Swiss to Vote on Giving Animals Legal Rights, Including the Right to Have a Government Lawyer if the Animal Cannot Afford One

Tomorrow the citizens of Switzerland will vote on whether to give all Swiss animals increased legal rights, including the right to be represented by an attorney.  I’m not kidding!  Switzerland currently gives  its animals more protections that perhaps any other country in the world.  If the referendum passes, all of Switzerland’s cantons (territorial divisions of the country similar to a city or county) will be required to pay for lawyers to represent animals.  Proponents of the new law say that if a person who has been accused of mistreating an animal is able to hire an attorney then the abused animal (the victim) should also be represented by a lawyer.  Does that mean that if a Swiss dog bites and injures a person, can the injured victim sue the dog who would have a court appointed lawyer and if the victim prevails in court, would the dog be liable for damages that would then be paid by the Swiss government?

Here are some eye-popping current requirements of Swiss animal law:

  • Before acquiring a dog, the prospective owner(s) must take a course on dogs that lasts four hours.
  • If an animal breed is social, i.e., needs companionship, the owner(s) of that type of animal must also have at least other animal of the same type so that the animals will have a companion.  Animals that must have companions include fish, birds and the ever popular yaks.
  • Fish aquariums and cages for birds are required to have not less than one side that is opaque so that the fish or bird feels safe.
  • You cannot simply kill a sick fish by throwing it in the trash or flushing it down the toilet, you must whack it with a killing head shot or poison it in water and  clove oil dissolved in alcohol.
  • Perps found guilty of cruelty to an animal can be sent to the big house for as much as three years.

Let’s hope that Congress and the U.S. trial lawyers don’t hear about the Swiss animal laws because if they do, we’ll have similar laws here.  Giving U.S. animals a right to a lawyer will put dollar signs in the eyes of the trial lawyers and give a lot of currently unemployed lawyers a job as animal rights specialists.  I can also see a boom in much needed animal rights seminars, books, tapes and law blogs.

Update:  By a huge margin, the Swiss voters rejected the animal rights law.

Law Professor With Too Much Free Time Writes Scholarly Law Review Article on Middle Finger Law

Finally we have a law review article about a legal issue that might interest lay people.  Ira P. Robbins, the Barnard T. Welsh Scholar and a Professor of Law and Justice, at the Washington College of Law of American University published an article in the University of California, Davis Law Review called “Digitus Impudicus:  The Middle Finger and the Law.”   The 83 page article contains everything you wanted to know and more about the legalities of flipping the bird.  I cannot wait until the movie comes out.  The preamble to the article says:

“a number of recent cases demonstrate that those who use the middle finger in public run the risk of being stopped, arrested, prosecuted, fined, and even incarcerated under disorderly conduct or breach-of-peace statutes and ordinances. . . . the pursuit of criminal sanctions for use of the middle finger infringes on First Amendment rights, violates fundamental principles of criminal justice, wastes valuable judicial resources, and defies good sense.”

I learn something new everyday.  I’ve been worried about the loss of freedom caused by the food police, the toy police,  the noise police, the clown mask police, the elementary school sexual harassment police,  the snowball police, the elementary school no-touching the opposite sex police, the elementary school doodling police, the light rail police, the elementary school science project police, the advertising police and just today the billboard police.  I did not realize that our freedom is also being threatened by the middle finger police.

Tampa Devoid of Crime so Police Arresting People Wearing Clown Masks in Public

The Tampa, Florida, law enforcement agencies must not have enough crime because they recently arrested a teenage boy for walking along a public highway while wearing a clown mask.  A sheriff’s deputy spotted the perp and followed him for a while until backup from the Tampa police department arrived to help make the arrest.  I hope we can watch the arrest on the TV show “Cops.”  It must have been a very intense and scary time for the deputy who had to follow the clown without any backup.  The dude was arrested for violating a 1951 law intended to prevent KKK members from being on the streets in the hood while wearing their hoods.  The clown was charged with two misdemeanors and released on $750 bail.

1995 Newsweek Article Completely Wrong on Its Predictions About the Internet

Clifford Stoll, author of “Silicon Snake Oil–Second Thoughts on the Information Highway” wrote an article published in Newsweek in which he makes a lot of predictions about the internet that are completely wrong.  It’s funny now to read about the things he said would never happen on the internet, but which have happened in a big way.  For example, he said few people would ever use the internet for shopping, telecommuting, multimedia classrooms, virtual communities,  interactive libraries,  Mr. Stoll said the visionaires incorrectly predicted that:

“Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. . . . Baloney.  Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? . . . . Try reading a book on disc. . . .  And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach.  Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet.  Uh, sure.”

To be fair, he was not alone in his predictions that the internet would never amount to much.  In the early 1990s I ran a four phone line bulletin board system (BBS) that was an early version of the internet, but limited by direct computer modem to computer modem phone line connections.  I remember going to a national convention of BBS sysops in the early 1990s where I attended a session at which a panel of speakers in the know told the audience not to waste time with the internet, but to keep investing in BBSs.  That session probably delayed my movement to the internet a few years.

