the city will be in a City Hall hearing room, hashing out what the commission's agenda calls "the process, parameters and protocol for the hearing."

It's not the stuff that Perry Mason or John Grisham novels are made of, but those rules will be desperately important to Mirkarimi's effort to hold on to his job, said Steven Gruel, the attorney who represented former Supervisor Ed Jew in 2007, the only other time a misconduct hearing has come before to the commission.

"Procedure is everything when it comes to protecting your client's right to due process," he said. With the commission's inexperience with this type of proceeding, "it's uncharted waters. For a creative lawyer, you have a canvas to paint however you wish."

The commission never has completed a misconduct hearing, as Jew resigned after the opening session. He was later convicted and sentenced to prison for extorting $80,000 in bribes from small businesses in his district. Because he didn't live in San Francisco when he was elected to the board, he also was convicted of perjury.

Stakes are highThe stakes couldn't be higher for Mirkarimi, the former supervisor who is facing an abrupt end to his political career just months after being elected to one of the city's highest - and highest-paying - elective offices.

After the hearing, the commission will send its recommendation to the Board of Supervisors, which will make the final determination of Mirkarimi's fate. It would take nine votes from the 11-member board to permanently remove him from office.

Mirkarimi pleaded guilty last month to a single misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment in connection with a Dec. 31 altercation with his wife and was fined, sentenced to three years probation, and ordered to attend a year of domestic violence intervention classes.

Two days after the sentencing, Mayor Ed Lee suspended Mirkarimi from office without pay for official misconduct, saying in the charges that the sheriff's conduct "falls below the standard of decency, good faith and right action ... required of all public officers."

Avoiding dramaDespite the controversy and public interest surrounding the case, an April 17 list of recommendations for the commission makes it clear that Executive Director John St. Croix would prefer to keep the proceedings as drama-free as possible.

Rather than a courtroom-style trial before the five commission members - which could involve witnesses, exhibits, cross-examination and surprise testimony - the tentative plan for the hearing calls for a series of written legal briefs from the city and Mirkarimi.

The hearing would be a slow-motion affair, with the city's opening brief, along with its evidence in the case, due a week after Monday's hearing. Mirkarimi's response, with his own evidence, would come two weeks later and the city's reply a week after that. One suggested option would cut the timeline by a week.

After all the briefs had been filed and read, the commission would hear oral arguments from the attorneys, discussing whether live witnesses would need to be heard.

"Live testimony may not be necessary," St. Croix's letter said, but if it is, potential witnesses "should indicate all weekdays on which they have an unavoidable conflict within the next 90 days."

Objections raisedMirkarimi's attorney already is challenging the commission's hearing plan.

In Superior Court on Friday, attorney David Waggoner argued that the review process is "extremely inadequate in practically every way. There's no standard of proof. There are no rules of evidence. There are no rules of procedure. ... They're going to make it up essentially as they go along."

Judge Harold E. Kahn disagreed and denied Mirkarimi's request to halt the removal proceedings.

It's important to remember that this is a hearing on ethics, not law, said Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

"I think that from an ethical perception, when you step into the public sector, you open yourself to public scrutiny," said Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara. "It's important to have a body that can look at specific ethical ramifications and conflicts, because there can be things that are legal but unethical."

The hearing should go beyond the simple question of what Mirkarimi did or didn't do, added Richard DeLeon, retired professor of political science at San Francisco State University.

"Standards should be higher for public officials ... so there's a much wider field of what's relevant" in a hearing like this one, he said. The discussion should go into "broad areas of moral character, integrity and his fitness to perform his job - the whole range of Mirkarimi's public utterances can be taken into account."

San Francisco Chronicle staff writer John Coté contributed to this report.

Panel's hearing The Ethics Commission's special hearing will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday in Room 400 of City Hall.

Copyright © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle

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Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District plans new $2.6M lab | View Clip
04/20/2012
Desert Sun - Online, The

Critics: Project is 'overkill,' since pest agency built a $3.7 million facility in 2006

The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District was formed in 1928 by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to deal with clouds of eye gnats that were annoying desert residents.

The county board added a mosquito program to the agency's operations in 1951, and full vector control services in 1995.

The district's headquarters was in Thermal for 73 years, until it moved to its present site in an industrial area off Interstate 10 and Monroe Street in Indio in 2001.

The district reinstituted a formerly state-funded red imported fire ant program, to deal with the stinging ants, in 2005.

The district is governed by an 11-member board of trustees that includes a representative appointed by each of the nine valley cities, as well as two trustees appointed by Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit to represent unincorporated areas. Appointments can be two or four years at the appointing body's discretion.

The district has 58 full-time employees. Its technicians conduct surveillance for mosquitoes and red imported fire ants, and apply spray pesticides where large infestations or a West Nile or other vector-borne viral infection has occurred. District officials also monitor for neglected standing water that can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, including neglected swimming pools and water features. The district sets and monitors mosquito traps as well as “sentinel chickens” kept in cages on the valley's eastern end. The chickens are monitored for West Nile infection to see if the virus is spreading from marshy areas near the Salton Sea into the valley.

Of the district's $6.9 million in revenues for the 2011-12 fiscal year, $3.8 million came from property taxes; $2.4 million from redevelopment pass-through funds; $492,000 from a special benefit assessment tax approved by voters in 2005; and the rest from various other sources.

Read past stories from The Desert Sun's investigation into the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District at mydesert.com/vector.

The Desert Sun’s iSun team consists of seasoned journalists who dig deep to uncover stories that affect the Coachella Valley. Visit www.mydesert.com/isun to read our ongoing blog and earlier in-depth projects, such as the exploration of the odors emanating from a waste plant that plagued Mecca.

INDIO — The taxpayer-funded public agency that controls mosquitoes and stinging ants locally is planning a new, $2.6 million, mosquito-testing laboratory, six years after opening a $3.7 million lab now deemed inadequate.

Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District trustees voted unanimously last month to proceed with plans to create a new laboratory.

District general manager Branka Lothrop said the new facility will allow employees to test trapped mosquitoes on-site for West Nile and other viruses, rather than the present practice of shipping the mosquitoes out for testing at the University of California, Davis or other locations.

That will shave two to seven days off when the district can provide full operational response to a virus detection somewhere in the valley, according to a needs assessment report compiled by Lothrop and her staff.

“It's improving our service to the community,” district board president Sharon Lock said.

“The faster we can identify where we've got any threat of West Nile means we can take action faster.”

Vectors are animals or insects such as rats, mice, mosquitoes, ticks, bees, wasps and flies that can transmit diseases or cause illness or discomfort to humans. The section of California's Health and Safety Code that outlines the formation and governance of vector control districts declares that protecting Californians from vectors through “organized public programs” is “an essential public service that is vital to public health, safety, and welfare.”

But according to the Mayo Clinic, less than 1 percent of people who are bitten by a West Nile virus-infected mosquito become severely ill. And there have only been 639 confirmed cases in the U.S. since 1964 of Western Equine Encephalitis, another sometimes mosquito-carried, potentially serious disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To build the new laboratory, the district would use a portion of the $14.52 million in reserve funds it projects to have on-hand at the end of the fiscal year June 30 , both Lothrop and Lock said. That reserve amount is nearly double the district's $7.45 million budget for 2011-12.

In a 2007 investigation, The Desert Sun reported that the Coachella Valley district's more than $14 million in reserves was the largest holding of taxpayer cash by any vector control agency in the state.

Despite the district's large amount of cash on hand, trustees the previous year had approved increasing a benefit assessment tax on valley property owners by 3 percent, the maximum allowable without a vote of the public. Another 3 percent increase was planned but voted down amid public outcry following The Desert Sun's report.

Since then, the district has replaced its general manager, attorney and most of its board. The benefit assessment, approved by voters in 2005 for “enhanced vector control services,” has been cut from $16.48 per single-family home to $3.07 as of last year.

But reserves have remained at about the same level, though now channeled into various subsections such as for employee benefit costs, operations, replacements and emergency reconstruction, public health emergency and other categories.

The district has saved nearly $2.8 million in its future construction reserve fund, from which it intends to pay for a new laboratory.

Though vector control's revenues are earmarked to it and could not be diverted to other needs, the difference between its financial condition and many other local governments is stark:

• Cathedral City is currently considering further cuts to already understaffed police and fire services to offset an $8.5 million deficit.

• Desert Sands Unified School District in March sent layoff notices to 82 teachers and other educational staff.

• Riverside County is considering cutting nearly 200 additional workers after years of belt-tightening.

“It is very unusual in economic times such as ours to have public agencies go on building sprees,” said Judy Nadler, a former Santa Clara mayor and now a senior fellow in government ethics at Santa Clara University.

“A six-year-old building in public terms is like a baby.”

Palm Springs resident William Bentinck called the new lab “overkill,” and questioned whether getting mosquito test results two to six days sooner is worth the millions on a new laboratory.

“I think it's ridiculous,” he said. “The lab they built (in 2006) sounded like it was rather elaborate and quite adequate.”

That Bio-Control Facility was originally budgeted at $1.4 million but its costs ballooned to $3.7 million, 163 percent over initial projections. Cathedral City City Council member and then-vector control trustee Paul Marchand said in 2007 the facility had become “a gold-plated monstrosity.”

But Lothrop said the current facility “is quite small and not providing enough room for the work we are doing currently,” and will not work for in-house mosquito testing.

District lab staff often must go to another building to retrieve a needed piece of equipment, take it to the lab, then return it to the other building after use in the Bio-Control Facility due to inadequate space, Lock said.

Lothrop was scientific operations manager at the district at the time the Bio-Control Facility was built.

“Unfortunately at that time it was really out of my control,” she said. “That's why we did all of what we did this time — strategic planning, and then to a feasibility study and then to a need assessment — to make sure never, ever again do we make the same mistake. We want to know, not only our staff but our trustees, that we really evaluated this, we discussed it at every level.”

Added Lock, “I was just coming onto the board as (the Bio-Control Facility) was finished. My personal observation was, we essentially didn't have a company do that building that had a lot of experience with laboratories and how they should be laid out.

“We've taken this in small steps so we don't have the problems that the other board did.”

The new lab would roughly double the Bio-Control Facility's 2,900 square feet, and laboratory work that currently occurs in the district's Operations building would be moved to the expanded facility, with Information Technology facilities moving into Operations lab space, Lothrop said.

With in-house testing bringing faster results, vector control technicians will be able to more rapidly pinpoint the boundaries of a virus outbreak, and concentrate treatment in a smaller area before the infection spreads, Lothrop said.

The state of California is increasingly tightening its budget, making vector control district officials nervous about continuing to rely upon UC-Davis for mosquito virus-testing, Lock said.

“The main focus is public safety,” she said. “This has been a careful process.”

But Nadler said special districts generally need more scrutiny.

“Many of these special districts are under the radar,” she said.

“If they have elected officials, they are generally people who served for years and are never challenged. If they are appointed, voters have no idea who is on the board, don't go to the meetings, and, unless they do something to get themselves in the news, they just go on.”

Lothrop said the district will now solicit bids from architectural firms to provide final designs for the laboratory project, and will go back to the board for further discussion in “maybe June or July.”

Regarding construction of the new facility, Lothrop said, “I don't see anything happening this year.”

Keith Matheny is an investigative reporter for The Desert Sun. He can be reached at keith.matheny@thedesertsun.com or (760) 778-4693. Follow on Twitter @keithmatheny

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The Surprising Secret Behind Doctor Referrals | View Clip
04/18/2012
Yahoo! Finance

It's early Tuesday morning and Ashleigh McKenzie is behind the wheel of her Toyota Sequoia, iPhone in hand, squinting as she navigates the rural back roads of southwestern Alabama. The petite, energetic blonde has a full day of doctor visits ahead -- and the first one, she says, is "kind of out in the boonies." When she finally locates the modest one-story building (tucked off the main road, a few long blocks from both the Baptist church and the tanning salon), McKenzie catches a lucky break: The waiting room's almost empty. So after greeting the front-desk staff with a cheery "Hey, y'all!" and inquiring whether the doctor has a few minutes, she's ushered straight to a sunny private office.

The appointment starts with a little get-to-know-you chitchat, during which McKenzie learns that this internal medicine doctor, who started her practice a few months earlier, is already busy with a growing roster of patients. In the sports-crazy South, the newly minted M.D. says she's already seen a few teenage concussions. And of course, U.S. demographics being what they are, she's got a steady influx of aging patients complaining of everything from chest pains to backaches to scary-looking skin growths. In short, plenty of folks who might need to be referred to a specialist.

[Related: 9 Health Mistakes Doctors See You Making]

All good news for McKenzie -- because even though she is nursing a lingering cold, that's not what brings the 32-year-old University of Alabama grad, stylishly turned out in a black dress and triple strand of pearls, to the small town of Bay Minette (population: 8,500). She's making the trek as a principal of AdvisorsMD, one of a small but growing number of health care consultancies around the country that promise to help specialist physicians reel in more referrals by marketing their services to fellow doctors.

In this business, it's all about pitching one doctor to another -- often without one having seen the other in action, or face-to-face. On this morning, McKenzie is promoting two clients: a 20-doctor orthopedic group trying to fend off a nearby competitor and a solo urogynecologist who handles pelvic and bladder issues. But she knows she has only a few minutes to get through her pitch, a spiel that touches on a host of body parts, from arthritic hands and hips ("We've got some top surgeons") to leaky bladders ("Do you get many older patients complaining of incontinence?"). Not an expert on medicine herself, McKenzie has brought along some show-and-tell, including a glossy flier that looks like a yearbook page for the lab-coat set, complete with 20 smiling head shots of doctors posing with diplomas or spinal vertebrae models.

The internist, with patients waiting outside, nods absently. There is no discussion about the physicians' credentials or experience. (McKenzie later says she has met this doctor before and that clinical quality of AdvisorsMD's clients is assumed.) She doesn't describe the nonsurgical treatments the bladder guy offers, nor how the orthopedists handle pain management. But wait times are a different matter; McKenzie excitedly describes a referral hotline that guarantees appointments within 24 hours. A business card, with an X-ray of a skeletal hand holding a phone, completes the pitch. "This is good for the girls at the front desk to keep handy," she says.

Most patients assume that if they've got an ailment their family doctor can't fix, they'll be referred to a specialist who's, well, special for reasons they expect: They are board-certified, are skilled in the latest techniques and boast an impressive track record of healing. Most also presume that their own doctor has pretty thoroughly vetted the "ologist" professionally, if not personally -- after all, their health and well-being are at stake. So it may come as a surprise that the nattily dressed guy or gal sitting two chairs down in the waiting room, the one who brought that jumbo tin of caramel popcorn for the front-desk staff, may play a role in determining the next surgeon they see.

With specialists' operating margins having fallen in the past decade and health care reforms putting increasing pressure on their bottom line, more are turning to this burgeoning group of marketing pros to open new-patient pipelines. For anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a month, these so-called referral-development consultants will provide marketing plans and dispatch a "physician liaison" to pound the pavement and praise the doctors' prowess. The pitches can focus as much on waiting-room decor as on clinical credentials, but in the end, marketers say, they're sparing doctors the roadside-billboard approach to bringing in patients, and reshaping a long-ignored, but important component of doctoring. "I tell doctors how to sell their business without looking needy, cheesy, greedy or sleazy," says Stewart Gandolf, founding partner of Healthcare Success Strategies, a Southern California medical marketing firm, which says it helped double referrals for one Midwest ophthalmologist in a six-month period.

[Related: 7 Little-Known Health Care Reform Gems]

But while no one can fault a doctor for trying to drum up business in tough times, critics say that medicine and marketing can make for strange bedfellows. To be sure, accepting payment for a referral is illegal and patient advocates say that no doctor will intentionally make a bad referral. Physicians who accept marketing pitches insist they're not unduly influenced. But even proponents of the process say it's easy to see how carefully crafted messaging -- the better-looking brochure, the faster-talking liaison -- could subtly sway doctors. Or how a steady stream of thank-you gifts might keep a specialist top-of-mind. (Even years later, the Mobile, Ala., dental community still raves about one oral surgeon's gift basket: ribs and bottles of Jack Daniels.) "This isn't supposed to be something where referrals are facilitated by slickness," says Lawrence Nelson, a bioethicist at California's Santa Clara University. "That's kind of shallow."

Especially, experts say, in an age when care options are proliferating at a dizzying rate. Got nagging back pain? Choices include not only orthopedists, chiropractors and osteopaths, but also neurologists, rheumatologists and physiatrists. (And that's not counting controversial laser-spine-surgery centers.) Indeed, the number of specialist (and subspecialist) categories has nearly doubled in the past decade and a half, making it all the more complicated for patients to be shipped off to the right office. But even for simple referrals, critics complain that patients -- who get nearly 70 percent of specialist referrals from their primary care doctors -- have no idea that this world of white-coat wooing exists. The American Medical Association's Code of Medical Ethics requires doctors to provide patients with "relevant information" about potential procedures, but has no guidelines on what to tell them about the specialist to whom they're being sent. "It goes against the basic trust that is the centerpiece of the physician patient relationship," says Peter Clark, director of the Institute of Catholic Bioethics at Philadelphia's St. Joseph's University.

Most people, of course, rarely give the source of a medical referral any thought. It's just a name scribbled on a pad -- until something goes wrong. Curtis Brown, a 56-year-old New Yorker, remembers his general practitioner choosing from a list of insurance-approved names when he started losing a lot of weight from an apparent stomach problem. The specialist, he says, put him through nine months of invasive tests before telling him to just "eat more." Two years, two more referrals and four pants sizes later (he dropped more than 35 pounds), Brown finally got a diagnosis: celiac disease.

According to most doctors, in the past, referrals were handled through a fairly simple professional network, with specialists meeting internists and family doctors at hospitals, conferences and, yes, occasionally in the golf clubhouse. It wasn't a perfect pipeline -- critics say too many referrals could be based on personal relationships. Still, Dr. Bernard Lown, a now-retired Nobel Prize winning cardiologist who practiced for more than five decades in the Boston area, says the emphasis was usually on someone's medical bona fides -- where they trained, what they published and what they've accomplished as a healer. The bottom line, he says: "They looked for patient outcomes."

Today, a lot of that pipeline has evaporated. Many educational events where doctors used to mingle have moved online. Doctors struggling with shrinking reimbursements and rising costs say they have no time for recreational bonding. And the world of big-box medicine is making it tougher for independent doctors to develop referral-worthy relationships. Not only are health systems and hospitals buying up more medical practices -- and directing their doctor employees to keep all their referral business in-house -- but they're also increasingly shutting many doctors out of the hospital altogether and using their own on-site physicians, called hospitalists. These developments are troubling to specialists because, according to one national survey, four in 10 medical-office managers flagged referrals from other physicians as the most effective way to attract new patients.

It's numbers like those that got the attention of the Neck & Back Medical Center, a doctors group in Laguna Hills, Calif. With business down 40 percent in four years, the group decided to wade into the marketing waters by hiring a local outfit, The Referral Specialists. On a recent rainy Friday, two of the partners are cooling their heels in a treatment room at a nearby pain doctor, chaperoned by their physician liaison. "I've been wanting to do this for years," says Dr. Corey Gould, whose partner arrived still wearing his dark-blue scrubs. The two have been promised a chance to liaise with the pain guy over a lunch, but are forced to idle for nearly an hour in a windowless room with a view of the medical-waste bin. Lunch consists of sandwiches and mini tarts eaten off a nearby exam table.

Ultimately, the face time with the pain doctor lasts less than 20 minutes. Medical procedures are briefly discussed, including the merits of induced microfractures. But the conversation quickly turns to business -- which insurance they take, what's happening with a competitor down the road. When the pain doctor queries Gould and his partner about their marketing firm, the rep perks up. On her way out, she catches up with him, eager to schmooze with a potential new client. "I'm sure people tell you that you look like Robert Downey Jr.," she says.

If doctors are just getting in on the referral game, hospitals have been at it for some time -- and on a larger scale. Whereas patients see a hospital only as a place for serious tests and procedures, administrators see a hospital also as a collection of business areas (radiology, ORs, cancer centers) with specific revenue targets -- goals most readily reached when providers send along more patients. When hospitals buy physician practices and become their bosses, federal law prevents them from tying doctors' compensation to in-house referrals. But they are allowed to incentivize them by offering bonuses based on the overall performance of the hospital. "Go into a hospital board room, and 99 percent of the time they're talking about referrals and physician relations," says Timothy Crowley, a former managing director at Leerink Swann, a health care investment bank.

Indeed, at a recent Hospital and Physician Relations Summit in Scottsdale, Ariz., hospital administrators and doctors gathered for three days to collectively fret about everything from "physician alignment" to "referral leakage." In one session, a Pennsylvania hospital official identifies one type of leak -- proactive patients doing their own doctor research -- as a growing challenge. Not that patients can't be corralled. Many hospitals now employ staffers called "navigators," who help recovering patients with paperwork and follow-up appointments. Part of their job, though, is insuring that the patients' next specialist has the same hospital logo on his or her lab coat.

For advocates, the problem with all this is just how little consumers are aware of the invisible hand of medical marketing and how it might affect their care. "I never think you should make a referral without telling [the patient] why you're making it," says William Andereck, medical director of the California Pacific Medical Center's program in medicine and human values, who lectures widely on ethical and economic issues in health care. In general, though, most doctors say marketing campaigns won't affect care because they're always going to vet referrals. When he's not selling his own practice, and he's the one listening to the pitch, Gould is often familiar with the names marketers are throwing out, he says; if he's not, he researches them. Would he tell patients the source of a referral? "I have never been asked that," he says. "If they asked, I'd tell them how I met them."

Advocates say patients now need to be more vigilant about how they're getting shipped around. Besides querying the doctor who's giving the name, they can use websites (like certificationmatters.org and castleconnolly.com) that verify and rate specialists. For those who want more details, the federal government will soon launch a major new resource: comprehensive physician "report cards." Based on the mother lode of records -- millions of Medicare files -- the reports will offer details on things like doctors' complication rates and their patients' hospital readmission rates. "It's an almost universal view into the behavior of doctors around the country," says David Lansky, CEO of Pacific Business Group on Health, a nonprofit coalition of employers concerned about quality and affordability in health care.

Still, that's months away, and most experts say referral marketing will only become more entrenched as health care cuts continue. Back at AdvisorsMD in Alabama, McKenzie says the company's expecting a strong 2012, with plans to launch new software that reps and doctors will be able to use to build more relationships. Like many in this field, she says, the firm is careful about which doctors it works with; she adds that the firm's efforts improve patient service by keeping doctors on their toes. After all, the best referral in the world won't keep the patients coming back if the doctor runs late, has bad bedside manners and overcharges. "We're not going to represent any Joe Blow who botches up patients," she says.

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Safeway seen as likely target of buyout attempt | View Clip
04/27/2012
Press Democrat - Online

Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm.

The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are nonunion, putting pressure on Safeway's cost structure and profits.

But the larger issue for the company will be the takeover rumors, with either Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain, or a deep-pocketed private equity firm seen as possible buyers. Earlier this month, for instance, the chain experienced its biggest weekly rally since 2009 on speculation about a possible acquisition after the grocery chain changed payout mechanisms for executives in the event of a takeover.

In an email, a Safeway spokeswoman said, "We don't comment on rumors." Kroger did not return phone calls.

Over a 10-year period ending in mid-April, Safeway's stock price declined by 52 percent while Kroger rose slightly by 4.5 percent.

On Wednesday, Safeway's stock closed at $21.60 and Kroger closed at $23.19.

Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,435 supermarkets and other types of stores nationwide while Safeway operates 1,678 stores in the U.S. and Canada. In the Bay Area, Kroger operates stores under the Food4Less and the FoodCo. names, discount grocery stores that compete with Safeway's Pak 'N Save stores.

Food retail analyst Karen Short of BMO Capital Markets released a report last week that explored a scenario involving Safeway, the country's second-largest grocery, being acquired by Kroger.

"To be clear, we are by no means suggesting a transaction is in the works. We are merely providing food for thought because we strongly believe this transaction makes sense for both shareholder bases," the report said.

In a phone interview, Short said, "If I could have a wish list on what could make the industry better, that would be at the top of my list."

"In general, I think this is kind of a broken industry and it's very challenging. There is a lot of competition from nonconventional formats that are nonunion," Short said in the interview. "The point is, the synergies are fairly significant between the two of them."

Safeway is probably a better play for a private equity firm, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail marketing consultant.

"I think it's going to be a private equity (firm) over some buyer like a Kroger," he said. "I don't think (Kroger) can affect (Safeway) sales. They have enough of their own issues to want to take on somebody else."

Both Green and Short see Safeway as an attractive property that is not in a distressed condition.

"It's a good operationally run company with pretty good real estate," Green said.

"Safeway is not a distressed asset. They have a very high-quality store base. They've invested in their real estate. They own a lot of their real estate in great locations," Short said.

Safeway made the right move a few years ago when it upgraded stores to provide shoppers with a more attractive shopping experience than the discount model of Walmart, said Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. But, he said, it ran into some economic headwinds.

"When they were doing this transformation, we had something happen called 2008. All of a sudden, consumers were voting with their pocketbooks and decided to go back to Walmart," he said, referring to the financial meltdown after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. "So the timing was a bit unfortunate. . . . If the economy was OK, then the renewal would have worked out just fine. And if (Safeway) did nothing, it would have been much harder for them to be a viable company."

Return to Top



Safeway could be a potential takeover target | View Clip
04/26/2012
Marin Independent Journal - Online

Contra Costa Times

Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm.

The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are nonunion, putting pressure on Safeway's cost structure and profits.

On Thursday, Safeway will report earnings for the first quarter of 2012. Analysts expect the Pleasanton-based grocer to earn 30 cents a share on revenue of $10.07 billion, compared with profit of 29 cents a share and sales of $9.8 billion for the same quarter last year.

But the larger issue for the company will be the takeover rumors, with either Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain, or a deep-pocketed private equity firm seen as possible buyers. Earlier this month, for instance, the chain experienced its biggest weekly rally since 2009 on speculation about a possible acquisition after the grocery chain changed payout mechanisms for executives in the event of a takeover.

In an email, a Safeway spokeswoman said, "We don't comment on rumors." Kroger did not return phone calls.

Over a 10-year period ending in mid-April, Safeway's stock price declined by 52 percent while Kroger rose slightly by 4.5 percent. On Wednesday, Safeway's stock closed

at $21.60 and Kroger closed at $23.19. Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,435 supermarkets and other types of stores nationwide while Safeway operates 1,678 stores in the U.S. and Canada. In the Bay Area, Kroger operates stores under the Food4Less and the FoodCo. names, discount grocery stores that compete with Safeway's Pak 'N Save stores.

'Food for thought'

Food retail analyst Karen Short of BMO Capital Markets released a report last week that explored a scenario involving Safeway, the country's second-largest grocery, being acquired by Kroger.

"To be clear, we are by no means suggesting a transaction is in the works. We are merely providing food for thought because we strongly believe this transaction makes sense for both shareholder bases," the report said.

In a phone interview, Short said, "If I could have a wish list on what could make the industry better, that would be at the top of my list."

"In general, I think this is kind of a broken industry and it's very challenging. There is a lot of competition from nonconventional formats that are nonunion," Short said in the interview. "The point is, the synergies are fairly significant between the two of them. So you are going to eliminate overhead, a significant amount of overhead, and that would improve the profitability of the combined entity fairly significantly."

The takeover talk comes as Safeway is also facing tricky labor negotiations. United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 5 is in ongoing labor talks with Safeway, Save Mart Supermarkets (Lucky) and Raley's (Nob Hill Foods).

"The unions and all three companies are continuing to look at health coverages that maintain quality care at a level to keep our members and their families healthy and allow the companies the ability to remain competitive," Mike Henneberry, Local 5 communications director wrote in an email. The negotiations, which involve two other locals in addition to Local 5, cover 53,000 members at the three retailers throughout Northern California, including 14,000 at Bay Area Safeways.

Safeway is probably a better play for a private equity firm, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail marketing consultant.

"I think it's going to be a private equity (firm) over some buyer like a Kroger," he said. "I don't think (Kroger) can affect (Safeway) sales. They have enough of their own issues to want to take on somebody else."

Attractive property

A takeover wouldn't be the first for the company. KKR took Safeway private in a 1986 leveraged buyout after Peter Magowan, the grocer's CEO at the time and grandson of the company's founder, allied with KKR in a takeover battle against Herbert and Robert Haft. KKR sold its stake by 1999, making more than $7 billion on its original $129 million investment, according to KKR's records.

Both Green and Short see Safeway as an attractive property that is not in a distressed condition.

"It's a good operationally run company with pretty good real estate," Green said.

"Safeway is not a distressed asset. They have a very high-quality store base. They've invested in their real estate. They own a lot of their real estate in great locations," Short said.

Safeway made the right move a few years ago when it upgraded stores to provide shoppers with a more attractive shopping experience than the discount model of Walmart, said Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. But, he said, it ran into some economic headwinds.

"When they were doing this transformation, we had something happen called 2008. All of a sudden, consumers were voting with their pocketbooks and decided to go back to Walmart," he said, referring to the financial meltdown after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. "So the timing was a bit unfortunate. ... If the economy was OK, then the renewal would have worked out just fine. And if (Safeway) did nothing, it would have been much harder for them to be a viable company."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

Headquarters: Pleasanton

1915: Year founded in American Falls, Idaho

1928: Year company went public

160: Number of stores in Bay Area operated under the Safeway and Pak 'N Save names.

1,678: Number of stores operated in the U.S. and Canada under the Safeway, Pak 'N Save, Vons, Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi's, Pavilions, Carrs names.

180,000: Number of employees at all stores, divisions and facilities companywide, 75 percent unionized workers.

Return to Top



IS SAFEWAY THE NEXT TAKEOVER TARGET?
04/25/2012
San Jose Mercury News

Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm.

The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are nonunion, putting pressure on Safeway's cost structure and profits.

On Thursday, Safeway will report earnings for the first quarter of 2012. Analysts expect the Pleasanton-based grocer to earn 30 cents a share on revenue of $10.07 billion, compared with profit of 29 cents a share and sales of $9.8 billion for the same quarter last year.

But the larger issue for the company will be the takeover rumors, with either Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain, or a deep-pocketed private equity firm seen as possible buyers. Earlier this month, for instance, the chain experienced its biggest weekly rally since 2009 on speculation about a possible acquisition after the grocery chain changed payout mechanisms for executives in the event of a takeover.

In an email, a Safeway spokeswoman said, "We don't comment on rumors." Kroger did not return phone calls.

Over a 10-year period ending in mid-April, Safeway's stock price declined by 52 percent while Kroger rose slightly by 4.5 percent. On Wednesday, Safeway's stock closed at $21.60 and Kroger closed at $23.19. Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,435 supermarkets and other types of stores nationwide while Safeway operates 1,678 stores in the U.S. and Canada. In the Bay Area, Kroger operates stores under the Food4Less and the FoodCo. names, discount grocery stores that compete with Safeway's Pak 'N Save stores.

'Food for thought'

Food retail analyst Karen Short of BMO Capital Markets released a report last week that explored a scenario involving Safeway, the country's second-largest grocery, being acquired by Kroger.

"To be clear, we are by no means suggesting a transaction is in the works. We are merely providing food for thought because we strongly believe this transaction makes sense for both shareholder bases," the report said.

In a phone interview, Short said, "If I could have a wish list on what could make the industry better, that would be at the top of my list."

"In general, I think this is kind of a broken industry and it's very challenging. There is a lot of competition from nonconventional formats that are nonunion," Short said in the interview. "The point is, the synergies are fairly significant between the two of them. So you are going to eliminate overhead, a significant amount of overhead, and that would improve the profitability of the combined entity fairly significantly."

The takeover talk comes as Safeway is also facing tricky labor negotiations. United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 5 is in ongoing labor talks with Safeway, Save Mart Supermarkets (Lucky) and Raley's (Nob Hill Foods).

"The unions and all three companies are continuing to look at health coverages that maintain quality care at a level to keep our members and their families healthy and allow the companies the ability to remain competitive," Mike Henneberry, Local 5 communications director wrote in an email. The negotiations, which involve two other locals in addition to Local 5, cover 53,000 members at the three retailers throughout Northern California, including 14,000 at Bay Area Safeways.

Safeway is probably a better play for a private equity firm, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail marketing consultant.

"I think it's going to be a private equity (firm) over some buyer like a Kroger," he said. "I don't think (Kroger) can affect (Safeway) sales. They have enough of their own issues to want to take on somebody else."

Attractive property

A takeover wouldn't be the first for the company. KKR took Safeway private in a 1986 leveraged buyout after Peter Magowan, the grocer's CEO at the time and grandson of the company's founder, allied with KKR in a takeover battle against Herbert and Robert Haft. KKR sold its stake by 1999, making more than $7 billion on its original $129 million investment, according to KKR's records.

Both Green and Short see Safeway as an attractive property that is not in a distressed condition.

"It's a good operationally run company with pretty good real estate," Green said.

"Safeway is not a distressed asset. They have a very high-quality store base. They've invested in their real estate. They own a lot of their real estate in great locations," Short said.

Safeway made the right move a few years ago when it upgraded stores to provide shoppers with a more attractive shopping experience than the discount model of Walmart, said Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. But, he said, it ran into some economic headwinds.

"When they were doing this transformation, we had something happen called 2008. All of a sudden, consumers were voting with their pocketbooks and decided to go back to Walmart," he said, referring to the financial meltdown after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. "So the timing was a bit unfortunate. ... If the economy was OK, then the renewal would have worked out just fine. And if (Safeway) did nothing, it would have been much harder for them to be a viable company."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2012 San Jose Mercury News

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Safeway could be a potential takeover target | View Clip
04/25/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Safeway could be a potential takeover target

By Eve Mitchell

Contra Costa Times

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/25/2012 04:03:19 PM PDT

April 25, 2012 11:7 PM GMT Updated:

04/25/2012 04:07:57 PM PDT

Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm.

The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Wal-Mart, Target, Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are non-union, putting pressure on Safeway's cost structure and profits.

On Thursday, Safeway reports earnings for the first quarter of 2012, but the larger issue for the company will be the takeover rumors, with either Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain, or a deep-pocketed private equity firm seen as possible buyers. In an email, a Safeway spokeswoman said, "We don't comment on rumors." Kroger did not return phone calls.

Over a 10-year-period ending in mid-April, Safeway's stock price declined by 52 percent while Kroger rose slightly by 4.5 percent. On Wednesday, Safeway's stock closed at $21.60 and Kroger closed at $23.19. Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,435 supermarkets and other types of stores nationwide while Safeway operates 1,678 stores in the United States and Canada. In the Bay Area, Kroger operates stores under the Food4Less and the FoodCo. names, discount grocery stores that compete with Safeway's Pak 'N Save stores.

Food retail analyst Karen Short of BMO Capital Markets Corp. released a report

last week that explored a scenario involving Safeway, the country's second largest grocery, being acquired by Kroger.

"To be clear, we are by no means suggesting a transaction is in the works. We are merely providing food for thought because we strongly believe this transaction makes sense for both shareholder bases," the report said.

In a phone interview, Short said, "If I could have a wish list on what could make the industry better, that would be at the top of my list."

"In general, I think this is a kind of a broken industry and it's very challenging. There is a lot of competition from non-conventional formats that are non-union." Short said in the interview. . "The point is the synergies are fairly significant between the two of them. So you are going to eliminate overhead, a significant amount of overhead, and that would improve the profitability of the combined entity fairly significantly."

The takeover talk comes as Safeway is also facing tricky labor negotiations. United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 5 is in ongoing labor talks with Safeway, Save Mart Supermarkets (Lucky) and Raley's (Nob Hill Foods).

"The unions and all three companies are continuing to look at health coverages that maintain quality care at a level to keep our members and their families healthy and allow the companies the ability to remain competitive," Mike Henneberry, Local 5 communications director wrote in an email. The negotiations, which involve two other locals in addition to Local 5, cover 53,000 members at the three retailers throughout Northern California.

Safeway is likely a better play for a private equity firm, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail marketing consultant.

"I think it's going to be a private equity (firm) over some buyer like a Kroger," he said. "I don't think (Kroger) can affect (Safeway) sales. They have enough of their own issues to want to take on somebody else."

A takeover wouldn't be the first for the company. KKR & Co. took Safeway private in a 1986 leveraged buyout after Peter Magowan, the grocer's chief executive officer at the time and grandson of the company's founder, allied with KKR in a takeover battle against Herbert and Robert Haft. KKR sold its stake by 1999, making more than $7 billion on its original $129 million investment, according to KKR's records.

Both Green and Short see Safeway as an attractive property that is not in a distressed condition.

"It's a good operationally-run company with pretty good real estate," Green said.

"Safeway is not a distressed asset. They have a very high quality store base. They've invested in their real estate. They own a lot of their real estate in great locations," she said.

Safeway made the right move a few years ago when it upgraded stores to provide shoppers with a more attractive shopping experience than the discount model of Wal-Mart, said Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. But, he said, they ran into some economic headwinds.

"When they were doing this transformation, we had something happen called 2008. All of a sudden consumers were voting with their pocketbooks and decided to go back to Wal-Mart," he said, referring to the financial meltdown after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. "So the timing was a bit unfortunate ... If the economy was OK, then the renewal would have worked out just fine. And if (Safeway) did nothing it would have been much harder for them to be a viable company."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report. Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-952-2690.

Return to Top



Safeway could be a potential takeover target
04/24/2012
Contra Costa Times

Beset by tough competition and buffeted by the Great Recession, Safeway has struggled to find its footing, leading to speculation that it is ripe for a takeover by a bigger grocery chain or private equity firm.

The grocery industry has undergone a transformation in recent years, as stores such as Walmart, Target, Trader Joe's, Fresh & Easy and dollar stores stock more groceries. And unlike Safeway, those stores are nonunion, putting pressure on Safeway's cost structure and profits.

On Thursday, Safeway will report earnings for the first quarter of 2012. Analysts expect the Pleasanton-based grocer to earn 30 cents a share on revenue of $10.07 billion, compared with profit of 29 cents a share and sales of $9.8 billion for the same quarter last year.

But the larger issue for the company will be the takeover rumors, with either Kroger, the country's largest grocery chain, or a deep-pocketed private equity firm seen as possible buyers. Earlier this month, for instance, the chain experienced its biggest weekly rally since 2009 on speculation about a possible acquisition after the grocery chain changed payout mechanisms for executives in the event of a takeover.

In an email, a Safeway spokeswoman said, "We don't comment on rumors." Kroger did not return phone calls.

Over a 10-year period ending in mid-April, Safeway's stock price declined by 52 percent while Kroger rose slightly by 4.5 percent. On Wednesday, Safeway's stock closed at $21.60 and Kroger closed at $23.19. Cincinnati-based Kroger operates 2,435 supermarkets and other types of stores nationwide while Safeway operates 1,678 stores in the U.S. and Canada. In the Bay Area, Kroger operates stores under the Food4Less and the FoodCo. names, discount grocery stores that compete with Safeway's Pak 'N Save stores.

'Food for thought'

Food retail analyst Karen Short of BMO Capital Markets released a report last week that explored a scenario involving Safeway, the country's second-largest grocery, being acquired by Kroger.

"To be clear, we are by no means suggesting a transaction is in the works. We are merely providing food for thought because we strongly believe this transaction makes sense for both shareholder bases," the report said.

In a phone interview, Short said, "If I could have a wish list on what could make the industry better, that would be at the top of my list."

"In general, I think this is kind of a broken industry and it's very challenging. There is a lot of competition from nonconventional formats that are nonunion," Short said in the interview. "The point is, the synergies are fairly significant between the two of them. So you are going to eliminate overhead, a significant amount of overhead, and that would improve the profitability of the combined entity fairly significantly."

The takeover talk comes as Safeway is also facing tricky labor negotiations. United Food and Commercial Workers union Local 5 is in ongoing labor talks with Safeway, Save Mart Supermarkets (Lucky) and Raley's (Nob Hill Foods).

"The unions and all three companies are continuing to look at health coverages that maintain quality care at a level to keep our members and their families healthy and allow the companies the ability to remain competitive," Mike Henneberry, Local 5 communications director wrote in an email. The negotiations, which involve two other locals in addition to Local 5, cover 53,000 members at the three retailers throughout Northern California, including 14,000 at Bay Area Safeways.

Safeway is probably a better play for a private equity firm, said Jeff Green, a Phoenix-based retail marketing consultant.

"I think it's going to be a private equity (firm) over some buyer like a Kroger," he said. "I don't think (Kroger) can affect (Safeway) sales. They have enough of their own issues to want to take on somebody else."

Attractive property

A takeover wouldn't be the first for the company. KKR took Safeway private in a 1986 leveraged buyout after Peter Magowan, the grocer's CEO at the time and grandson of the company's founder, allied with KKR in a takeover battle against Herbert and Robert Haft. KKR sold its stake by 1999, making more than $7 billion on its original $129 million investment, according to KKR's records.

Both Green and Short see Safeway as an attractive property that is not in a distressed condition.

"It's a good operationally run company with pretty good real estate," Green said.

"Safeway is not a distressed asset. They have a very high-quality store base. They've invested in their real estate. They own a lot of their real estate in great locations," Short said.

Safeway made the right move a few years ago when it upgraded stores to provide shoppers with a more attractive shopping experience than the discount model of Walmart, said Kirthi Kalyanam, professor of marketing and director of the Retail Management Institute at Santa Clara University. But, he said, it ran into some economic headwinds.

"When they were doing this transformation, we had something happen called 2008. All of a sudden, consumers were voting with their pocketbooks and decided to go back to Walmart," he said, referring to the financial meltdown after Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy. "So the timing was a bit unfortunate. ... If the economy was OK, then the renewal would have worked out just fine. And if (Safeway) did nothing, it would have been much harder for them to be a viable company."

Bloomberg News contributed to this report.

