God’s Name in the Presidential Oath: “The Heart of a King is in the Hand of Hashem”

President Obama took the oath of office for his second term this week, and like many chief executives before him, he ended his oath with the words “So help me God.” Behind those words lies a longstanding tradition, but also a contemporary controversy. More importantly, though, they serve as a reminder to all Who is really in control.

Invoking God’s Name in the Presidential Oath of Office

The U.S. Constitution, Art. II § 1, states that before the President takes office he must take the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Nowhere does the Constitution require the mention of God’s name in an oath.(1) However, legend has it that George Washington used the phrase after his inaugural oath, and it was contemporaneously documented as used in the oaths of many presidents since Abraham Lincoln.

The last time Barack Obama was sworn in as President, a group of atheists sued to prevent the Chief Justice John Roberts from prompting the President with the words “So help me God.” The plaintiffs conceded that the President himself has a First Amendment right to use the phrase, but they argued that it is unconstitutional for the Chief Justice to prompt the President with those words. See Newdow v. Roberts, 603 F.3d 1002 (dismissed for mootness and lack of standing).

A Reminder to Us All

To those who learn and follow God’s will, manifested in the Torah, it is encouraging to see the leader of one of the most powerful nations invoke His name when he takes the oath of office. But it also must remind us that as much as it appears that the President alone is making important executive decisions, it is really the Almighty who is in control.

The wisest of all kings, Shlomo HaMelech, tells us, “Like streams of water is the heart of a king in the hand of Hashem; whichever way He desires he directs it.” (Mishle [Proverbs] 21:1) The Midrash, quoting Rabbi Yishmael, explains:

Just like water, when you put it in a vessel you can tilt it to any direction you desire, so too when a man of flesh and blood becomes king, his heart is placed in the hand of Hashem: if the world is meritorious, Hashem directs the heart of the king towards good decrees; but if the world is guilty, Hashem directs his heart towards evil decrees.

The mention of God’s name in the President’s oath reminds him that even he answers to a higher authority. But it also must stir us to the realization that how he executes his duties will ultimately depend on our deeds. When the President acts in a way that impacts negatively upon us, we cannot place all the blame on him; we are also at fault. After all, “The heart of a king is in the hand of Hashem.”


Climate Change Groups Split on Fossil Fuel Divestment

A rift is emerging among investors in some of the world’s biggest energy companies over a global campaign that aims to combat climate change by making fossil fuels as unpopular as tobacco.

Over the past seven months, investors including the heirs to the Rockefeller Standard Oil fortune and the board of trustees at California’s Stanford University, have decided to avoid shares in coal companies.

Some church groups and the University of Glasgow have gone a step further and said they will shun all fossil fuel investments amid a grassroots campaign based on the 1980s divestment movement that pushed South Africa to end its apartheid system of racial segregation.

Altogether, institutions and individuals responsible for at least $50bn of investment have said they will sell some or all of their fossil fuel holdings.

But other investors concerned about global warming say it is better to hang on to shares in oil and gas companies such as Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, or coal groups such as Peabody Energy of the US, and use the holdings as a way to engage directly with companies to encourage them to adopt more climate-friendly strategies.

“The idea that shaming an industry will somehow reduce greenhouse gas emissions is not correct,” says Jonathan Naimon, managing director of Light Green Advisors, a New York asset management firm that specialises in environmental sustainability investing. “It isn’t like divestors are bringing any solutions to the table.”

“It’s actually projects and technologies that reduce emissions and the people developing them are in energy supply companies as well as energy-using companies,” he adds.

Mr Naimon points to work his firm had done with Ford Motor Company to encourage it to make hybrid sports utility vehicles, which are now part of New York City’s taxi fleet.

Norway’s huge $845bn oil fund appears to be moving towards a similar position. A panel set up to advise Norway’s finance ministry on whether to sell out of coal and oil companies counselled against such a move in December. It said active ownership of, and engagement with, fossil fuel companies on climate change was preferable.

A similar argument has been made by the largest public pension fund in the US, the $299.4bn California Public Employees’ Retirement System, which also points out it has a fiduciary duty to meet its financial commitments to members.

Harvard University has also repeatedly rejected student and faculty pressure to sell its fossil fuel holdings, a move its president, Drew Faust, has said would not be “warranted or wise.”

