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January 14, 2010, 8:06 AM CT

Judges' rulings are being swayed by campaign contributions

Judges' rulings are being swayed by campaign contributions
Labor law expert Michael LeRoy says he found evidence that judges' rulings are being swayed by campaign contributions from businesses, based on a new study of more than 200 state court cases. | Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Photo by
L. Brian Stauffer
A pending U.S. Supreme Court ruling could aggravate the influence of corporate campaign spending that already has skewed justice in some of the nation's courts, a University of Illinois labor law expert warns.

Michael LeRoy says he found evidence that judges' rulings are being swayed by campaign contributions from businesses, based on a newly released study of more than 200 state court cases. The study will appear in the Iowa Law Review.

He predicts justice would tip even more out of balance if the Supreme Court strikes down limits on election spending in a high-stakes challenge to the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reforms Act of 2002, usually known as the McCain-Feingold bill.

The high court's ruling, expected as early as this week, could give corporations, unions and activist groups virtual free rein to run election-time ads for and against candidates, legal analysts say, and lay the groundwork for direct donations to political campaigns.

"It would open up the spigot for judicial contributions and greatly aggravate the problem, further politicizing and polarizing some of these state courts," said LeRoy, a professor of labor and of law.

Debate over the looming court ruling in the case - Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission - has centered largely on how the flood of money would affect presidential and congressional elections. LeRoy says the impact on judicial campaigns is just as worrisome.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


January 13, 2010, 7:43 AM CT

Inmates comfortable with diversity

Inmates comfortable with diversity
'Ethnicity, Identity and Social Relations in Prison', carried out by Dr. Coretta Philips of the London School of Economics, explored how prisoners' ethnic identities helped them cope with prison life, and whether such identities informed a social pecking order and the formation of gangs. More specifically, it explored the influence of prison practices on prisoner and group identities.

In January 2009 British broadsheets voiced fears of a flourishing gang culture in UK top-security prisons following an inspection report on Long Lartin jail in Worcestershire. By contrast, the LSE research - comprising ethnographic studies conducted in Kent over eight months each at a young offenders' institution and an adult male prison - observed that, superficially at least, there was an acceptance of diversity amongst prisoners, with some welcoming it.

There were no gangs in either institution, and no religious or ethnic pecking order. However, prisoners tended towards same-ethnicity friendships, and formed groups providing physical protection, for sharing, and for access to items such as mobile phones and drugs. Muslim groups encompassing a range of ethnicities were both envied by non-Muslims for their potential for seeking concessions on religious grounds, and disparaged for their solidarity.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


January 11, 2010, 8:18 AM CT

In search of speed

In search of speed
You couldn't have asked for a better day for a competition. It's minus five degrees, the sun's shining and there's not a breath of wind. The snow's perfect and the biathlete's in top form. He's one of the best he can win the race. Often there's only a few thousandths of a second between the victor and the vanquished, so the gliding ability of his skis is very important. And this depends on several factors, not least whether the wax mixture he's applied suits the particular type of snow.

Anyone looking for optimal ski performance must first understand the laws of friction. That is why wax and ski coating manufacturers are counting on the expertise of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials IWM in Freiburg. The researchers have been studying the gliding ability of skis and know how to make ski athletes go like the wind. Prof. Dr. Matthias Scherge, Head of the new Microtrobilogy Center in Karlsruhe, says: The snow, the ski coating and the wax that is applied all unite to form a single entity. We can't alter the snow, but we can adapt both the wax and the coating to suit particular snow conditions. The scientists use a special technique to analyze the friction and gliding effects; they simulate the contact between a single snow crystal and the coating with the aid of a test rig, and then measure the coefficient of friction in relation to temperature. It's the first 10 to 15 nanometers of the coating surface that.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


January 11, 2010, 8:17 AM CT

Staying safe in snow

Staying safe in snow
The inviting expanse of shimmering snow contrasts with the non-malignant blue sky above. The ski instructor briefly goes over the planned run, his first charge glides off into the distance and sets off a slab avalanche. The group all look on helplessly as their friend is buried under a wall of snow. Bernhard Budaker of the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA knows this kind of scenario is all too common. But scientists at the Institute recently developed a new avalanche airbag system for ABS Peter Aschauer GmbH, in which an electronic unit ensures a ski instructor or friend of any similarly hapless individual can remotely trigger the airbag stowed in their backpack. The product went on sale in December 2009. Avalanche airbags have been in use for over a quarter of a century. A simple tug on the activation handle will inflate two airbags stowed in a backpack. The massive extra volume they create gives the body additional buoyancy the skier is no longer buried under the snow.

