Tag Archives: government

Fed Lowers Rates, Wall Street Tumbles – Yahoo! Finance

What do people expect. There is no free lunch, nor quick fixes available.

Fed Lowers Rates, Wall Street Tumbles: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance

Fed Drops Key Rate for Third Time This Year; a Disappointed Wall Street TumblesWASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve dropped its most important interest rate to a nearly two-year low on Tuesday and left the door open to additional cuts to prevent a housing and credit meltdown from pushing the economy into a recession.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and all but one of his colleagues agreed to trim the federal funds rate by one-quarter percentage point to 4.25 percent.

The rate reduction, the third this year, was needed to energize national economic growth, Fed officials said. The deepening housing slump is affecting the behavior of consumers and businesses alike, the Fed said.

“Economic growth is slowing, reflecting the intensification of the housing correction and some softening in business and consumer spending. Moreover, strains in financial markets have increased in recent weeks,” the Fed said in a statement explaining its decision to cut rates again. The three rate cuts ordered thus far “should help promote moderate growth over time,” the Fed added.

On Wall Street, stocks tumbled, reflecting disappointment among some investors who were hoping for a larger rate cut. The Dow Jones industrial plunged more than 200 points.

The funds rate affects many other interest rates charged to individuals and businesses and is the Fed’s most potent tool for influencing economic activity.

Here comes everyone’s favorite friend … INFLATION! Wasn’t cheap credit as a result of low interest rates the primary cause of the real estate (inflation) bubble?

Court: Gay couple can’t divorce in Rhode Island – Yahoo! News

It appears the gay community were just given an opportunity to challenge the Federal Defense of Marriage Act along with state bans on same-sex marriage.

Court: Gay couple can’t divorce in RI – Yahoo! News

A lesbian couple that married in Massachusetts cannot get divorced in their home state of Rhode Island, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The court, in a 3-2 decision, said the state’s family court lacks the authority to grant the divorce of a same-sex couple because Rhode Island lawmakers have not defined marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman.

“The role of the judicial branch is not to make policy, but simply to determine the legislative intent,” the court wrote.

Cassandra Ormiston and Margaret Chambers wed in Massachusetts in 2004 and filed for divorce last year in Rhode Island, where they both live. But opponents of same-sex marriage said the court correctly avoided taking a step toward recognizing such unions.

Massachusetts, the only state where gay marriage is legal, restricts the unions to residents of states where the marriage would be recognized, and a Massachusetts judge decided last year that Rhode Island is one of those states.

No law specifically bans same-sex marriages in Rhode Island, but the state has taken no action to recognize them. The justices said Rhode Island laws contain numerous references to marriage as between a woman and a man.

Without knowing more details, I think this couple has a valid challenge under the Privileges and Immunities clause, Full Faith and Credit Clause, as well as Equal Protection Clause. As much as I feel for this couple though, I don’t think they should challenge the Rhode Island ruling. Stronger and more favorable cases will come along with more sympathetic plaintiffs. This couple were residents of another state, Rhode Island, who had a drive-through wedding in Massachusetts. I think it will play differently in the courts if the couple had lived in Mass. but moved to another state for job or other reasons. It would also be more powerful if it were a state that bans same-sex marriage rather then Rhode Island which appears mostly neutral, except for the 3-2 ruling today. A statute passed specifically to discriminate against gays will also allow courts to add teeth to the rational basis standard of review they are likely to use. If that is the case, hopefully the decision resembles Romer v. Evans in which the Supreme Court said the state constitutional amendment was â??born of animosity toward the class of persons affectedâ? and further that it had no rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose.

Even while studying for other exams, I can’t get ConLaw out of my head.

Huckabee bristles at creationism query – Yahoo! News

It appears Mike Huckabee can’t win either way regarding religion. His far-right, evangelical base is likely to abandon him if he doesn’t say he supports creationism in public education. Those not on the far-right are likely to avoid him if he says religion-based education belongs in public schools. He doesn’t need to worry about me. I don’t intend to vote for him, regardless of his position on creationism in school.

Huckabee bristles at creationism query – Yahoo! News

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, a Southern Baptist preacher who has surged in Iowa with evangelical Christian support, bristled Tuesday when asked if creationism should be taught in public schools.Huckabee â?? who raised his hand at a debate last May when asked which candidates disbelieved the theory of evolution â?? asked this time why there is such a fascination with his beliefs.

… [H]he expressed frustration that he is asked about it so often, arguing with the questioner that it ultimately doesn’t matter what his personal views are.

“That’s an irrelevant question to ask me â?? I’m happy to answer what I believe, but what I believe is not what’s going to be taught in 50 different states,” Huckabee said. “Education is a state function. The more state it is, and the less federal it is, the better off we are.”

I disagree with Huckabee when he says his personal views are irrelevant. On the contrary, the personal opinions of Presidential candidates are always highly relevant regarding Constitutional rights and the controversies that follow them.

