Integrity Legal

Archive for July, 2011

20th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Election Commission in the Kingdom of Thailand has certified the election of both the apparently outgoing Prime Minister and the possible future Prime Minister of that nation. In order to provide further insight into these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of the Voice of America, VOANews.com:

Thailand’s election commission endorsed the election to parliament of Pheu Thai leader Yingluck Shinawatra, Tuesday, clearing the way for her to become the nation’s first female prime minister. The commission said it had voted unanimously to dismiss complaints that Yingluck violated election laws by involving banned politicians – including her elder brother – in her campaign. The decision eases fears of instability raised by the commission’s failure to endorse her with the majority of the July 3 election winners last week. The commission also announced the endorsement of outgoing Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, whose endorsement also was delayed last week. A total of 370 lawmakers have now been approved…

This blogger asks the reader to click upon the appropriate hyperlinks above to read about these events in detail.

Although this blog attempts to refrain from detailed discussion of Thai political matters it is noteworthy that Thailand may soon see her first female Prime Minister. Hopefully, this election will result in benefits for all concerned. In matters related to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) it recently came to this blogger’s attention that some of the ASEAN member nations may be discussing ways to streamline matters pertaining to higher education. In order to elucidate further this blogger is required to quote directly from the official website of Bernama, Bernama.com

DENPASAR, July 18 (Bernama) — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Asean Credit Transfer System is being expanded to include more universities, students and programmes, as part of the efforts to improve education quality through regional cooperation. He said the student mobility programme with the credit transfer system implemented among three countries namely Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand since 2010 for example, represented one of the initiatives under the ‘permeable framework’ for the internationalization of higher education. “Currently, we are in the process of expanding the number of participating universities, students and also programmes of each country…

This web log’s administration asks readers to click on the links above in order to learn further from this article.

Although not directly related to business in the ASEAN jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam), issues pertaining to higher education can have a tangential impact upon the business world since the increase in the labor pool’s education level can have ramifications across the economy. It stands to reason that a more well-educated workforce in the ASEAN jurisdictions will lead to new and innovative business strategies in the coming years.

For information related to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the President of the United States of America may be changing his position on the issue of same sex marriage in the context of a repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from an article written by Helene Cooper and posted on the official website of the The New York Times, NYTimes.com:

WASHINGTON — President Obama will endorse a bill to repeal the law that limits the legal definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman, the White House said Tuesday, taking another step in support of gay rights. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Obama was taking the additional step away from the Defense of Marriage Act — which the administration said earlier this year it would no longer defend in court — in order to “uphold the principle that the federal government should not deny gay and lesbian couples the same rights and legal protections as straight couples.” If the measure passes, it would make same-sex couples eligible for certain federal benefits that have previously been available only to heterosexual married couples…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click on the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail.

This news comes virtually contemporaneously with the announcement that the United States Senate’s Judiciary Committee is set to hold hearings on the issue of DOMA and the possible promulgation of legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act. Such legislation would provide “certainty” to those same sex couples who have married in one of the States which allows same sex unions. Currently, same sex bi-national couples are barred from receiving American immigration benefits such as the CR-1 visa, K-1 visa, or IR-1 visa as section 3 of DOMA precludes awarding such benefits even if a same sex marriage has been legalized and/or solemnized by one of the sovereign American States.

In related news, it would appear as though advocacy groups calling for the repeal of DOMA are stressing the immediacy of the upcoming hearings and how a show of support could have a positive impact upon the legislative process. In order to shed further light upon these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Instinct website, InstinctMagazine.com:

With the Senate set to begin the DOMA hearing tomorrow, the Courage Campaign is asking the community to help get the urgency across by participating in a new viral campaign. But no signatures here! Find out how to get involved after the jump. Two years ago, Courage Campaign launched “Fidelity,” a multimedia video focused on Prop. 8, urging the courts to not forcibly divorce same-sex families. With the first-ever repeal hearing for the Defense Of Marriage Act about to begin tomorrow in D.C., community leaders are calling on us all to get involved with “Fidelity II…”

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this interesting posting.

