Saturday, January 14, 2012

Supreme Court Abortion Decision

After much deliberation and discussion, the Supreme Court has returned a critical strike to the core of women’s rights in the abortion arena.  The court in a 5-4 decision banned a medical procedure known as a partial-birth abortion or Dilation and Extraction.  This abortion procedure was performed after the 20th week of pregnancy.  While the pro-rights crowd is naturally upset over the ban, they are horrified over the fact that there are no exceptions to the ban that would enable a doctor to save the life of a woman if it was medically necessary to perform the procedure. 

Doctors can face up to 2 years in prison if they are convicted of performing the procedures, which will greatly limit the numbers of doctors performing the procedures and likely increase the number of states placing bans of the entire abortion procedure as well.  The decision came from a split Supreme Court, with two of the justices being hand picked by Bush himself.  This is a cause of great concern, suggesting that the Supreme Court has turned into a very conservative place, despite the lack of support for Bush and many of his ideas and practices on a broader level.  The Supreme Court's involvement in politics is usually noted, but given the gravity of this decision it is clear where certain allegiances lie.

Is the Supreme Court really following the wishes of the majority, do they really have the legal right to determine that a medical decision can or cannot be performed?  The anti-abortion camps in the GOP are happy following the decision and are busily looking for more ways to put a damper on the rights of women in regards to abortions.  How will this decision be regarded when it comes election time, and the Presidential elections come around?  What about the midterm elections next time they are scheduled?

Many people are left to wonder if the Supreme Court decision is truly a legal decision, or nothing more than a very carefully selected group of ultra conservative judge’s who are following Bush’s wishes and desires in regards to the case.  The case was sitting before a panel of judge’s who seem to thrive off of the acceptance of Bush, and Bush was noted as being encouraged by the ruling and declaring it as a victory for his administration. 

The court defended its decision by saying that it was doing nothing more than drawing a line between abortion and infanticide.  There is a difference between killing a child, or an infant, and an abortion.  One of the most notable differences is that a child or infant is not considered an infant until the first breath of air is taken into the lungs.  An abortion does not allow the infant to take that first breath of air, therefore, removing the term infant from their being. 

While it is noble that the Supreme Court is looking and seeking to protect all forms of life, they should also concern themselves with the lives of the mothers who carry babies, who should not be allowed to continue to term for medical reasons.  There are numerous women each year who become pregnant who are unable physically to carry a child to term, and must abort the child, or risk their own life.  What has the Supreme Court done in order to protect those mothers, or improve their quality of life?

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Copyright is a legal fiction designed to protect the works of artists, inventors and innovators.  In essence, it is a legal bar, allowing exclusivity for those who create works in the form of an intangible asset which can be sold or relinquished, and which expires upon a certain period of time.  With the growth of the internet, and the creation of more and more content, the question of copyright is becoming increasingly more relevant, and one which more and more webmasters are considering to protect their own interests.  Additionally, with the rise of the freelancer market, the issue of copyright is becoming a heated topic of debate for both buyers and sellers at every stage in the production chain, and the effects of not having the relevant rights could be potentially catastrophic.  In this article, we'll look at what exactly copyright is, and how it relates to the internet in content creation.

Copyright is an artificial concept that gives the creator of a work, or the person he sells the right to, the legal right to use or modify in whole or in part, and to call their own.  It has a different meaning in most jurisdictions, however the basic principle is the same: the creator owns the original copyright to the work in question, and has the freedom to pass this on at will, usually in consideration for money.  Where a creator is working on commission, copyright is designed to act as a lien in his favor, meaning that if he creates and passes on but does not receive payment, he can withhold copyright and sue for breach where applicable.  Of course, he would also have remedies under the ordinary law of contract, but the grasp of copyright is a very powerful tool, which can even be used against the third party buyer from the original commissioner.

Copyright is designed as a tool to cover what is known as intellectual property.  Committing intellectual thoughts and ideas to paper, or making them tangible is usually sufficient to give rise to the copyright protection, which usually lasts for a number of decades in preventing others from steeling ideas.  This is primarily designed to encourage forward thinking and art, and can be a vital tool in protecting the financial interests of those responsible for some of the world's most vital progressions.  Consider the inventors of the seatbelt, Volvo.  Volvo could have used their copyright to prevent other manufacturers from installing seat belts, and this would have been sufficient to protect any other manufacturer from doing so.  Of course they waived their rights for the safety of the general public, which is also a possible consideration for the creator of something new and innovative.