13 Strange Taxes

Shrinkage is Good describes thirteen weird taxes from around the world.  They are: witchcraft, weird baby names, cow flatulence, playing cards, forced smoking, tax-exempt sex toys, urine, hats, beards, prostitution, porn, illegal drugs and bribery.

Blimpie Sued for Not Having Double Meat in Its Sandwiches

Forget all the problems in the United States and the world, two crusaders who love to attack windmills are fighting our battles for us.  See the story in Above the Law.  The two plaintiffs sued Blimpie in a class action lawsuit for allegedly skimping on meat in Blimpie sandwiches.  The plaintiffs claim that a 12 inch sandwich contains 50 grams of protein, but the double your meat version of the sandwich contains only 73 grams of protein.  Holy false advertising Batman!  Here’s the part of the complaint that really ticks me off:

They also claim that other Super Stacked sandwiches should not be called that because there are no regular-size sandwiches to which to compare them.

Dude, doesn’t Blimpie have any shame?  Surely the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration or the Consumer Products Safety Commission will  assign 20 or 30 staff to investigate and spend millions of dollars of our tax money prosecuting this travesty of justice and force Blimpie to get its sandwich names in line with applicable federal and state law and nail Blimpie for a massive fine to teach it a lesson.  Where is the Food Police when you need them?  Whoops.  I forgot.  The Food Police are  busy busting bake sales in New York City Schools and going after dangerous hot dogs.

So Many Hitler Parody Videos – So Little Time

In 2004, director Oliver Hirschebiegl made a movie in German called “Downfall.”  A lengthy scene from this movie has been used over and over again by people who make subtitles that tell a story quite different than the actual words spoken in German by the actors.  Mr. Hirschbiegel loves that people are using his film to make parodies.  He says people constantly send him links to new parodies.  He has seen over 145 Hitler parodies.  His favorites are:

Hitler learns the Michael Jackson died

Hitler cannot get Billy Elliott tickets

Before you create your own Hitler parody, you should know that Constantin Film, the owner of Downfall, frequently demands that website remove the Hitler parodies because they infringe on its copyright.  See “Just how many Hitler videos does the world need?”  The New York Times story called “The Hitler Meme” looks at this topic from a different angle.  Here are some other Hitler parody videos.

Hitler responds to Apple’s new iPad

Hitler mistakenly makes a public post on his Facebook account that he meant to be private

Hitler learns that Jay Leno will replace Conan O’Brien on the Tonight Show

Hitler finds out Kanye West Disses Taylor Swift at the VMAs

U.S. Patent & Trademark Office Cannot Accept Up-side Down Faxes – No Joke

More from the we are doomed department.  The other day the Department of Justice placed an ad seeking 10 trial lawyers who are mentally retarded.  See “U.S. Department of Justice Seeks to Hire Mentally Retarded Trial Lawyers for Voting Division.”  Maybe the DOJ could loan one of its newly hired retarded trial lawyers to the United States Patent & Trademark Office to teach USPTO personnel how to turn an upside down piece of paper right side up.  The article below explains that the USPTO actually rejects faxes that are received upside down.

Question:  Once the fax is removed from the fax machine, how does the USPTO person know that the fax was upside down when received?  Answer:  The USPTO holds the document in front of his or her face and if the top is on the bottom then the fax must have come in upside down and must be rejected!

Possible Solution:  Turn the fax machine upside down as it is receiving the upside down fax then the fax will be received right side up.  I understand this solution was proposed by a USPTO clerk who unlike 99% of the staff had once worked in the private sector in a for profit business.  She had a vague memory of how the “little people outside government” dealt with upside down faxes.  Management rejected this solution because federal regulations required that they ask for a request for proposals after first funding a study by an outside consulting firm hired to investigate various environmentally safe solutions to the problem.  USPTO management realized that as a result of President Obama’s massive budget freeze, the USPTO did not have the funds to pay for the study, much less pay for all the new double-sided-automatic-page-reversing green (the fax paper is recycled from used tiolet paper) state-of-the-art ethanol-powered fax machines made in China ($126,000/unit when purchased in bulk and the government always purchases these hummers in bulk to get the savings for the taxpayers) and  the office space necessary to house the new machines.

bnet.com:  “I know, the headline seems like a joke. After all, what do you do if someone inadvertently fed a page upside down into the fax machine? You simply turn the page over or, if you get an electronic version, use the reader software to rotate it. Apparently this is not within the standard operating procedures of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. No, if your fax comes in upside down, they send you a message in return saying that they can’t accept it and to re-fax.  Here’s a copy of the letter that a source, who regularly deals with the USPTO, passed along to me:”

State of the Union Speech Pivots to Employment Reform

Scrappleface:  “With his health care agenda on the back burner in the wake of Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts, President Obama plans to use Wednesday night’s State of the Union address to unveil sweeping employment-reform legislation that would provide a good job to every American regardless of his ability to work, and would prevent companies from declining to employ applicants who suffer pre-existing conditions like laziness, incompetence, or kleptomania.”

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