Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Copyright Law : Google Books : Google is sued by Chinese author Mian Mian, China's Literary Wild Child : Sex Drugs Rock & Roll

Everybody is now getting into the act of suing search engines for including scanned excerpts of their books in search results. See, for example:

BBC News - Google is sued by Chinese author Mian Mian

My own book, Stars, Stones and Scholars is found at Google Books and I am very pleased about it, since it makes that book much more accessible to millions of potential readers. Indeed, links are offered to major online booksellers where the book can be purchased. Below is a scan of the front cover website page at Google Books of Stars Stones and Scholars by Andis Kaulins:


People who are interested in the book's amazing subject matter buy the book.

European Union EU approves Microsoft ballot screen for choice of browsers

The European Union (EU) has approved a Microsoft ballot screen for choosing web browsers.

As Peter Sayer writes at PCAdvisor.co.uk:
"The EU has accepted Microsoft's 'ballot screen' offer, which will allow Windows users to choose the web browser they want, ending the commission's antitrust investigation."

Monday, November 30, 2009

European Union Developments : Javier Solana to Step Down as Lisbon Treaty Enters Force : British Catherine Ashton to Become EU Foreign Minister

Javier Solana is going into retirement on the day, December 1, 2009, that the Lisbon Treaty is to go into forcee and the British Catherine Ashton will become the "first" EU Foreign Minister.

See the article by Andrew Rettman:
EUobserver / EU's quiet diplomat steps aside after 10 years

The European Union EU Lisbon Treaty enters into force December 1, 2009

The European Union EU Lisbon Treaty enters into force December 1, 2009.

See e.g.
Grahnlaw.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EU EUobserver Online Content and Creative Rights Conference in Brussels takes place on the 1st of December 2009

The 4th annual EUobserver Online Content and Creative Rights Conference will take place in Brussels on the 1st of December 2009, 14:00 - 17:30 CET, at the Musical Instruments Museum, Montagne de la Cour Hofberg 2, B-1000 Bruxelles.

See the Programme .pdf.

The EUObserver writes:
"The December gathering in Brussels will bring together European artists, industry representatives, consumers and lawmakers to debate these issues. Managing creative content online will be one of the major policy challenges for the new European Commission and European Parliament over the next five years."
The confirmed cast of speakers can be viewed here.
An early bird ticket pass to the conference currently costs a discounted 90 €.

See also EUobserver - Conferences

Thursday, November 05, 2009

European Union "Constitutional" Lisbon Treaty now ratified by All 27 EU Member States as Czech Republic signs the Lisbon Treaty on November 3, 2009

European Union "Constitutional" Lisbon Treaty now ratified by All 27 EU Member States as Czech Republic signs the Lisbon Treaty on November 3, 2009

posted at

LawPundit - Law Technology IP Media Politics Sports Lifestyle

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First European Prize for Literature Awarded in 2009 to Authors From 12 Countries - 23 to Follow in 2010 and 2011

The first European Prize for Literature, "[a] European Prize for emerging talents in the field of contemporary fiction", was awarded September 28, 2009, to 12 authors from 12 European countries - with 12 more authors from 12 other European countries to be selected in 2010, and 11 more authors from the remaining 11 other European countries to be selected in 2011. The announcing press release stated:
"The names of twelve European authors to receive the first ever European Union Prize for Literature were announced today by the European Commission, the European Booksellers Federation (EBF), the European Writers' Council (EWC) and the Federation of European Publishers (FEP).... In recognition of his oeuvre and literary success Henning Mankell, the well-known and bestselling Swedish author, has accepted the role of Ambassador of the European Union Prize for Literature for this year." [links added by this blog]
The idea, at the onset of this award, is for the prize to work as a medium of activation for European culture and to "highlight and promote the full diversity of European literature." After each European country has been honored at least once, the award is likely to be reduced to only a few authors, but from our point of view we definitely find the current process to be far more favorable. Very few books, in spite of their literary quality, span all cultures, so that a limited award necessarily involves national prejudices as to content, style and language.

For example, a universally-acclaimed book - not eligible for this award -like the 1995 Der Vorleser (The Reader) by German law professor and judge Bernhard Schlink is very rare. It was the first German book ever to reach the top of the New York Times Best-Seller Lists and last year the book was even made into a very successful Hollywood movie - The Reader. But most fiction is limited by the audience of the nation in which the author is located.

This European literary award was presented at a gala ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, attended by ca. 800 dignitaries, including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

The works that received the prize are detailed at this .pdf.

Hat tip to Leigh Phillips at the EU Observer.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Results of the German National Elections, Sunday, September 27, 2009

The German national elections, held every four years, were held yesterday, Sunday, September 27, 2009.

There were some changes, but in stable Germany, such changes are seldom earth-shaking, even if the currently ruling grand coalition of the left and the right was deposed.

As written by Geir Mouslon and Kirsten Grieshaber of the Associated Press (AP) in Merkel vows quick deal on German coalition:
"Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Monday to have a new center-right German government in place by the time Germany marks 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9. She said tax cuts were possible in 2011, but rejected spending cutbacks that might strangle an incipient economic recovery.

Voters on Sunday ended the conservative Merkel's right-left "grand coalition" and gave her a comfortable center-right majority — thanks to a strong performance by her new government ally, the business-oriented Free Democrats."
Prior to this election, a compromise-necessitated grand coalition (grosse Koalition) of the right-wing Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU) and the left-wing Social Democrats formed the German government with Angela Merkel of the CDU as the German Chancellor.

However, because the grand coalition joined up Germany's two largest political parties in the national government - even though they sometimes had diametrically opposed policies, the grand coalition was a coalition of political expediency rather than a merger of ideas. That has changed somewhat since yesterday.

In Sunday's elections, the Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU, the right-leaning party/parties) obtained 33.8% of the vote (down 1.4% from the year 2005), the Free Democrats (FDP, the centrist liberal party, business-friendly) garnered 14.6% of the votes (up 4.7% from the year 2005), the more left-leaning Social Democrats (SPD) obtained 23% of the vote (down 11.2% from the year 2005), the Left Party (die Linke) obtained 11.9% of the vote (up 3.2% from the 2005 vote) and the Green Party 10.7% of the vote (an increase of 2.6% over the 2005 elections). The voter turnout of 72% was the lowest since the establishment of the Federal Republic.

What Sunday's vote means in practical terms is that the right-leaning Christian Democrats are able to abandon their grand coalition with the left-leaning Social Democrats and form a government with the more centrist Free Democrats (FDP).