It remains to be seen how these issues will play out, but it should be noted that there are other considerations inherent to this issue apart from Civil Rights and Equal Protection principles. For example, there are certain States’ Rights components to an analysis of American jurisprudence regarding the legality of the federal government’s refusal to recognize same sex marriages legalized and/or solemnized in the sovereign States since notions of Full Faith and Credit pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution come into play. Meanwhile, there are some who could argue that notions of natural rights and natural law should not be overlooked in any analysis of possible DOMA repeal. As this situation continues to evolve it should prove interesting to see how this issue is ultimately resolved.

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19th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the naval chiefs of the nations which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are set to meet in Hanoi, Vietnam in upcoming days. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the official website of China Daily, ChinaDaily.com.cn:

HANOI – The 5th ASEAN Naval Chiefs’ Meeting (ANCM-5) will be held in Vietnam on July 26-29, with participation of naval commanders from nine ASEAN member countries and the Lao defense attache in Vietnam. According to Vietnam News Agency on Tuesday, it is the first time Vietnam hosts such defense cooperation event, during which delegates will share views and discuss cooperative measures to respond to security challenges in the region, among other issues…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to learn more from this insightful article.

This news comes upon the heels of news that the American President is scheduled to attend an upcoming ASEAN meeting. Meanwhile, ASEAN leaders are apparently in continued discussion regarding a communique pertaining to the South China Sea. Finally, it would appear as though there may be further discussion regarding an ASEAN visa which would operate in a similar manner to the Schengen Visa. How all of these developments will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but they are certainly of interest for those in the region.

In news related to the struggle for LGBT Equality this blogger recently came upon an interesting posting discussing the current legal position of the LGBT community in light of continued enforcement of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). To quote directly from a posting by Peter J Reilly on the official website of Forbes, Forbes.com:

One of my earliest and most popular (pre-Forbes) posts was on the case of Rhiannon G. O’Donnabhain, who wanted to deduct the cost of gender reassignment surgery as a medical expense.  The IRS argued that the procedure was “cosmetic surgery” and not deductible.  Ms. O’Donnabhain prevailed.  Then came Gill V OPM.  As I noted in my inaugural Forbes post, marital status impact over 1,000 “benefits, rights and privileges” in the United States Code.  Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holds that a couple is not married for any federal purpose unless they are of the opposite gender and that the word spouse means a person of the opposite gender.  In Gill v OPM a district court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA had no rational basis.  There were several plaintiffs in Gill, all legally married in Massachusetts, arguing for a variety of benefits including that of filing a joint return…

Those interested in such issues are strongly encouraged to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this interesting posting in detail.

Section 3 of DOMA also has significant ramifications in an American immigration context as even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in a State which legalizes such unions cannot use said marriage as a basis to petition for spouse visa benefits (such as the CR-1 visa and the IR-1 visa). Concurrently, as such unions are not recognized by the United States federal government a petition for a same sex K-1 visa would also not be permissible so long as DOMA remains in place.  Bearing that in mind the reader should note that legislators such as Representative Jerrold Nadler and Representative Mike Honda have introduced legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act, the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA), and the Reuniting Families Act in order to provide some sort of remedy for the current discrimination being borne by same sex bi-national couples and the LGBT community as whole. As of the time of this writing none of the above legislation has seen passage although with an upcoming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing set to discuss DOMA there is hope that this discrimination will not continue indefinitely.

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18th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that China and the United Kingdom have apparently concluded a revision of those nations’ double tax treaty. To provide further insight into these events this blogger is compelled to quote directly from the website of Accountancy Age, AccountancyAge.com:

REVISIONS TO THE double taxation treaty between the UK and China will reduce the withholding tax on dividends received by UK investors from Chinese companies. The document revisions coincide with the visit of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao. They reduce the withholding tax on dividends paid out by Chinese companies to 5% from 10%. This will apply to people holding at least 25% shares in a Chinese company and the rate will remain at 10% for other dividends. There has also been a small change in the treatment of royalties, with some royalties being charged at 6%, down from 7%.

The administration of this web log asks readers to click on those relevant hyperlinks noted above to read about these developments in detail. As has been previously noted on this web log, as China becomes increasingly economically dominant it stands to reason that many nations around the world will try to engage in further trade and business with that country. International agreements and treaties can often act to streamline trade and investment. Hopefully, the developments above will provide benefits for all concerned.
In somewhat related news, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that authorities in Taiwan appear to be encouraging that interested parties remain patient with respect to the prospect of a trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). To quote directly from the website of Focus Taiwan, FocusTaiwan.tw:

Manila, July 16 (CNA) Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs is asking the country’s businesses to wait patiently for Taiwan to sign economic cooperation pacts with other Southeast Asian countries because Singapore and China are the trade negotiation priorities at present…There are over 8,000 items being discussed in follow-up negotiations with China, and substantive talks are also being held with Singapore, making it hard to give the necessary attention to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Shih said…The minister acknowledged, however, that ASEAN was an area with which Taiwan needed to forge a free trade agreement or economic cooperation agreement…

Readers are strongly encouraged to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read the article in full.