Copyright is an exhaustible right, and it usually expires on a given date, after which all works enter the public domain.  This means that those who create new products have sufficient time to capitalize on their idea before the world at large can join in.  Unfortunately for many musicians, this means their artistic works can no longer make them money specifically, and can be used royalty free; a fact that has caused much uproar and unrest in recent years.

Copyright is a dynamic area of the law, and is particularly relevant to the internet.  As more and more content of more and more varieties is created online, there comes a need to find protection in copyright law to prevent unscrupulous parties from using content without authorization.  In combating this, a number of international legal organizations have been established with a view to tackling copyright violation, and helping those without legal support to fight cases for the protection of their work.  It is undoubtedly an area of law that is on the ascendancy, as lawyers worldwide strive to find a cohesive structure to online intellectual property law, and the protections online authors should be afforded for creating their works.  At least within national boundaries, it is highly possible to rely on copyright laws to protect and govern material. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Potential Effects of The Iraqi War on the Election

The upcoming election has many people wondering exactly how the 'War on Terror' will effect the decision for our next President.  With President Bush’s approval ratings taking a nose-dive in recent years it seems as if the American people are ready for a change, and want the troops that have been overseas for so long to be returned home to their families and loved ones.  Many Americans are upset over the length of time the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged on, and with the steadily rising death toll brave soldiers and their families are paying the ultimate sacrifice for something they no longer wish to be a part of. 

The military is beginning to feel the effects of the war as well, with almost 4,000 soldiers deserting in 2006 alone, the highest numbers since World War 2.  Many are looking to avoid the war and chaos as much as possible, which leaves the country trying to determine whether another Republican in office is going to make things better, or potentially worse for the country.  As some issues in Iraq are cleaned up, more appear on an almost daily basis, causing the troops return date to be delayed even further. 

Many Americans are also highly upset that while the troops are overseas, there is no definite time frame for withdrawal, and no clear idea of when they will return home.  No timeline has been determined, despite the long duration of military presence in these conflict areas.  People all across the country are starting to feel as if this is potentially nothing more than a game that President Bush is playing, while using the troops as his personal game chips.  A deadline for returning the troops has been discussed numerous times, yet has never materialized into anything worthwhile.

Where does this leave the country?  With thousands killed in Iraq there are numerous votes that should have been counted in the next election that will be missing, as the fallen soldiers are all missed.  With Bush’s approval ratings in the mid to low 30’s range, it is starting to look very bleak for the Republican party to manage to find a strong enough candidate to run on their ticket who can repair the massive 'goodwill' damage from the Bush administration. 

It is suspected that the effects of the war will have a damper on the election, especially since in the course of the war the House has moved to a Democratic majority in power.  With this major shift, as well as Bush’s approval ratings being so low, it seems obvious that the people are sitting up and taking notice of everything that is occurring all around the country, the question remains, is how deeply this will upset the election and how heavily it will weigh on the minds of voters while they are standing in the polls casting those final ballots. 

Many are rejoicing that Bush is unable to run, after seeing the war, as well as the state of the economy and hoping for a much better outcome from the next election.  With the next election, looming in the horizon it will be very interesting to see how everything plays out in the political arena and the attitudes and ideas that the candidates will be emphasizing.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Executive Compensation to the People

There is a bill in the progress before the House of Representatives that is trying to put the issue of the pay and compensation package that executives of publicly traded companies receive in front of stockholders.  This bill is actually expected to pass through the house successfully; however, it is unclear how well the Senate will receive it.  Is this bill the right direction for a modern America, or do we need to consider more intimately the economic implications of such a decision?

The White House has already formally registered its opposition to such a plan, however the backers are unconcerned.  Many feel that the compensation plans of the major officers of the publicly traded companies should be tied to the performance of the company and the officers themselves, and not to the figures that the officers wish to receive. 

This bill if passed could place an enormous amount of power into the hands of stockholders who are upset with the way several companies have behaved lately, with declining profits and horrible business practices while the officers of the companies have picked up large compensation packages that include their salary, benefits, and stock options.  Each officer can end up with hundreds if not thousands in profits even while the company is performing badly, which stockholders believe is an inequitable outcome. 

