Sunday, September 21, 2008

Report finds U. of Iowa mishandled '07 sex assault, cover-up downplayed

Coralville, Iowa -- An independent report presented to the Iowa state Board of Regents on Thursday said the University of Iowa mishandled a sexual assault investigation and criticized two UI vice presidents for their roles but rejected the idea there was a cover-up.

The Stolar Partnership, a St. Louis-based law firm that compiled the 72-page report, said several other key officials, including Athletics Director Gary Barta, football coach Kirk Ferentz and UI President Sally Mason, by and large followed UI policies in both practice and spirit.

"The university's response to the alleged sexual assault was inadequate. While the substance of the response was not acceptable, there was no cover-up or attempted cover-up and no pressure to deal with it informally," lead investigator James Bryant said in his presentation.

Bryant went on to say the alleged victim "suffered intolerable harassment and bullying despite the coaches' efforts."

For more on this story, go to the (Iowa City) Press-Citizen

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is Chili Mac next on the list of bailouts?

By S.J. Masty

Tomorrow, After Lunch - The epic nationalization of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is expected to cost taxpayers "between $50 billion and $500 billion" or more, say economists abandoning pocket calculators for a dartboard.

Next, Lehman Brothers sold the cow for a handful of magic beans and were allowed to collapse. But it is an election year, government's heels are rounder than usual, so it may not be the end of the bailouts.

Both presidential candidates have responded dynamically by adopting a concerned, mature, "I've got gas" expression as though they are auditioning for Alka Seltzer ads, then saying that somebody needs to do, um, something.

Republican John McCain - standing for smaller government, paying debts and rugged individualism - won't admit that the supposed remedy for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac is pure socialism, as found in those goofy little Third World countries whose legislatures vote to repeal the law of gravity, and earn most of their Gross National Product by selling postage stamps to collectors.

For Democrat Barack Obama, who has never seen a problem that cannot be solved by borrowing your Visa card, blowing a few hundred billion is probably, well, necessary. Change we need - because all the folding money is going to Washington.

Meanwhile, none of the candidates has dared to speak out on another crisis: Chili Mac.

For more on this commentary, go to The D.C. Examiner

Monday, September 15, 2008

Fill-in-the-blank article about price-gouging laws

by Art Carden

[As surely as summer follows spring, natural disasters are followed by saber rattling about "price gouging," which is usually defined very lucidly and clearly as an "unconscionable" increase in the price of a necessity. These tend to follow a formula, so I thought that instead of writing a new article discussing the unintended consequences of every price-gouging law that goes into effect after a natural disaster, it would be useful to write a universal, fill-in-the-blank article discussing the economics of price-gouging laws. Whenever there is a natural disaster, you can just fill in the relevant blanks for a complete analysis of the economics of the situation.]

Fearing increases in the prices of basic items as a result of (disaster) , officials in (state or municipality) have declared a state of emergency whereby restrictions on "price gouging" are now in effect. According to (politician or law enforcement official) , the law is designed to protect innocent consumers from "unconscionable" increases in the prices of food, gasoline, ice, electric generators, and home-repair services. The unintended, unseen consequences, however, are predictable, unfortunate, and avoidable.

For more on this commentary, go to The Ludwig von Mises Institute

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mich. high court hears controversial gov't overhaul case

LANSING, Mich. -- The Michigan Supreme Court heard an appeal Wednesday from proponents of a proposed ballot measure that would cut judges' salaries and reduce the number of top-level jurists and trim the size of the state Legislature.

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel threw the proposal backed by Reform Michigan Government Now off the November ballot.

Proponents said if the measure is not placed on the Nov. 4 ballot it would fetter citizens' ability to amend the state constitution.

Andrew Nickelhoff, attorney for the proposal's supporters, told the justices that if an appeals court decision barring the measure from the ballot the ruling will "open a Pandora's box of unintended consequences."

Nickelhoff said the decision would "set up the court as a gatekeeper to the ballot box."

For more on this story, go to Legal

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Del. student wins partial victory in free speech case

Wilmington, Del. - A University of Delaware student has won his legal argument that his free speech rights were violated by the school when it suspended him for content on his Web page, but he essentially lost his lawsuit seeking damages.

A federal judge ruled that Maciej Murakowski's Web page of sex jokes, among other topics, was sophomoric and offensive but was protected speech, not a threat to others and not a violation of the school's policies.

However, Magistrate Judge Mary Pat Thynge also found the school's decision to suspend Murakowski for a semester was justified because of his other actions, including ignoring an order not to return to his dorm after he was suspended.

For more on this story, go to The Wilmington News-Journal

Monday, September 8, 2008

Motor city mayor toppled by FOIA request

Detroit, Mich. - On Oct. 19, 2007, the Free Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents in the police whistle-blower settlement that cost the City of Detroit $8.4 million. Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and lawyers then schemed to hide the documents and cover up lies he told under oath in the lawsuit.

But then things unraveled for the mayor: The Free Press published text messages that exposed his lies, County Prosecutor Kym Worthy charged him with eight felonies, and courts ruled that the documents were, in fact, public.

