Troubling decision at US Supreme Court

Generally courts should avoid taking positions that turn established law upside down.
Being able to sell your own stuff is almost as foundational as habeus corpus.
Apparently the Omega watch company inflates its’ prices in the United States.   It therefore wanted to stop Costco from selling watches at a lower rate that Costco had lawfully purchased in other countries where Omega’s prices are lower, presumably because the occupants have fewer resources to be fleeced.
Omega brings suit to stop Costco from underselling the local authorized dealers.
Therein may lie an important distinction to save the decision from being a complete disaster- if Costco had connived with dealers that had a contact with Omega to breach a contract with Omega about the location of sale of the watches, then said connivance would make it equitable to hold Costco to the terms of the contract although Costco is not a party to it.   This should be seen as an issue with contract law, not copyright law, and that it has been characterized as copyright law worries me that the decision is made for the wrong reasons.
Because the court is evenly divided, we don’t know the reasons.
The only way to avoid dealing with copyrighted, patented or trademarked things is to go live in the trees.   That there may be an emerging precedent that could be used to prevent resale of used cars, computers, couches and almost any other used item should disturb most people.   This isn’t computer software.  It isn’t like you can copy a watch or a toyota by burning it on 100 DVDs.  Most things that you buy once you can only sell once.   The idea that when you buy something you own it, and what you do with it is your business, is as ancient a principle as any.   Moving towards a legal regime where nobody ever has clear title to anything is just a terrible idea.    If the hidden hand of a corporation stays with everything you buy, dictating what you can do with your purchases, that’s an end to personal property.  It’s corporate Stalinism.
There are also issues of monopolizing and price fixing that may be raised by these kinds of claims, although in fairness some of the pricing issues may be due to, for example, the costs of renting or owning retail space.  The costs for high end retail space are likely to be higher in America and there is an issue about whether Costco should be able to undermine Omega’s authorized business partners by selling watches alongside cabbages in lower cost areas.
I’m hoping and crossing my fingers that this decision is limited to the facts of connivance with some remote breach of contract because the alternative is a scary form of judicial activism.

Redistricting and media abdication

A common theme in the media was that the past elections were bad for the Democrats because they would give control over “redistricting” to the Republicans.
This follows a 2006 Supreme Court decision that gerrymandering- fraudulently drawing lines for congressional districts in order to artificially favor one party- was not unconstitutional unless the rights of a minority group were affected.    I’m skeptical that a deliberate fraud in the nature of what was considered in the decision could be constitutional, but haven’t read the decision so I won’t say that it was wrong.  If correct, it is a gaping hole that needs to be fixed.
Of course some alteration of natural district lines can lead to superior and more proportionate results- say if an area with two seats is about half Democrat and half Republican, arranging it so that one Democrat and one Republican come out is probably a more reasonable result than two coin tosses that could leave half the population there without a voice.  This kind of issue is probably one of the reasons the court didn’t want to get into it.   It’s an abuse of process in some cases but it would be a headache for the courts to try to draw a line.
Part of the policing process should involve the press.   When the press implies that one party will be gerrymandering and that this advantage should be sought after, the conduct of the press is reprehensible.   The press should be outing all official reprehensible conduct, not just that which is unconstitutional.   They have time to go after Eliot Spitzer’s love life but write about the prospect of Republican politicians deliberately misconducting themselves in their official capacities as if it is a desireable thing.  What’s up with that?
If Watergate happened today we’d see the media falling over each other trying to explain it away, minimize or rationalize it, and the best apologist would probably get a pulitzer for investigative journalism.  Something’s wrong.

