Thank you, Judge Chin, for throwing out the Google Book Settlement

As a member of The Authors Guild and an author of out-of-print books, I have always said the Google Book Settlement, which is a result of The Authors Guild’s lawsuit, benefitted only the book publishing industry, not authors of books. Yesterday (March 22) Judge Denny Chin of the U. S. Second Circuit threw out the Google Book Settlement. I’m looking forward to reading the decision, because the only information I have now comes from The Authors Guild.

Google Books and The Authors Guild have consistently ignored my complaints that I own all rights to two out-of-print books published by McFarland & Company. They insist instead that as the publisher McFarland has the right not only to royalties on Google Book sales (which they are then supposed to divvy up with me), but they also insist that only McFarland has the right to receive reports of the number of people who browse for my books, download samples of my books, or buy copies of my books.

Even McFarland has acknowledged that they have no rights whatsoever to any of these things—acknowledged in writing to me. They suggested I contact Google Books and send them a copy of the letter. The only problem is that Google Books refuses to respond to any of my online correspondence and has no physical mailing address.

According to emails I received from The Authors Guild, Judge Chin primarily objected to the opt-out provision available to authors and said an opt-in would be a better “opt” for authors. Thank you, Judge Chin. Yes, obviously.

The only option any author of an out-of-print book had under the Google Book Settlement with The Authors Guild was to opt-in and claim copyrights to books that Google had already scanned without permission and posted online without permission. After that, a clearinghouse of anonymous lawyers was tasked with policing the distribution of royalties. The clearinghouse refused to acknowledge that when by contract a publisher’s “first North American copyrights” to a book had reverted to the author, the publisher no longer has any rights whatsoever to the text.

I don’t know what attorney Scott Turow, president of The Authors Guild, doesn’t understand that.

To compound matters, my dissertation was also scanned by Google Books without my permission. Since dissertations are considered unpublished works, it was not covered by the Google Book Settlement, and, as a consequence, I have no control at all over what Google Books or The University of Michigan Library does with the scanned image.

Please, Mr. Turow, explain to me again why the Google Book Settlement was such a great thing for me?

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Puerto Rico Statehood? You wouldn’t believe what’s happening on the island

I recently returned from a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The only sign I saw in the Commonwealth’s capital city that a referendum was pending that could lead to statehood was a single, unmarked, white, pickup truck with a bull horn driving through Old San Juan for about an hour urging citizens to vote “Si” on the question of whether they were happy with the island’s current status. (A yes vote is a vote against statehood.) There wasn’t a single poster or a single political ad anywhere to be found—not on TV, not in the magazines, not in the papers that I saw.

What I did see was massive real estate development and renovation of the centuries’ old buildings in Old San Juan (most of which have “For Sale” or “For Lease” or “For Rent” signs on them). Having never visited Puerto Rico before, I have no idea whether these beautiful buildings were previously owned and occupied by Puerto Ricans, but I suspect in the near future they will be occupied by foreigners and people from the Lower 48. Somebody is counting on making a lot of money off Puerto Rico once it becomes the 51st state.

The economics of Puerto Rico becoming a state are questionable. Their government is deeply in debt, so the Feds would likely be asked to bail them out. As a resident of a bankrupt state myself, I don’t think a federal bailout is the answer to Puerto Rico’s problems: they need to attract industries other than tourism, and since it’s a beautiful place where English is widely spoken that shouldn’t be too hard, especially if they provide tax incentives for businesses.

Most Puerto Ricans do not pay federal income taxes, just Social Security and payroll taxes. Since this includes Medicare, I would assume that under Obama Care the State of Puerto Rico will also have to cough up the money to support that as well. However, the median income in Puerto Rico is below the poverty line, which means they won’t pay any income tax anyway—in other words, while they will “benefit” from statehood, they won’t contribute to the federal government.

The way in which the Pelosi Congress last year attempted to force statehood on Puerto Rico was this: The Congress issued legislation permitting a referendum in Puerto Rico on the question of whether citizens were satisfied with their commonwealth status—not on statehood. Many Puerto Ricans would like complete independence as a nation. As a result, a majority of citizens may vote “No” on the referendum, even though a majority does not seem to want statehood. Once the referendum results indicate dissatisfaction, a delegation from Puerto Rico will appear before Congress and offer their credentials to be seated in the House of Representatives. If the Speaker of the House accepts these credentials, Puerto Rico becomes a state de facto.

