Saturday, March 26, 2011

Radiation and the Big L: Liability that is

The terrible tragedy of Japan’s failed nuclear reactors continues at this writing, and raises questions that nearly everyone alive would like answered. Each nation and geographic area has its own stories and concerns, from broken monitoring equipment in California to Germany’s announced decision not to develop nuclear power further. Then, we have a couple reactors sitting on a fault line-California again, close to mega population centers. And France, unfortunately, deep into nuclear power. Boy, what a good time to be in Norway. And time for a re-think? You betcha.

I was a bit curious, and had already been looking into the international law of the environment for other research and writing reasons. So I turned around and grabbed the book, International Law of the Environment, edited by Patricia Birnie, Alan Boyle and Catherine Redgwell, Oxford University Press (2009). Here are some of my resulting notes, in case you are interested.

State responsibility for nuclear-related damage is found under two different theories. The first is strict or absolute responsibility, which makes a State responsible for damages caused, purely on the basis of the ultra-hazardous character of nuclear installations. The point of this, from a litigation standpoint, is that States would have the role of guarantors for the operators and companies that caused the damage. The burden of proof would fall on the State, therefore, to show that it should not be held liable. However, as Birnie et al. note, ‘Conventions are still considered weak’ (517).

The second theory is that the State is liable for a breach of their obligation, which is diligent control. Under this theory, there is no discussion of fault, and so this approach eliminates the need to discuss the subjective elements of intention or recklessness. Despite this, there does seem to be a difference in the treatment of damages due to, for example, dumping, and those due to unintended releases.

In 1990, the IAEA established the Standing Committee on Liability for Nuclear Damage. This resulted in suggestions to revise the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. Some States agreed that strong revisions were needed, while others were opposed, stalemating effective action in important areas. What was agreed was that a publicly-funded compensation scheme should be implemented. The State with the problem installation would provide limited funding to that, while other States would contribute, “up to a ceiling.” Birnie et al. cite the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage,


as well as the “2004 Protocol to the Paris Convention”

( ).

To conclude, the authors forecast that, due to uncertainty in the prevailing laws, parties to a new problem would turn to the schemes outlined in these agreements, and noted, also, that “non-party claims are possible” (520).

So where’s this Fund? And when is Japan going to put some new money into it?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Financial Regulation & Debt Reduction Time Now

Dear Reader,

Banking Regulation and Debt Reduction. Sound interesting to you? I didn’t think so. Not to the average reader, anyway. Yet, little, it seems, could be more important than that serious banking regulation take place in the U.S. (Eeeks, the new and old financiers are muttering). In fact, it should also take place in Europe. (Errrr, the Europeans are muttering.). It should also take place in Asia. (Mmmm, the Chinese are muttering.) But shouldn’t the U.S. lead the way? Of course, it should: it’s also responsible in many ways for popularizing the sorts of Mobius-strip financial ‘instruments’ that don’t belong in anyone’s bank anywhere.

Here, Time takes a look at the new CFPB – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. http/,8599,2056587,00.html.  Great article.

Of course, the CFPB is supposed to be an effective organization, ready to take on the banks and protect individuals. Can it do that? Mmm, say the Senators, it sounds suspiciously effective; we think we should gut its budget. I refer to the article at Huffington Post of this week, “Top Republican: ‘Senate May Approve Elisabeth Warren for CFPB,” March 1, 2011: http/

But as for Elisabeth Warren, who has the perfect credentials for the job of directing the CFPB and who has not been confirmed yet, the Senators, are saying, 'Mmm, she’s perhaps not our preferred candidate.’ What a bunch of hooey; what Americans should ask is whether these Senators are the sorts of persons who will protect their individual, personal rights and expectations, and answer that question by tossing the whole lot of them out as soon as possible. Those who can be spared are working on a debt reduction plan, Senators Chambliss, Warner and others: http/

Elisabeth Warren, who chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel created to investigate the U.S. financial meltdown and identify responsible parties and nasty behavior, is the only proper person to head the CFPB organization. She is the one and only right person, and she should be confirmed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, as the HP points out in their article, the banks are holding their breath, none to happy for what may happen when the CFPB begins to work. And the newly-radicalized American Chamber of Commerce has the gall to stall. Meanwhile, “if a permanent director is not confirmed by July, the agency will lose jurisdiction over payday lenders and some mortgage companies.”

This stalemate is hurting the effectiveness of the new laws designed to govern financial behavior. Even the executive branch is stalling on debt reduction, while Congress dedicates itself to decimating the last vestiges of civilized society by further gutting social program budgets, and refusing to participate in debt reduction.

I don't think this is an easy situation, but I would expect those in a position to do something about it to embrace the chance to make a positive difference, rushing to confirm Elisabeth Warren and get the CFPB going as soon as possible, protecting social service budgets, and creating a debt reduction plan that would pass with flying colors. What? What?

Politics is terribly dirty business, but this has to be something that everyone can agree to: save the financial stability of the United States, as well as its ability to serve those in need. Is this something Americans would disagree about? No. Is this something anyone is doing something about, i.e. actually doing something about? Apparently not.

Such a chance - to do the right things. Such a shame - everybody’s pointing and shuffling.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

English Language Learning Resources Online and Free

Posted on February 15, 2011 at 11:18 PM on my website:

Professional academic quality instructional materials for learning English are plentiful on the internet, but many are not free of charge to the general inquirer. As a result, it can be frustrating to attempt a more comprehensive approach to self-education efforts.

This note is simply to point out some great resources for learning English online, including a small handful for (1) grammar, (2) pronunciation or oral speech development, and (3) listening comprehension and vocabulary development.