Although their raw combined vote tally is less than 50%, Germany has a threshold level of 5% of the vote for any party to enter Parliament. When the total national vote is cleansed of parties who obtained less than the 5% barrier, then the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats in fact obtained enough votes to form a majority government, with a projected 332 to 290 seat advantage over the opposition parties.

See a video at Deutsche Welle - DW-WORLD.DE on how the German voting system works, explaining the impact of this voting system on the determination of the number of party representatives in the German Bundestag.

See also ACE - The Electoral Knowledge Network - where Michael Krennerich cogently explains the German mixed member proportional voting system:

More info on the election at:
New York Times - Merkel’s Party Claims Victory in Germany by Nicholas Kulish
New York Times - A New Star in German Politics by Nicholas Kulish and Judy Dempsey

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Statement by President Barack Obama on the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh

Statement by President Barack Obama on the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh:
"Michelle and I look forward to welcoming world leaders to the wonderful city of Pittsburgh on September 24th and 25th and we thank the people of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania for opening their city as a showcase to the world.

The Pittsburgh Summit is an important opportunity to continue the hard work that we have done in confronting the global economic crisis, and renewing prosperity for our people. Together, we will review the progress we have made, assess what more needs to be done, and discuss what we can do together to lay the groundwork for balanced and sustainable economic growth. Pittsburgh stands as a bold example of how to create new jobs and industries while transitioning to a 21st century economy. As a city that has transformed itself from the city of steel to a center for high-tech innovation—including green technology, education and training, and research and development—Pittsburgh will provide both a beautiful backdrop and a powerful example for our work. [emphasis added by LawPundit]

It’s important to note how far we have come in preventing a global economic catastrophe. A year ago, our economy was in a freefall. Some economists were predicting a second Great Depression. Immediate action was required to rescue the economy. In the United States, we passed an historic Recovery Act that quickly put money in the hands of working families, and is putting Americans to work all across the country—including in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. That includes companies like East Penn Manufacturing, a third-generation family business which is now building batteries for the hybrid, energy efficient vehicles of the 21st century. That includes Serious Materials manufacturing plant outside of Pittsburgh that was shuttered last year, which is now rehiring the workers who lost their jobs and giving them a new mission: producing some of the most energy-efficient windows in the world. And at medical laboratories in Pittsburgh, scientists are making advances in tissue regeneration, which will help people across the globe, including our troops wounded in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The steps that we have taken to jumpstart growth have also been coordinated with our partners around the world. Industrial production throughout the G20 has either stabilized or is growing. Global trade is expanding. Stresses in financial markets have significantly abated and our financial institutions are raising needed capital.

But all of us must remember that our work is far from complete—not when our people are still looking for work. As the leaders of the world’s largest economies, we have a responsibility to work together on behalf of sustained growth, while putting in place the rules of the road that can prevent this kind of crisis from happening again. To avoid being trapped in the cycle of bubble and bust, we must set a path for sustainable growth while steering clear of the imbalances of the past. That will be a key part of the G20 agenda going forward and the Pittsburgh Summit can be an important milestone in our efforts.

In a place known as the city of bridges, we can come together to advance our common interest in a global recovery, while turning the page to a truly 21st century economy.

By working with our friends and partners from around the world, the U.S. is ready to help lead this effort in Pittsburgh and beyond."

Pittsburgh G-20 Summit Takes Place Today and Tomorrow (September 24 & 25, 2009)

The Pittsburgh G-20 Summit of the world's leading economies takes place today and tomorrow (September 24 & 25, 2009) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (the G-20 - chaired in 2009 by the UK - consists of 19 nations and the European Union - i.e. Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States of America, and the EU).

The Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership (see the photos at that page):
"will welcome world leaders visiting for the Pittsburgh Summit with a diverse array of locally crafted gifts -- many of them hand-made. Unveiled today at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside, the gifts represent the vitality of the Pittsburgh cultural landscape and convey the key role it plays in our region's high quality of life." [emphasis added]
Some eyebrows have been raised about the fact of the Obama administration choosing Pittsburgh as the venue for the summit, but it is definitely one of the most interesting cities in the United States which has made great strides in last decades, marked keenly by the Pittsburgh Steelers as reigning Super Bowl champions.

Gary Shapiro headlines at the Huffington Post that Pittsburgh Model Dramatizes Lessons for G-20 Summit and writes inter alia:
"A recent article in The Economist tracks Pittsburgh's rise from depressed steel town to innovation center. Jobs in the growing fields of bio-science, electronics and nuclear engineering have replaced manufacturing jobs so effectively that Pittsburgh's unemployment rate is nearly two percentage points lower than the national average.

Pittsburgh's experience offers a road map for American cities adjusting to manufacturing downturns and the new realities of the modern global economy. Pittsburgh experienced its manufacturing collapse sooner and more suddenly than the rest of the country, and has had more time to adapt to the new economic reality and thrive." more...

As written at the Wikipedia about Pittsburgh:
"In 2007, Pittsburgh was named "America's Most Livable City" by Places Rated Almanac.[13] Furthermore, in 2009, Pittsburgh was named most livable city in the United States and 29th-most-livable city worldwide by The Economist.[14] ...

The characteristic shape of downtown is a triangular tract carved by the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers, where the Ohio River forms. The city features 151 high-rise buildings,[8] 446 bridges,[9] two inclined railways, and a pre-revolutionary fortification. Pittsburgh is known colloquially as "The City of Bridges" and "The Steel City" for its many bridges and former steel manufacturing base."
During my student days as an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska and before I went on to Stanford Law School, I spent my 1966 summer working in Pittsburgh and residing in the Pittsburgh suburb of Shadyside, so it is nice to see what was actually a "sunny" Pittsburgh neighborhood in "Shadyside" rise to the top of the world scene.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Education and Politics in the United States : The Obama Motivational Speech to American Students and the International Ranking of Universities

Education is the most important undertaking of any country and so it is admirable of President Obama to offer a motivational speech to American students across the nation. If I were a student today - I would be honored to have the U.S. President want to talk to ME.

Those same students today can hear the well-meaning but sometimes misguided opinions of their self-important parents or local officials and gurus at any time - so give the President this one shot to reach a student where others have failed.

Any school or individual that prohibits a student from hearing a message directed to him or her by the President of the United States is practicing a form of tyrannical paternalism that would warm every tyrant's heart. Anyone disagreeing with the content of that message is free to inform the student(s) personally of contrary opinions. That is the American way. Squelching the opportunity to hear is un-American and violates free speech guarantees. Content-chilling thuggery by parents or local or regional school officials is not democracy.