As the ASEAN region continues to thrive economically there appears to be a growing yearning for ASEAN trade agreements from nations outside the region. This news comes shortly after the recent announcement that a sort of pan-ASEAN visa, similar to the Schengen Visa, will be one topic of discussion amongst ASEAN leaders. How any of these events will ultimately play out remains to be seen, but there are certainly those who would speculate that many of the topics noted above are positive developments.

For information pertaining to legal services in Southeast Asia please see: Legal.

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17th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that members of the American Armed Services were recently noted for their apparent presence at a recent march in support of equal rights for the LGBT community. To quote directly from the official website of the Reuters News Service, Reuters.com:

A group of U.S. service members marched in a San Diego gay pride parade on Saturday, in a demonstration organizers touted as an unprecedented step for gay and lesbian military personnel under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy…The march came a day after a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals temporarily reinstated the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays, but blocked the Pentagon from penalizing or discharging anyone for being openly gay. The decision marked a reversal from an earlier order to immediately end the policy…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to learn more about these developments.

Frequent readers of this web log may take note of the fact that the 9th Circuit’s decision in the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” matter came down almost contemporaneously with the decision by the United States Bankruptcy Courts to begin allowing bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples if a couple in question has entered into a same sex marriage in one of those jurisdictions which permit such marital unions. This news comes after the announcement that the United States Senate is set to hold hearing regarding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and a possible substitute for that legislation in the form of the Respect for Marriage Act. In fact, it was recently announced that the chairman of said proceedings has already been named. In order to provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of News Radio WGMD 92.7, WGMD.com:

Senator Chris Coons will chair the second panel of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will consider legislation that would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.  Coons is a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act and says that DOMA is discriminatory and deserves to be repealed.  Coons says this hearing is important as it will study the impact that DOMA has had on American families.

This blogger asks readers to click upon the links above to read this posting in detail.

It currently remains to be seen how the presence of Senator Chris Coons chairing the upcoming committee meeting will impact the overall debate on DOMA, but readers may recall that Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced both the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the Respect for Marriage Act in the United States House of Representatives. These pieces of proposed legislation are designed to put an end to, at least, some of the current legal discrimination being borne by the American LGBT community. UAFA merely deals with the discrimination currently being applied to the LGBT community in an American immigration context while the Respect for Marriage Act was designed to provide a kind of legal certainty to those same sex couples who have married in one of those jurisdictions which legalize and/or solemnize such unions.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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16th July 2011

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me…

[F]amous statement attributed to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the inactivity of German intellectuals following the Nazi rise to power and the purging of their chosen targets, group after group.”

quoted directly from the official website of  Wikipedia, Wikipedia.org

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the former Secretary of Defense of the United States of America has been the subject of a so-called “enhanced patdown” (A.K.A grope down) administered by the TSA.  To quote directly from a very insightful article by Josh Rogin posted in The Cable on the official website of Foreign Policy, ForeignPolicy.com:

Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was on the other side of the homeland security policies his administration helped to create today when he was held up and patted down at the airport after setting off the metal detectors on his way to board a flight…Rumsfeld was in Chicago to attend a panel and luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation and was on the way to Grand Rapids, MI to attend the funeral of Betty Ford, whom he called “one of America’s most beloved first ladies.”

This blogger asks readers to click on the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read this article in full and thereby gain insight into what apparently happened.