SAFEWAY

Headquarters: Pleasanton

1915: Year founded in American Falls, Idaho

1928: Year company went public

160: Number of stores in Bay Area operated under the Safeway and Pak 'N Save names.

1,678: Number of stores operated in the U.S. and Canada under the Safeway, Pak 'N Save, Vons, Dominick's, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Genuardi's, Pavilions, Carrs names.

180,000: Number of employees at all stores, divisions and facilities companywide, 75 percent unionized workers.

Source: Safeway

Copyright © 2012 Contra Costa Times.

Return to Top



EPA Awards More Than $1 Million to College Teams for Innovative Environmental Solutions | View Clip
04/26/2012
Environmental Protection

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded more than $1 million in grants to 15 university and college teams from across the country who participated in the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. for their innovative environmental solutions. EPA's People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition was held at the expo, and featured more than 300 college innovators showcasing their sustainable projects designed to protect the environment, encourage economic growth and use natural resources more efficiently. Some P3 team projects include a new process that uses spinach to capture and convert the sun's energy to electricity and a partnership with a local landfill to design a process that uses waste heat and drainage to grow algae for biodiesel production.

Following an initial peer review process, this year's winners were selected from 45 competing teams after two days of judging by a panel of national experts convened to provide recommendations to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. EPA selected the award-winning projects from the most competitive pool of teams ever, basing their decisions on the potential to provide innovative, cutting-edge sustainable solutions to worldwide environmental problems.

“The competition and expo are not only about EPA's prestigious P3 award, but also about supporting the next generation of this country's innovators and entrepreneurs who are entering the environmental and public health field with passion to make a difference and many brilliant ideas,” said Lek Kadeli, acting assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Research and Development. “The P3 program gives these students the opportunity to bring those ideas to realization and many have the potential to make significant impacts on our nation's sustainable future and development of environmental technologies.”

Each P3 award-winning team will receive a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design, apply it to real world applications or move it to the marketplace. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing the technologies in the U.S. and around the world.

Winners of this year's awards include:

Appalachian State University for developing an artificial wetland suitable for recycling of grey water from small businesses for immediate reuse.

Butte College for developing structural insulated panels for building construction using rice hulls, an abundant agricultural waste, as the primary raw material.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for designing a foldable solar power water purification system that can fit into a backpack for easy transport for use after a disaster affecting drinking ether supply.

Gonzaga University for developing a simple ventilation system for kitchens in rural dwellings using electrical power generated from thermoelectric cells driven by waste heat from cooking fires.

Oregon State University for raising awareness of pollution associated with the production and use of plastic mulch by farmers and testing alternative biodegradable mulch material.

Princeton University for developing, testing and deploying an electricity generation system that can be transported in a standard shipping container and rapidly set up in rural communities and post disaster areas.

Santa Clara University for developing a fuel cell capable of continuous sustainable energy supply to meet energy demands in rural communities in developing nations lacking reliable energy grids.

Southern Illinois University - Carbondale for developing methods to extract (recycle) metals from Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCB) to reduce mining and to produce a concrete with reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Engineering for studying ways to recover struvite, a slow release fertilizer, from digested animal manures and assesses its marketability.

Texas State University - San Marcos for converting rice husks, a byproducts of agriculture, into a starter material called lignocellulose for producing fabrics, biofuel and silica nanoparticles.

University of California - Riverside for designing a solar collector to heat ambient air for use in home appliances, such as clothes dryers and space heaters, to reduce home energy consumption.

University of Cincinnati for developing a pilot scale system to convert trap grease from restaurants, a waste set to landfill, to renewable biodiesel.

University of Connecticut for investigating ways to use local industrial byproducts such as steal slag and lime kilm dust to control erosion and to stabilize roads in Nicaragua.

University of Oklahoma - Norman for design, field-test, construct, instrument, analyze and document a habitat for humanity house built of compresses earth blocks (CEB).

Vanderbilt University for developing a biohyrid solar panel that substitutes a protein from spinach for rare metals (mined) and is capable of producing electricity.

P3 teams were also recognized during EPA's American Innovation for Sustainability Forum, an event bringing together sustainability and innovation leaders nationwide. The U.S. Army recognized three teams for projects that fit the Army's NetZero initiative. The team from University of Texas at Austin received recognition for Zero Waste for their use of vermicomposting to reduce solid waste. Embry Riddle Aeronautical University developed a lightweight solar powered battery backup water purification system that reflects the Army's Zero Water efforts. University of California at Davis was recognized for their cool roofs project promoting Zero Energy. Additionally, the Paladin Capital Group recognized Vanderbilt University's project working on solar cells with the “Marketplace Innovation Award.”

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15 College Teams Win EPA P3 Award for Environmental Solutions | View Clip
04/25/2012
ecogeek

The EPA has announced the winners of its annual P3 award that honors innovative environmental solutions developed by college teams. This year 45 teams were judged by a panel convened by the American Association for the Advancement of Science on their idea's potential to provide "innovative, cutting-edge sustainable solutions to worldwide environmental problems." Fifteen teams won the award and received $90,000 each to further develop and market their solutions.

Here are the winning teams and their entries:

Appalachian State University for developing an artificial wetland suitable for recycling of grey water from small businesses for immediate reuse.
Butte College for developing structural insulated panels for building construction using rice hulls, an abundant agricultural waste, as the primary raw material.
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University for designing a foldable solar power water purification system that can fit into a backpack for easy transport for use after a disaster affecting drinking ether supply.
Gonzaga University for developing a simple ventilation system for kitchens in rural dwellings using electrical power generated from thermoelectric cells driven by waste heat from cooking fires.
Oregon State University for raising awareness of pollution associated with the production and use of plastic mulch by farmers and testing alternative biodegradable mulch material.
Princeton University for developing, testing and deploying an electricity generation system that can be transported in a standard shipping container and rapidly set up in rural communities and post disaster areas.
Santa Clara University for developing a fuel cell capable of continuous sustainable energy supply to meet energy demands in rural communities in developing nations lacking reliable energy grids.
Southern Illinois University - Carbondale for developing methods to extract (recycle) metals from Coal Combustion Byproducts (CCB) to reduce mining and to produce a concrete with reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Engineering for studying ways to recover struvite, a slow release fertilizer, from digested animal manures and assesses its marketability.
Texas State University - San Marcos for converting rice husks, a byproducts of agriculture, into a starter material called lignocellulose for producing fabrics, biofuel and silica nanoparticles.
University of California - Riverside for designing a solar collector to heat ambient air for use in home appliances, such as clothes dryers and space heaters, to reduce home energy consumption.
University of Cincinnati for developing a pilot scale system to convert trap grease from restaurants, a waste set to landfill, to renewable biodiesel.
University of Connecticut for investigating ways to use local industrial byproducts such as steal slag and lime kilm dust to control erosion and to stabilize roads in Nicaragua.
University of Oklahoma - Norman for design, field-test, construct, instrument, analyze and document a habitat for humanity house built of compresses earth blocks (CEB).
Vanderbilt University for developing a biohyrid solar panel that substitutes a protein from spinach for rare metals (mined) and is capable of producing electricity.

I don't know about you, but reading that list makes me feel really hopeful about the future knowing that so many college students are thinking up and creating such innovative solutions to environmental problems. You can see a list of Honorable Mentions for this prize that also contains some amazing ideas here.

via EPA.gov

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Hot Topics Recap: Earth Day | View Clip
04/26/2012
Apache Developer's Journal

The following releases focus on Earth Day 2012

ALL TIME-OFFS ARE IN EASTERN TIME

CHICAGO--Groupon Grassroots Spurs Nationwide Community Action in Celebration of Earth Day Source: Groupon (April 24, 4:40 PM)

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa.--Balfour Beatty Communities Recognized for Commitment to Energy Efficiency Source: Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC (April 24, 4:24 PM)

RALEIGH, N.C.--Washington, D.C. Ranks Most Environmentally Conscious City in the U.S. According to MaxPoint Interactive Interest Index Source: MaxPoint Interactive (April 24, 9:00 AM)

TAINAN, Taiwan--NCKU Jade Mountain Forum Focuses on Sustainable Environment Source: National Cheng Kung University (April 23, 11:21 PM)

JAKARTA, Indonesia--Indonesian Companies Mark Earth Day by Laying Ground for Rio+20 Summit Source: Asia Pulp & Paper Group (April 23, 4:49 PM)

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.--American Public University System Hosts Ribbon-Cutting for West Virginia's Largest Solar Array in Charles Town, WV Source: American Public University System (APUS) (April 23, 4:01 PM)

MANSFIELD, Mass.--Quadrant Software Goes Green with the Customer Trade-Up Program Source: Quadrant Software (April 23, 9:37 AM)

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J.--Leading Solar Energy Provider 1st Light Energy Creates Benevolent Fund for Groups Looking to Convert to Solar Source: 1st Light Energy (April 23, 9:02 AM)

LOS ANGELES--Commute 90067 Announces Prizes For Century City Commuters On Earth Day Source: Century City Transportation Management Organization (April 22, 12:00 PM)

ULM, Germany--Earth Day 2012: With Gardena, Everyone Can Save Water Source: GARDENA Deutschland GmbH (April 21, 9:00 AM)

IRVINE, Calif.--Terra Tech Corp a Sustainable AG Company Offers 5 Earth Day Friendly Tips to Eat for a Healthier Body and Planet Source: Terra Tech Corp. (April 20, 11:41 PM)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.--Inmar CEO's Earth Day Message: Solutions That Are Responsible Environmentally and Fiscally Are Truly Sustainable Source: Inmar (April 20, 5:07 PM)

LOS ANGELES--L.A. Students Celebrate Earth Day with Renewed Dedication to Reusing and Recycling Source: American Chemistry Council (April 20, 5:00 PM)

SAN DIEGO--KBM Facility Solutions Releases Five Tips for Limiting Water Use on Earth Day Source: KBM Facility Solutions (April 20, 4:39 PM)

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--Sneak Peek of Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon House Available at Earth Day Event Source: Santa Clara University (April 20, 4:03 PM)

KOHLER, Wis.--Kohler Co. Celebrates Earth Day at INNOVENTIONS at Epcot® Opening of Green Builder® Media's VISION House® Source: Kohler Co. (April 20, 2:03 PM)

CLEARWATER, Fla.--Avantair Shows Its Green Side Source: Avantair (April 20, 12:51 PM)

COOPERSBURG, Pa.--Lutron Offers Tips for Saving Energy at Home on Earth Day and Every Day Source: Lutron Electronics Co., Inc. (April 20, 12:12 PM)

PASADENA, Calif.--Disney Store Celebrates Earth Day with New Products to Help You Go Green; A Portion of the Proceeds of Select Plush Toy Sales to Benefit the Jane Goodall Institute for Chimpanzee Preservation Source: Disney Store (April 20, 11:00 AM)

CINCINNATI--Cintas Corporation Helps Save 8.5 Million Trees and Shrink Landfills as part of 2011 Sustainability Savings Source: Cintas Corporation (April 20, 10:45 AM)

WILTON, Conn.--Have You Made Your Earth Day Resolution? Source: The Sun Products Corporation (April 20, 10:30 AM)

DETROIT--Green Cars That Go More Than the Extra Mile Per Gallon Source: shopautoweek.com (April 20, 10:30 AM)

DEERFIELD, Ill.--Walgreens Affirms its Commitment to Environmental Sustainability, Innovative Technology and Renewable Energy Initiatives During Earth Week 2012 Source: Walgreens (April 20, 10:15 AM)

BETHESDA, Md.--Calvert Celebrates Earth Day on National Mall Source: Calvert Investments, Inc. (April 20, 9:33 AM)

AMERICAN CANYON, Calif.--Coca-Cola's American Canyon Facility to Introduce Five Natural Gas Hydrogen Fuel Cells on Earth Day at Ribbon Cutting Event Source: The Coca-Cola Company (April 19, 5:44 PM)

EL CERRITO, Calif.--Verizon Names Vigilent as Winner of 2011 Green and Sustainability Supplier Award Source: Vigilent (April 19, 4:26 PM)

CINCINNATI--Cintas Document Management Hosts 108 SmartShred® Events Nationwide for Earth Day Source: Cintas Corporation (April 19, 4:16 PM)

SEATTLE--Earth Day Celebration Highlights Need for Products Like the Ekobrew Filter Source: Ekobrew (April 19, 12:50 PM)

MINNEAPOLIS & ST. PAUL, Minn.--Earth Day Activities Highlight MSP Airport's Organics Waste Recycling and Electric Vehicles Source: Metropolitan Airports Commission (April 19, 12:05 PM)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan.--Sprint Gives Customers Incentives to Go Green on Earth Day Source: Sprint (April 19, 11:00 AM)

LANSING, Mich.--Jackson®'s Green Delivery Efforts Spark $100,000 Donation to American Forests, Planting 100,000 Trees Source: Jackson National Life Insurance Company (April 19, 10:16 AM)

NEW YORK--Bloomberg Celebrates Earth Day 2012 with a Focus on Water Source: Bloomberg (April 19, 2012 10:00 AM)

ST. PAUL, Minn.--Ecolab's behind the Scenes Innovation Drives Environmental Sustainability Source: Ecolab Inc. (April 19, 9:00 AM)

SAN JOSE, Calif.--eBay Launches Green Driving - A New Way to Research, Find and Buy Fuel Friendly Vehicles Source: eBay Inc. (April 19, 9:00 AM)

OMAHA, Neb.--Werner Enterprises to Observe Earth Day with Event at Zorinsky Park in Omaha Source: Werner Enterprises (April 19, 8:30 AM)

SAN FRANCISCO--Wells Fargo Encourages Customers to Go Paperless, Invests in Tree Recovery Campaigns Source: Wells Fargo & Company (April 19, 8:07 AM)

RALEIGH, N.C.--Earth Day 2012: Sensus Offers Smart Water Network Solutions Source: Sensus (April 19, 8:05 AM)

LOS ANGELES--SheKnows and P&G Future Friendly Celebrate Earth Day with Second Season of Homergency Series Source: SheKnows (April 19, 7:00 AM)

SAN DIEGO--Kyocera Remains San Diego's Most-Awarded Company for Environmental Programs, Honored with 12th Consecutive City Recycling Award Source: Kyocera Communications Inc. (April 18, 11:31 AM)

EMMAUS, Pa.--Jessica Alba, Ryan Gosling and Matt Damon Top Rodale.com's First-Ever Sexiest Environmentalists List Source: Rodale Inc. (April 18, 10:55 AM)

ATLANTA--Coca-Cola Drums up Water Stewardship Awareness for Earth Day Source: The Coca-Cola Company (April 18, 9:00 AM)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.--Earth Day at Briar Chapel – A Celebration of All Things Local Source: Briar Chapel by Newland Communities® (April 18, 9:00 AM)

SAN FRANCISCO--Fotopedia Releases Updated Version of Popular National Parks App for the New iPad Source: Fotopedia (April 18, 9:00 AM)

ST. PAUL, Minn.-- This Earth Day, 3M Makes Electronics Recycling Easier Source: 3M (April 18, 7:00 AM)

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn.-- SUPERVALU to Add 250 Stores to Zero Waste Program in Current Fiscal Year, Bringing Company Total to over 300 Source: SUPERVALU INC. (April 17, 1:42 PM)

PHILADELPHIA--More Than 67,000 Volunteers Spring into Action as Comcast and NBCUniversal Celebrate Their Commitment to Communities on 11th Comcast Cares Day Source: Comcast Corporation (April 17, 12:52 PM)

DALLAS--Associa Launches Eco-Initiative with Kickoff Events Coast to Coast Source: Associa (April 17, 11:38 AM)

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. & SAN DIEGO--Sprint and LG Launch Third Device in 2012 with Eco-Friendly Features, LG Optimus Elite Source: Sprint and LG (April 17, 11:00 AM)

LOMBARD, Ill.-- Veolia Environmental Services to Partner with the New York City Department of Sanitation on ‘SAFE' Disposal Events Source: Veolia Environmental Services (April 17, 10:55 AM)

TEANECK, N.J.--Kumon Hosts Poetry Contest in Celebration of Earth Day on Facebook Source: Kumon (April 17, 9:00 AM)

INDIANAPOLIS--hhgregg Celebrates Earth Day with Free Electronics Recycling Event in Stores Source: hhgregg (April 17, 9:00 AM)

WASHINGTON--GEICO's April 17 Earth Fair sets stage for local green initiatives for company associates Source: GEICO (April 17, 8:51 AM)

SOMERSET, N.J.--Philips Targets Earth Day for L Prize Bulb Availability to Consumers Source: Philips (April 17, 8:00 AM)

ST. PAUL, Minn.-- No. 16 3M Ford Fusion Debuts Sustainable Fire Suppression Fluid on Earth Day Source: 3M (April 17, 7:00 AM)

PASADENA, Calif.-- Kaiser Permanente and Goodwill Southern California Earth Day E-Waste Events Aim to Spur Spring Cleaning Source: Kaiser Permanente (April 16, 5:12 PM)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.--Missouri American Water Brings “Wings Over Water” Programs To Earth Day Celebrations Source: Missouri American Water (April 16, 2:44 PM)

SALT LAKE CITY--Control4 and Magnolia Team Up to Offer 10 Ways to Save Energy - Just in Time for Earth Day Source: Control4 (April 16,12:28 PM)

WASHINGTON--Dr Pepper Snapple Group Renews Green Partnership with Student Conservation Association Source: Dr Pepper Snapple Group (April 16, 12:00 PM)

CONCORD, Calif.--BevMo! Goes Green for Earth Day Source: BevMo! and ReCORK (April 16, 11:00 AM)

VOORHEES, N.J.-- American Water Commemorates 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act this Earth Day Source: American Water Works Company, Inc. (April 16, 10:39 AM )

CHICAGO--Exelon Employees Organize and Lead More Than 100 Community Service Projects in Five States for National Volunteer Week Source: Exelon Corporation (April 16, 10:30 AM)

SWORDS, Ireland--Ingersoll Rand Employees Mobilize to Support Earth Day 2012 Source: Ingersoll Rand (April 16, 10:00 AM)

ISLANDIA, N.Y.--CA Technologies Extends Earth Day 2012 with “Green Weeks” Source: CA Technologies (April 16, 9:30 AM)

MINNEAPOLIS--Target to Celebrate Earth Day by Giving Away 1.5 Million Reusable Bags Source: Target Corporation (April 16, 9:00 AM)

CHICAGO--Groupon Honors Earth Day with Launch of Groupon Grassroots, Partnership with Edward Norton's CrowdRise Source: Groupon (April 16, 8:59 AM)

RICHMOND HILL, Ontario--Staples Canada awards over $500,000 in computer lab makeovers to eco-responsible schools across Canada Source: Staples Canada (April 16, 6:00 AM)

NEWARK, Del.-- Artesian Employees and Volunteers to Protect Water Quality, Celebrate Earth Day at Annual Christina River Watershed Cleanup Source: Artesian Resources Corporation (April 12, 2:00 PM)

SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Veggie Grill Earth Day Campaign Encourages People to Eat More Plant-Based Meals Source: Veggie Grill (April 12, 11:08 AM)

SAN FRANCISCO--Earth Week Event at Exploratorium: Plastic Fish to be Made from Washed Ashore Ocean Trash Source: Washed Ashore (April 11, 3:44 PM)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif.-- Fresh & Easy Brings Back Popular Design-A-Bag Contest Source: Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market (April 10, 6:43 PM)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.--Divers Direct Sponsors Multi-Location Beach and Reef Cleanup Source: Divers Direct (April 10, 3:44 PM)

NAPA, Calif.-- Trinity Oaks Invites Consumers to Plant a Tree by Purchasing a Bottle of Wine This Earth Day Source: Trinity Oaks (April 10, 1:20 PM)

SEATTLE--Eco Apps Celebrate Earth Day Every Day Source: Smith & Tinker, Inc. (April 10, 10:00 AM)

SAN FRANCISCO--Williams-Sonoma Launches Agrarian Source: Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (April 4, 8:01 AM)

NORWALK, Conn.-- Viridian Energy Celebrates Earth Month in April and Will “Make Your Mother Proud” Source: Viridian Energy (April 3, 8:00 AM)

NEW YORK--Men's Health Reinvents the American Road Trip Source: Men's Health (April 2, 1:34 PM)

CINCINNATI--P&G “Take a Load Off” Campaign, Together with Actress Vanessa Lachey, Empowers Consumers Nationwide to Switch to Cold Water Laundry Washing This Earth Day Source: Procter & Gamble (April 2, 9:19 AM)

HOUSTON--Lonestar Ecology Opens in Time for Earth Day Celebration Source: Lonestar Ecology (April 2, 8:01 AM)

PHOENIX--Harlem Globetrotters Announce Partnership with Earth Day Network Source: Harlem Globetrotters (March 29, 11:00 AM)

LONDON--gNappies Help Parents Keep Smiling When Changing Nappies on Earth Day Source: gNappies (March 29, 8:56 AM)

MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis.--Kohl's Department Stores Announces 3rd Annual Nationwide Volunteer Event, Will Give $2 Million to Nonprofits in Celebration of National Volunteer Week and Earth Day Source: Kohl's Department Stores (March 29, 8:00 AM)

WASHINGTON--April Is National Landscape Architecture Month Source: American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) (March 29, 7:02 AM)

CHATSWORTH, Calif.--Natrol, Inc. and Bikram Choudhury Launch Vedic Mantra™, Nutritional Supplements Designed Specifically for the Yoga Community Source: Natrol, Inc. (March 27, 9:00 AM)

DENVER--Chipotle Will Plant a Free Burrito in Your Lunch Bag to Celebrate Earth Day Source: Chipotle Mexican Grill (March 26, 10:23 AM)

LOS ANGELES--SnagFilms Announces the U.S. Release of Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist on Earth Day, April 22, 2012 Source: SnagFilms (March 21, 3:37 PM)

ARLINGTON, Va.--PBS KIDS and the National Recreation and Park Association Inspire Kids to Explore the Outdoors This Spring Source: PBS KIDS (March 21, 9:00 AM)

ARLINGTON, Va.-- PBS Salutes Earth Day This April with a Month of Special Programming Source: PBS (March 20, 10:01 AM)

SAN FRANCISCO--PG&E Presents California State Parks Foundation's 15th Annual Earth Day Restoration and Cleanup on Saturday, April 14 Source: California State Parks Foundation (March 15, 2:32 PM)

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Sneak Peek of Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon House Available at Earth Day Event | View Clip
04/20/2012
Optimum Online - Finance

What does it take to power a 1,000-square-foot home using only solar energy? What sustainable materials can you use to build the home? How affordable is it?

These are some of the questions students at Santa Clara University will be answering at an Earth Day event on Saturday, April 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the school's Buck Shaw Stadium. It's also the first time the public will be able to see a model and the plans for Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon house called Rhythm.

The students were chosen earlier this year to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon. They submitted their first official set of designs and floor plans for their solar-powered home this week to the DOE.

“This house is a nice balance between modern amenities and comfortable living,” says Jake Gallau, student project manager for Team Santa Clara. “We've named the house Rhythm as it follows the natural rhythm of the sun and because it balances the three E's: efficiency, elegance, and economics.”

Members of the team say they will knock out the competition, which include Stanford University, University of Southern California, and California Institute of Technology. Unlike the other schools, Team Santa Clara consists of all undergraduate students aged 19 to 23 years old.

A total of 20 college and university teams from around the world are competing to be the best one that can build a real, livable, operable house that is 100 percent powered by solar energy. The competition takes places Oct. 3-13, 2013 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. However, all students must build their homes on their own campuses, dismantle it, ship it to the competition site, rebuild it, and then operate it for the judges and the public.

Saturday's event is co-hosted by the San Jose Earthquakes, and MLS W.O.R.K.S., the charitable arm of Major League Soccer. Fans will receive an eco-tip guide, flower seed packets, a book featuring discount offers at local, sustainable and healthy businesses, and much more. A full list of all the giveaways can be found online.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

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Sneak Peek of Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon House Available at Earth Day Event | View Clip
04/20/2012
Morningstar.com

What does it take to power a 1,000-square-foot home using only solar energy? What sustainable materials can you use to build the home? How affordable is it?

These are some of the questions students at Santa Clara University will be answering at an Earth Day event on Saturday, April 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the school's Buck Shaw Stadium. It's also the first time the public will be able to see a model and the plans for Team Santa Clara's 2013 Solar Decathlon house called Rhythm.

The students were chosen earlier this year to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy's 2013 Solar Decathlon. They submitted their first official set of designs and floor plans for their solar-powered home this week to the DOE.

“This house is a nice balance between modern amenities and comfortable living,” says Jake Gallau, student project manager for Team Santa Clara. “We've named the house Rhythm as it follows the natural rhythm of the sun and because it balances the three E's: efficiency, elegance, and economics.”

Members of the team say they will knock out the competition, which include Stanford University, University of Southern California, and California Institute of Technology. Unlike the other schools, Team Santa Clara consists of all undergraduate students aged 19 to 23 years old.

A total of 20 college and university teams from around the world are competing to be the best one that can build a real, livable, operable house that is 100 percent powered by solar energy. The competition takes places Oct. 3-13, 2013 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, Calif. However, all students must build their homes on their own campuses, dismantle it, ship it to the competition site, rebuild it, and then operate it for the judges and the public.

Saturday's event is co-hosted by the San Jose Earthquakes, and MLS W.O.R.K.S., the charitable arm of Major League Soccer. Fans will receive an eco-tip guide, flower seed packets, a book featuring discount offers at local, sustainable and healthy businesses, and much more. A full list of all the giveaways can be found online.

About Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California's Silicon Valley, offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, theology, and engineering, plus master's and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master's universities, California's oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see www.scu.edu.

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Earth Day Events in the Bay Area | View Clip
04/19/2012
Marin Independent Journal - Online

Earth Day Fair in Foster City. The event will feature food, live music, children's arts and crafts activities. Green vendors will showcase products and services to help attendees reduce their impact on the environment, save money, and live greener and healthier. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. City Hall Plaza, 610 Foster City Blvd. 650-286-3291.

Menlo Park Earth Day at the Refuge. Volunteers and participants are encouraged to help with cleanup at Ravenswood Point in East Palo Alto. Latex gloves and trash bags will be supplied. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat, and bring sunscreen. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Please register at www.savesfbay.org. 510-792-0222, extension 362.

Oakland Earth Day. Volunteers will clean more than 35 parks and recreation centers, 20 creeks and waterways and neighborhood locations. Each volunteer will receive a commemorative patch, and the first 3,000 will receive a Chinook Book filled with coupons for local, green businesses. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Visit www.oaklandearthday.org for location information. 510-238-7611.

The San Jose Earthquakes Earth Day Celebration. There will be some giveaways such as an eco-tip guide, and those who drive hybrid vehicles will receive $5 off parking. Fans who take Caltrain or VTA will receive a $5 discount for game admission. Additionally, the event will feature some green, sustainable businesses,

along with a presentation from the Solar Decathlon Team from Santa Clara University in the Epicenter. Also, select fans will receive a Chinook Book that features discount offers at local, sustainable and healthy businesses. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Buck Shaw Stadium, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. 408-554-5550.

Redwood City Earth Day on the Bay. Children's activities, music, arts fair and an aquarium. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Marine Science Institute, 500 Discovery Parkway. 650-364-2760.

Earth Day Fair at Full Circle Farm, Sunnyvale. Kids activities, contests and games, music, demonstrations and food. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 1055 Dunford Way. $5 donation. 408-394-1464, www.fullcirclesunnyvale.org.

Party for the Planet. Discussions and storytelling, demonstrations and drum show. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Happy Hollow Park Zoo, 1300 Senter Road, San Jose. $12.95. 408-794-6400, www.hhpz.org.

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Earth Day Events in the Bay Area | View Clip
04/18/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

Earth Day Events in the Bay Area

By

@mercurynews.com

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/18/2012 09:40:51 PM PDT

April 19, 2012 4:41 AM GMT Updated:

04/18/2012 09:40:52 PM PDT

Earth Day Fair in Foster City. The event will feature food, live music, children's arts and crafts activities. Green vendors will showcase products and services to help attendees reduce their impact on the environment, save money, and live greener and healthier. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. City Hall Plaza, 610 Foster City Blvd. 650-286-3291.

Menlo Park Earth Day at the Refuge. Volunteers and participants are encouraged to help with cleanup at Ravenswood Point in East Palo Alto. Latex gloves and trash bags will be supplied. Wear sturdy shoes, a hat, and bring sunscreen. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Please register at www.savesfbay.org . 510-792-0222, extension 362.

Oakland Earth Day. Volunteers will clean more than 35 parks and recreation centers, 20 creeks and waterways and neighborhood locations. Each volunteer will receive a commemorative patch, and the first 3,000 will receive a Chinook Book filled with coupons for local, green businesses. 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Visit www.oaklandearthday.org for location information. 510-238-7611.

The San Jose Earthquakes Earth Day Celebration. There will be some giveaways such as an eco-tip guide, and those who drive hybrid vehicles will receive $5 off parking. Fans who take Caltrain or VTA will receive a $5 discount for game admission. Additionally, the event will feature some green, sustainable businesses,

along with a presentation from the Solar Decathlon Team from Santa Clara University in the Epicenter. Also, select fans will receive a Chinook Book that features discount offers at local, sustainable and healthy businesses. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Buck Shaw Stadium, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara. 408-554-5550.

Redwood City Earth Day on the Bay. Children's activities, music, arts fair and an aquarium. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday. Marine Science Institute, 500 Discovery Parkway. 650-364-2760.

Earth Day Fair at Full Circle Farm, Sunnyvale. Kids activities, contests and games, music, demonstrations and food. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. 1055 Dunford Way. $5 donation. 408-394-1464, www.fullcirclesunnyvale.org .

Party for the Planet. Discussions and storytelling, demonstrations and drum show. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Happy Hollow Park Zoo, 1300 Senter Road, San Jose. $12.95. 408-794-6400, www.hhpz.org .

Copyright 2012 San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

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Deregulate the Lawyers | View Clip
05/01/2012
Brookings Institution

Clifford Winston, Senior Fellow, Economic Studies

Is it time to discard the requirement that a lawyer obtain a license to practice the profession? A dumb question, you say? Read on, preferably with an open mind.

The New York State Supreme Court, February 3, 2012.

The widely accepted justification for licensing lawyers is that consumers don't have the knowledge to distinguish the competent from the incompetent until it is too late. But it has not always been thus. In the 19th century, the standards for admission to the bar in the United States were minimal – the norm was an oral exam, administered under the jurisdiction of a local court without any guidelines. Though he never went to law school, Abe Lincoln served as a bar examiner – and, you may remember, went on to dazzle in the courtroom.

The licensing of lawyers became more restrictive only when the American Bar Association, which was formed in 1878, began to participate in the process. The ABA's first inroad was its initiative to accredit law schools. In 1921, it adopted a statement of minimum standards of legal education and began publishing a list of schools that complied with those standards. The organization met considerable resistance from state legislators, though. As late as the mid-1950s, only about half of the states had enacted education requirements based on ABA standards.

In his signature tome, Capitalism and Freedom, Milton Friedman suggested that the other states had not gone along because many legislators were graduates of unaccredited law schools. Friedman predicted that as more were trained at accredited schools, the ABA standards would be more broadly accepted. His forecast has proved correct: today, all but a handful of states – the notable exception being California – require bar applicants to be graduates of ABA-accredited law schools. And every state except Wisconsin (which grants free passes to graduates of the state's two major law schools) then requires them to pass a bar exam.

State governments (and state appellate courts) have also gone along with the ABA's wish to prohibit businesses from selling legal services unless they are owned and managed by lawyers. And not surprisingly, the group's definition of the practice of law is expansive, including nearly every conceivable legal service, including the sale of simple standardform wills.

All this deserves a fresh look. In what follows, I draw on my 2011 book with Robert W. Crandall and Vikram Maheshri, First Thing We Do, Let's Deregulate All the Lawyers, which argues that licensing restrictions for the legal profession cannot be justified on cost-benefit grounds. We would be better off deregulating entry into the legal profession, thereby forcing lawyers to compete more intensely both with other lawyers and other providers of legal services.

In the marketplace we envision, lawyers would still be welcome to attend traditional three-year law schools and to acquire other credentials that signal their competence and quality. At the same time, though, individuals ought to be able to learn what they need to practice law from less expensive and less time-consuming sources. Allowing the lawyers' trade association to enjoy a monopoly on law school accreditation and forcing lawyers to pass licensing exams generates huge costs, direct and indirect, yet adds little protection against unscrupulous and incompetent providers of legal services.

The market for lawyers

Approximately one million lawyers are currently working in U.S. law firms, government offices and the legal departments of private corporations. This figure may confirm the conventional view that the nation has too many lawyers. But licensing requirements have, in fact, constrained the supply.

As noted, a would-be lawyer must run the gantlet of completing a degree at an accredited law school and passing a state bar examination. (The ABA has yet to consider online law schools and foreign law schools for accreditation.) Since law school applicants are generally required to take the Law School Admissions Test, the numbers who take the test represent a lower bound on the number of people in the United States interested in entering the legal profession.

According to data from the Law School Admission Council (the nonprofit group that administers the LSAT), roughly half of the 800,000 applicants to law school during 1997- 2004 were not admitted anywhere. And since 95 percent of people who enroll in an ABAaccredited law school do eventually pass a state bar examination, the primary factor that limits the supply of lawyers in the United States is plainly the number of available spaces in these law schools. Note here, too, the supply distortion created by the reality that some of the most worthy applicants never attend because they are unwilling or unable to spend three years and as much as $150,000 on tuition and fees.

Yet, even as the supply of lawyers has been artificially constrained, the demand for legal services has experienced continual growth – thanks largely to government policies that compel businesses to retain legal counsel or that encourage them to engage in litigation.

Part of that growth in demand is linked to the promulgation and enforcement of government regulations encouraged by legal lobbies. For instance, attorneys from some 20 law firms met with commissioners from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to shape the new financial regulations in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. And the CFTC is just one of many agencies involved in fleshing out the rules for Dodd-Frank.

Legal lobbies, moreover, are ever vigilant in the pursuit of new regulatory territories to conquer: they managed to block measures in the health care reform law that would limit attorneys' fees or would impose caps on damages in medical malpractice cases. All told, the nation is spending some $200 billion annually on lawyers – a significant share of which reflects windfall profits or sheer waste.

Desperately seeking surplus

In our book, we offer estimates of the “earnings premiums” for lawyers – the portion of their income exceeding the opportunity cost of their services. The figures fluctuated a bit from year to year for the sample period (1975- 2004). But the premium has clearly increased with time; it hovered around 25 percent during the latter part of the 1970s but has risen to about 50 percent in more recent years.

In 2004, the total premium amounted to $64 billion – or an eye-popping $71,000 per practicing lawyer. We found lawyers at all income levels – not just the highest earners and not just those at the largest firms – were receiving substantial and growing premiums.

Now, this is an unusual market. On the one hand, increasing the supply of legal service providers ought to create competition that eliminates some of the surplus. On the other, adding lawyers to the rolls gives them more collective clout to influence public policy in ways that increase premiums. Indeed, our analysis suggests that, for the moment, the marginal lawyer has a positive effect on these earnings premiums.

The impact of licensing on lawyers' earnings is magnified by government policies that generate ever-growing demand for legal services by private firms and government agencies even as the supply of lawyers remains constrained. We found that (a) economic and social regulations, as measured by federal non-defense government agency employment, (b) the real costs of the tort system, and (c) the number of patent awards were all associated with increased lawyers' earnings premiums. In fact, all told, those factors accounted for most of the increase.

Of course, greater demand for lawyers, and higher expenditures on them, could be justified if regulatory, intellectual property and liability policies were actually raising social welfare. But the available evidence indicates that those policies do not have that effect.

Let them be free

The straightforward way to reduce the cost of restrictions on the market for legal services would be to deregulate entry, removing barriers that prevent individuals and/or firms from providing legal services without satisfying occupational licensing or other ABA regulatory requirements. State bar associations would still be free to certify that lawyers had passed competency exams, and the ABA (or any other association) would still be able to award seals of approval to law schools, leaving it to the free market to determine the value of such certification.

Along with driving down the price of legal services toward the cost of providing them, deregulation could be expected to accelerate the adoption of cost-cutting technologies as well as the introduction of new services. The potential benefits of new technologies can already be seen as clients have started to perform many tasks offered by lawyers. For example, large businesses now use sophisticated Web search technology as a substitute for manual document search and selection formerly performed by entry-level lawyers and paralegals in large law firms. Note, too, that new software is enabling many consumers to manage legal tasks with little or no input from legal professionals – and no harm to themselves or others.

Deregulation that reduced the range of tasks requiring the imprimatur of a certified professional would presumably stimulate the introduction of information technology that substituted for legal services altogether. For example, corporations could use IT to ensure that they complied with regulations and to help manage litigation decisions.

It is difficult to predict the change in structure induced by deregulation in any particular industry. But the historical record offers insights: new entrants challenge incumbent firms with both innovative ideas and efficient operating strategies, forcing the incumbents to adapt or perish.

In the case of the legal industry, solo practitioners and traditional law firms could expect new forms of competition from nonlawyers and untraditional service providers along the lines of LegalZoom, which sells do-it-yourself wills, leases and other standard documents online. And different corporate models could emerge to exploit economies of scale and scope – say, large “legal retail” suppliers, Wal- Marts for legal services. Moving up-market, more streamlined low-cost law firms, like Axiom, would compete for corporate clients. Such firms employ lawyers, but charge lower fees (especially for the services of novices) and operate with very low overhead.

Finally, new businesses could compete with incumbents by investing in lawyersaving technology and by packaging legal services with other business services. The potential for such competition is suggested by innovative firms like Novus Law and Clearspire, and by big companies that are increasingly supporting their in-house lawyers' use of sophisticated information technology.

The abundance of legal service suppliers would also generate demand for information about service quality. Because of resistance from lawyers themselves, strong competition has not yet developed in the market for this information. But that would certainly change in a deregulated market. In addition, legal clinics would help clients find legal practitioners who provide useful, low-cost services.

We estimate that the annual gain in “economic welfare,” the difference between consumers' benefits and lawyers' losses from eliminating inflated prices for legal services, would be at least $10 billion. This would also help to address the “justice gap” – the reality that some litigants cannot afford lawyers, yet do not qualify for legal aid or don't have lawyers assigned to them because of dwindling public budgets. Free entry would enhance the proposal by Stephen Schulhofer of NYU and David Friedman of Santa Clara University for a free market in criminal defense services, which would enable indigent defendants to choose their own legal representation. Surely, many of the currently unrepresented litigants would be better off even if they gained access only to uncredentialed legal advocates.

Deregulation would also spur innovations that reduced costs and resulted in new products. Because the pace and nature of innovation are unpredictable, it is difficult to quantify their prospective benefits. But I believe they could easily amount to billions of dollars.

Consider, too, another source of inefficiency in the regulated system that could be pared by deregulation. There is little doubt that some people who become attorneys would have chosen to work in other occupations – and possibly made greater contributions to society – if they were not attracted to law by the prospect of inflated salaries.

In all likelihood, lawyers' earnings premiums are shared with law school administrators and faculty members because the premiums enable law schools to raise tuition. Entry deregulation would be likely to reduce law school tuition at some institutions because the demand for traditional three-year law schools would fall as some students shifted to untraditional training.

The arrival of new forms of legal education would also be a constructive response to recent concerns that law schools are not adequately preparing students for actual practice, and would encourage traditional law schools to be more responsive to the interests of prospective students and employers. One would expect legal education to be streamlined, with some colleges offering undergraduate law degrees and some law schools offering one- or two-year courses for students seeking careers in less demanding specialties. At the other end of the spectrum, elite law schools would probably continue three-year programs that produced the highly trained lawyers required for complex litigation in areas ranging from corporate finance to intellectual property protection.

Après deregulation, a déluge of regret?

Most potential objections to deregulation are based on what economists somewhat euphemistically call “distributional” grounds – who wins and who loses. And even those objections probably overstate the downside because they overlook the reality that deregulation would create opportunities for profit as well as cutting salary premiums. Some lawyers could be more productive and innovative if they worked more closely with nonlawyers and corporations, and some law firms could be more profitable if they were managed by nonlawyers and were allowed to raise outside capital.

Recent law school graduates and current law students would presumably object that deregulation would allow new legal service providers to enter the profession at a time that many newly credentialed lawyers are unemployed. Surely, though, legal regulation can't be justified as a make-work program. As Roger Noll of Stanford quipped in a Washington Post article, the government might just as well outlaw tractors to create more jobs for people working in the fields.

In any case, deregulation would cause demand for legal practitioners to increase and lead to more jobs because the price of legal services would fall. In the short run, established law schools would still try to fill their seats. So the shift in demand for alternative sources of legal training would lower tuition at traditional law schools, and the number of students attending those schools and gaining employment would remain relatively constant. In the long run, established law schools would contract or possibly develop strategies to expand into new programs that made their graduates more employable.

But there are other efficiencyoriented issues here. One reasonable fear is that, without the licensing of lawyers, incidents of incompetence and/or dishonesty would rise.

That fear is based on the assumption that current regulations raise the quality of practitioners. But the American Bar Association's own Survey on Lawyer Discipline Systems reported that, in 2009, some 125,000 complaints were logged by state disciplinary agencies – one complaint for every eight lawyers practicing in the United States. Note that this figure is a lower bound on client dissatisfaction because it includes only those individuals who took the time to file a complaint.

Although many of those complaints were dismissed, their volume suggests that clients are far from satisfied with the quality of service they are now receiving from the legal profession. Indeed, Deborah Rhode, director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession, concluded in her book, Access to Justice, that, on balance, the ABA and state bar associations have done little to discipline lawyers' conduct or improve the quality of legal service.

