Law and Legal

New Website Draws on International Perspectives to Highlight Issues related to Inclusion and Artificial Intelligence

New suite of resources aims to establish key themes, questions, and opportunities for ensuring that voices and perspectives from diverse populations help shape the future of AI.

“The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society is pleased to share a newly-published interactive webpage,, which highlights salient topics and offers a broad range of resources related to issues of AI and inclusion. The materials contribute to the Diversity and Inclusion track of the broader Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative. Launched in Spring 2017, the initiative is anchored by the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, who have been working in conjunction over the past year to conduct evidence-based research, bolster AI for the social good, and construct a collective knowledge base on the ethics and governance of AI. The site reflects lessons learned from a wide-ranging international effort, and includes a number of resources produced from the Global Symposium on AI and Inclusion, which convened 170 participants from over 40 countries in Rio de Janeiro last November on behalf of the Global Network of Centers to discuss the impact of AI and related technologies on marginalized populations and the risks of amplifying digital inequalities across the world. Some of the primary resources available on the webpage include foundational materials that address overarching themes, key research questions, the initial framing of a research roadmap, and an overview of some of the most relevant opportunities and challenges identified pertaining to AI, inclusion, and governance. The research, findings, and ideas presented throughout the page both illuminate lessons learned from the past year, and lay the groundwork for the initiative’s continued work on issues of inclusion, acknowledging that the resources found here are only a starting point for this important conversation…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Resolving Legislative Differences in Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses

Resolving Legislative Differences in Congress: Conference Committees and Amendments Between the Houses. Elizabeth Rybicki, Specialist on Congress and the Legislative Process, February 15, 2018.

“The Constitution requires that the House and Senate approve the same bill or joint resolution in precisely the same form before it is presented to the President for his signature or veto. To this end, both houses must pass the same measure and then attempt to reach agreement about its provisions.The House and Senate may be able to reach agreement by an exchange of amendments between the houses. Each house has one opportunity to amend the amendments from the other house, so there can be Senate amendments to House amendments to Senate amendments to a House bill. House amendments to Senate bills or amendments are privileged for consideration on the Senate floor; Senate amendments to House bills or amendments generally are not privileged for consideration on the House floor. In practice, the House often disposes of amendments between the houses under the terms of a special rule reported by the Rules Committee. The Senate sometimes disposes of House amendments by unanimous consent, but the procedures associated with the exchange of amendments can become complicated. Alternatively, the House and Senate can each disagree to the position of the other on a bill and then agree to create a conference committee to propose a package settlement of all their disagreements. Most conferees are drawn from the standing committees that had considered the bill initially. The House or Senate may vote to instruct its conferees before they are appointed, but such instructions are not binding. Conferees generally are free to negotiate in whatever ways they choose, but eventually their agreement must be approved by a majority of the House conferees and a majority of the Senate conferees. The conferees are expected to address only the matters on which the House and Senate have disagreed. They also are expected to resolve each disagreement within the scope of the differences between the House and Senate positions. If the conferees cannot reach agreement on an amendment, or if their agreement exceeds their authority, they may report that amendment as an amendment in true or technical disagreement. On the House and Senate floors, conference reports are privileged and debatable, but they are not amendable. The Senate has a procedure to strike out portions of the conference agreement that are considered, under Senate rules, to be “out of scope material” or “new directed spending provisions.” The House also has a special procedure for voting to reject conference report provisions that would not have been germane to the bill in the House. After agreeing to a conference report, the House or Senate can dispose of any remaining amendments in disagreement. Only when the House and Senate have reached agreement on all provisions of the bill can it be enrolled for presentation to the President..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Internet Archive Posts Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex

Military Industrial Powerpoint Complex – United States Military: “This collection was a special project originally done as part of the Internet Archive’s 20th Anniversary celebration on October 26, 2016 highlighting IA’s web archive. The collection consists of all the Powerpoint files (57,489) from the .mil web domain.”

