The Customs News

I am just back from St. Johns.As it turns out, that is Newfoundland and Labrador, not the U.S. Virgin Islands.When I was first approached about being on a customs law panel for the CBA, I had hopes that it was the Caribbean Bar Association calling.Turns out, it was my friends in Canada. Much to my dismay, I did not spend enough time in St. Johns.My seatmate on the Montreal to St. Johns leg (a relatively young lawyer in the Canadian Department of Justice) piqued my interest with suggestions for side trips and restaurants.Approaching the landing, I could see the rocky coast and many small islands jutting into the Atlantic.It reminded me of summers spent with my family in Maine and New Hampshire. The Canadian maritime provinces are surprisingly remote from the U.S. east coast.To put it into perspective, consider that St. Johns' time zone is two and a half hours ahead of Chicago. When I landed, I discovered anunexpectedlyy rugged and rustic town with a collection of Irish pubs and ec…

The EPO Noose is Tightenting

In Chicago, where politics is a contact sport, we are used to seeing scandal circle around the target of public suspicion. Sometimes, like with our recently-sentenced-to-prison former governor Ryan, the circle tightens until it ensnares the biggest fish. Sometimes, scandal remains in the air and never lands directly on the most interesting target. That seems to be the case with Mayor Daley who has not been directly implicated in any wrong doing but seems to be in charge of a lot of people who have. There have, for example, been recent public scandals involving the city's hired truck program and the hiring of building inspectors. At the same time, the city is a better place to live and work than it has been in years (maybe ever).

Yesterday and today (registration required), The New York Times ran articles that imply through attributed and unattributed sources that EPO doping was a fact of life in the 1999 U.S. Postal Service cycling team that brought Lance Armstrong to the first of…

Friday Q&A

Today I spoke at a seminar put on by the International Trade Club of Chicago. The topic was internal reviews and prior disclosures. Three hours listening to me seems like a lot, but I think it went well enough. I took a new approach on my PowerPoint slides. It is a long story, but I am convinced that in the hands of the unskilled (like me), PowerPoint can suck the life out of a presentation. I've been doing some reading about this and I tried to emulate Stanford professor Lawrence Lessig today. Basically, I had no bullet points, no charts, no slide transitions, and no fancy fonts; just a few key words for each thought. Anyway, I think it was OK. I'll have to keep practicing the method.

We had lots of good questions. Rather than find a search engine phrase for my Friday question, I'll just give you some from the meeting this morning.

Why do I have to worry about privilege for an internal review?

Because you may not want to turn the results over to Customs when they …


Last night I had a close encounter with a spider. Normally, this would not merit any discussion. In most cases, when I find a spider that has taken up residence in my house, I scoop it up and toss it outside to fend for itself. I believe the spider PR that they eat things we like even less than spiders.

But this was different.

My new roommate was big.

Really big. I looked into its eight eyes and I saw no fear.

To get this into perspective, we are not talking Clint Eastwood's Tarantula. But, we could easily be talking about an extra from William Shatner's Kingdom of the Spiders. This spider claimed Peter Parker as a dependent on its last tax return.

The spider sat in a plastic bin full of toys, mostly of the Play-Doh genre. I could not reach in with a shoe, newspaper, or other suitable blunt instrument as the spider was in a crevice between some containers.

So, I did exactly what a third world dictator would do. I gassed the S.O.B. More specifically, I sprayed it with a product…

Friday's Questions: Marking

Someone from Germany visited with the following search: "origin country customs marking." Gl├╝cklich zu helfen, Freund.

U.S. law requires that all articles of foreign origin imported into the United States be marked with their country of origin. The marking must be permanent and conspicuous. For certain specific articles, Customs has specific marking requirements. This applies, for example, to watches and jewelry in the style of Native American wares. Also, Customs likes to see die cast or etched markings on pipes and the like. Bottom line is that it has to be permanent enough to reach the end user.

Deciding on the correct country of origin is tricky. We already discussed NAFTA marking, which is wholly different, so that is not what I am talking about here. The country of origin of goods is generally the country in which the goods originate or last underwent a substantial transformation. So a coconut grown and harvested in Thailand is of Thai origin. No problem. Coconut milk …

The Coqui Song

by Carmen Milagros Torres

Quiqui Coqui lived near a river in El Yunque. He was sad because the other coquis wouldn’t let him sing. They said, “Your song is too soft.”

One night a light appeared. Quiqui was scared and hid.

“Don’t be afraid. Come outside,” a voice said.

Quiqui went to the rock. He saw a beautiful woman. “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am the moon. Why don’t you sing?”

”The other coquis say the moon won’t like my soft song.”

The moon answered, “But I do. Everyone is not the same. Some stars are big, some are small. Some are white, some are blue.”

Quiqui looked at the sky. “It’s true! All the stars are different.”

The moon said, “Remember to sing. Your song is also beautiful.”

The next night all the coquis sang KO-KEE, KO-KEE. And Quiqui answered ko-kee-kee-kee-kee.

Now the moon is very happy whenever Quiqui sings with his friends.

About the author...

Carmen Milagros Torres is a professor at the University of Puerto Rico at Humacao. She is currently completing a PhD in Ca…

Jumbie Child

by Kheryn Casey

When she wasn’t calling me Ambrosine, Madame Lorde forbade me from going to the graveyard, and if she knew that I was going when the sun was about to set, she’d slap me so hard that my head would spin around on my neck.

The graveyard was a narrow field of dirt. Stones stood one on top of the other, threatening to crash to the ground. They marked where the bodies lay. I went to my mother’s stones. I knelt down on the ground so that her body was beneath me. I prayed. Birds ca-cawed to one another, reptiles crunched through the brush, and I heard the chirping of a cricket even though the sun still shined. Madame Lorde told me that crickets were confused and dying if they chirped to the sun, so I said a little prayer for that cricket too.

Madame Lorde didn’t like me coming to the graveyard since it was so close to the brush, but it was the only place in the whole village I liked to be. It was the only place the other women wouldn’t go, so I knew I wouldn’t have to put up …