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Showing posts from February, 2006

My New Best Friend is in Africa

I have a limited ability to see who is visiting this site thanks to the good people at www.sitemeter.com . So, I know a couple things in addition to the overall number of visitors. For example, I know that mentioning Saab cars generated far more traffic than mentioning Angelina Jolie . I also know that certain of my professional colleagues--a euphemism for competitors--visit regularly. I am gratified by the number of visitors I get from the U.S. government and in particular Customs, the DOJ and the courts. This site has been visited by folks on every continent but Antarctica. Thanks for all of that. Another thing I can see is the search used to bring visitors here. Often these are general searches such as "customs laws." Other times, the searches are very specific such as " festive articles customs," or, as was recently the case, " Kris Kristoferson Salvador ." But, without a doubt, the best search ever recently brought a visitor from South Africa. Cle

Port Ownership Brouhaha

This flap over the so-called ownership of port facilities is great theater. But, despite the Shakespearian hand wringing, it seems to be about as deep as a Benny Hill skit. First off, the United Arab Emerites is not buying any U.S. harbor or port of entry. Ports are generally owned by the local governments or, more often than not, a municipal corporation such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey or the Illinois International Port District (which uses a catchy rendition of Anchors Aweigh on its web site). Selling a harbor or port to a foreign country would be like selling Manhattan Island to a group of tourists who arrived unannounced with a handful of trinkets. Oh, wait . . . forget I said that. What might happen (if the President gets his way), is that the company responsible for port operations at several U.S. ports might be sold to a company controlled by the United Arab Emerites. Read that carefully. It means that the only thing changing hands is the ownership of

Cook County Politics at its Finest

Chicago is a strange place when it comes to politics. Indictments of public officials are common. But, things have been stranger than usual lately. There is a fight going on between city inspectors and the County Clerk over whether there are rats or mice in the basement of the County Building. For those who don't know, the County Building and City Hall are, effectively, the same building, with wings dedicated to each operation. There are different addresses only to reflect that there are different doors available. City inspectors are accusing the County of poor housekeeping while the County says the City is blaming the victims rather than dealing with the rodent (of whichever species) problem. In the meantime, the City Clerk has resigned after being indicted for bribery. This is Chicago, so that is not too surprising. But, the strangest story we've had in while is this one . It appears that a guard at the Cook County Prison actually allowed a prison break to take place ju

Sometimes You Need A Customs Lawyer on Your Speed Dial

This woman clearly needed help clearing her souvenirs on her return home from Haiti.

Still want to buy a Saab?

I have always liked Saabs. Really. They have quirky good looks that stand out in the parking lot and what appears to be good performance. I recently drove a 9-3 2.0t and enjoyed the ride. What does this have to do with Customs law? Read Saab Cars USA, Inc. v. U.S. and you'll get an interesting look at the inner workings of the auto industry. Saab, like other car companies, is aware that the customs regulations permit an importer to seek an adjustment in the value of merchandise that is, at the time of importation, damaged. This comes from 19 C.F.R. § 158.12, for those following along. Saab also knows that it has warranty expenses for the cars it imports. There is a reasonable argument to be made that if a car needs a repair covered by a warranty, that the car was--shall we say--less than perfect when imported. After all, if the car was not latently defective, it would not have needed a repair. So, Saab filed some protests seeking a value adjustment. This is where the

The Secret Service, Really?

So the President has named a successor to Commissioner Bonner. Drum roll please . . . It is not me! No, it is W. Ralph Basham , Director of the Secret Service, of all things. I have no insight by which to judge the quality of the nominee and would not do so here any way. But, it is going to be interesting to see how his experience translates into a job which, we must remember, is at least in part still about facilitating legitimate trade. Will a guy who was once responsible for protecting the Vice President really want to focus on whether Customs needs to go through the process of formally revoking a ruling it made in error (as was partly the question in International Custom Products at the CIT); or whether the Periodic Monthly Statement process is ready for portal and non-portal accounts; or the hundred other things commercial interests worry about? Again, I have no reason to doubt that Mr. Basham is up to the task. He seems to have had a distinguished career in law enforcemen