In this blogger’s opinion, the news above elucidates the fundamental absurdity and ridiculousness of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as of late, especially in light of the United States Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.To provide poignant context it is again necessary to quote Wikipedia’s 4th Amendment entry:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

In what way is it reasonable to assume that groping a former Defense Secretary is reasonable while he is traveling to the funeral of a former First Lady? Where is the probable cause for this activity? Where is the warrant for such an invasion of Mr. Rumsfeld’s personal space? These events seem rather ironic since it was Mr. Bush’s administration that began these Constitutionally-suspect practices. However, that should not divert the reader’s attention from the severity of this state of affairs. At what point did it become reasonable to deny everyone their Constitutional right to be free from unwanted touching? Or, perhaps more specifically unwanted searches of persons without a warrant supported by probable cause? To provide further insight, it is necessary to quote from another section of Wikipedia discussing fundamental legal issues associated with the American Constitution:

The U.S. Declaration of Independence states that it has become necessary for the United States to assume “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”. Some early American lawyers and judges perceived natural law as too tenuous, amorphous and evanescent a legal basis for grounding concrete rights and governmental limitations.[3] Natural law did, however, serve as authority for legal claims and rights in some judicial decisions, legislative acts, and legal pronouncements.[66] Robert Lowry Clinton argues that the U.S. Constitution rests on a common law foundation and the common law, in turn, rests on a classical natural law foundation.[67]

This quotation above is important because it demonstrates the reason for the very existence of the 4th Amendment itself. Namely: to codify extremely important, yet utterly subtle natural rights. The founders were well aware of the fact some natural rights are so inherent to the very fiber of We The People‘s being that they are (under the weight of occasionally specious yet tempting legal reasoning) sometimes subject to being taken for granted by dint of their almost ethereal nature.

Readers are asked to bear the above in mind as this blogger feels compelled to quote directly from the website of My Fox New York, MyFoxNY.com:

[A] Colorado woman is accused of putting her hands on a TSA agent at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. Court records show 61-year-old Yukari Mihamae grabbed the left breast of the female agent Thursday at the Terminal 4 checkpoint…Mihamae now faces a felony count of sexual abuse. According to court records, she lives in Longmont, Colorado and is self-employed…

Readers are asked to click upon the hyperlinks above to read this article in detail. It is also necessary to point out that the woman in question noted above is innocent until proven guilty of any charge under American law and the American justice system’s adherence to Blackstone’s Formulation. That said, it will, no doubt, be interesting to ascertain the facts surrounding this incident since the lead-up to this incident may, at the least, provide context. Travel is stressful to begin with and, in this blogger’s opinion, such stress is only compounded by the duress which arises with the prospect of an invasive pat-down and the insistence, with little legal foundation, that such a pat-down be imposed.

In a somewhat startling turn of similar events it would appear that a woman in the sovereign State of Tennessee has been subjected to arrest as a result of an incident involving the TSA. In order to provide further insight on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Mail Online website at DailyMail.co.uk:

A mother has been arrested after refusing to let her child be searched by a TSA agent. Andrea Fornella Abbott, 41, was arrested at Nashville International Airport on Saturday after telling agents she did not want her daughter to be ‘touched inappropriately’ or have her ‘crotch grabbed,’ according to a police report. Mrs Abbott acted ‘belligerent and verbally abusive to staff’, yelling and swearing at them, according to the report. Police said after the woman refused to calm down she was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks above to read the totality of this report. Readers are reminded that those arrested in the United States of America are, as noted previously, viewed in the eyes of the law as innocent until proven guilty.
A wiser person than this blogger once wryly noted that even in matters pertaining to the law it is imprudent to attempt to try to interpose between a mother and a child whom the mother believes may be in distress. Such interposition may be especially imprudent if not fully backed by the Full Faith and Credit of American law. With that in mind it recently came to this blogger’s attention that Member of the United States House of Representatives, Representative Ron Paul, recently announced what would appear to be the re-introduction of a bill that could ameliorate some of the duress currently being borne by innocent Americans. To quote directly from the official website of Representative Paul:

Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal Transportation Security Administration employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. We have seen the videos of terrified children being grabbed and probed by airport screeners. We have read the stories of Americans being subjected to humiliating body imaging machines and/or forced to have the most intimate parts of their bodies poked and fondled. We do not know the potentially harmful effects of the radiation emitted by the new millimeter wave machines. In one recent well-publicized case, a TSA official is recorded during an attempted body search saying, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” I strongly disagree and am sure I am not alone in believing that we Americans should never give up our rights in order to travel. As our Declaration of Independence states, our rights are inalienable. This TSA version of our rights looks more like the “rights” granted in the old Soviet Constitutions, where freedoms were granted to Soviet citizens — right up to the moment the state decided to remove those freedoms…Imagine if the political elites in our country were forced to endure the same conditions at the airport as business travelers, families, senior citizens, and the rest of us. Perhaps this problem could be quickly resolved if every cabinet secretary, every Member of Congress, and every department head in the Obama administration were forced to submit to the same degrading screening process as the people who pay their salaries…

