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Cruise Ship Failure to Rescue Stranded Fishermen?

CNN reports on a cruise ship crew’s failure to aide a disabled fishing vessel adrift in the Pacific for weeks. Two of the three fishermen died days after the cruise ship sailed on. The only survivor is now suing the cruise line for what amounts to failure to rescue. But there is traditionally no duty to rescue in tort law… a principle made famous in the series finale of Seinfeld. Does admiralty law impose a duty to rescue on ships at sea? Will have to check. The cruise company claims the ship did not stop due to an unfortunate miscommunication.


China Demands Apology for Activist’s Refuge at U.S. Embassy

This begs the question: Does the Chinese government have no advisers?

A Chinese human rights activist, Chen Guangcheng, under house arrest for years for decrying Chinese gov’t abuses, escapes and turns up at the U.S. Embassy (we didn’t kidnap him or anything…). Of his own volition, Chen, a blind, self-taught lawyer, takes refuge in the embassy, though he reportedly never asks for political asylum (he has a family). He stays for six days, during a high profile visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then leaves after assurances are given by the Chinese government. He is promised a home with his family away from the province in which he was under house arrest, and that he may attend a university there to study law.

The Chinese government then makes a demand for an apology from the United States, saying we have interfered in internal Chinese affairs. This demand is worthy of facepalm, because expressing how dumb it is in words just doesn’t work. I certainly don’t need to explain it to you. Evolution has endowed us with an innate understanding of that level of stupid, without which any individual’s personal survival would be brief.

Ah, China. It is high time to overthrow your government.  Come what may, it could only be an improvement.



This is predictable. It is being reported that Chen now says the only reason he agreed to leave the embassy was that his government threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not. Par for the course.


‘What Is Missing?’ A Profound Online Experience

Maya Lin, the artist and architect who designed the Vietnam Veterans Memorial is completing what she says will be her last memorial, an online creation: “What Is Missing?

The mesmerizing interactive audio-visual display is both memorial, warning and call to action. You’ll want to spend some time with it. Great for kids too.

Lin’s studio website is also worth a look.


Syria Cease-Fire: Really!?

The media seems to be coming around to grasping what I think was always quite obvious, that the Syrian regime’s deliberate strategy is to appear to negotiate and in fact offer and agree to cease fires and other arrangements – while continuing, without any pause whatsoever, its brutal offensive against revolutionaries.

To whom is this not obvious? I am not advocating the United States start dropping bombs. I do believe, however, that the world needs to wipe its collective glasses.


Someone You Should Know: Stanislav Petrov

A Soviet officer who, with the cool application of logic, assessed the appearance of five United States nuclear missiles on his early warning radar screen as a system malfunction and did not report the apparent nuclear attack up his chain of command. The incident occurred in 1983 at a time of high tension between the United States and Soviet Union.

The angle of the sun on high clouds relative to an unusual position of the early warning satellite caused the error. Lt. Colonel Petrov had no other data discrediting the alarm other than a studied opinion that a first strike would be more massive, and a knowledge of previous glitches in the early warning system.

Chilling to think that life as we know it almost ended that day.



The Fate of Obamacare

Three days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have concluded. Day 1 was too boring for words, and didn’t matter anyway. Day 2 covered whether or not the “individual mandate” (everyone has to buy health insurance or pay a penalty / tax (see Day 1)) is something Congress can force on people through the Constitution’s Commerce Clause. Day 3 dealt largely with how much of the law can stand if the individual mandate is found to be unconstitutional and thrown out. Also in Day 3, the extent to which the Feds can coerce states to take certain actions by threat of withdrawing funds was covered. This has to do with an expansion of Medicare that is part of Obamacare. Good summaries at the links.

I think the five conservatives on the court (Kennedy is one) will either throw out or severely sabotage Obamacare so as to notch an ideological victory. That’s been the pattern. See, Heller, Citizens United, etc.  Throwing out the individual mandate would hamstring the entire thing.

Of course, single-payer government run health care (the liberal dream) is clearly constitutional. There may be a backlash demanding this once people realize what they’ve lost. But I doubt it.

The fact is, healthcare costs are out of control in the United States, and something has to be done.


Memory Athletes

Memorize and recite a deck of cards in a couple minutes? These memory athletes can. The tricks they use are very interesting. CNN has a great article.


Inside Legal and Evidentiary Issues in Trayvon Martin’s Death