Monday, July 14, 2014

Saratoga Highlights--2013 (Part 8: Recap) [final installment; mostly photos!]

Ok, 4 more days till the 2014 meet opens. Here's the final look back at last year's highlights.
(click on any Highlight # to see related post)

Highlight # 1
Will Take Charge, winning
the Travers
(click to enlarge any photo)
Willie (center) in Deep Stretch
Palace Malice (left) & Moreno (right)
(Orb, not pictured, on the rail)
by Adam Coglianese

Princess of Sylmar, winning
the CCA Oaks & the Alabama
Princess trounces
in the CCA Oaks
by Bob Mayberger

Highlight # 3
Wise Dan, winning
the Fourstardave
Another Fourstardave
for Dan
by Adam Coglianese

Royal Delta, winning
the Personal Ensign
Royal Delta
by nearly 5 lengths
by Adam Coglianese

Highlight # 5
Alpha, winning the Woodward
Alpha (right front)
Holding the W-W Lead
by Bob Mayberger

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Saratoga Highlights--2013 (Part 7: The Humans)

Just 5 more days--this coming Friday--opening day of the Saratoga 2014 meet. Season seats and admission passes in hand, I'm ready. So is the Capital Region. Exciting!
Let's wind up last year's highlights with a few humans who made their mark.
We'll do a quick recap next post.

John R. Velazquez, #694
Johnny V!
(click to enlarge any photo)
Johnny V,
Breaks Record
held by Jerry Bailey (right),
with mentor Angel Cordero (left)
by Adam Coglianese
Synonymous with the best in thoroughbred racing. And if it weren't already so, synonymous with Saratoga after the 2013 meet.

Earlier in the meet, he passed the 5,000 win mark for his career.
One month after the meet, he became North America's leading money-earning jockey of all time.

John R. Velazquez
Saratoga's All-Time Top Jockey
by Bob Mayberger
Several years ago, he had set the Saratoga record for 6 wins in one day.
A couple of years ago, he was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga.
He has won virtually every big race at Saratoga.

And last year, he became the winningest jockey of all-time at Saratoga, passing Jerry Bailey's previous record of 693.

D. Wayne Lukas, Travers at 77 & Hopeful at 78
The trainer's trainer. "The Coach."
His proteges (e.g., Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Mike Maker, Dallas Stewart ) have become some of America's top trainers.

D. Wayne Lukas (right)
in the
Travers' Winner's Circle
by Bob Mayberger
Perhaps the most successful trainer of thoroughbreds in horse racing history, he was the first to earn more than $100 million, then $200 million. He led the nation's trainers in annual money earned 14 times. He has won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer 4 times, and last year the Eclipse Award of Merit for lifetime achievement.

"The Coach"
Hopeful Victory at 78

by Bob Mayberger
At Saratoga 2013, he scored 2 of the meet's biggest prizes. He won the meet's signature race for 3 year olds, the Travers, with Will Take Charge. (And he proceeded to victories with Willie in the Pennsylvania Derby and the Clark Handicap, as well as a fast closing second in the Breeders' Classic--to earn Willie the Eclipse Award for Outstanding 3-Year Old.)

He finished the meet by winning Saratoga's premiere race for 2 year olds, the Hopeful, with Strong Mandate. It was the final day of the meet, and The Coach's birthday. It was also 35 after he began training thoroughbreds, and D. Wayne Lukas was still winning the big ones.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Supreme Court, 2013-14 Term: Quick Recap (Part 3: a few more cases)

To conclude this series, here are 3 additional significant decisions--one that I should have included in part 1, and two others that don't fit very well in either part 1 or 2.

Free Speech
McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission--Campaign Finance--[5-4] Restrictions on how much money someone may contribute to a political candidate or party violate the 1st Amendment.
(My take--disagree: Unlike the Citizen's United decision which specifically dealt with spending money in order to produce a political message independent of any candidate or party, this case dealt with giving money directly to a candidate or party, which creates a far greater risk of undue influence, bribery, and related corruption.

American Broadcasting Companies v Aereo--Transmission of TV Broadcasts--[6-3] Selling a service that transmits TV programs selected by individual subscribers to be watched over the internet violates the copyrights of the program owners.
(My take--agree: Program owners are entitled to compensation for this for-profit transmission of their property, just as they are from cable providers.

Utility Air Regulatory Group v Environmental Protection Agency--Greenhouse Gas--[5-4] The Clean Air Act does not authorize the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from sources the agency may not otherwise regulate; but [7-2] the EPA may regulate greenhouse gas emissions--and insist on "best available control technology" [BACT]--from sources that the agency is already authorized to regulate based on their emission of more conventional chemical pollutants.
(My take--disagree; agree: Greenhouse gases are air pollutants that endanger the public health (as the Court recognized 7 years ago) and would, therefore, seem to fall squarely within the EPA's regulatory authority, period.)