As a political centrist, it is difficult for the LawPundit to understand - as reported by the New York Times - the partisan political stir caused by U.S. President Obama's plan to deliver a motivational speech to American students to start the school year. There is precedent for such a speech, as President George Bush made such a speech in 1991.

There is no excuse for partisan politics here.

The newest results in Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) show that there is room for improvement of American education starting in elementary school. For example, let us take a look at the ranking of mathematics scores of fourth-grade students by participating country in 2007, the most recent published data (500 is the TIMSS "scale average"), where the U.S. is not even in the top 10.
"1. Hong Kong SAR - 607
2. Singapore - 599
3. Chinese Taipei - 576
4. Japan - 568
5. Kazakhstan - 549
6. Russian Federation - 544
7. England - 541
8. Latvia - 537
9. Netherlands - 535
10. Lithuania - 530
11. United States - 529
12. Germany - 525
13. Denmark - 523
14. Australia - 516
15. Hungary - 510
16. Italy - 507
17. Austria - 505
18. Sweden - 503
19. Slovenia 502
20. Armenia - 500
21. Slovak Republic - 496
22. Scotland - 494
23. New Zealand - 492
24. Czech Republic - 486
25. Norway - 473
26. Ukraine - 469
27. Georgia - 438
28. Iran, Islamic Rep. of - 402
29. Algeria - 378
30. Colombia - 355
31. Morocco - 341
32. El Salvador - 330
33. Tunisia - 327
34. Kuwait - 316
35. Qatar - 296
36. Yemen - 224
Nevertheless, showing that the hearts of the elites of the country are in the right place, the United States has the best education in the world at its top universities, but the rest of the educational system is subject to improvement. You can read as much at Education in the United States at the Wikipedia. We quote Mary Faler at Suite101.com in her posting, The State of Education in the United States: Why America is Behind Other Countries:
"In 2002, UNICEF compared public education in twenty four nations around the world: the US ranked 18. Forty years ago America had the highest graduation rate: now America is ranked as the 19th. US 4th grade math grades have remained the same since 1995, while other countries have improved....

American students are holding their own at the elementary level, but as they progress through the system, they fall behind their international counterparts....

To fix the problem political leaders should stand up and pay attention – getting involved goes a long way
.
"
Well, that is what President Obama is doing - standing up, paying attention and getting involved.

As far as university education goes, America leads the world by a massive margin, as proven by an Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU) conducted objectively in Shanghai, China, where Harvard, Stanford and Cal Berkeley in the USA rank 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the world with Cambridge in the UK in 4th place, followed by MIT, Caltech, Columbia, Princeton, and Chicago in the USA 5th through 9th and finally Oxford in the UK 10th. The top 25 are rounded out by the universities at Yale, Cornell, UCLA, San Diego, Penn, Washington (Seattle), Wisconsin (Madison), San Francisco, Tokyo, Johns Hopkins, Michigan, University College of London, Kyoto, ETH Zurich and Toronto (tied). :
"The Academic Ranking of World Universities [1] is compiled by Shanghai Jiao Tong University. The ranking compared 1200 higher education institutions worldwide according to a formula that took into account alumni winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (10 percent), staff winning Nobel Prizes and Fields Medals (20 percent), highly-cited researchers in 21 broad subject categories (20 percent), articles published in Nature and Science (20 percent), the Science Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index (20 percent) and the per capita academic performance (on the indicators above) of an institution (10 percent). The methodology is set out in an academic article by its originators, N.C. Liu and Y. Cheng[2]. Liu and Cheng explain that the original purpose of doing the ranking was to find out the gap between Chinese universities and world-class universities, particularly in terms of academic or research performance.”[3] The rankings have been conducted since 2003 and then updated annually."
There are also special lists there, by the way, for the Top 100 North & Latin American Universities, Top 100 European Universities and Top 100 Asia Pacific Universities.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Standardize Electric Car Batteries so that Drivers can quickly exchange Battery Units at Charging Stations rather than charge a Car's Own Batteries

Are we missing something?

The main problem with electric cars is the rather ridiculous state of affairs that each car has its "own" set of batteries which have to be recharged at charging stations over a considerable period of time, which greatly limits the mobility of electric cars - and greatly impedes their sale.

The solution is simple. Perhaps others have already suggested this solution, but in this case, this is our idea.

There is no reason for drivers to have to recharge "their" batteries. Rather, what needs to be done is to standardize electric car batteries so that the entire battery unit can simply be replaced at charging stations in a matter of minutes, just like filling the gas tank. When car buyers see that electric cars then have practically no mileage limitations, sales of electric cars will skyrocket.

Concerning the Outdated and Backward Study of Law in the European Union

The road to hell is paved with good intentions and that proverb might be applied in principle to a well-meaning press release issued by the law firm Day Pitney announcing their launch of a "summer apprentice program" to replace the firm's previous "summer associate program" (hat tip to Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal).

This virtual misnomer appears to us to perhaps be an outgrowth of the current recession in which the value of young law graduates and law student summer associates has been reduced primarily by the flawed financial policies of law firm partners. As usual, it is the people down the responsibility ladder - as always - who have to bear the brunt of an economic downturn which they had no hand in creating.

We can not speak for others, but the term "Summer Apprentice" for law students doing on-the-job legal training appears to us to be an ill-chosen dysphemism when compared to the previous perhaps euphemistic "Summer Associate" label, especially since a "legal apprentice" or "law apprentice" in the English-speaking world has traditionally been a title reserved for persons who embark on a course of legal study without going to law school and who are as a result of that apprenticeship entitled to take a bar exam without having a law school background.

Nostalgically bringing back the terminology and ideology of an apprenticeship system is in our view a crass step backward in legal education and training since it denigrates that which the best law schools attempt to train in their students - the capacity for critical thinking, a skill so badly lacking in modern society, especially in modern America - and replaces that system with an older and less effective learning system, prevalent in lower quality law schools - where rote learning of laws and procedures is preferred to the type of critical thinking which is required in the top legal echelons of any successful institution or nation.

See our posting at Great Law Schools - "Advice" for Law Students - Socratic Method.

