The sound of planes flying overhead evoked a deep memory in me. A shudder escaped my shoulders, and my body tensed up until the fighter jets passed. The sounds hadn’t come from the sky but rather from my television, and the fear these sounds awakened in me were from an earlier time, when I was nine years old and fleeing the Persian Gulf War as a refugee.
I was watching “The White Helmets,” a new documentary about a group of Syrian volunteers who are the first to respond to barrel bombs and missile strikes. These unbelievably courageous first responders are often also victims of the war in Syria. As I watched these heroes, identifiable by the white helmets they wear, help a boy not much older than I was during the war, I was brought to tears.
The ongoing civil war in Syria has devastated the country’s population. During the past 5 years nearly 13 million Syrians have fled their homes to escape the conflict, as my family once did. On September 19 the United Nations will host a Summit for Refugees and Migrants to develop a more coordinated international response to the enormous Syrian refugee crisis.
The crisis has put significant strain on countries surrounding war-torn Syria. Jordan, for example, recently said the volume of incoming refugees (1.3 million) is putting unsustainable pressure on the country’s water, financial, and social infrastructure. The global impact of 12 million displaced people requires an international response. On September 20 President Obama will host a Leaders’ Summit on the Global Refugee Crisis to discuss how countries can collaborate and do more to help.
In the United States opponents of accepting Syrian refugees have cited the 2015 terrorist attack in Paris and 2016 attack in Brussels as evidence that terrorists masquerade as refugees and pose a threat to national security. Yet the claim that the refugee program could be abused and lead to terrorism belies the facts.
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
We are approaching a sea change when it comes to how personal data is created, stored and repurposed. Recent cases between state, local, and federal governments and companies like Apple and Facebook are breaking new ground in the battle between legitimate law enforcement surveillance and user privacy.
While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies can seek court orders compelling companies to comply with wiretap orders, at least two issues make it harder for government agencies to get the data they’re seeking in cases that are likely to arise:
- Rapidly changing technology. Law enforcement officials say they have been left behind by rapid changes in communications technology. To intercept the content of communications being sent in real time, investigators use laws that limit their reach, such as the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.
- Increasingly sophisticated encryption. Encrypted devices, such as iPhones, scramble data using a code that can only be opened with a special “key.” Often, the hardware itself serves as a unique key. This means that without a specific iPhone, companies may not be able to provide law enforcement with the data sent on their networks, and phone companies may not be able to provide that data to law enforcement without having possession of the specific iPhone with the hardwired key.
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
As the election campaign progresses, it is difficult to ignore the continued intolerant and hateful rhetoric against groups perceived to be a threat. Whenever there is a domestic terrorist attacks, irrespective of who causes, we see a rise in hate crimes against religious minorities.
My colleagues and I began compiling a comprehensive map of attacks and other threats of violence against American Muslims as well as others such as Sikh Americans, Americans of Indian descent and frankly anyone who looks “foreign”. The map has been updated on a regular basis since November 2015 and continues to see an uptick of threats and violence against the Muslim community and those perceived to be “Middle Eastern,” particularly after significant media coverage of terrorist attacks, domestically or globally.
There has been a consistent and troubling increase in hate crimes since November when we first began collecting data. At the rate these incidents are happening, we are unlikely to catch them all – so please email us if you learn of one in your neighborhood. It is our hope that this map can serve as a resource in your advocacy efforts or as you work to change the culture of hate, bigotry and paranoia slowly burgeoning in the U.S.
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
Here’s what I’ll be talking about to folks visiting Washington D.C. this inauguration weekend on behalf of Stand With Me:
Fear and hate are rising in this country. The first thing you can do to combat this problem is to commit to fighting this problem. Doesn’t matter what you can do, even a commitment to doing so is a good step. Understand that it is unacceptable that people be made to feel less just because of the color of their skin, their gender or their religion. Make an internal commitment to peaceably resist those who do not agree with these fundamental human values.
The second thing you can do is support victims. Victims of hate incidents are especially vulnerable. They often feel tremendous fear and anxiety and if they are part of an already marginalized group such as the undocumented, they are afraid to report a serious crime to the police. In fact, the majority of hate incidents go unreported. Even a small act of kindness such as a phone call, a message on social media or help with groceries can be helpful. But you can do more.
The third thing you can do is get involved. Change in American public policy and public life happens in three primary ways: through legal means, through discussion and dialogue, and by means of elected and appointed individuals. So: 1) file lawsuits and report hate crimes to law enforcement, 2) write about your experience and those of others, and 3) vote or get involved in supporting a candidate who stands up for the rights of all Americans.