To date, however, the problem has always been that skiers have had to activate the airbag inflation system themselves. If skiers fail to notice in time that they've set off an avalanche, the airbag won't help them, says Budaker. But now the IPA group manager and his team have replaced ABS's manual activation unit with an electronic system, and fitted a new trigger: We've redesigned the activation handle to incorporate many electronic components, so airbag inflation can be initiated by other members of a skiing party as well. It will be perfectly easy to retrofit all the old-style backpacks with the new system. When the traditional activation handle is pulled, it creates a pressure wave in the tube, which punctures a gas cartridge and causes the airbags to inflate. In the new system, a pyrotechnic element is used to ignite the gas cartridge. As Budaker explains, the electronic solution offers the advantage of allowing all the airbags carried by a particular skiing party to be networked: We transmit on 868 and 915 Megahertz. The optical application programming interface permits specific groups to be defined. Group members simply need to touch all their handles together for them to become a unit. One option is for the ski instructor to be designated the master, his charges the slaves in this case, only the master can trigger the others' airbags. Alternatively, all members of the group can be designated masters and help each other in an emergency. The activation signal currently has a range of between 350 and 500 meters, but this distance can be extended, given that every group member effectively acts as a relay station as each trigger handle passes on the signal.........

Posted by: Edwin      Read more         Source


Fri, 25 Dec 2009 04:38:19 GMT

Picnic by Juicy Couture

Picnic by Juicy Couture
The speaker dimensions are 12"H x 13"W x 6"D. There"s no word on the wattage, so the sound quality is anyone"s guess. The kit is available for $248. Just like the tagline says it"s "everything you need to take your beau or bestie out for a picnic."

Via UberGizmo

Posted by: Sarah      Read more     Source


Thu, 19 Nov 2009 14:11:14 GMT

When You Hand Out Pink Slips

When You Hand Out Pink Slips
© Mykl Roventine


BusinessWeek ran a good article this week on things not to say when the time comes to hand someone their pink slip.

People are getting laid off. Right and left, east and west, all over the place. And it"s not always because they deserve to be let go.Job cutting is never easy, but it often becomes progressively harder as we go deeper into an organization. At the beginning, employers may be able to lay off only weak employees they might have considered letting go anyway. While these weak performers are human beings worthy of dignity and respect, we can make ourselves feel okay about their terminations because they are based on merit.

The deeper we get, the less likely it is that we honestly can say that a job elimination is simply a matter of letting go those who should have been let go years ago. Now we are letting go of solid performers who would remain employed in a good economy.If you have to do the deed, there are some basic things you should avoid saying. You can think of it as being sensitive (why would you feel the need to say mean things to someone you"re not going to see anymore?) or you can think of it as reducing your corporate liability in the layoff. But it"s really just an issue of being smart about it.

The BusinessWeek article gives some good guidance on the topic.

Posted by: Sue      Read more     Source


Wed, 11 Nov 2009 06:47:53 GMT

I'M OFF TO SEE IMOGEN HEAP!

First Train Home official video

Posted by: Popbytes      Read more     Source


Wed, 11 Nov 2009 06:33:52 GMT

La Roche Posay Xerand Hand Repair Cream

La Roche Posay Xerand Hand Repair Cream
La Roche -Posay has a very loyal following both in France, and here in the United States, for their skin care products. After having the opportunity recently to try some of them, I can certainly see why!

One of the stars of their lineup is the La Roche-Posay Xerand - Hand Repair Cream. The texture of the cream is lightweight and smooth, with a slight watery feel. It"s this combination that made it such a pleasure to use. I would apply the cream in the morning, and generally, even through my first few hand washings of the day, my hands were still moisturized.

I loved how soft my hands felt after applying the cream, without any trace of greasiness or stickiness. It was also perfect for moisturizing my cuticles in the evening before bed. It"s concentrated, so a little goes a long way as well. Like most French skincare, it is scented with a floral fragrance that was plesant - but not intrusive or overwhelming. All in all, this is a wonderful little product that"s also perfect for plane travel and keeping at the office. - RLB

Posted by: Palacinka Beauty      Read more     Source


Fri, 06 Nov 2009 05:30:01 GMT

Cafe World: Fastest Growing Social Game in History

Cafe World: Fastest Growing Social Game in History
One day my newsfeed in Facebook was perfectly normal. The next day it was covered up in stuff about some cafe - and people were wanting to hire my wife and me to work in their little restaurants. At least it seemed that way.

VentureBeat describes it this way:When Cafe World debuted on Facebook on Sept. 30, it lit up the social network immediately. The title, a simple simulation where you make food and run a restaurant, took off faster than any other social game in history.At the end of week one it had eight million users. After two weeks it had 15 million users.

Zynga, the company that created Cafe World, seems to have Facebook users figured out. Its other big game, FarmVille, has 56 million players (I just made level 32 there).

Posted by: Nancy      Read more     Source


Fri, 06 Nov 2009 05:24:30 GMT

iLuv presents the kooky iMM183

iLuv presents the kooky iMM183
iLuv appear to have created a product for a really oddly specific niche; couples who both own iPhones/iPod touches. The er, creatively named iMM183 features a dual dock system for charging and playing of your tunes, as well as being an alarm clock with the ability to set seperate alarms for either player. Er, it also tells you the weather? Some of the press pictures show it with a big ol "TORNADO WARNING" written on it. I don"t think I"d like to be woken up by a clock telling me I am set to be swept away.

Posted by: Linda      Read more     Source


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