Law and Legal
“Search Encrypt uses local encryption to secure your searches. It combines AES-256 encryption with Secure Sockets Layer encryption. Search Encrypt then retrieves your search results from its network of search partners. After you’re done searching, your search terms expire so they are private even if someone else has access to your computer.”
Ryan, Christopher and Frye, Brian L., The 2019 Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools (March 15, 2019). Belmont Law Review (forthcoming 2019).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=
“In 2017, we published A Revealed-Preferences Ranking of Law Schools, which presented the first (intentionally) objective ranking of law schools. Other law school rankings are subjective because their purpose is to tell prospective law students where to matriculate. Our “revealed-preferences” ranking is objective because its purpose is to ask where prospective law students actually choose to matriculate. In other words, subjective rankings tell students what they should want, but our objective ranking reveals what students actually want. These rankings were originally based on an average of the previous five-years of LSAT and GPA quartile and median averages for law schools. We updated these rankings with a 2018 ranking that focused exclusively on the 75th, median, and 25th quartiles of each of these measures for the entering class in Fall 2017. We have modified our rankings yet again to evaluate law schools based not only on their success at matriculating the most desirable first year law students, but also on their success at retaining those students and attracting transfer students.
Accordingly, we present our latest rankings, the 2019 Revealed-Preferences Rankings, as an objective measure of how successful law schools are at attracting and retaining students. We believe that our new methodology is an improvement on our previous methodology, because it incorporates data on transfers, which provide information about student preferences after matriculation. Unfortunately, our new ranking cannot be directly compared to our previous rankings, because it uses a new methodology. Nevertheless, we provide a comparison to our previous objective rankings, as well as to the prominent U.S. News and Above the Law subjective rankings. In addition, we once again provide regional rankings of law schools based on our 2019 Revealed-Preferences Methodology.”
Kaiser Family Foundation – The Uninsured and the ACA: A Primer – Key Facts about Health Insurance and the Uninsured amidst Changes to the Affordable Care Act: “… Despite large gains in health coverage, some people continued to lack coverage, and the ACA remained the subject of political debate. Attempts to repeal and replace the ACA stalled in summer 2017, but there have been several changes to implementation of the ACA under the Trump Administration that affect coverage. In 2017, the number of uninsured rose for the first time since implementation of the ACA to 27.4 million. Those most at risk of being uninsured include low-income individuals, adults, and people of color. The cost of coverage continues to be the most commonly cited barrier to coverage. Health insurance makes a difference in whether and when people get necessary medical care, where they get their care, and ultimately, how healthy they are. Uninsured people are far more likely than those with insurance to postpone health care or forgo it altogether. The consequences can be severe, particularly when preventable conditions or chronic diseases go undetected. While the safety net of public hospitals, community clinics and health centers, and local providers provides a crucial health care source for uninsured people, it does not close the access gap for the uninsured. For many uninsured people, the costs of health insurance and medical care are weighed against equally essential needs, like housing, food, and transportation to work, and many uninsured adults report financial stress beyond health care. When uninsured people use health care, they may be charged for the full cost of that care (versus insurers, who negotiate discounts) and often face difficulty paying medical bills. Providers absorb some of the cost of care for the uninsured, and while uncompensated care funds cover some of those costs, these funds do not fully offset the cost of care for the uninsured…”
The European Copyright Directive: What Is It, and Why Has It Drawn More Controversy Than Any Other Directive In EU History?
EFF: “During the week of March 25, the European Parliament will hold the final vote on the Copyright Directive, the first update to EU copyright rules since 2001; normally this would be a technical affair watched only by a handful of copyright wonks and industry figures, but the Directive has become the most controversial issue in EU history, literally, with the petition opposing it attracting more signatures than any other petition in change.org’s history.
