Gongol.com Archives: January 2007
Brian Gongol

January 17, 2007

Threats and Hazards How terrorism and online crime come together
The relentless use of phishing attacks by foreign crooks is just one example of how the bad guys are keeping up with technology

Iowa Is this really education reform?
Bill before the Iowa House (HF 21) talks a lot about "learning communities" and and "talent development", but will more state-level intervention actually mean that more Iowa kids will graduate from high school with higher college-entrance exam scores, higher literacy rates, and better prospects to be self-sufficient adults?

Aviation News Virgin America hopes public pressure will reverse rules on airline ownership
Rules protecting US airlines against foreign competition may have outlived their usefulness.

Health Two new hospitals to be built in West Des Moines
And thus West Des Moines and Des Moines come one step closer to becoming like the Twin Cities

Humor and Good News Donald Rumsfeld's new resume

Water News Ethanol industry close to producing 10% of all US gas

Iowa Who says money can't buy justice?
Bill before the Iowa House (HSB-1) would raise raise hourly rates for defense attorneys handling Class A felony cases (like murder) for the indigent to $70 per hour. This is also the state where jurors get $10 a day. Median household income in Iowa is $64,341, making $10-a-day jury pay not only insulting but also dangerous to the concept of a jury of one's peers...and way back in 1991, the average attorney's fee was $108.00 per hour -- that's before counting 16 years of inflation -- making $75 an hour today much too low for adequate representation. Iowa has too many disincentives for good justice. One of the cruellest things a government can do is to assume people will do things out of the goodness of their hearts, and to take advantage of that goodness -- like underpaying jurors, public defense attorneys, or enlisted members of the armed forces. By failing to adequately compensate jurors -- even if the maximum term of service is normally a week -- Iowa effectively excludes huge categories of people from serving as jurors, or creates enormous personal hardships for doing so. Public-sector employees can afford to take the time off to serve (because the government will typically make up the difference between jury pay and regular pay). Retirees can take time off to serve, because there's little or no opportunity cost to their time. Employees of certain large employers can take time off, because some big firms will pay the difference between jury pay and regular pay, just like the government will. But for people managing small businesses, or working in sales, or doing high-skill professional work (like surgeons), and many others, there's a preponderance of incentive to get out of jury duty any way possible -- because not doing so would endanger their livelihood. And that's not justice, either.

Broadcasting People appearing on reality TV must be brain-dead
The "Big Brother" TV phenomenon continues in the UK, where a couple of morons have taken to sharing their racism with the world by abusing a co-contestant from India

Iowa Hammer comes down on CIETC officials
A bunch of people could be facing huge fines and massive amounts of jail time on charges of embezzlement and fraud. Meanwhile, the Iowa House is looking at covering board members' butts if they rely on reports from people within the non-profit organizations they oversee (HSB-4).

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