But Bill McKibben, the US environmental activist and writer who co-founded the 350.org climate campaign group spearheading the divestment push, says engagement strategies only suited some companies.

“If we have a problem with Apple paying Chinese workers bad wages you don’t need to throw away your iPhone and boycott Apple stock. You need to put pressure on them so they pay people better and the price of an iPhone goes up a dollar and everyone’s happy,” he says.

But he argues fossil fuel extraction companies are a very different case because their value is so dependent on their reserves of oil, gas and coal. “There’s no way that engagement can persuade them to get out of this business as long as it remains a profitable business,” he says.

“The idea that anyone else is going to merrily persuade Chevron or BP that they want to be in the renewables business or something is nuts,” he says. He argues this would only happen with government pressure and that in turn would require the dilution of energy companies’ political power by efforts such as the divestment movement.

Mr McKibben’s campaign was inspired by research from a London-based think-tank, Carbon Tracker, showing that the best way for the world to avoid dangerous climate change is to keep from using most of the known oil, gas and coal reserves. The think-tank argues that climate change pressure groups could turn such holdings into “stranded assets” as their value falls.

But Carbon Tracker itself does not recommend a pure divestment strategy.

“We’re not advocating blanket divestment,” said Anthony Hobley, the group’s chief executive. “We think both engagement and divestment together will achieve more. The sum is greater than the parts because either alone isn’t going to achieve the ultimate objective of a climate-secure energy system.”

The divestment movement may not have persuaded the world’s largest investors, but the idea of stranded assets has provoked an unusually public response from Shell,

ExxonMobil, Norway’s Statoil and other big oil and gas groups this year.

They argue investors should not be concerned that the divestment movement will push down values because demand for energy is strong and renewable energy sources are unlikely to be a realistic alternative to fossil fuels for many decades.

But pressure on the industry is unlikely to go away.

Among the measures some countries are proposing for a global climate deal due to be agreed next year is a plan that would lead to fossil fuels being phased out as early as 2050. Other nations will oppose this move but a later deadline for eliminating the use of oil, gas and coal is likely to stay on the negotiating table for much longer than the industry would like.

Churches join the fossil fuel debate

The world’s churches have become an arena for the debate over whether it is better to tackle global warming by divesting from fossil fuel companies or by holding shares and engaging with energy groups to spur more climate-friendly business models.

The World Council of Churches, which represents around 560m Christians in 140 countries, has adopted a divestment strategy for its SFr16.7m investment portfolio. Its finance policy committee decided in July that fossil fuels should be added to the list of sectors in which the council would not invest.

“The use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced and by not investing in those companies we want to show a direction we need to follow as a human family to address climate changes properly,” said Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary.

But the Church of England, which has an investment portfolio worth around £9bn, has opted for engagement. It announced last month it would use its stakes in Royal Dutch Shell and BP to urge the companies to cut their carbon emissions and invest more in renewables.

The Church of England has about £100m invested in Shell and just over £50m in BP and plans to file shareholder resolutions asking both companies to take greater action to tackle climate change.

“Church investors have an excellent record of achieving change through engagement, including on climate change issues,” said Edward Mason, head of responsible investment at the Church Commissioners, the denomination’s endowment fund.

More than half the 53 major British companies that the endowment fund engaged with in 2014 had improved the way they disclosed and managed their carbon emissions, he said.

A University of Edinburgh academic who assessed the engagement strategy concluded “with a 95 percent degree of certainty” that these improvements were due to the influence of church investors.


What We’re Reading: Resource Revolution

Is a quiet revolution to make productive use of resources underway? Matt Rogers and Stefan Heck of McKinsey and Co. make a persuasive case that leading companies are revolutionizing the way that we make use of physical resources such as energy, whether oil or solar, and materials used for products.

This “resource revolution” claims that just as technological advances increased the productivity of labor tremendously in the last generation, innovative new technologies will increase the productivity of resources over this generation. Is this resource revolution, along with climate change, the greatest wealth-creating opportunity of a generation, or just another incremental step?

The book has three basic premises: first, that technology is behind each progressive change in energy resources; second, that leading companies, by dint of creativity, testing, and hard work, are opening up new markets and changing the way products and services are delivered; and third, that a series of challenges can be expressed in the form of future model companies designed to spur entrepreneurial activity.