Statescoop: Civilian analysts and officers within the New York City Police Department are using a unique computational tool to spot patterns in crime data that is closing cases. A collection of machine-learning models, which the department calls Patternizr, was first deployed in December 2016, but the department only revealed the system last month when its developers published a research paper in the Informs Journal on Applied Analytics. Drawing on 10 years of historical data about burglary, robbery and grand larceny, the tool is the first of its kind to be used by law enforcement, the developers wrote.
The NYPD hired 100 civilian analysts in 2017 to use Patternizr. It’s also available to all officers through the department’s Domain Awareness System, a citywide network of sensors, databases, devices, software and other technical infrastructure. Researchers told StateScoop the tool has generated leads on several cases that traditionally would have stretched officers’ memories and traditional evidence-gathering abilities…”
“…For starters, the purpose of a scientific journal today should not be to publish research – there is no dearth of specialty platforms to publish scientific findings. Instead, what if we were to focus on the function of peer review to curate published discoveries? Experts, namely scientific specialists, are best equipped to comment on the inherent value of new discoveries in their field, provide historical and political context, and direct collection and publication of new information as it is being produced.
Discovery research has an inherent social value. It is financed by people, and whether that funding comes from private or public sources, the end goal is to deliver a better quality of life to the society it is engaging. What if we were to focus the goal of peer review on translating new scientific discoveries to people? Science can advance very slowly at times, stretching discoveries over generations. Even within the scientific community, scientific disciplines today have become so narrowly defined, and breakthroughs so dependent on so many previous lines of discoveries before them, and therefore subject to competing theories, that the inherent value of new discoveries to the public are only really appreciated within the larger context of the field…”
Center for Data Innovation: “AI has a data quality problem. In a survey of 179 data scientists, over half identified addressing issues related to data quality as the biggest bottleneck in successful AI projects. Big data is so often improperly formatted, lacking metadata, or “dirty,” meaning incomplete, incorrect, or inconsistent, that data scientists typically spend 80 percent of their time on cleaning and preparing data to make it usable, leaving them with just 20 percent of their time to focus on actually using data for analysis. This means organizations developing and using AI must devote huge amounts of resources to ensuring they have sufficient amounts of high-quality data so that their AI tools are not useless. As policymakers pursue national strategies to increase their competitiveness in AI, they should recognize that any country that wants to lead in AI must also lead in data quality.
Collecting and storing data may be getting cheaper, but creating high-quality data can be costly—potentially prohibitively so to small organizations or teams of researchers, forcing them to make do with bad data and thus unreliable or inaccurate AI tools, or preventing them from using AI entirely. The private sector will of course invest in data quality, but policymakers should view increasing the amount of high-quality data as a valuable opportunity to accelerate AI development and adoption, as well as reduce the potential economic and social harms of AI built with bad data. There are three avenues for policymakers to increase the amount of high-quality data available for AI: require the government to provide high-quality data; promote the voluntary provision of high-quality data from the private and non-profit sectors; and accelerate efforts to digitize all sectors of the economy to support more comprehensive data collection…”
The global market for AI and machine-learning relevant data preparation solutions is expected to reach $1.2 billion by the end of 2023, from about $500 million in 2018, as per a report by research firm Cognilytica.
“Algorithms today have the ability to absorb more data and, hence, be more accurate. As long as the data is good and clean, feeding another million datasets to an algorithm will inch up its accuracy. This has caused an unending hunger for well-annotated and labelled data for A.I. algorithms and applications. Today, data preparation and engineering tasks account for more than 80% of the time involved in most A.I. and machine-learning projects, according to the Cognilytica report. “If you talk about autonomous driving, one hour of video data can lead up to 800 man-hours of work,” says Siddharth Mall, chief executive of Bengaluru- and San Francisco-based Playment, which works mostly in the autonomous vehicles space.”