Client dissatisfaction may increase or decrease in a deregulated environment; there's no way to know with certainty. But it is worth remembering that deregulation would increase access to information about lawyers' quality. Today, lawyers are judged by reputation and licensing requirements – customers do not enjoy the benefits of warranties, industry-sponsored voluntary disclosure, third-party disclosure or even government-mandated disclosure. The American Bar Association has vigorously opposed third-party ratings of law schools, lawyers and law firms. In addition, several states have resisted the initiatives of a leading legalinformation provider, Avvo, threatening lawsuits and not cooperating with Avvo's requests for information about attorneys' licensing and disciplinary records.

With deregulation, occupational licensing would no longer create a false sense of security about a lawyer's quality, and buyers of legal services would be much more inclined to shop around. Legal service providers, especially non-lawyers and firms that employ them, would respond to customers' wishes by providing extensive and credible information about their capabilities and performance – and perhaps by offering warranties. Thirdparty evaluations of legal practitioners by private firms like Avvo and by law clinics would also drive information disclosure. Finally, all legal practitioners would be subject to general business laws against dishonest practices.

Doubts about whether markets are up to the challenge have been raised in previous debates about regulatory reform. Critics of proposals to deregulate the airline and trucking industries argued that carriers would skimp on maintenance to increase profits, thereby compromising safety. In fact, safety has improved in both industries since deregulation, in part because carriers are no longer protected from competition and can ill afford to have their reputations damaged by accidents.

From here to there

The reality that deregulation of the market for legal services is socially desirable does not, of course, make it more palatable to the potential losers. And any fundamental change in regulatory policy would have to go through state legislatures or courts, whose sentiments are likely to be aligned with incumbents. But the deregulation of other industries suggests that experimentation offers a possible end run around the opposition.

Airline deregulation was spurred by its success in California and Texas – two states large enough to support regional carriers and intrastate routes. One state – perhaps Arizona, whose legislature has declined to re-enact its unauthorized practice statute, or California, whose bar indicated it would not initiate actions under its statute – may realize benefits that build support elsewhere. And perhaps England's and Australia's recent efforts to liberalize regulation of their legal services will attract attention here.

No matter how much it is justified, deregulating legal services in a nation whose politics and policy are largely dominated by lawyers seems unlikely on its face. But there were similar grounds for pessimism before the economic regulation of airlines, trucking, railroads and natural gas eroded and finally crumbled in the 1970s and 1980s. It really could happen here, too.

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Is a Facebook Like Protected Under the First Amendment? A Court Says No | View Clip
04/30/2012
TheAtlantic.com

A hint at how First Amendment considerations will change as Americans express themselves, increasingly, online

Shutterstock/Ivelin Radkov

In 2009, Bobby Bland, David Dixon, Robert McCoy, John Sandhofer, and Debra Woodward were employed in the Hampton, Virginia Sheriff's office under B.J. Roberts. In November of that year, Roberts ran for re-election, and Bland and his colleagues, among other moves of subtle insubordination, took to their Facebook accounts to like the campaign of their friend, and Roberts' opponent, Jim Adams. Roberts -- having seen those likes -- ended up winning the election. He then chose not to retain Bland and the others as employees. Roberts attributed the dismissals both to budgeting needs and to the employees' hindrance of "the harmony and efficiency of the office."

Bland and his fellow ex-employees thought differently, though. They took Roberts to court, arguing that he had violated their First Amendment rights.

Last week, the U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia rendered its verdict, granting Roberts' motion for summary judgment. In its opinion, signed by Judge Raymond Jackson, the Court made a notable distinction: between the kind of speech represented by status updates on Facebook and the "speech" represented by a simple click of a like button. Considering 2011's Gresham v. City of Atlanta and Mattingly v. Millingan -- both cases that pivoted around the Constitutional protections afforded to Facebook posts -- the Bland v. Roberts opinion noted:

These illustrative cases differ markedly from the case at hand in one crucial way: Both Gresham and Mottingly involved actual statements. No such statements exist in this case. Simply liking a Facebook page is insufficient. It is not the kind of substantive statement that has previously warranted constitutional protection. The Court will not attempt to infer the actual content of Carter's posts from one click of a button on Adams' Facebook page. For the Court to assume that the Plaintiffs made some specific statement without evidence of such statements is improper. Facebook posts can be considered matters of public concern; however, the Court does not believe Plaintiffs Carter and McCoy have alleged sufficient speech to garner First Amendment protection.

This is a strange ruling, particularly because a Facebook like, as simplistic as it is, is nothing if not a "substantive statement." Yes, it's heavily mediated and standardized -- it says, "I like this thing right here," and nothing else -- but that doesn't preclude it from being, in the legal sense, speech. I am not a lawyer, and all, but the First Amendment -- purposely broad, explicitly hazy -- has never been about the particular vehicles that facilitate expression. So while the like button may well be a facile and blunt instrument of self-expression -- and while, hey, it may well encourage a kind of intellectual/emotional/spiritual laziness -- none of that matters. Freedom of speech isn't about the speech that should be protected; it's about the fact that speech should be protected. Full stop. Nor is it about "speech," per se: It's also about demonstration and protest and assembly and worship and other activities that, silently but powerfully, bring a public face to a private emotion.

So, as the Santa Clara Law professor Eric Goldman points out, Bland v. Roberts is ripe for appeal. And here's hoping that the plaintiffs go for it. Because, as silly as a like button may seem, the legal issues at play here are, actually, important -- and deserving of argumentation and consideration and hashing out. While it seems clear, as a blanket thing, that a Facebook like is speech ... what kind of speech, actually, is it? Should courts follow First Amendment legal precedent and distinguish between likes that are explicitly commercial in their intent -- a like of the Coke brand, say, or of The Atlantic -- and those that are more generalized? (Indeed, is it possible for a like ever to be fully non-commercial on a platform like Facebook?) Does a like of The New York Times, or of NPR, or of The National Review, count as political speech? If so, how? Given that a like is ultimately an expression of affinity with fellow Facebook users, would it be more accurate to think about a click of its button in terms of broader First Amendment guarantees like association, organization, and assembly?

What Bland v. Roberts hints at, in its small way, is something that I think will become a theme in First Amendment law in the years to come: the blurring of lines between forms of protected expression. It used to be that we could distinguish -- messily and awkwardly, but fairly systematically -- among various categories of expression both self- and civic. We could talk about speech and assembly and petition and press as separate, but crucially related, forms of that expression. Increasingly, though -- as our digital social lives become more and more normalized -- those divisions are blurring. Online, increasingly, speech is assembly ... and vice versa. Online, increasingly, commercial expression is political expression ... and vice versa. Online, increasingly, the distinctions between expression and action, between political endorsement and commercial, blur together. The lines cross. The categories collapse. As digital platforms give us new ways to communicate and come together -- as they change the dynamic between the individual and the collective, between the private and the public -- they will also, inevitably, change the way we think about expression itself. In the courts, and in the culture at large.

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technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University school block
04/30/2012
KCBS-AM (Radio)

at an earlier and did not ought out what you want or what what what what what you're a lot yet you and the defendant is the third messenger . the Lulu Cloutier news shows temperatures and not as warm as we saw the weekend of mid- sixties to mid seventies to traffic and weather together every ten minutes on all new seven forty and FM one oh six nine K CBS and around and around the world around-the-clock news seven forty five FM one oh six nine yes Friday morning April thirtieth twenty twelve coming appointees CBS wanted you that an escaped disincentive question suddenly the center US China relations to one of smart meter . you sure know by tomorrow morning on September nine Susan retailer seven thirty one fifty of his update on Dave Barrett Chinese dissidents seeking protection he will be inside the US Embassy in Beijing blind activist Chen Kuan Chang had opposed forced abortions in China more from CBS's Celia Hatton after a daring escape that dodged dozens of guards can release to Internet video editing Chinese Premier Wen how to protect his family for fear for on land the free Library is seeking and starting my wife mother and children . regards little - officials from this country in China have annual meeting set for this week correspondent Norah O'Donnell may administration is trying to contain this growing diplomatic crisis that I wanted to have a negative impact on US Chinese relations there are some options probably Taylor wanted the chance I could stay in China and his thinking guaranteeing for himself and for his family the second year that he could go into exile CBS news update on Dave that she CBS news time seven thirty two stand closing arguments in the trial over Oracle's copyright lawsuit against Google could take place in a San Francisco courtroom today the case is over Google's and software for smartphones Oracle claims the android software violate its patents for more words when Lila McKay CBS news line by Tyler Ochoa is a professor at the high technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University school block specializing in copyright law professor John thank you for joining us this morning while at this point of course it's just an outsiders view but are you any closer to having an idea at how this case might turn out what's your opinion on how things have been going just in general out well I went out partying out at that Sun Microsystems look at where that Google had developed android using drama in using the API back in two thousand and seven well before Oracle purchased on of that testimony is pretty strong and very helpful to Google and Google situation is the server to use a essentially lifting code that belongs to work old which cornered son of their argument is Leavis was open source of if not all of it in your freezer will it backtrack their argument is that they have permission to do that from the people who develop that Outlook Sun Microsystems and that Oracle can change its mind after purchase it on after it , a world that that up with available for people to use standards rbc's a clash of titans these are good companies rigid egos involved out but the matters of law here are these important elsewhere in the world of high-tech well in the court will rule that the client application programming interfaces if the court would rule that those were copyrightable that could potentially be very important not only for Coleman to other software company but I think a point of being resolved on the issues regarding permission more than copyrightability you think the things now

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*Oracle v. Google
04/30/2012
KCBS-AM (740 AM)

Santa Clara University professor of copyright law Tyler Ochoa was interviewed on KCBS-AM concerning the Oracle v. Google copyright trial.

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Fatal choking brings to light other alleged victims, issues Leonard Johnson Jr. (left) is charged in the strangulation of Sarah Billingsley-Walker...
04/28/2012
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS - Sarah Billingsley-Walker was strangled, and two young women who did not know her - or each other - had the same reaction when they heard the details.

Fatal choking brings to light other alleged victims, issues Leonard Johnson Jr. (left) is charged in the strangulation of Sarah Billingsley-Walker (right).

"That could've been me."

They said that they, too, had been choked by Leonard Johnson Jr., 17, who is charged with first-degree murder in the killing of Billingsley-Walker in March. She was Vashon High School's homecoming queen and co-valedictorian.

Darius Conner, 17, said that Johnson attacked her at another school just two months before the murder. Another woman, 19, who said she was afraid and did not want her name published, said Johnson tried to choke her on a school bus about a year earlier.

Both filed reports with St. Louis police. Both said they never heard anything about their attacks again. Both knew that nothing had happened to Johnson as a result.

Now, the women wonder whether they could have saved Billingsley-Walker by pressing authorities to take their assaults more seriously.

Domestic violence experts say it was the judicial system - not the victims - that faltered when it failed to recognize the deadly significance of someone being choked.

A California prosecutor's study, they say, shows that choking victims are eight times more likely to be choked again - and seven times more likely to become a homicide victim.

The system, experts say, should have treated the women as if they had survived a shooting or stabbing.

It's a reality that Missouri already embraced, on paper. In 2000, it was among the first of now 32 states to declare choking a felony. Illinois has not.

These cases demonstrate that Missouri's hard-line law may be in need of added awareness, said Gael Strak, chief executive officer of the National Family Justice Center Alliance and former city attorney in San Diego.

"This was a preventable homicide," Strak complained. "Had the system taken the first case, even the second, seriously, you wouldn't have had a dead girl because he would have been held accountable and something would have been done."

Johnson himself reported to police in 2009 that his father had tried to strangle him. Not until three years later - after Johnson was charged with killing Billingsley-Walker - did police try to seek charges against the father.

EARLY WARNINGS

Billingsley-Walker's family believes she met Johnson during the three months they attended Vashon together, in late 2009.

Johnson declined to be interviewed for this story, as did his attorney. But police reports, court documents and school records show he had a violent home life, bounced between schools and ran away at times. His mother told police he was bipolar.

On New Year's Eve 2009, Johnson, then 14, told police that his father, Leonard Johnson Sr., had tried to strangle him during an argument. Reports say police tried to arrest Johnson Sr. at his job, "which was to no avail."

There appeared to be no continuing attempt to arrest Johnson Sr., who according to a police report had been contacted by authorities about 20 days later, after his son tussled with Vashon safety officers.

Johnson Jr. was moved to an alternative school and enrolled in the fall of 2010 at Sumner High School. That's where he met the first girl who claimed he choked her. They rode the same school bus and had music class together.

"He thought he was my boyfriend," she said.

She didn't.

On March 8, 2011, Johnson allegedly confronted her on the bus after seeing her hug another boy. She said he grabbed her by her neck, choked her and stomped on her glasses, according to the police report.

She said she was choked three times before the driver stopped and Johnson fled through an emergency exit.

Her mother pushed her to file a police report, which she did the next day; two witnesses corroborated her account. That March 15, police arrested Johnson, but released him.

The victim said she didn't know what had become of the case. She said she was too scared to testify against him - a decision she now regrets. The only available information from the juvenile court is that he was not convicted in the incident.

After that, Johnson enrolled at another alternative school, Fresh Start South, and met Conner.

She said she had heard about the bus incident but wondered if it was true because he seemed to suffer no consequences. They exchanged numbers in November.

After she told him she was too young for a serious relationship, she said, he confronted her about it under some stairs in the school basement. It was Jan. 24. Again, she refused to commit. She said his jaw clenched before he put her in a choke hold. Everything around her started to turn black.

"No, I'm not going to let this guy do this to me downstairs where there are no classes and no cameras," she said she thought.

She kicked him. He loosened his grip enough for her to scream. He snatched her cellphone and ran, according to the police report.

Conner ran after him and flagged down a passing police officer. Johnson ran from the officer, who reported him as wanted.

Conner said Johnson had urged her to drop the complaint, so he could go to school without being arrested. "He kept saying, 'I ain't never gonna get caught,' so I was like, 'We'll see what happens,'" she recalled.

About seven weeks later, Conner saw news reports about a teenage girl found dead. She recognized the address in the 3700 block of North 21st Street as Johnson's.

"I knew exactly how he killed her," she said.

KILLINGS WITH SUBTLE CLUES

Alice Burns called police about 9:40 p.m. March 12 after finding Billingsley-Walker, 18, lifeless in her son's bed. With no outward sign of trauma, the death was initially declared suspicious. An autopsy later showed strangulation.

A lack of apparent injury in some choking cases is just one hurdle in building a case, said Strak, a former domestic violence prosecutor for the San Diego city attorney. "You can strangle someone to death without leaving a mark," Strak said. "That's the main reason why you've got to have training, so officers know what to look for."

When Johnson Jr. had reported the attack by his father, officers photographed the teen and noted red marks on his throat. They also looked for telltale broken blood vessels in his eyes.

After the school bus attack, the investigating officer noted no visible injuries and the victim refused treatment.

In the Conner case, an officer took note of a minor scratch on her neck. She refused medical treatment but said her throat hurt for about a week. That officer obtained a written statement from Conner, referred her to the nonprofit Domestic Violence Intervention Partnership and listed Johnson as wanted for second-degree assault - a felony.

He searched for Johnson, but didn't find him.

Johnson was never arrested in that incident.

The circuit attorney's office was not consulted.

In Johnson's own complaint against his father, it was three years before police proposed formal charges. Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce's office refused to file them April 13, and would not discuss why.

But in an interview last week, Joyce said her office recognized the special significance of choking cases and didn't know why police did not forward the earlier ones involving Johnson Sr. and Johnson Jr. to her.

"The police department has a commitment to the issue of domestic violence, but I want to figure out why this happened and prevent it from happening in the future," Joyce said.

Had such cases reached her office, they probably would have gone to Assistant Circuit Attorney Christine Krug.

She said between half and two thirds of domestic assault cases that came to her team involved choking, and about a third to half of them resulted in charges.

"We see choking cases more than any other assault," Krug noted. She said prosecutors sometimes issued charges within hours of an attack.

Joyce said that despite victims who were often uncooperative, good evidence could make a strong prosecution. "A lot of it is how the case is worked up by the police."

Inquires to the police department were referred to Lt. John Harper, commander of the Domestic Abuse Response Team, who said he could not discuss specific cases.

He noted that choking was covered in a four-hour academy class for recruits. It was among topics discussed in a four-hour refresher on domestic violence in the spring of 2009 and is currently a topic in a course about stalking.

St. Louis County police Sgt. Craig Kriska, whose unit reviews every domestic violence report in that jurisdiction, said his agency watched each for red flags. "If we see the magic word of 'choke' on there, you're done," he said. "We don't take it for granted; when we see the word 'choke,' it automatically escalates it for us."

CHOKING AS A WARNING

The murders of two teens by boyfriends in 1995 prompted the San Diego prosecutor's office to study its handling of 300 attempted strangulations, said Strak, then with the office.

The finding: The lack of physical evidence caused the criminal justice system to treat many cases as minor, when they were often precursors to murder.

"The conclusion was that we missed the boat, we did not know how lethal and dangerous choking was," she said. "We treated it as if someone had slapped them in the face. But we owned up to it."

Strak also oversees the federally funded National Strangulation Training Institute, which strives to spread the word to everyone who deals with domestic violence.

"Judges must be trained as well because they could be thinking, 'What's the big deal? You are getting way too carried away with this case,' when setting bail," Strak said.

Juvenile court judges often don't take teens' domestic violence complaints seriously enough, said Eugene Hyman, a retired judge who teaches about the subject at California's Santa Clara University. "The first problem is one of perception and that it's puppy love, so it's not treated as seriously," he said.

Police in St. Paul, Minn., with about 285,000 residents, credited a felony strangulation law passed in that state in 2005 with reducing domestic homicides. But a study by a nonprofit called WATCH found the law was inconsistently applied, with some crimes still charged as misdemeanors and others plea-bargained to lesser charges.

Strak urged use of domestic violence fatality review committees to look for problems and answers. "Any time a victim dies, every community should be reflecting on what happened and what went right and what went wrong," she said. "Because usually something went wrong when a victim dies, and there are clues all over the place."

Meanwhile, Johnson waits in jail, held in lieu of $850,000 cash-only bail pending trial. Billingsley-Walker's family waits too, and wonders whether Johnson choked others.

After he was charged, someone called the dead teen's sister, Lavonda Walker, to say the caller had been a victim too. "She said she wanted to testify against him," Walker recalled. "But I don't know if she ever told the police."

"This was a preventable homicide. Had the system taken the first case, even the second, seriously, you wouldn't have had a dead girl because he would have been held accountable and something would have been done."

- Gael Strak, chief executive officer of the National Family Justice Center Alliance and former city attorney in San Diego

Copyright © 2012 St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Convicted Modesto arson killer can appeal | View Clip
04/28/2012
Individual.com

Convicted Modesto arson killer can appeal

Rosalio Ahumada

FRESNO, Apr 28, 2012 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --

A federal magistrate judge has ruled that a Modesto landlord convicted of murder in the 1997 deaths of a mother and her two children should have a chance to appeal the jury's verdict.

George Souliotes, 71, is serving a life sentence at Salinas Valley State Prison in Soledad for the 2000 murder conviction in Stanislaus County Superior Court.

The jury determined Souliotes set fire to his northwest Modesto rental home on Jan. 15, 1997, killing 30-year-old mother Michelle Jones, her 6-year-old son Daniel Jr. and 3 1/2 -year-old daughter Amanda.

In court documents filed Thursday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Seng said Souliotes' attorneys and an attorney representing the state now agree that no one can determine whether the fire was intentionally set.

After re-examining the evidence with updated fire science, the attorneys also agree that chemical residue on Souliotes' shoes did not come from the same source of the flammable liquid found in the burned home.

"The evidence remaining after the scientific evidence was removed is so weak it is insufficient to support a finding of (Souliotes') guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," the federal judge said in his ruling.

What's left is the testimony of a witness that places Souliotes near the home shortly before the fire started.

Seng concluded that no reasonable juror would find that the witness's identification of Souliotes or his vehicle near the home could support finding the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

"The whole case (against Souliotes) is gutted," said Linda Starr, legal director of the Santa Clara University-based Northern California Innocence Project. A team from the organization has worked with Souliotes in his attempts to get a new trial.

Prosecutors from the Stanislaus County district attorney's office declined to comment about the federal judge's decision, saying they had not read the ruling and were too busy with other matters Friday.

Starr said she has spoken with Souliotes' sister, who has worked to prove her brother's innocence. Starr said they received news of the court's latest ruling with "cautious" elation, knowing there are hurdles ahead.

Attorneys have 14 days after the ruling to file an objection with the federal court. The attorneys then have 14 days to file a response to objections. It will then be up to the U.S. district judge to decide whether to accept the magistrate judge's ruling, but there is no timeline for that decision.

Starr said she does not expect the case to languish, because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th District has ordered the case to proceed "in an expedited manner."

If the magistrate judge's ruling is upheld, the U.S. district judge could decide to reverse the Stanislaus County jury's verdict. If there were a new trial, it would be in Stanislaus County.

Two trials were held

Souliotes' first trial ended in a mistrial with the jury deadlocked 11-1 for conviction. The second trial ended with 12 jurors convinced Souliotes was responsible.

In the second trial, Souliotes' defense attorneys decided not to call witnesses and relied on the theory that the prosecution failed to prove its case. But the prosecution convinced the jury that Souliotes, who was having financial troubles and trying to evict the home's tenants, had motives to start the fire.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris prosecuted the case. During the second trial, Harris told the jury Souliotes needed to sell the home quickly and stood to gain more cash -- nearly $93,000 -- if the home were destroyed by fire rather than sold.

The federal judge disagreed with the prosecution's theory, ruling that the circumstantial evidence against Souliotes was flawed and provided little support for a guilty verdict.

"The evidence shows he was relatively comfortable financially," Seng said. "He apparently would not have benefitted financially from destroying the house and collecting on his insurance policy. He would have done better selling the house on the open market."

He said Souliotes had a prospective buyer lined up and there appeared to be no financial rationale for destroying the home.

The judge also said Souliotes already had spent time and money to evict the tenants and had once voluntarily delayed the eviction to avoid disrupting the tenants' holidays.

The state had argued that eviction delays had "produced a man so upset with being a landlord that he was willing to, and did, destroy his own property and murder his tenants, two of whom were young innocent children. Clearly, it made no sense to do either," the judge said in his ruling.

Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at rahumada@modbee.com or (209) 578-2394.

___ (c)2012 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto,

Calif.) at www.modbee.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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Maurice Possley. | View Clip
04/27/2012
Salon.com

Hundreds of cases of prosecutorial misconduct have been found in recent studies. But few lawyers are disciplined

By Maurice Possley, The Crime Report

(Credit: BortN66 via Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on The Crime Report, the nation's largest criminal justice news source.

A coalition of innocence projects, legal experts and wrongly convicted defendants announced on Thursday that a study of prosecutorial misconduct in Arizona from 2004 through 2008 found that prosecutors committed error in 20 cases.

The coalition — which includes the Innocence Project of New York, along with Veritas Initiative, a policy and research arm of the Northern California Innocence Project, as well as Innocence Project New Orleansand Voices of Innocence — convened in Arizona on Thursday night in the latest stop in a national tour aimed at exposing prosecutorial misconduct and initiating reform.

In 15 of the cases, the finding of error was deemed “harmless” and the convictions were upheld. In five of the cases, the errors were ruled to be “harmful” and the convictions were reversed.

During that same time period, three prosecutors were publicly disciplined by the State Bar of Arizona, but none of the prosecutors in the 20 cases found by Veritas were subject to any discipline.

One of those three prosecutors  disciplined was Kenneth Peasley — once considered the most feared prosecutor in Pima County, Ariz., where he won  conviction after conviction, some of which sent defendants to death row.

Peasley was disbarred in 2004 for knowingly allowing a detective to testify falsely in two capital murder trials — improper behavior that led to the release of a man from death row.

Eight years later, Peasley's legacy as an unethical prosecutor continues to grow, even though he died in 2011.

“Vindictive Prosecution”

In September 2011, a federal judge set aside the 1997 murder conviction of Khalil Rushdan, ruling the conviction was the product of a “vindictive prosecution” engineered by Peasley.

Even though prosecutorial misconduct in state and federal courts has been the focus of studies and more vigorous reporting by the media in the past two years, Rushdan's case is yet another that has flown under the radar of the public eye.

The case began on Nov. 11, 1993, with the discovery of the body of Francisco Soto in the trunk of his car in Yuma, Ariz.

Police began investigating but had no leads until July 1994, when Yuma police detective Cesar Fazz tracked down Rushdan in Moreno Valley, Calif., believing he might know something about the murder.

Rushdan, who was then known as Leslie Leroy Rush, told Fazz that he had been the middleman in a narcotics transaction in Tucson on Nov. 9, 1993, in which Soto was to sell cocaine to Dennis Sanford.

Rushdan told Fazz that after he introduced Sanford to Soto, he left to purchase baggies and baking soda. When he returned, he found Sanford and his companions carrying Soto's body out of the apartment in a blanket.

Rushdan said he left when Sanford pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him if he said anything about the murder.

He gave a recorded statement to Fazz and cooperated in the investigation of the murder, taking and passing a polygraph exam. He gave his gun to police for ballistics testing, which showed it was not the murder weapon.

As a result, Sanford was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Rushdan testified at Sanford's preliminary examination, and Sanford went to trial. Although Rushdan repeatedly told authorities that he feared for his life because of numerous death threats against him and his family, he received no protection and ultimately moved away from his home in California.

When Sanford went to trial, Rushdan could not be located and so his preliminary hearing testimony was introduced to the jury.

In the process of persuading the judge to allow the prosecution to introduce Rushdan's preliminary hearing testimony in Sanford's trial, Peasley repeatedly told the court and defense counsel that Rushdan had received no deal whatsoever in exchange for his testimony.

The testimony was not enough and Sanford was acquitted.

Fourteen months later, Peasley charged Rushdan with murder. Rushdan was convicted, largely on the basis of his testimony at the preliminary hearing and his statements to Fazz in California.

Again, in response to efforts to suppress Rushdan's preliminary hearing testimony in Sanford's case from being introduced against him at his own trial, Peasley took the position that Rushdan had never had any sort of a deal with the prosecution.

On April 21, 1997, Rushdan was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years.

In 2001, attorneys Gregory Kuykendall and then-law student Amy Armstrong, working pro bono as part of the Arizona Justice Project, a volunteer organization dedicated to working on cases of wrongful conviction, began working on Rushdan's case, first (unsuccessfully) in the Arizona state courts.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

In 2005, they went to federal court, where they filed a writ of habeas corpus, contending that Rushdan was the victim of a vindictive prosecution by Peasley.

They argued that Fazz had given “explicit and implied” assurances to Rushdan that he and his family would be protected from retaliation and that he would not be prosecuted.

On Sept. 21, 2011, 10 years after Kuykendall and Armstrong — by then an attorney — started their research, U.S. District Judge Frank Zapata granted the writ and ordered Rushdan to be retried or released. The ruling came two weeks after Peasley died.

Peasley, the court found, wanted Rushdan as a witness but did not want to grant him immunity or any kind of deal for his testimony because he would have been required to disclose that information to Sanford's defense attorney.

Peasley testified during the habeas proceedings that he had an “understanding” with Rushdan that “as long as he cooperated and came to the preliminary hearing, which he did, and came to trial, which he didn't, that he was going to be a witness and go home.

“If he failed to cooperate, didn't show up at the preliminary hearing or didn't show up at trial, then bad things were going to happen to him.”

Zapata found that “in Peasley's mind,” he had an agreement with Rushdan, but that it was not written.

“By gaming the situation as he admittedly did, Peasley positioned himself to get what he needed without giving up anything,” Zapata ruled. “Peasley … did not want to lose the tactical advantage of not having a written agreement.”

At Rushdan's trial, Peasley countered defense claims that there had been an agreement not to prosecute him by telling the jury in closing arguments, “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there was any kind of an agreement that was ever made in this case.”

Zapata ruled, “Here, by playing fast-and-loose with the truth and a man's constitutional rights, Peasley lost his star witness and Sanford walked out of court a free man.”

He found that the only “plausible explanation” for charging Rushdan with the murder — even though he was not the gunman, but only a middleman in a drug deal that went bad — was because he was “seeking vindication for Rushdan's decision not to testify against Sanford” at trial.

Peasley and Fazz “walked a fine line with Rushdan and the court system,” the judge ruled. “Their game involved the manipulation of people and the twisting of the truth.”

After the judge ruled, Pima County prosecutors decided not appeal the judge's order, and Rushdan was freed a few days before Christmas last year.

“One of the most striking things was the profound conviction that Peasley and his compatriots at the Pima County Attorney's Office maintained that Peasley had done nothing wrong, even after being confronted with uncontested and uncontestable evidence of what he had done,” Kuykendall said in an interview.

“At the hearing in federal court, no legal wizardry took place — Peasley simply explained to the judge that it was his role to enforce his ‘understanding' with Rushdan, regardless of the obviousness to the rest of us – including the judge – of the multiple illegalities that had to occur for his secret deal to be enforced,” Kuykendall said.

Among those at the prosecutorial misconduct conference on Thursday night in Phoenix  was John Thompson, whose case, Connick v. Thompson, was the inspiration for the national tour.

Thompson was wrongfully convicted of murder in New Orleans and sent to death row. He spent 18 years in prison, coming within two weeks of execution, before evidence was discovered that proved his innocence.

That evidence had been suppressed by prosecutors. After Thompson was exonerated, he sued the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office and won a $14 million judgment. But in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a controversial split decision, set the judgment aside, saying the prosecution was immune from damages.

“Prosecutors have tremendous power over our lives,” said Larry Hammond, one of the moderators of the event and founder of the Arizona Justice Project.

“While the vast majority do an admirable job under difficult circumstances, some commit intentional misconduct that leads to grave injustices like in the case of Mr. Thompson,” he said.

“Now that the Supreme Court has made it extremely difficult to sue prosecutors civilly, we need to develop systems of accountability for dealing with those prosecutors who violate their legal and ethical obligations.”

The conference came just days after the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas and one of his former deputies and suspended another former deputy for six months.

On April 11, the court found that the former prosecutors had conspired with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to bring wrongful indictments against their political opponents, including judges, and conducted improper investigations from 2006 to 2010, when Thomas resigned as county attorney. An analysis by the Arizona Republic News estimates that the actions have cost taxpayers in the county more than $10 million.

91 Texas Cases

Earlier this month, Veritas and the innocence projects released the results of a similar study in Texas.

The Veritas Initiative uncovered judicial findings of prosecutorial misconduct in 91 Texas criminal cases between 2004 and 2008. Courts upheld the conviction in 72 of the cases, finding the conduct was “harmless.” In 19 cases, the court found the error “harmful” and reversed the conviction.

Similar to Arizona, no prosecutors in those cases were disciplined for their misconduct.

A study of criminal cases in the state of New York from 2004 to 2008 found that prosecutors committed error in 151 cases. The courts upheld the conviction in 114 of, finding the errors “harmless.”

In 35 cases, the court found the errors “harmful” and reversed the conviction. From 2004 until November 2011, only three prosecutors were disciplined by New York grievance committees for misconduct — none of it for the misconduct found by the courts in the 151 cases.

Veritas also has released two reports in California identifying more than 800 court findings of prosecutor misconduct from 1997 through 2010.

Further research will be revealed later this year in Pennsylvania, California and Louisiana.

“The fact that it is so difficult to document the scope of the problem speaks volumes about the lack of accountability for prosecutors,” said Cookie Ridolfi, professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and executive cirector of the Northern California Innocence Project and the Veritas Initiative.

“We don't accept this lack of accountability and oversight for any other government entity where life and liberty are at stake, and there's no reason we should do so for prosecutors.”

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04/27/2012
Salon.com

Hundreds of cases of prosecutorial misconduct have been found in recent studies. But few lawyers are disciplined

By Maurice Possley, The Crime Report

(Credit: BortN66 via Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on The Crime Report, the nation's largest criminal justice news source.

A coalition of innocence projects, legal experts and wrongly convicted defendants announced on Thursday that a study of prosecutorial misconduct in Arizona from 2004 through 2008 found that prosecutors committed error in 20 cases.

The coalition — which includes the Innocence Project of New York, along with Veritas Initiative, a policy and research arm of the Northern California Innocence Project, as well as Innocence Project New Orleansand Voices of Innocence — convened in Arizona on Thursday night in the latest stop in a national tour aimed at exposing prosecutorial misconduct and initiating reform.

In 15 of the cases, the finding of error was deemed “harmless” and the convictions were upheld. In five of the cases, the errors were ruled to be “harmful” and the convictions were reversed.

During that same time period, three prosecutors were publicly disciplined by the State Bar of Arizona, but none of the prosecutors in the 20 cases found by Veritas were subject to any discipline.

One of those three prosecutors  disciplined was Kenneth Peasley — once considered the most feared prosecutor in Pima County, Ariz., where he won  conviction after conviction, some of which sent defendants to death row.

Peasley was disbarred in 2004 for knowingly allowing a detective to testify falsely in two capital murder trials — improper behavior that led to the release of a man from death row.

Eight years later, Peasley's legacy as an unethical prosecutor continues to grow, even though he died in 2011.

In September 2011, a federal judge set aside the 1997 murder conviction of Khalil Rushdan, ruling the conviction was the product of a “vindictive prosecution” engineered by Peasley.

Even though prosecutorial misconduct in state and federal courts has been the focus of studies and more vigorous reporting by the media in the past two years, Rushdan's case is yet another that has flown under the radar of the public eye.

The case began on Nov. 11, 1993, with the discovery of the body of Francisco Soto in the trunk of his car in Yuma, Ariz.

Police began investigating but had no leads until July 1994, when Yuma police detective Cesar Fazz tracked down Rushdan in Moreno Valley, Calif., believing he might know something about the murder.

Rushdan, who was then known as Leslie Leroy Rush, told Fazz that he had been the middleman in a narcotics transaction in Tucson on Nov. 9, 1993, in which Soto was to sell cocaine to Dennis Sanford.

Rushdan told Fazz that after he introduced Sanford to Soto, he left to purchase baggies and baking soda. When he returned, he found Sanford and his companions carrying Soto's body out of the apartment in a blanket.

Rushdan said he left when Sanford pointed a gun at him and threatened to kill him if he said anything about the murder.

He gave a recorded statement to Fazz and cooperated in the investigation of the murder, taking and passing a polygraph exam. He gave his gun to police for ballistics testing, which showed it was not the murder weapon.

As a result, Sanford was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.

Rushdan testified at Sanford's preliminary examination, and Sanford went to trial. Although Rushdan repeatedly told authorities that he feared for his life because of numerous death threats against him and his family, he received no protection and ultimately moved away from his home in California.

When Sanford went to trial, Rushdan could not be located and so his preliminary hearing testimony was introduced to the jury.

In the process of persuading the judge to allow the prosecution to introduce Rushdan's preliminary hearing testimony in Sanford's trial, Peasley repeatedly told the court and defense counsel that Rushdan had received no deal whatsoever in exchange for his testimony.

The testimony was not enough and Sanford was acquitted.

Fourteen months later, Peasley charged Rushdan with murder. Rushdan was convicted, largely on the basis of his testimony at the preliminary hearing and his statements to Fazz in California.

Again, in response to efforts to suppress Rushdan's preliminary hearing testimony in Sanford's case from being introduced against him at his own trial, Peasley took the position that Rushdan had never had any sort of a deal with the prosecution.

On April 21, 1997, Rushdan was sentenced to life in prison with possibility of parole after 25 years.

In 2001, attorneys Gregory Kuykendall and then-law student Amy Armstrong, working pro bono as part of the Arizona Justice Project, a volunteer organization dedicated to working on cases of wrongful conviction, began working on Rushdan's case, first (unsuccessfully) in the Arizona state courts.

In 2005, they went to federal court, where they filed a writ of habeas corpus, contending that Rushdan was the victim of a vindictive prosecution by Peasley.

They argued that Fazz had given “explicit and implied” assurances to Rushdan that he and his family would be protected from retaliation and that he would not be prosecuted.

On Sept. 21, 2011, 10 years after Kuykendall and Armstrong — by then an attorney — started their research, U.S. District Judge Frank Zapata granted the writ and ordered Rushdan to be retried or released. The ruling came two weeks after Peasley died.

Peasley, the court found, wanted Rushdan as a witness but did not want to grant him immunity or any kind of deal for his testimony because he would have been required to disclose that information to Sanford's defense attorney.

Peasley testified during the habeas proceedings that he had an “understanding” with Rushdan that “as long as he cooperated and came to the preliminary hearing, which he did, and came to trial, which he didn't, that he was going to be a witness and go home.

“If he failed to cooperate, didn't show up at the preliminary hearing or didn't show up at trial, then bad things were going to happen to him.”

Zapata found that “in Peasley's mind,” he had an agreement with Rushdan, but that it was not written.

“By gaming the situation as he admittedly did, Peasley positioned himself to get what he needed without giving up anything,” Zapata ruled. “Peasley … did not want to lose the tactical advantage of not having a written agreement.”

At Rushdan's trial, Peasley countered defense claims that there had been an agreement not to prosecute him by telling the jury in closing arguments, “There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that there was any kind of an agreement that was ever made in this case.”

Zapata ruled, “Here, by playing fast-and-loose with the truth and a man's constitutional rights, Peasley lost his star witness and Sanford walked out of court a free man.”

He found that the only “plausible explanation” for charging Rushdan with the murder — even though he was not the gunman, but only a middleman in a drug deal that went bad — was because he was “seeking vindication for Rushdan's decision not to testify against Sanford” at trial.

Peasley and Fazz “walked a fine line with Rushdan and the court system,” the judge ruled. “Their game involved the manipulation of people and the twisting of the truth.”

After the judge ruled, Pima County prosecutors decided not appeal the judge's order, and Rushdan was freed a few days before Christmas last year.

“One of the most striking things was the profound conviction that Peasley and his compatriots at the Pima County Attorney's Office maintained that Peasley had done nothing wrong, even after being confronted with uncontested and uncontestable evidence of what he had done,” Kuykendall said in an interview.

“At the hearing in federal court, no legal wizardry took place — Peasley simply explained to the judge that it was his role to enforce his ‘understanding' with Rushdan, regardless of the obviousness to the rest of us – including the judge – of the multiple illegalities that had to occur for his secret deal to be enforced,” Kuykendall said.

Among those at the prosecutorial misconduct conference on Thursday night in Phoenix  was John Thompson, whose case, Connick v. Thompson, was the inspiration for the national tour.

Thompson was wrongfully convicted of murder in New Orleans and sent to death row. He spent 18 years in prison, coming within two weeks of execution, before evidence was discovered that proved his innocence.

That evidence had been suppressed by prosecutors. After Thompson was exonerated, he sued the Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office and won a $14 million judgment. But in 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a controversial split decision, set the judgment aside, saying the prosecution was immune from damages.

“Prosecutors have tremendous power over our lives,” said Larry Hammond, one of the moderators of the event and founder of the Arizona Justice Project.

“While the vast majority do an admirable job under difficult circumstances, some commit intentional misconduct that leads to grave injustices like in the case of Mr. Thompson,” he said.

“Now that the Supreme Court has made it extremely difficult to sue prosecutors civilly, we need to develop systems of accountability for dealing with those prosecutors who violate their legal and ethical obligations.”

The conference came just days after the Arizona Supreme Court disbarred former Maricopa County attorney Andrew Thomas and one of his former deputies and suspended another former deputy for six months.

On April 11, the court found that the former prosecutors had conspired with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio to bring wrongful indictments against their political opponents, including judges, and conducted improper investigations from 2006 to 2010, when Thomas resigned as county attorney. An analysis by the Arizona Republic News estimates that the actions have cost taxpayers in the county more than $10 million.

Earlier this month, Veritas and the innocence projects released the results of a similar study in Texas.

The Veritas Initiative uncovered judicial findings of prosecutorial misconduct in 91 Texas criminal cases between 2004 and 2008. Courts upheld the conviction in 72 of the cases, finding the conduct was “harmless.” In 19 cases, the court found the error “harmful” and reversed the conviction.

Similar to Arizona, no prosecutors in those cases were disciplined for their misconduct.

A study of criminal cases in the state of New York from 2004 to 2008 found that prosecutors committed error in 151 cases. The courts upheld the conviction in 114 of, finding the errors “harmless.”

In 35 cases, the court found the errors “harmful” and reversed the conviction. From 2004 until November 2011, only three prosecutors were disciplined by New York grievance committees for misconduct — none of it for the misconduct found by the courts in the 151 cases.

Veritas also has released two reports in California identifying more than 800 court findings of prosecutor misconduct from 1997 through 2010.

Further research will be revealed later this year in Pennsylvania, California and Louisiana.

“The fact that it is so difficult to document the scope of the problem speaks volumes about the lack of accountability for prosecutors,” said Cookie Ridolfi, professor at Santa Clara University School of Law and executive cirector of the Northern California Innocence Project and the Veritas Initiative.

“We don't accept this lack of accountability and oversight for any other government entity where life and liberty are at stake, and there's no reason we should do so for prosecutors.”

Maurice Possley is a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist who formerly worked as an investigative researcher for the Northern California Innocence Project's Veritas Initiative. He welcomes comments from readers. More Maurice Possley.

Ballooning costs are making states rethink laws that would keep these criminals in civil detention for life

By Hannah Rappleye, The Crime Report

The 300-bed Virginia Center for Behavioral Rehabilitation in Burkeville, Va., Tuesday June 29, 2010. Virginia's program for indefinitely containing those considered sexually violent predators is facing a more than $26 million budget shortfall over the next two years (Credit: AP/Dena Potter)

This article originally appeared on The Crime Report, the nation's largest criminal justice news source.

In February, a Minnesota judicial panel ordered the release of 64-year-old Clarence Opheim, a convicted child molester who had served nearly 20 years in the Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peter.

Before being committed to St. Peter, Opheim had served a five-year prison sentence for molesting an 11-year-old boy. (He also has admitted to molesting nearly 30 other children.) He is currently the only sex offender to ever be successfully released from the state's Sex Offender Program.

The historic significance of the moment, however, was lost on many residents of Golden Valley, Minn.

