Google’s Gmail Practices Open Up Questions About Privacy

Google is far and away the biggest web company in the world, and its Gmail service has lately come under intense scrutiny for its privacy practices. A recent YouTube video mocking Gmail became a viral sensation; clearly, people are unhappy with Google's policies: "Gmail Man" shows a mail man going through the mail he carries. This seems outrageous and absurd, as people in the video repeatedly point out. But it is what Google regularly does to your e-mail - it scans messages sent from non-Gmail accounts to Gmail inboxes, scans for keywords, and then sells that information to advertisers. This is unsettling on many levels, and it's made to look all the more absurd when put into context in the...

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Transparency In Food Safety

The Louisiana Department of Health & Hospitals recently launched a website focused on cleanliness and sanitation in our food industry. "Eat Safe Louisiana" is its tag, and as John Pope wrote today in The Times-Picayune in his write-up of the new site: "Instead of evaluating the products on the plate, the website lets diners know about the cleanliness of the environments in which these dishes are created - the conditions of the sinks and garbage receptacles, for instance, as well as the temperature of the dishwashers and freezers, the status of the plumbing and employee compliance with hand-washing regulations." (read the complete article here) The principal goal of the site is to provide consumers with information to which they would...

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Public Opinion Of Congress At Historic Low

We're all aware of the recent talks about the debt ceiling in this country and how polarizing these talks have become. What's surprising is that somehow Americans have come together to reach an overwhelming consensus: We're unhappy with Congress. A recent New York Times/CBS poll revealed that 82% of Americans disapprove of the job Congress has done. This is the highest percentage in the history of the poll, which dates back to 1977. As originally reported by the New York Times: "More than four out of five people surveyed said that the recent debt-ceiling debate was more about gaining political advantage than about doing what is best for the country." (read the rest of the original article here) These are...

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‘Hot Coffee’ Raises Important Questions About Justice

Our office recently viewed Hot Coffee, a great HBO documentary that questions many things we've come to assume about our civil justice system. Nearly everybody has heard of the McDonald's "Coffee Case", but what's amazing is how few people are aware of the facts of this case.  Hot Coffee begins by shedding light on the case and its aftermath.  The case has been the source of joking and outrage, mocked as the epitome of an overly litigious culture.  Popular opinion has it that Stella Liebeck, the plaintiff in the case, spilled some McDonald's coffee on herself while driving and subsequently "hit the jackpot" by suing McDonald's and winning several million dollars.  This opinion is nowhere near the truth, as the...

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