“Criminal justice reform is a challenging undertaking, but if we take the long view we can recognize that success is possible, even if incremental at times. This was the story of reform in 2018, a year in which we saw significant gains in sentencing policy and public understanding of mass incarceration.Most prominent, of course, was passage of the Fair Sentencing Act in Congress. The legislation, a mix of sentencing reform provisions and expansion of programming in federal prisons, represented the culmination of years of advocacy. Yet its passage was far from assured at several key points in the process.The original version of the bill passed by the House contained no elements of sentencing reform. We and our allies worked closely with Senate leadership, particularly Sen. Grassley (R-IA) and Senator Durbin (D-IL), to hold firm to only pass a bill with sentencing provisions, which ultimately were included in the package.The final bill is best described as one of mixed success. No, it won’t end mass incarceration, though a single bill only applying to the federal system could never accomplish that anyway. And the bill falls far short of the indisputable need to repeal mandatory sentencing laws and to rein in excessive prison terms. But the legislation will make a difference in sentencing and time served in prison for thousands of individuals in federal prison, and produce an overall decline in the system’s population. In political terms, the bipartisan support for the legislation is also a welcome indication of how far we’ve come from the days of bipartisan support for “tough on crime” sentencing policies..”
the dodo: “Something fascinating is happening in a nest in Illinois [watch the Eagle Cam]. Two male bald eagles have been spotted helping a female bald eagle keep the eggs in the nest warm. But bald eagles are normally very territorial. Bald eagle pairs are also monogamous. So this nest, on the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, is very unusual. And it’s not the first time they’ve had eaglets together, either. “The three parents share incubation responsibilities for the eggs — three this year — as they have in previous years,” according to Out There With the Birds, the blog of Bird Watcher’s Digest. “Like their relationship, their history is complicated.”…
Slate: “…A woman is shot to death by a current or former romantic partner every 16 hours, according to FBI and state crime data analyzed by the Associated Press. Domestic violence claims the lives of children, innocent bystanders, and police officers called to help; it sometimes escalates to mass shootings. Abused women are five times more likely to die if their abuser has access to a gun. Recognizing the dangerous link between guns and domestic abuse, Congress passed a federal law known as the Lautenberg Amendment in 1996 to ban those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from possessing firearms…Domestic abuse is typically handled at the state and local levels, where laws vary widely. So federal prosecution numbers do not provide a complete picture of how these crimes are handled in the criminal justice system. But for years, experts on the issue have encouraged the feds to do more to punish abusers who unlawfully keep guns…”
Over Half of Samples of Kale Tainted With Possible Cancer-Causing Chemical [this is an extensive article that covers dozens of fruits and vegetables] – “Nearly 70 percent of the produce sold in the U.S. comes with pesticide residues, according to EWG’s analysis of test data from the Department of Agriculture for our 2019 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce. The most surprising news from the USDA tests reveals that the popular health food kale is among the most contaminated fruits and vegetables. More than 92 percent of kale samples had two or more pesticide residues detected, and a single sample could contain up to 18 different residues. The most frequently detected pesticide, found on nearly 60 percent of kale samples, was Dacthal, or DCPA – classified by the Environmental Protection Agency since 1995 as a possible human carcinogen, and prohibited for use in Europe since 2009.