Before Opheim's scheduled release in March, according to news reports, concerned residents of the town packed a community meeting hall to hear the terms of Opheim's release, meet his social worker, and express their fears of living alongside a convicted sex offender.

Although Opheim will live in a halfway house, be accompanied by a social worker in public at all times, be forced to consent to regular polygraph testing, and wear a GPS tracking device, residents were still uneasy.

“Why wasn't he left in the St. Peter community?” asked one. “I don't understand why he had to move.”

Others at the town hall meeting asked officials why it had been  decided to release an  accused predator into a community with so many children.

“We think it's time,” Assistant Hennepin County Attorney George Widseth answered. “Is there a way [that we] can take a dipstick and run it down his throat…for a certain measurement? No.”

But he didn't reveal the state's own uncertainties about whether to continue the kind of post-custodial oversight that is required to ensure that Opheim never molests a child again.

Minnesota is one of 20 states that have civil commitment programs, which allow for the indefinite detention of sexual offenders after their criminal sentences are completed.

In order for offenders to be held under the program, a court must determine whether they are sexually violent predators, incapable of controlling their impulses, and too dangerous to be allowed back into communities.

In 1997 the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks held that civil commitment programs are constitutional if the commitment is non-punitive.

Expansion of Programs

In the early 1990s, states with flush budgets began expanding their civil commitment programs to include sex offenders, as part of a tough-on-crime approach to high-profile, brutal sex crimes.

At the time, civil commitment once seemed the best solution to protect communities from released offenders who may once again commit brutal crimes.

Under what are usually called “Sexually Violent Predator” laws, prosecutors could file petitions to commit offenders if they believed those offenders were likely to re-commit.

Offenders are evaluated by court psychologists who must prove that they are unable to control their impulses.

Since there is no accepted or scientifically valid way to predict whether an offender will commit another crime, psychologists usually use an assessment tool called the Static 99 to evaluate risk, which rates sex offenders on standard criteria, including the sex of their victim(s) and number of crimes.

The Static 99 was created by psychologists R. Karl Hanson, Ph.D. and David Thorton, Ph.D.

Scores are then compared to recidivism rates of similar sex offenders. Once an offender is committed, the laws stipulate they must have access to treatment.

But ballooning costs and new court challenges are forcing state leaders to rethink.

States like Minnesota are finding that, while there's no easy way to “measure” whether a sex offender is ready to be reintegrated into a community, budget concerns and court challenges have made detaining them indeterminately no longer an option.

“At the beginning, there was a genuine thought that these were going to bonafide treatment programs,” said Eric Janus, Dean of the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul.

“The idea was that people might be committed for several years, and they'd work their  way through a real treatment program and a majority of them would be released. But it did not develop in that way.”

Facilities differ.

Washington, the first state to pass a civil commitment law, holds nearly 300 sex offenders on an island in Puget Sound. The offenders are “Level 3,” the most dangerous category of sexual predators.

The imposing facility is bordered by concertina wire, but residents are allowed to roam the inside of the facility relatively freely. They participate voluntarily in group therapy sessions.

Others are more state-of-the-art. A $388 million, 1,500-bed facility in Coalinga, California has stores, a library and a barbershop.

Both states, andmany others, are struggling withrunaway costs of the programs, totaling into the millions—especially at a time of budget restraints..

Offenders typically remain committed for years, sometimes decades. The number of offenders released differs from state to state—Wisconsin has released nearly 70 offenders, while Pennsylvania has released only one—but generally it is difficult to be released from commitment.

$180,000 a Year

On average, civil commitment programs cost taxpayers more than four timeswhat it costs to imprison someone for a year. The most expensive programs can cost up to $180,000 a year, per sex offender.

Lengthy civil commitment cases can cost states thousands, or millions, in legal expenses.

“Civil commitment is like a roach motel,” said Al O'Connor, an attorney with the New York State Defenders Association. “They go in, but they don't come out.”

New York State's program costs over $170,000 per year.

“Every year,” added O'Connor. “it becomes a greater and greater drain on the mental health budget.”

Toward the end of the 1990's state budgets began to tighten, but the civilly committed population continued to rise.

In Minnesota, according to Janus, “the buildings were filling up. The bureaucrats were coming to the legislators and saying, ‘We need millions to build more buildings. That was contradictory to the nation that these programs were stop gap measures.”

“They wound up this machine and they can't politically stop it,” O'Connor said of New York's law. “Once you have the law, you can't stop putting people in the facility, because God forbid, one gets out and they go and do something. It becomes a scandal.”

Political pressure, both in state legislatures and judicial districts, often makes it exceedingly difficult to release offenders.  It's a common aphorism that the only way to leave St. Peter's, and other civil commitment facilities across the country, is in a body bag.

In 2003, just as officials were crafting plans to begin releasing low-level offenders back into communities, a Minnesota sex offender named Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. abducted and murdered a 22-year-old North Dakota college student after he completed a 23-year sentence for attempted abduction.

After then-Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty pledged not to release any sex offenders, Minnesota's committed population exploded. Current attempts to reform Minnesota's program—and increase opportunities for release—havefallen short after a 2011 legislative audit pointed out it was becoming financially untenable.

“Almost all the legislation that exists now is based on the exception, rather than the rule,” said Dr. Fred Berlin, director of the Sexual Behavior Consultation Unit at Johns Hopkins. “It's legislation enacted when a horrible crime with lots of publicity occurs. It begs the question of whether we're really going to have the most effective public policy.”

“It's a radical concept,” Berlin added. “What we're basically saying is we're going to deprive someone of their liberty, based on a future crime we fear they're going to commit.”

Court Challenges

The slim likelihood of release from commitment has been the basis for many lawsuits against states' sexually violent predator laws.

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld state and federal sexually violent predator laws partly because the programs purport to treat sex offenders with the goal of releasing them back into the community.

However, the Supreme Court also ruled in Kansas v. Hendricks, that mental health treatment is “merely an ancillary, rather than an overriding, state concern,” and programs do not necessarily become punitive if they fail to offer adequate treatment.

But problems within the system go beyond a failure to provide mental health treatment. The Minnesota Security Hospital in St. Peters, from which Clarence Opheim was released, has recently been rocked by scandal. In late March, CEO David Proffitt was fired after reports of rampant mismanagement. The state's Office of the Legislative Auditor is now investigating the facility as well as the hiring practices of the Department of Human Services.

Meanwhile, the committed continue to challenge the laws.

Sex offenders have filed reams of pro se filings over the years. A handful have moved into higher courts, and some states have been ordered to improve conditions or treatment programs at their facilities.

Early this year, before judges approved the release of Clarence Opheim, a Minneapolis-based law firm took up two suits against Minnesota's program—including a class action suit on behalf of 14 plaintiffs currently housed in Minnesota's Moose Lake facility.

David Goodwin, part of the team that's litigating the case, said the plaintiffs allege they are not receiving adequate mental health treatment, and are being housed in a criminal facility without criminal protections of due process.

Goodwin said detainees at Moose Lake are subject to unannounced search and seizures and are locked in their cell-like rooms for ten hours a day.

“As a person off the street you walk in and think, my goodness, this is certainly a prison,” Goodwin said. “There's double razor wire, and cameras, and guards in every room. It'd be hard to argue that it's not a prison.”

Moose Lake did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

Minnesota officials' fear that the suits could successfully challenge its civil commitment law precipitated Opheim's release into Golden Valley.

Lawmakers in Minnesota and other states have suggested extending sentences for sex offenders.  Prison, where states don't have the burden of providing mental health treatment, costs less than civil commitment facilities.

“Many of these people do need treatment,” Berlin said. “If people say, let's just give them all tougher sentences, put them in prison and do nothing else, there's nothing in prison that will erase these attractions or successfully help them resist acting upon them.”

Berlin said he advocates for inclusion of outpatient treatment, and structured transition programs into communities, into civil commitment programs.

“We need a criminal justice component,” he added. “But we also need a public health component.”

“Political Space” Needed

Last January, William Mitchell held a symposium on Minnesota's civil commitment program. A number of key legislators and officials attended, Janus said, and agreed that “there needed to be political space to make changes both in the admissions side, as well as the discharge side.”

It was a positive step, Janus said, adding, “What political leaders have hoped for in the past is that they could take care of the problem by tweaking the criminal sentencing rules.”

“But even if you increase the length of sentences there will always be sex offenders getting out of prison,” he continued. “Inevitably, there's always the potential that someone will commit a recidivist crime. Prosecutors know that they could be held responsible for those crimes if they fail to use the available tools.”

Some states, however, have experienced successful release of sex offenders.

Arizona has released the most sex offenders out of any state, with 69 in provisional release and 81 fully discharged, as of 2006.

Daniel Montaldi, who served as the former director of Arizona's civil commitment facility until 2010, recalled that the state began  accepting residents into its facility, located on the grounds of the state hospital in South Phoenix, in 1999.

The facility was built to hold 300 people, said Montaldi, who now works in Florida's civil commitment program. “It was meant to be a mostly full confinement program, and people weren't meant to get out.”

Less Restrictive Alternative

But Arizona's sexually violent predator law allows for the committed to participate in a Less Restrictive Alternative, or LRA.

Around 2003, Montaldi said, “we took half of our administration building and made it a halfway house for offenders who had done really well in treatment. They could start off by having one outing a week, or month, where they could go out into the community with a staff member present.

“They would have GPS monitoring. Then you could progress gradually, where the guy could go out into the community by himself, and he could go to work, and our surveillance team would monitor him.”

Offenders who had progressed that far in the program would eventually be given a sponsor, be forced to submit to polygraph tests and physical surveillance.

“The advantage in Arizona was we could base our LRA program in the facility itself, but he would gradually pick up some freedoms, where the last step was living in the community after he'd already proven himself with the freedoms he already had,” said Montaldi.

“You didn't have this dilemma where, ‘I've either got to lock him up completely or have him living in a neighborhood.' ”

“The legislature,” he added, “also didn't pay a lot of attention to the program,” he added. “It was the idea that if you stay out of the newspapers and you don't have re-offenses or escapes, we're not going to interfere a lot. That gave us the room to innovate.”

But when the facility suffered an escape in 2010, officials were forced to rein in its LRA program.

“An extensively developed community reintegration program is a fragile flower,” Montaldi said. “It's very vulnerable, because suppose the guy is in the community and he escapes. You may catch him the next day, but if it makes the news, you're going to get a strong reaction.”

With the Arizona model, he said, “you're taking some risks that you wouldn't be taking if you just put them behind walls and left them there forever. But our view was [that,] eventually, these guys are going to get out.

“At some point, a federal judge could shut this all down. At some point, the whole thing could go away, and you'll have a whole lot of guys who have had no experience in the community, and suddenly, they're out there.”

“The other part of what's going to happen is that these guys are getting old,” Montaldi added, “You're going to have the problem of needing nursing homes for sex offenders.”

Hannah Rappleye is a freelance reporter based in Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared on MSNBC.com, The New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Mail & Guardian. She welcomes comments from readers. More Hannah Rappleye.

An inside look at how heroin is spreading from Philadelphia's inner city to the suburbs VIDEO

By Gregory Gilderman, The Crime Report

Laura in her car in Philadelphia (Credit: Jessica M. Kaufman)

This article originally appeared on The Crime Report, the nation's largest criminal justice news source.

It's a Friday night in West Philadelphia and a 27-year-old nursing student is explaining the finer points of moving black market Oxycontin.

Let's call her Laura.

We're sitting in her car, a late-model sedan, in the parking lot of a TGI Friday's. It's raining. There's a police car nearby, but the officer is presumably more concerned with potential drunk drivers than opiate trafficking.

Laura hands me a small bag. It's packed with 30-mg tablets of Roxicodone. She paid her supplier $17 per pill; back home, about 50 miles outside the city, she'll sell them for $25 to $30.

Oxycodone-based painkillers—Oxycontin, Percocet, Roxicodone—have been popular for years in Philadelphia's blue-collar suburbs, and Laura is happy to sell them.

But in recent months, demand has shifted. Addicts with pill habits they can't afford are asking Laura for heroin.

“I've heard a lot of people say weed is a gateway drug,” Laura tells me. “It's really not. The gateway drug to heroin is pills. Period.”

She starts the car.

“The stuff I'm getting is top-notch,” Laura says. “It's the best I've gotten in a long time.”

Shabby Motel

We pull out of the parking lot and head toward Roosevelt Boulevard, a four-lane highway that runs through the Northeast section of Philadelphia. Her dealer has a room at a shabby roadside motel at edge of the city. If all goes well, there will be a quick exchange in the parking lot.

Laura is afraid go inside a room.

“I just want to get my shit and get out,” she says. “No bullshit.”

Laura drives fast. Her cell phone erupts with calls and text messages every few minutes. Customers back home are impatient; her dealer is worried she won't find the motel; you can hear them all shouting at her.

No one seems concerned about police surveillance.

“I don't want to hear code,” Laura says. “I've had people who are paranoid who are, like, ‘I want five jars of jelly.' I'm like, no thank you.”

We stop at a convenience store. Laura walks in to use the ATM. She needs $250 to buy three bundles of heroin. It's a remarkably low price.

A bundle is 14 one-gram bags, and Philadelphia has some of the purest retail-level heroin in the country. With a bit of powdered calcium, she can turn those 42 high-purity bags into 84 medium-purity bags, and charge $15 to $20 each.

The markup is accepted because of the alternative. Without a connection, a buyer would have to venture into Philadelphia's notorious Badlands section and risk being arrested, robbed, or sold counterfeit product.

Laura has a reliable supplier, and she meets him once, sometimes twice, per day.

“I think we're almost there,” Laura says. We're back on Roosevelt Boulevard, about 45 minutes into our drive. A red neon MOTEL sign glows on the right. A sign beneath it advertises a HONEYMOON JACUZZI and a MIRRO WATERBED.

We decide the presence of a stranger may disrupt the deal, so Laura drops me off at the diner across street.

$250 Purchase

She's back in a few minutes. The deal went as planned: $250 handed to her dealer in the parking lot, a cigarette box containing the bundles tossed into the car. Some worries about the police but not many.

We look at the goods: three tightly wrapped sets of tiny envelopes, each stamped with a green Lacoste logo and a little alligator.

We park behind the diner. Laura places a playing card on her leg and pours out a bag of white powder. She inhales it quickly through a straw. She pours out another bag and inhales it. Then another.

The potential profit on those three bundles is $1,000. But Laura won't make anything near that. A year ago her drug of choice was Oxycontin; she's now using two bundles of heroin a day. Her main customer is herself.

“I'm from middle class suburbia,” she says on the ride back. “I never thought I'd be driving down Roosevelt Boulevard, coping dope on Friday night. It hits you in the face sometimes and you're like, ‘how the fuck did I get here?'”

The number of Americans who use prescription painkillers non-medically is over five million, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Even a small percentage of them transitioning to heroin would portend a serious public health problem.

Just outside Philadelphia, there's a perfect storm of factors making it a possibility.

Oxycontin is no longer cheap and easy to find. One 80-milligram pill is $80.

Mexican drug trafficking organizations are adding to the area's supply of heroin, which has driven down the price. In the counties surrounding the city, there's a concentration of opiate pill addicts. Heroin is phamacologically similar to oxycodone – users of both describe the same high, how the craving for one can be satisfied by the other.

I ask Laura how she reconciles it all: the driving in and out of the city; the chance of getting caught, assaulted, or overdosing; the possibility of harming other people. She's a nursing student and has to know there are, at the very least, treatment options for getting heroin out her life altogether.

“Honestly, I just don't want to go to rehab,” she says. “For that stuff to work, you have to want it. And not to sound arrogant, but I don't want to get clean.”

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*California opposing Arizona immigration law
04/27/2012
Los Angeles Daily Journal

California entities argue Arizona law will hurt police efforts in the
community

WASHINGTON - While a handful of states passed measures similar to the
hard-hitting Arizona immigration law the U.S. Supreme Court will consider
Wednesday, California state and municipal governments lined up behind the
Obama administration's legal campaign to block it.

Arizona's law cracking down on immigration will be the focus of the court's
final argument in a term defined by politically charged cases pitting
states' rights against federal authority.

California is home to the largest illegal immigrant population in the
nation, accounting for approximately a quarter of the estimated 11 million
immigrants in the country without documentation. The Golden State was once a
vanguard for state-level immigration enforcement, but its opposition to
Arizona's law - which among other things would require noncitizens to carry
papers showing they're in the country legally - highlights how much the
politics of immigration has changed over the past two decades.

"California was the Arizona of the 1990s," said Pratheepan Gulasekaram, an
immigration law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law. He
pointed to the now-defunct Proposition 187, an initiative passed by
California voters in 1994 that created a state screening process to prevent
undocumented immigrants from using social services.

Starting in the early 2000s, immigration evolved into a politically
polarized wedge issue, Gulasekaram said. He and Karthick Ramakrishnan, a UC
Riverside political scientist, recently analyzed the passage of state-level
immigration laws and found that partisanship drove the passage of the
measures.

While Arizona, Alabama and other Republican-heavy states enacted tough
immigration enforcement laws, California's Democrat-controlled Legislature
went in the other direction. For example, it approved a statute barring city
ordinances that require landlords to verify the immigration status of
tenants.

Consistent with that pro-immigrant posture, California governments have
emerged as vocal opponents of Arizona's immigration law.

In advance of the Supreme Court argument, California Attorney General Kamala
D. Harris joined officials from 10 other "blue" states to argue Arizona's
law will redirect undocumented immigrants outside its borders even as it
monopolizes federal resources to deal with those inside the state.

The county counsel's office for Santa Clara County authored an amicus brief
blasting the law. Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland are among the 10
California cities and counties to sign on to the high court filing.

"Laws like Arizona's undermine the ability of local law enforcement to
develop relationships of trust with local immigrant communities," said Greta
S. Hansen, lead deputy county counsel in Santa Clara. "They need victims and
potential witnesses to feel comfortable contacting local authorities."

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and five other current and former law
enforcement officials in the state joined a brief echoing those worries
about state immigration laws disrupting local policing efforts.

The Supreme Court will focus on four of the law's most contentions
provisions. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge's
decision stopping those sections from taking effect. Arizona appealed that
ruling. Arizona v. U.S., 11-182.

Two of the provisions deal with the duties and powers of state and local law
enforcement. One requires police to verify the immigration status of anybody
arrested, stopped or detained. The other authorizes officers to arrest
without a warrant anyone they suspect committed a deportable offense.

The second pair of provisions creates new state crimes. The first makes it a
crime for undocumented immigrants to seek work, while the second outlaws
immigrants from being in the United States illegally, requiring noncitizens
to carry registration papers showing they're lawfully in the country.

The case presents the justices with two competing views on the proper
balance between state and federal authority to police immigration.
Wednesday's oral argument will feature a rematch between Solicitor General
Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Paul D. Clement of Bancroft PLLC, who squared off
last month in the historic health care case.

Arguing for Arizona, Clement asserts that the state's immigration law is
consistent with the U.S. system of cooperative federalism, in which states
help to carry out federal objectives.

"Arizona officials have inherent authority to enforce federal law, and such
cooperative law enforcement is the norm, not something that requires
affirmative congressional authorization," Clement wrote in the state's
brief.

But the Obama administration doesn't want Arizona's assistance. Verrilli
claims that Congress gave the executive branch broad authority and
discretion to set the nation's immigration policy. Arizona's regime of
maximum enforcement subverts Congress' goal of a unified national
immigration policy, he argues.

While the justices will ponder wider notions of federalism, the specific
legal issue before the high court is whether federal immigration law
pre-empts Arizona's statutes.

Just last term, the Supreme Court upheld a different Arizona law allowing
local authorities to have a hand in immigration enforcement, despite
arguments that it should be pre-empted. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy joined
the four conservative justices to uphold a workplace law. Chamber of
Commerce v. Whiting, 131 S.Ct. 1968 (2011).

But several legal experts cautioned against drawing too much from that
ruling. The court upheld a narrow workplace statute that regulates through
suspending and revoking business licenses, but Arizona's immigration
enforcement measure delves into the much broader area of criminal law.

Still, David S. Rubenstein, a professor at Washburn University School of Law
who studies immigration and pre-emption, suggested elements of the Whiting
decision may have implications on how the court views the enforcement law.
For instance, the majority opinion highlighted the importance of the
workplace statute closely tracking with federal law. "Arizona will make the
same tracking arguments that got a sympathetic ear in Whiting," Rubenstein
said.

Justice Elena Kagan, who didn't take part in Whiting, has also withdrawn
from the immigration enforcement case. Her recusal creates the chance for a
4-4 split, which would deny the court an opportunity to weigh in with a
written opinion on what states can and can't do to police immigration. A tie
would affirm the 9th Circuit's preliminary injunction.

Although the high court has the chance to lay down principals about states'
authority to police immigration, litigation is likely to continue. Should
the court rule that Arizona's law isn't pre-empted, individuals affected by
the law could bring a challenge after the law took effect if it encouraged
the sort of racial profiling some critics predict.

In addition, the Obama administration has sued to stop immigration laws in
Alabama, South Carolina and Utah. Some of those state laws contain
provisions substantively different than those at issue in Arizona's law,
such that they'll need to be litigated in their own right.

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Small firm takes on Apple, Google, over voice patent | View Clip
04/26/2012
Network World - Online

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Apple, Google, Microsoft and all major smartphone vendors were slapped with a lawsuit Wednesday by Potter Voice Technologies, an obscure Colorado company that claims they are infringing its patent on natural-language voice control of a computer.

Apple, Google, Microsoft and all major smartphone vendors were slapped with a lawsuit Wednesday by Potter Voice Technologies,

an obscure Colorado company that claims they are infringing its patent on natural-language voice control of a computer.

The fierce battle over intellectual property

Potter sued the 15 vendors and their affiliated companies in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The suit

revolves around Apple's Siri app and Google Voice Commands, as well as a technology called Windows Speech Commands. It cites

a single U.S. patent, number 5,729,659 , which was issued to Jerry L. Potter in 1998.

Other companies named in the suit include Nokia, Research In Motion, Samsung Electronics, Sony, LG Electronics, Motorola Mobility,

ZTE, Huawei Technologies, Kyocera, Sharp and Pantech.

Related Content

Patent litigation among mobile device makers has become fast and furious in recent years as the lucrative mobile market has

grown quickly. Potter's suit is notable for its broad range of targets and the fact that it comes from a largely unknown company.

Potter Voice lists an address in Brighton, Colorado, a suburb of Denver.

Potter is seeking damages to be determined at trial, "but in no event less than a reasonable royalty" against all the companies

named, according to the complaint filed Wednesday. It is also seeking injunctions against the companies and attorney's fees.

But the company is taking special aim at Apple, Microsoft and Sony, which it claims must have known about the patent and therefore

are guilty of willful infringement. Potter says the patent was cited in a 2004 case involving SRI International, which developed

Siri. Apple acquired Siri from SRI, a Silicon Valley research and development company. Willful infringement allows for increased

damages.

Siri is designed to understand and respond to questions and requests, such as queries about facts or nearby businesses, expressed

in the user's own words. It was integrated into Apple's iPhone 4S, introduced last October, but a version of it previously

had been available as a third-party app for other iPhones. It is offered only on the 4S, the latest model of the iPhone, and

Apple has used it as a major selling point for the handset.

Potter's patent, entitled "Method and apparatus for controlling a digital computer using oral input," lays out a system for

interpreting commands expressed in normal spoken language. The idea behind it was to cut out the sometimes lengthy training

that's needed for traditional voice-control systems that require specific commands. This could make it easier for new and

casual users to take advantage of voice control, according to the introduction to the patent.

After spoken words are received by a microphone and interpreted by voice recognition, those words are used to search the contents

of a tabular data structure organized in rows and columns, the patent says.

Because the patent application was filed in 1995, Potter probably couldn't use it to collect royalties beyond 2015, according

to Colleen Chien, an assistant professor of law at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. However, the company

could still win damages for past infringement, she added. The age of the patent could also work in its favor, because it predates

by many years the introduction of Siri.

The IDG News Service is a Network World affiliate.

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We need a troll-free number
04/24/2012
San Francisco Chronicle

The big news out of the Oracle versus Google showdown on Monday was that one of Oracle's patents was brought back from the dead, put back into play after the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office reversed its earlier rejection.

But let's be clear: One zombie patent isn't the remarkable thing in this case. The remarkable thing is that, when the dust settles, five of the seven patents Oracle claimed that Google violated will likely be overturned because Google forced the patent office to take a second look.

Oracle filed the lawsuit in 2010, alleging Google infringed on patents and copyrights related to its Java programming language in developing the popular Android smart-phone software.

If only two of Oracle's patents hold up on review, that means the patent office got it right less than 30 percent of the time, an average we have every reason to believe is representative of the entire sector's patents. In fact, software patent holders lose nearly 90 percent of the time in litigation, Stanford law Professor Mark Lemley found in a research paper published last year.

Invalid claimsYet these overwhelmingly invalid patent claims have had dramatic impacts on the industry. They've allowed an entire sector of patent trolls to emerge with the sole aim of strong-arming companies into forking over licensing fees. They've forced tech giants to drop billions on legal fees or defensive patent portfolios, money that might have gone into research and development.

"It's approaching crisis levels," said James Bessen, a lecturer at Boston University School of Law and co-author of "Patent Failure." "In most industries, the patent system has become a disincentive to innovation."

Still, companies are left with little choice but to play the game and act as if all patents are legitimate. It's so expensive and time consuming to challenge them in court or through the patent office that most companies simply acquiesce to licensing fee demands. Or they buy up patents of their own in hopes of discouraging claims through a sort of mutually assured legal destruction. You sue me, I'll sue you.

Google is acquiring Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, a purchase largely geared to gain access to the company's trove of mobile and wireless patents. Microsoft spent more than $1 billion to buy nearly 1,000 patents from AOL. And Facebook announced plans Monday to purchase about 650 of Microsoft's newly acquired patents for $550 million. That's likely to provide ammunition in its legal battle with Yahoo, which filed a patent suit in March; Facebook responded with a countersuit several weeks later. It's one of dozens of patent cases now embroiling the online and mobile industries, as Apple, HTC, Kodak, Samsung, Motorola, LG and many others duke it out.

So how did we get here?

For starters, we have an overworked and underfunded patent office staff, said Gregory Aharonian, who performs research on behalf of companies challenging patent awards, in an earlier interview. Staff members routinely approve redundant, unoriginal or vaguely worded patents. They simply don't have the resources and motivation that a company like Google can bring to bear in digging up "prior art," or examples of the technology that precede and thus invalidate the patents.

There's a complicating factor when it comes to software patents. Since software - unlike, say, chemical compounds - can be described by different firms in completely different language, the only foolproof way for a company to ensure that it's not bumping up against existing patents is to hire attorneys to examine every one.

Since there are hundreds of thousands of software patents, with 40,000 new ones approved every year, one firm could easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to perform patent research on just one piece of software, said researchers Timothy Lee and Christina Mulligan in a summary of their recent paper on the tech blog Ars Technica.

"It's so difficult, in fact, that the vast majority of software developers don't even try" to perform that patent research, they wrote.

Another challenge is that the line has continually moved on what can be patented in technology, as a handful of Supreme Court decisions have applied steadily stricter standards. That has certainly nudged the system in the right direction, but it also leaves questionable patents on the books until they're individually challenged.

"There are a large number of software patents out there fueling litigation that resulted from a 10- or 15-year period when the issuance of software patents was too lax," said Tim Porter, Google's patent counsel, in an earlier interview.

But more of the industry's snarl of suits and countersuits results from an attitude shift among businesses themselves, said Colleen Chien, an assistant law professor at Santa Clara University focused on patents.

Up until the mid-1980s, tech companies had reached a sort of detente. They all knew they had unique inventions but frequently chose not to patent them or at least use their patents offensively, lest their competitors react in kind.

That all began to change as Texas Instruments and later IBM launched licensing and litigation campaigns after their core businesses stumbled. Companies stung by these licensing fees and lawsuits began to build up their portfolios and consider their own suits or licensing demands, Chien said.

In turn, the number of U.S. patent lawsuits tripled from the early 1990s to the present, according to research by Bessen and co-author Michael Meurer.

So where do we go from here?

A growing number of voices in the tech industry argue we should do away with software patents altogether, stressing that copyrights are adequate to protect and encourage innovation in the industry.

At the very least, we need a patent overhaul that goes beyond the America Invests Act passed last year. That reform handed additional money to the patent office to conduct thorough reviews and made it easier for companies to challenge issued patents, among other improvements. But it didn't address the issue at the heart of the failing patent system: The standards for technology patents.

Other ideasLemley believes the courts should play a more active role by dismissing outlandish damage requests, forcing trolls to cough up attorney fees and narrowing the scope of patent claims from broad descriptions to specific explanations of how the technology works.

Bessen said Congress should tighten those standards, while significantly boosting application fees for patents, in an effort to discourage companies from seeking or holding on to frivolous patents.

"There's a cost to society of having that many patents, so there should be essentially a use tax," he said. "Many of these duplicate, garbage patents would not be renewed."

"In most industries, the patent system has become a disincentive to innovation."

James Bessen, a lecturer at Boston University School of Law and co-author of "Patent Failure"

Copyright © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle

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If health care is undecided… | View Clip
04/23/2012
Politico - Online

If America is hoping a Supreme Court ruling will end the legal uncertainty hanging over the health care system once and for all, there's a chance it could be sorely disappointed.

Most legal experts are hoping the Supreme Court will give a clear thumbs up or down to the health care law. But they're worried about the possibility that, if the court strikes down just part of the health law, it could outsource the job of figuring out precisely which provisions of the gargantuan law stay or go.

That could mean at least another year of legal proceedings before the country — and the states that have to build the health exchanges — really know the rules its health system will operate under. And that doesn't even include the wild card of the election.

The parties challenging the law attempted to head off this scenario by specifically asking the court to consider whether the individual mandate could be severed from the rest of the law. But if the Supreme Court decided it lacked the capacity — or the desire — to settle questions of how dependent the various parts of the law are on the individual mandate, it could remand the case to the lower courts to work through the details, legal experts say.

Another outside possibility is that the Supreme Court could appoint a “special master” to sift through it under the high court's supervision, though special masters usually oversee complex settlements or disputes among states, not dismantling politically charged legislation.

Justice Stephen Breyer even hinted that either of these options would be possible if the court were to strike down the individual mandate but not the entire law. He asked Paul Clement, the lead attorney for the health law's challengers, “What do you suggest we do? I mean, should we appoint a special master with an instruction? Should we go back to the district court?”

“I mean, you'd like it all struck down, but we are supposed to apply the objective test,” he added. “So what do you propose that we do other than spend a year reading all this and have you rgue] all this?”

Though the court probably doesn't want the matter to drag on, it might decide it simply doesn't have the capacity to figure out the fate of the multifaceted American health care system.

“The Supreme Court of the United States is not institutionally suited … to do the very detailed meticulous, almost ministerial work of sorting through the 2,700 pages to figure out what's severable and what isn't,” said Santa Clara University law professor Brad Joondeph.

The justices certainly didn't sound thrilled at the prospect during oral arguments.

“Is this not totally unrealistic?” asked Justice Antonin Scalia in an exchange with Deputy Solicitor General Edwin Kneedler. “That we're going to go through this enormous bill item by item and decide each one?”

http://politi.co/I87F7Q

Author:

J. Lester Feder (@JLesterFeder)

Supreme Court,

Health Care,

Affordable Care Act

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Twitter to Limit Use of Patents in Lawsuits | View Clip
04/21/2012
New York Times - Online, The

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Privacy experts warn that new car black box bill doesn't go far enough | View Clip
04/20/2012
Ars Technica

There's currently a bill pending in Congress, known to those inside the Beltway as MAP-21, which would "reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs." But the part of the bill that has gotten the attention of privacy and tech activists is Section 31406, which says, "beginning with model year 2015... new passenger motor vehicles sold in the United States [will] be equipped with an event data recorder that meets the requirements under that part."

Last month, the bill passed in the Senate as S. 1813, where its House equivalent, H.R. 14 is likely to come up for a vote in the coming months. While some conservative news websites have pre-emptively gotten their knickers in a twist about this provision, others have been quick to point out that nearly all new cars sold in the United States since 1996 already have an event data recorder (EDR). In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports current usage rates at 91.6 percent.

The EDR "must keep a record of 15 discrete variables in the seconds before a crash," says IEEE Spectrum. "Among them are the car's speed, how far the accelerator was pressed, the engine revolutions per minute, whether the driver hit the brakes, whether the driver was wearing a safety belt, and how long it took for the airbags to deploy."

Since 2011, car manufacturers have been required to disclose the presence and physical location of an EDR in a car's owner's manual. Seven years earlier, California became the first state to mandate such disclosure.

Data protection

Beyond requiring the auto industry holdouts (we're looking at you, Mercedes-Benz and Audi) to include EDRs, the new law also provides an interesting provision specifically pertaining to privacy and how the data in the devices would be used. Some privacy and legal experts say that while the new bill provides a step in the right direction, the legislation doesn't go far enough in ensuring bulletproof consumer protection.

As the bill has currently been written in both the House and Senate versions: "Any data in an event data recorder required under part 563 of title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, regardless of when the passenger motor vehicle in which it is installed was manufactured, is the property of the owner, or in the case of a leased vehicle, the lessee of the passenger motor vehicle in which the data recorder is installed."

The bill then goes on to list a few exceptions where that would not be the case, including under court order, if the car owner or lessee consents to the data's release, under investigation or inspection as allowed under federal law, or to help in an emergency situation.

"The fourth exemption is especially troublesome because it seems to say that any EDR data that might be useful for determining the need for emergency response to any vehicle crash would be generally available," wrote Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University, in an e-mail to Ars.

She added that because language in the bill refers to "in response to a motor vehicle crash," as opposed to something more specific, such as "the crash of the vehicle in which EDR data was accessed," there could be future legal disputes where an insurance company representative could be included in the parties that could access the relevant data.

There has been a worry by some car owners and privacy activists that this data would automatically be shared with insurance companies and law enforcement.

"The new language seems to require a court order for the government to obtain the data in a criminal investigation, or for another driver to get in a dispute over a crash," wrote Justin Brookman, director for consumer privacy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, in an e-mail to Ars on Friday. "That's a nice nod, but [I'm] not sure that's that high a bar to reach however in either case."

USA Today reported in 2011 that there were laws in 13 states specifically outlining how data on an EDR can be accessed, but that some local law enforcement, including the Tennessee Highway Patrol, retain equipment to read EDRs after an accident.

A physical lockout?

Other legal experts though, say, the legislation is a step in the right direction, by including provisions for individual data protection from the get-go.

"A law that makes it clear that the data belongs to the owner and cannot be accessed without permission is a good thing," Christopher Wolf, co-chair of the Future of Privacy Forum, and a partner at Hogan Lovells LLP, told Ars on Thursday. He called the legislation, as it has been written, a "net plus."

But beyond the specifics of the law, there may be a simpler way to restrict how the EDR data can be accessed.

For years, a team of IEEE engineers have been pushing for an EDR standard, which in addition to standardizing what data was collected, would include a "connector lockout," or a way to physically secure access to the EDR data. A two-person team published a draft standard in 2004, which was later revised in 2010.

"Congress could easily mandate that if a vehicle has an EDR it must also have a consumer protection lockout," wrote Tom Kowalick, a North Carolina community college professor, and one of the two people who authored the IEEE standard, in an e-mail sent to Ars on Thursday.

"By securing the download port, the owner or operator is establishing his or her basic right to lock access to the data in the same manner that one would lock the glove box to protect personal data, or lock the trunk to protect others from entering the trunk. It's just common sense. That's why glove boxes and trunks have keys. Why would anyone leave something valuable unprotected?"

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Of Law and Self-Loathing | View Clip
04/20/2012
Concurring Opinions

“I'm a self-loathing law student,” confessed one of the students in my Critical Race Theory seminar this week. Several others immediately owned up to the same affliction. I will stipulate that self-loathing is probably not an affect we all should strive to achieve. But I was heartened anyway.

Twenty-five years ago when I began teaching law, my social-justice-minded students regularly veered from rage and tears at moral wrongs to a defiant hope. They sustained themselves and one another with a faith that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice, as Dr. King is thought to have said. And they ultimately placed their trust in law and especially the courts.

My students were not alone. Even by the mid-1980s, many of us lawyers and law professors were still recovering from the collective daze of delight induced by the Second Reconstruction and the Warren and Burger Court eras. Of course, we were already in the throes of affirmative-action backlash and judicial retrenchment; colorblind constitutionalism was shaped before our very eyes; and even as a law student I had studied Harris v. McRae in my equal protection class and learned that the formal declaration of a constitutional right is not the same as the economic security needed to exercise it. Yet the romance, the belief that getting the courts to pronounce a legal right was a mighty blow for justice, lingered on.

Maybe it was the continued influence of the post-war “idea of America as a normative concept,” as Edward Purcell  put it in 1973: the incorporation throughout social and political debate of “terms that were analytically confused but morally coercive – patriotism, Americanism, free enterprise system, mission, and, most grossly, ‘we're number one.'” In the culture of legal academia, this logic translated into a faith in the jurisprudence of legal process. In my little corner of the world we were all reading Democracy and Distrust and trying to locate neutral principles. The faith that procedural fairness, at least, could be achieved despite a lack of consensus about the good life reinforced a belief in the American rule of law as an unshakable bulwark of democratic fairness. That sentiment was entwined with a professional loyalty to the law: to have gone to law school was in itself a statement about one's commitment to the law as the royal (I mean ”democratic”) road to justice.

So when critical legal studies, feminist legal theory, and then critical race theory hit the academy around this time, the crits (like the Legal Realists before them) were accused of “nihilism” and shown the door. Critical legal theory was not just a disloyalty to the civil rights movement but to the rule of law itself. It was subversive, in those mid-1980s days, to pass around The Hollow Hope  and to insist, as the crits were loudly doing, that “reification” and “legitimation” were basic functions of legal reasoning. The trust that the system works – or, at least, could work if we got it right – was now being dubbed “legal liberalism” by the crits, and being skewered in massively long and ponderous articles about fundamental contradictions. But the critics could be challenged by asking them where their “positive program” was. And they could (sometimes) be silenced by demands that they leave the law altogether.

For the crit project seemed deeply and radically anti-law. We junior professors, reading their work and sometimes contributing to it, felt like outlaws (which brought with it a sense of being dangerous and cool, along with a sense of vulnerability heightened by our lack of tenure and the material consequences of being perceived as a nihilist). At the same time, interestingly, the practice of teaching was not too different for us as it was for our older Legal Process colleagues. It was all about puncturing our students' illusions, showing them the indeterminacy of legal reasoning and teaching them how to surf on it, questioning the use of words like “fairness.” It was just that we had no shining neutral-principles machine to lift from the bottom of Pandora's box at the end of the day.

I don't mean to suggest that legal liberalism and faith in the rule of law as central to the American way ever died. At a conference at Santa Clara Law School last week on race and sexuality, some of the lawyers and academics gathered there bemoaned a “politics of civil rights” that has somehow placed marriage equality at the top of the LGBT agenda. The charge was familiar: too many lawyers and non-lawyers alike believe that “gay is the new black;” that the civil rights movement brought about racial equality and “now it's our turn;” that if we prove we are just like them, we'll all be free. The rush to assimilate to mainstream institutions and practices throws under the bus, as usual, those most vulnerable to premature death – those without the racial, economic, and bodily privileges (and/or the desire) to get married, move to the suburbs, and blend in.

What was different was that an alternative position, the “politics of dispossession” as Marc Spindelman named it, was also on the table – not as a stance that made one's commitment to the law suspect from the get-go, but as an accepted ground for lawyering. When thinking about sexuality we might want to begin, under this politics, not with marriage but with the kids doing sex work on International Boulevard in Oakland, as Margaret Russell pointed out. And, after decades of critical theory, it was taken as a truth in that room — if an inconvenient one — that to do this would mean instantly coming up against poverty, racism, and violence, forms of suffering law is not well positioned to ameliorate.

In this way, lawyering for social justice is a contradiction. Not in the “nihilist” sense, the law-as-a-tool-of-the-ruling-class notion that those who want justice ought to give up their bar cards and go protest in the streets. (My friend Norma Alarcón once identified this romantic position as the desire to “be out in the jungle with Che.”) Rather, the politics of dispossession begins with recognizing that the law is not designed to go to root causes; that fundamental changes in the ground rules, which is what the most vulnerable need, come from organizing;  and that lawyering isn't useless, but that it looks different if it is prison abolition you want and not a marriage license.

More abstractly, the understanding in that room was that, as Patricia Williams said to the crits in one of the founding texts of critical race theory, law is both inadequate and indispensable in the struggle for justice. Post-legal-liberalism lawyering begins here.

What's also new is that this commitment to living in the contradiction — accepting the tension between law and justice as a place to work rather than as a source of despair — is increasingly expressed not only by battle-scarred veterans at academic conferences but by law students. The desire to make positive social change has not gone away among my students. They still hope and expect that law can be used in the service of justice. But along with a waning of faith in the courts, they express an increasingly sophisticated awareness of the limits of the law more generally. They know, already, that justice and law are not the same. The task is no longer disillusioning them, but helping them develop the skills for finding what works and what doesn't.

Okay, so “self-loathing” is probably not the best way to say it. But this wry recognition of the imperfection of law seems to me nevertheless an improvement over the wounded attachment to law as a portal to justice that seemed to mark so many progressive law students a generation ago. As the same student said later in the conversation that day, “That's my contradiction, and I'm sticking to it.” There's a wisdom there that's heartening.

Return to Top



Patent wars, patent trolls: why they're a problem | View Clip
04/20/2012
Vancouver Sun - Online, The

The Internet Age is becoming as known for patent litigation as it is for online innovation.

From the makers of computer chips to creators of smartphones and designers of videogames, rivalries have spread from marketplaces to courtrooms with combatants warring over rights to use technology.

