Monday, June 29, 2009

Clampdown on cocaine in Mexico yields violence in Canada

The LA Times gets it:

Authorities trace the violence to the recent government crackdown on cocaine traffickers in Mexico, which has squeezed profit margins for cocaine north of the U.S. border.

Canada's outlaw retailers are fighting to the death over market share, police say, a situation exacerbated by personal vendettas and power vacuums left by the arrests of gang leaders.

"The war in Mexico directly impacts on the drug trade in Canada. . . . There's a complete disruption of the flow of cocaine into Canada, and we are seeing the result," said Pat Fogarty, operations officer for the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, British Columbia's main law enforcement agency targeting organized crime.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ron Paul's economic adviser Peter Schiff probably running for Chris Dodd's Senate seat

Learned this one on the Daily Show last night, confirmed by the Wikipedia article. Peter Schiff, Ron Paul's former economic adviser, is leaning towards running for Chris Dodd's Senate seat.

Schiff is probably best known for his prescience about the state of the American housing sector and economy, and for having enabled a cottage industry of Peter Schiff-was-right best-of YouTube videos of him getting laughed at on cable news shows as far back as 2002 for calling out the housing bubble.

Chris Dodd and his eyebrows, on the other hand, have made every possible mistake regarding the financial crisis. He's got a pretty long rap sheet, being fingered by his copiously cited Wikipedia article in multiple different scandals related to Country Wide, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, AIG, and Bear Sterns. Back in 2003 he was among the Congressional Democrats who blocked Bush's proposed reforms of Freddie and Fannie, and in 2007 he blew off his job as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee to pursue a hopeless presidential campaign.

The attack ads just about write themselves. Dodd's been blathering on camera for decades, and there's no shortage of 5-second pithy clips of Schiff being right. Peter Schiff's probably got deep pockets – he is, after all, the investor who got it right – so I expect a fierce campaign from him. I'm not sure that voters are going to look that deeply, but he'll be in a much stronger position if the dollar drops by November 2010, since he's been predicting it for years.

Unfortunately for Schiff, he's not the only one who wants the Republican nomination. He'll be up against Rob Simmons, member of the US House from Connecticut who narrowly lost his seat in 2006, and Sam Galigiuri, a state senator. But if elected, I'm pretty sure Peter Schiff would be the only believer in Austrian economics in the Senate.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Why Russia supports Iran's nuclear program

This is exactly why Russia is helping Iran develop nuclear weapons - so that Tehran and Washington will never normalize relations, and Russia will maintain its grip on natural gas flows westwards from the Caspian:

Iran can participate in the EU backed gas Nabucco pipeline if Washington normalises relations with Tehran, the US Secretary of State's Special Envoy for Eurasian Energy said today.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bits on patents

From the Southeast Texas Record the notoriously patent plaintiff-friendly court, venue the US Eastern Texas District of Texas, has long some of its fangs:

The country's most active patent docket, the U.S. Eastern District of Texas, took a swing toward defendants when The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit issued a powerful writ of mandamus against the East Texas court for its lack of consideration for forum convenience.

The ruling, according to legal experts across the country, has already changed the pace of patent case filings in East Texas, a small legal outpost known for its expertise in patent legislation, but also known for its plaintiff-friendly juries and courts.

"The rocket docket engine has either slowed down or shut off completely," Strand said. The East Texas court was a famed "rocket docket" for the rapid pace that it processed cases, most favorably for plaintiffs.

Though patent experts don't think a court as powerful as the Eastern Texas District will reemerge, the author notes that Delaware is pretty friendly towards plaintiffs in patent cases. Interestingly enough, it looks like the Delaware Attorney General's office is a Biden property, and the Bidens sure love cramming intellectual property down people's throats:

Delaware has emerged in recent years as a very popular venue for plaintiffs' attorneys in a variety of civil cases, particularly since Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden took office.

A USA Today story in 2008 noted Biden worked for a large plaintiff firm before becoming attorney general. His father, now Vice President Joe Biden, has a long history of backing plaintiffs' rights to try their case, often working to kill tort reform legislation.

The Bidens' campaign accounts have both benefited from large donations by trial lawyers and their related political action committees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, employees at three law firms that specialize in asbestos litigation were among Beau Biden's top 10 all-time contributors.

In other not-so-unrelated patent news, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Bilski case, which would revisit the question of whether software and business methods are patentable. Likely future Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor has a largely pro-intellectual property rights history, and her decisions seem to lean towards favoring IP rights holders. And there's this disturbingly idiotic conclusion that she once reached:

As a federal trial judge in New York in 1997, Judge Sotomayor sided with producers of the "Seinfeld" TV show, ruling that a book of trivia based on the show effectively stole the show's material.

" 'The Seinfeld Aptitude Test' seizes upon the notion which lies at the very heart of 'Seinfeld' that there is humor in the mundane, seemingly trivial aspects of everyday life," Judge Sotomayor wrote. "Simply put, without 'Seinfeld' there can be no 'Seinfeld Aptitude Test.' "

I'm not sure of the source on this, but I remember hearing that the perennial Patent Reform Act of [current year] might be put on the back burner pending a Supreme Court ruling. I'm not sure which would be a more pro-reform venue – the Supreme Court or Congress – though the movement does seem to have a bit more momentum this year than I remember it having, so we'll see.