One more reason to be happy to be living in an English speaking country

In my experience it’s a truism that things that “never happen” always happen eventually and when they do it is usually spectacularly bad because nobody is prepared for it.
One of those things is both the main and the reserve parachutes not opening properly is supposed to be a rare event, although I think the death rate from skydiving is something like 1 in 10,000.
So there is a marquee trial going on in Belgium on that kind of issue:
I hate marquee trials.   Police and prosecutors showboat and it gets hard for them to stand back.  They are more likely to fudge things.  That can lead to “wrongful acquitals” like OJ if the jury no longer has faith in the process.   A greater concern though is that marquee trials lead to wrongful convictions at a horrific rate.
Much of the problem is likely cop selection.  Traditionally cops are the guys that were jocks or bullies in high school.   You aren’t going to see too many of the nerd cops that you see on TV in real life.  Having to spend 3-5 years as a beat or patrol cop tackling bad guys at the outset is a good way to get a nerd thumped and out permanently on compo.   If you want TV nerd cops in practice you have to create a separate entry stream for them so they can get where they belong without having to go where they don’t belong first.   And people that you would want on patrol aren’t the people you would want on homicide, and vice versa.   Jocks are emotional, aggressive, sometimes intimidating- and sometimes rash.
Anyways, back to the above story, it certainly sounds plausible but I’d want something a little stronger than that to push a case forward.
It took them two months before there was evidence they thought suggested homicide, and that was from the head cam of somebody spinning out of control and whatever it caught of materials flapping away while going through the air at terminal velocity.
For that to be useable it must be quite some headcam, with the data surviving the crash and all, on top of many hand recorders not being very good under even ordinary conditions.   I would expect that the admissibility of digitally “enhanced” images may be an issue.  Where enhancement becomes creation is an interesting problem.
In any event, if it took two months for them to sort that mess out with the same evidence they started with, it doesn’t sound very clear cut.
The alleged victim was a mother of two who was having an affair with another of the skydivers, i.e. who was not her husband.  He in turn was having (at least) one other affair with the alleged killer.  A fourth person was present at the fatal jump whose exact association with the various parties is unclear and not reported on, although if the known three were amoral adrenaline addicts I don’t think they met the fourth at a bridge club.
I have to wonder if the toxicology screen has been made available to the defence.   Amoral adrenaline addicts frequently aren’t clean and if somebody’s hopped up they shouldn’t be packing a parachute.   I’m surprised given the self selection for skydiving that the stats aren’t worse.   The types that would go out skydiving for fun aren’t the types that I would trust to do it.
I also have to wonder about DNA, somebody impulsive enough to cut cords and cover the backup chute, which would lead right back to her, probably wouldn’t use gloves and there is a possibility of some trace evidence there.
I’d also wonder about the state of repair of the chute.  It was a personal parachute brought by the skydiver who had gone skydiving many times, and sooner or later there was bound to be an accident from poor maintenance and replacement from a situation like that.  A professional business running a skydiving operation would probably be paranoid about such things but ordinary people get sloppy, especially if they’ve done something many times before without problems.
The evidence that’s been disclosed publically doesn’t look like enough to commit a person to trial, it looks like one of those cases where a prosecutor hopes that the jury will think “the defendant probably did it and they sound like a whack job anyways so I’m going to convict”.
Considering that the accused had previously tried to run down an ex boyfriend with her car it certainly does sound suspicious.
On the other hand, as with another European case with a number of suspect hospital deaths, where an accused was convicted of multiple murders only to be released on appeal because there was no evidence of murder, step A is determining if a crime has been committed.    I haven’t seen enough so far to be convinced of that with the parachute case.   That hospital case was another marquee case.    A conviction without evidence of a crime.  I hate marquee cases.
The situation is terrible in the English speaking world as we have many of our own wrongful convictions on notoriously weak cases.  On the other hand that terrible situation is the best in the world.  That is one reason why we have such a high standard of proof and presumption of innocence, it is what maintains wrongful convictions at the level of a flood rather than an ocean.
The European continental system is a little different.  The one feature that we might be able to use more of is involving judges in the investigative process, although that can lead to blurring of the lines between judge and prosecutor if the judge is of the view that he is only investigating one side of the case.  If the judge compels investigation of all sides of a case that can be a good thing, and not something that can be effectively done with our system.
On the other hand, the European system is notorious for putting a lot of pressure on people to prove their innocence and even foisting the costs of an unsuccessful prosecution on the defendant in some countries.
The wierdest is probably Spain with their theory of universal jurisdiction and magistrates there purporting to have the power to cure all of the evil in the world whether it has anything to do with Spain or not and issuing warrants accordingly.
And then there is the infamous Knox trial with the prosecution’s preposterous theory of the case that sounds like something out of a very bad made for TV movie.
I would like to see more cases from mainland Europe where it sounds like the job is done up to the English/Canadian/US/Australian systems’ professionalism, but every time I see this kind of case from Europe I’m cringing instead.
That isn’t to say that I necessarily think that either Amanda Knox or this other woman in the parachute case are innocent, rather when I look at the published evidence I think, this is it?