Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. for Human Rights Abuses

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The International Human Rights Law Clinic filed a petition against the United States for the death of a Mexican national by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The complaint, filed with co-counsel Alliance San Diego before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, calls for an investigation into the killing and a condemnation of U.S. actions.

The deceased, Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, died on May 31, 2010, a few days after border agents took him into custody. The father of five was caught trying to cross the Mexican-U.S. border to rejoin his family in San Diego. He’d been deported just weeks earlier, despite having lived and worked in the U.S. for more than two decades.

CBP agents transported Anastasio to a deportation gate, and it’s there that the brutal beating ensued. As Anastasio objected to his detention, a dozen or more border agents punched, kicked, dragged, Tased, hogtied, and denied him medical attention, according to the petition.

Immobilized on the ground, Anastasio cried out for help in Spanish. His cries drew the attention of witnesses standing on a nearby pedestrian bridge, and several onlookers recorded cell phone footage. Border agents sought to confiscate any evidence—but two eye-witnesses hid their phones and eventually released videos of the beating. Broadcast on U.S. news networks, the videos led to a public outcry and heightened scrutiny of the case.

Read the full story on the UC Berkeley Law School website.

Join the Justice for Anastasio movement here.

Trump Exposes Republican Anti-Abortion Strategy

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Read the full op-ed published by the San Francisco Chronicle on April 6, 2016.

Donald Trump is an unmitigated disaster for the Republican Party. It’s not just that he’s ruining their chances to win the presidency. It’s also that he has exposed the party’s hypocrisy on abortion.

When Trump said women should receive “some form of punishment” for getting an abortion if the procedure was banned, conservatives were quick to denounce his comments. Ditto the right-to-life advocates.

But Trump’s comment reveals the truth about the Republican Party’s antiabortion juggernaut.

Laws in 38 states now allow a person to be charged with homicide if she or he is deemed responsible for the unlawful death of a fetus, according to a Guttmacher Institute report by analyst Andrea Rowan released last fall.

Not all of these laws clearly exempt the pregnant woman herself from being charged, writes Rowan. “These laws are even being used to pursue women who are merely suspected of having self-induced an abortion, but in fact had suffered miscarriages.”

In Indiana, a young woman named Purvi Patel is now serving 20 years of a 46-year prison sentence — the first woman to be convicted under Indiana’s feticide law for ending her own pregnancy.

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Consumers Fooled by Clickbait

Consumers are easily duped by ads masquerading as editorials, according to a new paper by Chris Jay Hoofnagle and Eduard Meleshinsky. Their research shows that these “native ads,” better known as advertorials or clickbait, are becoming harder to differentiate from actual news content. Yet they’re proliferating online at a rapid rate.

Hoofnagle and Meleshinsky surveyed nearly 600 consumers with a typical advertorial embedded in a blog. They found that one in four respondents thought it was written by a reporter or an editor. Although the ad was marked “sponsored content,” it failed to raise a red flag.

Read a longer version of this article on the UC Berkeley School of Law website.

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DWTS: A Love of Dance

I wasn’t an early fan of Dancing With the Stars (DWTS). Apart from the pros, the show was a mixed bag. But what a surprise when I tuned in again in 2014 season 18 and caught the semi-finals with pro Maks Chmerkovskiy and Olympic skater Meryl Davis. Wow! Those two simply sizzled. Not because of their stellar good looks, but because of the way they moved as one. The dancing and choreography were extraordinary. Only a few dance partnerships have that magic. You know it when you see it: Nureyev and Fonteyn; Maks and Meryl.

After falling under the spell of those two, I was eager to see the following seasons. The first few weeks are typically mediocre, as stars get their footing. But by the semi-finals the talented shine. Pros Mark Ballas and Derek Hough are the choreographers to watch. Some of their dances are so creative, it’s hard to believe it’s just TV and not Broadway.

At the start of the recent season 21, Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter lacked verve, but by the final competition, he emerged as a spirited competitor—and a charismatic dancer. One of my favorites was his salsa trio with pros Sharna Burgess and Peta Murgatroyd. He didn’t win the mirror ball trophy, but he owned that number. Take a look:

India Fails Female Victims of Sex Crimes

In India, female victims of sexual violence during social unrest have little chance of retribution. Authors of a new report found that most politicians, judges, police officers, and state officials sabotage women seeking justice. Access to Justice for Women: India’s Response to Sexual Violence in Conflict and Social Upheaval looks at India’s failed responses to these women and calls for legal reforms.