He’s absolutely right about education being a state function. Education has always been and should remain the domain of the states. The Federal government is involved in education for two major reasons: money and the Constitution. First, we don’t need to look further than the “No Child Left Behind Act” to see the role money plays. Nobody wants to see government money given away without strings attached and accountability mechanisms in place. But even if the Federal government stopped spending money on education and withdrew its related tentacles, the Constitution will require the Federal government to remain involved in education. The First Amendment says that the government “shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” (Establishment Clause). The Supreme Court held 20 years ago, 7-2, that teaching creationism in public education violates the establishment clause. For that reason, States still won’t be able to teach creationism in schools.

In addition,

[Huckabee] told reporters that the theory of intelligent design, whose proponents believe an intelligent cause is the best way to explain some complex and orderly features of the universe, should be taught in schools as one of many viewpoints. “I don’t think schools ought to indoctrinate kids to believe one thing or another,” he said.

This goes to my previous comments regarding the creationism versus evolution debate (Science, houses, stones, and creation). Intelligent Design is not science, rather another phrase for creationism that was coined in an attempt to skirt Constitutional Law.

“We don’t burn no draft cards down on Main Street …”

Each time I read about United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367 (1968), whether in my notes, outline or Constitutional Law book, the tune Okie from Muskogee starts playing in my head.

We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee;
We don’t take no trips on LSD
We don’t burn no draft cards down on Main Street;
We like livin’ right, and bein’ free.

more lyrics

I can blame the third line of the song. O’Brien upheld a Federal law banning any person from knowingly destroying or mutilating their draft cards. O’Brien, the person, burned his draft card on the steps of the South Boston Courthouse in March 1966 to protest the Vietnam war. The court held that the law banning draft card destruction was content-neutral. It then provided a rule that is still used to today to determine if content-neutral laws violate the First Amendment protection of speech.

Content-neutral government regulation is sufficiently justified if it:

  1. is within the constitutional power of the government;
  2. furthers an important or substantial governmental interest;
  3. if the government’s interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and
  4. if the incidental restriction on alleged 1st Amendment freedoms is no greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest.

I personally think O’Brien was a BS ruling because the Congressional history shows Congress passed the law in reaction to draft card burning, a form of political speech. Thus, the law was content-specific which would require a higher level of review. In which case, its goal would need to accomplish a compelling government interest and be narrowly tailored to have no less restrictive alternatives. Even under the less rigid test provided in the case, the regulation should fail because it was passed to suppress expression, namely draft card burning. The Supreme Court is made up of humans and is liable to make mistakes from time-to-time.

BTW: I hear the Grateful Dead (with the Beach Boys) version, rather than the original Merle Haggard song. The Grateful Dead/Beach Boys version comes from a live set played in April 1971 at Fillmore East. Give me a holler if you’d like a copy of the MP3 (free, of course). I love the Grateful Dead policy of allowing audience members to tape their shows and freely distribute. More bands should follow it to increase the scope of their audience.

Science, houses, stones, and creation …

We had a lively debate today in Constitutional Law regarding a series of cases regarding creationism in school science curriculum. The primary case is Edwards v. Aguillard, 482 U.S. 578, (1987), a U.S. Supreme Court case from 1987. In it, the Court struck down a Louisiana law that required ‘creation science’ to be taught whenever evolution was taught as part of science curriculum, and vice versa. The Court held the law was a violation of the Establishment Clause, part of the First Amendment. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …” It held that the law was passed specifically to require teaching of creation science in public schools with the purpose of advancing and endorsing a particular religious doctrine.

Also mentioned was a more recent case from Pennsylvania in which a school district required ‘intelligent design’ to be taught in science classes. That law was struck down as a violation of the Establishment Clause by the local Federal district court because, among other reasons, evidence existed that the textbook publisher cut ‘creation science’ and pasted ‘intelligent design’ in its textbook after Edwards. One typo, as relayed in class, was “crintelligent designce.”

The point of my post is this: Creationism is not science and does not belong in a science curriculum. I’m glad courts have been able to see past the smoke and excise creationism from public school science curriculum. Even my Catholic high school taught evolution in science classes without any need to add disclaimers or to limit the scope of the subject. Then again, it was college preparatory with an eye towards building young men who were ready for college.

Here is a good quote I just ran across that I think sums the whole debate of creationism versus evolution in school:

“Science is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.” – Henri Poincare

Seeing that quote is actually what prompted me to make this post.

I’d like to make an additional note regarding this case. Justice Scalia, in his dissent, showed he really doesn’t care as much for original intent as he claims he does in other cases and his public speeches. He says in several places that determining original intent is nearly impossible.

  • “discerning the subjective motivation of those enacting the statute is, to be honest, almost always and impossible task.”
  • “legislative histories can be contrived and sanitized, favorable media coverage orchestrated, and postenactment recollections conveniently distorted.”
  • “determining the subjective intent of the legislators is a perilous enterprise.”