The climate change debate has for years been dominated by a pessimistic perspective first penned by Thomas Malthus, a British clergyman, and adopted in part by former Vice President Al Gore. This model suggests that earth is a sinking ship destined to sink because of intractable problems linked to our consumption.

The McKinsey team, dissecting previous “revolutionary” transitions, points out that the Malthusian cataclysm hasn’t occurred due to improvements in technology and, in particular, new applications of technologies that permit more needs to be served with fewer resources. This historical perspective is quite helpful to put in context our current resource dilemmas and to help see the vital importance that businesses play in solving problems.

The second part of the Resource Revolution book highlights the individuals and firms that have led the most recent resource revolutions. George Mitchell from Mitchell Oil pioneered hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” which has changed the U.S. from a major oil and gas importer to an exporter of natural gas and the largest worldwide petroleum liquids producer in less than a generation. Elon Musk has stood the auto industry on its head with a luxury electric car that is a pleasure to drive. The solar industry, which has grown over 1000% in the past 10 years, is also described.

One slight inaccuracy is the emphasis on the innovations of California solar firms, when third party solar financing was pioneered some 5 years earlier by an East coast firm, SunEdison, which is still one of the nation’s largest on a megawatt basis. Another perplexing element is a downgrading of the contributions of various large firms that developed advanced technologies — such as LED lighting — that have subsequently been adopted by smaller firms such as CREE.

The third section of the book sets out some model business opportunities for entrepreneurs based on the authors’ core principles, such as “the common themes of reducing one way resource flows, increasing circularity, and using digital tools like object-oriented programming to reduce waste and provide greater consumer choice.” Top opportunities identified include a net-zero decentralized energy company and a “tertiary recovery” oil and gas company.

Over the last 15 years, we at LGA have evaluated companies in terms of their ability to integrate these Resource Revolution concepts into products and services offered to the public. We see plenty of evidence that many large firms have improved their resource productivity tremendously over the last decade. A subsequent blog post will go into some of the companies LGA sees that have already started converting on the opportunities laid out in Resource Revolution.

Resource Revolution, by Matt Rogers and Stefan Heck of McKinsey & Co., is a worthwhile and insightful book that goes far to explicate the massive business opportunities associated with the challenge of providing energy and consumer lifestyle choices to 2.5 billion new global middle class customers—largely in the developing world. It is also a good tonic for both the new age fantasy that better attitudes will solve problems and the pessimism of Malthus that all is lost since technology is fixed and population is rising. It is a book that should be read not only by the CEOs that are McKinsey & Co.’s natural audience, but also by NGO executives and by investors, who will provide the financial resources that serve as fuel for companies to build a more resource efficient tomorrow.


Woodstock Woman Is Killed After Semi Truck Causes Car Accident

A truck driver was cited in a fatal truck accident that killed a 21-year-old newlywed Sunday. The woman’s husband was also a passenger in the car that was struck but he survived and is at Grady Memorial Hospital with what appears to be non-life threatening injuries.

The truck accident occurred along I-285 when the truck driver clipped the woman’s Nissan Sentra while attempting a lane change. The newlywed from Woodstock lost control of her car after being hit, struck the right guardrail and then careened into oncoming traffic where she was struck by another tractor-trailer. Upon impact, the Nissan flipped and landed on its side.

The fatal truck and car crash closed southbound I-285 for two hours Easter Sunday night. The truck driver who clipped the victim’s car was arrested after the crash. He has been charged with second degree vehicular homicide, as well as improper lane change, according to Ft Lauderdale car accident lawyers.

Truck driver error is a major cause of fatal truck accidents. When a semi truck or tractor trailer driver makes a poor choice on the road, it’s often the innocent drivers nearby who pay the price. In this case, it appears that the truck driver may have failed to fully check his blind spots before changing lanes. This fatal mistake took the life of a young woman with a bright future.

Truck drivers need to be mindful that they share the roads. Truck drivers need to pay attention, carefully execute lane changes and other driving maneuvers, and allow an appropriate stopping distance based on the weight of the truck. Training and additional certification or safety classes may also help to prevent serious truck driver errors.


Divorce and Bankruptcy

Last time we started a conversation on how to avoid seven common money mistakes often committed after going through a divorce. The period of going through a divorce is often a time fraught with emotions and sometimes emotions can get in the way of a solid financial decision. In this post we will discuss the remaining four money mistakes.

