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News Briefs

‘Ginger’ Inventor Takes Latest Act Public
NEWSDAY -- It rolls, but will it rock?

Hyped as the biggest thing since the Internet, “Ginger” made its debut on national television Monday, as a half-dozen giggling would-be Jetsons put the two-wheeled “personal transportation device” through its paces in New York’s Bryant Park.

Coddled by gyroscopes and powered by battery, the techno-scooter has the potential, its inventor said, to save the environment and change city life. New York transportation experts, though, said it probably would not be legal to drive on the sidewalk nor would it fare well on the street.

But those were barriers for another day.

“I wasn’t even on this thing until five minutes ago,” said Charles Gibson, host of ABC’s “Good Morning America,” as he maneuvered the compact two-wheeled platform through an obstacle course of ramps, bumps and pedestrians. “It’s cool.”

Indeed, the cool factor is what won inventor Dean Kamen upwards of $90 million in venture capital from luminaries such as Steve Jobs to attack the market niche currently held by bicycles, golf carts and Razor scooters. Kamen, responsible for such breakthroughs as the cardiac stent and the insulin pump, ultimately has expectations of whole cities being restructured to accommodate Ginger.

Court to Rule on Procedures For State Judicial Elections
LOS ANGELES TIMES -- washington

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to decide an issue that goes to the heart of the current debate about state judicial elections: Do candidates for judgeships have a free-speech right to take stands on controversial issues?

Two-thirds of the states elect some or all of their judges. Yet by tradition and by law, these campaigns are staid, low-key affairs. Professional qualities and experience are emphasized, while a candidate’s party affiliation and ideological views are downplayed.

Most states enforce a judicial code of conduct that requires prospective judges to refrain from taking stands on “cases, controversies or issues” that might come before the court.

But in recent years, big-money campaigning and ideological politics have invaded the world of judicial elections in a number of states, particularly in the South and Midwest.

Business groups have funded candidates who sought to oust state supreme court judges who were seen as too sympathetic to plaintiffs and trial lawyers. The trend toward more openly partisan and ideological campaigns has run squarely into the judicial tradition of keeping politics at arm’s length.

Republican Party lawyers and anti-abortion advocates brought the issue to the high court this fall in a case from Minnesota.