Well, that's it for the quick recap. When we return next to the Court's term, we'll look at a few of the decisions more closely, as well as decisional and voting patterns.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Supreme Court, 2013-14 Term: Quick Recap (Part 2: criminal cases)

Let's now move to the Court's decisions in criminal cases. As we did with civil rights and liberties decisions in the previous post, we'll take a quick, bare-bones look at some of the most significant cases.

Search & Seizure
Riley v California--Cell Phone Search--[9-0] In the absence of some exigent circumstances, a warrant is required to search the digital data on an arrestee's cell phone.
(My take--agree: A most welcome limitation to the Court's atrocious decisions automatically permitting full warrantless searches incident to arrest, for any offense, regardless how minor, and regardless of any connection to the offense.)

Fernandez v California--Warrantless Home Search--[6-3] A warrantless search is permitted with the consent of any occupant, as long as the occupant who is the target of the investigation--and who had already refused to give permission--is not home.
(My take--disagree: If there actually is some legally sufficient reason to search the home of the non-consenting target, then get a warrant!)

Navarette v California--Auto Stop--[5-4] An anonymous call to 911 that the driver of a described truck ran the caller off the road provided reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop.
(My take--agree: A 911 tip, especially a detailed one about an incident this serious, seems sufficiently reliable to justify a brief stop to investigate.)

Death Penalty
Hall v Florida--Mental Disability--[5-4] Florida's rigid threshold of an IQ test score of 70 is invalid because it creates an unacceptable risk that a mentally disabled person will be executed.
(My take--agree: A single test score without any other consideration seems much too unreliable.)

Abramski v U.S.--Deceptive Purchase--[5-4] Falsely stating on a federal form that a gun purchase is for oneself, when it is actually for another, constitutes a false statement crime even if the other person would be an eligible purchaser.
(My take--agree: Would there even be an issue if this "straw purchase" was not about guns?

Chemical Weapons
Bond v U.S.--Chemical Weapons Treaty--[9-0 / 6-3 on broader meaning] The use of a toxic substance by one person to commit a simple assault against another is not a federal crime under the Chemical Weapons Treaty, but under local law.
(My take--agree: A simple assault is a far cry from the warfare concerns underlying the Chemical Weapons Treaty and Congress's implementation of it should be construed accordingly.)

That's it for part 2 which was supposed to conclude these quick recaps. But I miscalculated. A part 3 is needed to cover decisions otherwise omitted from this series. That's the next post.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Supreme Court, 2013-14 Term: Quick Recap (Part 1: civil rights and liberties)

The Court finished its term Monday. The decisions announced that morning, in the cases dealing with the contraceptive mandate and union dues, were the final two in a veritable whirlwind the past few weeks.

Out of the 70 or so decisions rendered this term, let's take a quick look at some of the most significant. "Quick" as in a very brief bare-bone recap of each. And "significant" as in cases involving issues of liberty and order, rights and responsibilities, equality and justice that are basic to a free society--the ones most of us are interested in, not just lawyers and businesses.

We'll do this quick recap in 2 parts, civil and criminal. Later, we'll look at these cases more closely. I.e., votes, meaning, impact, precedential ramifications, etc.
(We'll also be reviewing some of the significant decisions rendered by the New York Court of Appeals this year .)

Burwell v Hobby Lobby--Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate--[5-4] Closely held corporations whose owners have sincere religious objections to paying for insurance coverage for abortifacients are entitled to an exemption.
(My take--agree: Are we serious about religious liberty or not!)

Town of Greece v Galloway--Town Prayer--[5-4] Town Board officials do not violate the Non-Establishment of Religion by beginning meetings with sectarian prayers delivered by invited clergy.
(My take-- disagree: Government should stay out of religion.)

Harris v Quinn--Union Dues--[5-4] A state may not compel independent personal care providers to pay dues to a single private union designated by the state.
(My take--agree: Independent workers being forced by government to pay dues to a particular private organization with which they disagree?)

McCullen v Coakley--Abortion Protests--[9-0 / 5-4 on broader meaning] A law prohibiting any protesting or counseling within 30 feet of an abortion clinic violates free speech.
(My take--agree: It's fine to prohibit violence, harassment, or interference, but not pure expressive activity.)

Equal Protection
Schuette v Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action--Affirmative Action--[6-2 (Kagan recused)] Michigan law prohibiting racial preferences in colleges admissions does not violate constitutional equal protection.
(My take--disagree: A hateful law that has little to do with merit selection, banning consideration of racial minority or diversity but leaving countless other non-merit preferences untouched.)

Separation of Powers
National Labor Relations Board v Canning--Presidential Recess Appointments--[9-0 / 5-4 on broader meaning] The President may not exercise the recess appointment power while the Senate is in a pro forma session in which it at least has the ability to conduct business.
(My take--disagree: When the Senate declares a session purely to preclude recess appointments, but not for the purpose or intention of conducting any business, it is a fiction and not a session in any real sense.)

Next post: criminal cases.