Overall, the USDA found 225 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on popular fruits and vegetables Americans eat every day. Before testing, all produce was washed and peeled, just as people would prepare food for themselves, which shows that simple washing does not remove all pesticides. The USDA had not tested kale for almost a decade. But even as its popularity as a food rich in vitamins and antioxidants has soared, the level and number of pesticide residues found on kale has increased significantly. EWG’s analysis places kale third on this year’s Dirty Dozen, our annual ranking of the fruits and vegetables with the most pesticides. [h/t Pete Weiss]
In Custodia Legis – LC: “The experimental Congress.gov browser extension created by Syed Tanveer has been updated so the current legislation feature now defaults to the 116th Congress. Also, the drop-down menu can now search for text that you highlight in CRS Reports, the U.S. Code, and the eCFR. The browser extension does two things. First, if you highlight a citation to a bill on a webpage (ex. H.R.1), the browser extension will redirect you to the bill with that citation, in the current Congress, on Congress.gov. In addition, you can use the extension to highlight text on a webpage and search for that text in Congress.gov. Just highlight some text, click the dome button in the top-right hand corner of your browser, and you can use the drop-down menu to search for that text in Congress.gov or in CRS Reports (a collection that now includes new content), the U.S. Code, or the eCFR. For example, you might highlight “John McCain” on a webpage, click on the dome icon, and then choose “members” in the drop-down menu to search for Senator John McCain’s member profile page in Congress.gov…”
Et Seq. – The blog of the Harvard Law School Library – Jennifer Allison: “Over the last several months, I have been working on a research guide that, hopefully, will help bridge one of the gaps that researchers from civil law jurisdictions face when they do legal research in the United States. The guide, Researching “Civil Law” Subjects at the Harvard Law School Library, was published today, and can be found at https://guides.library.harvard.edu/civil-law. I designed this resource to provide suggested searches for topics that are normally covered in the civil code in a civil law jurisdiction:
Legal Obligations under Contract and Tort
- Family Law
- Property Law
- Law of Succession
Mantouvalou, Virginia, ‘I Lost My Job Over a Facebook Post – Was that Fair?’ Discipline and Dismissal for Social Media Activity (October 31, 2018). 2019 International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations; Faculty of Laws University College London Law Research Paper No. 2/2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3276055
“Is it fair to be dismissed for social media activity, and are there any limitations to the employer’s managerial prerogative? These are the questions that this article addresses by examining the compatibility of discipline or dismissal with human rights law, with a primary focus on United Kingdom (UK) and European human rights law. It argues that UK courts and tribunals erroneously accept the lawfulness of such dismissals most of the time. This is due both to weaknesses in the English law of unfair dismissal, and to courts’ and tribunals’ limited engagement with human rights at work. Technical aspects of social media usage, with which courts and tribunals are often unfamiliar, add a further layer of complexity. Two factors make dismissals for social media activity particularly challenging for courts: first, the fact that social media are online platforms that everyone can potentially access, and hence public rather than private space; second, that expression on social media, often spontaneous and thoughtless, is not viewed as a particularly valuable form of speech. The argument of the article is that both the right to private life and the right to free speech are implicated in dismissals for social media activity, and that they should be viewed as lawful in very limited occasions, for employers should not have the right to censor the moral, political and other views and preferences of their employees even if it causes business harm.”
Via Lyonette Louis-Jacques – “Jumpstart is a resource compiled and maintained by the Electronic Research Interest Group of the American Association of Law Libraries Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (FCIL-SIS). Jumpstart is a guide to getting started on researching FCIL topics for experienced legal information professionals or beginners. It is also a directory (peer-to-peer, librarian-to-librarian) with contacts information for finding specialists by Jurisdiction/Region, FCIL Topic, and Language. Here is a section of the Jumpstart tool:
- English Translations Lyonette Louis-Jacques
- European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) Stéphane Cottin, Lesley Dingle, Kristina Alayan
- European Union Montse Adam, Ann Burnett, Alison Shea
- Foreign Intellectual Property Law Jonathan Franklin, Gabriela Femenia
- Foreign Law Marci Hoffman, Jean Wenger, Catherine Deane, Kristina Alayan
- Foreign Legal History Gabriela Femenia
- France Stéphane Cottin, Kristina Alayan
- French (language) Jootaek (Juice) Lee
- German (language) Jennifer Allison.”
Google Blog: “…The closed captions feature is available when presenting in Google Slides. It uses your computer’s microphone to detect your spoken presentation, then transcribes—in real time—what you say as captions on the slides you’re presenting. When you begin presenting, click the “CC” button in the navigation box (or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + c in Chrome OS / Windows or ⌘ + Shift + c in Mac).