Fun stuff. 😉

John Edwards and Obama both call for an Open Media For The 21st Century

I need to say that John Edwards understands America’s communications policy needs. He’s been open for months about his thoughts regarding what he calls Open Media. Now Obama has picked up on Edwards’ message and has introduced his own policy guideline/pledge and tied an open media to innovation and the economy. I like the sound of what both say. I can only hope it isn’t just smoke and mirrors.

John Edwards for President-One America, Many Voices: Open Media For The 21st Century
“The basis of a strong democracy is a diverse and dynamic media. It’s time to take away the corporate media bullhorn and let America’s many voices be heard.” â?? John Edwards

  • Fighting Media Concentration
  • Restoring the Public Interest to the Public Airwaves
  • Building a Universal, Affordable Internet
  • Keeping an Open Internet
  • Tuning in Thousands of Communities with Low Power Radio

Barack Obama ’08 Blog: Obama rolls out innovation agenda
â??I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality. Because once providers start to privilege some applications or web sites over others, then the smaller voices get squeezed out, and we all lose. The Internet is perhaps the most open network in history. We have to keep it that way.â? – Barack Obama

  • Ensure the Full and Free Exchange of Information through an Open Internet and Diverse
    Media Outlets

    • Protect the Openness of the Internet
    • Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership
    • Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment
    • Safeguard our Right to Privacy
  • Create a Transparent and Connected Democracy
    • Open Up Government to its Citizens
    • Bring Government into the 21st Century
  • Deploy a Modern Communications Infrastructure
    • Deploy Next-Generation Broadband
  • Employ Technology and Innovation to Solve Our Nationâ??s Most Pressing Problems
    • Lower Health Care Costs by Investing in Electronic Information Technology Systems
    • Invest in Climate-Friendly Energy Development and Deployment
    • Upgrade Education to Meet the Needs of the 21st Century
    • Create New Jobs
    • Modernize Public Safety Networks
  • Improve Americaâ??s Competitiveness
    • Invest in the Sciences
    • Make the R&D Tax Credit Permanent
    • Reform Immigration
    • Promote American Businesses Abroad
    • Ensure Competitive Markets
    • Protect American Intellectual Property Abroad
    • Protect Intellectual Property at Home
    • Reform the Patent System

I haven’t seen any similar commitments from the Republican candidates.

“The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people” — Brandeis

The following passage from Justice Brandeis, part of his concurrence in Whitney v. California (1927), is still relevant today. I love the passion the passage exudes.

Those who won our independence believed that the final end of the state was to make men free to develop their faculties, and that in its government the deliberative forces should prevail over the arbitrary. They valued liberty both as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty. They believed that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious doctrine; that the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people; that public discussion is a political duty; and that this should be a fundamental principle of the American government. They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones. Believing in the power of reason as applied through public discussion, they eschewed silence coerced by law-the argument of force in its worst form. Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing majorities, they amended the Constitution so that free speech and assembly should be guaranteed. Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357, 376 (1927).

FCC to ease some broadband rules for AT&T

The FCC has decided to give AT&T a break and allow it to raise rates for business customers and other companies using its facilities.

FCC eases some broadband rules on AT&T | Benton Foundation

I find the FCC’s reasoning less than compelling. For example, Commissioner McDowell suggests the deployment of wireless technologies is legitimate competition for broadband.

“As competition in the broadband market continues to grow, especially through the deployment of new wireless technologies, less regulation should be required. However, many parties allege that competition in the special access market is uneven and is limited to certain urban areas, thus creating supply bottlenecks that favor incumbent local exchange carriers in the business broadband and wireless markets. Despite requests for better data to help us resolve disputes of these material facts, the Commission still has inadequate information to determine whether allegations that competition is scarce in certain segments of the special access market have merit.”

Commissioner McDowell’s statement, particularly the reference to wireless technology, makes me think the FCC doesn’t have enough data to support assertions that legitimate broadband competition exists enough to relax broadband rules for AT&T. WiFi Networks, such as Google WiFi, are available in only a few select cities, have spotty coverage areas, are testing an unproven business model. As the industry stands today, the FCC is counting chickens before they hatch if relying upon WiFi Networks as reason to relax rules for AT&T. Coffee houses, hotels, and some other service companies provide wireless access however those are limited in scope and reach, therefore not providing any real competition in broadband. And wireless Internet access via mobile phones should not be considered broadband at this stage.

The more I learn about mass communication technologies, the FCC, and the overall regulatory environment, the more I believe the conduit (wires, cables, spectrum used by wifi and satellite, etc.) should be regulated to provide full access to competition. The companies that connect to people through those conduits should each be considered common carriers. Then competitors would be guaranteed full access to the consumer and a reasonable profit margin would be guaranteed (10% sounds about right) to the owner of the conduit. Otherwise, we end up with uncontrollable monopolies that stifle innovation and ream the pocket books of consumers, neither of which are in the public interest.

