Tuesday, September 7, 2010

10-09-08 Harvard, Yale Law Journals Refuse to Review Paper Documenting Corruption of the US Justice System

Human Rights Alert - NGO
Harvard, Yale Law Journals Refuse to Review Paper Documenting Corruption of the US Justice System
Los Angeles, September 8 - following the publication in a computer science journal of papers, [1] which focused on analyzing invalidity of the case management and online public access systems of the courts in the US, particularly – PACER & CM/ECF, another paper, [2] was submitted by Joseph Zernik, PhD, and Human Rights Alert (NGO) for review by top-tier US law journals, showing the harmful effects of the operation of such systems in the US. Harvard and Yale based law journals, to which the paper was submitted, refused so far to acknowledge receipt of the paper for peer-review. The paper included a series of individual case studies, and analyzed from the legal perspective.  It documented what was opined as serious Human Rights violations by the courts, through the issuance of abusive, yet invalid and void orders and judgments.  A reasonable person would conclude that such orders and judgments were in violation of the law.  However, the judges probably falsely felt they were not engaged in corruption - since such orders and judgments were invalid and void on their faces – unsigned by a judge or unauthenticated by a clerk.  Albeit, the public at large, and the harmed parties in particular could not discern these facts. The paper also proposed key legislative measures that were required for correction of such conditions at the US courts, first and foremost - subjecting all such systems to legally and publicly accountable validation (logic verification) through legislative action.  The paper also suggested that once full access to the electronic records of the courts was restored, and such systems were examined in detail, there would be a need to establish in the US a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, since the number of judges involved in such conduct was so large, that it would not be possible to prosecute them all.
The paper was submitted to six top-tier legal papers in the areas of Human Rights and Law and Technology - the most relevant fields, based at Harvard and Yale Universities:
Harvard Civil Rights Civil Liberties Law Review, Harvard Human Rights Journal, Harvard International Law Journal, Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Yale Human Rights and Development Law Journal, and Yale Law and Technology Journal. In each case submission was conducted both through the online submission systems [3] and through direct email.  In five of the cases, the journal editors refused to acknowledge receipt of the papers. In the sixth case, an email was received informing the author that the journal was "currently closed for submissions". When asked when the journal would be "open for submissions" - no response was provided. None of the journals claimed that the paper was irrelevant relative to their respective stated areas of coverage, or that the paper was subjected to any kind of review and was rejected.  
Conduct of the Harvard, Yale law journals should raise concerns regarding the state of Free Speech and Academic Freedom in the US.
Human Rights Alert (NGO) [4] is dedicated to discovering, archiving, and disseminating evidence of Human Rights violations by the justice systems of the State of California and the United States in Los Angeles, California, and beyond. Special emphasis is given to the unique role of computerized case management systems in the precipitous deterioration of integrity of the justice system.
[1] Papers recently published:
a)      Joseph Zernik, Data Mining as a Civic Duty – Online Public Prisoners’ Registration Systems, Social Media: Monitoring, Measurement, Mining 1: 84-96 (2010) 
b)      Joseph Zernik, Data Mining of Online Judicial Records of the Networked US Federal Courts, Social Media: Monitoring, Measurement, Mining, 1:69-83 (2010) 
[2] Paper submitted for review by Harvard, Yale law journals:
Case Management and Online Public Access Systems of the Courts – An Urgent Call of Legislative Action
Joseph Zernik, PhD, Human Rights Alert (NGO)
Digital voting machines were previously shown to be vulnerable to malfunction and malfeasance. Papers, recently published in computer science journal, likewise, outlined the invalidity of digital case management and online public access systems that govern the courts, jails, and prisons in the United States, and documented large-scale abuse of such systems. Invalid case management and online public access systems were claimed as key to deterioration of integrity of the justice system, which was previously opined in official, expert, and media reports.  Such systems enabled the holding of prisoners under pretense of lawfulness, the conduct of pretense court proceedings, and the issuance of pretense court records, as part of pretense of judicial review.  A series of case studies documented that the respective orders or judgments were either unsigned or unauthenticated in the digital case management systems, albeit, the public at large, and the harmed parties in particular, could not discern such facts in the online public access systems as designed and operated by the courts.  Moreover, a “chain reaction” effect was documented, where the US courts, up to the Supreme Court of the United States engaged in pretense review of cases originating from lower courts.  Corrective legislative actions were outlined, which were urgently needed - first and foremost - comprehensive review and the establishment of publicly and legally accountable validation of all case management and online public access systems at the courts, jails, and prisons and with it – restoration of the clerks’ accountability for integrity of dockets and counsel appearances.  Full enforcement of the law was called for regarding counsel, when engaged in conduct that was opined as fraud intended to pervert justice.  Truth and Reconciliation Commission was also likely to be required.  Such actions were likely to restore access to the courts and the rule of law, and to safeguard Human Rights in the digital era. 
Key Words
Liberty, Access to the Courts, Human Rights, Rule of Law, Fraud, United States Courts, Superior Court of California, Los Angeles County, California, Digital Signatures, Relational Databases, Functional Logic Verification, Case Management Systems, Online Public Access Systems, Court Dockets, Prisoners’ Registration
[3] ExpressO online submission system:
[4] Human Rights Alert (NGO) web sites:

10-09-07 EU Banks Are Still Wobbly

EU Banks Are Still Wobbly
By Mike Whitney

September 07, 2010 "Information Clearing House-- The EU banking system is in big trouble. That's why European Central Bank (ECB) head Jean-Claude Trichet continues to purchase government bonds and provide "unlimited funds" for underwater banks. It's an effort to prevent a financial system meltdown that could plunge the eurozone back into recession.

This is from Bloomberg News: "Banks led stocks lower (on Tuesday) on concern they’ll require more capital to compensate for holdings of bonds in Europe’s weakest economies. Germany’s banking association said yesterday that the nation’s lenders need to raise $135 billion....“Banks still face problems in regards to their capital ratios,” said Michael Koehler, head of strategy at Landesbank Baden-Wuerttemberg in Mainz, Germany. “Investors will keep worrying about a possible double dip in the next few weeks.” ("Stocks, U.S. Futures Fall, Bonds Rally on Europe Debt Concern", Stephen Kirkland, Bloomberg)

EU banks and other financial institutions presently hold nearly 1 trillion euros of public and private debt from Greece, Spain and Portugal. (although estimates vary) All three countries are in deep distress and face sharp downgrades on their sovereign debt. The potential losses put large parts of the EU banking system at risk. Trichet knows this, which is why he continues to support the teetering system with "unlimited funds". Trichet's emergency assistance has nothing to do with restoring "the monetary-policy transmission mechanism", as he says. That's deliberately misleading. The ECB's actions are a straightforward bailout of the banks and bondholders.

From Bloomberg again:

"Even after a 750 billion euro ($960 billion) bailout for the weaker economies in the euro zone, investors are skittish about sovereign debt -- and about the banks that hold the region’s government bonds.

A default by Greece could trigger the collapse of banks with large sovereign-bond holdings, says Konrad Becker, a financial analyst at Merck Finck & Co. in Munich. “A default by one EU country would lead to an evaporation of trust in banks,” he says. “If investors aren’t willing to invest in banks anymore, then many banks will go bust in months, not years.” ("Europe's Banks Stressed By Sovereign Debts Regulators Ducked", Bloomberg)

The ECB provides billions of euros per week to maintain the illusion that the market is wrong about the true value of the sovereign bonds. But the market is not wrong, the ECB is wrong. The value of Greek bonds (for example) has dropped precipitously. They are worth less, which means the banks need to take a haircut and write down the losses. More liquidity merely hides the problem.

This is from Reuters:

"Despite the open-arms approach, outstanding ECB lending has fallen more than a third since the start of July to 592 billion euros.... Liquidity remains abundant though. Over 120 billion euros was deposited back at the ECB overnight, the latest figures show."

So, overnight deposits are increasing because the wholesale funding market is on the fritz, while--at the same time--the ECB has had to lend more than half a trillion euros to stabilize the wobbly and under-capitalized banking system. This is progress?

Interbank lending has been falling, but bond yields in the distressed countries continue to rise. That means there's more trouble ahead. It also means Trichet's plan is not working. Time for another bailout.

Trichet has kept the ECB's benchmark lending rate at rock bottom (1%) for 17 months, depriving savers of desperately needed interest income. The policy is designed to increase the yield-curve so the banks can make more money. The low interest rates are not passed on to workers or households (who still pay 18% on their credit cards), but to banks that borrow money at nearly-zero rates. It's another cash giveaway. The policy curtails spending and depresses demand. When savers slash spending, GDP shrinks, and the economy goes into recession. The real economy is being savaged to help the banks pull themselves out of the red.

Trichet has recently joined the Austerians in calling for more belt tightening. Here's a quote:

"With hindsight, we see how unfortunate was the oversimplified message of fiscal stimulus given to all industrial economies under the motto: “stimulate”, “activate”, “spend”! … there is little doubt that the need to implement a credible medium-term fiscal consolidation strategy is valid for all countries now."