As you start speaking into your device’s microphone, automated captions will appear in real time at the bottom of your screen for your audience to see. The feature works for a single user presenting in U.S. English on a laptop or desktop computer, using the Chrome browser. We’re looking to expand the feature to more countries and languages over time. The captions are powered by machine learning and heavily influenced by the speaker’s accent, voice modulation, and intonation. We’re continuing to work on improving caption quality…”
Judicial Nomination Statistics and Analysis: U.S. District and Circuit Courts, 1977-2018, March 21, 2019
Judicial Nomination Statistics and Analysis: U.S. District and Circuit Courts, 1977-2018, March 21, 2019. “Under the Appointments Clause of the Constitution, the President and the Senate share responsibility for making appointments to the Supreme Court, as well as to various lower courts of the federal judiciary. While the President nominates persons to fill federal judgeships, the appointment of each nominee also requires Senate confirmation. Historically, the vast majority of appointments to federal judgeships (other than to the Supreme Court) have typically not involved much public disagreement between the President and the Senate or between the parties within the Senate. Debate in the Senate over particular lower court nominees, or over the lower court appointment process itself, was uncommon. Typically, such nominations were both reported out of the Judiciary Committee and confirmed by the Senate without any recorded opposition. In recent decades, however, appointments to two kinds of lower federal courts—the U.S. circuit courts of appeals and the U.S. district courts—have often been the focus of heightened Senate interest and debate, as has the process itself for appointing judges to these courts. Given congressional interest in the subject, this report provides statistics and analysis related to the nomination and confirmation of U.S. circuit and district court judges from 1977 (the beginning of the Carter presidency) through 2018 (the second year of the Trump presidency). The report’s exclusive focus are the U.S. circuit courts of appeals and U.S. district courts. Excluded from the scope of the report are the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of International Trade; the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; and territorial district courts (e.g., the District Court of Guam)…”
Literary Hub: “Unwrapping the Most Beautiful Gutenberg of Them All:”….Most scholars believe that Gutenberg produced about 180 copies, and among these, most likely 150 were printed on paper and 30 on animal skin known as vellum. The price of the book when it left the printer’s workshop was believed to be about thirty florins, equivalent to a clerk’s wages for three years. The vellum versions were priced higher, since they were more labor-intensive and expensive to produce—a single copy required the skin of 170 calves.
Estelle’s copy is one of the 45 known to exist in 1950. They’re in various conditions, scattered around the world in private libraries and museums: 12 in America, 11 in Germany, 9 in Great Britain, 4 in France, 2 in Italy, 2 in Spain, and 1 each in Austria, Denmark, Poland, Portugal, and Switzerland. Fewer than half have all their original pages, a pre-condition of being designated “perfect.”
Hers is perhaps the most beautiful of the surviving paper copies. Despite its age, this volume lacks no pages and has no serious damage. Designated as Number 45 in a definitive list compiled by Hungarian book authority Ilona Hubay, this Bible has clearly received special care through the centuries, or at least supremely benign neglect…”
The New York Times – We Built a Collaborative Documentation Site. Deploy Your Own With the Push of a Button. Library is searchable and renders content from Google Docs: “Maintaining useful documentation is hard. Whether it’s tips for running a program, publication guidelines or company rules, keeping track of resources can quickly become unwieldy. This is especially true at larger organizations where thousands of people care about similar tasks: It’s easy to end up with silos of duplicated instructions that only small groups of people know about.
The New York Times is no different. Several years ago, it was common for each desk to have an internal wiki that they used to collect these instructions. As the use of Google Docs grew within the newsroom, the wikis began to be used and maintained less frequently, and knowledge of existing documentation became scarce. When the older wikis were shut down in 2017, several teams that often collaborate realized we no longer had an effective strategy for sharing documents across the newsroom. We realized we could do better, and decided to build a centralized tool, called Library, that would host our documents in a way that could be shared across the newsroom.
Our solution to this problem has worked well for us. We hope others will find value in the technology we built, so we’re releasing Library to the open source community…”