The fourth money mistake to avoid is one committed out of the feeling of revenge. Sometimes an individual may want payback if an ex-spouse was unfaithful during the marriage. Often, revenge takes the form of financial revenge by ruining a former spouse’s credit with an excess of credit card charges. Racking up a big balance may feel cathartic, but it is a bad financial decision since the individual that makes the charges could be held responsible for the balance. Former spouses who fear revenge credit balances should not rush out to close every credit card account and open new accounts. The process will lower the person’s credit score.

Sometimes people who go through the end of a relationship want to make themselves feel better by having beauty procedures completed. Beauty procedures like plastic surgery can add more unneeded expense and will likely not convince a former spouse to get back together. Major financial decisions after a divorce should be delayed by at least six months if not one year. Contact a attorney in https://brattonfamilylaw.com/ for more information about family law and other types of law.

Competition is the sixth mistake. On occasion, parents who divorce can feel a need to earn their children’s love by purchasing gifts. Parents should not try to outdo or keep up with each other; especially when budgets change. Parents should not run up expenses by proving their love with credit cards.

Finally, after a person finalizes their divorce, the person may be eager to start a new relationship. One of the most common mistakes is to loan money to a new girlfriend or boyfriend. Recent divorcees should not provide personal loans for at least one year after divorce or you might risk a Louisiana bankruptcy.


Foreclosures jumped 21 percent in third quarter of 2011

Mortgage foreclosures in the United States increased sharply in the third quarter of 2011 after a temporary suspension of foreclosure practices was lifted off of banking institutions. The 21 percent increase from the previous quarter brought national foreclosure levels back to the historically high levels that the mortgage industry has been seeing in the aftermath of the housing crisis.

San Diego foreclosure defense attorneys noted that part of the rapid spike in foreclosures is that banks are working more aggressively to process foreclosures for seriously delinquent loans. Now that the suspension period has been lifted, banks are working to catch up on mortgages entering into foreclosure proceedings.
The foreclosures report, which was produced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said another reason foreclosures have increased is that many delinquent loans are faced with no alternatives other than foreclosure proceedings. The number of seriously delinquent mortgages also increased as stalled foreclosure processes allowed for past-due mortgages to become even more delinquent. Seek assistance from tax debt lawyer if you’re still having trouble.

Despite the grim foreclosure news, there is information to suggest a more optimistic future for the housing industry. Although foreclosures spiked in the third quarter of 2011, it was still 11.8 percent lower than the third quarter of 2010.

But mortgages that are current remained steady from the second quarter in 2011, suggesting that more home loans are stabilizing after the housing crisis. Meanwhile, Bank of America Corp. and other major financial institutions are currently negotiating settlements for their improper foreclosure practices.


Amtrack passenger train hits 18-wheeler stuck on tracks

We do not often hear about train and 18-wheeler crashes let alone a passenger train and semi crash. When these types of accidents occur many people’s lives are put in danger and the likelihood of severe injury or death can be high. Luckily, the incidents of train and truck crashes are rare. Last Friday morning one such train and 18-wheeler accident occurred near Beaumont, Texas.

One week ago in Southeast Texas, an Amtrack passenger train headed to New Orleans, Louisiana hit an 18–wheeler that was stranded on the railroad tracks. According to the local sheriff’s department the semi was completely demolished by the passenger train in the Friday morning accident. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

According to a local sheriff’s deputy, the truck driver from Houston had jumped out of the truck before the train smashed into it. Authorities say the semi-truck became stuck on the tracks because it became “high-centered” on the railway. The truck was hauling a load of pipe intended to be delivered to local oilfields. As the truck approached the railroad crossing the truck could not clear the track crossing because of the crossing’s steep grade. As a result, the first set of wheels cleared the track but the framework of the truck was not able to clear leaving the truck immobilized on the track.

The Amtrack passenger train was aware of the situation before it reached the crossing, and as the passenger train approached the train engineer was able to slow the train to a speed of 30 miles per hour before impact occurred. According to the sheriff’s office, the impact of the train pushed the semi 20 yards down the track. After the railway was cleared of the accident, the train continued to New Orleans.

Injury lawyer Fresno are always ready and willing to handle these types of cases.