"For many years, there was basically a stalemate in the patents arms race with an understanding that companies wouldn't sue each other," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.

"That was disrupted by a new business model of patent assertion," she continued. "It has become acceptable to violate the gentlemen's agreement of not suing and now it is the new norm."

The break in the unofficial truce was inspired in part by "patent trolls," entities that buy or file patents with the sole intent of some day suing entrepreneurs who use the ideas.

Ranks of patent trolls are growing, as is the number of large companies turning to patent litigation not just to cash-in but to gain or protect market terrain, according to Chien.

"What do you call an AOL or a dying company that turns to patent lawsuits?" she asked rhetorically. "Do they become corporate trolls?"

Struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! last month filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social networking star of infringing on 10 of its patents.

The suit claimed that "Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."

Facebook returned fire with a countersuit accusing Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! of being the one infringing on patents, and not the other way around.

Even business software giant Oracle has weighed in. A trial will get underway on Monday in a patent case Oracle filed against Google based on software used in Android operating systems.

As patent suits proliferate, Internet firms with ample war chests are spending small fortunes to arm themselves with portfolios purchased from technology companies selling off intellectual assets.

AOL this week announced plans to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a $1.056 billion deal giving the faded Internet star a needed cash injection.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said that the software giant is getting "a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years."

Facebook in March confirmed that it bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM to beef up it arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Early this year, Google bought 188 patents and 29 patent applications related to mobile phones from IBM but did not disclose how much it paid.

Last year, IBM sold Google 2,000 or so patents ranging from mobile software to computer hardware and processors.

Google has been strengthening its patent portfolio as the fight for dominance in the booming smartphone and tablet computer markets increasingly involves patent lawsuits - with Apple a prime litigator.

The Mountain View, California, technology titan behind Android mobile device software last year transferred patents to smartphone giant HTC Corp. to help the Taiwan-based company in an intellectual property clash with iPhone maker Apple.

Apple has accused HTC and other smartphone makers using Google's Android mobile operating system of infringing on Apple-held patents.

Some of the patents that HTC got from Google had belonged to Motorola Mobility, which Google is buying for $12.5 billion in cash in a quest for precious patents.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Google chief executive Larry Page said when the Motorola Mobility buy was announced.

Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha told financial analysts the US maker of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers has over 17,000 issued patents and another 7,500 pending.

Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft allied in a consortium that outbid Google to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel Corp. in what was branded the largest transfer of intellectual property of the Internet Age.

"The reality is, there is more and more liability in making a product," Chien said. "Companies like Google and Facebook with few patents but big roles in the marketplace have the most to lose."

Patent suits in hot Internet markets are not necessarily bad news for consumers, provided that companies cashing in use windfalls to develop even more innovative products, according to Chien.

Managing patents could also become a potential source of competitive advantage for startups.

"The Facebook example shows that you can go out and buy patent protection," Chien said. "It is only when you are making money that you become interesting as a target, and when you are making money you can afford to buy patents."

Return to Top



Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/19/2012
Chicago Tribune Collections

SAN FRANCISCO, April 17 (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday

that it would structure its patents so they could not be used

for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the

people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over

their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede

the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its

official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that

patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use

the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation

without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006,

does not currently have any patents, but sources said the

company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded

during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in

March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone

manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged

in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by

critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains

for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents,

which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to

patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara

University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will

burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of

whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other

companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in

the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more

engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a

promise," said Goldman.

Return to Top



Can Couple Break the Lease on 'Haunted House?' | View Clip
04/19/2012
KSEE-TV - Online

April 19, 2012 Updated Apr 19, 2012 at 2:01 PM PDT

(Life's Little Mysteries) A couple has broken the lease on a rental home in Toms River, New Jersey, claiming the house is haunted. Jose Chinchilla and his fiancée, Michele Callan, are suing their landlord for the return of their $2,250 security deposit, arguing that paranormal activity — including eerie whispering sounds, flickering lights and slamming doors — forced them to flee the home just a week after moving in. They even brought in ghost hunters to verify their claims.

But the landlord has filed a counter-suit, claiming the couple fabricated the ghost story to weasel out of paying the rent. A judge will hear the case later this month.

Whose side is the law on? Can you break a lease if your rental home is haunted?

"So much will turn on whether there's actually credible evidence of paranormal activity," said Eric Goldman, an associate law professor at Santa Clara University. "Usually the answer is there isn't any evidence, at which point no matter what the tenants say they'll have nothing to substantiate it."

For more on this storyclick here!

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Toronto Sun - Online, The

First posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:30 AM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:39 AM EDT

Topics

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

Return to Top



Oracle kicks off busy trial season against Google | View Clip
04/18/2012
Vancouver Sun - Online, The

SAN FRANCISCO - Oracle Corp is set to go to trial next week against Google Inc in a high-stakes dispute over smartphone technology, the biggest case in what is shaping up to be an intense year in court for the enterprise software giant.

Jury selection is set for Monday in San Francisco federal court. Oracle claims Google's Android operating system tramples on its intellectual property rights to the Java programming language. Google says it doesn't violate Oracle's patents, and that Oracle cannot copyright certain parts of Java.

The case is the first of four big tech trials involving Oracle scheduled for the next few months - three in Northern California, and one in Nevada.

The others include one set for the end of May against Hewlett-Packard over the Itanium microprocessor, a retrial against SAP AG in June over alleged copyright infringement, and another copyright case against smaller competitor Rimini Street expected later in the year.

Fighting so many court battles back-to-back could be distracting for Oracle Chief Executive Larry Ellison and other top executives, not to mention costly, as legal fees pile up.

Yet, observers say it's not surprising that Oracle would be so aggressive in court, pointing to Ellison's reputation as unyielding. He once sued the city of San Jose -- and won -- when it tried to impose a curfew on his private jet.

And while risky, Oracle's strategy could pay off if it succeeds in winning damages at trial, particularly in the Google case given the growing market for Android-powered devices.

"The real question is, does Oracle get a piece of Android, or not?" said Tyler Ochoa, a copyright professor at Santa Clara Law in Silicon Valley. "The money is so large we can see why they are willing to spend a lot of money fighting over it."

An Oracle spokeswoman declined to comment about how the multiple trials impact top management.

Oracle sued Google in August 2010 over seven patents for Java, which Oracle acquired when it bought Sun Microsystems. Early on, damages estimates ran as high as $6.1 billion. But Google has narrowed Oracle's claims so that only two patents remain, reducing the possible damages that could be awarded.

Oracle is seeking roughly $1 billion in copyright damages. On the two patents, it rejected Google's $2.8 million settlement offer, plus 0.5 percent of Android revenue on one patent until it expires this December and 0.015 percent on a second patent until it expires in April 2018.

In October, Google said its mobile business was generating revenue at an annual run rate of $2.5 billion, but that includes revenue from ads Google serves on Android devices as well as on Apple's iPhone.

The settlement talks reached an impasse, a magistrate judge who is a mediator in the case recently said, though a last-minute deal is always a possibility.

LEGAL FIREPOWER

For the Google and SAP cases, Oracle tapped David Boies, a famous litigator who represented Al Gore in the 2000 presidential recount. Oracle is also represented against Google by Michael Jacobs, a key figure in the smartphone patent wars as Apple's lead lawyer against Samsung.

Jacobs will deliver opening statements on Monday, said sources with knowledge of the situation.

Boies had sought to postpone the SAP trial so it wouldn't interfere with the Google case, but the judge refused.

Google, meanwhile, recruited well-known San Francisco litigator Robert Van Nest to deliver opening statements, people familiar with the matter said. Google had unsuccessfully tried to move the Oracle trial due to Van Nest's scheduling conflicts.

The Google trial before U.S. District Judge William Alsup is scheduled for three phases: copyright liability, patent claims, and damages.

Oracle's best chance of winning big damages stem from its copyright allegations, though Google argues that the structure of so-called "interface specifications" -- which define how programmers interact with software platforms -- are not protected by copyright.

Oracle is seeking an injunction not to shut Android down, Boies said, but to force Google to pay for a license and make Android compatible with the rest of Java. Google spokesman Jim Prosser said Oracle's claims are without merit.

Pretrial rulings on copyright have been largely favorable to Oracle, said Santa Clara Law's Ochoa. But the law is murky on how copyright protections apply to software, he said, giving Google a good chance to reverse any damaging verdict on appeal.

OTHER FRONTS

The Google case may be the biggest on Oracle's busy court docket, but it's not the only one. HP sued Oracle in a California state court for breach of contract after Oracle decided to discontinue support for the Itanium microprocessor.

Oracle countersued, and a hearing is scheduled for early May on requests from both sides to resolve the case in their favor before trial.

The Oracle/SAP case, in Oakland federal court, will rehash earlier allegations in the years-long dispute. Oracle has leveled similar accusations against Rimini Street in a Reno, Nevada federal court.

Oracle says Rimini provides cut rate support for some Oracle software by improperly copying its files. Rimini denies Oracle's claims, saying its business practices are entirely legal. No formal trial date has been set, though most trial preparations are scheduled to be completed by August.

Oracle won a $1.3 billion verdict against SAP in 2010 over accusations SAP unit TomorrowNow wrongfully downloaded Oracle files. U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton later slashed the verdict to $272 million, prompting Oracle to seek the retrial.

The first SAP/Oracle trial captivated the technology world, and featured testimony from Ellison and Oracle President Safra Catz. Both Ellison and Catz were also called to participate in settlement talks in the Google case.

While companies need to consider employee distraction when fighting any court case, the downsides for Oracle in the SAP case aren't steep, said Constance Bagley, an expert in litigation risk at Yale School of Management.

That's because SAP has admitted liability for the TomorrowNow downloads, so the retrial is about damages. Also, SAP has agreed to pay Oracle $120 million in attorneys fees.

Much less is settled in next week's Google trial, where Google is contesting both liability and damages. "If I were Ellison I would care a lot more about Oracle/Google than Oracle/SAP," Bagley said.

Return to Top



Can N.J. Couple Break the Lease on Their 'Haunted House'? | View Clip
04/18/2012
Yahoo! News

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Can N.J. Couple Break the Lease on Their 'Haunted House'?

By Natalie Wolchover | LiveScience.com _ 17 mins ago

A couple has broken the lease on a rental home in Toms River, N.J., claiming the house is haunted. Jose Chinchilla and his fiancée, Michele Callan, are suing their landlord for the return of their $2,250 security deposit, arguing that paranormal activity — including eerie whispering sounds, flickering lights and slamming doors — forced them to flee the home just a week after moving in. They even brought in ghost hunters to verify their claims.

But the landlord has filed a countersuit, claiming the couple fabricated the ghost story to weasel out of paying the rent. A judge will hear the case later this month.

Whose side is the law on? Can you break a lease if your rental home is haunted?

"So much will turn on whether there's actually credible evidence of paranormal activity," said Eric Goldman , an associate law professor at Santa Clara University . "Usually the answer is there isn't any evidence, at which point no matter what the tenants say they'll have nothing to substantiate it."

Chinchilla and Callan have done their best to gather that evidence, having called in investigators from the Shore Paranormal Research Society , who managed to film some nighttime footage of a bowling pin falling over on the floor of the home just as people walked nearby. However, it could have been creaky floors that toppled the pin, and the footage is probably not enough to persuade a judge to rule in favor of the couple — and in favor of the existence of ghosts. [ Watch the Ghost Hunters' Video ]

Even if the judge were convinced by the couple's testimony, Goldman said, they also would have to prove that the landlord knew about the spectral presence in the house before he rented it to them — otherwise, there was nothing for him to disclose. "If neither party knew it was haunted [when the lease was signed], and the tenants prove later that it is, then the tenant is most likely going to be tough out of luck," Goldman told  Life's Little Mysteries .

The annals of contract law history include a case in which the principle of poltergeist disclosure was famously upheld. In 1991, a man discovered that the house he had just contracted to purchase in Nyack, N.Y., was widely believed by the townspeople to be possessed by ghosts. Upon learning this, he took the sellers to court, arguing they should have informed him of the house's haunted history. He won the case, and the contract of sale was torn up.

"What made the haunted house case so unusual was that the sellers of the property were effectively stopped from arguing that the house wasn'thaunted," Goldman said. Some years before, he explained, they had been paid $3,000 by Reader's Digest for providing evidence of paranormal activity in the house, for use in an article. "So they were  caught in a lie . Either the house was haunted, in which case they had to disclose that to the buyer, or it wasn't, in which case they had lied to the publication and taken 3,000 bucks." [ Do Einstein's Laws Prove Ghosts Exist? ]

Though they were forced to put their house back on the market, the sellers ultimately came out ahead, as the house's infamous ghostliness actually upped its market value among house-hunting ghost lovers. The same fate may await the rental home in New Jersey. "If in fact the video is enough substantial evidence to prove that the house is haunted," Goldman said, "then there will be a new market of tenants who will beg to come lease it."

Follow Natalie Wolchover on Twitter @ nattyover . Follow Life's Little Mysteries on Twitter @ llmysteries  and join us on  Facebook .

@yahoonews on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Yahoo! Finance

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

Return to Top



Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Winnipeg Sun - Online, The

First posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 09:30 AM CDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 09:39 AM CDT

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Software Patents at Santa Clara | View Clip
04/18/2012
madisonian.net

The High Tech Law Institute is pleased to announce its Fall 2012 conference, “Solutions to the Software Patent Problem,” on November 16, 2012 at Santa Clara University School of Law. Please save the date. Rather than debating the merits of software patents, the conference will start with the premise that software patents are in need of reform. Presenters will be asked to select an aspect of software (including internet and related high-tech) patents that they believe needs attention, present a proposed fix (which could be legislative, administrative, judicial, or market-based), and explain why it would help. Key stakeholders will be at the event to evaluate the proposals for their content, feasibility, and impact. In addition, presenters will prepare a short essay (less than 1,000 words) recapping their proposal and its merits for a general audience. Wired.com has expressed interest in publishing the compilation of essays. Between the presentations and the papers, we hope to make tangible progress towards ameliorating the problems associated with software patents. We invite your expressions of interest to present your solution at the event. In addition to presenting the proposal in person, presenters will be expected to submit their short essay a few weeks prior to the event. SCU will cover reasonable travel costs for selected presenters. If you would like to participate, please submit a description of your proposal by May 1, 2012. Contact: Colleen Chien (colleenchien@gmail.com) and Eric Goldman (egoldman@gmail.com).

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
London Free Press - Online, The

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java | View Clip
04/18/2012
PredictWallStreet.com

Apr 18, 2012 (Los Angeles Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX News Network) -- SAN FRANCISCO -- It's being called the World Series of intellectual property trials.

Oracle Corp. has accused Google Inc.'s top executives of swiping a crucial bit of technology to build its Android software that now powers more than 300 million mobile devices.

The showdown between the two Silicon Valley heavyweights got underway in a San Francisco federal courtroom this week with a blast of high-tech star power as the dueling multibillionaire chief executives, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page, took the stand.

A 12-member jury will decide the high-stakes dispute in which Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and an injunction that would force Google to pay licensing fees or stop using Oracle's Java technology to run Android.

Google, which is looking to become as dominant on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers, denies that its Android software infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2010 for $7.3 billion.

"It's potentially a very important trial," said Tyler Ochoa, professor at the High Technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. "Android has become the No. 1 platform for mobile computing, and Oracle wants to get a piece of it."

In his testimony on the second day of the technically complex trial that could last as long as 10 weeks, Ellison painted Google as a freeloader. He told the jury that he met with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones "rather than their own version of Java." But the companies couldn't agree.

Google is "the only company I know" that hasn't taken a license for Java, Ellison said.

A lawyer defending Google told jurors that Oracle explored taking on Google in the smartphone market but decided to sue its would-be rival instead.

"They want to share Android's profits without having done a thing to bring that about," Robert Van Nest said.

Page began his testimony later in the day. He's expected to resume his testimony Wednesday.

UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said Oracle is looking to cut itself into the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices.

"People have been whispering for years that Google has built a great business on other people's technology," Merges said. "But Larry Ellison doesn't beat around the bush. He has never minded stepping onto center stage."

The trial is one of a growing number of intellectual property fights over smartphones, which account for a rapidly growing share of mobile devices.

Google bought the tiny start-up that made Android software in 2005 in a bid to maintain its dominance in search advertising and compete with Apple Inc. The first phone powered by Android software went on sale in October 2008, more than a year before Oracle bought Sun.

Silicon Valley companies for decades have used their patent portfolios to wring concessions from rivals. But until recently, Google didn't pay much attention to intellectual property and did not stockpile patents, even in the highly competitive realm of mobile devices.

The company, as well as handset makers including HTC Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. that use Android, are now being pelted with lawsuits from Apple and others. David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, has called the litigation barrage "a hostile, organized campaign against Android."

It's a strategic blunder that now haunts Google.

"Intellectual property assets are a very important piece of the U.S. economy," Ochoa said. "People are fighting over the spoils."

Google now is taking aggressive steps to bulk up its patent portfolio. Analysts say it can't afford to lose momentum as people shift their attention from desktop computers to mobile devices. But experts said the mounting lawsuits could increase the cost of making Android phones.

The trial is likely to wade into arcane details of programming languages and intellectual property law that only a programmer or a lawyer could easily grasp. The heart of the dispute is over "application program interfaces" or APIs, which help different types of software communicate.

Google makes Android freely available to device makers and software developers. It makes money from the mobile ads and apps sold on Android. The search giant has said its mobile advertising revenue now tops $2.5 billion, but it hasn't said how much of that money comes from Android devices.

Google says it devoted hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of engineering hours to Android, and that former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz will testify that he supported Google's use of Java. His testimony will bring to the surface an underlying tension in Silicon Valley between brainy programmers who build the technology and the deal-making executives who want to profit from it.

"Sun was a fairly altruistic company in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership," Merges said. "Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren't thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset."

The hard-charging Ellison, who has built his fortune on selling high-priced software, has brought several lawsuits against rivals, alleging they stole Oracle's intellectual property. The Google lawsuit signals Oracle plans to aggressively pursue anyone it thinks is infringing Java, which Ellison said Tuesday was "by far the most important" purchase Oracle has made.

In his opening statement, Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs zeroed in on internal emails that suggest Google knew it should pay licensing fees to use some of Java's technology. In August 2010, Google engineer Tim Lindholm recommended negotiating a Java license.

"Whatever the outcome is going to be, money won't be the most important part," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and author of a popular blog on patents. "This is about Oracle's long-term strategic plans for its Java platform."

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jessica Guynn

Copyright (C) 2012, Los Angeles Times

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Ottawa Sun - Online

First posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:30 AM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 10:39 AM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Twitter gives inventors control over patents | View Clip
04/18/2012
MSNBC.com

updated

6 minutes ago

2012-04-18T13:48:50

Font:

+

-

SAN FRANCISCO  - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions .

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
South Bend Tribune - Online

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles (Mario Anzuoni Reuters, REUTERS / October 15, 2009)

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F. | View Clip
04/18/2012
San Francisco Chronicle - Online

A man whose murder conviction in a 1990 drug-related killing in San Francisco was set aside after he had served 21 years behind bars has filed a federal civil rights suit against the city, saying police built a case against him based on an unreliable witness.

Maurice Caldwell, 44, was released last year while awaiting a retrial. Superior Court Judge Charles Haines, who had earlier overturned his conviction in the shooting death of a man named Judy Acosta, ruled that Caldwell could not be tried again because evidence in the case had been destroyed.

"Mr. Caldwell was deprived of the one thing all innocent people deserve: freedom," said Caldwell's suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names the city of San Francisco and several police officers as defendants. They have not responded to the suit in court.

Prosecutors said Acosta was shot over a drug deal gone bad at San Francisco's Alemany public housing project.

Caldwell was serving a sentence of 27 years to life at Folsom State Prison and appeared to have exhausted his legal appeals, until the Northern California Innocence Project, a group of legal advocates based at Santa Clara University, argued that he had been represented by ineffective counsel at his trial.

Haines agreed and ordered a new trial.

Caldwell's conviction hinged on the testimony of a single witness, Mary Cobb, who identified him as one of two gunmen who killed Acosta.

The Innocence Project noted that Cobb had originally told police that she didn't know who the killer was. Cobb died of cancer in 1998, and prosecutors hoped they could present her testimony in transcript form at a new trial.

But the district attorney's office later learned that the exhibits from Caldwell's 1993 trial - including 10 crime scene photos and diagrams that prosecutors showed to Cobb during her testimony - had been destroyed around 1995.

This article appeared on page C - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle

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Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet | View Clip
04/18/2012
San Bernardino Sun - Online

By Mike Swift

mswift@mercurynews.com

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/17/2012 04:23:03 PM PDT

More Apple coverage

) and Samsung to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed in District Court in San Jose on Tuesday, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi would appear.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung countersued Apple, claiming the Cupertino company infringed its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting this spring means a settlement is at hand,

but getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on

Google GOOG

), but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with

Oracle ORCL

) in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola -- a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more important for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given

Steve Jobs

' famous oath to destroy Android -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson -- it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO

Larry Page

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Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents | View Clip
04/18/2012
Republic - Online, The

SAN JOSE, Calif. — As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

“As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate” at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices “slavishly” copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

“It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation,” said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson — it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola — a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android — “I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson — it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

“If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of” the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. “At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take.”

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Reuters - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet | View Clip
04/18/2012
Press-Telegram - Online

Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet

By Mike Swift

mswift@mercurynews.com

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/17/2012 04:23:03 PM PDT

April 18, 2012 6:12 AM GMT Updated:

04/17/2012 11:12:08 PM PDT

As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple ( AAPL ) and Samsung to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed in District Court in San Jose on Tuesday, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi would appear.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung countersued Apple, claiming the Cupertino company infringed its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting this spring means a settlement is at hand,

but getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google ( GOOG ), but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle ( ORCL ) in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola -- a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more important for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs ' famous oath to destroy Android -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson -- it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories , Facebook and view his Google+ profile.

Copyright 2012 San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

• New: You can now sign in with Facebook, AOL and Yahoo accounts. Just click on the "Comment Using..." button and select the type of login you wish to use.

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Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet | View Clip
04/18/2012
InsideBayArea.com

More Apple coverage

As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple (AAPL) and Samsung to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed in District Court in San Jose on Tuesday, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi would appear.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung countersued Apple, claiming the Cupertino company infringed its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting this spring means a settlement is at hand,

but getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google (GOOG), but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle (ORCL) in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola -- a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more important for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson -- it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories, and view his Google+ profile.

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Twitter to Limit Use of Patents in Lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Insurance Journal

Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to “impede the innovation of others,” the company said in a post on its official blog.

“It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission,” Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as “patent trolls” by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

“Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise,” said Goldman

Copyright 2012 Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
KDAL-AM - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Twitter Announces Innovator's Patent Agreement To Limit Patent Use Lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Huffington Post, The

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Edmonton Sun - Online, The

First posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 08:30 AM MDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 08:39 AM MDT

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Calgary Sun - Online, The

First posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 08:30 AM MDT | Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 08:39 AM MDT

Topics

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Canoe Technology

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

By Alexei Oreskovic, REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Tech stocks CEO summit: Can it solve Apple, Samsung patent dispute? | View Clip
04/18/2012
Christian Science Monitor - Online

Tech stocks giants ordered to have CEOs try to settle their bitter patent dispute. Like several tech stocks, Apple and Samsung are dueling over patents for mobile devices.

Employees of South Korean mobile carrier KT hold an Apple Inc's iPhone 4 (left) smartphone and a Samsung Electronics' Galaxy S smartphone as they pose for photographs in Seoul last year. A US judge has ordered the heads of the two tech stocks giants to hold a one-on-one mediation conference in order to solve their bitter patent dispute.

As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Appleand the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two tech stock giants have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola _ a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android _ "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson _ it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/18/2012
Chicago Tribune - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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The problem with patent wars | View Clip
04/17/2012
Regina Leader-Post - Online

The patents arms race has exploded into a cesspool of lawsuits as gentlemen's agreement of not suing has been overturned.

Photograph by: File , Fotolia

The Internet Age is becoming as known for patent litigation as it is for online innovation.

From the makers of computer chips to creators of smartphones and designers of videogames, rivalries have spread from marketplaces to courtrooms with combatants warring over rights to use technology.

"For many years, there was basically a stalemate in the patents arms race with an understanding that companies wouldn't sue each other," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.

"That was disrupted by a new business model of patent assertion," she continued. "It has become acceptable to violate the gentlemen's agreement of not suing and now it is the new norm."

The break in the unofficial truce was inspired in part by "patent trolls," entities that buy or file patents with the sole intent of some day suing entrepreneurs who use the ideas.

Ranks of patent trolls are growing, as is the number of large companies turning to patent litigation not just to cash-in but to gain or protect market terrain, according to Chien.

"What do you call an AOL or a dying company that turns to patent lawsuits?" she asked rhetorically. "Do they become corporate trolls?"

Struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! last month filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social networking star of infringing on 10 of its patents.

The suit claimed that "Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."

Facebook returned fire with a countersuit accusing Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! of being the one infringing on patents, and not the other way around.

Even business software giant Oracle has weighed in. A trial will get underway on Monday in a patent case Oracle filed against Google based on software used in Android operating systems.

As patent suits proliferate, Internet firms with ample war chests are spending small fortunes to arm themselves with portfolios purchased from technology companies selling off intellectual assets.

AOL this week announced plans to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a $1.056 billion deal giving the faded Internet star a needed cash injection.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said that the software giant is getting "a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years."

Facebook in March confirmed that it bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM to beef up it arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Early this year, Google bought 188 patents and 29 patent applications related to mobile phones from IBM but did not disclose how much it paid.

Last year, IBM sold Google 2,000 or so patents ranging from mobile software to computer hardware and processors.

Google has been strengthening its patent portfolio as the fight for dominance in the booming smartphone and tablet computer markets increasingly involves patent lawsuits - with Apple a prime litigator.

The Mountain View, California, technology titan behind Android mobile device software last year transferred patents to smartphone giant HTC Corp. to help the Taiwan-based company in an intellectual property clash with iPhone maker Apple.

Apple has accused HTC and other smartphone makers using Google's Android mobile operating system of infringing on Apple-held patents.

Some of the patents that HTC got from Google had belonged to Motorola Mobility, which Google is buying for $12.5 billion in cash in a quest for precious patents.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Google chief executive Larry Page said when the Motorola Mobility buy was announced.

Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha told financial analysts the US maker of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers has over 17,000 issued patents and another 7,500 pending.

Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft allied in a consortium that outbid Google to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel Corp. in what was branded the largest transfer of intellectual property of the Internet Age.

"The reality is, there is more and more liability in making a product," Chien said. "Companies like Google and Facebook with few patents but big roles in the marketplace have the most to lose."

Patent suits in hot Internet markets are not necessarily bad news for consumers, provided that companies cashing in use windfalls to develop even more innovative products, according to Chien.

Managing patents could also become a potential source of competitive advantage for startups.

"The Facebook example shows that you can go out and buy patent protection," Chien said. "It is only when you are making money that you become interesting as a target, and when you are making money you can afford to buy patents."

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Judge Overturns Conviction and Vacates Life Sentence of Northern California Innocence Project Client | View Clip
04/17/2012
Salem News - Online, The

A Los Angeles man's murder and attempted robbery convictions were set aside by uncovering new evidence of innocence, now he files suit for compensation.

NCIP legal director Linda Starr, Obie Anthony, and NCIP supervising attorney Paige Kaneb at the evidentiary hearing September 2011. Visit: The Innocence Project

(LOS ANGELES / SANTA CLARA) - A California man who spent 21 years behind bars on a wrongful conviction, has filed a federal civil rights suit against Los Angeles, saying the case police built against him based on an unreliable witness.

SF Gate reported today, that 44-year old Maurice Caldwell was released last year while awaiting a retrial. Charles Haines, the Superior Court Judge who overturned Caldwell's conviction in the shooting death of a man named Judy Acosta, ruled that Caldwell can not be retried, because evidence in the case had been destroyed.

"Mr. Caldwell was deprived of the one thing all innocent people deserve: freedom," said Caldwell's suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names the city of San Francisco and several police officers as defendants. They have not responded to the suit in court.

Background

Last September, A Los Angeles County superior court judge today threw out the 1995 murder and attempted robbery convictions of Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) client Obie Anthony.

Judge Kelvin Filer granted the habeas petition on the basis of the cumulative harm of prosecutorial misconduct, specifically the trial prosecutor's failure to correct the false testimony of its key witness, and the prosecution's failure to disclose exculpatory evidence to the defense, specifically the fact that the prosecution's key witness received a “sweetheart deal” in exchange for his testimony against Mr. Anthony.

Paige Kaneb with client Obie Anthony

In overturning the conviction, Judge Filer said that the prosecution's chief witness, around whom the entire case for trial was built, “will say almost anything to avoid consequences to himself . . . in an earlier proceeding, he lied about the death of his own mother.”

Judge Filer issued the order after lawyers for NCIP at Santa Clara University School of Law, who have represented Anthony for three years, along with lawyers from Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent, presented evidence of his innocence during an 11-day evidentiary hearing earlier this month.

During the hearing Anthony's lawyers demonstrated the prosecution's key witness had lied repeatedly at trial and that the prosecution knew of his lies but failed to correct them for the jury. They also presented evidence that the prosecution suppressed evidence that impeached its witnesses, that Anthony is actually innocent, and that Anthony's defense attorney at trial failed to investigate and present information that suggested Jones was the actual killer.

Mr. Anthony's team of lawyers was comprised of NCIP lawyers Paige Kaneb, Linda Starr and Seth Flagsberg, Loyola Law School's Project for the Innocent lawyers Adam Grant and Laurie Levenson, and Federal Public Defender Investigator Deborah Crawford. Law students from Santa Clara University School of Law and Loyola Law School also assisted.

“This conviction should have never happened,” said NCIP Legal Director Linda Starr. “Police purposely ignored and hid evidence that did not support their theory, and manipulated the witnesses to create evidence to support their misguided tunnel vision. The prosecution falsely denied that they granted their star witness a deal for his cooperation and failed to correct his lies at trial. And Mr. Anthony's own attorney failed to investigate the case. For their failures, Mr. Anthony has spent 17 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit - and the actual murderer has remained free. This cannot be considered justice.”

“Obie Anthony is an innocent man who has survived this ordeal with grace and courage,” said NCIP attorney Paige Kaneb. “Even now, Mr. Anthony is not angry. Instead, he just wants to start his life as a free man, go to college, and then devote his time to helping others.”

The Crime

Anthony was convicted of the March 27, 1994 attempted robbery and murder of Felipe Gonzales primarily based on the testimony of one star witness, John Jones, a pimp with a prior manslaughter conviction.

Shortly before midnight that evening, Felipe Gonzales, Victor Trejo, and Luis Jimenez drove to a house of prostitution in Los Angeles on the corner of 49th Street and Figueroa Street. Gonzales got out to solicit the services of one of the prostitutes, while the others remained in the vehicle. Security guards employed by John Jones–who operated the house of prostitution–informed Gonzales that the woman he asked about was unavailable and that he should return the next day. As he walked back to the car, three or four men surrounded him and the car, demanding money.

According to the victims, one of the robbers opened the passenger door and began shooting at the occupants, at which point Trejo drove away. Trejo saw Gonzales running, and as the car turned the corner he heard more shots, but saw nothing more.

Gonzales' body was found on the corner of 49th and Figueroa.

Police had no leads on the crime, until one month later, when Elliot Santana falsely claimed to have been carjacked at gunpoint by three men, and identified Anthony and two of his friends, Reggie Cole and Michael Miller, as those men. Police proceeded to put photographs of Anthony, Cole and Miller into photographic lineups and showed the lineups to witnesses to the Gonzales murder.

Of the seven people shown the photographs, only one, John Jones, positively identified Anthony and Cole. No one identified Miller. Based on Jones' identifications, Anthony and Cole were arrested and charged with the murder of Gonzales and related offenses. Police then conducted a live lineup and again, Jones was the sole person to positively identify Anthony.

The prosecution's case at trial rested entirely on eyewitness testimony. The fingerprints lifted from the car did not match Anthony or Cole, nor did shoeprints taken from the scene. Detectives found no murder weapon or clothing that matched the descriptions provided by witnesses. In fact, no physical evidence ever connected either man to the crime. Both Anthony and Cole presented numerous alibi witnesses who testified that the two men were home on the night of the murder. Despite this, both were convicted and received prison sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

The carjacking counts for which Anthony and Cole were originally identified, were dismissed when Santana revealed prior to his testimony—but after opening statements in which the jury heard about both crimes—that he had fabricated the allegation because he didn't want his wife to find out he had been with a prostitute. The jury was informed only that the charges were dismissed and they were not to speculate why.

Re-investigation Uncovers Evidence of Innocence An NCIP team, along with a Loyola Law School team and Federal Public Defender Investigator Deborah Crawford, conducted an exhaustive re-investigation of the case. They uncovered new evidence that the prosecution had concealed from the defense that John Jones was rewarded for his testimony and lied about it at trial.

Jones also signed a declaration swearing that he never actually saw the perpetrators well enough to identify them. He explained at the hearing that he had obtained descriptions of the perpetrators from others and that the detectives had indicated which photographs they expected him to select, and then fed him false information that gave him confidence in his identifications of Anthony and Cole, including information that one of them had been shot.

Further, Anthony's attorneys uncovered and presented numerous witnesses who say that Jones employed armed security to protect his building, that Jones always carried a gun and fired at people to protect his business, that Jones was on the roof that night, and that the ballistics evidence shows that the fatal shot was more likely to have come from the roof than from the ground.

In addition, Luis Jimenez, one of the surviving victims who was never interviewed by defense counsel and did not testify at trial, testified at the evidentiary hearing that the shooters were not teenagers and were at least 25-30 years old. Anthony and Cole were teenagers at the time. Jimenez also testified that he had studied the people in the six-packs and live lineups, wanting to make identification because the police said they had caught the perpetrators, but he simply did not recognize anyone.

The court ordered Anthony released on his own recognizance, pending the completion of release paperwork.

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Man released after 21 years in murder case sues S.F.
04/17/2012
San Francisco Chronicle

A man whose murder conviction in a 1990 drug-related killing in San Francisco was set aside after he had served 21 years behind bars has filed a federal civil rights suit against the city, saying police built a case against him based on an unreliable witness.

Maurice Caldwell, 44, was released last year while awaiting a retrial. Superior Court Judge Charles Haines, who had earlier overturned his conviction in the shooting death of a man named Judy Acosta, ruled that Caldwell could not be tried again because evidence in the case had been destroyed.

"Mr. Caldwell was deprived of the one thing all innocent people deserve: freedom," said Caldwell's suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names the city of San Francisco and several police officers as defendants. They have not responded to the suit in court.

Prosecutors said Acosta was shot over a drug deal gone bad at San Francisco's Alemany public housing project.

Caldwell was serving a sentence of 27 years to life at Folsom State Prison and appeared to have exhausted his legal appeals, until the Northern California Innocence Project, a group of legal advocates based at Santa Clara University, argued that he had been represented by ineffective counsel at his trial.

Haines agreed and ordered a new trial.

Caldwell's conviction hinged on the testimony of a single witness, Mary Cobb, who identified him as one of two gunmen who killed Acosta.

The Innocence Project noted that Cobb had originally told police that she didn't know who the killer was. Cobb died of cancer in 1998, and prosecutors hoped they could present her testimony in transcript form at a new trial.

But the district attorney's office later learned that the exhibits from Caldwell's 1993 trial - including 10 crime scene photos and diagrams that prosecutors showed to Cobb during her testimony - had been destroyed around 1995.

Copyright © 2012 San Francisco Chronicle

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APPLE, SAMSUNG AGREE TO PATENT SETTLEMENT TALKS
04/17/2012
San Jose Mercury News

As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple and Samsung to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed in District Court in San Jose on Tuesday, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi would appear.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung countersued Apple, claiming the Cupertino company infringed its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting this spring means a settlement is at hand, but getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola -- a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more important for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson -- it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories or facebook.com/mike.swift3.

Copyright © 2012 San Jose Mercury News

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Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness | View Clip
04/17/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

SAN FRANCISCO -- said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo (YHOO) Inc sued in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple (AAPL) Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war

against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Apple and Samsung chiefs ordered to meet | View Clip
04/17/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple (AAPL) and Samsung to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed in District Court in San Jose Tuesday, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero where Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-sung Choi would appear.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand,

but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google (GOOG), but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle (ORCL) in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola -- a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android -- "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson -- it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

Contact Mike Swift at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/swiftstories or facebook.com/mike.swift3.

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Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents | View Clip
04/17/2012
News & Observer - Online

SAN JOSE, Calif -- SAN JOSE, Calif. - As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola - a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android - "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson - it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

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Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents | View Clip
04/17/2012
PredictWallStreet.com

SAN JOSE, Calif, Apr 17, 2012 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX News Network) -- As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola _ a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android _ "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson _ it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

___

(c)2012 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Mike Swift

Copyright (C) 2012, San Jose Mercury News

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
KWCH-TV - Online

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles ( Mario Anzuoni Reuters, REUTERS / October 15 , 2009 )

Alexei Oreskovic

Reuters

12:03 a.m. CDT , April 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

sns-rt-us-twitter-patentsbre83g1gv-20120417

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
KWGN Online

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

Alexei Oreskovic

Reuters

3:31 p.m. MDT , April 17, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

Copyright 2012, Reuters

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COURTS
04/17/2012
Los Angeles Times

It's being called the World Series of intellectual property trials.

Oracle Corp. has accused Google Inc.'s top executives of swiping a crucial bit of technology to build its Android software that now powers more than 300 million mobile devices.

The showdown between the two Silicon Valley heavyweights got underway in a San Francisco federal courtroom this week with a blast of high-tech star power as the dueling multibillionaire chief executives, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page, took the stand.

A 12-member jury will decide the high-stakes dispute in which Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and an injunction that would force Google to pay licensing fees or stop using Oracle's Java technology to run Android.

Google, which is looking to become as dominant on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers, denies that its Android software infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2010 for $7.3 billion.

"It's potentially a very important trial," said Tyler Ochoa, professor at the High Technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. "Android has become the No. 1 platform for mobile computing, and Oracle wants to get a piece of it."

In his testimony on the second day of the technically complex trial that could last as long as 10 weeks, Ellison painted Google as a freeloader. He told the jury that he met with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones "rather than their own version of Java." But the companies couldn't agree.

Google is "the only company I know" that hasn't taken a license for Java, Ellison said.

A lawyer defending Google told jurors that Oracle explored taking on Google in the smartphone market but decided to sue its would-be rival instead.

"They want to share Android's profits without having done a thing to bring that about," Robert Van Nest said.

Page began his testimony later in the day. He's expected to resume his testimony Wednesday.

UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said Oracle is looking to cut itself into the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices.

"People have been whispering for years that Google has built a great business on other people's technology," Merges said. "But Larry Ellison doesn't beat around the bush. He has never minded stepping onto center stage."

The trial is one of a growing number of intellectual property fights over smartphones, which account for a rapidly growing share of mobile devices.

Google bought the tiny start-up that made Android software in 2005 in a bid to maintain its dominance in search advertising and compete with Apple Inc. The first phone powered by Android software went on sale in October 2008, more than a year before Oracle bought Sun.

Silicon Valley companies for decades have used their patent portfolios to wring concessions from rivals. But until recently, Google didn't pay much attention to intellectual property and did not stockpile patents, even in the highly competitive realm of mobile devices.

The company, as well as handset makers HTC Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. that use Android, are now being pelted with lawsuits from Apple and others. David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, has called the litigation barrage "a hostile, organized campaign against Android."

It's a strategic blunder that now haunts Google.

"Intellectual property assets are a very important piece of the U.S. economy," Ochoa said. "People are fighting over the spoils."

Google now is taking aggressive steps to bulk up its patent portfolio. Analysts say it can't afford to lose momentum as people shift attention from desktop computers to mobile devices. But experts said the lawsuits could increase the cost of making Android phones.

The trial is likely to wade into arcane details of programming languages and intellectual property law that only a programmer or a lawyer could easily grasp. The heart of the dispute is over "application program interfaces" or APIs, which help different types of software communicate.

Google makes Android freely available to device makers and software developers. It makes money from the mobile ads and apps sold on Android. The search giant has said its mobile advertising revenue now tops $2.5 billion, but it hasn't said how much of that money comes from Android devices.

Google says it devoted hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of engineering hours to Android, and that former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz will testify that he supported Google's use of Java. His testimony will bring to the surface an underlying tension in Silicon Valley between brainy programmers who build the technology and the deal-making executives who want to profit from it.

"Sun was a fairly altruistic company in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership," Merges said. "Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren't thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset."

The hard-charging Ellison, who has built his fortune on selling high-priced software, has brought several lawsuits against rivals, alleging they stole Oracle's intellectual property. The Google lawsuit signals Oracle plans to aggressively pursue anyone it thinks is infringing Java, which Ellison said Tuesday was "by far the most important" purchase Oracle has made.

In his opening statement, Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs zeroed in on internal emails that suggest Google knew it should pay licensing fees to use some of Java's technology. In August 2010, Google engineer Tim Lindholm recommended negotiating a Java license.

"Whatever the outcome is going to be, money won't be the most important part," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and author of a popular blog on patents. "This is about Oracle's long-term strategic plans for its Java platform."

--

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

PHOTO: ORACLE CEO Larry Ellison arrives at federal court in San Francisco. His firm acquired Java with its purchase of Sun Microsystems in 2010.

PHOTOGRAPHER:Paul Sakuma Associated Press

Copyright © 2012 Los Angeles Times

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CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java | View Clip
04/17/2012
Los Angeles Times - Online

CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java

Google denies its Android software for mobile devices infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems.