U.S. Senate slams free speech

It seems to me that some elected representatives to the Federal government don’t respect the free speech rights of citizens to criticize government officials. Sadly, one of those is my elected representative, Dianne Feinstein.

Senate Approves Resolution Denouncing MoveOn.org Ad – New York Times

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 â?? The Senate approved a resolution on Thursday denouncing the liberal antiwar group MoveOn.org over an advertisement that questioned the credibility of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq.

At a White House news conference, President Bush called the advertisement disgusting and said it was an attack not only on General Petraeus but also on the entire American military.

General Petraeus is a government official. As such, he is valid subject of criticism. Here, MoveOn felt it necessary to pay for an advertisement pointing out that the General has not been forthcoming to the American people in his evaluations of the war and, as policy, waters down essential statistics used to evaluate the war so things appear more rosy.

I disagree with President Bush that this is an attack on the American military. First, he’s overused and abused the “attack on the military” rhetoric. It seems that the Bush Administration categorizes every criticism of the war as an attack on the military and each soldier. Time to turn off the broken record that cries wolf. Second, criticism of the war itself and the officials leading the war does not equal an attack on the soldiers fighting the war. The attack here is levied at the policies of the military brass, particularly its leader General Petraeus, who make the decisions about how to wage this unpopular war. The ad brings up several good points regarding statements the General has made, his role in the war, and his policies that understate how many people have died. Nothing in the ad appears to criticize the ground troops. Third, the only reason the President finds the ad disgusting is because he’s directly responsible for the policies the ad criticizes the General for.

With that in mind, the Senate resolution is a travesty and violates the spirit of our Constitution, if not the actual text. It is irresponsible for the Senate to consider rebuking any critique of how the government operates, no matter how crude, rude, indecent, or obnoxious it gets. The First Amendment was enacted specifically to give citizens the freedom to criticize the government. The Founding Fathers themselves had a nasty habit of criticizing the English Crown when it was their government and felt it prudent to explicitly provide free speech rights to all when creating their fledgling government.

I am not a member of MoveOn, have never given it money, and don’t really like its tactics. That said, it is the right of the MoveOn membership to criticize our military leaders for their policies and statements.

Also covered in: The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times.

Suggested reading: Animal Farm

The Fed is owned by Wall St.

If it wasn’t clear before that Wall Street owns the Federal Reserve Bank, it was made clear today.

Stocks Soar After Fed’s Big Rate Cut: Financial News – Yahoo! Finance

A jubilant Wall Street barreled higher Wednesday after the Federal Reserve cut its benchmark interest rate by a larger-than-expected half a percentage point.

I consider this move the result of the short-sighted approach that Wall Street favors in spite of its detrimental effects to the economy’s long-term health. In reality, a cut was probably needed to show everyone that the Fed will take action when required to prevent a complete economic meltdown, such as another Great Depression. However, I think this big cut may prove to be very short-sighted because the already weak and flailing dollar is now worth less than it had been. This rate cut should be slightly helpful for ARM mortgage holders whose rates reset next month, but I doubt the cuts will improve the overall economy in the long-run and, despite the Fed’s efforts, many ARM holders will not be helped in the long-run because home prices are already decreasing.

In the long-run, a strong and healthy dollar is better for the US economy than avoiding a cyclical trend called a recession. Avoiding a recession now may only make the next one worse. The Fed should bite the bullet and tell Congress what it is probably thinking, that account deficits and high amounts of US currency held by other countries’ central banks (in the trillions of dollars) are a bigger problem in the future. It is time to either raise taxes or cut services, or both, to pay off the national debt. Otherwise, the Great Depression may recur and we’ll be stuck play the role of the Weimar Republic with absolutely worthless currency.

Today’s move also reminds me of M.B.A.’s telling a friend of mine that revenue was more important than profit, even in a product with profit margins over 80%. Maybe I’m dense, but I don’t see how revenue is a better or more important statistic than profit margin that puts money in the bank and that can be re-invested back into the company. But then again, that’s part of the attitude that prevails in Wall Street and runs our federal monetary policies.

Yahoo! Shareholder Proposal Re: Internet Censorship (The anti-Y! China proposal)

Yahoo! shareholders have made two very interesting proposals that will be voted on during the annual shareholder meeting next week (June 12, 2007).

First, the City of New York Retirement System proposed that Yahoo! set six minimum standards to help protect freedom of access to the Internet. The proposal is directly aimed at Yahoo! China, a subsidiary of Yahoo!, Inc., for providing contact information for journalists and other pro-democracy activists to the Chinese government which subsequently imprisoned those activists. The minimum standards are:

  1. Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet restricting countries, where political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.
  2. The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.
  3. The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
  4. Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
  5. Users should be informed about the companyâ??s data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.
  6. The company will document all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with, and that information will be publicly available.

Second, someone with a small number of shares (200) has proposed that Yahoo! set up a board committee for Human Rights.