When I go to my family lawyer I am not interested that he can recite a specific case or paragraph accurately from memory. That kind of rote learning is the primary purpose of bar exams and similar examinations and it is a complete waste of time - anyone can look up laws and judicial decisions in the nearest law library. What a lawyer's client requires is someone who can apply a given legal paragraph or case effectively within the legal system - and that is a different kettle of fish. You do not learn that as an apprentice and that is why law schools were created in the first place. Practicing law is not the same as shoemaking - the master/apprentice concept fails.

Although it is of course true that summer associate jobs do in fact give law students practical exposure and training in the law on the legal front lines, this is no reason to call them apprentices, and what a summer associate does in a large law firm is a far cry from the cheap labor supply represented by legal apprentice systems elsewhere around the world.

For example, here in Germany, a legal apprentice is a "Referendar", and law school graduates have to fulfill a mandatory two-year period of practical State training after their law school studies called a "Referendariat". As the Wikipedia writes under jurist:
"In some of Continental Europe, anyone with a degree in law (e.g., a bachelor or master of laws) may be called a jurist. Such jurists can practice law as employees hired by law firms or legal departments of other business entities. Being a jurist does not necessarily mean that one has the privileges usually attributed to "attorney" or "solicitor". In Germany e.g. you do a first Examination ("Erstes Staatsexamen") after four years of University studies. If you pass the Examination you are a "Referendar jur." ("Jurist"). With this you can apply to a two year post-university education called "Referendariat". If you do this, you are employed by a German State Government and work in several positions; normally: judge assistant, assistant to an public prosecutor, civil servant and assistant to a "barrister". Then you have to do a second Examination ("Zweites Staatsexamen"). If you pass it, you are a ("Assessor jur.") ("Volljurist"). With this title, you can apply as a judge, public prosecutor, civil servant or you can work as a Rechtsanwalt ("barrister"). Independently from this, some German universities offer LLM studies, but they do not give anyone the qualification to apply for one of the jobs mentioned above. Alternatively, the LLM degree taken in the US would provide a German qualified lawyer with the opportunity to become a US Attorney."
Moreover, in spite of the fact that German students can study law straight out of high school - a college degree is required for law study in the United States - for anyone in Germany interested in an academic career or law at a higher level of "higher learning", by the time a jurist gets his Dr. iur. in Germany (roughly comparable as a doctoral degree to a J.D.), can be in his 30's and - to my knowledge - it is perhaps a rare law professor in Germany who is hired the younger side of 40. When I graduated from Stanford Law School I was 24 years old and the average age of the graduating class was 28.

The J.D. degree (Juris Doctor viz. Doctor of Jurisprudence), by the way, was developed in the United States as a practical solution to the elevated university education of jurists, a solution which has never been adopted fully in Europe, much to the detriment of legal education in European jurisprudence, which is simply inferior to that practiced in the U.S.A. As the Wikipedia writes under Juris Doctor:
"... Christopher Columbus Langdell, who served as dean of Harvard Law School from 1870 to 1895, dedicated his life to reforming legal education in the United States. The historian Robert Stevens wrote that "it was Langdell's goal to turn the legal profession into a university educated one — and not at the undergraduate level, but through a three-year post baccalaureate degree." This graduate level study would allow the intensive legal training that Langdell had developed, known as the case method (a method of studying landmark cases) and the socratic method (a method of examining students on the reasoning of the court in the cases studied). Therefore, a graduate high level law degree was established, the Juris Doctor, implementing the case and socratic methods as its didactic approach. The J.D. was established as the equivalent of the J.U.D. [Juris Utriusque Doctor] in Germany to reflect the advanced study required to be an effective lawyer. It was not a conversion of the LL.B. degree, though it did replace it at those law schools that initially followed the Oxford tradition and which offered the LL.B. as a second bachelor's degree. [material in brackets added by LawPundit]

Harvard was first to offer the new doctorate. The University of Chicago Law School was the first to offer it exclusively (i.e., the first to not offer both the J.D. and the LL.B.). While approval was still pending at Harvard, the degree was introduced at many other law schools in the United States."

The result of the highly antiquated and totally inefficient German legal educational system - which is backwardly similar to the same system that the USA reformed over 100 years ago - is that many a jurist is already well along in age and "burned out" from endless years of totally superfluous "training" before he ever starts to practice law or do serious academic research, so that many a jurist's potentially best years are spent doing junk work or serving as a supply of cheap labor for the legal system.

The current virtually feudal "apprentice-based" German legal system is thus no model for other countries in terms of its legal education or training. It is totally outdated and inadequate for modern law. In What Are Law Schools For?, edited by P. B. H. Birks, Oxford University Press, 1996, p. 91, Hans Leser writes via Questia.com about "Legal Education in Germany", inter alia:
"... For the last two centuries the State, not the courts or professional organisations, has monopolised legal education in Germany....

The result of all of this is that German students spend too long at university, on average five to six years including examinations, notwithstanding that legislation prescribes a four year course of study. All current reform proposals seek to address this issue.
"
Given the above discussion, applying the apprentice label to law school students in summer jobs at law firms is thus simply wrong as a matter of terminology and Day Pitney would be well-advised to reconsider a new name for its program rather than letting it run under this misleading and indeed, backward-oriented, terminology.

You can train seals ... in an apprentice-type system.

Lawyers have to be educated.

See also generally, Albert James Harno, Legal Education in the United States.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

USA Environmental Legislation : American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 Passes U.S. House of Representatives and Heads to the U.S. Senate

The United States - which is far behind Europe in environmental legislation, and which is learning hard energy lessons in the automotive industry - is moving forward on clean energy, as the U.S. House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 passed Barack Obama's "Clean Energy Bill", (H.R. 2998, printed June 27, 2009, also known as the "Waxman-Markey Bill", official short title "American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009", 1201 pages in the .pdf version) which now goes to the Senate, where, in this author's view, it will still be subject to some amendment, but will surely pass.

As written at WikiNews:
"The final vote was 219-212, with only 8 Republicans voting for the legislation, and 44 Democrats voting against it. The resolution addresses the "greenhouse effect," and calls for a 17% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and an 83% reduction by 2050. In addition, the legislation will establish new requirements for utilities, and various incentives for "going green.""
The Wikipedia writes:
"The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) is an energy bill in the 111th United States Congress that would establish a variant of a cap-and-trade plan for greenhouse gases to address climate change. The bill was approved by the House of Representatives on June 26, 2009 by a vote of 219-212, but has not yet been approved by the Senate.[1][2]

This vote was the "first time either house of Congress had approved a bill meant to curb the heat-trapping gases scientists have linked to climate change.....[3]

Internationally, the House's passage of the ACES bill "established a marker for the United States when international negotiations on a new climate change treaty begin later this year."[4]

Proponents and opponents of the bill tend to concentrate on the specific provisions of the bill, whereas the most important impact of the bill - if passed by both houses of Congress and signed by President Obama - will be its clear message to American corporations and inhabitants that they have to start to think and act realistically with respect to energy and the environment, as has been the case in the European Union already for a great number of years.