In his testimony on the second day of the technically complex trial that could last as long as 10 weeks, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison painted Google as a freeloader. Above, Ellison arrives at a federal court building in San Francisco. ( Paul Sakuma, Associated Press / April 17 , 2012 )

By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

April 18, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO - It's being called the World Series of intellectual property trials.

Oracle Corp. has accused Google Inc.'s top executives of swiping a crucial bit of technology to build its Android software that now powers more than 300 million mobile devices.

The showdown between the two Silicon Valley heavyweights got underway in a San Francisco federal courtroom this week with a blast of high-tech star power as the dueling multibillionaire chief executives, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page , took the stand.

A 12-member jury will decide the high-stakes dispute in which Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and an injunction that would force Google to pay licensing fees or stop using Oracle's Java technology to run Android.

Google, which is looking to become as dominant on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers, denies that its Android software infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2010 for $7.3 billion.

"It's potentially a very important trial," said Tyler Ochoa, professor at the High Technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. "Android has become the No. 1 platform for mobile computing, and Oracle wants to get a piece of it."

In his testimony on the second day of the technically complex trial that could last as long as 10 weeks, Ellison painted Google as a freeloader. He told the jury that he met with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones "rather than their own version of Java." But the companies couldn't agree.

Google is "the only company I know" that hasn't taken a license for Java, Ellison said.

A lawyer defending Google told jurors that Oracle explored taking on Google in the smartphone market but decided to sue its would-be rival instead.

"They want to share Android's profits without having done a thing to bring that about," Robert Van Nest said.

Page began his testimony later in the day. He's expected to resume his testimony Wednesday.

UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said Oracle is looking to cut itself into the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices.

"People have been whispering for years that Google has built a great business on other people's technology," Merges said. "But Larry Ellison doesn't beat around the bush. He has never minded stepping onto center stage."

The trial is one of a growing number of intellectual property fights over smartphones, which account for a rapidly growing share of mobile devices.

Google bought the tiny start-up that made Android software in 2005 in a bid to maintain its dominance in search advertising and compete with Apple Inc. The first phone powered by Android software went on sale in October 2008, more than a year before Oracle bought Sun.

Silicon Valley companies for decades have used their patent portfolios to wring concessions from rivals. But until recently, Google didn't pay much attention to intellectual property and did not stockpile patents, even in the highly competitive realm of mobile devices.

The company, as well as handset makers including HTC Corp. , Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. that use Android, are now being pelted with lawsuits from Apple and others. David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, has called the litigation barrage "a hostile, organized campaign against Android."

It's a strategic blunder that now haunts Google.

"Intellectual property assets are a very important piece of the U.S. economy," Ochoa said. "People are fighting over the spoils."

Google now is taking aggressive steps to bulk up its patent portfolio. Analysts say it can't afford to lose momentum as people shift their attention from desktop computers to mobile devices. But experts said the mounting lawsuits could increase the cost of making Android phones.

The trial is likely to wade into arcane details of programming languages and intellectual property law that only a programmer or a lawyer could easily grasp. The heart of the dispute is over "application program interfaces" or APIs, which help different types of software communicate.

Google makes Android freely available to device makers and software developers. It makes money from the mobile ads and apps sold on Android. The search giant has said its mobile advertising revenue now tops $2.5 billion, but it hasn't said how much of that money comes from Android devices.

Google says it devoted hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of engineering hours to Android, and that former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz will testify that he supported Google's use of Java. His testimony will bring to the surface an underlying tension in Silicon Valley between brainy programmers who build the technology and the deal-making executives who want to profit from it.

"Sun was a fairly altruistic company in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership," Merges said. "Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren't thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset."

The hard-charging Ellison, who has built his fortune on selling high-priced software, has brought several lawsuits against rivals, alleging they stole Oracle's intellectual property. The Google lawsuit signals Oracle plans to aggressively pursue anyone it thinks is infringing Java, which Ellison said Tuesday was "by far the most important" purchase Oracle has made.

In his opening statement, Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs zeroed in on internal emails that suggest Google knew it should pay licensing fees to use some of Java's technology. In August 2010, Google engineer Tim Lindholm recommended negotiating a Java license.

"Whatever the outcome is going to be, money won't be the most important part," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and author of a popular blog on patents. "This is about Oracle's long-term strategic plans for its Java platform."

jessica.guynn@latimes.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The problem with patent wars | View Clip
04/17/2012
Calgary Herald - Online, The

The patents arms race has exploded into a cesspool of lawsuits as gentlemen's agreement of not suing has been overturned.

Photograph by: File , Fotolia

The Internet Age is becoming as known for patent litigation as it is for online innovation.

From the makers of computer chips to creators of smartphones and designers of videogames, rivalries have spread from marketplaces to courtrooms with combatants warring over rights to use technology.

"For many years, there was basically a stalemate in the patents arms race with an understanding that companies wouldn't sue each other," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley.

"That was disrupted by a new business model of patent assertion," she continued. "It has become acceptable to violate the gentlemen's agreement of not suing and now it is the new norm."

The break in the unofficial truce was inspired in part by "patent trolls," entities that buy or file patents with the sole intent of some day suing entrepreneurs who use the ideas.

Ranks of patent trolls are growing, as is the number of large companies turning to patent litigation not just to cash-in but to gain or protect market terrain, according to Chien.

"What do you call an AOL or a dying company that turns to patent lawsuits?" she asked rhetorically. "Do they become corporate trolls?"

Struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! last month filed a lawsuit against Facebook accusing the social networking star of infringing on 10 of its patents.

The suit claimed that "Facebook's entire social network model, which allows users to create profiles and connect with, among other things, persons and businesses, is based on Yahoo!'s patented social networking technology."

Facebook returned fire with a countersuit accusing Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo! of being the one infringing on patents, and not the other way around.

Even business software giant Oracle has weighed in. A trial will get underway on Monday in a patent case Oracle filed against Google based on software used in Android operating systems.

As patent suits proliferate, Internet firms with ample war chests are spending small fortunes to arm themselves with portfolios purchased from technology companies selling off intellectual assets.

AOL this week announced plans to sell more than 800 patents to Microsoft in a $1.056 billion deal giving the faded Internet star a needed cash injection.

Microsoft general counsel Brad Smith said that the software giant is getting "a valuable portfolio that we have been following for years."

Facebook in March confirmed that it bought 750 software and networking patents from IBM to beef up it arsenal on an increasingly lawsuit-strewn technology battlefield.

Early this year, Google bought 188 patents and 29 patent applications related to mobile phones from IBM but did not disclose how much it paid.

Last year, IBM sold Google 2,000 or so patents ranging from mobile software to computer hardware and processors.

Google has been strengthening its patent portfolio as the fight for dominance in the booming smartphone and tablet computer markets increasingly involves patent lawsuits - with Apple a prime litigator.

The Mountain View, California, technology titan behind Android mobile device software last year transferred patents to smartphone giant HTC Corp. to help the Taiwan-based company in an intellectual property clash with iPhone maker Apple.

Apple has accused HTC and other smartphone makers using Google's Android mobile operating system of infringing on Apple-held patents.

Some of the patents that HTC got from Google had belonged to Motorola Mobility, which Google is buying for $12.5 billion in cash in a quest for precious patents.

"Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google's patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies," Google chief executive Larry Page said when the Motorola Mobility buy was announced.

Motorola Mobility chief executive Sanjay Jha told financial analysts the US maker of smartphones and touchscreen tablet computers has over 17,000 issued patents and another 7,500 pending.

Meanwhile, Apple and Microsoft allied in a consortium that outbid Google to buy thousands of patents from bankrupt Nortel Corp. in what was branded the largest transfer of intellectual property of the Internet Age.

"The reality is, there is more and more liability in making a product," Chien said. "Companies like Google and Facebook with few patents but big roles in the marketplace have the most to lose."

Patent suits in hot Internet markets are not necessarily bad news for consumers, provided that companies cashing in use windfalls to develop even more innovative products, according to Chien.

Managing patents could also become a potential source of competitive advantage for startups.

"The Facebook example shows that you can go out and buy patent protection," Chien said. "It is only when you are making money that you become interesting as a target, and when you are making money you can afford to buy patents."

© Copyright (c) AFP

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CEOs of Oracle, Google square off in court over Java | View Clip
04/17/2012
American News - Online

Google denies its Android software for mobile devices infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems.

By Jessica Guynn, Los Angeles Times

9:44 p.m. CDT, April 17, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO — It's being called the World Series of intellectual property trials.

Oracle Corp. has accused Google Inc.'s top executives of swiping a crucial bit of technology to build its Android software that now powers more than 300 million mobile devices.

The showdown between the two Silicon Valley heavyweights got underway in a San Francisco federal courtroom this week with a blast of high-tech star power as the dueling multibillionaire chief executives, Oracle's Larry Ellison and Google's Larry Page, took the stand.

A 12-member jury will decide the high-stakes dispute in which Oracle is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and an injunction that would force Google to pay licensing fees or stop using Oracle's Java technology to run Android.

Google, which is looking to become as dominant on mobile devices as it is on desktop computers, denies that its Android software infringes the patents and copyrights of Java, a programming technology that Oracle obtained when it bought Sun Microsystems Inc. in 2010 for $7.3 billion.

"It's potentially a very important trial," said Tyler Ochoa, professor at the High Technology Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. "Android has become the No. 1 platform for mobile computing, and Oracle wants to get a piece of it."

In his testimony on the second day of the technically complex trial that could last as long as 10 weeks, Ellison painted Google as a freeloader. He told the jury that he met with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in 2010 to discuss a joint project in which Google would use Oracle's version of Java in its Android software for smartphones "rather than their own version of Java." But the companies couldn't agree.

Google is "the only company I know" that hasn't taken a license for Java, Ellison said.

A lawyer defending Google told jurors that Oracle explored taking on Google in the smartphone market but decided to sue its would-be rival instead.

"They want to share Android's profits without having done a thing to bring that about," Robert Van Nest said.

Page began his testimony later in the day. He's expected to resume his testimony Wednesday.

UC Berkeley law professor Robert Merges said Oracle is looking to cut itself into the lucrative smartphone market with the Java technology that Sun Microsystems created in the mid-1990s to write programs that work on different operating systems and devices.

"People have been whispering for years that Google has built a great business on other people's technology," Merges said. "But Larry Ellison doesn't beat around the bush. He has never minded stepping onto center stage."

The trial is one of a growing number of intellectual property fights over smartphones, which account for a rapidly growing share of mobile devices.

Google bought the tiny start-up that made Android software in 2005 in a bid to maintain its dominance in search advertising and compete with Apple Inc. The first phone powered by Android software went on sale in October 2008, more than a year before Oracle bought Sun.

Silicon Valley companies for decades have used their patent portfolios to wring concessions from rivals. But until recently, Google didn't pay much attention to intellectual property and did not stockpile patents, even in the highly competitive realm of mobile devices.

The company, as well as handset makers including HTC Corp., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. that use Android, are now being pelted with lawsuits from Apple and others. David Drummond, Google's chief legal officer, has called the litigation barrage "a hostile, organized campaign against Android."

It's a strategic blunder that now haunts Google.

"Intellectual property assets are a very important piece of the U.S. economy," Ochoa said. "People are fighting over the spoils."

Google now is taking aggressive steps to bulk up its patent portfolio. Analysts say it can't afford to lose momentum as people shift their attention from desktop computers to mobile devices. But experts said the mounting lawsuits could increase the cost of making Android phones.

The trial is likely to wade into arcane details of programming languages and intellectual property law that only a programmer or a lawyer could easily grasp. The heart of the dispute is over "application program interfaces" or APIs, which help different types of software communicate.

Google makes Android freely available to device makers and software developers. It makes money from the mobile ads and apps sold on Android. The search giant has said its mobile advertising revenue now tops $2.5 billion, but it hasn't said how much of that money comes from Android devices.

Google says it devoted hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of engineering hours to Android, and that former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz will testify that he supported Google's use of Java. His testimony will bring to the surface an underlying tension in Silicon Valley between brainy programmers who build the technology and the deal-making executives who want to profit from it.

"Sun was a fairly altruistic company in their views about intellectual property assertion and ownership," Merges said. "Some people will see it as a sad day that the Java system built by people who wanted to have it used very widely and weren't thinking about monetizing it has now become a big fat corporate asset."

The hard-charging Ellison, who has built his fortune on selling high-priced software, has brought several lawsuits against rivals, alleging they stole Oracle's intellectual property. The Google lawsuit signals Oracle plans to aggressively pursue anyone it thinks is infringing Java, which Ellison said Tuesday was "by far the most important" purchase Oracle has made.

In his opening statement, Oracle lawyer Michael Jacobs zeroed in on internal emails that suggest Google knew it should pay licensing fees to use some of Java's technology. In August 2010, Google engineer Tim Lindholm recommended negotiating a Java license.

"Whatever the outcome is going to be, money won't be the most important part," said Florian Mueller, an intellectual property analyst and author of a popular blog on patents. "This is about Oracle's long-term strategic plans for its Java platform."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness | View Clip
04/17/2012
Contra Costa Times - Online

Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness

By Alexei Oreskovic

Reuters

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/17/2012 04:08:40 PM PDT

April 17, 2012 11:9 PM GMT Updated:

04/17/2012 04:08:41 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo ( YHOO ) Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple ( AAPL ) Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war

against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

Copyright 2012 San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
Hartford Courant - Online

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks

Social Media

Media Industry

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness | View Clip
04/17/2012
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin - Online

SAN FRANCISCO -- said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo (YHOO) Inc sued in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple (AAPL) Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F. | View Clip
04/17/2012
Inside Scoop SF

Article:Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F.:/c/a/2012/04/17/BAC31O4RFO.DTL

Article:Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F.:/c/a/2012/04/17/BAC31O4RFO.DTL

Man freed after 21 years in murder case sues S.F.

Henry K. Lee

San Francisco Chronicle

April 17, 2012 06:20 PM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

(04-17) 18:20 PDT SAN FRANCISCO --

A man whose murder conviction in a 1990 drug-related killing in San Francisco was set aside after he had served 21 years behind bars has filed a federal civil rights suit against the city, saying police built a case against him based on an unreliable witness.

Maurice Caldwell, 44, was released last year while awaiting a retrial. Superior Court Judge Charles Haines, who had earlier overturned his conviction in the shooting death of a man named Judy Acosta, ruled that Caldwell could not be tried again because evidence in the case had been destroyed.

"Mr. Caldwell was deprived of the one thing all innocent people deserve: freedom," said Caldwell's suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, names the city of San Francisco and several police officers as defendants. They have not responded to the suit in court.

Prosecutors said Acosta was shot over a drug deal gone bad at San Francisco's Alemany public housing project.

He was serving a sentence of 27 years to life at Folsom State Prison and appeared to have exhausted his legal appeals, until the Northern California Innocence Project, a group of legal advocates based at Santa Clara University , argued that he had been represented by ineffective counsel at his trial.

Haines agreed and ordered a new trial.

Caldwell's conviction hinged on the testimony of a single witness, Mary Cobb, who identified him as one of two gunmen who killed Acosta.

The Innocence Project noted that Cobb had originally told police that she didn't know who the killer was. Cobb died of cancer in 1998, and prosecutors hoped they could present her testimony in transcript form at a new trial.

But the district attorney's office later learned that the exhibits from Caldwell's 1993 trial - including 10 crime scene photos and diagrams that prosecutors showed to Cobb during her testimony - had been destroyed around 1995.

Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Twitter: @henryklee . hlee@sfchronicle.com

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
International Business Times

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

By Alexei Oreskovic

April 18, 2012 1:14 AM EDT

Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.

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Talks during coming days | View Clip
04/17/2012
John Lott's Website

The first four talks will be on gun control issues. San Francisco Federalist Society, Lawyers Chapter, April 17, 2012, 4 Embarcadero Center, 17th Floor. People arrive at 5:45 pm and things get started with the program at 6:15. University of Santa Clara Law School, April 18, noon to 1:15 PM Sacramento State University, April 18, 7 PM, contact c_hallen@u.pacific.edu Cal State University Fresno, April 19, 1 PM,  contact Neil O'Brien, Vice President Young Americans for Liberty- CSU Fresno Chapter P.O. Box 2187 Clovis Ca, 93613 Cell: (760) 898-9898 Email: neil@ntrdinc.com Web: http://www.yaliberty.org/chapters/chapter/82 On April 20th, Alan Stock is putting on a book signing for me for "Debacle" and some of my other books from 4pm-6pm at Mundo in downtown Las Vegas.  It should be a lot of fun.

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Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness | View Clip
04/17/2012
InsideBayArea.com

Twitter seeks to stay out of patent madness

By Alexei Oreskovic

Reuters

mercurynews.com

Posted:

04/17/2012 04:08:40 PM PDT

April 17, 2012 11:39 PM GMT Updated:

04/17/2012 04:39:47 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO -- Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo ( YHOO ) Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple ( AAPL ) Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war

against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

Copyright 2012 San Jose Mercury News. All rights reserved.

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Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents | View Clip
04/17/2012
Telegraph - Online, The

SAN JOSE, Calif. - As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

"As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate" at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices "slavishly" copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

"It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation," said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola - a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android - "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this," Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson - it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

"If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of" the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. "At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take."

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Apple, Samsung CEOs ordered to mediation session on patents | View Clip
04/17/2012
Tribune - Online

First Posted: April 17, 2012 - 4:52 pm

SAN JOSE, Calif. — As Silicon Valley's patent wars rage, a federal judge has ordered the CEOs of Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to a face-to-face mediation session to try to settle their differences over smartphone technology.

Federal Judge Lucy Koh, in an order filed Tuesday in District Court in San Jose, gave the two companies 90 days to hold a settlement conference with Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero, attended by Apple CEO Tim Cook and Samsung CEO Gee-Sung Choi.

“As the parties have indicated in their joint statement, the chief executive officer and general counsel of Apple and the chief executive officer and general counsel of Samsung shall appear and participate” at the mediation session, Koh's order states.

Apple sued Samsung last April, claiming Samsung's Galaxy phones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers infringed patents and the trademarked look and shape of the iPhone and iPad, and that the Android-powered devices “slavishly” copied Apple's popular mobile devices. After Samsung counter-sued Apple, claiming the Cupertino, Calif., company infringed on its technology patents, the two companies have plunged into a global intellectual property battle.

The case is expected to go to trial in July. Legal experts said there's no way to know whether the summit meeting later this spring means a settlement is at hand, but that getting the two CEOs together could change the dynamic of the conversation.

“It's a different situation to have two lawyers who are hired to argue meet, than to have these two leaders in technology, these two kind of giants. It's a different conversation,” said Colleen Chien, a law professor at Santa Clara University who specializes in intellectual property law.

The Apple vs. Samsung suit doesn't overtly focus on Google, but Apple's action against the Korean smartphone manufacturer is widely seen as a proxy war against Google's Android mobile operating system, which runs on Samsung's devices and has surpassed Apple's iOS as the world's most popular mobile operating system.

With Google already enmeshed in a battle with Oracle in federal court in San Francisco over the intellectual property rights to Android, the Apple-Samsung battle represents a kind of second battle front against Android. Apple has also filed patent-infringement suits against Android-phone makers HTC and Motorola Mobility, which is being acquired by Google.

Google essentially gives the Android operating system away to phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC and Motorola — a direct affront to Apple's business model. Google indirectly profits from Android through searches made from Android devices, as well as content sold through its Google Play store for those tablets and phones.

But perhaps more importantly for Google, Android represents a beachhead in an Internet that is increasingly migrating from desktop to mobile.

Given Steve Jobs' famous oath to destroy Android — “I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go to thermonuclear war on this,” Jobs told biographer Walter Isaacson — it's hard to know whether Cook will be more conciliatory than the late Apple founder.

A similar judicial tete-a-tete last year between Google CEO Larry Page and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over Android failed to prevent Oracle's suit against Google over Android from going to trial this week.

“If Apple feels their patents are rock-solid, as does Samsung, I don't exactly know what will come out of” the mediation session, said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies, who has followed Apple closely for decades. “At the moment, Apple has not shown they are willing to have any give or take on this issue, and it doesn't appear Samsung is willing to have any give or take.”

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
WHTC-AM - Online

News

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 5:29 p.m. EDT

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

SEVERE WEATHER ALERT:

Frost Advisory

More Details Hide Details

miz056>059-064>067-071>074-180800-

/o.new.kgrr.fr.y.0006.120418t0600z-120418t1200z/

ottawa-kent-ionia-clinton-allegan-barry-eaton-ingham-van buren-

kalamazoo-calhoun-jackson-

including the cities of...jenison...grand rapids...ionia...

st. johns...holland...hastings...charlotte...lansing...

south haven...kalamazoo...battle creek...jackson

1252 pm edt tue apr 17 2012

...frost advisory in effect from 2 am to 8 am edt wednesday...

the national weather service in grand rapids has issued a frost

advisory...which is in effect from 2 am to 8 am edt wednesday.

hazardous weather...

* temperatures will fall to near or slightly below freezing

tonight...especially between 2am and 8am.

* more widespread frost is expected the further north you go.

impacts...

* damage to unprotected vegetation is likely.

precautionary/preparedness actions...

* a frost advisory is issued when frost is expected to develop

during the growing season. those with agricultural interests in

the advised area are advised to harvest or protect tender

vegetation. also... potted plants normally left outdoors should

be covered or brought inside away from the cold.

&&

$$

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
wsau.com

News

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

Tuesday, April 17, 2012 4:29 p.m. CDT

By Alexei Oreskovic

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
wtaq.com

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

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Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits | View Clip
04/17/2012
Yahoo! News

Twitter to limit use of patents in lawsuits

By Alexei Oreskovic | Reuters _ 22 minutes ago

Related Content

View Photo

A Twitter page is displayed on a laptop computer in Los Angeles October 13, 2009. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Twitter said on Tuesday that it would structure its patents so they could not be used for offensive litigation purposes without permission from the people who developed them.

Twitter said the move would give inventors more control over their creations and ensure its patents are not used to "impede the innovation of others," the company said in a post on its official blog.

"It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission," Twitter said on the blog.

Twitter, which launched its microblogging service in 2006, does not currently have any patents, but sources said the company has applied for many.

Patent litigation involving tech companies has exploded during the past two years. Yahoo Inc sued Facebook in March for infringing ten of its patents, and smartphone manufacturers such as Apple Inc and Microsoft Corp are engaged in a fierce legal war against rivals such as Motorola Mobility.

Some patent holders are derided as "patent trolls" by critics, a term the holders say unfairly paints them as villains for helping inventors make money.

Twitter said that the limits on the use of its patents, which it dubbed the Innovator's Patent Agreement, will apply to patents even after they are sold.

Eric Goldman, an associate professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, said Twitter's announcement will burnish the company's standing among software engineers, some of whom have grumbled at seeing their patents used to sue other companies.

"Unquestionably, it's an effort to define Twitter's brand in the marketplace and to signal that its perhaps more engineering-friendly than companies that wouldn't make such a promise," said Goldman.

(Reporting By Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

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*Lawyer pursuing El Salvador massacre case honored with SCU law award | View Clip
04/17/2012
Valley Catholic, The

On March 14, Almudena Bernabeu, an attorney who has spent 15 years pursuing justice for victims of human rights abuses across Latin America, Africa and the world, was honored with the 2012 Katharine and George Alexander Law Prize from Santa Clara University School of Law.
The award is given to top lawyers who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity anywhere in the world.
Bernabeu works at the San Francisco-based international human rights Center for Justice and Accountability, where, among the cases she is prosecuting, is the one against Salvadoran officials allegedly responsible for the massacre of six Jesuit priests and two female employees in 1989.
The award ceremony was held at Santa Clara University's Harrington Learning Commons.

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*Silicon Valley Spats | View Clip
03/13/2012
CNN International

CNN International

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

New Rail Construction Project; Silicon Valley Spats; Digital Disney; Room Rates; Rare Earth Row Pits Europe, Japan, US Against China; Rare Earths Explained; US Trade Rep on Rare Earth Case; Rare Earths Global Chair Weighs In; US Fed Report; Dow Holds Above 13,000; Oil Prices Rising; The Millennials

Aired March 13, 2012 - 15:00 ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NINA DOS SANTOS, HOST: Rare earths and regular mud-slinging. The United States, the EU, and Japan accuse China of breaking international trade rules.

More jobs, more spending, and inflation it seems, at least, is at bay. Hopes from the Fed in its latest statement as rates stay low.

And defriended. Yahoo sues Facebook, taking patent wars into social media.

I'm Nina Dos Santos in for Richard Quest, and this is QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Good evening. Europe, the United States, and Japan are all accusing China of hoarding raw materials vital to the technology sector and they're asking the World Trade Organization, now, to intervene.

The nations say that China's policy on the export of rare earths breaks WTO rules. China has a virtual monopoly in this field, accounting for some 97 percent of the world's total population.

This country, however, has been tightening export restrictions on the materials since back in 2010, forcing up the price of rare earths around the rest of the world. Europe, Japan, and the US now want those restrictions lifted.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, if China would simply let the market work on its own, we'd have no objections, but their policies currently are preventing that from happening, and they go against the very rules that China agreed to follow.

Being able to manufacture advanced batteries and hybrid cars in America is too important for us to stand by and do nothing. We've got to take control of our energy future, and we can't let that energy industry take root in some other country because they were allowed to break the rules.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: China insists that it isn't breaking any rules, here. Its Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been saying this: "China has worked out its own policy when it comes to managing rare earths, which is in line with those WTO regulations."

Now, despite being called "rare earths," these elements in question are actually not all that rare at all. In fact, they occupy vast swathes of the periodic table. Places like this, as you can see over here, and also this large chunk all the way over at the bottom of the periodic table down there.

If we hone in on some of these particular elements and just show you exactly why they're so important, you get an idea. Because what they do is they go into all sorts of everyday items that we use.

Let's start out with this first item, lanthanum. It's a particular substance of which huge amounts is needed for the production of batteries used in hybrid cars.

And as we all know, as people are more keen to become more environmentally friendly, well, those hybrid cars are becoming increasingly popular. One of the reasons why producers of those cars from the United States wants to see more of that lanthanum on the market.

Up next, if we take a look at this one, it's Yttrium. This is a particular substance used to make light-emitting diodes and also fiber optic cables. In our age of the internet, well, obviously, fiber optic cables, and access to the materials we need t produce them is paramount.

And then, finally, I want to move onto this particular element, here. It is neodymium. This element is used to make very strong magnets and hard drives. As we know, in this age of computer technologies, hard drives are really crucial to that cycle.

But also, they have a particular use in wind turbines and, crucially, for some of you who like music out there, they give that extra oomph to headphones and speakers in cars and also in your headphones, if you listen to in iPad, and so on so forth. So, these are some pretty crucial elements, here, in the supply chain for high-technology products.

Now, some critics say that the US made a mistake initially by letting China corner the market for rare earths and also, on the other hand, bear the brunt of the environmental damage that goes with producing these materials.

Ron Kirk is the US trade representative, and earlier today, he told me that this dispute isn't just about monopolies, it's about playing by those WTO rules.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RON KIRK, US TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: The issue, first of all, Nina, is not about China cornering the market. The issue is about China living up to the commitments that it made when we granted them permanent normal trade relations status and voted to admit them into the WTO ten years ago.

And as part of that, China coveted to not negate in certain behavior in their export restraints on raw materials, which we challenged two years ago, and rare earths, we think, operate counter to that and have the potential to horribly distort the market, and also be another tool that China has used to try to force American manufacturers to relocate to China.

DOS SANTOS: But --

KIRK: So, we don't have any -- we're not challenging the amount they produced. We are challenging the way we believe they've unfairly distorted the market.

DOS SANTOS: But critics would also say that the United States decided not to produce rare earths themselves because it's extremely detrimental to the environment. You can't have it both ways.

KIRK: Well, you can -- listen. Again, we're not challenging China's actions to protect their environment, and to be certain, the United States is not alone in raising this concern. We were joined by the European Union and Japan in this case. When we challenged China's export restraints on raw materials, we were joined by Mexico and others.

Because we all recognize and understand China's being a part of this global economy can be a powerful tool to liberalize trade, but it isn't going to work if China only uses it to their advantage.

And the United States is going to look for alternative sources of materials, but that doesn't change and will not lessen our resolve to ask China to do one simple thing: you've got to play by the same rules as everybody else does.

DOS SANTOS: There aren't an awful lot of other producers in the world of rare earths. You don't have many options here.

Now, if China were to say, "Well, you know, we're limiting the supply of rare earths because it's detrimental to the environment," some of the byproducts are really very nasty, some of them are even radioactive. What if for environmental reasons, they want to curtail that supply themselves. You can understand why they'd want to do that.

KIRK: We -- again, Nina, I can't make it any more clear. This has nothing to do with legitimate steps China -- that China may undertake and probably should undertake to make sure that their mining of these materials is done in an environmentally responsible way. We applaud that.

But that's not what this is about. This is about China deploying a number of strategies over a period of years to artificially lessen the supply of these rare earths while making sure they are available in abundant supply to their own manufacturers.

And I think you can understand the damaging effect that has on the market, and especially when China expressly coveted not to engage in this type of behavior when we admitted them into the World Trade Organization.

So, you can absolutely have proper environmental stewardship, but you can also provide these materials in a way that's not discriminatory or market distorting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Well, this dispute is driving a wedge between the world's major trading partners. Chinese trade with the United States was worth more than $450 billion in 2010. And on the other side of the equation, trade with Europe came to about $500 billion.

Ivor Shrago is the non-executive chairman of the Chinese mining company, Rare Earths Global, and he joins us now, live in our London studio.

First of all, Ivor, it seems as though the United States trade ambassador is forgetting something. They do have some rare earths themselves, don't they?

IVOR SHRAGO, NON-EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, RARE EARTHS GLOBAL: There are a total of about 110 million probable, extractable rare earth elements. He is forgetting that 19 million of those are actually in the US.

The US took a deliberate decision some 20, 25 years ago not to use its own product, but to buy the completed product. As a consequence, China has developed a particular skill and expertise in extracting and, more importantly, refining the rare earth from the rare earth oxides in their separation plants.

That skill is with my company, and we in fact welcome more rare earth from outside because we are able to export our skills in helping them to develop their own mines.

DOS SANTOS: That really is one of the issues, here, isn't it? It's the technology that was involved 20 years or so ago to get what was then a rather unpopular byproduct of the mining industry out of the ground, is also toxic doing so, isn't it? To the environment.

SHRAGO: No, it's not. The way we do it with the mine that we extract the rare earth from, we do it by in-situ leaching method, which is a method by which -- holes are drilled at the top of the mountain and then the result in -- and filled with a solution of water and ammonium carbonate. And then it is --

DOS SANTOS: Soaked through --

SHRAGO: -- soaked through, and then carried into containers, which is then dried, filtered out through a further solution of water and ammonium sulfide. And then, eventually, it is taken off to our separation plant, and then filtered out into the separate elements.

DOS SANTOS: But originally, about 20 years ago, when places like the United States were deciding whether or not to develop this particular skill, it was considered environmentally dicey at that point.

Now, if we talk about where we stand now in terms of the supply chain, isn't it a question of a lot of people want to use high-technology, touch- screen phones, touch-screen tablets and, to a certain extent, the United States has just found itself on the wrong side of this equation?

SHRAGO: Well, there is. They took a wrong decision. And if you look at, say, this iPhone, without this dysprosium, this would be about four or five times its size. We'd still be back in the 1980s in terms of size with our electronic equipment.

DOS SANTOS: Just ever so briefly before I go, they're saying that this isn't about just rare earths, it's about the rules of trade in accordance with the WTO. What's your comment to that? They're saying just, places like China aren't playing fairly by the rules that they've signed up to.

SHRAGO: It's an election year.

DOS SANTOS: OK, Ivor Shrago, thanks ever so much for joining us.

Now, the Fed statement is out, and there's a warning over the price of oil, as some analysts have been expecting, some might say. We'll take you to the ins and outs of what Ben Bernanke has to say about it next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: The Federal Reserve says that the United States is heading for a spell of higher than expected inflation, and that's basically because of the recent spike in the price of oil and gas. Policymakers released their statement about an hour or so ago and, in it, they say that inflation is likely to rise in the short term, as oil and gas head in the same direction.

There's better news when it comes to the unemployment front, though, because the jobless rate is expected to fall, albeit, though, gradually. And, as expected, the Fed also decided to keep interest rates on hold at their current, ultra-low levels.

Well, investors are focusing not only on the Fed's decisions, but also crucial to this is the language that it decided to use to communicate what it said today. Maggie Lake has been taking a look over the report, and she joins us, now, live in New York. Any surprises, Maggie?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Only at the margin, Nina. And let's be really clear about that language, because it matters so much. For the most part, the Fed really sticking with its assessment of a sort of moderately improving economy, even though the data stream we've seen lately has been pretty darn good.

When it comes to inflation, which you mentioned in the intro, though, let's talk about that. They did admit that, in the short term, they acknowledge the fact that gas and oil prices are going up, but they were very careful about what they said.

Inflation has been subdued in recent months, although prices of crude oil and gasoline have increased lately. Longer term, inflation expectations, however, have remained stable.

Now, that means that they're not worried about it. They see it at the register, just like we do, but they're telling the market they're not worried about it.

The other difference in this, the departure from the statement we saw last time around, was interesting what they had to say about the global situation. This, of course, had been a big concern, what's been happening in Europe, the fact that everyone was worried about contagion.

This time around, they say that the strains in global markets have eased although, they go on to say, they still think the situation presents downside risk.

All in all, the Fed has been a little bit more reluctant, Nina, to sort of acknowledge what most analysts see as an improving US economy because they're worried, I think, about the market running ahead of them.

And in fact, if you took a look at what happened in the market reaction today, stocks were already in rally mode, so the reaction wasn't really felt there. It was in the bond market. We saw yields on the ten- year benchmark bond yields here in the US rise higher.

Why? Because the Fed didn't make any mention of any more quantitative easing, they didn't say anything at all, in fact, and a lot of people are beginning to think, given what we've seen going on with the economy, that that stimulus may be coming to an end, and you're seeing bond yields go up.

The Fed doesn't want that to happen. They want to keep borrowing costs low through 2014, they reiterated that calendar date again. They don't want the market to get ahead of them. It presents an interesting conundrum for the Fed.

The one last thing I'll tell you is that, while there was no mention of quantitative easing of any kind this time, that Operation Twist, that buying of longer-term maturities is going to end in June.

Most market participants think in that April meeting, the next meeting, they're going to have to telegraph what they plan to do about that. We didn't get any hint this time, but that means that next meeting becomes all the more important to the market. And again, you're already seeing the bond market running up in anticipation of that. Nina?

DOS SANTOS: Yes, you certainly do, especially given the fact that Operation Twist was supposed to flatten that all-important yield curve. Maggie Lake, as always, good to see you. Many thanks for that.

Well, Maggie was just telling us about the market reaction in response to the Fed. She was just saying that markets -- equity markets were already in rally mode before this, but the Dow was actually already at a 13,000 -- above 13,000 just before that statement came out. As you can see, it's currently at 13,128, up by 168 points, or 1.3 percent.

Let's go over to Alison Kosik, who's live at the New York Stock Exchange, to tell us why and what the market reaction was.

Alison, you made some pretty good predictions this time yesterday saying that they probably weren't going to talk about quantitative easing, obviously weren't going to talk about moving rates. So, the market has seemed to be pretty strong. It seems that they were already in buying mode before.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, exactly. So, the market is actually rallying for three reasons. What you'd -- what we've seen sort of happen in the past, literally 20 minutes, is the market kind of shoot higher on news from JPMorgan Chase that it's going to go ahead and buy back up to $15 billion in shares and offer its dividend.

This, of course, coming ahead of the results coming out from the Fed's bank stress test of US banks to find out if these banks are strong and in good condition. So, JPMorgan Chase making this announcement.

Immediately, we've seen bank stocks shoot higher, anywhere from 3 to 5 percent, Goldman Sachs up more than 5 percent, Bank of America shares up 3.5 percent. JPMorgan Chase shares up almost 6 percent on this news. That's why you're seeing this extra push higher on the Dow, as we see it, 167 points higher.

But even before that, yes, the market was rallying before the Fed had its meeting. What investors pretty much liked about this is that the Fed didn't take another stimulus off the table, that the Fed wound up leaving the door wide open about a stimulus, and that the Fed really didn't say anything unexpected.

There was also some relief that Operation Twist remains in place. Of course, that's about shifting that $400 billion from short-term to long- term bonds.

But yes, we did see the market rally for those two reasons, and then a third reason: retail sales in the US made their biggest gain in five months in February, rising 1.1 percent. It's showing that American consumers, especially, are buying cars and trucks, even though they're paying more for gasoline.

So, that retail sales number really giving the market that initial push, because it shows that consumers are holding up spending-wise, despite the fact that gasoline prices head higher on a daily basis. Nina?

DOS SANTOS: OK, great. Alison Kosik joining us there, live at the New York Stock Exchange. Many thanks for that.

Now, oil prices continue to rise in today's session. It's something that both Maggie and also Alison were talking about in their respective pieces just before.

Let's have a look at how NYMEX crude is trading at the moment. As you can see, it's adding another 70 cents or so on the barrel at the moment. It's up more than 12 percent over the course of the last three months alone.

And if we take a look at the main European contract, which is often more reactive to some of the geopolitical events that underlie this high oil price, well, Brent is currently up above $126 a barrel, it's up more than 20 percent since just the start of this very year.

Up next, we meet two more of our Millennials. App -- the gap years might sound like fun to some, but for these guys, it's a question of serious business and for this firm to succeed. Stay with us to find out what they do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Tonight, we continue our series on The Millennials. Last week, we introduced you to 22-year-old Michael Burbach in New York, a photography assistant and also an aspiring actor, as well as Milli Bongela in Johannesburg, the 26-year-old fashion blogger.

And this week, we bring you two more. In London, Joe Braidwood, 26 years old here, and already he's chief marketing officer for SwiftKey, that's an award-winning app.

And in Santiago, Chile, we have David Lloyd. He is 27 years old and already managing director of his own company. These two are both part of a new generation that's bent on success -- on its own terms, though.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are young and confident, educated and ambitious. Born in the 1980s, they are the new generation entering the workforce, and their thirst for success knows no bounds. Meet The Millennials.

JOE BRAIDWOOD, CHIEF MARKETING OFFICER, SWIFTKEY: I just want to keep you in the loop on that.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: In London, 26-year-old Joe Braidwood, chief marketing officer for tech start-up SwiftKey.

Morning has broken. Already, commuters are hurrying to work. Behind them, the view is imposing, as St. Paul's Cathedral makes its mark on London's historical landscape. Hoping to leave his own stamp on his workforce is this 26-year-old.

BRAIDWOOD: I'm Joe Braidwood, I'm the chief marketing officer of SwiftKey.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Joe's trajectory has been typically Millennial: out of university and with a law degree in hand, he jumped right into the workforce, working as a journalist for British broadcaster Sky News.

BRAIDWOOD: I was this sort of young, fresh-faced person with not much experience at all coming in and saying, "But this is all wrong. We should be doing things, thinking about the instant audience of people that you can communicate with online."

So, I helped introduce Twitter at Sky News when I was there, and there were a lot of people in the industry at the time who would say, "Oh, it's just Twitter," and "I don't think this is anything that's going to last, it's just a fad, you kind of geeky child obsessed with new technology."

We need to delay the promotion. So, I just wanted to keep you in the loop on that.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: In the loop and on Twitter, Joe's got all the Millennial jargon, and he's using it at work, promoting and marketing SwiftKey, a tech start-up that creates apps using linguistic technology. In other words, predicting what you're going to write next.

BRAIDWOOD: What's so great about this company is that it's acknowledged that we're all Millennials that founded it, we all worked together to build something that we don't rest on our laurels, but we don't come to the table with any preconceived ideas about what we're going to achieve.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: There's no doubt this maturity will push him to new levels.

BRAIDWOOD: I wouldn't say necessarily that I work harder, but I think that I'm more dynamic.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: But it will be his Millennial ambition that will take him places.

BRAIDWOOD: Thinking ambitiously, I don't think, is a bad thing.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: As the company grows, Joe knows there's a chance that they may be bought out.

BRAIDWOOD: I quite like the idea of a kind of a guide.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Can he control his own destiny?

DAVID LLOYD, MANAGING DIRECTOR, INTERN LATIN AMERICA: What time can we meet?

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: In Santiago, Chile, meet 27-year-old David Lloyd, managing director of Intern Latin America.

Santiago, Chile. One of Latin America's most vibrant economies, a hotbed of entrepreneurship, land, and new opportunity.

LLOYD: We can keep a theme in TMI.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Looking to make it here is this young Englishman.

LLOYD: I'm David Lloyd, I'm 27, and managing director of Intern Latin America and Intern London.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Starting up a business in Chile is not the first big leap this Millennial has made. Two years ago, he quit his job on the trading floor at Merrill Lynch in London and became his own boss.

LLOYD: Obviously, you trade kind of security and financial security for doing something which is potentially kind of a lot more exciting and challenging, and that's kind of a balance that you have to -- that I had to make.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: David took a typically Millennial gamble. He spotted an opportunity and ventured to South America, where he launched his own company, Intern Latin America, providing students with internships throughout the continent. In no time, he was doing press for Colombian TV.

(LLOYD SPEAKING SPANISH)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Today, it seems, his gamble has paid off. David has received a $40,000 grant from Start Up Chile, a government program.

LLOYD: Obviously, the money is the thing that stands out, but the reality is that the connections, environment, and everything in Start Up Chile for me is by far the biggest benefit.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Taking the grant means this Millennial has everything to prove.

LLOYD: You do so something off the kind of normal path, and you instinctively can feel a bit defensive, potentially, and you really want the thing to be a success.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: A simple task for someone who's always been an overachiever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How ambitious would you say you are?

LLOYD: Very ambitious. Work's priority, 100 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Keeping up with his own ambition, now that could be more challenging.