In the grammar category, I have to mention the work of Dr. Charles Darling, may he rest in peace. During his years teaching English at Capital Community College in the northeastern U.S., he developed a 'Guide to Grammar and Writing' that, as they say, 'took on a life of its own.' His clever contexting of materials, with easy-to-use quizzes, tips and comments, make learning written English (and grammar) about as pleasurable for a non-English native as it could possibly be. This is found at  The top page is the dedication to his work, and requests donations. The site access is free and supported by private donations and the college itself. Click on the title "Guide to" and you will soon be involved in a wide array of exercises, rules, tips, quizzes and games.

In the area of English pronunciation, I would refer those interested to  There are specialized word combinations to practice, and the site also includes vocabulary and grammar guidance, listening possibilities with mp3 files, and more. The site is the property of Charles Kelly and Lawrence Kelly, who appear to be as interesting as their compilations on English.

For general and business English listening and development, for those with an interest in the U.S., I would highly recommend any of the regular programs found at National Public Radio,
. From the Programs menu, select All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Talk of the Nation, or another program. In the humor area, hardest for a non-native speaker to appreciate, Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, is a fun and interesting program, as is A Prairie Home Companion. In the radio essay category, select This American Life, produced by PRI.

For British English language learning, one will find an interesting and continually updated approach at the BBC's radio-related website, "Business Language to Go."

This includes radio spots on various topics, some video tutorials, as well as business English listening, vocabulary and pronunciation builders. The stories featured are interesting and timely, and the language learning materials professionally produced, including mp3 files, transcript downloads, vocabulary lists, pronunciation audios and more.

So, looking to learn English online? Good luck! Have fun! These materials should help you to make it so.

Mandatory E-filing of IRS forms for Tax Preparers

Posted on February 13, 2011 at 7:02 AM at my website:

Here's a quick entry to share information with other U.S. tax preparers - persons who are doing business as professional preparers of tax forms - who prepare Internal Revenue Service forms for others. Alright, you know who you are.
Mandatory e-filing of IRS forms isn't just coming. It's here! Starting this year, 2011, tax preparers who expect to prepare 100 or more returns for clients must e-file. Beginning in 2012, tax preparers who expect to prepare as few as 10 returns for clients must e-file.
The IRS link to the announcement is shown here:,,id=223832,00.html .

To e-file, a preparer must "create an e-filing account." This process starts here:,,id=222533,00.html .

Got it? or Get it!

Networking Nordic Attorneys

Posted on February 9, 2011 at 6:59 AM at my website

For those interested, here is a quick tip for legal networking options in the Nordic countries: LinkedIn’s group, "Nordic Lawyers and other Legal Professionals."
LinkedIn continues its meteoric climb in the social media field, specifically directed at connecting business professionals. As to the Nordic Lawyers group, they have both professional and personal links, remarks, discussions. The language of postings is what have you: Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, English. They all work.
You will find the main group at: They are also beginning a new blogger-assembly project, through blogspot. For those interested, and to begin to connect, here is that link:

As always, to better networking, understanding, harmonization and the rule of law,

ESTA program sends expiration note by e-mail

Posted on February 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM at my own website:

Topic: The ESTA program - which is used by non-visa non-Americans required to register when they are planning to travel to the U.S.

Sub-topic: The ESTA program's reminder

I thought I should publish a short note to let those interested know that, although the ESTA online registration process may have its challenges in the user-friendliness category, it scores well for (1) knowing what date you registered last, and (2) notifying you by e-mail 30 days before your registration is about to expire with useful information.
The notification would remain a problem for anyone who has not continued to use the same e-mail address with which they registered with ESTA earlier. We do have a tendency to move, change employers, etcetera.
Thus, if you are registering online with ESTA for the first time, I suggest that you use an e-mail address that you can plan (in advance) to continue to use, regardless of changes in employer, internet service provider, etcetera. Examples of such:, (Google), or

Other tips are appreciated - feel free to e-mail me with your ESTA story, problem or solution.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hacking Big and Small

Dear Blogger Reader,  I recently had my website hacked - surprisingly, as I'm a pretty 'small fish' in a big pond.  At any rate, I have an ongoing blog at my website, only recently spreading into Blogger territory.  Here, I share my latest posting:


Dear Blog Reader,
They are hacking big and small.
They are hacking one and all.
They are hacking high and low.
They are hacking fast and slow.
They are hacking you and me.
If you don’t know it, you shall see.

Dear Blog Reader, Please accept my
Best apologies for saying ‘Nei,’ to
Reader comment uploading, you see,
I’ve been hacked – laid low by ... thievery.

Deceptively, one could abuse my home page.
How, I’m not sure, but instead turn to words sage:
“When the cat’s away, the mice will play,”
Although in France, I hear they “dance.”

So if you’d like to comment on my post,
I promise to be an appreciative host,
And consider your remarks by e-mail,
Sent to me which, as a (mouse) tail,
Can be added to my meritorious matter,
For development, discussion ... er, or chatter.

Thus, do I dispense (in part) with the fine art,
Silly web-trickery and muggery that is our age, post partum.

©June Edvenson
Please request permission  -required for reproduction or further publication

Monday, January 3, 2011

15 Good Things to Celebrate in a Bad Year |

I have written in the past my own compilations of this sort, but Ms. Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK, and Global Exchange, has done a fair job, in my opinion, in her article, posted at Michael Moore's website under "Open Mike."

It is hard to argue that these 15 items are bad, overall, in a world only growing smaller and more co-dependent. Recommending this to any readers that stroll my way.
-June Edvenson

15 Good Things to Celebrate in a Bad Year