Truth is, businesses should not have offices or subsidiaries in a country if the return also comes with assisting a dictatorship or other authoritarian regime to inhumanely treat its people. I’m sad in general that any company would be stuck in this quandary. And I’m sad that we, as a country, have transfered a great deal of our manufacturing and labor intensive tasks to countries with such authoritarian governments and have almost all turned a blind eye to what we’re doing in the name of progress and economic benefits (it provides neither in the long run).

In the end, I think we as shareholders need to be responsible for the actions of companies we own. And this message goes to shareholders of Cisco (creator of the Great Firewall of China), Google (censoring search results for China), and a host of companies doing business in China and other countries to skirt more stringent environmental regulations in the US and EU.

I have a very small number of shares of Yahoo! that I acquired while working there and will vote for both although I don’t think my vote counts for much more than my symbolic expression, and I don’t expect either to pass.

*note: I’m still a fan of Yahoo! and a user of its products. I just happen to disagree with some of the business decisions made – business decisions any other company would have a hard time not making an identical choice. A little constructive criticism never hurt anyone, unless you live in a country that outlaws it.

PROPOSAL NO. 6
STOCKHOLDER PROPOSAL
The City of New York Office of the Comptroller, 1 Centre Street, New York, NY 10007-2341, has notified the
Company that it intends to present the following resolution at the annual meeting, as custodian and trustee of the New York City Employeesâ?? Retirement System, beneficial owners of 1,587,718 shares of common stock of the Company, The New York City Teachersâ?? Retirement System, beneficial owners of 1,164,585 shares of common stock of the Company, the New York City Police Pension Fund, beneficial owners of 628,874 shares of common stock of the Company, the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund, beneficial owners of 187,208 shares of common stock of the Company, and as custodian of the New York City Board of Education Retirement System, beneficial owners of 110,387 shares of common stock of the Company. The proposal and the proponentâ??s supporting statement appear below in italics.
The board of directors of Yahoo! strongly opposes adoption of the proposal and asks stockholders to review the Boardâ??s response, which follows the proposal and its accompanying recitals.
The affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the shares of common stock present, in person or
represented by proxy, and entitled to vote on the proposal is required to approve this proposal.
Our Board of Directors recommends that you vote â??AGAINSTâ? the stockholder proposal.
Stockholder Proposal
INTERNET CENSORSHIP
Whereas, Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental human rights, and free use of the
Internet is protected in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees freedom to â??receive and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiersâ?, and
Whereas, the rapid provision of full and uncensored information through the Internet has become a major
industry in the United States, and one of its major exports, and
Whereas, political censorship of the Internet degrades the quality of that service and ultimately threatens the integrity and viability of the industry itself, both in the United States and abroad, and
Whereas, some authoritarian foreign governments such as the Governments of Belarus, Burma, China, Cuba,
Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Vietnam block, restrict, and monitor the information their citizens attempt to obtain, and
Whereas, technology companies in the United States such as Yahoo, that operate in countries controlled by
authoritarian governments have an obligation to comply with the principles of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, and
Whereas, technology companies in the United States have failed to develop adequate standards by which they can conduct business with authoritarian governments while protecting human rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression,
Therefore, be it resolved, that shareholders request that management institute policies to help protect freedom of access to the Internet which would include the following minimum standards:
1) Data that can identify individual users should not be hosted in Internet restricting countries, where
political speech can be treated as a crime by the legal system.
2) The company will not engage in pro-active censorship.
3) The company will use all legal means to resist demands for censorship. The company will only comply with
such demands if required to do so through legally binding procedures.
4) Users will be clearly informed when the company has acceded to legally binding government requests to
filter or otherwise censor content that the user is trying to access.
5) Users should be informed about the companyâ??s data retention practices, and the ways in which their data is shared with third parties.
6) The company will document all cases where legally-binding censorship requests have been complied with,
and that information will be publicly available.
Board of Directors Statement AGAINST Stockholder Proposal
Yahoo! is committed to preserving and advancing the fundamental principles of free speech and expression,
and as described in detail below, has already adopted policies to promote open access to information and
communication for users of the Companyâ??s services around the world. The board of directors believes the
Companyâ??s existing policies, which were carefully developed by Yahoo!â??s management team, provide the Company with the flexibility and resources to comply with applicable laws and, at the same time, protect and advance these important freedoms. By contrast, Yahoo! believes certain of the standards suggested by the proponent would give the Company insufficient flexibility in responding to applicable legal requirements. Accordingly, while Yahoo! shares many of the proponentâ??s concerns and objectives, the board of directors believes, in light of the policies, practices and initiatives already in place at the Company, the proponentâ??s suggestions are both unnecessary and counter to the best interests of the Company and its users, and therefore urges stockholders to vote â??AGAINSTâ? the proposal.
Yahoo! is deeply concerned by efforts of some governments to restrict communication and control access to