LLOYD: I've got no interest in kind of doing nothing, being lazy. Achieving nothing would be very disappointing for me.

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Next week on The Millennials.

(LLOYD SPEAKING SPANISH)

UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Networking in a foreign language, David works the salsa floor looking for business opportunities in Santiago.

And working your profile. Joe takes us with him to Las Vegas as he takes on the Consumer Electronic Show.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DOS SANTOS: And, of course, you can join in the conversation on Twitter or Facebook. Get in touch, let us know what you think of our Millennial series. The big questions we're asking out there is, do they inspire you, or do they just make you feel, well, frankly, old? The hash tag is #cnnmills, or you can also access our Facebook site at facebook.com/cnnquest.

Up next, Europe's biggest construction project blasts off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(HORN SOUNDING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DOS SANTOS: The mayor of London sounds the horn to start the tunneling. We'll go underground to bring you the full story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Hello.

Welcome back.

I'm Nina dos Santos.

You're watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

And these are the main news headlines this hour.

As Afghans protest Sunday's alleged massacre of 16 civilians, we're learning more now about the American soldier accused of the rampage. Officials say that the suspect is on his fourth deployment but his first in Afghanistan. They also say that he suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2010 in Iraq, but was subsequently cleared for duty.

A Syrian opposition group says the security forces have killed at 36 people this Tuesday. Video posted online appears to show a recent explosion in Homs. Another opposition group says that defecting soldiers killed 12 troops during an ambush in Southern Daraa Province.

In Southern Bangladesh, at least 32 people are dead after a ferry carrying at least 20 -- 250 people capsized on its way to the capital, Dhaka. As of Tuesday evening, officials say that around 35 people have been rescued and at least 60 people remain missing. The ferry sank after colliding with another craft.

New arrests in Tuesday in London in connection with the U.K. phone hacking scandal. Well, police say that six people were taken into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. One of them is Rebekah Brooks, the former editor of the now defunct "News of the World" tabloid newspaper, who is also a News International executive.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has just arrived in Washington for official talks with Barack Obama. The two leaders are expected to focus on a timetable for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and also to talk about the conflict in Syria.

Two budget deficit blowouts and two very different responses from the European Union. The EU is suspending $650 million worth of aid to Hungary. It says that Budapest has failed to show that it can bring its deficit under -- under 3 percent of GDP by the year 2013.

Well, the EU says that it will reconsider only if Hungary manages to pass more budget cuts by the month of June. This is Spain's finance minister, though, receiving an unusual greeting here from the Euro Group president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in Brussels today. Now, despite appearances, European leaders are giving Spain an extra breathing room here, because they've agreed that the country should cut its deficit to 5.3 percent of its GDP this year. That is still well above its original target of what I believe was 4.8 percent before.

Well, German investors are also breathing a little easier these days, according to the latest numbers from the ZEW Index. Well, the German think tank says that its reading of investor confidence is currently at its higher level -- highest level in nearly two years.

Europe's main markets are at an eight month high. The Xetra DAX, obviously the market in Germany, broke through the 7000 mark, to finish up more than 1 percent.

Markets had already closed by the time Fitch decided to upgrade Greece's own sovereign debt rating to a level of B minus, with a stable outlook. Do remember that this follows Monday's debt swap, but it has upgraded it to from a "restricted" default rating, which was only put on on the 9th of March.

Europe's largest construction project is underway. Digging has started on the $23 billion Crossrail scheme to link East and West London.

Jim Boulden caught up with London's mayor, Boris Johnson, to take a look at the giant drills that are likely to carve out a significant route under the British capital.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM BOULDEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sounding the horn for London and kick-starting one of Europe's biggest construction projects. These boring machines will soon tunnel under London to add a fast east-west train service far below the capital's creaking Victorian-era transports.

(on camera): In all, there will be eight of these giant machines, creating 21 kilometers, or 13 miles, of tunnel under London. The plan is to have the entire railway operational by the end of 2018.

(voice-over): Never one to miss a photo opportunity, the mayor is touting improvements to London's transport during his reelection campaign.

BORIS JOHNSON, LONDON MAYOR: That east-west corridor will be massively improved. It's going to be like the RER in Paris, only much, much better.

BOULDEN (on camera): And you've had to scale back the budget a bit, though. And you have to be a bit more realistic, I guess, within that sort of budget?

JOHNSON: Yes. We've -- we've taken cost out in a pretty relentless way. In the end, though, you've got to go ahead with the project. This is an amazing thing. This will -- this will liberate loads of Londoners from the -- the oppression of being jammed together in the tube.

BOULDEN (voice-over): Crossrail has been in the planning stages for decades. Now, firms from the U.K., Germany and Spain are heading the tunneling portion of the $23 billion rail line.

Britain was once burdened with a reputation of big projects being late and over budget. Crossrail could Crossrail could literally build on build on Britain's more recent reputation of getting big projects like the Olympic Park completed on time and on budget.

PHILIP CAVE, KIER CONSTRUCTION: Whether you're doing the Olympics or you're doing Crossrail, you need to work with a whole range of people, from the design experts to the clients on the land-based side of life, also to the contractors, where we understand the costs and the risks which are associated with a project. Yes, it creates work and volume of work through the business, but it also builds reputation. We can take that reputation and we translate that to work both in the U.K. and internationally.

BOULDEN: The train service will have limited stations in Central London. So it will cut the journey from Heathrow Airport to London's financial center in half, to 32 minutes, with no need to change trains.

ANDREW WOLSTENHOLME, CEO, CROSSRAIL: For one ticket at Heathrow, for instance, just go right their way across London. It has a huge opportunity to connect to the existing line. So it relieves the lines that are already here.

BOULDEN: If the 73 mile line can be opened with little hassle and within budget, there are plans for a second Crossrail, running southwest to northeast London.

Jim Boulden, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DOS SANTOS: Now, Yahoo! has updated its status with Facebook this morning. And, yes, you guessed it, it's complicated. So much so, in fact, that they're going to the federal courts. We'll explain why after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Well, if you've seen "The Social Network," you'll know that Facebook is no stranger to the world of lawsuits. Well, now, it seems to have another one on its hands. And this time, it comes from Yahoo!.

Now, Yahoo! has been saying that Facebook owes it money for 10 patents to do with things like online messaging and social networking. As a result, it's taking it to the federal court, marking the first big patent dispute in the world of social media.

These kind of lawsuits have been the hottest trend for smartphones for years now, it seems, with everybody in Silicon Valley suing one or the other. And this is just kind of a snapshot of the picture that we have at the moment.

Let's start out with Yahoo!, because it's one of the protagonists today. Yahoo! sued Google back in 2004. And that ended with Yahoo! being awarded millions of Google's shares.

Since then, Google's Android software has seen several lawsuits and counter-suits involving Apple.

Now, speaking of Apple, the late Steve Jobs once said that he would wage, quote, "a thermonuclear war" against Android. He thought that it was based on stolen ideas between Apple's own IOS system.

And Apple has filed a string of lawsuits itself against all sorts of companies that do use Android, like, for instance, HTC and also Samsung. And, also, let's not forget Motorola, which decided to sue Apple back in 2010. Google is so worried about patent lawsuits, that it seems to be spending about $12.5 billion just to buy Motorola's own mobile business, Motorola Mobility.

So it really seems to be a veritable merry-go-round, or some might say vicious circle, among all these companies with various suits pending between each other.

Now, Colleen Chien is the assistant professor at Santa Clara in Silicon Valley.

And she specializes in these kind of patent disputes.

Obviously, some of these companies are ones that she's probably familiar with, as we all are.

And she joins us via Skype.

First of all, Colleen, this suit from Yahoo!, some analysts have been saying that it smacks of desperation, the sort of company that's, you know, seeing its business model die and it's just clutching at the last embers of what it can.

Do you agree with that?

COLLEEN CHIEN, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, SANTA CLARA LAW:

Well, I think what's become more common recently is that as patents have become much more valuable and you've seen these large purchases take place, then a number of companies are looking more carefully at their portfolios and asking, how can we make money off of the portfolio?

And I think from a, you know, kind of common sense perspective, that makes sense. You know, you spend a lot of money on R&D. You spend a lot of money on patenting. And so corporate boards are now looking at portfolios and saying that's not an asset that's been used, can we try to - - to monetize it?

DOS SANTOS: It sounds like they're spending an awful lot of money on lawyers, as well as R&D, though. Perhaps a little too much here. If they're each suing each other, it's probably counter-intuitive or counter- productive.

CHIEN: Well, I think that is a great point. And I think the cost of doing business in, you know, in technology has -- has risen greatly now because of these patent suits. For many years, although there were a lot of patents on these different technologies, companies tried not to -- to fight in the courtroom. They'd rather duke it out in the marketplace.

But now, as you do see more assertions being more common, it's becoming more acceptable to -- to go through that, even though it's very disruptive for the company that brings the suit, that invites countersuit and it takes a lot of resources, as you said, away from kind of the main business.

But as it becomes more lucrative to do so, companies find themselves considering this possibility.

DOS SANTOS: Now, for the average layperson like me, who's not necessarily a technophile, what I would have thought is common sense dictates that some of these patents will be obsolete by the time these cases actually are solved.

CHIEN: Well, the interesting thing about patents is that, especially in the software and Internet spaces, they're often written with such broad and vague language that even though the technologies change, the patents can also adapt and, in some sense, cover later developed technology that the inventor didn't have in mind at all when they wrote the patent.

So, for example, you're -- you know, you might wonder why are old patents over pagers relevant?

Well, because they might involve messaging between two headsets. Well, those two headsets can be construed as pagers, but they can also be thought of as smartphones. I know we see, in the Internet space, some of these ideas have been around for a long time but the patents are still enforced and can be construed to cover technology that's been developed more recently.

DOS SANTOS: OK, Colleen Chien there, professor at Santa Clara Law in Silicon Valley.

Many thanks for helping us to decipher the legal code of all these patents. It seems almost as complicated as the computer and binary code that's used to program them.

Now, with such high stakes involved in the tech world, it's no surprise that some companies, like Disney, are looking to get in on a piece of the action, as well. And that's why this firm is focusing on more mobile games, like, for instance, Where's My Water?, the latest offering.

I spoke to the head of its mobile unit, Bart Decrem, and I asked him why Disney was buying into the world of apps these days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BART DECREM, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT & GM, DISNEY MOBILE: There's 250 million iPhones or IOS devices and 300 million Android devices out there. So a whole generation of kids -- we call them guests -- is growing up and this is their first screen. And then there's whole markets -- a billion and-a-half people in China, a billion people in India. And for many of those folks, this is their first screen.

So this is a really important new distribution channel, way of connecting with our guests.

DOS SANTOS: One thing that, just on an anecdotal basis, I remember is, you see my younger nephews, about three. I've also got young cousins who are about seven. Whereas in my day and age, parents would put their child in front of the television, now they put them in front of the iPad.

DECREM: Yes. It's just a lot of fun. It's very intuitive and it's more interactive.

In the case of, for example, Where's My Water?, it's a puzzle so the kids are engaged and you're actually using your brain and, you know, solving problems.

DOS SANTOS: Now, one position that Disney is in is that it has very recognizable cartoon characters that it can roll out into application gains.

So you're going to be doing that with things like The Little Mermaid, WALL-E, some of the really famous Disney characters that could now become parts of games, not just cartoons.

DECREM: Yes, absolutely. In addition to creating new characters like Swampy, on these devices, we also want to bring our existing characters to life on what's really a set of magical devices.

DOS SANTOS: Now, if we're talking about applications, you have a bit of experience of setting up companies that make those applications. You sold one of them to Zingo, which is a formidable success story, that one.

DECREM: Yes.

DOS SANTOS: It's using the famous...

DECREM: (INAUDIBLE).

DOS SANTOS: -- farm, though (ph).

Is this going to be a significant portion of Disney's revenues going forward?

DECREM: I think right now, the dollars are still modest by Disney's standards. But, you know, in another year or two, there will be a billion people on these devices. So as a network, it's a massive opportunity for companies like Disney.

DOS SANTOS: What are the ingredients toward creating one of the most successful apps?

DECREM: Well, the most important thing is people love their iPhone, their iPad, their smartphone. And they feel like they're these amazing, magical devices. So if you want to be successful, you've really got to offer something delightful, fun and sort of with a sense of perfectionism behind it.

DOS SANTOS: And, also, you've got to keep updating these games...

DECREM: Absolutely.

DOS SANTOS: -- once you put them forward now. So you have a look at Swampy, your character...

DECREM: Yes.

DOS SANTOS: -- in Where's My Water? -- I happen to know this now, after having rooted around on the Internet a little bit. You've had to upgrade those puzzles.

DECREM: Yes.

DOS SANTOS: When it comes to selling these things to people, I think your application only costs about 99 cents. That's not a lot of -- a lot of money.

DECREM: Ninety-nine cents. But there's a billion people out there that might go buy it, right?

And so we've added a lot of company. We've put the game out. It had 80 levels. Now, you get 200 levels. So every few weeks, we add more conthins (ph) so people will keep coming back.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

DOS SANTOS: The business trip is back. While next, the president of Hotels.com will be here to tell us why recovering corporate travel is pushing room rates higher.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back to the show.

Well, hotel room prices rose by an average of 4 percent last year, according to Hotels.com. It says in particular that strong corporate travel has been helping to push up room rates right around the world, although, on the whole, prices are still a little bit cheaper than they were back in 2005.

There are a whole set of reasons why we're seeing this particular trend.

Let's start out with this. We've seen prices drop particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, places like Egypt, Tunisia, Qatar. And in particular, if we home in on Egypt, the resort of Sharm El-Sheikh has been about 30 percent lower than 2010 in terms of volumes and rates. Obviously, the main reason for this is -- yes, you guessed it, the Arab spring uprising that we saw last year.

Now, we've also seen a series of issues in Greece that have undermined prices, notably, the unrest and backlash against austerity as this country has had to apply for two bailouts. The average room rate in Athens has been dropping, to the tune of about 10 percent. And it now stands at $125 per room. and now, we get to the brighter news here. It's not often we get a chance to tout London's fortunes, because, obviously, sometimes the weather is a little bit dicey here. But if we take a look at the forecast when it comes to what could be coming through on the London Olympics front, well, it does look pretty rosy, because rooms expect to double in price from 2011 and to prices that could be around about $330 per room per night. So that's a pretty expensive price. It could be doubling just because of the likes of things like the Olympics, and also, let's not forget, the queen's Jubilee.

Now, David Roche is president of Hotels.com, which did that survey.

Thanks very much for coming on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

DAVID ROCHE, PRESIDENT, HOTELS.COM: Thanks for having me.

DOS SANTOS: It's always interesting to read your surveys, because for the last few quarters, obviously, the Arab Spring uprisings and also the issues in Greece have been taking their toll.

Just how much will it take to get people to go back to those kind of places?

ROCHE: I think that's very interesting. And I think that has a lot to do with people's perceptions about the safety there and the -- the visibility, the forward visibility of the safety. And I think the hotel trade there is doing what it can do to drop prices, make it still more attractive. And I suppose those countries have got to just hang in there, continue to promote a very positive image and let time heal those wounds.

DOS SANTOS: You know, one of the interesting things that we were looking at there was Greece. I suppose what's putting people off going to Greece is, obviously, the backlash against austerity, perhaps a little bit of security concerns. This is a country that's having to curtail all sorts of public spending, street sweeping, etc. And yet it's still within the Eurozone, so it's not cheaper to go to.

ROCHE: Well, one of the things that you don't have in Greece is you don't have currency risk if you're coming from the Eurozone. And that is, in a sense, a comfort and a problem. It's a comfort for consumers traveling there. They know that they can pay in euros. They know exactly what they're going to pay. And it is a problem for hoteliers there who can't adjust their prices down particularly.

So, look, there are going to be a continued, you know, issue in Greece, but it will offer very good value in the summer, which is clearly the very big season now.

DOS SANTOS: Now, when it comes to the summer, the real big one here is London, of course, isn't it?

ROCHE: Um-hmm.

DOS SANTOS: We don't get the chance to tout London's fortunes as often as when the Olympics or the queen's Jubilee comes around, twice in one go. It's going to be a whopping great summer for London hoteliers, isn't it?

ROCHE: Well, I -- I -- I think it will be. But you've got to remember that the background here is in 2011, London only went up in price 1 percent, right?

So you might say, if you're a hotelier, you're due a bit of good news about now, right. So we are seeing, in Central London, prices have gone up more than 100 percent, on average. And we think that the last few rooms that are still available -- and that's not many -- in Central London, will probably see far higher year on year gains than that.

DOS SANTOS: Gosh, expensive prices, indeed.

Great speaking to you.

Thanks ever so much.

ROCHE: Thanks for having me.

DOS SANTOS: David Roche there from Hotels.com.

Now, speaking of the London Olympics, and, of course, the queen's Jubilee, all of will be taking place in summer here in the British Isles. And sometimes the weather is a little bit unreliable there.

But for the moment, it's blue skies and sunshine. And that also means there's a drought.

Let's go over to Jenny Harrison, who's standing by to tell us all at the CNN International Weather Center -- Jenny.

JENNY HARRISON, ATS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Nina, there's always a down side, isn't there?

It's lovely to enjoy the blue skies and the sunshine. And you think wow, what a great sort of water, what a great start to spring.

But my goodness, the down side, as you said, is very much the drought. Now it really has already reached serious levels across much of the U.K., certainly much of England. And you can see here, less than 50 percent of the average rainfall has come down in the last winter season across, you can see here, these areas in the ogee, the amber color. This is after two very dry winters. So this is a problem that actually goes deep down under the ground. It's not just a case of the reservoirs are a little bit low. The reservoirs are low. The reservoirs are also very low.

And, of course, the problem is that as we go into spring and summer, we're actually anticipating this drought to potentially get worse. There's no rain in the forecast for the immediate future.

And so the water restrictions are going to begin as early as April, certainly across the southeast of England. Remember, as well, it does come down to sort of population density in the southeast, where we do have the most dense population.

But East Anglia in Britain, its driest six months since 1921, when they began to take records. So it gives you an idea of just how serious this problem is.

So what will happen when it comes to the Olympics?

All these people flocking to London. I think different estimates give you slightly different numbers, but at least five million people are expected to come on a sort of daily basis throughout those two weeks, an extra five million, and as many as half a million will be staying in London.

So we've got to find some way to actually sustain the forces that are there. And that means harvesting rainwater from rooftops. It's a very simple one. You can do this yourself in your garden. It's so easy. Put out a big barrel and collect the water off the drainpipes.

Also, more efficient fixtures, you know, such as lavatories, also, sinks, that sort of thing. And then swimming pool backwash recycling. This is all the water that gets filtered from a swimming pool. That can then be recycled and used again, never as drinking water. And, in fact, a lot of this recycling that's going to take place is at a new plant, next to the Olympic Plant. And that will be, again, the water, two flush toilets to actually water and irrigate the land.

This is the forecast as we go into the next few months. And, of course, just not forgetting the southwest of Europe, as well, an extreme drought in some places there already.

But it's not looking good, really, it has to be said, Nina.

It might make for a nice summer...

DOS SANTOS: OK.

HARRISON: -- but a dry one.

DOS SANTOS: I know. Yes. And -- and we haven't even got anywhere near spring yet.

HARRISON: Yes.

DOS SANTOS: Jenny Harrison, as always, good to see you.

Thanks ever so much.

We'll have a final check on the world's stock markets in just a moments time.

Stay with us.

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS continues after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DOS SANTOS: Hello and welcome back.

You're watching QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

For all of you out there waiting to hear about the stress tests that have been imposed on the 19 largest U.S. financial institutions, we're now hearing, according to the Reuters News Agency, that the Federal Reserve will be releasing its details on that latest round of stress tests in a few hours from now, a little bit earlier than some had been expecting.

The Fed is, of course, requiring some of the nation's largest lenders here to prove that they have enough capital to withstand another major economic shock in the future, like the one we saw after the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers back in 2007 to 2008.

Let's have a look at how U.S. stocks are faring at the moment, because what we're seeing is they're heading for a bit of a higher close at the moment. As you can see, the Dow Jones Industrial average well above that 13000 mark. As you can see, at 13177.87, up to the tune of about 200 points and rising at the moment.

We're currently up about 1.75 of 1 percent at the moment. And that's largely thanks to comments that the Federal Reserve has made, but also, they did caution that the oil price remaining high could be a threat to the kind of economic recovery we're seeing.

And that's it for this edition of QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.

Thanks ever so much for joining us.

I'm Nina dos Santos in London.

Stay with CNN.

The news continues after this.

END

Santa Clara University School of Law

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Upstart Mountain View robotics team looking to next year's competition
05/01/2012
Alameda Times-Star

The 2012 competition season is barely over, but teams competing in the world VEX robotics tournaments already are imagining designs for next year's robots.

"We've each started brainstorming individually," said Robbie Kalb, captain of the Green MacHHHHine.

At the VEX world championships in Anaheim last month, the 3-year-old team from Mountain View won the best-educational-video prize -- teaching other teams how to use triangles in robot construction -- and also won the top programming award in its division. It was one of only two Bay Area teams to win top awards. The Cheesy Poofs from Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose won the top award for its website.

The five-member Green team was ranked 25th in its 100-team division, a subgroup of the 600 teams from nearly 20 countries at the championships in Anaheim.

"We were all a little bit nervous," Robbie, 15, said. "But we were really excited to see how our robot would do."

Besides Robbie, team members include Jack Marquez, a Mountain View High junior; Kira Bacsi, a Mountain View High senior; Timmy Beckmann, a Homestead High freshman; and Eric Beckmann, a senior who is home-schooled.

With teams playing rounds with one or two other teams, students sometimes found communication a challenge. The Greens first were paired with a team from China. "We spoke a little Chinese to them, and they spoke a little English to us," Kalb said. Plus, the cavernous Anaheim Convention Center was raucous. The Saudi team sang songs before, after and during its matches; the Puerto Rican team pounded drums, blew on trumpets and banged tambourines. And of course, there was just the excitement from 10,000 students.

It was the second time in as many years for the upstart five-member team to make it to the world championships. Robbie, a sophomore at Mountain View High, credits the team's rapid rise to its philosophy. While other teams work side by side with adult mentors, the Green MacHHHHine (the team used to be affiliated with 4-H, thus its spelling) has a strict rule: The mentors advise and teach, but the students do all the work.

"We don't let the mentors touch the robot, especially in competitions," Robbie said.

In the world of high school robotics, there are two major competitions: FIRST, which began in 1992, and VEX, a newer competition using smaller robots. While FIRST robots are 5 feet tall and may weigh more than 100 pounds, petite VEX-bots fit into an 18-inch cube. As a result, they're more affordable and transportable.

Robbie and his brother Jamie, now a sophomore at Santa Clara University founded the Green MacHHHHine to compete in a FIRST tournament but had to raise nearly $30,000 that year to cover entry fees, the robot kit and enhancements, plus travel. Competing with VEX robots, in contrast, costs closer to $3,000. And VEX rules allow budding engineers to improve their robots between contests. With tournaments stretching through the school year, there's a lot of learning by observing opponents' machines and robots' strengths and failures.

"It's feels more like the real world," Robbie said.

His father, Irv Kalb, a software engineer who's one of the team's mentors, agreed. "You put out a 1.0 product, see how it does in the marketplace, then come out with a 2.0 product."

Last winter, the Green MacHHHHine competed in three local tournaments, and emerged the champions in two of them. At all three, the team won the coveted excellence award, and scored five invitations to the world championships, Robbie said.

Now, Robbie said, team members will review this year's videos to learn what went right and wrong. They'll take their robot to Huff Elementary in Mountain View to drum up excitement and future recruits, and they'll have a party. Then it's on to a brainstorming session for designing next year's robot.

Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at .

Copyright © 2012 Alameda Times-Star. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.

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*Day of Silence at Santa Clara University
05/01/2012
KGO-AM (News Talk AM 810)

Santa Clara University student Bobak Esfandiari was interviewed on KGO radio about the Day of Silence to honor those silenced by onerous immigration laws, part of Immigration Week at SCU.

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One Dramatic Summer | View Clip
04/19/2012
Monterey County Weekly - Online

Hey Young World: Thespians rehearse a production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Ariel Theatrical.

Photo by Nic Coury .

One Dramatic Summer

Stars are born in Monterey County summer theater camps.

Jessica Lyons Hardcastle

Thursday, April 19, 2012

From Gleeks to hip-hoppers, stand-up comedians and pretty princesses, all of summer is a stage for Monterey County kids and teens – or at least it can be, if they attend drama camp.

“I teach a lot of little ones, and when I ask them to just dance or sing they are happy to do that,” says Carmel Academy of Performing Arts' Carol Richmond. “But when we start to get to the 7-year-olds, you ask them to sing and they freeze. That creativity has been channeled into school, into a set schedule and structured days for our kids.”

Summer theater camps, Richmond says, “continue that creativity. It gives campers an understanding of just how vital music and dance and theater are to our community and our world.”

This isn't to say the Carmel Academy of Performing Arts' camps aren't structured. From the five-day Princess Party Camp, where 3 – to 5-year-olds explore all things princess through dramatic play, creative ballet and music among other topics, to week-long Broadway camps, where girls and boys attend lessons in acting, voice projection, singing, dancing, costuming and props (and which culminates in a mini-Broadway style play presented for family and friends), kids work hard in the Academy's summer camps. During one-hour (or longer) sessions, campers study all kinds of theater arts. The Academy's Dance and Theatre Camps, for example, teach basics (and beyond) in ballet and jazz, voice, acting, acrobatics and choreography.

New this year, the one-day Boys Camp includes drumming and percussion, hip-hop moves, jumps and turns. Another new one: the Academy's one-day Glee Camp, which gives boys and girls an introduction to voice, acting, music and dance and teaches a music routine from the TV show.

In Pacific Grove, theater director and choreographer Dianne Lyle and musical director Michael Blackburn are tackling a Gilbert & Sullivan classic, but bringing it down to size with Pirates of Penzance, Jr. at the Ragamuffin Musical Theatre Camp, a day camp (with parent-friendly, morning – and after-care options available) that runs an entire month out of Pacific Grove Middle School. Ragamuffin teaches more than busting a move – it teaches the entire process of producing a play.

“We have a lot of young theater people who have been involved for quite some time, and kids are already stopping me on the street and asking what we're doing this year,” says Lyle, who launched the camp more than a decade ago. “They heard ‘Pirates' and got pretty excited about it. Most musicals are fairly lengthy, but this is accessible to a younger audience.”

Kayti Ramirez, an 18-year-old freshman at Santa Clara University, started attending Ariel Theatrical's camps the summer after her sophomore year at Santa Catalina High School. She was cast as the Blue Fairy in Pinocchio and then went on to become a camp counselor to the younger kids.

“At the beginning of each day we'd get together and Miss Gail would say, ‘Remember, whether you're cleaning toilets or wiping a 4-year-old's nose or helping on stage, it's about something much bigger. It's about character and building community, having self-discipline and integrity.' That translated to my life, schoolwork, relationships with my friends and family.”

Miss Gail is Gail Higginbotham, Ariel's founder and artistic director who started the nonprofit more than 25 years ago when she moved her young family to Salinas. “What really lurks in the bottom of most children's hearts is the desire to stand on a stage with a costume and lights on them and have people clap for them,” she says.

Ariel offers three, one-week summer theater camps where kids and teens take classes every day, separated into age and skill groups, focusing on singing, acting, movement and other performance skills. Each camper signs a code of conduct, in which she pledges to be courteous and respectful, own her mistakes and not make excuses. Toward the end of the week they start putting together a recital, which they perform for family and friends.

“The theater part of Ariel is the modality by which we have them here, but the reason for Ariel is to help give them their best shot at creating a principled and productive life, the skills they need to make choices that are positive [in order] to succeed,” Higginbotham says.

As a kid growing up in the Santa Clara Valley, Gracie Poletti attended church summer at Asilomar during the summer. One year she took an improv class – and got hooked on stand-up comedy. “Her class shaped me as a performer.”

Locally, the comedienne has been teaching private lessons and summer comedy camps. Now Poletti heads Pacific Repertory Theater's School of Dramatic Arts (SoDA), which, in addition to its ongoing performance classes, offers three summer camps. “It's a really good place to learn and improve your skills so you can audition for and get better parts in Pac Rep plays,” Poletti says.

The first camp, a family trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon, includes tickets to three shows, four to six hours of workshops taught by experts from the Center for Shakespeare Studies at Southern Oregon University and a whitewater rafting trip. At SoDA's two-week play production camp, youth will build skills with reader's theatre, stage movement and voice instruction in the mornings and rehearse and perform a musical, Rock Around The Block, in the afternoons at the Indoor Forest Theatre. Also at the Indoor Forest Theatre, a two-week comedy camp with Poletti will include sessions on songs, dancing and improv, with a workshop performance at the end of camp.

“The kids gain so much self-confidence,” Poletti says. “They learn about who they are, they learn teamwork, they are exposed to literature. You know how some people can't even get up and speak in front of a group? We have 6-year-olds who can get up and introduce themselves and deliver an entire monologue. Whether or not they go into professional theater, these kids are learning skills that are so valuable in everyday life.”

To find out more about summer performing arts camps, visit:

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NFPC convention highlights changing face of priesthood, laity | View Clip
04/27/2012
Compass - Online, The

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Priests from across the country met in Nashville April 23-26 to learn about and discuss "The Emerging Church of the 21st Century," the theme for the 44th annual convention of the National Federation of Priests' Councils.

Speakers addressed a range of topics including immigration and multiculturalism in the church today; how American Catholics engage religion in modern-day secular society; and the changing nature of priestly ministry.

One of the conference's keynote speakers, Jerome Baggett, a sociologist and professor of religion and society at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, relayed his findings about American Catholics' struggle to live faithfully amidst the challenges of the modern world.

Fathers Dave Holloway of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., and Ted Olson of the Diocese of Orange, Calif., participate in morning prayers April 25 on the third day of the annual National Federation of Priests' Councils convention in Nashville, Tenn. (CNS photo/Theresa Laurence, Tennessee Register)

Baggett's talk drew largely from research that was eventually distilled into his 2009 book, "Sense of the Faithful: How American Catholics Live their Faith." For that, he conducted hundreds of interviews at six disparate parishes in the San Francisco Bay area, and included "everybody," he said: Anglo, Latino, Asian, African-American, men, women, rich, poor, liberal, conservative, gay, straight, urban, suburban.

Baggett wanted to look at "what is happening rather than what you or I think ought to happen," in the faith lives of ordinary Catholics. "It's messy, but it's worth paying attention to," he said.

Baggett addressed the pastoral challenges of pluralism, authority and traditionalism, presenting the priests gathered with "conversational shards" of interviews to illuminate these ideas. He noted that he was not passing judgment on the findings, but was presenting them to the priests "for your discernment."

One theme that emerged during the interviews was the notion of people living their own version of the Catholic faith. One interviewee told Baggett, "Some might call me a 'cafeteria Catholic,' but I have to say that my faith is also deeply personal to me. I've grappled with it and come to terms with it in ways that make sense to me."

Catholics of all stripes can be "cafeteria Catholics," Baggett said. "They just have different things on their theological lunch trays."

In his talk and in his book, Baggett also discussed how access to knowledge about other faith traditions shapes how Catholics view their own faith today. "Today we relate to our religious traditions differently than in the past," he said Growing up in post-World War II South Boston, the extent of Baggett's religious diversity was "short Catholics, tall Catholics, bald Catholics, ..." he said.

Today, however, Catholics routinely bump up against not only Protestants, but also Buddhists, Muslims and others, Baggett said. Whether or not Catholics understand the doctrines of these other faiths, "they are on their radar," he added.

As Catholic laypeople discern what value the long-standing tradition of Catholicism has for them "amidst the hubbub of their everyday busy lives," they "are presenting us with some really important pastoral challenges," Baggett said.

He noted that many people who leave the Catholic Church do not do so for superficial or hedonistic reasons, but because "they are asking hard questions and not getting satisfactory answers."

NFPC president Father Richard Vega said Baggett's talk reminded priests not to be so insular. "Catholics in the pews are really influenced by everything under the sun. We sometimes forget all these other influences," he said.

When asked what priests can do to better relate to their flocks, Father Vega said they should "be open to people, listening to their stories and not discounting them, especially young people."

Priests must be sure that they are answering people's "big questions and not writing them off," Father Vega said. This includes adequately explaining the value of adhering to the Catholic faith versus another religious tradition versus no faith tradition. "It's not just an ethical code we have," he said.

In addition to Baggett, Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University spoke April 26 on the changing demographics of the priesthood and the changing nature of priestly ministry.

Gautier discussed key findings of recent research on priestly life in the United States, including the overall satisfaction priests have in their work and ministry, the challenges of collaborative ministry and the challenges of a graying priesthood.

While over half of all priests in the U.S. today are age 59 or older, she noted that there are more men studying in the seminary now than in the past 25 years.

Gautier pointing to survey results indicating that priests are overwhelmingly satisfied in their work even though they have "a ridiculous amount of pressure on them."

She noted that priests who have the toughest time are those who are responsible for more than one parish, not only because they are stretched thin logistically, but also because they can't fully immerse themselves in one faith community.

"It's a wonderful life and ministry if you don't mind working 80 hours a week and being on call 24/7," she said.

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National conference calls for immigration policy change | View Clip
04/27/2012
National Catholic Reporter Online

RIO RICO, Ariz. -- What should we do with the 9-year-old boy who slipped across the U.S.-Mexico border on April 12, desperate to find his mother, who came here earlier from their home in El Salvador to find work in hopes of bringing the family to a new life in the United States? Attempts to reconnect him to his mother could expose her to deportation.

What of the fate of another young man crossing the Sonoran Desert on foot near Tucson, Ariz., in early April, whose final cell phone call to his mother told of being abandoned in the rough terrain and how thirsty he was?

The plight of thousands of border crossers and the fate of an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the United States hoping for a chance at legal status were the focus of a national conference on immigration held April 11-13 here.

Titled “Eucharist Without Borders: God's Welcoming Table and Comprehensive Immigration Reform,” the conference was sponsored by Celebration, the worship resource of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company. It convened 170 church professionals and activists in Rio Rico, near the U.S.-Mexico border at Nogales. Participants committed themselves to mount a national interfaith coalition of religious and human rights advocacy similar to those that supported the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the sanctuary movement of the 1980s, to press Congress to pass fair and humane reforms of immigration policy.

Current rules have focused exclusively on workplace raids, criminalization of civil trespass laws, massive incarceration and deportation of otherwise noncriminal offenders, the breakup of families of mixed legal status, decades-long delays for ordinary visas, and the exposure of millions of undocumented persons to exploitation, racial profiling and human rights abuses.

The conference called specifically for implementation of reforms proposed by the U.S. Catholic bishops and highlighted the tragic disconnect between the church's core mission and identity in the Eucharist that publicly welcomes God in the stranger, and the negative response by many churchgoers to today's immigrants.

Through field trips into the Sonoran Desert and at the border, conference-goers experienced the conditions migrants face trying to enter the United States on foot. The Arizona sector of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border has seen a dramatic increase of attempted crossings since the U.S. Border Patrol began concentrating its resources on urban crossing zones in Texas and California. This strategy funneled migrant traffic into the desert sector of the border, considered so inhospitable that no one would risk crossing there. In fact, an estimated 5,600 migrant men, women and children are known to have perished in the desert since 1994, when the Clinton administration authorized “Operation Gatekeeper.”

Representatives of Humane Borders, No More Deaths, Samaritan Patrols and Coalición de Derechos Humanos (Coalition for Human Rights), all groups founded in Arizona in the past decade to provide aid to migrants, led conference field trips, which included a tour of the border and a visit to the Federal Courthouse in Tucson, where migrants arrested at the border are processed for deportation.

Conference speakers included: Jesuit Fr. William O'Neill, professor of social ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in Berkeley, Calif., an expert on global migration; the Rev. John Fife, human rights activist and retired Presbyterian minister, cofounder of the Sanctuary Movement and the group No More Deaths; Jill Marie Gerschutz-Bell, senior legislative specialist for Catholic Relief Services; John L. Allen Jr., NCR senior correspondent; Elena Segura, director of the Chicago archdiocese's Office of Immigrant Affairs and Immigrant Education; and, in a joint presentation on ecumenical efforts at the border, Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson and Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño of Phoenix. (For a complete description of the conference talks, visit celebrationpublications.org/conference.)

The conference included an outdoor Mass presided over by Kicanas with a backdrop of mountains and near a large labyrinth created by Tucson's Most Holy Trinity Parish, the conference's cosponsor, and local artist Deborah McCullough, who placed shoes and other items found in the desert on the trails used by migrants on the path of the labyrinth and in the conference meeting room as a reminder of the high cost of desert passage.

McCullough dedicated her conference displays to the young man whose final cell phone call left uncertain his fate. Until he or his remains are located, it is assumed that he perished in the desert within miles of the conference site.

As for the 9-year-old boy, thanks to efforts by both immigration lawyer Suzanne Gladney in Kansas City, Mo., and a group of Catholic sisters ministering in Pittsburg, Kan., where the boy's mother has relocated, his story may have a happier ending. Sr. Martha Aldrete, a member of the Missionary Catechists of the Poor, reported that efforts to reunite the boy with his mother are under way. Returning the boy, whose father is now dead, to El Salvador would endanger him, they argue. His mother, who is now married to a U.S. citizen, is pursuing legal status and is eager to see her son again.

[Pat Marrin is editor of Celebration. Contact him at pmarrin@ncronline.org.]

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Bret Harte eighth-graders explore the future at Passport to Success at the San Jose campus | View Clip
04/27/2012
San Jose Mercury News - Online

(photo Jacqueline Ramseyer/SVCN/April 19, 2012) Eighth-graders at Bret Harte Middle School listen Dr. Michelle Record-Contini, a pediatrician, during the school's Passport to Success, held April 19.

Bret Harte eighth-graders celebrated April 19 as their Passport to Success. The morning program allowed them to meet a number of professionals and spend time with a panel of Leland High School seniors and Santa Clara University professor Buford Barr.

Their afternoon included taking a class picture.

The school's part-time academic counselor Sarah Weiner designed the day. She also works at Burnett Middle and Empire Gardens Elementary schools. Weiner modeled the career day after one she held at Borel Middle School in San Mateo.

Although the school has in the past presented eighth-graders with a panel discussing what to expect from high school, this year it decided to add professionals to discuss their careers with the students.

Last year Weiner surveyed the then-seventh- graders and asked them to pick a career that interested them. For this year's Passport program, she chose speakers from the professions students named.

The professionals on campus ran the gamut from superior court judge to computer scientist to cosmetologists and chef. There was also a representative from the Central County Occupational Center.

Students said they enjoyed the presentations. Leah Calderon said she got to see a lot and get a lot information.

"I'm interested in a lot of things, and this gave me information on them. Right now I want to be a lawyer or a judge," she said.

"Everyone talked in depth," said Shana Bhara-gavla. "There were a lot

of people here to discuss what they do and how it influences their lives. They were talking honestly and in our best interests."

"The presentations were interesting. I took lots of notes," said Emily Allen. "The information will help me prepare very well for the future."

Another student, Trevor Sochcki, reported, "I really liked it because most of the time I only get to talk with my parents about college and careers. But I really liked this, and it's a big help toward my future."

Raya Magat added, "I was really intrigued because it gave me a new perspective about what I can expect after college."

The speakers, too, found the morning interesting.

"This was the first time I've done this and I didn't know what to expect," said chef Bruce Finch.

"I think it's always great for children to explore different types of careers," said Superior Court Judge Julia Alloggiamento. "There's a lack of understanding about the courts. Most asked questions about Judge Judy, who is exactly the opposite of [real] judges.

"We treat people fairly, are consistent about their rights and aware of providing them with a fair hearing. A lot of students don't know what a judge does," she said.

Weiner hopes to present the same program next year.

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Stimulus Doesn't Always Mean Jobs | View Clip
04/26/2012
KNTV-TV - Online

Where is the money going and why are some Bay Area projects stalled years after being funded?

By Tony Kovaleski, Liz Wagner, Kevin Nious and Felipe Escamilla | Thursday, Apr 26, 2012 | Updated 2:26 PM PDT

This story was published Feb. 16, 2012 at 12:42 a.m." vocusinstance="0">

Not all the stimulus money the government gave out is being used, as Tony Kovaleski reports. This story was published Feb. 16, 2012 at 12:42 a.m.

Stimulus Doesn't Always Mean Jobs

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/video/#!/news/local/Stimulus-Doesn't-Always-Mean-Jobs/139424838

How would you spend $9 billion?

That's how much counties in the Bay Area have received from the federal government's stimulus program in the three years since President Obama announced the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Overall, California has received $63 billion, with 14 percent of that directed to the Bay Area.

The goal was to fund shovel-ready projects, give people jobs, and jumpstart the economy. An NBC Bay Area investigation followed the money to see if those federal stimulus dollars are actually putting people back to work.

Three years ago politicians in Washington and here in the Bay Area touted the urgent need for the federal stimulus package. Published economist and Santa Clara University professorAlexander Field believes the stimulus program has worked.

“People say it hasn't because we still have a national unemployment rate that's above 8 percent,” Field said. “But studies by the Congressional Budget Office show without the stimulus program, the unemployment rate would probably be 2 percentage points higher.”

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit spent weeks analyzing government stimulus data, in partnership with the nonprofit investigative news group ProPublica. Our investigation found that Alameda County received nearly $3.5 billion—more than any other county in the Bay Area. San Francisco and Santa Clara counties followed, each receiving more than $1.5 billion.

All other Bay Area counties have received less than a billion federal stimulus dollars. San Mateo County received $866 million, Contra Costa County reeled in nearly $501 million, and Solano County received more than $292 million.

Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties have received the least amount of stimulus support, bringing in less than $300 million in stimulus funding since 2009.