Article 4, Section 3, of the Constitution gives the Congress the power to admit new states:

“New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union. . . .”

Since “Congress” is both the House and the Senate, after the Speaker recognizes Puerto Rico as a state, then the Senate will have to ratify it, I assume, but since the Senate is Democratic, and since the effort to admit Puerto Rico appears to be an effort to increase the number of Democratic voters in this country, it is likely that the Senate will vote to admit. In addition, Puerto Rico’s admission will increase the number of electoral votes, which means that the Electoral College will tend to be Democratic as well.

It seems pretty clear to me that America will not benefit by the admission of Puerto Rico as a state. It also appears that Puerto Rico is capable of becoming an off-shore tax haven for American businesses. However, the Feds would see this as a drain on their tax revenue—the Feds would rather gouge Puerto Rican businesses by imposing stiff federal income taxes on them, and then subsidize a Democratic votership in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is a beautiful place. More Americans should visit there and spend their money there. That would do more to help the people there than statehood will.

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The Amazing, Vanishing Constitution

I’m but a mere juror. I’ll let you be the judge.

Article I, Section 9 of the U. S. Constitution (the law of our land) states:

  • The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States . . .   To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces. . . .”

While I have a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature, I’m not arrogant. I know you don’t need me to interpret this for you. Neither of us needs a lawyer, either, to explain away the “separation of powers.”

America has tended since World War II to engage in “conflicts” without a declaration of war by the Congress. As a result, each such adventure has met with strong opposition among the citizenry, both left and right. The left tends to oppose all violent conflicts; the right tends to be isolationist and oppose committing our blood and tax money to policing the world. And I have it on good authority from someone who grew up in a military family, the military is the foremost opponent of war in this country (well, at least the military who don’t attack from the safety of a ship at sea, like a lot of former Navy officers).

In 1950, President Truman sent troops to Korea to support the Korean government without a declaration of war by Congress. As justification, the situation was seen as a continuation of World War II, during which the Japanese invaded and occupied Korea. At the end of the war, Allied Soviet and U. S. forces split the country into north and south zones (rather the way they split Berlin and Germany). When South Korea was invaded by Communist North Koreans, with the aid of the Soviets, the United Nations issued a resolution calling on its member nations to send troops in support of The Republic of Korea. Some U. S. troops were already there. The Korean War (undeclared) was never tremendously popular in the U. S. (BTW: Truman was a Democrat.)

The war in Vietnam also had its roots in World War II. Vietnam was a French colony until the early 1950s. After World War II, the country split into north and south regions, the north under the government of Communist Vietnamese with the support of the Chinese and the south under a French sponsored government. America had “advisors” on the ground throughout this period. President Kennedy (a Democrat), fearful of the “dominoes” falling, increased American involvement in Vietnam without any Congressional vote, and President Johnson (a Democrat) induced Congress to issue the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in 1964 authorizing naval reprisals for the Gulf of Tonkin incident. The resolution was as close to a declaration of war as the Congress ever came throughout the whole, bloody, stupid “conflict.”

In 1983, without consulting Congress but with the approval of the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States, former Democrat turned Republican, President Reagan, sent U. S. troops to invade the Communist island of Grenada. The justification was the OECS request, as well as fears of the spread of Soviet-style Communism throughout the Caribbean, right in America’s back yard. The invasion was short-lived, and America’s investment was relatively small, so the citizenry didn’t object too vociferously.

In 1989, without consulting Congress or any other official body, Republican George H. W. Bush sent troops into the Republic of Panama  and “arrested” the Panamanian “President,” General Manuel Noriega. The justification for this was that by treaty the Panama canal was soon to be returned to Panamanian control, and the U. S. could not afford to have a hostile, corrupt government in control of this vital shipping route. Noriega was brought to the U. S., incarcerated, then convicted under the Geneva Conventions for various crimes, and sentenced to 30 years, which was reduced to 17 years for “good behavior.” Thereafter, in 2010 (with the approval of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) he was extradited to France, where he was convicted of money laundering and is now in prison.

