One Way to Stop Cheating: Jail

Chinese educators have been dealing with an outbreak of cheating via cellphones on college entrance examinations. Further, plagiarism of research papers is becoming a problem too. Apparently the Chinese government has now gotten involved:

Earlier this month, three people were arrested for selling fake exam papers over the Internet for 1,000 yuan a subject [.]

The government warned the public not to fall for the scam, noting that exam papers are state secrets and those caught leaking them face three to seven years in prison, it said.

I am generally in favor of harsh punishments against those who cheat or plagiarize their academic work. In the instances where it has happened, I have taken it personally. How dare someone cheat in *my* class?@!??$ However, in this instance, even I will admit that perhaps the punishment may not fit the crime. Aside from hard jail time, what are the best ways to keep students honest?


Introducing Guest Blogger Michelle Adams

adams-michelle.gifI’m very pleased to introduce Professor Michelle Adams of Seton Hall Law School, who will be visiting us for the next few weeks. Michelle received her B.A. from Brown University and her J.D. from the City University of New York. She clerked for Magistrate Judge James C. Francis, IV of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She then became an attorney at the Legal Aid Society, Civil Appeals and Law Reform Unit in New York, focusing primarily on race discrimination and federal housing law. Michelle then received her LL.M. from Harvard Law School as a Charles Hamilton Houston Fellow. She then joined the faculty at Seton Hall. This coming academic year, Michelle will be visiting at Brooklyn Law School (fall) and Cardozo Law School (spring).

Michelle writes about affirmative action, race and sex discrimination and housing law. Some of her publications include: Radical Integration, 94 Cal. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2006), Intergroup Rivalry, Anti-Competitive Conduct and Affirmative Action, 82 B.U. L. Rev. 1089 (2002), and Causation and Responsibility in Tort and Affirmative Action, 79 Tex. L. Rev. 643 (2001).


Introducing Guest Blogger Elizabeth Nowicki

nowicki-elizabeth.jpgWe’re very fortunate to have Professor Elizabeth Nowicki of Richmond Law School join us for the next few weeks. Elizabeth received her JD from Columbia Law School where she was a James Kent Scholar and a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar. She served as an articles editor of the Columbia Business Law Review. Following law school, she clerked for Judge Jack B. Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York and Judge James L. Oakes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. She practiced law at the Securities and Exchange Commission and at Sullivan & Cromwell.

She joined the University of Richmond School of Law faculty in 2002, and she teaches in the areas of corporate law, corporate governance, securities regulation, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate finance. This fall, she will be visiting at Cornell Law School.

Some of Elizabeth’s publications include: A Response to Professor John Coffee: Analyst Liability Under Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, 72 U. Cin. L. Rev. 1305 (2004); 10(b) or Not 10(b)? Yanking the Security Blanket for Attorneys in Securities Litigation, 2004 Columbia Business L. Rev. 637 (2004); Denial of Regulatory Assistance in Stranded Cost Recovery in a Deregulated Electricity Industry, 32 Loyola Los Angeles L. Rev. 431 (1999); and Competition in the Local Telecommunications Market: Legislate or Litigate?, 1996 Harv. J. L. & Tech. 353. Works in progress include Revisiting Director Liability: The Unimportance of Being Earnest and The Meaning of a Director’s Obligation to Act in Good Faith.


This is Democracy

The Philadelphia Inquirer, under new management, has a shocking good article on tomorrow’s ward leader elections. The entire article reminded me quite a bit of The Last Hurrah. Here’s a taste of what big city politics still look like, at least in my neck of the woods:

In the 18th Ward in Fishtown and South Kensington, City Councilman Juan Ramos ran a slate of committee candidates, knocking out several incumbents, and is seeking to unseat eight-year leader Lynn Farrell . . . . “I wanted to keep a close eye on my neighborhood, but she apparently did not want me to be part of the ward structure,” Ramos said. He said he would make the party “more active” and open.

It will be up to 34 committee members, meeting at Farrell’s home on East Montgomery Avenue. The incumbent says she has 22 votes locked up, but anything can happen. Ramos considers the race too close to call. Farrell has collected sworn affidavits from poll workers who say that Ramos and his supporters browbeat voters on primary day. For their part, Ramos forces protest the location of the meeting and say they have notified the 26th Police District that they may need help.

[And elsewhere in the city . . . ] John J. Dougherty, leader of the electricians’ union and a potential mayoral candidate [is running for re-election as party treasurer.] A source of friction was the 73 electricians Dougherty encouraged to run as ward committee members. He said 68 won . . . .

The strange thing about Philly, in light of all of this sausage making mess, is that the corruption that comes to light is petty ante. You rarely see the huge swindles here that you do in other towns, and local politicians, when caught, have stolen merely in the five to six figures. That really isn’t much, given that we’re still a moderately large town, with an operating budget of around $4 billion. Shucks, our pols can’t even wipe their data efficiently!


Don’t Know Much About Driving

In the spirit of fair and balanced reporting, here now some positive news about our non-East Coast readers. According to a new study, the nation’s drivers with the least knowledge of the rules of the road are in the East: in Rhode Island to be exact–followed by Washington D.C., Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Next time you cross a street in Providence, Boston, Newark or Brooklyn, keep in mind that one in three drivers don’t think they have to stop or slow down for pedestrians and one in five have no idea roads are more slippery when wet. Oregon has the most knowledgable drivers, followed by Washington State. Vermont is third–the only Eastern state in the top twenty-five.

