Editor’s Choice: Top Five Legal News Stories of the Day
Here are some news we though you’d enjoy.
- Be ready, Texas!Tropical storm Don is sweeping through the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall today or early tomorrow near Corpus Christi. Forecasters are warning that the storm could get stronger before that.
In anticipation of the storm, major oil and gas companies have slowed or stopped production in the Gulf to protect workers and avoid an environmental disaster – like the 2010 oil spill. On the upside, Don is expected to bring at least 3 to 5 inches of much needed rain for sun scorched areas in Texas and Mexico.
- Fort Hood in the cross-hairs again.Naser Jason Abdo, a private in the US Army, went AWOL from his station in Kentucky and made his way to Fort Hood in Texas. When he got there, he bought ammunition, gun power and other materials for his own special mission: He intended to explode bombs at a restaurant popular with Fort Hood personnel. The plan also included shooting survivors after the bomb blasts.
Strangely, and luckily, the plot was foiled because the owner of the store where Abdo bought his materials became suspicious and called the police. It’s the same store where Army Major Nidal Hasan bought supplies before his shooting rampage at Fort Hood. Abdo condemned the shooting as being against his Muslim beliefs back in 2009.
Abdo complained last year of religious harassment and discrimination during basic training because of his Muslim beliefs. Perhaps that mistreatment, coupled with the Army’s refusal to grant him conscientious objector status (he went AWOL to avoid deployment to Afghanistan), led him to choose the same general target as Hasan.
- Superheroes – and their super profits – belong to Marvel.A federal court in New York just decided that Marvel Worldwide Inc. is the true, one-and-only and legal owner of famous comic book characters such as Iron Man, Spiderman, the X-Men and others. The heirs of the artist who created the characters argued that they owned the characters. The court disagreed.
The heirs claimed that they were entitled to copyrights in the characters, giving them the exclusive right to use the characters, or to sell others the right or “license” to use them in books, television shows and movies. The judge relied a great deal on the artists’ own statements made when he was alive that he didn’t own the characters or any copyrights in them. Why would he say that? Because back in the 1950′s when he created the characters, it was understood that the company who hired an artist owned what he created.
And that’s the general rule even today. Unless you and your employer have an agreement saying otherwise, anything you create while performing your job – manuals, software, news articles, etc. - belongs to your employer. Want to know more about copyrights and other intellectual property?
- FBI agents help look for missing 11-year-old.. Celina Cass was last seen at home, using a computer this past Monday evening. On Tuesday morning she was gone. There was no sign of a struggle in the home, no sign of forced entry and, up until now, no one thought she was the “type” to run away.
Unlike Casey Anthony, Celina’s mother called the police immediately. Local police and volunteers have been looking for her ever since, and child abduction specialists from the FBI just joined the team. According to investigators, as well as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, some of the problems in the case include:
- Celina’s age, which makes it unlikely that she’s a runaway
- The fact that she was using a computer just before her disappearance
- The fact that her home in Stewartstown, New Hampshire, is about one mile from the US-Canada border
A missing child is every parent’s nightmare, and as distressing as it is, Celina’s case serves as a lesson that parents should take steps to prevent child abduction. It may even be a good idea to monitor our children’s online activities to make sure no one’s trying to take advantage of them.
Everyone hopes Celina is found soon – and safe.
- Get your checkbooks out, Massachusetts! The state just re-launched the cash-for-appliances program. It’s designed to get consumers to buy new, energy efficient appliances and get rid of their energy-guzzling ones. The program was a success in Massachusetts – and many other states – in 2010. The new program, however, is limited to refrigerators and room air conditioners, but the state expects to pay out about $2 million in rebates.
Will other states follow the lead? No one can say for sure, of course, but it seems unlikely if you consider:
- Most states are struggling with their budgets and deficits and can’t afford to give back millions in revenue
- California recently lowered its popular rebate for electric cars, mainly because of budget concerns
Still, take advantage of a program if one comes to your state. It can save you money when you buy a qualifying product and later down the road on your energy bills.
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