The administration of this blog strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this announcement in detail. The legislation to which Representative Paul so passionately refers would appear to be the so-called American Traveller Dignity Act of 2010 or H.R. 6416 which provides that:

No law of the United States shall be construed to confer any immunity for a Federal employee or agency or any individual or entity that receives Federal funds, who subjects an individual to any physical contact (including contact with any clothing the individual is wearing), x-rays, or millimeter waves, or aids in the creation of or views a representation of any part of a individual’s body covered by clothing as a condition for such individual to be in an airport or to fly in an aircraft. The preceding sentence shall apply even if the individual or the individual’s parent, guardian, or any other individual gives consent.

This administration asks readers to click upon the links above to read about the totality of this information. In the interest of full disclosure to the reader it must be confessed that these pat-downs are not just the source of academic annoyance for this blogger as he was recently the victim of one of these “pat-downs”. When this blogger inquired as to the authority for the search especially in light of the Right to travel enshrined in the provisions of the 14th Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures without due process of law in the form of a warrant supported by probable cause pursuant to the 4th Amendment this blogger was told that such notions were subordinate to some amorphous and never-fully-explained (supposedly posted, but this blogger never actually saw them since no one was willing to provide them) “federal regulations”. This blogger does not have any particular issue with federal regulations per se as they are often the legitimate by-product of legitimate law-making, but they never can contravene Constitutional law as Constitutional law and the protections of the Bill of Rights can only act to override the provisions of federal regulation; and only then, when certain regulations offend the rightful liberties of the American People.

With respect to the this blogger’s opinion regarding his recent “enhanced pat-down” it can only be said that whatever my “enhanced pat-down” was, it certainly did not feel like the legitimate operation of a supreme government. Therefore, I shall look toward remedies for this issue and the most effective remedies appear to be awaiting at either the ballot box or perhaps one day upon the desk of the Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. With respect to the Several States it should be noted that some such as Texas and Michigan may be discussing the the promulgation of State law with respect to involuntary touching at relevant airports. How State legislation of this variety would impact American jurisprudence especially in light of notions such as the Erie Doctrine remains to be seen, but it may merely remain an interesting point to speculate upon.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

– Benjamin Walter Hart

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15th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the upcoming ASEAN Ministerial meeting in Bali, Indonesia will discuss the notion of something akin to an ASEAN Schengen-like visa. In order to provide further insight into these matters it is probably best to quote directly from the official website of the Thai News Agency MCOT, MCOT.net:

Jakarta, July 14 (ANTARA) – Indonesia is to bring up the issue of instituting a joint ASEAN visa system at an ASEAN ministerial meeting (AMM) next July 16-23, a minister said. “The idea to adopt a joint ASEAN visa system for visitors from outside the ASEAN region will be discussed during a ministerial meeting in Bali. The concept of a joint visa system will resemble the Schengen visa system adhered to by some European countries,” Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa said here Thursday… Earlier, the ASEAN Tourism Association (ASEANTA) comprised of member tourism organization from the 10-member nations of ASEAN, is busy lobbying their respective governments to adopt a policy of a single visa valid for all ten countries as a critical step of turning ASEAN into a single tourism destination…

The administration of this web log strongly encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to delve further into the details of these currently unfolding events.

Readers may recall that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is composed of the ten members nations Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam which are becoming increasingly vibrant in the overall spectrum of the global economy. Furthermore, there is an increasing amount of trade transpiring throughout Asia. Much of this trade occurs between ASEAN jurisdictions or between ASEAN countries and jurisdictions such as the United States of America, the so-called BRICS Nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), or the Greater Asia-Pacific region. Therefore, it is not an overestimate to surmise that the ramifications of the creation of some type of pan-ASEAN visa or similar travel document would, at the least, be a step toward possible further streamlining of tourism and trade in the ASEAN region.