Those in America who oppose sensible legislation on energy and the environment need to be reminded - time and again- that the collapse of the American automotive industry is a direct cause of the stubborn failure by US institutions and citizens to accept the energy realities.

UPDATE:

John M. Broder writes at the New York Times in House Passes Bill to Address Threat of Climate Change:
"The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was in Washington on Friday to meet with Mr. Obama, strongly endorsed the bill even though it fell short of European goals for reducing the emissions of heat-trapping gases.

Mrs. Merkel, a longtime advocate of strong curbs on emissions, has been pushing the United States to take a leading role before the climate negotiations, set for December in Copenhagen."

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity : Cyberspace and Cyberwar : Russia for International Treaty : USA for Law Enforcement Cooperation : European Convention

Arms control for cyberspace?

In a "futuristic" June 27, 2009 article at the New York Times titled U.S. and Russia Differ on a Treaty for Cyberspace, John Markoff and Andrew E. Kramer point to the growing threat of cyberwar:

"Officials around the world recognize the need to deal with the growing threat of cyberwar. Many countries, including the United States, are developing weapons for it, like “logic bombs” that can be hidden in computers to halt them at crucial times or damage circuitry; “botnets” that can disable or spy on Web sites and networks; or microwave radiation devices that can burn out computer circuits miles away."

Markoff and Kramer write that the United States and Russia have differing views on achieving cybersecurity:

"The United States is trying to improve cybersecurity by building relationships among international law enforcement agencies. State Department officials hold out as a model the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime, which took effect in 2004 and has been signed by 22 nations, including the United States but not Russia or China.

But Russia objects that the European convention on cybercrime allows the police to open an investigation of suspected online crime originating in another country without first informing local authorities, infringing on traditional ideas of sovereignty. Vladimir V. Sokolov, deputy director of the Institute for Information Security Issues, a policy organization, noted that Russian authorities routinely cooperated with foreign police organizations when they were approached."

Read the entire article.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

European Commission Puts Economies of Struggling Britain and Ireland in the Same Category as Latvia : German Economy may be on the Upswing

We remain worried about the national finances of Latvia and see the threat of devaluation as a strong concern, but now breathe a sigh of relief to see that the Latvian government is in good company.

(See Financial Times Alphaville and Latvia Economy Watch on the economic situation in Latvia).

The June 24, 2009 headline from Gary Duncan at The Times Online reads European Commission Puts Economies of Struggling Britain and Ireland in the Same Category as Latvia, as the governments of Britain and the Irish Republic are facing similar economic problems caused by overspending, the impact of the credit crisis and the extent of the current world recession.

The long-term proposed solution to the world's financial problems - and also the major bone of contention in Europe - is increased regulation of the financial industry. We agree that more regulation is necessary and indeed inescapable.

Hans-J├╝rgen Schlamp at Spiegel Online International writes that Europe is split over the financial crisis and that the United Kingdom and Ireland are resisting the push from continental European countries for more regulation of the financial sector:

"London and Dublin, in particular, are blocking anything that could create problems in their respective financial industries. This is understandable, given the fact that Great Britain and Ireland have very few other future-proof industrial sectors. But this path is immensely dangerous for Europe.

"We have absolutely no risk management today," says David Wright, deputy director general of the European Commission. According to Wright, there were no warning signals before the financial meltdown because "the necessary mechanisms simply do not exist." Wright believes that it is high time for change."

In fact, the UK and Ireland are in much same boat as Latvia and will have no choice but to adopt sounder and more restrictive financial policies in the future.

We need merely to read (via the Edward.Hugh.Blog) an older (2007) International Monetary Fund (IMF) statement on the Latvian economy - as a representative example - to see that the present problems have been a longer time in the making:

"Statement by IMF Mission to Latvia on 2007 Article IV Consultation Discussions
Press Release No. 07/87, May 4, 2007

The following statement was issued on April 27 in Riga by Ms. Rachel van Elkan, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission chief for Latvia
:

"The IMF mission visited Riga during April 17-27 to hold the 2007 Article IV consultation discussions on economic prospects and policies....


Latvia, like other recent EU entrants, has benefited from an accession-related boost to income convergence. Closer integration with the rest of Europe in goods, financial, and labor markets, as well as through access to substantial EU grants, has helped create favorable investment opportunities and attract large inflows of foreign financing. Consequently, capital and technology stocks and consumption and living standards have risen. Employment opportunities—in Latvia and abroad—have allowed citizens to acquire new skills and work experience. As a result, Latvia has enjoyed very rapid convergence in income levels over the past decade.


Recently, however, fast credit and wage growth has caused the economy to diverge from a balanced and sustainable growth path, with domestic demand outstripping Latvia's supply capacity. As a result, overheating has intensified, bringing higher price and wage inflation, a sharply wider current account deficit, and greater external indebtedness. Rapid credit growth in euros has left large currency mismatches on the balance sheets of households and corporates and a boom in housing prices that has diverted resources from the tradable sector. A pervasive "buy now-pay later" mindset has settled in and is heightening systemic risk. These developments, if not tackled firmly, will thwart a recovery of export growth.


There is an urgent need for decisive action to unwind overheating pressures and narrow external imbalances by sharply curtailing domestic demand. Notwithstanding actions by the Bank of Latvia to raise risk awareness, recent pressure on the lats
[the Latvian currency] signals growing investor impatience with the limited policy response so far. A comprehensive strategy is therefore needed to curb domestic spending and wage growth, and moderate real estate prices to rebalance incentives for investing in tradables sectors....

The authorities' recent anti-inflation plan is a significant first step, and signals their recognition of the severity of macroeconomic conditions. In our view, however, the high level of imbalances and vulnerabilities warrants more decisive and comprehensive action. We therefore urge the Government, FCMC, and the Bank of Latvia to demonstrate unwavering commitment to a policy that would generate an appreciable near-term adjustment in the current account. A substantial front-loaded fiscal adjustment is essential to begin to counter demand buoyancy while helping convince the private sector of the government's willingness to shoulder its share of the burden. A strong communication strategy is also needed to signal the need for credit and wage restraint by the private sector. The mission's main recommendations are detailed below.


