Professor Stephen Ware speaks at PennState Law's annual symposium

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Law in University Park Arbitration Law Review, a student-run publication, hosted its annual symposium on February 12, 2020, in the Lewis Katz Building. Five experts from across the country joined as guest panelists to discuss a variety of topics under this year’s theme, collective bargaining and adhesive arbitration.

Kansas coronavirus update: 30-day quarantine ordered for KC; state records second death, 55 cases

TOPEKA — Health officials have ordered Kansas City-area residents to stay at home for 30 days, starting Tuesday, in an effort to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.

The order affects all but essential services for residents in Johnson and Wyandotte counties, as well as Jackson County on the Missouri side.

The area is a hotbed for confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including the only two deaths from the illness so far in Kansas. At least 55 people in Kansas have tested positive for the virus, including 38 in Johnson and Wyandotte counties.

Speedy trial rights are on hold in Kansas. What does that mean for defendants?

As Rontarus Washington Jr. left the courtroom on Oct. 4, 2019, following a hung jury in his murder trial, he told his mother, “Wipe them tears; they can’t keep me forever.”

That was before the coronavirus disease became a global pandemic and the Kansas Supreme Court suspended speedy trial laws “until further order.”

As of March 16, Washington had been in custody of the Douglas County Jail for five years, not counting the roughly two months before he was extradited from Mississippi to Kansas. At age 23, that’s about 26.2% of his life. But who’s counting?

Book outlines how agriculture can be revolutionized, supported by new international bodies

Monday, March 16, 2020

LAWRENCE — Revolutionizing the way humans practice agriculture by implementing new practices supported by international bodies might sound like a radical idea. Yet it's possible, according to a University of Kansas legal expert whose new book shares how similar international bodies have already moved beyond the 16th century idea of sovereignty. A global corporate trust for agroecological integrity could help prevent a collapse in the systems humans use for food production.

Climate change, soil degradation, erosion and poor farming practices have put agriculture and ecosystems around the world in peril. John Head, the Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor of Law at KU, has written a new book and a pair of law review articles outlining how institutional changes could form entities that oversee agricultural concerns in what he calls “eco-states” instead of nation-states. Those could usher in a change from current extractive agricultural methods to natural-systems agriculture featuring grains and legumes that are perennial and grown in polycultures.

A Global Corporate Trust for Agroecological Integrity: New Agriculture in a World of Legitimate Eco-States” outlines not only how such a massive transition is possible but how the formation of eco-states that govern ag concerns across borders can be done and how similar bodies already exist.

“We have such an urgent problem right now of soil erosion, soil degradation and climate change. To reverse that, there has to be some way of coordinating a type of entity such as ecological states,” Head said. “With the weight of climate change and the pressure that this puts on agriculture, there have to be points of departure and a ‘taking of the bull by the horns’ to make change.”

Head uses his extensive experience in law, international organizations and farming to make his case through three propositions. The first is that the extractive form of agriculture humans have used for about 10,000 years can and should be replaced with natural-systems forms of agriculture, known as agroecological husbandry. He acknowledges that this requires major changes in agricultural philosophy and practices, but he also points to remarkable progress already made in developing perennial grains as a result of research in places such as the Land Institute in Salina. Head also cites gains in African and East Asian nations, including perennial rice in China. Such an approach could ultimately produce the grains that make up about 67% of the human diet without requiring land to be turned annually and without requiring nearly the amount of fossil fuels currently used.

“I think there’s enough momentum already built up on the shift to perennial polycultures that it’s time to develop legal reforms to facilitate that shift,” Head said. “The science is underway. I’m saying we need to make the legal and institutional changes to support the transformation.”

In his second proposition, Head outlines how supporting that transition would require reforming the notion of sovereignty that humans have held since it was developed in the 16th century. States and nations frequently have disputes about agricultural issues such as pumping water from a river for irrigation. Ecological states with “pluralistic sovereignty” could be formed to give authority to govern ag concerns in areas of the world with similar agricultural production. According to the World Wildlife Fund, Earth has 14 terrestrial biomes, or areas with similar climate, soil type, crop growing conditions and other factors. Eco-states could govern these concerns and ag transitions more effectively than current political, state-based approaches.

“Political boundaries mean nothing to a river. All the so-called nation-state boundaries you see on a map are artificial, from an ecological standpoint,” Head said.