Learn more in my latest U.S News & World Report piece.
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
POPULISM IS RESHAPING our world. Anti-establishment messages are resonating with voters worldwide. In the past, democratic institutions of the post-World War II West have kept in check long-standing tensions. But a long-slumbering world is waking up to problems that have been brewing underneath the surface – problems that those in power haven’t really noticed: Economic inequality has been increasing since the 1970s, wages have stagnated and people bound by cultural similarity are finding it difficult to accommodate to an influx of foreigners.
In response to these problems, groups of people around the world, particularly those in the West, are rejecting globalism and embracing economic protectionism. They are turning to France’s Marine Le Pen or Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache for solutions. We see this trend echoed in the United States with the rise of Donald Trump and outside the West with nationalist leaders like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte or India’s Narendra Modi.
As a check on power, progressive populism can serve a useful purpose. But populism driven by authoritarian forces can leave governments in disarray and even lead to armed conflict (see 1930s Germany).
So what begets populism? At their heart, modern populist movements are driven by three things: valid grievances about economic inequality, uncertainty driven by changing social forces such as migration and cultural dislocation and increasing social polarization driven by a fragmenting media environment.
These movements are led by charismatic leaders who provide simple answers to complex problems: Economic inequality is caused by foreign labor and foreign trade; crime is driven by immigrants; and institutions such as the media and academia are aligned against the so-called common man facing these problems.
The reality is much more complex. Research has found that income inequality has more to do with increasing labor efficiency due to technological advancement rather than foreign labor or foreign trade. Crime and immigration are not concomitant. Rather, immigrants help communities develop into dynamic, resilient societies that can surmount challenges in a way that homogeneous societies cannot. Though a fragmented media landscape encourages us to consume media in ideological silos, the rise of social media provides the common person with the tools to share his or her views with the entire world – a feat unprecedented in human history.
Millions in the U.S. and around the world have given their lives to protect the democratic institutions under threat by authoritarian populism. So what can citizens of conscience do to protect the institutions they helped create?
The first step is addressing the valid grievances of the middle class. This requires an ongoing commitment from governments and civil society to offer free or low-cost retraining and education programs to those who have lost their jobs to automation. This means treating workers like human beings, to be nurtured, developed and retained, which in turn requires supporting institutions that advocate for better wages and bargaining power for the middle class.
Dialogue on shared values is another way to reduce the effects of unchecked populism. As I mentioned in a previous post:
For people who are afraid, responding to critique is very helpful because dialogue reduces fear and, by extension, intolerance. Common dialogue and discourse around shared values is essential. No matter where you live, what the color of your skin or who you voted for, we can agree that all people deserve to feel safe.
A conversation based on shared values with those across the aisle allows us to surmount the ideological silos and echo chambers that breed populism.
These solutions are proactive, not reactive. If our institutions are to temper authoritarian populism, they must themselves embrace a progressive, proactive and nurturing kind of populism that places the interests of the middle class at the same level as that of political, economic and social elites.
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream” – Amos 5:24 NIV
What does it mean to live a moral life?
I have studied religion as a man of faith and as a civil rights attorney and advocate who has fought for religious freedom across the world. The United States isn’t perfect. We have much to improve upon. But the one thing we do well is protect every person’s right to believe (or not believe) as they wish.
I am motivated by a vision which exists in all of the great religions: so in everything do to others what you would have them do to you. If you believe this as I do, then faith is about a sense of beloved community, of compassion for all people irrespective of their background.
Yet we are living in a world which worships not love of brothers and sisters, of the poor or the downtrodden, but worships the acquisition of power, influence and money. I do not believe that this is what Jesus, Muhammad, Moses or Buddha envisioned. I am not a theologian, nor an expert on any of our world’s holy texts. But I know we are living in a time where tolerance, equality and respect have yet to be achieved, and I think humanity’s beautiful faith traditions have the answer.
For those of you who are marching for justice, writing to your representatives and preparing to vote (yet again), let your faith (irrespective of religious affiliation or no affiliation at all) guide you in three ways …
By Ehsan ZaffarRead More
Commercial contract disputes in Beverly Hills California are almost inevitable. Between the many contracts that a business enters into every year with other businesses, customers and vendors, it is likely that a problem will arise at some point. These commercial contract disputes in Beverly Hills California can often mean lost productivity, lost profits and a diminished reputation in the business. If the case goes to court, much speculation will follow. Fortunately, mediation provides an effective solution to work out problems that arise in a commercial contract dispute.
Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that can be initiated at any stage of a case. It can even be commenced before a lawsuit is ever filed, a strategy that helps businesses keep their private doings from reaching the public. Agreeing to mediation before a case is filed prevents businesses from suffering backlash from other companies that may be reluctant to do business with a company that they find to be litigious. Mediation provides an expedited mechanism to resolve legal issues without the public nature of a lawsuit.
A mediator assists the parties in negotiating a settlement on their own terms. Neither party is bound to any term until they both agree on it. A mediator is not a judge as he or she does not have the authority to impose a decision on the parties. The parties to a case can structure their own solutions in a way that they see fit, an option that a traditional court case does not allow.
A distinct benefit of mediation is that it focuses on cooperation between the parties. Commercial contract disputes arise between companies that had already agreed to do business. Sometimes, these disputes involve parties who have done business for years. Mediation allows the parties to meet face to face to work out a solution, often allowing the business relationship to thrive.
By Greg WoodRead More
No one is more intimately familiar with the complexities of patent litigation than a patent attorney in Orange County California. Rather than go through contentious, costly and complex litigation, a patent attorney in Orange County California may recommend that clients and other attorneys turn to alternative dispute resolution for the following reasons:
Alternative dispute resolution allows the parties to work out how their legal issue will be resolved on their own terms. The parties get to choose the party who will help guide the process or decide the case. In arbitration, the parties can also agree on the appropriate law that should be used, which rules of evidence should be followed and what amount of discovery will be permitted. Allowing the parties to exercise discretion over these important issues can help create a streamlined approach to resolving the case.
While the justice system is predicated on the idea that decision makers will be neutral, many practicing attorneys have seen firsthand how juries and judges may naturally side with one party over another. In patent cases, the parties may hail from different states, giving one party a home-court advantage. In mediation or arbitration, a neutral person can be appointed and who will not be influenced by such factors.
If an existing patent is at issue, it can be important for the patent holder to protect information about the patent from being exposed to competitors. For example, the patent holder may not want competitors to discover a weakness in the patent that could allow them to easily get around it. ADR proceedings are usually confidential in nature, sometimes as a mandatory element or sometimes by request. The parties can agree to keep all information discussed confidential as well as to keep the results confidential.
By Greg WoodRead More
Intellectual property attorneys often define “winning” in litigation as obtaining the best possible outcome for the client while minimizing the amount of harm to the client, given the particular circumstances involved in the case. Sometimes this objective can be accomplished by using intellectual property mediation in Los Angeles. While litigation has its place, not every dispute is best handled in that forum. Intellectual property mediation in Los Angeles can result in a positive outcome for your client.
Although mediation can be used at any point in the process, it is particularly helpful to use early in the process because it helps to resolve an issue before the parties are entrenched in their respective positions. It also helps to minimize legal expenses when employed early on. For public companies, a key consideration at all times is to consider how a particular action may impact the marketplace.
While mediation is a process that is designed to help bring about a settlement of a case, there are certain strategies that you can use to increase the probability of obtaining a successful outcome for your client.
One principle strategy to utilize is that of preparation. Even though mediation is a guided negotiation, strong preparation can help highlight the strengths of your case and mitigate its weaknesses. If the other party supports a contradictory position, knowing the case and the law that is on your side can be paramount during mediation. At the same time, you should be prepared to address any potential weaknesses in your case and be able to point to the cases or evidence that is on your side. Likewise, making sure that your client presents well can ensure that the other side knows that you are willing and able to proceed with the case if necessary. These steps can help ensure that the other side carefully considers the potential ramifications of litigation and weighs the alternative of settling the case in your client’s favor.
By Greg WoodRead More
A licensing deal allows parties to mutually benefit from the sharing of information, products or services. However, it is not uncommon for technology licensing disputes in Beverly Hills California to arise when the parties interpret their language in different ways or an unanticipated change comes up. Such technology licensing disputes in Beverly Hills California can be resolved, often much more effectively, through mediation.
Mediation is a widely sought after alternative to litigation. Because the mediation session can be scheduled at any time that accommodates the parties’ schedules and that of the professional mediator, conflicts can be resolved much more quickly since there is no need to wait on a crowded docket and the outcome of other cases. This saves considerable time, which can be particularly important when determining fees and royalties to pay based on the licensing agreement. It can also save substantial sums on legal expenses since attorney hours are likely to be drastically reduced if the case can be settled through mediation.
Additionally, mediation is often much better at coming up with a solution that will work for both of the parties over a generic order made by the court. The parties play a pivotal role in developing an agreement that is mutually satisfactory. Mediation focuses on cooperation so future problems can also sometimes be avoided and the parties learn that this method of resolving a problem is available.
By Greg WoodRead More