Fiscal policy: Against the balanced budget targeted in the anti-inflation plan, we consider that a headline general government surplus of 2¼ percent of GDP in 2007 and 4 percent of GDP in 2008 is appropriate. This could be achieved by saving in full revenue overperformance, restraining current and capital expenditures, and abstaining from cuts in taxes, including the personal income tax. Introducing medium-term budgeting, anchored within a conservative revenue envelope, can help balance the need for expenditure restraint with improvements in public sector efficiency. To enhance fiscal transparency and sustainability, all large public investment projects should be evaluated and prioritized within a single unified framework


Credit and prudential policies: Sharply curtailing and improving the risk profile of new lending is essential to mitigating macroeconomic and financial stability risks. Rebalancing incentives governing credit growth is therefore essential. The mission supports the effective implementation of the credit-restraining measures in the anti-inflation plan, including fully documenting legal income to secure a loan, establishing a comprehensive register of all loans, and requiring a 10 percent minimum downpayment. We also welcome the recent reimposition of limits on banks' open positions in euros. Additional regulatory measures are also needed to slow credit growth and induce banks to internalize systemic risk in real estate and currency markets. The FCMC, working with the Bank of Latvia, should increase its emphasis on monitoring systemic risk through more frequent on-site inspections of large banks and ensuring that foreign banks tailor their credit-risk models to the Latvian context.


Real estate policies: Rebalancing the structure of the economy away from the nontradables sector, especially real estate, is essential to underpin needed current account adjustment. The mission welcomes the increase in real estate taxation envisaged in the anti-inflation plan, as well as the periodic reassessment of cadastral values, beginning in 2007. To be effective, however, enforcement of real-estate related taxation should be stepped up. To further relieve overheating in the construction sector, it will be necessary to significantly scale back government capital expenditure (planned at 5 percent of GDP for 2007).


Labor market policies: Efficient labor utilization is critical to expand aggregate supply and contain surging wage costs, which are contributing to overheating and undermining Latvia's competitiveness. The greater flexibility allowed in the use of fixed-term employment contracts introduced in the 2006 Amendment to the Labor Law is welcome, and further steps to facilitate mobility between jobs and regions are needed. The recent decision to allow unfettered labor market access to the newest EU members may help relieve bottlenecks, and wider temporary access should also be considered. Public sector wage agreements should not provide grounds—through demonstration effects—for increases in private wages in excess of productivity. Social partners should secure a broad consensus for appropriate wage restraint. Shifting to higher value-added products requires increasing employer involvement in setting education curricula, and prioritizing EU structural funds to developing human resources, entrepreneurship, and innovation in traditional and new export sectors."


IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT

Public Affairs Media Relations

Phone: 202-623-7300 Phone: 202-623-7100

Fax: 202-623-6278 Fax: 202-623-6772
"

By contrast, as written at Spiegel Online International, the German economy may be on the road to recovery, and as Germany goes, so - in the long term - goes Europe. But, as written in that article, there are no grounds for euphoria. National governments must get their finances in order, and that will take some time.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

EU Election Results for the European Union Parliament : 27 Countries : 736 Members of Parliament (MEPs) : Representing 492 Million Citizens of Europe



Few in Europe know the name of their European Parliament MEP (Member of Parliament)? Those who do not know can view this EU directory, which at the time of this posting does not yet reflect the elections just held for the European Parliament.

The Germany Missions in the United States at Germany.info provide a superbly informative article - 27 Nations, One Election - on those elections, calling them "the biggest transnational elections in history". Take a look.

The BBC has a country by country analysis of the election results and we show below the fairly final but still officially provisional EU Election Results for all 27 Countries who elected 736 Members of Parliament (MEPs) representing 492 million European inhabitants (there are 375 million eligible voters):

Provisional 11 June 2009 at 11:26 CEST


EPP PES ALDE UEN GREENS/ EFA GUE/ NGL IND/ DEM Others Total
Belgium BE 6 5 5 0 3 0 0 3 22
Bulgaria BG 6 4 5 0 0 0 0 2 17
Czech Republic CZ 2 7 0 0 0 4 0 9 22
Denmark DK 1 4 3 2 2 1 0 0 13
Germany DE 42 23 12 0 14 8 0 0 99
Estonia EE 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 1 6
Ireland IE 4 3 1 3 0 0 0 1 12
Greece EL 8 8 0 0 1 3 2 0 22
Spain ES 23 21 2 0 2 1 0 1 50
France FR 29 14 6 0 14 4 1 4 72
Italy IT 35 0 7 9 0 0 0 21 72
Cyprus CY 2 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 6
Latvia LV 1 0 1 3 1 0 0 2 8
Lithuania LT 4 3 2 2 0 0 0 1 12
Luxembourg LU 3 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 6
Hungary HU 15 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 22
Malta MT 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 5
Netherlands NL 5 3 6 0 3 2 2 4 25
Austria AT 6 4 0 0 2 0 0 5 17
Poland PL 28 7 0 15 0 0 0 0 50
Portugal PT 10 7 0 0 0 5 0 0 22
Romania RO 13 11 5 0 1 0 0 3 33
Slovenia SI 3 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 7
Slovakia SK 6 5 0 1 0 0 0 1 13
Finland FI 4 2 4 0 2 0 0 1 13
Sweden SE 5 5 4 0 2 1 0 1 18
United Kingdom UK 0 13 11 0 5 1 13 29 72
European Union EU total 264 161 80 35 53 32 18 93 736
Source: TNS opinion in cooperation with the European Parliament.

There are seven main political parties - plus others - represented in the European Parliament, with the provisional 2009 election results listed next to each party together with their 2004 election results:
  • EPP [centre-right]: Group of the European People's Party (Christian Democrats) - 264 seats based on 35.9% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 36.7% of the vote in 2004
  • PES [centre-left]: Socialist Group in the European Parliament - 161 seats based on 21.9% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 27.6% in 2004 (according to the European Voice that number increases to 182 as "The Socialist group in the European Parliament has formed an alliance with the Italian Democratic Party (DP), a move that increases the grouping's MEPs by 21, to 182.... The grouping will be known as the Alliance of Socialists and Democrats for Europe (ASDE)."