Eco-states could be protective of such biomes and ecosystems and their concerns such as land use and conservation in a manner parallel to the structure of nation-states, he said.

The third proposition calls for the formation of a global corporate trust for agroecological integrity, which would represent a “fourth-generation international organization designed to ensure that our species recognizes and discharges its responsibility as trustees for generations to come, whose well-being turns on agricultural reform and ecological restoration.”

Head acknowledged it may sound like a radical idea to form such international bodies but points out multiple examples already exist overseeing a number of concerns around the globe. The World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Greenpeace and nonsovereign organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and International Chamber of Commerce all work across political borders. For a more local example, Head cites how a city such as Lawrence, home to KU, is under the auspices of four levels of sovereignty: the city, Douglas County, the state of Kansas and the United States.

“There’s nothing here that doesn’t build on precedent,” Head said. “There are examples everywhere. Let’s expand on that and improve that.”

Given his extensive experience working for international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund, Head outlines how a global corporate trust could be formed while avoiding the problems that plague the existing institutions, most of which are now over a half-century old. One example is a very different voting structure giving equal weight to interested parties governed by each eco-state.

The book is the second in a series of three on transforming the world’s agricultural practices and the resulting necessary legal reforms. “International Law and Agroecological Husbandry: Building Legal Foundations for a New Agriculture” was published in 2016 and outlines the legal changes necessary, while the second book addresses institutional reforms.

Head also recently wrote two law review articles that delve further into the legal aspects of transforming agriculture. In one, published in the University of Kansas Law Review, Head reviews the ages-old concept of sovereignty as exercised by nation-states, and how legal reform could address the issues and global challenges that have relevance in Kansas. A second, published in the Kentucky Journal of Equine, Agriculture, & Natural Resources Law, outlines how legal and policy initiatives, both currently underway and those that could take place in the future, could put Kentucky at the forefront of agricultural advances and innovative ways of producing food crops.

Both agricultural challenges and the legal reforms necessary to address them are near and dear to Head’s heart. Having grown up on a northeast Missouri farm, which he and his brother still own, he saw both the rewards of farming and the challenges it presented. As a legal scholar with extensive experience in international organizations, he knows both the good they can do in addressing multinational problems as well as the pitfalls such organizations can present. In his scholarship, he approaches the problem by asking what the alternative is. Doing nothing to change the way humans grow their food could be catastrophic, and in fact, momentum is already building to make such changes.

“I think it makes sense to consider what types of new designs we can use,” Head said. “I’m saying take those examples of federalism and overlapping sovereignty and expand them into something that can really make a difference in international agriculture reform.”

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Raj Bhala to deliver keynote address at University of St. Thomas Law Journal Symposium

Sovereignty in a Fragmenting, Globalizing World

University of St. Thomas Law Journal Spring 2020 Symposium

The University of St. Thomas Law Journal invites you to attend our Spring Symposium as we explore issues of sovereignty in the context of a simultaneously fragmenting and globalizing world. Join us to hear thought leaders discuss the implications of recent trends in international trade and law on sovereignty as we have come to know it.

Friday, March 20, 2020 (4 standard CLE credits approved)

This year's speakers include:

Podcast: Kyle Velte discusses how Title IX applies to transgender students

Seg. 1: Title IX + Transgender Students | Seg. 2: A People's History

Segment 1: How Title IX applies to transgender students.

With the background of a couple of court cases currently in progress, a KU law professor has created a guide for using Title IX to protect transgender students from discrimination in schools. 

  • Kyle Velte, associate professor of law, University of Kansas School of Law

Segment 2, beginning at 27:00: Season 1, Episode 4, A People's History of Kansas City.

Trading in for a new deal

Some business sectors will need to study up. Still, most should not expect much to change under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA), probably better known as the USMCA or NAFTA 2.0.

Canada is the last partner that has yet to ratify the agreement. Bill C-4, the CUSMA Implementation bill, passed second reading in the House of Commons in February and has been referred to the Standing Committee on International Trade.

Albert Wilson, convicted in Lawrence rape case, could get a new trial

A man who some have argued was wrongly convicted in a Lawrence rape case could see a new trial.

The Kansas Court of Appeals has remanded the case to Douglas County District Court for a hearing to determine whether Albert N. Wilson was deprived of effective counsel.

Wilson, now 24, was sentenced to more than 12 years in prison on April 3, 2019, after a jury found him guilty of raping a then-17-year-old girl he met at a bar near the University of Kansas campus.


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