Sure, austerity for workers and welfare for the banks. If Trichet is really worried about fiscal deterioration, he should stop diverting capital into broken financial institutions. He should force the banks to seek funding in the markets and stop allowing them to use the ECB as a crutch. That's how the system is supposed to work.

This is from Calculated Risk:

"Was there much sovereign stress in the European bank stress tests?

No...The haircuts are applied to the trading book portfolios only, as no default assumption was considered, which would be required to apply haircuts to the held to maturity sovereign debt in the banking book.” (Calculated Risk)

The stress tests were a fraud. The sovereign debt (bonds) have already slipped in value, but the losses remain concealed behind a wall of ECB liquidity. This is a very nontransparent and corrupt system. Trichet needs to be replaced with someone who is more forthcoming and committed to restoring public confidence.

10-09-07 Sentencing Terrorism Suspects to Death -- Without Trial

Sentencing Terrorism Suspects to Death -- Without Trial

By Anthony D. Romero and Vincent Warren

September 07, 2010 "
Washington Post" - - September 3, 2010 -- Since 2001, the United States has been carrying out "targeted killings" in connection with what the Bush administration called the "war on terror" and the Obama administration calls the "war against al-Qaeda." While many of these killings have been carried out on battlefields in Afghanistan or Iraq, our government has increasingly been employing lethal force in places far removed from any zone of armed conflict, effectively carrying out executions without trial or conviction. Some of the individuals on the government's kill lists are U.S. citizens.

On Monday, our organizations filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of targeted killings that take place outside zones of armed conflict. We did not do this lightly. But we simply cannot accept the proposition that the government should have unchecked authority to carry out extrajudicial killings, including of U.S. citizens, far from any actual battlefield. Nor can we accept the contention that the entire world is a battlefield. In protecting this country from the threat of terrorism, the government cannot jettison the rights that Americans have fought for more than two centuries to safeguard.

In zones of armed conflict, targeted killing can be a lawful tactic. But outside the context of armed conflict, targeted killing is legal only as a last resort and in the face of a truly imminent threat to life -- and then only because the immediacy of the threat makes judicial process infeasible. Outside these narrow circumstances, targeted killing amounts to the imposition of a death sentence without charge, trial or conviction. Notably, Anwar al-Aulaqi, the cleric whose rights are at issue in the lawsuit we filed on Monday, has not been charged with a crime, but he has reportedly been the target of almost a dozen missile strikes in Yemen. While the government might argue that targeted killings in Pakistan along the border regions of Afghanistan are connected to the armed conflict there, it can hardly make that argument with regard to Yemen, which is far removed from any armed conflict.

The danger of dispensing with due process is obvious. Without it, we cannot be assured that the people the government kills are individuals who presented a threat to the country. Indeed, over the past decade, our government has repeatedly labeled men terrorists only to find out later -- or to be told by a federal judge -- that the evidence was overstated, wrong or nonexistent. If we invest the government with unchecked authority to impose death sentences on people who have never been convicted of or even charged with a crime, it is inevitable that innocent people will be executed.

The conduct of our government heavily influences the practices of other countries. The United States would in all likelihood not endorse the authority it claims for targeted killings if it were asserted by other countries. Americans would surely be appalled if another country claimed the right to send a drone after a declared enemy in Wyoming.

The government has the tools it needs to address the threat posed by suspected terrorists, including Americans, who find refuge in other countries. It can indict suspected terrorists and seek their extradition. It can seize their assets. It can share intelligence with other countries so that they can charge and try suspected terrorists. It can provide financial and technical support to other countries' law enforcement and intelligence services. In a truly extraordinary case, the government may have no choice but to use lethal force to address a threat that is both grave and imminent. But if we are to preserve anything resembling the rule of law, the government's authority to use lethal force against its own citizens must be limited to such grave and imminent threats.

The Obama administration's program of targeted killings appears to be far broader than the law permits. The administration has refused to disclose crucial information -- such as the standard under which individuals are added to kill lists, the circumstances in which individuals may be targeted outside the context of armed conflict, and the number of Americans on the lists. According to news reports, names are added to kill lists after a secret bureaucratic process, and at least some names have been on the lists for months. Whatever else may be said about this approach, it is plainly not limited to individuals who present an imminent threat.

Many Americans rightly reacted with alarm when the Bush administration claimed worldwide authority to detain suspected terrorists -- including U.S. citizens -- without charge or trial. We should react with similar if not stronger alarm to the Obama administration's claim of worldwide authority to kill suspected terrorists without charge or trial. A wrongly imprisoned suspect may eventually be set free. But there is no recourse from a missile.

Anthony D. Romero is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Vincent Warren is executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights.