Friday, September 26, 2008

Customs Law TV

On Wednesday, I did a talk for IPC, the trade association for the printed circuit board industry. The talk went well, I think. Afterwards, I sat down for a short interview about trade issues. You can watch that interview here. Note: The link takes you to a landing page. You'll have to click on the link on the right side of the page to get my interview.

Here are the highlights:
  • Profile is not the most flattering view
  • What is happening to my hair?
  • Remember when I exercised?
  • Do I always sound like Kermit the Frog?

Other than that, you can judge for yourself.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Good WaPo Article on Laptop Searches

This Washington Post article puts an interesting historical perspective on laptop searches. It is one thing to say, as I have, that the law permits the searches without probable cause. It is another to point out that Customs and Border Protection has had instructions out to the field setting limits on what can be searched, copied, and detained. This article talks about the evolution of that standard and the very real concern that CBP is sharing its information with other law enforcement agencies.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Lizard King

This new book is not about Jim Morrison. Rather, it is the tale of reptile smugglers and the Fish & Wildlife Agent who pursued them. The author is Bryan Christy.

Here is a review from a paper in Malaysia, where much of the action apparently takes place. Sounds like a good read; although awfully close to work for pleasure reading.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

News Items

Giving New Meaning to "Magic Bus"

Customs and Border Protection seized 484 pounds of marijuana from a privately owned bus entering from Mexico. I am hopeful that Ruben Kincaide will be able to get Danny and Keith out of jail before their next gig.

If you don't get the hilarity in that post, you are under 40.

Practice Safe Computing

Finding irony in advice from DHS not to take your laptop abroad because a foreign government or private entity might compromise the privacy of your data.

CBP Returning Artifacts to Mexico

No word yet on the Elgin Marbles.

Lacey May Be Delayed

Reliable sources are telling us here at Customs Law Blog Central that enforcement of the Lacey Act Amendments will be delayed past the current December 15 schedule. Right now, we understand that the enforcement date will be April 1, 2009. Additionally, implementation may be phased in with the initial emphasis on "core" wood products such as lumber. Work is being done to determine whether an existing Fish & Wildlife database might be used to permit electronic filing of the required declarations. Lastly, debate continues over the actual and intended scope of the law and whether the relevant agencies have authority to define the scope through regulations (providing, for example, a de minimis exception).

More info is here. Note that the article linked in the previous post is 10 MB.

Remember, I am not a journalist nor am I your lawyer. This is just a rumor for now.

I will resist the urge to ask whether Cagney will be on time.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Follow Me!

Click the Followers link at the bottom to let me and the world know who you are.

Can You Say Chapter 20?

NAFTA Chapter 20 covers dispute resolution between the parties. Seems like Chapter 20 is going to get a workout.

The NAFTA requires the U.S. to open its market to Mexico-based long-haul truckers. This was supposed to have happened years ago. There has already been a dispute panel finding that the U.S. is in violation of the agreement. Hat tip to NAFTAclaims.com for the document.

So, it is somewhat depressing (you know, in a rule of law sense), that compliance has once again been dealt a serious blow. This time, the obstacle is the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Where was the opposition to this program in 1994 when both houses of Congress voted to approve it?

Note to students in my NAFTA class: PAPER TOPIC ABOVE!

Lacey Act Article

I've been in the Pacific Time Zone this week. Although it would be nice to say that I was surfing, sunning, and sailing, I was actually working. Still, it is always refreshing to see a palm tree and an ocean.

Speaking of palm trees, I did a piece on the Lacey Act amendments for the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. I don't have too many details in the article, but I think this is important stuff. If you've been visiting this blog for any length of time, you know I tend to focus on the big picture and assume the details will get worked out in the trenches. So, the fact that I am actually worried about this one should mean something.

Personally, I think this is a bigger deal than the proposed uniform rules of origin.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Spore Creature

Yes, I am a geek at heart. No, I did not run out and buy Spore. But, I did work on a few creatures with my 7 year old. Here is Bluesox. Don't mess with him.





Am I the only one who's noticed that this is essentially the same game as Sim Earth, which I played 15 years ago? Much better graphics, of course.

UPDATE: Jr. found an Easter Egg in the free download of Spore Creature Creator. In the main screen that shows the galaxy, click and drag to spin the galaxy. If you spin it fast enough, in either direction, a human face pops up. It is Will Wright, the creator of Spore. So, in the context of the game, it is the face of God.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Always Aftfer Me Marbits

Once while wondering aimlessly in Whole Foods, I grabbed a sample "gourmet marshmallow." I was not expecting anything too different from the Campfire marshmallows we used toast as kids. I was wrong. They were great. They were much less sweet and closer in consistency to nougat than to what I had expected. Since then, I have learned that some people (but no one I know) make marshmallows at home. See here if you want to try.

In a completely different universe are those tiny colored rocks found in Lucky Charms. Over the years, I have referred to them as marshmallows or marshmallow bits. It turns out that is not correct. Instead, those "charms" are "marbits," which are described by Customs and Border Protection as dried marshmallow confections. Here is the full description from HQ H014873 (Jun. 5, 2007):

The samples are dry, brittle, multi-colored pieces, approximately ½-inch wide and ¼-inch thick, in the form of hearts, half-moons, hats, and other objects. The ingredients breakdown provided with your November letter states the pieces are composed of approximately 51 percent sugar, 19 percent water, 11 percent corn syrup, 10 percent dextrose, 7 percent corn starch, 2 percent gelatin, and less than one percent flavoring. The laboratory analysis found the sample contained 66.2 percent sucrose and 14.8 percent glucose on a dry weight basis.


Sounds appetizing, doesn't it? Funny thing is that in the context of a bowl of Lucky Charms, they rock.

Well, CBP has recently decided that its original classification of these marbits as food preparations not elsewhere specified or included was wrong. On August 8, 2008, CBP issued a notice (go to page 17) revoking several earlier marbit rulings and proposing to classify the products in HTSUS item 1704.90.35 as other confections, which is where CBP classifies marshmallows.

I just thought you'd want to know.