Idaho law lets your boss sue you if you get a better job

California says that non-compete agreements are unenforceable, and that's been a huge factor in the state's growth -- in particular, it's the most likely reason that California's tech economy zoomed past the Route 128 tech economy of Massachusetts -- the land where talent goes to die. Read the rest

Open carry swords come to Texas on Sept 1

If you live in Texas, rejoice: Gov. Greg Abbott has signed House Bill 1935, which, from September 1, will safeguard your right to openly carry a sword, dagger or knife, though not into "schools, colleges, churches and bars." (Image: Thinkgeek) (via Naked Capitalism) Read the rest

Legal advice to musicians, after "Blurred Lines": pretend you have no influences

It's been two years since Pharrell Williams and Robin Thicke lost a lawsuit brought by Marvin Gaye's descendants, who argued that their song "Blurred Lines" infringed Gay's 1977 song "Got to Give It To You," not because it copied the music per se, but because it copied its "vibe." Read the rest

GOP lawmakers snap up surging health insurance stocks as they gut Obamacare

Paul Ryan ally Rep. Mike Conaway [R-TX, @ConawayTX11, +1 (202) 225-3605] is the proud owner of $30,000 worth of stock in UnitedHealth, who stand to benefit enormously from Rep Conaway's efforts to destroy Obamacare and replace it with a system that allows insurers to charge more and kick more than 22,000,000 Americans off their insurance. Read the rest

Watch this timelapse of illegal 4th of July fireworks over L.A.

Happy Fourth of July Timelapse Tuesday! The best fireworks are in the hood. They are technically illegal, but that doesn't stop much of the city from getting down. This is a blend of a short video and an hour long timelapse made up of 800 photos on a Rokinon 50mm and Canon 6D. The music is from my super talented friend ARWon (check my profile for his SoundCloud). . . #westcoast_exposures #WeOwnTheNight_la #wheream_i_la #intheheartofthecity #igbest_shotz #igpodium_night #ig_color #ig_masterpiece #instashooterz #ig_exquisite #ig_shotz_le #allmediumsaccepted #ABC7Eyewitness #discoverla #dtla #global_hotshotz #jaw_dropping_shots #losangeles_city #losangeles_la #longexpoelite #losangeles #lastory #best_timelapse #conquer_la #nightphotography #night_shooterz #NBC4You #heatercentral #uglagrammers #in_losangeles

A post shared by Kevin Greene (@thekevingreene) on Jul 4, 2017 at 10:02am PDT

Photographer Kevin Greene created this amazing timelapse using photographs of illegal Fourth of July fireworks going off in Los Angeles. To get the series of shots, he traveled to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook seven miles out of town.

Wondering why the city in the front doesn't have much action?

Kevin explains,"The foreground is Culver City. Culver City Police Department is super strict about fireworks. Those houses are relatively expensive and in Los Angeles the best street fireworks tend to be in the hood." Check out all his cool night shots on his Instagram. Read the rest

Canadian entertainment industry begs Chinese courts to censor its movies

The Supreme Court of Canada just handed down a controversial ruling in which it ordered Google to block links to a page that was deemed illegal in Canada for every Google user, everywhere in the world -- asserting that the Supreme Court of Canada's jurisdiction extends to the end of the earth. Read the rest

Top Vatican official charged with mutiple child sex offenses

Cardinal George Pell, former Archbishop of Sydney and Australia's most senior figure in the Catholic Church, was charged with child sex offenses Thursday by the state of Victoria.

Pell currently resides in the Vatican, according to The Guardian, where he is the third-highest ranking church official.

Last year, citing ill health, Pell declined to return to Australia to give evidence to the royal commission on child sexual abuse in person last year and instead gave evidence by videolink from Rome. He voluntarily participated in an interview with Victorian police officers in Rome last October over the alleged sexual assaults.

In February this year the Australian Senate called on the cardinal to return home “to assist the Victorian police and office of public prosecutions with their investigation into these matters”.

Pell dismissed the parliamentary resolution as “an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria police investigation.”

Pell is a former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne. Since 2014 Pell has been prefect of the secretariat for the economy, the Vatican’s treasurer..

A keen test of Pope Francis's pretensions. Read the rest

Legal experts not impressed by the bogus threats Zillow used to silence real estate blogger

McMansion Hell (previously at BB) was a hilarious, incisive and explosively popular blog detailing and mocking America's dreadful suburban architecture. Zillow is a real estate site that exists to profit from it. Zillow used a grossly bogus legal threat to get McMansion Hell shut down, and everyone within sniffing distance of the law or media freedom is mad.

Zillow claims that McMansion Hell was 'violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and state laws prohibiting "interference with Zillow's business expectations and interests"', a claim augmented by a curious theory of copyright whereby Zillow has "particular rights" to images it doesn't own.

...The cease and desist letter was not a response to the type of content or commentary that [Kate] Wagner was offering, she said. Heffter went on to explain that Zillow does not own the photos it posts on its site and is not legally allowed to let others use them.

Zillow's not even the copyright proprietor of the images it claims to "enforce", but even if it was, a "fair use" defense would surely prevail. McMansion Hell literally obscures the images with editorial commentary!

The threat appears to be retaliation following Wagner's featuring in a Washington Post story that turned a sharp eye on the trend back to cheaply-constructed houses slathered in subprime financing, counterposing her criticism against a battery of smarmily self-promotional quotes from Zillow spokespeople.

Legal experts are not impressed.

"Zillow's suggestion that it's a CFAA violation to take pictures from their public website is very weak," Orin Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University, said in an email.

