Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Nobility Clauses - seriously

Bjork Accused of Attack -Bjork silently ripped the shirt off a photographer who snapped her without permission. Odd choice for As Good As News? Yes, but it was very hard to get a photo out of the items on constitutional law, products liability and chess politics. How do we feel about it? Sympathetic to celebs stalked by paparazzi and more scared than ever of Bjork. In the As Good As News index of types waiting to be cast she was already pencilled in for the role of cyborg in T-4.

A Hereditary Perk The Founding Fathers Failed to Anticipate - Did you remember that the US Constitution bars state and Federal governments from granting "titles of nobility"? In the Washington Law Journal, Carlton F. W. Larson, University of California, Davis - School of Law Professor, argues that state universities violate this clause when giving admissions preference to the children of alumni. When the constitution was written the English term "title of nobility" had a meaning so narrow (Earls and Dukes but not Kings or Knights) that the founding fathers must have meant something broader, and, relying upon some late eighteenth century historical context, Larson argues the intent was to prohibit a broad range of hereditary privileges.

So, when Rutgers admits the child of an alum despite his mediocre grades, the school is not just dubbing him a Scarlet Knight, it's entitling him the Earl of Raritan? Maybe.

State school admissions preferences for legacies have withstood challenges on the basis of racial discrimination, despite the fact that for many state schools the grads are disproportionately white so that the effect of the admissions preference for alumni children benefits whites disproportionately. The cases have noted that the legacy preference boosts alumni donations (parents give more when they think it will help with their child's admission) so there is some rational reason for the state's policy of legacy preference. The few decisions on point have found this is enough to justify a policy which does not directly use race as an admission criteria, even though it has a racially disproportionate impact. Prof. Larson's article may spur a new attack on the legacy preference at state universities.

Study Reveals Doubt on Drug for Cholesterol - A trial completed in April, 2006 shows that Zetia and Vytorin, made by Merck and Schering-Plough do nothing at best and might actually contribute to plaque formation. The big news is the gap between completion of the trial and release of the results. The manufacturer's attribute this to the complexity of the data they were required to analyze, but 5 million people are taking these drugs, so they contributed greatly to profits over the past 18 months. Plaintiffs attorneys won't buy this explanation for the delay without proof, and class action suits will appear far more quickly than the report on the clinical trials did, as someone will seek to recover the costs paid for ineffective treatment. Even moderate side effects become unacceptable if they result from a treatment which is known to be ineffective, providing yet more grounds for claimants. If you are analyzing these stocks, allow for more than just the loss of Zetia and Vytorin revenue going forward.

Chess Panel to Request Resignation of Official - a majority of the Executive Board of the US Chess Federation will formally request the resignation of Paul Truong, a fellow exec board member, claiming Truong has stonewalled the USCF's efforts to investigate allegations that Truong posted scatological comments on Federation board candidates while posing as Sammy Sloane, another USCF candidate. Truong says he won't resign because he hasn't done anything. Right, says the majority of the USCF Executive Board, Truong hasn't done anything, he hasn't answered questions and he hasn't authorized his Internet service providers to release data. Weird Sammy Sloane is looking better and better as this mess plays out. Sue Polgar, wife of Truong, and a chess champ was not asked to resign even though she was also named in Sammy's suit.

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