No Housing, No Arts, No Community! — Oakland’s “Ghost Ship” Fire Born of Rental Pandemic

To stop the inevitable migration of artists, middle class families, and progressive white collar professionals from our nation’s cosmopolitan centers to outskirt towns and emerging middle American metro-areas, we need more aggressive housing safety regulations, much more expansive rent-control laws, and more affordable housing projects in Oakland and the cities across the nation like it, from Brooklyn, NY and Somerville, MA to LA, Austin, Seattle, and Portland.

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How Lawyers Work and Get Paid

Almost all lawyers typically get paid on an hourly basis, and in major metropolitan areas that is usually at the average rate of $300 to $500 per hour. They collect upfront down payments, sometimes called Retainers or Advance Fees, from their clients, out of which they earn money for every minute of billable work they perform for the client. Billable work typically refers to work directly related to the client’s representation, such as reading documents, communicating with the client or related parties, researching facts or the law, thinking about and discussing the client’s case, writing documents, representing the client in court, arguing with opposing parties or lawyers, and so on.

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Lowering the Age of Consent is a Children's Rights Issue

It is this sense of control over children that pervades the US legal system’s treatment of minors in every part of their lives, including their ability to unilaterally and without parental supervision or approval partake in many activities until they reach the Age of Consent set by each state. In so many other nations and throughout time including the present, children under the age of 18 have been working professionally in various types of jobs, getting married, having sex, raising their own children, running companies, and even ruling nations. We know that children are better educated now than at any other time in history. Arguably with the kinds of experiences and information that they can access in the world today and especially online, children are more in touch with who they are, their place in the world, what they believe, and what they want to accomplish: all the hallmarks of maturity.

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What Real Democracy Looks Like: You at Your Laptop Making Stuff Happen

Ok, your street needs paving, and it’s been pockmarked with potholes for a while. Your air smells like sewage, so it’s time to look into your county’s wastewater treatment center. Or you need a better source of electricity in your state than you’re currently getting. So what do you do? Wait for your politician to do something about it, right Wrong! Because you’ll be old and gray before that happens, as we all know. But this is representative democracy at its finest. And representative democracy is really just a bunch of baloney parading around as democracy. It’s basically oligarchy — a political system where a small group of people (e.g., career politicians, the rich, the well-connected) control the government.

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So You Want to Be a Lawyer?

Often, I receive calls and emails from young men and women in high school, college, and law school seeking advice and mentorship regarding a hoped-for or pending law career. Now in early January mere days before so many law school applications are due, I write this short article for them. Here are some basic pointers and truths about the practice of law.

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Sexism in Divorce Court: A Comparative Understanding of the Case of Sakineh Ashtiani in Iran and Child Custody Statistics in the USA

The problem of sexism in our understanding of parenthood is beyond a simple legal problem. In our culture, to "mother" a child has the connotation of "coddling" or "nurturing" a child; whereas to "father" a child means to "procreate", "spawn" or "sire" a child. The mainstream cultural vision of the typical breadwinner is male in our culture, and the mainstream cultural vision of a homemaker is female in our culture. We too suffer from a sexist family law system here in the United States.

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Tort-Reform: Why Other Peoples’ Lawsuits Cost Us So Much Money & What To Do About It

Next time you hear about somebody suing somebody else for money to try to make up for some injury, more likely than not remember this: We are paying for it in the long run. We pay for the Courts and the Judges. We pay the legislators who spend their time making regulations (laws) that provide remedies for victims protected by such laws.

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Be a Good Client: A Video Game Analogy on Winning Your Legal Battles


Legal crises can test you. Learn from the best gamers. Find a comfortable sofa, get your drinks and snacks all lined up, and make sure you’re well slept. Strap on your game headset, talk calmly and intelligently with your lawyer soldier, agree on your strategy, help acquire the best position, keep your ammo supply high, line up your sights, and pull the trigger only when your target is locked-on. That’s how you’ll rack up the points and get your name up on the winner’s board! Good gaming!

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MiscellaneousAli Shahrestani
The Justice System is Broken. Why fix it when natural consequences will do a much better job?

The Justice System – from cops to courts to jails – is just not working. So why continue on with it? Are we dupe enough to believe that we can actually improve upon a system that already swallows hundreds of billions of dollars every year, that employs millions of people many of whom with stellar educations and noble intentions?