But our computer analysis shows money approved doesn't always mean money spent—or jobs created. According to the latest government data,19 Bay Area stimulus projects funded in 2010 or earlier have not broken ground. That totals more than $70 million. They haven't created jobs, either.

We found two projects approved more than two years ago that have not even started.

In 2009 the federal government awarded the Port of Richmond $4.3 million for a project to build a fiber optic network to connect the port security system with critical first responders like local police and fire departments.

"Approved in 2009, and here we are in 2012 and how much of the project is finished?” NBC Bay Area chief investigator Tony Kovaleski asked Port of Richmond Development Project Coordinator, Michael Williams.

“Well, none of the project is finished,” Williams replied.

He said delays in other city projects connected to the port security job caused the slowdown in the stimulus project.

“Maybe it's taken longer than we intended,” he said. “But the project plans to deliver.”

Similarly, over at the Port of Oakland a $7 million high-tech security upgrade has been stalled since 2009. There, it has taken longer than two years to design a fingerprint security access system. Millions of dollars remain unspent, and not a single job has been created.

Port Facilities Security Officer Mike O'Brien told us the port is waiting on the Transportation Security Administration to clear some hurdles before the project can go ahead. He said the federal government has yet to deliver rules on how to implement the port's biometric security system.

“Consequently, we're being very careful about designing and constructing a system that meets those federal requirements that haven't been put out yet,” O'Brien said.

“What do you say to the people at home that are disappointed this project isn't finished?” Kovaleski asked O'Brien.

“Well, I think we've done a lot of design work for these projects,” O'Brien told us. “These projects will be implemented. They will create jobs.”

The Port of Oakland says it will apply for extensions with the government because it will not meet its original deadlines.

Field calls the delays “regrettable.” He said for every stimulus dollar not spent, that's two dollars not making its way through the Bay Area economy.

That's a reality felt at local businesses and in the unemployment line.

“Give the money to help people find jobs,” said unemployed San Jose resident Harry Ahn, “and I would be expecting more people to actually be finding jobs.”

If you have a story we should investigate, email us at: TheUnit@NBCBayArea.com.

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Abuse crisis topic of Santa Clara University conference | View Clip
04/25/2012
Catholic San Francisco - Online





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Abuse crisis topic of Santa Clara University conference

April 24th, 2012

"Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church: A Decade of Crisis, 2002-2012" is the topic of a day-long conference May 11 at the Benson Memorial Center at Santa Clara University.

The event will address the question of what has been learned in the last decade "about the abuse, the abusers, the role of the church and the work that remains."

The conference will be hosted by Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Spirituality and Health Institute at Santa Clara University; and Kathleen L. McChesney, Ph.D., CEO of Kinsale Consulting in Los Angeles and former FBI executive and executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Jesuit Father Thomas J. Reese will give the morning keynote address, titled "The Sexual Abuse Crisis: A Personal Reflection."

In the afternoon keynote, Karen J. Terry will be speak on "Stained Glass: Understanding the Research on the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church."

Panel discussions will cover reflections on the U.S. bishops' Dallas Charter, on church culture, from victims and clergy, and on clergy screening, formation and treatment.

For information and registration, visit www.scu.edu/clergyconference .

From April 27, 2012 issue of Catholic San Francisco.

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California University Student Hacks Online Election | View Clip
04/25/2012
Brad Blog, The

No matter the strongest admonitions against it, for years, by virtually all computer science and security experts to offer an opinion on it --- ya know, the folks who actually know how this stuff works, or doesn't --- proponents of Internet Voting are relentless in their advocacy. Kind of how the proponents of polling place e-voting used to tell us that such schemes were tamper-proof, error-free and much more secure than paper.

No matter how many Internet Voting schemes fall flat on their face (voter participation plummeted 83% when Honolulu tried it), get entirely hacked (even by computers in Iran and China) or are taken down by a 10,000 computer denial of service attack (but that was in Canada, so no biggie, right?), some seem to care so little about transparent, oversee-able democracy and self-governance, that they are willing to risk entire elections and the verifiable votes of the citizenry in order to carry out such dangerous and ill-considered adventures.

And so, yet again, with all of those warnings ignored, we find another online election has been wholly compromised --- and now cancelled --- after it was discovered that a business school student hacked into it and stole hundreds of passwords and IDs, so that he could fix the results of the election...

Last month, California State San Marcos student Matt Weaver was arrested, according to the North County Times, "on suspicion of election fraud, unlawful access to a computer or database, and 10 counts of identity theft," on the final day of a four-day Internet Voting election for student government. Weaver was running for President of the student body.

The 23-year old third-year business major was reportedly arrested and jailed on March 15, when Campus police "found him at a school computer and in possession of a device that can be used to steal computer passwords."

He was set free on $50,000 bail and has yet to be charged, but for some reason, unlike in most non-school elections, the FBI seems to care about this one...

[L]ast week, the FBI acknowledged that it was investigating the case.

"We are looking into it," said FBI Special Agent Darrel Foxworth. "I can't say exactly what we are looking at, but given the facts and circumstances that have been reported to us, it appears there may be violations of federal laws."

Foxworth declined to say why the incident has captured the attention of federal investigators.

The compromised online accounts of 700 CSSM students --- used for signing up for classes "as well as to vote in Associated Students Inc. elections" --- have now been locked down, the victims warned, and the election, which will now start from scratch, has been rescheduled for next month.

One hint as to why the FBI may be interested in the case is found in an article covering the incident by Sandy Fitzgerald at Mobiledia, appropriately headlined "Why Online Voting Isn't So Safe".

The article explains that "Federal authorities are also examining Weaver's activities to decide if such hacking may interfere with state or national elections."

That's nice of them.

In the meantime, Fitzgerald warns, while this case was unusual, it's hardly unheard of as "students' privacy at other campuses and high schools had also been compromised" recently...

As students become more proficient in computers, such breaches may be more problematic. For example, 50 students at California's Berkeley High School are facing suspension for hacking into the school's computer system to charge students to clear out absentee tallies. At least four of the students face expulsion for using stolen passwords to access the school's attendance database.

In another incident, this one discovered last year at Santa Clara University, "A hacker tapped into an academic records database ... and changed the grades of about 60 current and former students."

The unauthorized access went on for more than a year before officials ever noticed, after which, "SCU began reviewing tens of thousands of student records going back to 2000 and found that grades had been modified, in some cases changed from F's to A's."

But, of course, that could never happen in an Online Election, right? And, even if it did, we'd probably find out about it...a year or ten later.

At one point, FBI agents reportedly had identified a suspect in the SCU grade-changing case, a 25-year old electrical engineering student at the University. After three agents visited his home, according to Matt Liebowitz of SecurityNewsDaily, the suspect, Mark Loiseau, made light of the incident, describing the visit on Twitter "like something off of primetime tv! Right down to the dialogue. They even banged on my door instead of ringing."

"The best part was when one of the agents was like 'we just want the truth,'" Loiseau described in another tweet, "& my roommate was like 'YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!' True story."

Speaking of being unable to handle the truth, we're quite certain that Internet Voting proponents --- particularly the private corporations who stand to make millions if not billions off such schemes, and the elected officials and former election officials they have bought to help their dream (democracy's nightmare) come true --- will pay little mind to what happened last month at California State San Marcos.

They'll simply continue to ignore the experts and tell the public that such a thing could never happen with their Internet Voting schemes which employ "secure" "military grade encryption" or some such bullshit, and the media will dutifully repeat it and ignore all other concerns. Because, after all, the 'younger generation does everything online and they're used to online elections!' They certainly are.

Other than that, Internet Voting remains a great idea. It's just democracy, after all. What could possibly go wrong?

* * *Please support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system, as available from no other media outlet in the nation, with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...

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Methodist-Catholic dialogue issues statement on connection between Eucharist, environmental stewardship: The Catholic Sun | View Clip
04/24/2012
Catholic Sun - Online

WASHINGTON — Both Methodists and Catholics believe their celebration of the Eucharist helps them to see God's glory in all of creation and therefore leads to greater care for the environment, according to a new joint statement produced by the United States dialogue between the United Methodist Church (UMC) and the Catholic Church. The statement, “Heaven and Earth are Full of Your Glory,” was issued April 20, ahead of the traditional observance of Earth Day.

Bishop William Skylstad, retired bishop of Spokane, Washington, and Methodist Bishop Timothy Whitaker of the UMC Florida Conference co-chaired the dialogue.

Gathering semiannually between the fall of 2008 and summer 2011, the seventh round of the Methodist-Catholic dialogue sought to build on the newfound unity between the UMC and the Catholic Church when the Methodists signed onto the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification—an agreement dispelling the centuries-old disagreement on how people are made just before God—in 2006. The dialogue partners agreed to explore a major issue affecting the common good and chose environmental stewardship.

“We call both Methodists and Catholics to participate more deeply in the Eucharist by recognizing its intrinsic connection with the renewal of creation,” the statement said. “The Eucharist is regarded as the central form of Christian worship because it orchestrates all that humans are and can be on this earth—our senses, abilities, talents, gifts, and intelligence—and offers them back to God the Father in thanksgiving for the Paschal victory of his Son.”

The statement notes that elements of nature—grain for bread and grapes for wine—become part of salvation through the Eucharist and that salvation itself is an act of God at work in all of creation and all creation encountering God. This has implications for believers in their relationship with God's creation in the environment.

Catholic participants in the dialogue included Jesuit Father Drew Christiansen, editor of America Magazine; Msgr. Kevin Irwin, dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington; Connie Lasher, Ph.D., Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California; and Angela Russell Christman, Ph.D., of Loyola College in Baltimore. Methodist participants included Sondra Wheeler of Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington; Karen Westerfield Tucker of Boston University School of Theology; Kendall Soulen of Wesley Theological Seminary; Edgardo Colon-Emeric of Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina; L. Edward Phillips of Emery University in Atlanta; and Glen Alton Messer II, Ph.D., the assistant general secretary of the General Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns of the UMC.

The full document is available online:  www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/dialogue-with-others/ecumenical/methodist/

Category: Nation/World , News

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* St. Clare topic of Santa Clara University series of events to celebrate saint's 800th anniversary | View Clip
04/23/2012
Valley Catholic, The

Santa Clara University is sponsoring a series of events celebrating the 800th anniversary of St. Clare's establishment of a contemplative order of nuns.
St. Clare, namesake of Santa Clara University, Santa Clara County and the City of Santa Clara, today has more than 20,000 women throughout the world following the Form of Life she established.
Daughter of a noble family in Assisi, Clare di Offreduccio de Favoroni became devoted to the journey of St. Francis of Assisi and, in 1212, at the age of 18, she gave away her dowry and ran away from home to join him.
At San Damiano, the small church near the Franciscan brothers where Clare settled, she opened a way for women to live contemplative lives in radical poverty in an interdependent community of equals.
April 1 this year marked the 800th anniversary of the establishment of the community of Poor Clares. To mark the anniversary and shed new perspectives on the saint's life, SCU events include:
• Exhibits which feature artifacts from St. Clare's life including a replica of the tavola, the medieval wood panel painting depicting the saint and a narrative cycle of her life; and a digitalized copy of her “Form of Life,” which laid out the tenets of the order that she founded.
Displays also document collaborative efforts at SCU over the last four years to address the question: “How can Clare of Assisi be a light to us here at Santa Clara University?”
The exhibit in the St. Clare Room and on the Second Floor Learning Commons of the Harrington Library will run until June 29, 2012.
• Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class, “St. Clare and the Poor Clares,” taught by Jean Molesky-Poz, PhD, SCU Religious Studies Department, Sat., April 26, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• A Day to Reclaim and Celebrate St. Clare of Assisi, Thurs., May 10, Professor William Short, OFM, Franciscan scholar, will speak on recent research that provides new understanding of St. Clare, with response by a panel of faculty and alumnae; St. Clare Room of Learning Commons in Harrington Library, 3 to 5:30 p.m., followed by reception.
This will be followed by St. Clare Vespers Concert, with music director and composer Leslie La Barre, SCU alumna.

- The Valley Catholic

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Misuse of legal drugs can have fatal results | View Clip
04/21/2012
Albany Herald - Online

Recent tragic incidents involving celebrities provide a perfect backdrop warning sound for people misusage of prescription drugs or over-the-counter medicines. These tragic events, some even resulting in death, have raised awareness of prescription medication addiction throughout the world. The perception that the use of prescription drugs is "legal" and "safer" than illegal substances is false and believing otherwise can be fatal.

In 2009, The Cove Center for Recovery analyzed autopsies relating to drug overdoes that were done in by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's Medical Examiner's Office. The findings of just one state revealed a total of 670 deaths due to drug overdoses. Out of the 670 deaths, 508 were due to prescription drugs, 86 due to illicit (illegal) drugs and 76 that resulted from a combination of prescription and illegal drugs.

Whether taking prescriptions or over-the-counter drugs, people need to be aware of possible consequences potential result of taking a combination of drugs. Furthermore, taking a combination of drugs and including alcohol in the mix is like setting off dynamite. The Wellness Center of Santa Clara University in California stresses, "It is never possible to know for sure the effect that mixing alcohol with other drugs will have on a user. There are so many factors that affect the action of the drugs that it is impossible to accurately consider them all. They include, but are not limited to, the user's mood, body chemistry, other medications or illnesses, and psychological history. Even a medical professional would not be able to say for sure what the effect of an interaction will be."

After marijuana, prescription and nonmedical use of over-the-counter medication account for most of the commonly abused drugs. Studies done by National Institute of Drug Abuse show that about 7 Million Americans reported past-month use of prescription drugs for nonmedical purposes in 2010. The three types of prescription drugs that are abused most often are:

— Opioids-prescribed for pain relief;

— CNS depressants-barbiturates and benzodiazepines prescribed for anxiety or sleep problems (often referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers);

— Stimulants-prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the sleep disorder narcolepsy, or obesity.

Don't abuse your prescriptions! These are steps to take to prevent abuse of prescription drugs:

— Ask your doctor or pharmacist about your medication, especially if you are unsure about its effects;

— Keep your doctor informed about all medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications.

— Read the information your pharmacist provides before starting to take medications;

— Take your medication(s) as prescribed;

— Keep all prescription medications secured at all times and properly dispose of any unused medications.

Bottom line is this — If you think your drug use is out of control or is causing problems, get help. The sooner you seek help, the greater your chances are for a long-term recovery. Your family doctor may be a good place to start. This goes for those that are close to you as well. Get them to seek emergency help too! If you see a family member or someone close to you abusing the use of any type of drug, don't just ignore it!

Let's stop for a minute and take a closer look at these recent tragedies and learn from them. These recent tragic events are a warning sign to all of us. Prescription medications are drugs and they should be handled with extreme caution at all times. It is a matter of life and death! The life you save could be your very own.

Michael Fowler Sr., CFSP, is president of the Georgia Funeral Service Practitioners Association and is a retired death investigation specialist/forensic pathology assistant with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab.

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But can it find the perfect parking spot, too?
04/20/2012
MarketWatch

The concept of a car that drives itself is thrilling to some, disquieting to others. But it's no longer preposterous.

By the middle years of this decade, several auto makers could offer technology to make vehicles capable of piloting themselves under certain conditions without the direct participation of the driver.

The auto industry has intensified its research on how to link cruise control, steering, brakes and the cameras and sensors used for collision-avoidance systems into an integrated system able to guide a car safely.

Cars that can “see” the road, sense potential dangers and steer, brake and control speed automatically could ease the drudgery of stop-and-go traffic or long drives, and prevent many accidents caused by drowsy, inattentive or impaired drivers. But that optimistic view would sour if consumers came to distrust the technology's reliability, or suspect that the real goal is to give control of their car to someone else, such as a government agency.

The autonomous car idea got a boost in 2010 when Google Inc. GOOG  disclosed its effort to perfect the technology. Google's fleet of about eight cars uses sophisticated sensors and the company's mapping data to locate the car precisely and plot a route.

“We want to improve the quality of driving,” said Anthony Levandowski, the project manager for Google's self-driving-car effort. Still, Google doesn't yet know exactly “what the business model is for a return on investment,” he said.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials have shown interest in autonomous-driving technology and the agency is planning research to better understand the potential safety benefits. Nevada has passed a law allowing autonomous vehicles to operate on its roads, and California is considering similar legislation.

Here are five things to know about the self-driving car phenomenon:

Proponents of autonomous-car technology say that, once perfected, it will be safer and less error-prone than human drivers, and will help reduce the more than one million deaths each year world-wide related to auto wrecks.

As car makers have equipped vehicles with air bags, stability-control systems, computer-assisted antiskid brakes and more crashworthy body designs, traffic-safety regulators have shifted their focus to driver behavior — and various ways to control it. Among the risks of trying to minimize the driver's role are that motorists will reject the technology.

Autonomous-driving backers cite other benefits. “If you free an hour of commuting time, that's productivity,” said Nady Boules, director of the electronics and controls integration lab in General Motors Co.'s GM  research and development department.

Google executives have talked about autonomous cars as a way to encourage car sharing, since a user could quickly and easily summon one.

Auto-industry officials say they will take a measured approach to introducing autonomous driving to the mass market, building on technology that's already available and familiar.

GM's Cadillac brand has demonstrated a feature called “Super Cruise,” which would allow a vehicle to drive itself on a highway, automatically adjusting speed, staying in a lane and avoiding other cars. That technology is still in testing, but the brand will offer models this year equipped with “driver-assist” features, such as “full range adaptive cruise control” that will slow the car to a stop if a vehicle ahead stops.

Christian Schumacher, director of engineering systems and technology for Continental AG's North American automotive unit, said his company is working on a system it calls “Traffic Jam Assist” that would link the car's cruise control, lane-keeping system, steering and brakes to allow the car to pilot itself at speeds below about 35 miles per hour.

Google's approach is different, said Levandowski. “If you had the ability to invent a car from scratch today,” he said, “you would probably design it differently.” Proving the reliability of a fully autonomous system is Google's main goal, he said.

Building a car that can drive itself won't be enough, engineers say. The bigger challenge will be getting consumers to trust the technology.

“Are we going to let computers run our lives, and especially our cars?” Ford Motor Co. F  engineer Jim McBride asked, taking the point of view of customers during a discussion of robotic driving earlier this month at the University of Michigan.

McBride said customers have come to accept some driver-assistance features that effectively put computers in charge.

But he noted that human drivers, on average, will travel 70 million miles before being involved in a fatal car wreck. That's a challenging reliability target for self-driving car systems. Google's cars so far have logged about 200,000 miles.

Liability concerns “could be an incredible barrier” to autonomous cars, said Gary Marchant, a law professor at Arizona State University in Tempe. By offering a fully self-driving car, auto makers could be assuming the risks if — or when — one of the cars gets in a serious accident.

Among the possible solutions, he said, would be legislation shielding auto makers from state liability claims, or arrangements in which car makers pay more for liability insurance, passing on the costs to car buyers with the understanding that insurers will charge them less because their self-driving cars are safer.

Dorothy Glancy, a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, said legal complications make it unlikely that self-driving cars could provide independent mobility for people whose disabilities make it impossible for them to drive now. “It's kind of an illusion that they'll be able to drive themselves by themselves to a doctor appointment,” she said.

If every car is a pod that guides itself from Point A to Point B at a predetermined speed, on a set route, fewer people might feel the emotional tug required to spend $70,000 on a high performance luxury sedan. That's not what car makers want.

“A car is not an appliance,” said Don Butler, vice president of Cadillac marketing. “We are not just a node in the network. I want people to enjoy the vehicle.”

Filip Brabec, product-planning manager for Audi's U.S. operation, said the purpose of self-driving technology is to relieve the driver of mundane tasks. He said the company is working on systems that could automate driving in slow traffic, including systems that can read traffic signs. Half of the buyers of its A8 sedan already order a package of systems including radar-enabled cruise control and brakes that engage when the car senses a coming collision.

“Then, when you want to have fun and drive,” he said, “we want you to be able to drive the car.”

Joseph B. White writes the Eyes on the Road column for The Wall Street Journal.

Copyright © 2012 MarketWatch.com

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hacking into the school s computer system | View Clip
04/20/2012
SecurityNewsDaily

Grade-Changing Scandal Rocks California School

16 November 2011 | 01:23 PM ET | Matt Liebowitz, SecurityNewsDaily Staff Writer

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A hacker tapped into an academic records database at Santa Clara University in California and changed the grades of about 60 current and former students, the school announced Monday (Nov. 14).

"Unauthorized access to the system took place between June 2010 and July 2011 and resulted in grades being altered," Santa Clara University President Michael Engh said in an official statement on the school's website.

The school was made aware of the intrusion when a former student noticed a discrepancy between two of her transcripts. SCU began reviewing tens of thousands of student records going back to 2000 and found that grades had been modified, in some cases changed from F's to A's

The university is contacting current and former students whose grades may have been changed as well as their professors. The school says there is no evidence to suggest any other personally identifiable information of students, staff or faculty was exposed as a result of the breach.

The school, located in Silicon Valley about 45 miles from San Francisco, has brought in the FBI to investigate the incident, and hired outside experts to "review our internal processes and data security measures to enhance the integrity of our computer system."

The FBI has not found the person responsible for hacking SCU's system, but it reportedly has a suspect in mind.

SCU electrical engineering student Mark Loiseau, 25, told the Mercury News that on Monday (Nov. 14) three FBI agents came to his home with his Verizon cellphone records, grades and pictures of him, and suggested that he was behind the incident.

"Three federal agents just came over to my apartment and grilled me about some hacking scandal at SCU. They had my phone records!" Loiseau wrote on his  Twitter page . "It was like something off of primetime tv! Right down to the dialogue. They even banged on my door instead of ringing" he wrote in another post.

The agents asked if Loiseau noticed that about 18 of his grades were changed from F's to A's; Loiseau responded that he had never received 18 F's and denied having anything to do with the hacking.

The authorities asked to search his computers, but Loiseau did not let them, the Mercury News reported .

Despite the law enforcement pressure, Loiseau appears to be taking the event in stride. In a Twitter post, he wrote: "The best part was when one of the agents was like 'we just want the truth,' & my roommate was like 'YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!' True story."

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Lhamo Tso brings fight for husband's freedom to Auburn, | View Clip
04/19/2012
Auburn Journal - Online

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Lhamo Tso brings fight for husband's freedom to Auburn

NGOs campaign for his release from Chinese prison

By Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor

Lhamo Tso has not seen, or even spoken to, her husband in five years.

She has spent years campaigning for the release of Dhondup Wangchen, whose documentary, "Leaving Fear Behind," cost him his freedom. Since 2008, Wangchen has been imprisoned in China, most recently in Qinghai Province, where he spends long days in a labor camp, working as a needle cutter. His contact with his wife stopped before his arrest, when he sent her to India under the assumption that she would be visiting relatives and her four children, who had been sent to school there.

In reality, Wangchen was protecting his family before the release of "Leaving Fear Behind," a 25-minute documentary condensed from 35 hours of footage. The filmmakers, Wangchen and Golog Jigme interviewed 108 Tibetans about their views of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government. The documentary was released on the opening day of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, screened in secret for foreign reporters. But before it was released, the filmmakers were detained.

"He didn't do anything wrong," said Giovanni Vassallo, treasurer of the Committee of 100 for Tibet and Tso's host in San Francisco. "There's really nothing wrong, but there is this vague law that anything can be construed as revealing state secrets. ... I'm blown away again, as I always am, by China's total state of control over the lives of all the Tibetans."

Wangchen's political awareness began in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, where he witnessed a pro-independence demonstration that was suppressed by authorities. In 1993, he and a cousin crossed the Himalayas into India on foot, walking more than 5,000 miles to receive the blessing of the exiled Dalai Lama. After that, Wangchen became an activist for the Tibetan freedom movement.

Back in Tibet, from August 2007 to March 2008, Wangchen and Jigme interviewed their subjects, who all agreed to have their faces shown on film. Working with Wangchen's cousin Gyaljong Tsetsrin in Switzerland, they had just smuggled the tapes out of Lhasa when riots broke out and began to spread through the country. The government crackdown on the riots included the arrest of the filmmakers. Wangchen was unofficially detained at Gonshang Hotel, where he was reportedly beaten and deprived of food, water and sleep, and at Xining City, where he was held incommunicado until April 2009. He was finally allowed to meet with his lawyer, who dropped the case three months later, saying that he was ordered to do so by judicial authorities.

Following a secret trial, Wangchen was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for subversion. Since her husband's imprisonment, Tso has been campaigning worldwide for his release on humanitarian grounds and, now, for medical reasons. Wangchen, 38, has been diagnosed with hepatitis B, and his health is said to be failing, according to the Sierra Friends of Tibet. "Leaving Fear Behind" will be screened April 10 in Auburn, where Tso will make a brief presentation and answer questions.

Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. Tso said Wangchen's six-year sentence is relatively short compared to other political prisoners, who sometimes serve 15 years.

"Before, he was to work for about 17 hours in the prison, but now the working hours have been reduced," said Tso, speaking via translator Tenzin Tselha. "I hope that these are because of the campaigns that I received from different countries and NGOs."

A number of human-rights groups have condemned the arrests of Wangchen and Gyatso, including Amnesty International, Front Line, The Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Human Rights Watch and the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Her work began in India, where she and her family collected signatures on petitions demanding his release and working with monasteries to collect more names. In 2010, she visited five countries in Europe and in 2011 campaigned in England and France. Her U.S. tour will include presentations at Santa Clara University, University of California, Berkeley, San Diego, Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Her stop in Auburn is hosted by the Sierra Friends of Tibet.

"We're a local, grassroots organization," said Jesse Gilliam, Auburn area organizer. "We just try to do what we can to bring the issue of Tibet to the forefront, just to let people know a little about what's going on so they can search their own consciences about what's going on."

When she's not campaigning for her husband's release, Tso lives in Dharamsala, India, with her children, ages 17, 15, 13 and 11. She wakes up at 1 or 2 a.m. to bake bread and go to a bus station to sell it. She never attended school, but has started to learn English in order to tell her husband's story.

Tso said updates on her husband's condition come only once a month from his sister in Tibet, who was unable to visit Wanchen in March. Wangchen's parents are in their 70s and suffer from heart disease, Tso said, and she fears not only that they might die before they get to see their son, but that he might be harmed or killed in the camp before his release.

"Before, we never imagined in our life that we would be living separately," Tso said. "We never so thought about it, so it's very difficult for me and my family."

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com . Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE .

--------------------

"Leaving Fear Behind"

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All Over Creation: I, Witness | View Clip
04/19/2012
Austin Chronicle - Online, The

FEATURED CONTENT

the arts

All Over Creation: I, Witness

The victims of the Virginia Tech shootings were memorialized in a potent play at UT

By Robert Faires , Fri., April 20, 2012

What a Stranger May Know" />

Isaac Gomez, one of the organizers of UT's performance of What a Stranger May Know

Photo courtesy of Scott Asonye

When your daughter's a college freshman, you expect the occasional call home where she needs something. The one she made last Sunday, though, wasn't one of those calls, the can-you-give-me-some-money/fix-my-car/post-my-bail kind. What my daughter wanted was for me to serve as her witness. And not, thankfully, in a legal proceeding.

Rosalind was one of a few dozen students in the University of Texas Department of Theatre & Dance taking part in a memorial event for the fifth anniversary of the shootings at Virginia Tech. Playwright Erik Ehn had written a series of monologues for each person who died in that tragedy _ 32 texts for each of the 32 victims _ and 27 of them were to be performed simultaneously April 16 on the south mall at UT and on campuses at Brown University, where Ehn directs the playwriting program; City College of New York; Brandeis University; Brooklyn College; the New School; Whittier College; Macalester College; Whitman College; UT-Arlington; Santa Clara University; and the University of Ulster in Ireland. The idea behind having all the performers in each location delivering the texts for every person at the same time was to create "a kind of meditation garden," says Ehn, through which witnesses _ a term he specifically uses instead of "audience members" _ could wander at will, absorbing parts of many individual pieces or one in its entirety. On the theatre blog HowlRound, Ehn explained: "The history is meant to be geologic this way. Bigger than we can see." Each performer, though, was encouraged to ask someone to be their personal witness, tending a candle flame that would be lighted at the beginning of the event, which corresponded to the hour of the shootings in 2007. Roz invited me to be hers, and I agreed.

So I trooped down to campus at 7:15am last Monday and watched a committed band of young people stake out their spots around the rectangular lawn faced by Parlin, Calhoun, Rainey, Benedict, Mezes, and Batts halls, then pass flame to flame until 27 candles were burning around the expanse of green. I held one, too, as Rosalind immersed herself in a river of words honoring a young woman she never knew. I don't know by what process the students and subjects were put together, but Austin Michelle Cloyd seemed a providential match for Rosalind, not just because the young woman called this city home for some time in her brief life but also because she and Roz share the same height _ 6 feet, 1 inch _ and a similar sense of social justice. Ehn didn't record those facts in his plays because he knew this young woman personally; every reference to her character he drew from the public record _ hence his title for the collected plays, What a Stranger May Know. He was memorializing Austin Cloyd from the distance that most of us must. And yet, from that remove, Ehn found in her story nuggets of meaning that he polished with metaphor and story, embellishing and repeating them in the manner more of a musical fugue than a traditional drama, so that by the end of the hour and a quarter that it took Rosalind to read the 32 plays about Austin Michelle Cloyd, she was someone vivid and personal to me, someone to whom I felt an intimate connection that I did not want to abandon. I wanted to cradle her memory just as I had the burning candle while Rosalind spoke.

Because I stayed with Roz for the duration of her reading, I had only a limited opportunity to experience the other plays, but from where I sat, I did take note of the other student performers. They were swimming against the current in so many ways _ having had little time to spend with their texts, they were discovering the stories of their subjects as they were sending the words into the air, and though they spoke passionately, their fellow students flooded by them on the way to class showing little curiosity about what they had to say. None of that fazed these students, though; they'd found something meaningful in this project and pursued it with all the fire they could muster. They truly honored those lives that had been lost. I was proud of them and grateful to have witnessed their gift of grace.

And for me, that gift was made all the more potent for taking place in the shadow of the tower from which Charles Whitman shot and killed 16 people 45 years ago. I'm aware that the location for the UT performance of What a Stranger May Know was chosen with this in mind, but I'm unsure whether that incident has the pull over my daughter's generation that it has for mine. As someone who first set foot on campus as a freshman just 10 years after the tower shootings, it's a stain on my psyche that will never be washed away. So to be in the place where bodies fell in much the same tragic way that they did at Virginia Tech five years ago and see a new generation respond to that later tragedy with a ceremony of healing was to me a special balm, a cleansing of both wounds. Whether similar losses of the past were ever in Ehn's thoughts as he penned these oh-so-specific plays, I don't know, but he managed to touch on them here, to enfold them in this work, and add to the healing.

"Be with me. I am with you." The phrases echoed throughout all the plays in What a Stranger May Know. They had a special poignance there, considering the lives lost on that campus far away, and on this one. But as my daughter and her fellow students spoke them together one final time, I heard clearly their meaning for the living. We do well to remember the dead, and they live in us as long as we do, but we do better to recognize those still present, still breathing, and to cherish what little time we share with one another.

What a lesson for a Monday morning.

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*Walking the Missions | View Clip
04/19/2012
KNTV-TV

Stephanie Dodaro was like a lot of folks living in the Bay Area: making ends meet with jobs that paid the bills, but didn't feed the soul. She had the guts, though, to walk a different path. Literally. You can follow her journey, and make a donation if you like, at her website walkingthemissions

Interviewed at Mission Santa Clara at Santa Clara University

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Cristo Rey Offers New School Model | View Clip
04/17/2012
San Jose Inside

Recently, I was asked to take part in a community stakeholder interview for Cristo Rey High School in San Jose, which is currently going through a feasibility study. The landscape of public and private schools in Silicon Valley looks the same to many as it did in 1980. However, in reality, the new scene is vastly different and rapid change is occurring.

The interview process involved answering almost an hour of questions from Jessica Garcia-Kohl, who is a member of the Founders Circle. Currently, there are 24 Cristo Rey schools in 16 states, and these Catholic Jesuit high schools target adolescent children of the working poor, many of whom live in urban communities with limited education options.

In 1980, there were limited options for our impoverished high school students. But a little more than three decades later, there are a myriad of opportunities to attend unique schools. Far too often, we tried a one-size-fits-all high school model, leading to a high dropout rate that persists—as high as 30 percent in some districts last year. But times are changing, and we must learn from past to improve education models funded by public dollars.

For example, in the last six years a variety of small charter high schools were approved by the county Board of Education: Downtown College Prep (Alum Rock-6-12); Summit-Tahoma (9-12); Leadership Public (9-12); University Preparatory Academy (7-12); Communitas High School (9-12); Magnolia Science Academy (6-12); and Silicon Valley Flex Academy (6-12).

This doesn't even mention all the district approved charter schools: Escuela Popular Center for Training and Careers (9-12); Summit-Rainier (9-12); Kipp San Jose Collegiate (9-12); Latino College Preparatory Academy (9-12); and San Jose Charter Academy (9-12).

And a growing number of elementary and middle school charters demonstrating strong results include Rocketship Education (K-5), Kipp Heartwood Academy (5-8) and ACE (5-8).

Getting back to Cristo Rey, it could very easily become a publicly funded charter or small district high school. The homepage states, “Cristo Rey high schools combine personal responsibility, academic rigor, and a corporate work-study program to empower children of the working poor to reach their full potential.”

The vision statement is also bold: “The Cristo Rey network strives to become one of the finest educational networks in the country demonstrating measurable impact in the crucial national imperative of launching low-income youth to and through college and into lives of productivity, meaning, and consequence.”

Philanthropic dollars from Bill and Melinda Gates helped get Cristo Rey off the ground in Chicago, and now John Sobrato, a major donor for Cristo Rey in San Jose, is looking at the role of private schools with a corporate work-experience component in altering the high school model for the better.

We've seen similar examples of Catholic schools successful preparing students in the past, and many are connected.

The first Rocketship School approved by the county Board was Rocketship Mateo Sheedy. Father Mateo Sheedy, former pastor of Sacred Heart Church, worked to get qualified Latino boys to qualify for entrance to Santa Clara University, a Jesuit school for higher learning. Sheedy and John Danner, Founder of Rocketship, also launched Sacred Heart Nativity School.

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SFist Memoirs: Kylee Swenson Gordon, Small Town Girl | View Clip
04/17/2012
SFist

SFist Memoirs: Kylee Swenson Gordon, Small Town Girl

Photo by Michelle Springmeyer

This week's SFist Memoirs begins in the early 1990s with Kylee Swenson Gordon, who is one of the founding members of the long-time, S.F. band, Loquat . Kylee's first San Francisco experiences as a young small-town girl from Minnesota served as an impressive crash-course in rock 'n' roll, helping to shape her into the music veteran that she is today.

I'm a really small-town girl from Minnesota. I grew up in a town called Orono, which doesn't have a zip code, so it's technically a village. I moved to California to go to school. I went to Santa Clara University and worked at the radio station there, KSCU , which is where I met Eric Becker .

The goth scene:

Santa Clara is a pretty conservative Jesuit university, which is why my parents wanted me to go there. But I ended up finding the liberal people there anyway - all eight of them. A friend and I would always drive up to the city to go to a club called Drug 6. I couldn't really pull off goth. I loved the music, like Christian Death, KMFDM, My LIfe With The Thrill Kill Cult, Siouxsie Sioux, and The Cure, but I didn't really pull it off. I liked color too much. I'd go to these clubs and feel a little bit like an outcast. I'd go from a super conservative college where I was totally weird and different with my orange pants, blue hair, and nose ring to a subversive club where I totally didn't fit in either.

There would be dudes in fishnet body suits with skull-buckle boots, and I remember how awesome the dancing was. Lots of hand movements and people dancing in cages. It was awesome just to be a spectator of that.

Bands:

I was in a band with my friend Keith Crate. I was 20 and learning how to play guitar and sing. I was totally unprepared to play live, but he forced me to play my first show, which was opening for Jefferson Starship. That was torture.

Then I moved to San Francisco. I had started hanging out a lot in San Francisco and thought, "This place is magical." I was lured to it, a small-town girl moving to the big city, but it's not so big that it's crazy intimidating like New York. It was a size that I could handle. You'd run into people easily - even if you didn't know that many people - because it's so small.

I first started hanging out with Brian Jonestown Massacre . I dated one of their 40 drummers for a minute and got to see the inner-workings of the band, and the fights. I didn't really get to know Anton, but he scared the hell out of me. He had this really wild look in his eye. I was 19 or 20 and totally scared of him.

I remember going to see them open for Oasis at Bottom of the Hill, which was a crazy show. Their guitar player was a functioning heroin addict for years, and he had this very elaborate hair thing with all these bobby pins. He showed up an hour late to the show, missed the soundcheck, and spent the whole night sitting on the floor tuning his guitar. So Anton lost his shit, and yelled, "YOU'RE FUCKING FIRED!"

Hanging out with this band was kind of my entry into San Francisco life - not knowing that there would one day be this documentary about them.

The Western Addition:

So when I moved to San Francisco, I got an apartment in the Western Addition where I lived for 14 years. It was one of four French Baroque buildings in the city apparently. According to my landlord, it was run as a brothel in the 1930s by a woman who later became the mayor of Sausalito. Decades later it was a heroin den, and at one point it had some kind of vampire den. My landlord said she had tried to paint over the blood of whatever they had sacrificed, and it ate through the paint.

I have memories of moving into that apartment and there was a woman outside crying and saying, "I can't find my crack!"

A musical accident:

I met up with Eric Becker, who lived a block and a half away. He was saying in his story how he had this Juno 106 keyboard . He introduced me to his friend Earl, and we made a song right then and there. Eric brought out his drum machine, Earl started recording the guitar and synth, and then I sang. Of course I made them leave the room because at the time I couldn't handle it if anybody was even around if I was singing.

We were really excited because we didn't know what we had stumbled upon. We were having so much fun. It was a complete accident.

And the rest is history...

Loquat's still going strong today. They have a new album out, We Could Be Arsonists, which is available on iTunes as of today. The CD will be released next week , and the band's album release party is taking place on Friday, April 27th at the Independent. Also, be sure to check out their new video , "Time Bending."

Calling all Bay Area natives and long-time residents! You have a story. We want to hear it: sfistevents@gmail.com

Contact the author of this article or email tips@sfist.com with further questions, comments or tips.

Other Interesting Stories

LesFleursDuMal

Loquat did a killer cover of "There is a Light That Never Goes Out" back in the day. When I was bar-tending on Haight St. one of the guys in the band used to come in and was cool as hell . ..

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*An immoral budget that shuns social justice | View Clip
03/26/2012
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

After months of headlines about birth control and public discussions narrowly focused on sexuality, it's time for a broader values debate about the real moral scandals of rising poverty, income disparity, home foreclosures and tax policies that coddle the wealthiest few. The upcoming battle over the federal budget demands that we explore how misguided economic policies undermine Christian principles of justice and the common good.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) - chairman of the House Budget Committee and a Catholic who says he prays daily for the fiscal health of our country - has released a federal budget proposal that fails the moral test of his own faith tradition and disregards our nation's responsibility to care for the most vulnerable. His misguided plans call for the elderly, working Americans and the poor to sacrifice even more, while corporations and millionaires are rewarded with generous tax breaks.

This budget, frankly, acts like a schoolyard bully. It kicks those who are already down. It punches holes in vital social safety net programs, including food assistance for struggling families. It shoves aside the Medicare guarantee for seniors who deserve quality health care. It tramples Medicaid for low-income Americans by proposing inadequate state block grants at a time when most states are barely able to pay their bills.

For good reason, Ryan's proposals have been strongly criticized by social justice leaders, evangelicals and many Catholics. Why? Because we know that budgets reflect stark moral choices about our priorities and values.

In response to Ryan's Republican budget last year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warned House leaders that "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons." Just recently, the bishops' conference called on Congress to protect the safety net from harmful budget cuts. Ryan has ignored their wise counsel.

Ryan takes his Catholic faith seriously and has defended his policy approach in strong moral terms. But it seems he needs a refresher course in basic Catholic teaching. The Catholic justice tradition - as defined by bishops and popes over the centuries - holds a positive role for government, advocates a "preferential option for the poor" and recognizes that those with greater means should contribute a fair share in taxes to serve the common good.

Ryan and other conservatives hold tax cuts for hedge fund managers on Wall Street sacred even as they dismiss concern about rising income inequality as "class warfare." In contrast, Pope Benedict XVI denounces the "scandal of glaring inequalities." This is an accurate description when the 400 wealthiest Americans now have a greater combined net worth than the bottom 150 million Americans.

It seems that Ryan's budget is more indebted to his hero Ayn Rand than to the message of Jesus. Rand, a libertarian icon who mocked all religion and rejected the Gospel's ethic of compassion, has been praised by Ryan for explaining "the morality of individualism." Catholic values reject such radical individualism and the social callousness that it breeds.

A Catholic vision for a just economy is rooted in the conviction that we are all in this together, and not just isolated individuals locked in a Darwinian struggle for survival. In fact, it was another Ryan - the noted writer on labor and inequality, Msgr. John Ryan - who in 1919 drafted a bold plan for Catholic bishops that helped lay the moral groundwork for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.

These visionary proposals, which included a call for minimum wages, insurance for the elderly and unemployed, labor rights and housing for workers, put human dignity at the heart of public policy. It's tragic that nearly a century later, influential Catholic members of Congress are now promoting economic agendas that undermine and even betray this proud legacy.

We need to reject the false and immoral choice that we can only address the national debt and be fiscally responsible if we balance budgets on the backs of those already straining to stand up straight.

The Rev. Bryan N. Massingale is a professor of theological ethics at Marquette University. He is a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America. John Gehring is Catholic outreach coordinator and senior writer at Faith in Public Life in Washington, D.C.

( Rev. Bryan Massingale is Visiting Bernard Hanley Professor at Santa Clara University )

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