Campbell’s Soup has “less” sodium – but less than what?

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to go ahead against Campbell Soup Co, the world’s largest soup-maker, over whether its purported “low-sodium” tomato soup really has less sodium.

Four New Jersey women had sued the company last year, contending they were misled into paying more for the “low sodium” brand. They say it had almost as much sodium as Campbell’s regular tomato soup.

U.S. District Judge Jerome Simandle on Wednesday denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying the women could press claims under New Jersey’s consumer fraud act because reasonable consumers could have found Campbell’s labels misleading…

“Consumers should not have to read the back of the soup can to be sure the information on the front is truthful,” said a lawyer for the women, Lester Levy…

“Campbell has complete confidence in the accuracy of our labels and our marketing communications and that they meet regulatory and other legal requirements,” Campbell said in a statement.

Truth in labeling has nothing to do truth in reality. Campbell feels that as long as they aren’t caught violating chapter and verse of the most obscure part of a law – that’s close enough to the truth.

Disclaimer: I once won a consumer lawsuit against Campbell’s Soup. Har!

Prosecution hides evidence – and after 18 years in prison Supreme Court conservatives say freed man has no right to sue


Which side are you on, boys – which side are you on?

A sharply divided Supreme Court ruled against a former death row inmate who sought damages from the state after prosecutors hid crucial blood tests that would have earlier proven his innocence. The 5-4 decision Tuesday involved John Thompson, who came within weeks of execution and had spent 18 years behind bars before being set free after the new forensic evidence came to light.

At issue was whether a district attorney’s office should be held liable, under a “failure to train” standard, when one of its prosecutors unconstitutionally withholds exculpatory evidence from a criminal defendant.

Then-New Orleans area District Attorney Harry Connick Sr. claimed his office should not be held fully responsible after one of his staff attorneys violated long-standing, accepted procedures on handling evidence in criminal trials.

Thompson’s lawyers said the DA’s office as a whole should be held liable for the poor training of prosecutors working under Connick…

A landmark 1963 high court ruling — Brady v. Maryland — said prosecutor have a sworn duty to turn over evidence that may show a defendant is innocent. But in a subsequent opinion, the high court said individual prosecutors cannot be sued for any constitutional violations in the courtroom.

The Thompson decision further limits when defendants can sue for so-called “Brady” violations.

In a rare oral dissent, Ginsburg spoke from the bench to strongly criticize the majority’s conclusions.

“The record in this case abundantly shows flagrant indifference to Thompson’s rights,” she said. “The conceded, long-concealed prosecutorial transgressions in Thompson’s trials were neither isolated nor atypical. They were just what one would expect given the attitude toward Brady pervasive in the district attorney’s office.”

Ginsburg was backed by Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

At least there still are four judges left on the Supreme Court who believe in justice for ordinary people. The remainder are stuck in history with their corporate bedbuddies and apparently every incompetent prosecutor they can protect from responsibility for their actions.

Lawyer reprimanded for trying to solicit sex for his wife – WTF?


Associate Chief Justice of the Court of Queens Bench
…and star of bondage photo series

After pleading guilty to professional misconduct…disgraced lawyer Jack King got off with a reprimand.

The Law Society of Manitoba agreed with recommendations by lawyers for King and the law society not to suspend him for trying in 2003 to get a client to have sex with his wife, now Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Lori Douglas.

The law society decided no fine was necessary. The reprimand, a “permanent blemish” on King’s record, was enough, it said. But he will have to pay $13,650, the law society’s costs in the matter…

King’s former client wasn’t happy with its decision.

He should be disbarred,” said Alexander Chapman, who brought the case to light late last year. Chapman accused King of pressuring him in 2003 to have sex with Douglas, named a judge two years later. He said King gave him sexually explicit photos of Douglas.

A reprimand doesn’t serve as a deterrent to protect lawyers’ clients from sexual harassment, Chapman said at the law society’s downtown office Monday. “This doesn’t set any precedent for other lawyers about what goes on behind closed doors…”

Whoop-de-doo. After a while, you have to suspect that everyone involved with the legal profession, with jurisprudence, law and order – comes to think of themselves as above the law.