This news comes at a relatively contemporaneous moment with that of news that discussions in Bali may also revolve around recent discussions pertaining to the South China Sea. In order to provide further insight into these developments it may be best to quote directly from the official website of The Mainichi Daily News, Mainichi.jp:

JAKARTA (Kyodo) — The 44th meeting of foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations in Bali next week is expected to bring the regional grouping and China closer step to finalizing of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, according to a draft of joint communique of the meeting seen Wednesday. The draft obtained by Kyodo News shows ASEAN and China, one of the group’s dialogue partners, have begun discussion on the Code of Conduct “by building upon the momentum of the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations” which falls this year…In the same draft, both sides are also expected to repeat the calls on all parties to respect the freedom of navigation in and over-flight above the South China Sea as provided for by the principles of international law…

The reader is again asked to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read further from this insightful article.

With this news coming upon the heels of a recent trip by the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff to China and the announcement that United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the upcoming meeting in Bali it is not a difficult inference to make the conclusion that discussions at the upcoming meeting could result in substantial economic, political, and legal benefits for all concerned.

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14th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that United States President Barack Obama is apparently set to attend an upcoming ASEAN summit in Bali, Indonesia. In order to provide further information regarding such developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Jakarta Updates website, JakartaUpdates.com:

United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to attend the ASEAN Summit in Bali in September 2011. Obama’s arrival is hoped to bring a positive image for Bali and Indonesia in general in particular after the 2002 Bali bombing. “The arrival of President Obama is hoped to foster the trust of the international community regarding the security aspects of Indonesia and especially Bali’s readiness to hold a world-class event,” said a member of Commission IV DPRD Bali, Tjokorda Raka Kerthyasa, in Denpasar, on Tuesday (12/07/2011). According to Kerthyasa, this visit will have a very positive impact not only great for tourism in Bali, but also for Indonesia. That will mean Indonesian security has been acknowledged and Bali is considered a very special place…

The administration of this web log encourages readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read this article in detail.

This news comes upon the heels of a recent trip by the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff to China. Clearly, both of these developments illustrate the increasing importance of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) and China. These events are also a testament to the increasing global economic dominance of Asia in general. Hopefully the discussions held at this upcoming summit will result in tangible benefits for the American people and the people of those nations which are members of ASEAN.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Equality it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a highly respected advocacy organization for the cause of LGBT Equality recently submitted a brief to a New York Court in support of the rights of a same sex bi-national couple. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from a press release posted upon the official website of Lambda Legal, LambdaLegal.org:

(New York, July 12, 2011) – Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed an amicus brief in a case involving Cristina Ojeda and Monica Alcota, a married binational lesbian couple from Queens, New York. The friend-of-the-court brief argues that immigration officials are incorrectly relying on an inapplicable case for authority to continue deportation proceedings while the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is being challenged…In the brief filed yesterday, Lambda Legal argues that USCIS cannot insulate itself from legal and political developments surrounding both DOMA and a 1982 case, Adams v. Howerton. Adams has been superseded by intervening legal and legislative developments including the emergence of jurisdictions where marriage or civil unions of same-sex couples are recognized, and ongoing federal court cases challenging the constitutionality of DOMA. Finally, since the law surrounding DOMA is developing, the brief urges immigration officials to administratively close or postpone all pending immigration matters involving married same-sex couples until DOMA is repealed or declared unconstitutional. Absent DOMA, there is no legal impediment to extending immigration protections to Ms. Alcota and spouses in similarly-situated same-sex couples…

The administration of this web log adamantly encourages those interested to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above to read about these developments. As a practical matter, “administrative closure” has been used in the past with respect to the K-3 visa (a United States travel document somewhat akin to the K-1 visa although designed for the foreign spouse of an American Citizen) where the underlying I-130 (the petition form for a CR-1 visa or an IR-1 visa) sees adjudication and arrival at the National Visa Center prior to, or contemporaneously with, the I-129f petition package. Therefore, usage of administrative closing in an immigration context is not altogether unheard of. That said, whether such a mechanism will ultimately be utilized under these circumstances remains to be seen.

As noted previously on this blog, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) did attempt to place a hold upon deportations involving same sex bi-national couples. However, that hold was apparently rescinded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) citing the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) as a valid reason for such action. Thereafter, it was noted that the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, vacated a finding for deportation in a case before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) involving a couple who had entered into a same sex civil union in the sovereign State of  New Jersey. It was recently noted that United States Bankruptcy Courts appear poised to begin adjudicating bankruptcy petitions from same sex couples. All of these developments have occurred contemporaneously with news that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is preparing to hold hearings regarding the possible repeal of DOMA and the ramifications of adopting legislation such as the Respect for Marriage Act. The Respect for Marriage Act would hopefully provide federal recognition of a same sex marriage legalized and/or solemnized by an American State which permits such unions.