information. Yahoo! also firmly believes the continued presence and engagement of companies like Yahoo! in these markets is a powerful force in promoting openness and reform. Yahoo! understands its responsibility to remain engaged on these issues on a global basis; however, Yahoo! believes private industry alone cannot effectively influence foreign government policies on issues like the free exchange of ideas and open access to information.
Because state actors have the most leverage in this field, Yahoo! believes continued government-to-government dialogue in bilateral and multilateral forums is vital to achieve progress on these complex political and human rights issues.
As part of the Companyâ??s ongoing commitment to preserving the open availability of the Internet around the
world, Yahoo! announced in February 2006 it was undertaking the following actions:
â?¢ Collective Action: Yahoo! will work with industry, government, academia and non-governmental organizations
to explore policies to guide industry practices in countries where content is treated more restrictively
than in the United States and to promote the principles of freedom of speech and expression.
â?¢ Compliance Practices: Yahoo! will continue to employ rigorous procedural protections under applicable
laws in response to government requests for information, maintaining its commitment to user privacy and
compliance with the law.
â?¢ Information Restrictions: Where a government requests that Yahoo! restrict search results, Yahoo! will do
so if required by applicable law and only in a way that impacts the results as narrowly as possible. If Yahoo!
is required to restrict search results, it will strive to achieve maximum transparency to the user.
â?¢ Government Engagement: Yahoo! will actively engage in ongoing policy dialogue with governments with
respect to the nature of the Internet and the free flow of information.
Since this announcement, the Company has also established a multi-disciplinary and cross-functional team of
Yahoo! employees worldwide to coordinate and support the Companyâ??s efforts to address privacy and free
expression issues on a global basis. The team consists of Yahoo! employees from a variety of disciplines and
departments, including legal, public and governmental relations, privacy, public policy, community affairs, global law enforcement and compliance, security, emerging markets and international operations. Members of the team consult regularly with Company officers and other personnel and respond to internal and external requests for information and feedback on foreign laws and Company practices and policies. Members of the team also consult with governmental agencies, such as the U.S. Department of State, and various outside professionals in the field, including experts at various academic institutions. Members of the team also collaborate with leaders and representatives of other technology and communications companies to seek solutions to free expression and privacy challenges these companies face when conducting business internationally.
To further advance thinking and practices around the promotion of free expression and privacy, Yahoo! is
actively engaged in a formal dialogue, co-facilitated by Business for Social Responsibility and the Center for
Democracy & Technology, that includes industry counterparts, various human rights groups, academic institutions and socially responsible investors. This diverse group aims to produce a set of global principles and operating procedures on freedom of expression and privacy to guide company behavior when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with human rights. The groupâ??s goals also include creating an implementation, accountability and governance framework, as well as a forum for sharing ideas.
The policies, practices and initiatives described above have been developed by Yahoo! management based on
its thorough and careful consideration of the inherent complexities associated with operating under the laws of multiple foreign countries. These complicated issues require a detailed understanding of the Companyâ??s business (which is highly competitive and characterized by rapid change), user base and technologies, as well as an ability to conform to the various legal and regulatory systems of the countries in which the Company maintains operations.
Yahoo! believes that it would be imprudent for the Company to be constrained by a set of specific, static and highly prescriptive standards and policies that may not be workable and effective across countries and business lines.
Instead, Yahoo!, its stockholders and its users are better served by more generalized policies that fully reflect the
Companyâ??s commitment to the principles of free speech and user privacy and still afford the Company enough flexibility to design and implement procedures that comply with the various legal systems under which the Company chooses to operate.
Yahoo! also believes its existing policies appropriately recognize the different roles private industry and
governments play with respect to the nature of the Internet and the flow of information, and that such policies properly allocate to the Company responsibility for working and maintaining a dialogue with governments, members of academia and other industry participants for the purpose of advancing and protecting these fundamental principles. The Company believes its existing policies, practices and initiatives, as described in more detail above, strike an appropriate balance in furthering these important objectives and will effectively position the Company to serve as a continued force in promoting openness and reform.
Recommendation of the Board of Directors
FOR ALL OF THE FOREGOING REASONS, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS
THAT STOCKHOLDERS VOTE

PROPOSAL NO. 7
STOCKHOLDER PROPOSAL
Mr. John C. Harrington, 1001 2nd Street, Suite 325, Napa, CA, who owns 200 shares of the Companyâ??s
common stock, has given notice of his intention to present a proposal at the annual meeting. The proposal and the proponentâ??s supporting statement appear below in italics.
The board of directors of Yahoo! strongly opposes adoption of the proposal and asks stockholders to review the Boardâ??s response, which follows the proposal and the proponentâ??s supporting statement.
The affirmative vote of the holders of a majority of the shares of common stock present, in person or
represented by proxy, and entitled to vote on the proposal is required to approve this proposal.
Our Board of Directors recommends that you vote â??AGAINSTâ? the stockholder proposal.
Stockholder Proposal Amendment to Corporate Bylaws Establishing Board Committee on Human Rights