Criminal law

We’ve been a criminal law firm since graduating from the University of Florida College of Law in 1972. While in law school, we developed a keen interest in the criminal area and served as a student intern under the tutelage of Eugene Whitworth, Esq., who later became State Attorney of the 8th Judicial Circuit. Upon graduation, we accepted a position as an Assistant State Attorney in the 18th Judicial Circuit in Seminole County, Florida, and due to his intense work ethic, devotion and charisma, was quickly elevated to a position in the Felony Trial Division, where he remained until 1977. During that time, he was responsible for numerous high-profile prosecutions and earned a reputation as a tough but fair prosecutor amongst his peers.

In 1977, after a brief foray into politics, he established a private practice specializing in criminal defense  with another former prosecutor and friend. For the next 11 years, we developed a criminal practice in both state and federal courts in the central and southern districts of Florida. We rose to prominence for their vigorous defense strategies and were engaged in several high-profile criminal trials during this period.

In 1988, he finally succumbed to the lure of the Florida Keys, closed out his practice, sold his house, moved onto his trawler and headed for Marathon. After six months of “retirement” herealized he desperately missed both the practice of law and court appearances. He applied for a position as Assistant Public Defender in the 16th Judicial Circuit, and was assigned to manage the Marathon office. In 1990, the State Attorney’s Office decided to cut their losses and hire he as the manager of their Marathon office. He held this position until 1993. At that point in time, he received an offer from the Cunningham Law Firm, the oldest law firm in the Florida Keys, to join them as a Shreveport defense lawyer. He’s reputation in the Keys was well known by this time, and by 1993, he had prosecuted, or defended, a large percentage of the community. His approachability and charismatic personality served him well once again in a private practice. From 1993 through today, he has handled a wide variety of criminal cases, including sex crimes lawyers, environmental infractions, groundings, DUIs, driver license suspensions, aggravated batteries and attempted murders.


Who we’ve defended

We’ve defended people against criminal charges including:

  • Murder
  • lawyers of distinction
  • Attempted murder
  • DUI manslaughter
  • DUI serious bodily injury
  • All sex related cases including:
    • Capital Sexual Battery
    • Sexual Battery
    • Lewd and Lascivious molestation
    • Lewd and Lascivious exhibition
  • All Drug Charges (prescription and non-prescription), including:
    • Drug Trafficking
    • Possession of drugs
    • Sale of drugs
    • Delivery of drugs
    • Cultivating, growing, manufacturing
  • Kidnapping (armed and unarmed)
  • Home invasion robbery
  • False Imprisonment
  • Robbery (armed and unarmed)
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Aggravated Assault
  • Battery on law enforcement officer
  • Aggravated Assault on Law enforcement officer
  • All Theft charges
  • Check Charges
  • All White Collar Crimes, including:
    • Mail Fraud
    • Embezzlement

As Michigan accident lawyers, we’ve handled a myriad of cases.


Information Security & Internet Enforcement Overview

All corporations, regardless of size and industry sector, rely on computer networks to store and exchange sensitive company information. This reliance, while increasing convenience and productivity, brings the risk of breaches in network security. Such breaches can originate either from outside the network (the external hacker) or from within the company (the nefarious employee).

Federal and state regulators and, in their wake, jibrael hindi credit repair attorneys are setting their sights on information security breaches and incident handling as grounds for enforcement actions and class action lawsuits against the companies that house or transmit the compromised information. As a result, companies are being forced to develop and implement well-conceived information security programs. Such programs are not only required by law, or necessary to shield the entity from liability, but also can serve as business drivers because establishing and maintaining the trust of partners and customers are crucial in this highly networked environment.

Our qualified criminal defense lawyers in West Palm Beach Information Security and Internet Enforcement Group concentrates in counseling clients on compliance with the emerging patchwork of federal and state information security laws and regulations, responding to security incidents and evaluating potential liability resulting from security breaches.

Internet Enforcement

Other IP&T Law
Whether you are a publisher working in a traditional medium, or an entrepreneur setting up a Web-based or cable TV business, the explosion of communication channels in the last decade means that there are new regulations and case law that apply to your business. Our attorneys will put it all in context, and help you navigate the law related to the Internet (such as domain name use); sweepstakes, promotions and advertising; and all facets of media, First Amendment and entertainment law.