Strictly within the context of American immigration it should be noted that Representative Jerrold Nadler has introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) in order to remedy the current legal discrimination imposed upon the LGBT community. Furthermore, it would appear that Representative Mike Honda‘s Reuniting Families Act includes UAFA-like language which would attempt to correct the current inequities borne by same-sex bi-national couples.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

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13th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate is poised to hold a hearing to discuss the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) and a possible replacement piece of legislation referred to as the Respect for Marriage Act. To provide further information on these developments it is necessary to quote directly from the Washington Blade website, WashingtonBlade.com:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that an anticipated hearing on legislative repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act has been set for July 20. According to a notice, the hearing on DOMA repeal legislation, also known as the Respect for Marriage Act, will take place July 20 at 10 a.m. in Room 226 the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Witnesses who will testify will be announced in the coming days. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is co-sponsor of the legislation that would repeal DOMA, which prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages. In the Senate, the legislation is sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)…

The administration of this web log asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted above in order to read this article in detail.

In the context of American immigration the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) result in a situation where the LGBT community is subject to legal discrimination. For instance, same sex bi-national couples cannot receive the same visa benefits as their different-sex counterparts. Therefore, visas such as the K-1 visa, the CR-1 visa, and the IR-1 visa are not available to those who have a same sex partner or for those couples who have entered into a same sex marriage. This discrimination occurs even where the same sex couple in question has been married in one of the sovereign American States or the District of Columbia where same sex marriages are legalized and/or solemnized. Currently, pending legislation such as the aforementioned Respect for Marriage Act (introduced in the United States House of Representative by Representative Jerrold Nadler, who also introduced the Uniting American Families Act designed to deal specifically with the immigration implications of DOMA) and the Reuniting Families Act (introduced by Representative Mike Honda) would address certain aspects of DOMA. In fact, the Respect for Marriage Act is designed to provide a doctrine of “certainty” whereby those couples married in one of the sovereign American States which recognize such unions can rely upon federal recognition of such unions regardless of their physical location.

In news pertaining to business in China and the United States of America it recently came to this blogger’s attention that China may be poised to import as much as 2 million metric tons of American corn. In order to provide more specifics it is necessary to quote directly from an article written by Tom Polansek and posted to the website of the The Wall Street Journal, WSJ.com:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its estimates for corn exports to China fourfold, another nod to the country’s rising demand in a market under strain. In addition, the amount of the grain used to make ethanol is expected to eclipse its use in animal feed in the U.S. for the first time ever. China is now forecast to import 2 million metric tons of U.S. corn in the next marketing year, which begins on Sept. 1, compared to the previous projection of 500,000 tons…Traders also point to China as the likely buyer behind hundreds of thousands of tons that the USDA lists as going to “unknown destinations.” “The increase in Chinese imports is likely lagging what is really going to happen,” said Joel Karlin, analyst for Western Milling, a producer of animal feed in California. The USDA left its estimates for export to China in the current crop year, which ends Aug. 31, unchanged at 1.5 million metric tons…

This blogger asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks above to read this story in detail.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for the regulation of American agricultural matters. This agency routinely publishes information related to the state of the American agricultural sector. It would appear that the rising demand from China for American agricultural products is not set to diminish anytime in the immediate future. The Chinese-American trade relationship is often noted for the fact that China exports a large amount of manufactured goods to America, but it seems as though less attention is paid to the amount of agricultural products which America provides to China. One issue on this blogger’s mind is the impact that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) might have upon the demand for American agricultural products. As this regional grouping becomes increasingly geopolitically and economically potent it stands to reason that demand for agricultural products from the ASEAN jurisdictions (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam) may be on the rise. Hopefully any and all of these developments prove to be a boon to America’s farmers and agricultural community.

For information pertaining to same sex marriage recognition please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For information related to American company registration please see: US Company Registration.