  • ALDE : Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe - 80 seats based on 10.9% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 12.7% in 2004
  • GREENS/ EFA : Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance - 53 seats based on 7.2% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 5.5% in 2004
  • UEN : Union for Europe of the Nations Group - 35 seats based on 4.8% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 5.6% in 2004
  • GUE/ NGL : Confederal Group of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left - 32 seats based on 4.3% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 5.2% in 2004
  • IND/ DEM : Independence/Democracy Group - 18 seats based on 2.4% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 2.8% in 2004
  • Others (including the British National Party, the Czech ODS and British Tories) - 93 seats based on 12.6% of the vote in 2009 as opposed to 3.8% in 2004
As opposed to a voter turnout of 45.47% in 2004, the voter turnout in 2009 was a disappointing 43.2% EU-wide - also only 43% here in Germany. All major EU Parliament parties dropped in their percentage of votes and only the GREENS and OTHER parties gained.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Update to Previous CarTrawler Posting

Please note that I have made the following update to my previous posting about CarTrawler.

UPDATE (June 4, 2009)

I received a full apology by phone today from CarTrawler for the car rental booking circumstances previously described in this blog posting, together with sincere assurance that the matter would be righted. As I was told, nearly everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong. A full refund was offered.

In addition - and among other things - CarTrawler indicated that its customer service would be improved to eliminate what were described as regrettable but unintentional - and correctable - technological mistakes, especially as regards improved company response to justified customer complaints and concerns. Moreover, the misleading excess insurance issue is to be corrected.

Additional suggestions for improvement were made.

If all of that occurs, CarTrawler will be back on the right track to becoming an honest and reliable booking partner for low-priced car rental.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

CarTrawler : An Alleged Car Rental Service to AVOID : CarTrawler is NOT a Full Car Rental Company and Potentially a Scam Costing YOUR money : Updated!

UPDATE (June 4, 2009)

I received a full apology by phone today from CarTrawler for the car rental booking circumstances previously described in this blog posting, together with sincere assurance that the matter would be righted. As I was told, nearly everything that could go wrong, had gone wrong. A full refund was offered.

In addition - and among other things - CarTrawler indicated that its customer service would be improved to eliminate what were described as regrettable but unintentional - and correctable - technological mistakes, especially as regards improved company response to justified customer complaints and concerns. Moreover, the misleading excess insurance issue is to be corrected.

Additional suggestions for improvement were made.

If all of that occurs, CarTrawler will be back on the right track to becoming an honest and reliable booking partner for low-priced car rental.

__________________________

ORIGINAL but now UPDATED Posting (see above)
__________________________


I made the great mistake recently of following a CarTrawler.com (Dublin) online link at the RyanAir (Dublin) website after booking a flight and hotel through the reputable and otherwise excellent cheap flyer RyanAir. I also booked a hotel through a RyanAir link - with very good success at a reduced price - and then tried to rent a car at a flight destination airport, thinking that it would also be a good deal and not questioning its reliability since the link appeared on the RyanAir website. That was a mistake.

As we have discovered since then, CarTrawler is NOT a RyanAir affiliate and NOT a good deal. Do yourself a favor and AVOID CARTRAWLER like the plague. CarTrawler may cost you money and you may still get no rental car.

We have informed Ryan Air, the Irish Department of Justice and the Irish police, the Garda Siochana, about our case. Here is our experience.

CarTrawler is NOT a real car rental company - but this is not clear to the potential customer from CarTrawler's website pages. Rather, CarTrawler is a "booking engine", apparently owned by ETrawler which is apparently owned by Argus Automobiles of Dublin. This booking engine is used at its online website pages and those of its affiliates (ETrawler has over 40 website domains under various car rental names) and it uses virtually the same manner of advertising presentation as real car rental companies. It advertises rental cars with photos and specifications at what appear to be very affordable prices, but these are not THEIR cars. Look out.

After getting a car booking from an online customer, CarTrawler contacts "real" car rental companies and tries to obtain the booked car for the customer at the booked date and location - and of course at even cheaper conditions so that they can make a profit at the booked low price. If CarTrawler can not find a real car rental company willing to rent a booked car satisfying the low-priced conditions CarTrawler has advertised, the potential customer - as in our case - has a serious problem.

Here is what happened to us.

1. ALERT:Your credit card is IMMEDIATELY debited at the time of the initial "booking" even though this booking is not considered "binding" by CarTrawler, see point 2 below. To our mind, this is already fraudulent. Your credit card is debited even if the actual car rental date is far in the future. This is totally contrary to the usual and expected practice at established "real" car rental companies who actually have cars to rent and who debit the credit card after rental of the car.

CarTrawler DOES NOT inform the customer clearly online about this debit practice beforehand. You have to read the fine print of their "booking conditions" and virtually no one does that and that is what such companies capitalize on to defraud their customers. We were certainly unaware of the practice at the time of our booking. Had we known of this debit practice, we would have left CarTrawler pages immediately. We in fact thought that CarTrawler was a real car rental company, given its online presentation. In our view that particular CarTrawler online presentation constitutes intentional "common law" fraud on the normal user.

One might in fact ask, how is it possible - legally - to debit a car rental in advance if the very car to be rented - at what may be an unknown price - is still being sought at the real car rental companies?

2. ALERT: If CarTrawler does not find the car that THEY advertised to the customer online at the advertised low "come-on" price at the date and location the customer wanted - as in our case, where we had booked a low-priced automatic shift - CarTrawler simply VOIDS the booking unilaterally. CarTrawler informs the customer that they do not regard the booking to be contractually binding until THEY accept it, that is, until they find the car as booked. You think you have booked a car - but you have not. To us, that is FRAUD and a view of contract that we do not find supported in contract law.

3. ALERT: You are - after the voiding of your booking - kept waiting for an allegedly "new booking" - and, we presume - more expensive booking - which may never occur. Here is what CarTrawler wrote to us one day after our booking and more than THREE WEEKS prior to the date for which we had booked a car:

"Thank you for your recent car rental request.

Unfortunately the vehicle you requested is not available with the selected supplier. We are however trying to place your request with an alternative supplier.

As your first choice is not available, the rental cost and vehicle type may vary from your original request . As availability reduces and popular locations sell out, we will offer you the best options available in the market. You will receive a new booking reference number shortly. Please disregard the old one as it is now void.

http://www.cartrawler.com/res/cancel.php

Thanks and Regards,


Contact Centre Team

CarTrawler
Tel: +353 (0)1 499 9600
Fax: +353 (0)1 499 9661
Email: mailto: reserve@cartrawler.com
Website: http://www.cartrawler.com
"

CarTrawler did not contact us again (in spite of our emails and ultimate phone call to them) - until FOUR WEEKS later, i.e. after the date on which we needed a rental car. Imagine then our surprise - several days after the CarTrawler voiding of our booking - to see that CarTrawler had already debited the non-existent rental car to our credit card account on the same day that they voided our booking! CarTrawler now had our money and we had no car.