In fairness to East Coasters, knowing how to drive might not necessarily translate into skill behind the wheel. New York cabbies seem oblivious to rules but their passengers are rarely injured.


The Conservatives’ Gay Kids

With the Federal Marriage Amendment coming before the Senate this month, it’s a good time to ask: why do so many conservatives have gay offspring? To name just a few: Phyllis Schlafly (son, John), Dick & Lynne Cheney (Mary), Randall Terry (Jamiel), Sonny Bono (Chastity), Alan Keyes (Maya) and Pete Knight (David). Meanwhile, those liberal Kennedys of Massachusetts appear to have no gay children of record. Is there something about the Republican lifestyle that leads to homosexuality?


The Longest Pending FOIA Request

In 1989, William Aceves, a graduate student at USC, requested information under the Freedom of Information Act about a federal “Freedom of Navigation” program. Seventeen years later, the request is still pending. Since making the request, William Aceves finished graduate school (presumably having found a different topic) and law school and he is now a tenured professor at California Western School of Law.


More Data Lost: 1.3 Million Student Loan Recipients

From CNET:

About 1.3 million customers of a Texas provider of student loans are at risk of ID fraud, after a contractor lost computer equipment with sensitive information on them.

The equipment, which was not identified, contains the names and Social Security numbers of the borrowers, the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan company said in a statement Tuesday. The hardware was lost by an employee of Hummingbird, a enterprise software company hired to prepare a document management system, it said.

This follows a similar pattern to the way that the Veteran’s Administration lost 26 million records — some employee takes home the data and it promptly gets lost or stolen. Security tip: Don’t let your employees go home with the data! The government seems to be able to figure this out when it comes to top secret information; companies have figured it out when it comes to trade secrets. But when it comes to personal data belonging to others, it seems as though employees can just waltz out the door with it.

Hat tip: Deven Desai


Internet Shaming in China

shame2a.jpgThe New York Times has a fascinating and frightening article on Internet shaming in China. From the article:

It began with an impassioned, 5,000-word letter on one of the country’s most popular Internet bulletin boards from a husband denouncing a college student he suspected of having an affair with his wife. Immediately, hundreds joined in the attack.

“Let’s use our keyboard and mouse in our hands as weapons,” one person wrote, “to chop off the heads of these adulterers, to pay for the sacrifice of the husband.”

Within days, the hundreds had grown to thousands, and then tens of thousands, with total strangers forming teams that hunted down the student, hounded him out of his university and caused his family to barricade themselves inside their home.

It was just the latest example of a growing phenomenon the Chinese call Internet hunting, in which morality lessons are administered by online throngs and where anonymous Web users come together to investigate others and mete out punishment for offenses real and imagined.

In recent instances, people have scrutinized husbands suspected of cheating on their wives, fraud on Internet auction sites, the secret lives of celebrities and unsolved crimes. One case that drew a huge following involved the poisoning of a Tsinghua University student, an event that dates to 1994 but was revived by curious strangers after word spread that the only suspect in the case had been questioned and released.

Even a recent scandal involving a top Chinese computer scientist dismissed for copying the design of an American processor came to light in part because of Internet hunting, with scores of online commentators raising questions about the project and putting pressure on the scientist’s sponsors to look into the allegations.

While Internet wars can crop up anywhere, these cases have set off alarms in China, where this sort of crowd behavior has led to violence in the past. Many draw disturbing parallels to the Cultural Revolution, whose 40th anniversary is this year, when mobs of students taunted and beat their professors. Mass denunciations and show trials became the order of the day for a decade.

In one incident, a husband caught a college student (using the pseudonym Bronze Mustache) having an affair with his wife. He posted the student’s real name online, and what happened next is startling:

Read More


Homeland Security Funding–Again

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would allocate homeland security grants among states and cities based on an assessment of their vulnerability to attack.

That sounds obvious but it represented a big change. In prior years, a pork barrel formula had funneled a share of funds to everyone—with the result that some towns, facing little risk, used the money to buy snow blowers, while high-risk locales scrambled to find the resources to keep their residents safe.

This week, DHS announced the recipients of 2006 homeland security grants under the new risk-based approach. New York City, which received $207 million from DHS last year, will get $124 million in funds.

New York officials are rightly outraged by this strange result. The City spends some $5 million per week on counter-terrorism.

In assessing risk, DHS, instead of convening impartial experts to figure out sensible numbers, relied upon input from governors, mayors and local homeland security officials around the country. In deciding that New York City was not so vulnerable, these folks concluded that the City has no national monuments or icons to attract the interests of terrorists.

As I have argued at length in a law review article, homeland security funding needs to be completely overhauled.

Rather than leave things in the hands of DHS bureaucrats (the same people who bungled the Katrina response), Congress, in accordance with its constitutional duties to protect the states and cities, should reimburse states and cities for all of the reasonable counter-terrorism costs they incur. This is how things were done for much of the history of the Republic.