Although making laws about who gets to have sex with whom can be a process just as suspect as long as they are consenting adults.

Are cavities contagious?

Everyone knows you can catch a cold or the flu. But can you catch a cavity?

Researchers have found that not only is it possible, but it occurs all the time.

While candy and sugar get all the blame, cavities are caused primarily by bacteria that cling to teeth and feast on particles of food from your last meal. One of the byproducts they create is acid, which destroys teeth.

Just as a cold virus can be passed from one person to the next, so can these cavity-causing bacteria. One of the most common is Streptococcus mutans. Infants and children are particularly vulnerable to it, and studies have shown that most pick it up from their caregivers — for example, when a mother tastes a child’s food to make sure it’s not too hot, said Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a cosmetic dentist in Chicago.

A number of studies have also shown that transmission can occur between couples, too. Dr. Mitchell has seen it in her own practice.

“In one instance, a patient in her 40s who had never had a cavity suddenly developed two cavities and was starting to get some gum disease,” she said. She learned the woman had started dating a man who hadn’t been to a dentist in 18 years and had gum disease.

Sheesh! You can’t win.

Israel prepares to revoke citizenship of uppity Israeli Arabs

Israel has passed a law that eases the process of revoking citizenship in a step denounced as a move to threaten primarily its Arab minority.

The amendment to a so-called “Citizenship Law” was the latest in a list of parliamentary measures taken this past month that civil rights activists denounce as undemocratic but Israeli rightists see as essential to the Jewish state’s defense.

The measure, which passed by a vote of 37 to 11 after a stormy debate, empowers Israeli judges to deny citizenship privileges to anyone convicted of espionage or committing violence with nationalist motives.

Some of the delights of the McCarran-Walters Act that made life in McCarthyite America such an “adventure”.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose ultra-nationalist party sponsored the measure, proclaimed victory after the vote, saying he had fulfilled a pledge to voters to crack down on any “citizen who sides with the enemy.”

Israel’s Association for Civil Rights issued a statement in protest saying that “in a democracy you don’t deny citizenship” and that the measure sends a “humiliating and discriminatory message that citizenship for Israeli Arabs is not automatic…”

Israeli Arabs, who make up about a fifth of Israel’s population, are descendants of Palestinians who remained in what is now Israel when hundreds of thousands were driven away or fled in a 1948 war over Israel’s establishment.

Unlike Palestinians living in territory Israel captured in a 1967 war, Israeli Arabs are fully enfranchised though many complain of discrimination…

Not an important topic for the Israeli government. Or their allies in our Congress. In fact a few of the latter are preparing similar legislation for the United States.

Artificial Leaf might match or exceed the real thing

Speaking at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in California, MIT professor Daniel Nocera claims to have created an artificial leaf made from stable and inexpensive materials that mimics nature’s photosynthesis process.

The device is an advanced solar cell, no bigger than a typical playing card, which is left floating in a pool of water. Then, much like a natural leaf, it uses sunlight to split the water into its two core components, oxygen and hydrogen, which are stored in a fuel cell to be used when producing electricity.

Nocera’s leaf is stable — operating continuously for at least 45 hours without a drop in activity in preliminary tests — and made of widely available, inexpensive materials — like silicon, electronics and chemical catalysts. It’s also powerful, as much as 10 times more efficient at carrying out photosynthesis than a natural leaf.

With a single gallon of water, Nocera says, the chip could produce enough electricity to power a house in a developing country for an entire day. Provide every house on the planet with an artificial leaf and we could satisfy our 14-terrawatt need with just one gallon of water a day…

For now, Nocera is setting his sights on developing countries. “Our goal is to make each home its own power station,” he said. “One can envision villages in India and Africa not long from now purchasing an affordable basic power system based on this technology.”

His contracts with Tata validate his claims – at least in the eyes of one significant investor. And Tata is one of those firms that is at its best producing products for nations making that first trek from 3rd World into a developing nation.