4. All the while, by the way, CarTrawler is collecting interest on the car rental amount - i.e. on YOUR money - which has been debited to the customer's credit card in advance of any actual car rental. If CarTrawler voids the customer's booking and no "new" booking - as suggested or not to the customer by CarTrawler - is agreed to by the customer, it is then up to the customer to try to get their money back. Good luck.

We managed to get the money booked back to our credit card account at our bank - but only after more than two weeks, and only because we took the costly time to inform our credit card company of the fraud and demanded an immediate reversal of the credit card debit for a car rental which never took place.

But just think that if CarTrawler does this to thousands of customers, they are making very good money on the interest payments on YOUR money alone, without ever delivering a booked rental car at all. And what number of customers, through lack of time or insufficient knowledge, are unable to recoup their money at all?

5. THE EXCESS INSURANCE SCAM. Furthermore, if the customer makes the mistake of selecting the option of "excess insurance" (i.e. choosing to eliminate the car rental insurance deductible) at the time of their initial booking process, the customer surely thinks that this is part of their initial and single car rental booking, but - this is not so at all. CarTrawler treats the X that the customer puts in front of "excess insurance" option as a separate contract with a London outfit called Insurance4carhire.com, a trading name of Towergate Underwriting Group Ltd., whose main business is - you guessed it - the car rental excess insurance business.

The underwriter for Insurance4carhire in the past has been AIG, which recently had to be bailed out in the United States by the Federal Reserve to avoid creation of a global credit crisis. The non-profit FBIC ranks AIG eighth of all "bad-faith insurers" in its review of nearly 4,000 insurance companies. We do not know if that relationship with AIG has been retained down to the present time, but a clear picture begins to form of what is going on here.

Of course, as one might expect from the previous discussion, Insurance4carhire.com ALSO debits the customer's credit card IMMEDIATELY at the time of initial car rental booking, far in advance of any actual car hire.

Consider that debited money as gone. Here is why.

If CarTrawler VOIDS the initial booking, Insurance4carhire.com, their insurance consort, still pockets the excess insurance premium since the excess insurance sold - this is all fixed in the fine print - is an insurance coverage of the "policy holder" and not of the specific "rental vehicle" for the period of time of the initial car booking. Here is what they write at their website:

"We insure the Policy Holder, not the rental vehicle. Excess is a voluntary insurance. Decline the car rental company’s Excess cover at the counter when you collect the car. If the car is damaged or stolen, the car rental company will charge your credit card for the Excess amount and you then claim for reimbursement on your Policy."

As a result, even if CarTrawler voids a car booking - as in our case - there is still good money being earned via the excess insurance option. The excess insurance sold in this manner is difficult to recoup because it is not sold for a specific car vehicle but rather for a given person for a specific period of time.

Hence, after CarTrawler has voided a customer's car rental booking, that customer is still stuck with the excess insurance, in spite of the fact that he no longer has any car rental at CarTrawler at all. You can not easily claim the insurance payment back, since it is contracted to you as a person, and not for your car. We view that manner of insurance to be clear common law fraud. The customer is being clearly misled and others are pocketing "free money".

If that customer happens to rent a car from a real car rental company for the period provided in the excess insurance policy, the customer allegedly retains the excess insurance coverage.

But note this:
if that rental car is - for example - stolen or damaged during the period of excess insurance, the conditions of contract of Insurance4carhire.com provide that the customer first has to pay the deductible to the actual car rental company and only THEN try to recoup that amount from Insurance4carhire.com. Good luck.

It might be interesting for those law officials in the UK and Ireland responsible for investigating fraud to examine whether any money has EVER been paid under this fraudulently-appearing insurance.

In our law school days we used to equate this kind of misleading interlocking business scam with a "criminal conspiracy", but perhaps the laws of Ireland and the UK accept this kind of business thievery as legal today. Who knows.

Just imagine this process being repeated thousands of times per year and you have a money-making "golden goose" that is laying golden eggs around the clock without actually ever renting out a single rental car, but rather merely profiting through the process of offering cars at very low prices to the public - prices which may or may not actually be realizable.

Money is earned not only if a car is actually delivered to the customer as booked, but money is also earned if NO car is or can be actually delivered to the customer for the advertised and booked price. We have even read that customers have been charged for cancelling a booking which CarTrawler does not even regard as a binding "booking" on its side of the contract.

It is a great racket for those who are profiting by it, and surely misleadingly fraudulent, at least from our understanding of the common law. And we have not heard the end of this case yet. Upon returning from overseas where we rented a vehicle at the airport from Hertz for a lower price than offered to us initially by CarTrawler, we found the following email from CarTrawler in our mailbox, as if they had never received our phone call or our emails to them:

"Our bank has informed us that you are disputing your car rental....

Can you provide us with information as to why this is being disputed?
Your information would be greatly appreciated so we can improve our service.

Thanks and Regards,

The CarTrawler Team

Tel: +353 1 4999600
Fax: +353 01 4999661
Email: creditcardquery@cartrawler.com
Website:
http://www.cartrawler.com
"

Take a look at the CarTrawler "booking conditions" here. Those absurd conditions will keep anyone who reads them from ever booking a rental car through CarTrawler or any of the affiliates or companies which use its "booking engine". Those conditions are designed to hoodwink the customer. Clear common law fraud.

Frankly, law enforcement agencies in Ireland and the United Kingdom should get to work to remove these kinds of fraudulently misleading companies from the Internet.

We are not the only ones to register Complaints about CarTrawler. Take a look at:

TripAdvisor
ConsumerAffairs.com
ReviewCentre.com

The blog Bleep.ie even received a "takedown" notice because of its publication of criticism of CarTrawler in a comment. The blog owner, Tom Raftery, in Sevilla, Spain, is thus far resisting this chilling action and if there were a blogging award for a Freedom of Speech Champion this year, Tom would be our selection.

Bloggers unite! If you or anyone you know have had any problems with CarTrawler or any of the affiliated companies of ETrawler or Argus, make sure that bloggers they know put the stories up on the Internet. We have the power to get rid of these kinds of companies.

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