Supreme Court Nomination

Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan began her nomination process this week as she began her congressional hearings.  Today the Harvard grad carefully responded to Republician questioning her record in an attempt to find a reason to block her nomination to the high court.

President Barack Obama’s nominee soldiered through her second day of testimony on Capitol Hill apparently in good shape to win Senate approval — barring a major gaffe — in time to take her seat before the court opens a new term in October. If confirmed, Kagan, 50, would succeed retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

The Senate Judicial committee called Kagan back Wednesday for a second and likely final day of questioning.

Sexting Case

A 19 year old student is suing her former high school for an illegal search that they conducted on her cell phone.  The former female student alleges that school officials invaded her privacy and violated her free-speech rights when they confiscated her cell phone, found semi-nude photos stored inside and turned the phone over to authorities.

The lawsuit alleges that the trouble began after a teacher confiscated the cell phone of the student, identified in the suit only as N.N., when she broke school rules by making a call on campus in January 2009.

She was later called to Principal Gregory Ellsworth’s office, suspended for three days and told that her cell phone had been turned over to authorities after Ellsworth found semi-nude and nude photos inside, the lawsuit says.

When other students at the same high school were caught allegedly sending nude and semi-nude photos on their cell phones last year, the Wyoming District Attorney General gave them a similar choice: taking re-education classes or facing charges.

The lawsuit says N.N.’s photos were never printed, distributed or uploaded on the Internet and were intended to be seen only by the student and possibly by her long-time boyfriend.

The lawsuit seeks damages, reimbursement for the re-education course she was required to take and the deletion of any stored copies of the photographs.

As technology continues to expand and enter into our lifes, new and more interesting types of cases will emerge to address those new advances.

BP What are you doing?

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After weeks of fucking up the environment, BP finally conceded that the oil leak is larger than it originally estimated, adding more worry as portions of the massive spill began appearing on shore.

They finally made available video footage of the amount of oil that continues to gush out into the ocean.  Is it me or does it seem that every week, BP comes up with a new idea and their execution fails to stop the spill.

Could this fucking mess become the death nail of future oil drilling in the ocean.  I guess time will tell.

Goldman Executive Deny Wrongdoing

After nearly 11 hours to combative exchanges, Senators and the leaders of Goldman Sach returned to their respective corners to fight another day.  It isn’t clear who got the better off the other in this public round of debate.

If the stock price of Goldman Sach is an indicator then the company came out ahead as the stock rose $1.01 per share, to $153.04.   Other would argue that the stock was due to go up after dropping from the $180 per share levels just a few weeks ago.

Some of the things that came clear from today’s interplay is that Gold is stating that the people that they were dealing with that is at the core of the SEC fraud charges – were institutions and not your regular “Joe”.  Institutions with a high level of knowledge about the markets and who possessed knowledge about the market.  So they know what they were doing and Gold just accommodated or created an environment for them to make their trades.

The other argument that Gold made was that the short selling was just a byproduct of their risk measures.  They take action from institution and avoid too much risk they edge their bets to offset their risk.

It will be interesting to see how things play out in the public arena as well as in the court.

Texting With Work Phone

Be careful what you text on a company phone.  Because the real question is can your employer read your text message if you do it on a company phone.

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that questions whether a California city violated a public employee’s rights by reading sexually explicit text messages on an electronic device owned by the Police Department. A decision has not been made.

Although the case involved a police officer, some legal experts said the ruling could have broad implications on how public and private employees can be monitored.

In the digital era, employees often are expected to be in constant contact with their managers. The use of cell phones and mobile internet service has skyrocketed over the last decade, and some of the growth can be attributed to companies giving cell phones and smartphones to their employees

Employees should protect themselves by keeping their personal lifes out of work communications.  If your employer has anything to do with giving you your phone – whether it is paying for it or not, its sale to assume that your text are not private so you should have no reasonable expectation of privacy towards them.