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12th July 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the often venerated alternative media outlet ZeroHedge.com has posted an analysis of issues pertaining to a proposed change to the forms used by those seeking a US Passport. To provide further insight it is necessary  to quote directly from the Zero Hedge website, ZeroHedge.com

In the US, the government now requires all citizens to have a passport in order to pass the border, even when driving into Mexico or Canada. Obtaining a passport, however, is neither free nor guaranteed.  You must apply, pay an ever-increasing fee, and wait for weeks to be approved and receive it. Recently, the State Department quietly proposed a new ‘biographical questionnaire’ in lieu of the traditional passport application. The new form requires you to provide things like:

- names, birth places, and birth dates of your extended family members
– your mother’s place of employment at the time of your birth
– whether or not your mother received pre-natal or post natal care
– the address of your mother’s physician and dates of appointments
– the address of every place you have ever lived in your entire life
– the name and address of every school you have ever attended

Most people would find it impossible to provide such information, yet the form requires that the responses ‘are true and correct’ under penalty of imprisonment. Naturally, the privacy statement on the application also acknowledges that the responses can be shared with other departments in the government, including Homeland Security. If this proposal passes, then US citizens will have a nearly insurmountable hurdle to obtain a passport and be able to leave the country at will…

The administration of this blog asks readers to click upon the relevant hyperlinks noted prior to this excerpt. Also, it is advisable to click upon the hyperlinks contained within this quotation in order to understand this situation in context.

Each year, many Americans traveling abroad, or those Americans resident abroad, renew their passport at an American Citizen Services section of a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. It has always been this blogger’s opinion that personnel of the Department of State who handle such matters do so in an efficient and courteous manner. Meanwhile, many United States Citizens opt to seek passport renewal in the USA. This blogger has undertaken both endeavors and in each case the officers involved processed the request quickly and with little difficulty. Although it remains to be seen how the proposed questionnaire would actually impact the processing of passport issuance requests one can hope that the process will not become overly cumbersome.

In news pertaining to the struggle for LGBT Equality, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that a woman in the sovereign State of New York is challenging the legal status and Constitutionality of the provisions of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA). In order to provide the reader with some relevant insight it is necessary to quote directly from an article by Mark Hamblett for the New York Law Journal posted on Law.com:

Challengers to the federal Defense of Marriage Act insist that every justification offered by Congress for defining marriage exclusively as between a man and a woman is contrary to logic and the law. In summary judgment papers filed in the Southern District of New York, lawyers for Edith Schlain Windsor argue that there is no good reason for treating her marriage to the late Thea Clara Spyer any differently than a heterosexual union. Read Ms. Windsor’s motion and memorandum. Ms. Windsor’s lawyers call the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) a radical measure and a clear violation of the right to equal protection of the laws under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “DOMA is a sweeping statute that rewrites over one thousand federal laws and overturns the federal government’s long-standing practice of deferring to state determinations of marital status,” the lawyers claim in a memorandum asking Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV for summary judgment in the case of Windsor v. United States, 10-cv-8435. “Throughout history, the federal government has never married people, leaving that to the states…”

This blogger asks readers to click upon the hyperlinks noted above to read about this case in detail.

Those unfamiliar with the current predicament of the LGBT community should note that in immigration matters same sex bi-national couples, even those who have entered into a same sex marriage in one of the sovereign American States which legalize and/or solemnize such unions, are unable to petition for the same immigration benefits as their different-sex counterparts. In order to attempt to remedy this particular discrepancy Representative Jerrold Nadler recently introduced legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). The Respect for Marriage Act was also introduced by Representative Nadler in order to remedy the issue of “certainty” in such cases. As of the time of this writing, neither of these bills has seen enactment although there has been recent news that the Senate Judiciary Committee may be holding hearings pertaining to the Respect for Marriage Act soon. On a related note, the Reuniting Families Act, which apparently includes UAFA-like language, was lately introduced by Representative Mike Honda although passage of this legislation remains to be seen.

There is certainly an “equal protection” component to any argument against DOMA, but relatively few commentators seem to take note of the fact that the way DOMA is currently enforced may also violate notions of States’ Rights. Generally, matters pertaining to the prerogatives of the Several States are debated by the United States Congress before enactment of legislation which maintains interstate compliance with the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution. In this case, Congress has arguably abrogated the notion of Full Faith and Credit inherent in the provisions of the Full Faith and Credit Clause since section 3 of DOMA effectively renders the prerogatives of the sovereign States ineffective when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

The issues associated with DOMA have yet to be fully resolved, but it seems likely that these matters may remain contentious both inside the Courtrooms of America and elsewhere.

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