Many have wondered if the officers in charge of these companies would tighten the belts on spending if their own pay was tied to their performance rather than their wishes, and with numerous companies falling short of profits with huge pay packages going out, and raises occurring almost yearly many investors have started complaining loudly. 

While current President Bush has urged the officers of the companies to step up and take responsibility.  He has also said that it is not an issue that the government should become involved in.  How far should the government extend into a private business?  How many people would really feel comfortable with the idea of having the government determine what their pay could be?  Most Americans can agree that they would not like the idea of the government interfering with their job and pays. 

At the same time, while most Americans do not wish to have the government intruding into their jobs and careers, many still want some measures put into place to hold the executives accountable who are responsible for multi-million and multi-billion companies that employ hundreds to thousands of people. 

Many have argued that the concept is nothing new; it is similar to ideas that are currently in place in countries such as Sweden, Australia and even in Britain.  With examples such as those to follow, it makes people wonder if this actually does have the chance to pass through the House of Representatives and the Senate once the voting time has arrived. 

With time as the key factor, there is scheduled to be a vote on the issue in the House of Representatives in the very near future, which is very much expected to pass without much opposition.  It is the next step in the Senate that is where it starts getting sticky with people unsure of the results once the voting in the Senate starts.  However, with increasing support from the people, many of whom work for companies affected by this issue, there is scope for a mass political influence, which will certainly make the outcome interesting.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Minimising Tax Liability On Death

When we die, most of us leave behind a fairly substantial and intricate web of assets and liabilities, including money, our home and our other possessions.  In most jurisdictions, there arises a liability to tax on death that must be borne from the totality of the estate, and this can lead to a significant reduction of inheritance for our loved ones.  Having said that, there are a number of ways in which liability to tax on death can be vastly reduced whilst still ensuring sufficient legacies and provisions mortis causa.  In this article, we will look at some of the most salient ways in which one can seek to minimize his estate's liability to tax on death, and ways in which careful planning can help increase the legacies we leave behind.

Tax liability on death usually arises through bad inheritance planning, and a lack of legal consideration.  Of course to a certain extent it is unavoidable, but with some care and consideration it is possible to reduce liability overall.  There's absolutely no point in making legacies in a will which won't be fulfilled until after death and which haven’t been properly considered in light of the relevant legal provisions.  If you haven't done so already, it is extremely advisable to consult an attorney on minimizing liability on death, and on effective estate planning to avoid these potential problems and to ensure your family are left with more in their pockets.

If you intend to leave legacies to family members of a specific quantity or nature, it may be wise to do so at least a decade before you die, which will ultimately divert any potential legal challenges upon death which would give rise to tax liability.  Obviously there is seldom any way to tell precisely when you are going to die, but making legacies at least a decade beforehand avoids any liability that might be attached on death.  In effect, donating during your lifetime well before you die means you can still provide for your family and friend without having to pay the corresponding tax bill.

Another good way to minimize tax liability is to get rid of assets during your lifetime by way of gifts to friends and family.  One of the most effective ways to do this is to transfer your house to your children during your lifetime, or to move the house into a trust for which you are a beneficiary.  This means you remain functionally the owner, but legally, the asset doesn't feature in your estate on death and therefore doesn't attract tax liability.  Again, it is of great importance to ensure that the transfer is made well before death to avoid potential challenges and potential inclusion in the estate which would lead to inheritance tax liability.

Death is a particularly important phase in our lives, particularly in legal terms.  The change between owning our own property and distributing owner less property provides a range of challenges, and the controversial tax implications can cause serious problems.  Without careful planning and an expert hand, it can be easy to amass a significant tax bill for your loved ones to bear.  However, with the right direction, it can be easy to use the relevant mechanisms to minimize the potential liability to tax on your estate upon death.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Natural Law Theory

In attempting to garner an understanding of the nature of law, early legal philosophers and academics formulated what has come to be known as the natural law theory, and has become a literal cornerstone of the development of modern legal thinking.  Although somewhat limited in modern jurisprudential thinking, natural law has had a tremendous impact on our understanding of what law means in society as a baseline from which to build more complex theories.  In this article, we will look at some of the major propositions underpinning the concept of natural law, and the corresponding strengths and weaknesses of this fundamental interpretation of the legal function.