Read the rest

Salvador Dali's corpse to be exhumed

A judge in Spain has ordered the exhumation of artist Salvador Dali's body for genetic testing, so that a paternity lawsuit may be resolved. Dali died in 1989; Pilar Abel believes the painter is her father, from an affair he reportedly had with a maid in 1955. From Agencia EFE:
Una juez de Madrid ha ordenado la exhumación del cadáver del pintor Salvador Dalí y la obtención de muestras de su cuerpo para la práctica de la prueba biológica de determinación de la paternidad de Pilar Abel, una gerundense que presentó una demanda para ser reconocida como hija del artista. Según indica en un auto la juez encargada del caso, "es necesaria la prueba biológica de investigación de la paternidad de Maria Pilar Abel Martínez respecto de D. Salvador Dalí Domenech", al "no existir restos biológicos ni objetos personales sobre los cuales practicar la prueba por el Instituto Nacional de Toxicología".
Read the rest

John Oliver dared a coal exec to sue him, and now he's being sued

Last week's John Oliver segment on Robert E. Murray, CEO of the coal mining Murray Energy Corporation, noted that Murray had a history of litigation against his critics in the news media, including the New York Times, and predicted that Murray would go on to sue Oliver (Murray's lawyers had sent Oliver a letter warning him about this possibility, and promising to pursue litigation to the nation's highest courts). Read the rest

Bank robbery goes awry

In this security footage from a bank in Chapalita, Mexico, three masked men approach the doors with the clear intent to rob the place. A fleet-footed member of staff locks the glass doors. The masked men stand on the other side a little while, looking in at him. Then they walk off. Read the rest

SXSW condemns Texas's state-level law banning "sanctuary cities" like Austin

SXSW has made good on its promises to walk the talk on supporting immigration rights, coming out in support of the city of Austin's lawsuit against the state of Texas over SB-4, the Texas law that bans "sanctuary cities" where law enforcement officers do not check or take action on arrestees' immigration status unless it is relevant to their alleged crimes. Read the rest

New media noncompetes are destroying the careers of young journalists

When Stephanie Russell-Kraft signed up to work for Law360, she naively entered into a probably unenforceable noncompete "agreement" that asserted that by looking at court filings for interesting news stories, she'd be privy to "critical and sensitive proprietary information" -- but she didn't really think about it until Law360 used her signature on the agreement to get her fired from her second industry job, with Reuters, costing her a generous compensation package that included overtime and health insurance. Read the rest

Germany mulls sweeping surveillance bill, crypto backdoors and fingerprinting kids

Germany's interior ministry has announced sweeping new surveillance powers ahead of the coming national election, which would include the right to infect residents' computers with malware in order to spy on their encrypted communications (shades of the illegal Bundestrojaner program), ordering tech companies to deliberately introduce defects into their cryptography, and fingerprinting children as young as 6. Read the rest

PA supreme court: was illegal to steal elderly woman's home because her son sold $140 of weed

It took four years, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has finally ruled in favor of 72 year old grandmother Elizabeth Young, whose house was seized by the Philadelphia District Attorney under asset forfeiture rules when her son was caught selling $140 worth of marijuana to undercover agents.

Under civil forfeiture rules, cops and DAs get to steal property suspected of being the proceeds of a crime, then they sue the inanimate objects. The owners of the objects can hire lawyers to represent their property, while the taxpayers foot the bill for the state's side of the suit. If the government wins, it gets to keep the property or sell it and pocket the proceeds.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court blasted the DA for the seizure and reminded the state's lawyers and cops that they can only invoke civil forfeiture when there is good reason to believe that the property's owner "knew of and agreed to the crimes" in question.

The cop who bought the marijuana from Young's son is currently serving a 3.5 year federal prison sentence for planting drugs on suspects.

Young is far from the only person to have her house seized by the Philadelphia D.A. for a minor drug crime that she didn't even commit. In 2013, Philadelphia police seized the house of Christos and Markela Sourovelis after their son was arrested for selling $40-worth of drugs outside of it.

The Sourovelis' sued, with assistance from the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice, a nonprofit law firm that has challenged asset forfeiture laws in several states.

Read the rest

Thai police arrest three Chinese nationals in raid on social media "like"-farm

Immigration police arrested three Chinese nationals in a raid on a rented room in Tambon Ban Mai Nongsai, charging them with work-permit violations and for "online trading of contraband goods." Read the rest

Lawsuit: sicko Sheriff ordered 900 teens groped in illegal mass-frisking at school

A lawsuit is underway in Worth County, Georgia, where Sheriff Jeff Hobby is defending a mass-frisking of 900 high school students, performed in public without warrant or even the pretense of probable cause, during which cops reportedly manipulated student's breasts, inserted fingers inside bras, exposed bare breasts and reached into underwear and cupped and groped kids' genitals. This ostentatious display of power, by cops armed with guns and dogs, was supposedly a drug search. No drugs were found. Not a scrap.

[Interim Worth County Superintendent Lawrence] Walters said in March Sheriff Jeff Hobby told him his department was going to do a drug search at the school after spring break.

"We did not give permission but they didn't as for permission, he just said, the sheriff, that he was going to do it after spring break," said Walters. "Under no circumstances did we approve touching any students," explained Walters. ...

In the student handbook it says school officials may search a student if there is reasonable suspicion the student has an illegal item. Hobby says he was able to search every student, simply because he had an administrator with him.

The intimidatory purpose of this unconstitutional search is made disgustingly clear by the sexualized quality of the touching, as reported by the victims and their parents. From the lawsuit:

The purported justification for the mass search was to discover drugs. To that end, Sheriff Hobby had a list of thirteen students on a “target list” that he suspected of possessing drugs.

Read the rest

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