Defamation Lawsuit

There has been a raise in companies filing defamation lawsuit against anonymous poster, posting negative comments about their company.  The process is fairly simple.  The company files a defamation claim against a “John Doe”.  The complaint enables the company to issue subpoena against websites where the comments were posted asking for information concerning the  identity of the poster.  The information will come in the form of server logs, user account information and ip addresses.

These days, one’s ip address is the equivalent of one’s home address or finger print.  As each home is appointed to a unique ip address.  Once they have your ip address, they can subpoena your Internet Provider for the account associated to your ip address.

With this information, they can now connect you to the comments being made on the Internet.  They then amend their complaint to add you as a Doe.  Serve you and the lawsuit begins.

Individual Health Premium Go Up

With Congress sitting on their asses and failing to get a Health care plan worked out because the Democratic lost their majority, individual who buy their own health insurance are facing a huge rate increase in at least four states.

Blue Cross has announced or has notified some of its 800,000 individual policyholders in California that it plans to raise their rates by up to 39 percent on March 1, 2010.

Blue Cross has also elected to raise the rates of their consumers in Maine up to 32 percent.

Individuals in Kansas and Oregon will also face rate increases in varying amounts.

Premiums are far more volatile for individual policies than for those bought by employers and other large groups, which have bargaining clout and a sizable pool of people among which to spread risk. As more people have lost jobs, many who are healthy have decided to go without health insurance or get a bare-bones, high-deductible policy, reducing the amount of premiums insurers receive.

Its fucking crazy what these insurance companies are allowed to do especially in such hard economic times.  Who these days can afford to survive much less pay for their insurance policy.

Campaign Spending Undermine

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The US Supreme Court recent ruling on campaign spending could have long time effects.  If you haven’t heard, the overturn a 63 year old law limiting political spending by labor and big business on the grounds of free speech.

The ruling paves the way for corporations, labor unions, and religious groups to give money to sway votes to push their agenda.

The ruling covers the money corporations and unions may spend from their own profits on independent ads and other advocacy efforts on behalf of candidates or issues. It does not change restrictions on direct contributions to candidates for federal office, which remain prohibited under federal law, but are allowed in New Jersey state races.

The decision essentially means that if a corporation wanted to spend millions of dollars of its own money on its own issues ads in support of a candidate, it may do so. The ruling does not change spending rules covering the thousands of political action committees by corporations and special interest groups.

Now Congress will have to decide how they want to react to the high court’s ruling.

Woods Business Impact

It is being reported that the Tiger Wood incident is causing a ripple effect in the Insurance industries.  Large corporate sponsor are seeking insurance protection in the effect that their top spoke person fulls a “Tiger Wood”.

It was originally thought that Tiger Woods was the perfect spokesmen.   Now with everything that has happened, companies are running for protection.  The thought process is that if something like this can happen to Tiger Woods than no one is safe.

This run for cover drive is driving new avenues of revenue to the insurance company as they create new policy to protect companies against these types of incidents.

Status of Health Care

Now that the Democratic party has lost its majority hold in the Senate, what will happen to the Health Care plan.  Scott Brown’s victory in the state that has fought for health care under Senator Kennedy is perhaps a message to the Democratic that they need to get their act together.

The Republicans now have enough votees to block any measure in the chamber.

Administration officials and top congressional Democrats are reviewing a diminished range of options to pass a health care bill and salvage victory on President Obama’s top domestic priority.

Among the options under consideration is to draft a new, stripped-down version of the bill capable of passing both chambers.

A second option is having the House pass an identical version of the bill approved by the Senate in December. Doing so would allow the measure to proceed straight to Obama’s desk to be signed into law.

A number of House liberals, however, are pushing back hard against the idea of adopting the Senate plan without major changes. The more conservative Senate measure contains a number of provisions unpopular with progressives, including a 40 percent tax on high-end “Cadillac” health plans which would be imposed on the insurance companies that provide them.