Natural law starts with the basic premise that the law is driven by morality, and consequently is affected by it.  With a history extending back to Aristotle and other early philosophers, the natural law theory has traditionally linked the law with religion and an innate sense of justice, rather than the more pragmatic approaches of some other theories.  Although this might sound rather basic, the principals have been developed and refined through academic debate for centuries ultimately leading to a far more sophisticated theory of the nature of law.  The idea that all law is subject to an unwritten code of morality is fundamental to natural law.  This also throws up some potential problems in terms of civil regulation.  Certain natural law theorists suggest that for a law to be binding on the citizen, it must conform to this sense of natural justice.  However, there is clearly no definitive objective concept of morality, which casts doubt over this principle.  Additionally, the prospect that a law may be disregarded in favor of some higher sense of morality doesn't conform in reality, considering the potential implications of consistently disregarding law on the grounds of the subjective concept of justice. 

Furthermore on this primitive understanding of natural law, the citizen in contravention to the laws of his state, could attempt to excuse his actions through a justification of 'immoral' laws.  This would also create a state of disorder, given the natural variation of personal opinions, which would ultimately render society unworkable.  For this reason, the natural law scheme has failed to garner modern academic acceptance, of course with a few exceptions.

Natural law has been proposed as a consideration in trying war criminals, on the basis of the retro spectivity principle, i.e. no man can be tried for a crime that was not a crime when he committed it.  Many war criminals are merely cogs in the machine of a legal regime, which ultimately permits their actions, however unjustifiable morally.  Natural law theories give a basis for challenge on these grounds, whilst avoiding the awkward question of direct legal contravention, which ultimately works to serve justice.  In this sense, it is perhaps useful as a canon of interpretation and in determining just and equitable outcomes in 'difficult' cases.  However, as a wider legal concept, natural law and the proposed intersection between law and morality seems too awkward to reconcile with considered academic legal understandings.  Having said that, natural law has provided an excellent starting position for further advanced argumentation, and has provided a platform for critique that has been essential to the development of the more sophisticated ideas held in regard in this modern day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

No Child Left Behind

What exactly does No Child Left Behind really mean?  Does that mean that a school bus driver agrees not to leave my child at school, or does it have a deeper meaning for parents to look into?  What it really means, is that schools are forced to link the money they receive from the federal government in direct connection to how well students perform academically.  Looking at the sheer facts of life, schools must have money in order to educate students. 

Yet with the need for money in the schools rising steadily there needed to be a solution to ensure that students were, being taught the skills they needed in order to be successful adults who are capable of securing a job.  Many students have graduated from high school in the last several years without the ability to complete many basic tasks such as reading, writing, and elementary level arithmetic. 

After experiencing this phenomenon for several years, President Bush stepped up to the plate and proposed tying the results of students to the financial assistance that schools received as an incentive for schools to perform better.  A grade was also assigned to schools each year based upon the standardized test scores that would tell parents, educators and the country as a whole how well the schools in a district were performing. 

If a school performs badly, parents and students are given the option to transfer to another school that received a better grade; this directly affects the amount of money each school is capable of receiving.  This puts a great pressure on schools to perform better.  Schools are forced to start taking note, and answering questions in regard to why students are not performing on an acceptable academic level when the report cards come out.  Each school has the ability to improve their grades and scores simply by teaching students the information needed.

Many parents are upset by the program; they feel their children are being pushed too hard in classes.  Many other parents are very happy with the program; they feel that the schools are just now being forced to be accountable for the education that students are receiving.  As the future draws more into the technological era, it becomes clear, that technology is king.  In order for students to be able to secure jobs, they must have basic skills and be able to handle the pressures of life.

Students must leave school fully prepared to take on a job, make a name for themselves, and improve their lives.  Many students upon graduating from school were forced previously to go onto welfare and take jobs only in low paying jobs that were unable to turn into careers.  Many students now are able to go onto decent paying jobs that show the possibility to grow into careers, thus avoiding the welfare trap that many recent graduates were forced into. 

How the schools perform in the next few years will really determine how well our outlook is for the job market.  With more jobs moving overseas to cheaper labor, it is very important that students leave school with the knowledge and ability to help keep jobs here for the future generations, for it is only with a graduate-led economy we can remain competitive on an international level.