RESOLVED: To amend the corporate bylaws, by inserting the following new Article 4.4:
Article 4.4
Board Committee on Human Rights
a. There is established a Board Committee on Human Rights, which is created and authorized to review the
implications of company policies, above and beyond matters of legal compliance, for the human rights of
individuals in the US and worldwide.
b. The Board of Directors is authorized in its discretion consistent with these Bylaws and applicable law to
(1) select the members of the Board Committee on Human Rights, (2) provide said committee with funds for
operating expenses, (3) adopt regulations or guidelines to govern said Committeeâ??s operations, (4) empower said Committee to solicit public input and to issue periodic reports to shareholders and the public, at reasonable expense and excluding confidential information, on the Committeeâ??s activities, findings and recommendations, and (5) adopt any other measures within the Boardâ??s discretion consistent with these Bylaws and applicable law.
c. Nothing herein shall restrict the power of the Board of Directors to manage the business and affairs of the
company. The Board Committee on Human Rights shall not incur any costs to the company except as authorized by
the Board of Directors.
Supporting Statement
The proposed Bylaw would establish a Board Committee on Human Rights which would review and make
policy recommendations regarding human rights issues raised by the companyâ??s activities and policies. For
example, Yahoo reportedly disclosed the identity of a Chinese citizen who had published information critical of the Chinese government on the internet; as a result of Yahooâ??s disclosure, the individual is serving a 10 year jail sentence. Also, of the major internet search engines operating in China, Yahoo censored more terms, according to a limited test conducted by Reporters Without Borders. We believe the proposed Board Committee on Human Rights could be an effective mechanism for addressing the human rights implications of the companyâ??s activities and policies on issues such as these, as they emerge anywhere in the world. In defining â??human rights,â? proponents suggest that the committee could use the US Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as nonbinding benchmarks or reference documents.
Board of Directors Statement and Recommendation AGAINST Stockholder Proposal Yahoo! shares the proponentâ??s commitment to human rights, and as described in more detail in the boardâ??s statement in opposition to proposal no. 6 in this proxy statement, the Companyâ??s management team has already instituted practices and initiatives that are designed to assess the implications of the Companyâ??s activities and policies and to protect and advance essential freedoms, such as freedom of expression and privacy rights.
To further advance thinking and practices around the promotion of free expression and privacy, Yahoo! is
actively engaged in a formal dialogue, co-facilitated by Business for Social Responsibility and the Center for
Democracy & Technology, that includes industry counterparts, various human rights groups, academic institutions and socially responsible investors. This diverse group aims to produce a set of global principles and operating procedures on freedom of expression and privacy to guide company behavior when faced with laws, regulations and policies that interfere with human rights. The groupâ??s goals also include creating an implementation, accountability and governance framework, as well as a forum for sharing ideas.
These practices and initiatives have been developed by Yahoo! management based on its thorough and careful consideration of the inherent complexities associated with operating under the laws of multiple foreign countries.
The board of directors believes that Yahoo!â??s management team, with its day-to-day involvement in the Companyâ??s business operations and its detailed understanding of the legislative and regulatory landscape of the countries in which the Company operates, is in the best position to assess these matters and to make informed judgments as to what practices and policies are most likely to promote the interests of the Company and its stockholders and users.
Recommendation of the Board of Directors
FOR ALL OF THE FOREGOING REASONS, THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS RECOMMENDS
THAT STOCKHOLDERS VOTE â??AGAINSTâ? THIS PROPOSAL. PROXIES RECEIVED BY THE
COMPANY WILL BE VOTED â??AGAINSTâ? THIS PROPOSAL UNLESS THE STOCKHOLDER SPECIFIES
OTHERWISE IN THE PROXY.

Trusting in Levees, City Builds on Flood Plains – New York Times

Trusting in Levees, City Builds on Flood Plains – New York Times

“Levees constrict a riverâ??s path and raise its water level, which causes higher, faster flow. A flood plain, conversely, exists in nature to absorb a riverâ??s overflow.â??The more levees we build, the higher we have to build them,â? Professor Kusky said. â??Itâ??s a self-perpetuating problem.â? “

Smart!

Anti-illegal-immigrant law OKd in Texas – Yahoo News

I understand the complaints regarding illegal immigration, however I don’t think the steps being taken by Farmers Branch, TX are prudent, effective, or legal.

Anti-illegal-immigrant law OKd in Texas – Yahoo News

“FARMERS BRANCH, Texas – Voters in this Dallas suburb became the first in the nation Saturday to prohibit landlords from renting to most illegal immigrants.
The ban was approved by a vote of 68 percent to 32 percent in final, unofficial returns. “”The ordinance requires apartment managers to verify that renters are U.S. citizens or legal immigrants before leasing to them, with some exceptions.

“Property managers or owners who break the rule face a misdemeanor charge punishable by a fine of up to $500.”