On Thursday, the mayor finally acknowledged his lies, signifying a victory for freedom of the press, the Freedom of Information Act itself, the public's right to know -- and the idea that violating an oath to tell the truth carries severe consequences.

Here are excerpts from the legal drama over the 11 months since the Free Press FOIA request was filed.

For more on this story, go to The Detroit Free Press . Also, for more information on citizen participation in the role of government watchdog via the Freedom of Information Act, go to The National Coalition on Freedom of Information.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pinning the blame on the real culprits of high gas prices

by Michael Heberling

I am writing this after having just filled my tank with gasoline at $3.99 per gallon. Oil is over $125 a barrel.

Big Oil and their CEOs are the hands-down favorite to win the Snidely Whiplash People’s Choice Award. Since Big Oil is our favorite villain, no one really wants to hear about the other deserving nominees in this category: Big Government and Big Green.

For more on this commentary, go to The July/August 2008 issue of The Freeman, a publication of the Foundation on Economic Education

Friday, September 5, 2008

Confessions of a 'rogue' juror

by Thomas L. Eddlem

During jury service earlier this year I sat in a judge’s robing chambers and was asked to take an oath that I expect no juror in American history was ever asked to take before or since:

"Would you be able to set aside your own reading of the Constitution, the judge’s past instructions, and judge the facts based solely upon the judge’s explanation of the law?"
The judge, U.S. District Court Judge William G. Young took 43-pages in a court memorandum last month to call me a "rogue" for not taking this unusual oath.

I’m not always the quickest on my feet, but on the drive home from the courthouse that day I thought a clever reply would have been: "Other than the actual words that are written in the Constitution, what words would you have me substitute when I think of the Constitution?" I wouldn’t have given him such a smart-alec reply even if I had thought of it at the time, though, as I was worried about a contempt of court charge. I stayed polite.

For more on this commentary, go to Also, to find out more about the rights and powers juries have in the legal system, visit the Fully Informed Jury Association.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Celebrating jury right's day


To grasp why the Bill of Rights leads off by barring Congress from "establishing" any religion, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," you must understand that in 18th century England there was no "separation of church and state." The English monarch to this day includes in her title "Fidele Defensor" -- Defender of the Faith. Which helps explain why even our right to a jury trial stems directly from this era.

In 1670, it was declared illegal to hold a religious gathering or preach a sermon in England which was not a "Church of England" sermon. Dissident churches, including the Quaker meeting houses, were closed.

Unable to get into his London meeting house, William Penn led a Quaker meeting in the street outside. He was arrested and put on trial -- on Sept. 5, 1670, 338 years ago this week.

For more on this commentary, go to The Las Vegas Review-Journal

Gov. Sarah Palin address to 2008 AIP convention

Click the following link to find out more about the Alaskan Independence Party.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The premature death of Sarah Palin's political career

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell

The frenzied reaction of the middle class all over the country toward Sarah Palin has no real precedent that I can remember. Indeed, the reaction especially among women is completely understandable. She provides a much welcome cultural break from the chip-on-the-shoulder, grudge-against-the-world model of public women that have been held up to us for years, embodied in the belligerent and insufferable person of Hillary Clinton.

Sarah, on the other hand, is both beautiful and professionally accomplished, a wife and mother and a natural politician, both religious and secular, both feminine and fears no tasks such as hunting that are usually associated with men. She offers a different model of a woman who has excelled not through intimidation and aggressive demands for reparation, but through her own efforts, charms, and intelligence.

What's more, her political outlook has much to recommend it, from what we can gather so far. There is a libertarian impulse here. She has rejected the perks of public life in favor of common sense. She is friendly to business interests but unfriendly to special privileges. She has praised Ron Paul and rejected the party mentality of GOP regulars.

It strikes many people as a brilliant choice on McCain's part, and I would agree. Social conservatives have forgiven all of McCain's deviations. Many people who just last week didn't give a fig about whether he wins or loses have come around completely. She will, of course, be a huge focus of the campaign.

The claim against her that she lacks "experience" is one of the most bogus things out there. For starters, the history of VPs shows a long history of people with very little of what is called "experience" today. And contrary to what media pundits say, what is far more important than experience are the political values you hold.

The demand for experience seems to imply that somehow we are seeking social and global managers for public office, and that is manifestly what we do not want. In a truly liberal society, the job of a White House executive could be held by anyone or no one.

For more on this commentary, go to

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor Day and freedom

by Art Carden

A Tyson Chicken plant in Shelbyville, Tennessee has agreed to grant its workers a day off for the Muslim holiday Eid el-Fitr, replacing Labor Day at the request of the union that represents approximately 1200 plant employees, among them approximately seven hundred Somali Muslim immigrants.

Predictably, the decision has created a firestorm of controversy and attracted considerable criticism. This criticism is largely unwarranted, however. First, how firms and workers contract with one another is none of our business. Second, granting a different holiday harms no one. As I understand it, workers who wish to take time off for the Muslim holiday may do so and work on Labor Day. Those who wish to celebrate Labor Day will probably not be prevented from doing so. Finally, it isn't clear that Labor Day is worth celebrating.

For more on this commentary, go to The Ludwig von Mises Institute