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#BlackLivesMatter – A Movement that Should Lead to a Constitutional Amendment Creating A Direct Democracy

Look at the brutality that we have created, look at the injustice. It is time that we rethink this structure. We are adults, we have minds, and we must use them to create a better world. The police state simply creates a more antagonistic Society, judges render no real justice, and prisons do not rehabilitate but simply exacerbate.

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Why the Innocent Plead Guilty & What We Should Do About It

Judge Jed Rakoff, a federal judge at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, wrote a fantastic article in November 2014 for The New York Review of Books entitled “Why Innocent People Plead Guilty“. Shortly after, he provided an interview about the topic to AlterNet, an online magazine. In it, he discussed how federal criminal defendants accept plea bargains 97% of the time and on average state criminal defendants accept them 94% of the time.

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School Bullying is Illegal

School bullying can result in criminal charges for assault, battery, and harassment, as well as civil damages for the torts of negligent supervision, training, retention, and hiring of school faculty and staff, civil harassment, defamation of character, civil assault, civil battery, conversion of personal property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Parents can bring civil lawsuits on behalf of their children if they are the target of bullies, and they can contact the police to investigate criminal charges against juvenile bullies.

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Obama Universal Health Care Plan Is Unconstitutional, and Other Broken Promises of the Obama Administration

During his campaign, Mr. Obama promised us to create a meaningful universal health care law that would provide all Americans with necessary health care coverage. I suppose by that he meant that he would institute the Republican, pro-insurance industry requirement that we all get in line to spend what little money we have to purchase private insurance policies from big insurance companies, lest we be held liable for violating the ironically named "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Law" - an Orwellian name for a law that is itself unconstitutional.

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Overview of US Patent Litigation and US Patent Law

Many business professionals often lack a sufficient understanding of the fundamentals of US Patent Law. To bridge the gap and make my professional conversations with clients more useful and time-effective, I offer the following synopsis of US Patent Litigation and Patent Law. Please note that this synopsis is only for basic informational and entertainment purposes and should not be relied upon as legal advice. You should consult with me personally to discuss your Patent Litigation matter.

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California Sex Crime Laws in the Real World

The California laws regarding Sex Crimes, especially those that are registerable sex offences under Megan’s Law, can stir powerful debates in this state for various reasons. Some consider them to be outdated and out-of-touch with the realities of sexual activity in contemporary society, where it is arguably commonplace for teenage minors to engage in sex with each other in their parents’ homes, where it may be routine practice to have sex when you’re drunk with your girlfriend or boyfriend or even somebody you just met in a bar, where it is not unusual to see public nudity on California’s college campuses on the first rain of the season or on California’s public beaches or big city parks, or where various shocking fetishes and sado-masochistic practices may be more popular in certain social circles especially in edgy metropolitan areas such as San Francisco or Los Angeles.

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Academic Plagiarism and East Asian Students: Chinese Pedagogic Traditions Conflict with USA Laws & Policies

In California, plagiarism may be generally defined as the wrongful or unlawful use of the words or ideas of another without citing the original source thereof. Legally plagiarism may be an actionable violation of copyright law which in turn protects the original words and ideas of an author for an extended period of time. A person whose work is plagiarized might be able to bring a civil lawsuit against the offending party for wrongfully copying his or her words or ideas without properly crediting their source. Academically, plagiarism may be grounds for suspension and expulsion from any academic program.

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Character is Everything

It’s important to mediate on what we accomplish in our life’s work, what kind of company we work for, what its impact on the world really is, and also to think about how we spend our money, what companies and habits we support, and our impact on our communities and the planet. It’s important to think about how we treat people with whom we interact each day in small ways and large as we walk the streets, drive our cars, shop, talk on the phone, and so on.

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Extensive Research: Women Initiate Domestic Violence More than Men, Men Under-report It.

Out of all the respondents, a quarter of the women admitted to perpetrating the domestic violence and, when the violence was reciprocal, women were often the ones to have been the first to strike. In addition, an analytic view of 552 domestic violence studies published in the Psychological Bulletin found that 38% of the physical injuries suffered in domestic violence disputes were suffered by men.

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Identity Theft and Your Business’s Liability to Your Clients’ Safety

It is best to review your business’s policies and procedures in maintaining the highest available levels of security for your databases and online accounts, be as organized and diligent as possible in your data management and online security practices, and take all the necessary precautions by training your personnel appropriately. Since nobody is impervious to online attacks, as we learn from Mr. Honan’s unfortunate example, it is important to also clearly inform your clients of such possibilities in your contractual language.

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