The underlying causes of conflict in areas of India are complex, but stem in part from the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. That split exacerbated conflicts between Hindu and Muslim communities—and inflamed deeply rooted cultural and political tensions.

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Michele Roberts: An inspiration

On a fall day at UC Berkeley, I left campus utterly inspired, and it wasn’t from class. It was from talks by Michele Roberts, a respected litigator and the first woman to lead the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). She spoke candidly at a morning coffee with law students about her tough childhood, her youthful aspirations, and a legal career that proved her mettle.

Accepting a citation award later that day, she shared a story about one of her early criminal cases: a young prostitute she helped get off the street and go back to school. It’s a tale that, in the telling, moved her to tears, reminding her of her own hardscrabble road to the top.

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Law School Offers ‘Anti-MOOC’ Online Course

UC Berkeley School of Law is offering its first official online ed course for practicing attorneys worldwide.  Here’s a shortened version of a story I wrote about the program:
Bill Fernholz stares into a video camera a few feet away as an assistant dabs powder on his face to blunt the harsh light. It wasn’t how he’d imagined himself teaching when he joined the UC Berkeley Law School faculty 14 years ago, but it’s become second nature to him now. Welcome to the world of online education.
Fernholz teaches Fundamentals of U.S. Law, the school’s first official online course. It reflects a carefully planned move to offer select courses online—initially for foreign attorneys with international caseloads.Why the leap online? Approximately 6.7 million higher education students were taking at least one online course in fall 2011, an increase of 570,000 students from the previous year.
 

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Ballet: Behind the Scenes

Injuries are a part of life for endurance trainers at any age. For mature athletes, it can be a ritual of daily exercise, stretches, massage, and more, just to stay in the game. One way to salvage sore muscles is to roll out on a foam roller.

Now the NYT shows us in beautiful photos by New York City corps de ballet dancer Devin Alberda that even principal ballerinas find relief with foam. In these captivating series of shots, dancer Janie Taylor rolls out her quads; dancer Ashley Laracey rubs her neck; and Jenelle Manzi gets a massage.

It’s a world we rarely see. We don’t see the years of training and grueling work-outs these dancers must endure; we don’t see the physical sacrifices. Most of us only see the stunning performances of these athletes as they dance across stage—and into our hearts. For balletomanes, dance is the universal expression of emotion and awe.

Watch NYC ballet dancers Maria Kowroski and Ask la Cour dance “After the Rain,” choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. The company calls it a “testament to the resilience of the human spirit.”

Team Raises Money for Cancer Research

“It’s a cure from hell,” my aunt said, as she described her son Tim’s bone marrow transplant. “No, it’s worse than that,” she added. Tim was diagnosed with leukemia some 15 years ago. He survived after surgery on “true grit.”

But it takes more than courage to survive. It takes medical care and therapy. It takes scientists, doctors, and research labs to find the cures and treatments for blood cancers. It takes financial support.

Enter Team in Traning, an endurance sports charity program under the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It’s dedicated to raising money for blood cancer research and patient care.

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West Coast Swing Jack & Jill Dance Competition

The West Coast Swing dance community is so rich in talent, it’s hard to showcase just one signature dancer. Amateur competitions are held up and down the California coast, from novice to advanced. One of my favorites is called “Jack & Jill”: dancers put their names in a hat and compete on the spot with a randomly chosen partner.

The results are delightful, creative, and unexpected. The top couples are in sync with each other and the music, while the choreography often takes a surprising turn.

Here are Jack & Jill Champions Patty Vo and Kyle Redd at the Reno Dance Sensation in 2007. It takes them :30 seconds to get started—but it’s worth the wait.

Hero: A Sheriff’s Volunteer

Armed robbers shot my friend’s brother-in-law, a volunteer with a sheriff’s dept., as he rushed to the aid of a fellow cop.  Sixty-three year old Philip Grigg a father and grandfather, now clings to life in a Phoenix hospital.

On December 31, a gray and cold day, Grigg, a tractor-trailer driver, hopped into his truck — probably on his way to a local market, according to his wife.

But on the way, a car driven by armed robbers fleeing a patrol car crashed into Grigg’s pickup. Grigg watched as Officer Scott Sefranka pulled up to arrest the men. But when Sefranka struggled, Grigg jumped out to help. In a flash, one of the alleged suspects, Roger Sharp, grabbed Sefranka’s gun and fired. He hit both men—at close range.

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