In 1990, with the consent of Congress (for once) but not a declaration of war, Republican President George H. W. Bush authorized an American invasion of Kuwait in order to drive invading Iraqi troops out of the tiny country. He did not authorize U. S. forces to invade Iraq afterwards, however. Instead, the U. S. taxpayers were forced to fund for 13 years a “no-fly zone” over southern Iraq to protect Iraqi citizens (a bit) from genocidal attacks by Saddam Hussein. The justification for the Gulf War was fear for Kuwait’s vital oil fields, although Bush also used a somewhat questionable report of Iraq atrocities against infants in a hospital to gain public support. Of course, Saddam was a mass murderer, so few Americans wanted to let him continue to get away with his evil deeds.

In 2001, Congress authorized Republican President George W. Bush to invade Afghanistan in order to destroy the Al-Qaida and their hosts in Afghanistan, the Taliban. This was a response to the 9/11 attacks on the U. S.

In 2003, under the same Congressional authorization (but without a separate vote) Republican President George W. Bush sent U. S. troops into Iraq to overthrow Saddam’s regime. World opinion opposed this war, although Bush did work very hard to gain a U. N. resolution of authorization. Ultimately, he had to justify the attack under pre-existing U. N. resolutions, especially those condemning Iraq for its weapons of mass destruction.

But the attack on Libya is so beyond the pale that it utterly and truly boggles the mind.

President Barack Obama (Democrat) has not provided Americans with an American-oriented justification and instead used a U. N. resolution and an Arab League resolution to create a “no-fly zone” over Libya. He has not even attempted to demonstrate that the attack is in the United States’ interests in any way, shape, or form. There’s no claim that Gaddafi is spreading Communism (because he isn’t), no claim that America’s economic interests are dependent on Libyan oil or Libya’s strategic location (because they aren’t—we buy no Libyan oil), no claim that Gaddafi is a terrorist or terrorist sponsor (even though he is). Interestingly, apparently President Obama secretly lobbied the Brits to release the Lockerby Bomber from prison. In fact, President Obama bowed his head when he was first introduced to Gaddafi at a G8 conference.

  • Everybody assumed Senator Barak Obama was opposed to the Iraq war—in
    fact, he was assumed to be generally anti-war. For example, on Sept. 20, 2007, Senator Obama declined to vote on an amendment to express support for General Petraeus and our troops in Iraq.

The U. N. resolution authorizing the no-fly zone was based on the premise that Gaddafi was killing innocent civilians rather than armed rebels. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Gaddafi is intentionally killing anyone except the rebels (they aren’t mere “protestors” as in Egypt). Truly innocent lives are being lost through air attacks on rebel strongholds, as is usual in war, and there is no guarantee now that allied bombing of Libya isn’t also hitting a few innocents, too. Unfortunately, innocent civilian (pro-Gaddafi tribes) have come out in droves in opposition to the allied attackers and are populating the sites that are deemed to be military targets. According to BBC World News yesterday morning, a British bombing run had to be aborted when they spotted the pro-Gaddafi protestors in the area. Unfortunately, yet again an American President is turning not to the Congress and the American people for authority to wage war, but to the United Nations.

How many times can a President do this without handing American sovereignty over to the United Nations? When did the United Nations ever prevent genocide (as in the Chadian-Libyan War), prevent a war (such as the Chadian-Libyan War), end a war, or nourish democracy? When did the United Nations ever do anything that benefited the United States? Will we and the Brits have to fund the no-fly zone over Libya for 13 years? How can we afford this when we can barely afford the undeclared war in Afghanistan? Will we really be able to withdraw from Iraq while there are protestors in the streets there, as well as in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Syria . . . ? Why aren’t we supporting the protestors in Yemen, rather than propping up its government?

Gaddafi is a dictator, but he has not committed mass atrocities against his own people (only against other nations): he executes dissidents, but one at a time. This is little different from other totalitarian regimes. I wish George H. W. Bush’s bombing run over Gaddafi’s castle had killed him instead of his adopted daughter. But having failed once, it seems like we’ve chosen an odd time to enforce a no-fly zone over the ruins of that building.

Why aren’t we condemning the Hamas massacre of the Fogel family? This has got to be the absolute depths of depravity and cruelty. This is a war crime. Gaddafi’s attempt to put down a rebellion is litle different than Richard Nixon’s sending the National Guard to Kent State University to stop protestors against the War in Vietnam. It’s what totalitarians and autocratic elected leaders do. So, I guess from now on the U. S. will be picking and choosing among dictatorships—Yemen is okay, Libya is not okay, Saudi is okay. Oh, and by the way, the President can suspend the Constitution whenever he wants to. That’s clear—Presidents have been doing it for a very long time now.

Knoxville, TN, Labyrinthine Justice—Follow the Clew

July 9, 1992—Former Knoxville County District Attorney General, Ed Dossett dies under the hooves of cattle on his farm, while suffering from terminal cancer.

Roughly 6 months later—Dossett’s widow, Raynella, marries Dossett’s “best friend” David Leath. The couple retain separate estates as part of a prenuptial agreement. The Dossett estate is an extensive property, which borders the Tennessee Technology Corridor Steadily thereafter it gains in value.

July 10, 1992—Knoxville County Medical Examiner, Dr. Randall Pedigo, orders the autopsy on Ed Dossett: the pathologists find the manner of death to be accidental; the autopsy also reports prescribed morphine in the the blood sample.

August 18, 1992—Knoxville County District Attorney General, Randy Nichols, takes office. Nichols was a former Knoxville Criminal Court judge.

June 13, 1994—Knoxville County Medical Examiner, Dr. Randall Pedigo, tricks a minor with an interest in pursuing a medical career into receiving a hepatitis vaccination laced with a barbiturate so that he can safely accompany the doctor to crime scenes. Pedigo sexually molests the boy. According to the October 13, 1994 Chicago Reader: “In June the County Medical Examiner in Knoxville, Tennessee, Randall E. Pedigo, was shot after he pulled a loaded gun on law enforcement officers who confronted him at his home on a charge that he’d molested a teenage boy the night before. A search of Pedigo’s apartment turned up 97 guns along with photos of nude, underage boys, some of which, the police allege, were taken after Pedigo had drugged them or convinced them the photos were for medical research.”

April 2, 1995—Knoxville County Medical Examiner, Dr. Randall Pedigo, is sentenced in Criminal Court to a mere year in prison for drugging and then sexually assaulting 4 young men (aged 15 to 22). (I wonder who the judge was who gave this man who betrayed his community’s trust so completely such a sentence.) Dr. Sandra Elkins becomes Knoxville County Medical Examiner.

Date unknown—Raynella Dossett-Leath and David Leath void their prenuptial agreement in the presence of an attorney and write new wills in which they jointly share all property and which disinherits David’s daughter Cynthia.

Early 2003—David Leath visits the family attorney (a man who died before the wills were contested) to see whether his mother (who has cancer) would be adequately cared for under his will if he were to predecease her.

March 13, 2003—Raynella Dossett-Leath calls 911 to report finding her husband David’s body. A first-responder cop allegedly tampers with the pistol found at the scene and then replaces it in the victim’s hand. The detective who calls in the death to the county medical examiner’s office reports that three spent cartridges are present in the chamber. The following day, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan (one of Knoxville County’s medical examiners working for Dr. Elkins), conducts the autopsy: based on the detective’s comments she declares the death a homicide; she sends a blood sample to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for analysis. The sample is subsequently lost, but the lab report lists a high level of barbiturates in the deceased’s system.

March 14, 2003—Raynella asks David’s daughter Cynthia to retrieve suitable clothing for the body from the couple’s bedroom, which was then a crime scene. Cynthia discovers an empty pistol holster supposedly in Raynella’s lingerie drawer, takes it away with her, holds it for several days, and then hands it over to the Knox County District Attorney General, Randy Nichols, a political opponent of Raynella’s first husband, whom he succeeded in the post.

March, 2003—David Leath’s will is reported missing.

2006-2008 (roughly)—Dr. Sandra Elkins, Knox County Medical Examiner, complains to county officials about a private pathology company’s inappropriate use of county employees to conduct for-profit autopsies in deaths that occurred in other counties. (Apparently, Knox County has no morgue and so must use other facilities to conduct autopsies, such as those of University Pathology Associates and the University of Tennessee Medical Center at Knoxville.)

2007—Christopher Lee Gibson is sentenced to probation for firing a gun at his wife, Darlene Gibson. At some later time, during divorce proceedings, Darlene Gibson photographs the car of Judge Richard Baumgartner in the Gibson driveway after Christopher Lee Gibson threatens to use his influence with Judge Baumgartner in the divorce proceedings.

January 18-19, 2008—Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan (one of Knoxville County’s medical examiners)questions the 1992 Dossett autopsy findings of disgraced Dr. Randall Pedigo. She concludes that Dossett’s death was homicide.

January 24-25, 2008—Dr. Sandra Elkins temporarily steps down as Knoxville County Medical Examiner due to an “undisclosed medical condition” and appoints her successor, Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan. Dr. Elkins’ attorney, James A. H. Bell, when asked whether inappropriate drug use was involved in her medical condition, declined to comment. (By this time, Bell is also Raynella Dossett-Leath’s attorney.)

March, 2009—Raynella Dossett-Leath is tried in the court of Judge Richard Baumgartner for murder of her second husband, David Leath. The televised trial ends in a hung jury. The defendant is represented by attorney James A. H. Bell.

January 26, 2010—Raynella Dossett-Leath is convicted of first-degree murder of her second husband, David Leath in the court of Judge Baumgartner and with James Bell as her attorney.

March 14, 2010—Investigators for Raynella Dossett-Leath’s attorney, James A. H. Bell, learn that one of the police officers who responded to the scene of the crime tampered with the gun that fired the fatal bullet and which was the key evidence in the conviction of Dossett-Leath.

Summer, 2010—Judge Richard Baumgartner presides over the Christian/Newsome murders. Dr. Darinka Mileusnic-Polchan testifies in the televised trials.

August 20, 2010—The witness to police misconduct in the Dossett-Leath case (himself a former police officer) fails to appear in Judge Richard Baumgartner’s court on subpoena. In a video conference outside the courtroom and outside the presence of the defendant, the witness claims he “misremembered.” During the hearing, according to spectators Judge Baumgartner spoke extremely slowly and did not seem to be very alert.

December 15, 2010—Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols drops murder charges against Raynella Dossett-Leath for the 1992 death of her first husband, Ed Dossett.

January 24, 2011—Almost a year after the conviction Attorney James Bell files a motion with Judge Baumgartner for a new trial in the Dossett-Leath murder case, based on the misremembered testimony of the cop, who has since signed up as a security contractor for the military in Afghanistan. No appeal of the conviction has been filed.

January 27, 2011—Judge Richard Baumgartner announces he is stepping down from the bench due to undisclosed
medical issues
.

January 28, 2011—The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations confirms that it is investigating Judge Richard Baumgartner.

January 28, 2011—Judge Richard Baumgartner denies a motion of attorney James A. H. Bell for a new trial for Raynella Dossett-Leath.

February 18, 2011—Judge Baumgartner postpones hearings in the Christian/Newsome murder convictions for medical reasons.

March 4, 2011—Convicted drug dealer Christopher Lee Gibson’s attorney, James A. H. Bell, declines to comment on whether his client is cooperating in the TBI’s investigation of Judge Richard Baumgartner.

March 4, 2011—It is reported that Deena Castleman (an accused dealer in illegal prescription drugs) fails to make a court date because of a lack of counsel. Castleman has been named in the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation’s probe into Judge Richard Baumgartner.

March 10, 2011—Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner pleads guilty to drug charges and resigns from the bench. He admits to having bought illegal prescription pain-killers (barbiturates) from a convicted felon under his jurisdiction (Christopher Lee Gibson).

March 2011—Tennessee Probate Court decides that Raynella Dossett-Leath is not entitled to inherit the Dossett-Leath joint estate on the Tennessee Technology Corridor because she killed her husband. As a result, David Leath’s daughter Cynthia inherits half of Ed Dossett’s valuable property, which  currently is occupied by Dossett’s two daughters.

Nuff said.

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