Ultimately, the issue of immigration is to be dealt with by the US federal government, rather than states or localities. If I were a landlord in that city, I would refuse to follow that ordinance and would challenge it on three grounds. First, it would require me, as a private citizen, to do the job of the government. Where does it end? Will they then require all businesses to require ID from customers before serving them? “Let me repeat that order: 2 hamburgers and an order of fries. That’ll be $4.85. I’ll need to see two picture IDs and your social security card.” Second, the job of dealing with immigration and a process for naturalization is a power given to Congress in Article I, section 8, and is not reserved to the states. The ultimate solution needs to come from Congress. And third, I would challenge it strictly on principal.

Instead of actually dealing with the problem of illegal immigration, the city of Farmers Branch will just spend millions of dollars defending itself in lawsuits and irritate business leaders.

The only effective way to deal with illegal immigration is for the federal and state governments to cut off the reason why immigrants are here in the first place, and that is jobs. If it were very difficult for illegal immigrants to find jobs, they they would be less likely to come. But even after 10 years of Republicans controlling Congress, six of those with a Republican President, there wasn’t much that actually went on other than whooping, hollering, and chest pounding. Seems that’s all that ever happens regarding the subject of illegal immigration.

The IRS gives out tax payer IDs but ICE (formerly INS) doesn’t know. Social Security numbers are concurrently used by multiple people. ICE isn’t informed. There are other examples of the federal government not actually working together on the problem, but you get the drift. Ultimately, it is because Congress really doesn’t really want to cut off the flow of cheap, cheap labor. The reason is that a majority of the Republicans don’t want to upset the business base that funds their campaign.

A quick-fix solution would be for the federal governmental departments to coordinate. Anytime a social security account is used by multiple people, flag it for La Migre. And put the IRS and ICE in contact. A long-term solution, not that Congress would ever want one is to create a national ID card system. Then, Congress would pass a law that says anyone doing business that is in interstate commerce must check the ID against a government funded background check that would return information regarding the person as well as a photo. States would also pass laws requiring all other employers to run background checks using the same system. Boom! Illegal immigration would dry up.

Until then, immigrants aren’t the real problem, and landlords shouldn’t be deputized just because they own a specific piece of property they lease out to another. And the issue of illegal immigration is a red herring certain [non]-leaders wish to use to distract everyone from all the real issues that we face in our every day lives, the wars being waged, bribery and scandal in the political ranks, collapsing health care system, rising college tuitions, unfolding housing crisis, decreasing value of the dollar, and an overall fleecing of our country (have you seen the federal debt amount recently?).

State of the [insert joke here] speech

I wrote the following a few years ago. It still applies, at least what I could tell from the bit I heard on the radio.

“Congress is a joke. Or, should I say a bunch of cheerleaders. I’m currently watching President Bush give his obligatory State of the Union report/speech. He barely gets through most sentences without applause. “I think [applause] you need to all [applause] kiss my feet. [applause]” And it comes from both sides of the aisle. Even when he was lying about the war for Iraq, occupation of Iraq and the Patriot act, they applauded. They should at least wait until he finishes a section of his speech or the end of the whole thing. And they shouldn’t feel obligated to applaud if they don’t like what he says. If it were me, I’d wait until the end before applauding, even if the President were my party member, friend or father (he’s not ;).”

Granted, there weren’t so many breaks during his commentary on the war this year, but there sure were a lot during the rest of his speech. A transcript of the speech, including applause breaks is posted on the White House web site. My guess is that they undercount the applause breaks by 20%.
I still don’t know why I bother tuning in at all. It isn’t like I don’t already know what to expect. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause. Blah Blah Blah sound byte. Applause.

Is spanking a child the same as beating that child?

California Assemblywoman Sally Lieber seems to think it is.

“I think it’s pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child,” Lieber said. “Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a 6-month-old or a newborn?” — California lawmaker seeks ban on spanking. Y! News, via AP.

I find the logic in that statement suspect when used to support a spanking ban. To beat is to “strike repeatedly.” To spank is to “strike especially on the buttocks with the open hand.” Therefore, to Sally, the words “beat” and “spank” mean the same thing because they both mean “to strike.” And as a result, we need to ban spanking because we want to ban beating and whipping a small child.

I disagree with Sally’s plan and believe the current laws are sufficient to provide parents flexibility to discipline their children and the State ability to protect children. According to the AP article, current California law permits spanking by parents unless the degree of force is excessive or not appropriate for the child’s age.

When I think of beating, I think of a child being hit multiple times with force that would hurt an adult. That’s much different than the tap on the butt I consider to be a spanking. It is probably reasonable to say that beating and/or whipping a small child is likely to violate the current law. Likewise, it is probably reasonable say that an excessively strong or long spanking episode would qualify as a beating and violate the current law.

I don’t have children yet, but I’ve seen young children who don’t respond to an alternative measure, such as time-out or the naughty box (a toy goes in the box). Should a parent not be able to give a slap on the butt in those situations? I don’t think so.

Sally is my elected representative so I’m likely to contact her once the bill is public so I can directly quibble over semantics with her.