Noisy birds to holograms, eight curious property rights debates in 2019

Maurice the rooster, with owner Corinne Fesseau at Saint-Pierre-d’Oleron in La Rochelle in western France, won court support against pesky human neighbors opposed to his dawn crowing. (AFP)
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Updated 27 December 2019

Noisy birds to holograms, eight curious property rights debates in 2019

  • A French court ruled that Maurice the rooster could continue his dawn crowing despite complaints from neighbors
  • A holyman who is on the run after charges of abduction and rape in India, has declared the creation of a new country for Hindus

BANGKOK: Fights over property rights extended to pavements, space, the sea, data, dead people’s images, and even noises and smells in 2019, with governments scrambling to define and legislate emerging areas of concern.
Here is a look at eight property rights disputes that broke new ground in 2019:
 

1. River rights: In February, voters in Ohio approved the Lake Erie Bill of Rights to amend the Toledo city charter to state that Lake Erie had the right to “exist, flourish, and naturally evolve” and to do so free of violation.
It is part of a growing global movement as environmentalists try new legal routes to protect the planet — vesting rivers, reefs and threatened habitats with “rights of nature” that override the long-held human right to harm.

2. Floating homes: In April, Thai authorities threatened death sentences for a couple who had set up an offshore home near a Thai island.
But even that failed to damp the “seasteading” movement that claims the right to floating settlements that advocates say are more sustainable than land reclamation.
With 90 percent of the world’s largest cities vulnerable to flooding, a United Nations-backed partnership earlier said it would study the prospect of floating cities.

3. Rooster rules: In September, a French court ruled that Maurice the rooster could continue his dawn crowing despite complaints from neighbors, in a case cast as a battle between the old rural way of life and modern values creeping in from the city.
It also highlighted the increasing fights among property owners over sights, sounds, and smells they find disturbing.

4. Face off: Also in September, California’s legislature passed a three-year ban on state and local law enforcement from using body cameras with facial recognition software, a sign of the growing backlash against the technology that human rights campaigners say poses a threat to civil liberties.
San Francisco and Oakland voted earlier to ban city personnel from using the technology.

5. Space jam: Hotels, insurance, advertising billboards, and in-space manufacturing are among the business opportunities firms are exploring amid a boom in commercial space activity.
Billionaires Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos are pouring cash into cutting-edge private spacecraft, even as astronomers complained that the 120 satellites Musk’s SpaceX launched this year are jeopardizing space research. Thousands more are due to be launched.

6. Sidewalk squeeze: The fight for sidewalk space is getting more heated, with pedestrians in Singapore winning the battle in November after a fatality led to a ban on electric scooters on pavements. Countries such as France, Germany and Britain earlier imposed similar bans.

7. Hologram stars: Ethical and practical questions swirled over who owns the intellectual property rights of dead celebrities being resurrected with computer generated images and holograms.
Six-time Grammy winner Amy Winehouse, who died in 2011, was to be featured in a holographic show slated to launch at the end of 2019. It was postponed after the producer said it had run into some “unique challenges and sensitivities.”
A Whitney Houston hologram tour featuring the late singer’s image accompanied by her original backing band is also planned.
Iconic actor James Dean, who died in a car crash in 1955, is to star in a new movie, where he will be recreated through a mixture of old photos and footage, along with computer generated creations. A different actor will lend his voice.

8. Cosmic country: Private villages, private islands and private countries raised questions about rights and privilege.
In Spain, thousands of empty villages are up for sale, some for less than €100,000 ($113,000).
Meanwhile, a holyman who is on the run after charges of abduction and rape in India, has declared the creation of a new country for Hindus, Kailaasa https://kailaasa.org, with its own flag, government and passport.


Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

Updated 04 June 2020

Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

  • US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic
  • Elective medical procedures resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery

MIAMI: Quarantined Florida residents worried about their laughter lines and crows’ feet need frown no longer — Botox is back, and it’s being offered at a drive-through.
On May 4, the US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.
“The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,” Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient.
Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.
Arman Ohevshalom, 36, was enthusiastic as he waited in line with his wife in their car, although it was their first time receiving the injections.
“It’s very creative, and after seeing how they’re running it I feel just as comfortable as I would in the office,” he said.
Florida’s tattoo artists, however, are frustrated. Shuttered since March, they asking why they cannot open, too.
Botox injections are “kind of like tattooing, he’s injecting stuff into the skin,” said tattoo shop owner Chico Cortez. Florida is home to about 10,000 working tattoo artists, according to the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild.
An emailed statement from a Miami-Dade County spokesperson said Mayor Carlos Gimenez has yet to set a date for reopening tattoo shops. “He is working with industry members and the medical experts to come up with the best way to reopen safely,” it said.