Wednesday, July 29, 2009

News from Pearlena Igbokwe

Pearlena Igbokwe writes in to report that she is still working at Showtime Networks as the Senior Vice President, Original Programming and and that she is loving it.  She was recently received her second Emmy nomination for DEXTER, a show that she developed and oversees.  And, she just recently launched NURSE JACKIE, a new comedy starring Edie Falco.  Pearlena is living in Sherman Oaks, Californina with her husband and two children. 

Nicky Grist Testifies in Congress -- and could use your support concerning domestic partner benefits!

Nicky Grist writes in: 

Federal employees: want domestic partner benefits?

I'd like to talk with federal employees about the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act. It currently proposes to give same-sex partners the same benefits as spouses. This is a good idea, but my organization believes all federal employees should be able to add one adult to their benefit plan, or at least it should cover different-sex as well as same-sex partners.  For more detail on this position, check out my written testimony to Congress ( ).

Do federal employees agree with us?  How can we help them speak up?

Thanks so much,


Nicky Grist, Executive Director
Alternatives to Marriage Project, Inc.
PO Box 320151
Brooklyn NY 11232
Tel. 718-788-1911

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

An article by Mark Gevisser: Lives - Same-Sex Marriage in South Africa -

Classmate Mark Gevisser wrote an interesting piece in the New York Times recently about his recent marriage.  First, and most importantly, congratulations to Mark and his partner. 

It turns out that Mark has been quite busy since 1987.  After graduating from Yale with a degree in comparative literature, Mark he worked in New York, writing for Village Voice and The Nation before returning to South Africa in 1990. He is currently The Nation’s Southern African correspondent. In South Africa, his work has appeared in the Mail & Guardian, the Sunday Independent, the Sunday Times and many magazines and periodicals. Internationally, he has published widely on South African politics, culture and society, in publications ranging from Vogue and the New York Times to Foreign Affairs and Art in America.

Mark has previously published two books – Defiant Desire, Gay and Lesbian Lives In South Africa (Routledge, 1994), which he co-edited with Edwin Cameron, and Portraits of Power: Profiles in a Changing South Africa (David Philip, 1996), a collection of his celebrated political profiles from the Mail & Guardian. He has also published widely, in anthologies, on sexuality and on urbanism in South Africa. His essay, “Inheritance”, appears in the award-winning new anthology, Beautiful/Ugly (Duke/Kwela, 2006). His feature-length documentary, The Man Who Drove With Mandela, made with Greta Schiller, has been broadcast internationally, and won the Teddy Documentary Prize at the Berlin Film Festival in 1999. The film is an excavation of the life of Cecil Williams, the South African gay communist theatre director. Mark has also written scripts for the South African drama series Zero Tolerance; his scripts were short-listed for SAFTA and iEmmy awards.

Since 2002, Mark has also been involved in heritage development. He co-led the team that developed the heritage, education and tourism components of Constitution Hill, and co-curated the Hill’s permanent exhibitions. He is a founder and associate of Trace, a heritage research and design company. Mark also works as a political analyst; his clients have included several South African and multinational organisations and corporations.

Most recently, Mark wrote A LEGACY OF LIBERATION: THABO MBEKI AND THE FUTURE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN DREAM, a new book which has been very well received.  For more information, check out Mark's website.

Mark lives in France and South Africa with his partner.

Lives - Same-Sex Marriage in South Africa -

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Because I just can't get enough of lawyers tonight . . . here's an update about Stuart Benjamin

Stuart Benjamin, who returned to Yale for law school, is an Associate Dean and a professor at Duke Law School.  Before he began teaching law, Stu served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal; clerked for Judge William C. Canby on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and for Justice David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court; worked as an associate with Professor Laurence Tribe; served as staff attorney for the Legal Resources Centre in Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and worked as an attorney-advisor in the Office of Legal Counsel in the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1997 to 2001 he was an associate professor of law at the University of San Diego School of Law, and from 2001-2003 he was the Rex G. & Edna Baker Professor in Constitutional Law at the University of Texas School of Law. He is co-author of Telecommunications Law and Policy (1st ed. 2001, 2nd ed. 2006), and has written a number of law review articles.

Word on the web is that Stu and one of his colleagues propose that the Obama administration (or Congress, if Congress is willing) create an Office of Innovation Policy that would draw upon, and feed into, existing regulatory review processes but would have the specific mission of being the “innovation champion” within these processes.

Stuart M. Benjamin

Judges Call on U.S. to Simplify Sentencing Guidelines (Update1) -

Classmates in Washington are not just making waves in the Executive Branch.  Classmate Brett Kavanaugh weighed on concerning the Federal Sentencing Guidelines applied to those convicted of crimes in federal courts.  I won't bore you with the ins and outs of federal sentencing debates -- although I will note that one of the founders of my law firm was instrumental in drafting the guidelines to begin with and would probably agree with Judge Kavanaugh's viewpoints. 

Judges Call on U.S. to Simplify Sentencing Guidelines (Update1) -

UPDATE: Treasury's Barr: Banks Fees Seen Lower Under New Agency -

Our classmates have been busy in Washington.  One of them, recently confirmed Treasury official Michael Barr, is getting quite a bit of press lately.

UPDATE: Treasury's Barr: Banks Fees Seen Lower Under New Agency -

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Book by Valerie Sperling

Valerie Sperling writes in about her new book: "I wanted to let you know that my new book on globalization and accountability is out from Cambridge University Press. The book is titled Altered States: The Globalization of Accountability. I won't even try to compare it to The Emperor's Children, but I hope it'll be gripping in its own way. I did manage to mention Steve Martin in the book's first paragraph, so there's at least some entertainment value in the book. "

Here's a summary:

Is globalization good for democracy? Or has it made our governing institutions less accountable to citizens? Located at the intersection of international relations and comparative politics, this book explores the effects of globalization on national governance. Under what circumstances do the transnational forces that embody globalization encourage or discourage political accountability? Among the transnational forces discussed in the book are the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, multinational corporations, the United Nations, private military contractors, peacekeepers, the European Court of Human Rights, and several transnational social movements. Using in-depth case studies of situations in which these transnational institutions interact with national governments and citizens, Valerie Sperling traces the impact of economic, political, military, judicial, and civic globalization on state accountability and investigates the degree to which transnational institutions are themselves responsible to the people whose lives they alter.


1. Transnational institutions and accountability; 2. For richer, for poorer: economic globalization; 3. Democracy from abroad? Political globalization; 4. Army for hire: transnational military forces; 5. Trials and tribulations: transnational judicial institutions; 6. My country is the whole world: transnational civil society; 7. Conclusion: altered states and altered citizens.


“Altered States is an excellent book that is broad ranging and provides a rich store of insights on crucial aspects of globalization that are rarely addressed in depth with this level of flair. It is gracefully written and full of incisive points on the big issues it tackles. The book is timely and will find a wide audience in political science, sociology, and the broader attentive public outside academia.” -Steven Fish, University of California, Berkeley

“Valerie Sperling tackles a question which lies at the heart of contemporary concerns about globalization in its various political, economic, military, and cultural guises: namely, just how can elites be held accountable for their actions in a world where the locus of authority seems to have shifted away from nation-states toward a shifting array of international agencies, INGOs, and other non-state actors? If accountability cannot be defined or defended in an increasingly globalized world, then the recent gains for global democracy may also be eroded or reversed. Sperling not only brings this crucial problem to the forefront of attention, but she also conducts careful empirical, comparative social science research into the circumstances under which various aspects of globalization facilitate or undermine accountability. The result is a book that will profoundly reshape multiple intellectual debates.” -Stephen Hanson, University of Washington

“At a time of world crisis, policymakers and scholars are perplexed about accountability in globalization. To grasp sources of global democracy, they should turn to Valerie Sperling’s meticulously researched and lucidly presented book.” -James H. Mittelman, University Professor at American University and author of Hyperconflict: Globalization and Insecurity (2010)