Categories: Law and Legal

When an online news outlet goes out of business, its archives can disappear as well

Erasing history – When an online news outlet goes out of business, its archives can disappear as well. The new battle over journalism’s digital legacy.

“The Honolulu Advertiser doesn’t exist anymore, but it used to publish a regular “Health Bureau Statistics” column in its back pages supplied with information from the Hawaii Department of Health detailing births, deaths, and other events. The paper, which began in 1856 as the Pacific Commercial Advertiser, since the end of World War II was merged, bought, sold, and then merged again with its local rival, The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, to become in 2010 The Honolulu Star Advertiser. But the Advertiser archive is still preserved on microfilm in the Honolulu State Library. Who could have guessed, when those reels were made, that the record of a tiny birth announcement would one day become a matter of national consequence? But there, on page B-6 of the August 13, 1961, edition of The Sunday Advertiser, set next to classified listings for carpenters and floor waxers, are two lines of agate type announcing that on August 4, a son had been born to Mr. and Mrs. Barack H. Obama of 6085 Kalanianaole Highway. In the absence of this impossible-to-fudge bit of plastic film, it would have been far easier for the so called birther movement to persuade more Americans that President Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States. But that little roll of microfilm was and is still there, ready to be threaded on a reel and examined in the basement of the Honolulu State Library: An unfalsifiable record of “Births, Marriages, Deaths,” which immeasurably fortified the Hawaii government’s assertions regarding Obama’s original birth certificate. “We don’t destroy vital records,” Hawaii Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo says. “That’s our whole job, to maintain and retain vital records.” Absent that microfilmed archive, maybe Donald Trump could have kept insinuating that Barack Obama had in fact been born in Kenya, and granting sufficient political corruption, that lie might at some later date have become official history. Because history is a fight we’re having every day. We’re battling to make the truth first by living it, and then by recording and sharing it, and finally, crucially, by preserving it. Without an archive, there is no history…”


Categories: Law and Legal

Survey – Nearly half of parents worry their child is addicted to mobile devices

USA Today: “Parents berate themselves for staying glued to their smartphones. But they’re even more worried their kids can’t detach from the small screen. A survey from Common Sense Media and SurveyMonkey found 47% of parents worry their child is addicted to their mobile device. By comparison, only 32% of parents say they’re addicted themselves. Half of parents also say they are at least somewhat concerned about how mobile devices will affect their kids’ mental health. Nearly one in five say they’re “extremely” or “very” concerned. “For as much attention as technology addiction receives among adults, parents — particularly those with teenagers — are far more concerned about their children’s device usage than their own,” Jon Cohen, chief research officer with SurveyMonkey, said in a statement Thursday…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New cutting-edge science confirms that Antartica is losing ice faster every year

Quartz: “New data analysis confirms what scientists have suspected for a while now: West Antarctic ice melt is speeding up. In a cutting-edge survey of satellite data published Feb. 13 in the journal Cryosphere, researchers from NASA and other institutions shows that ice loss from the critical region of Antarctica is happening at an increasingly fast pace. In total, researchers found that Antarctica lost roughly 1,929 gigatons of ice in 2015, which amounts to an increase of roughly 36 gigatons per year every year since 2008. (A gigaton is one billion tons.) Nearly 90% of that increase in loss occurred in West Antarctica, “probably in response to ocean warming,” according to NASA. The new data analysis mostly confirms other recent research, but does so with a higher degree of precision by using a new technique that can process a larger amount of satellite data than was possible before…”

Categories: Law and Legal

On the Front Line of the Battle Against Fake News “If the past couple of years are any indication, the media in the United States, and far beyond, is facing a crisis. Now a household term, “fake news” has empowered populists and other dubious forces, while public trust in traditional news outlets has steadily eroded. Half-truths and hostility seem to have overtaken the political conversation.  Part of the problem, newsroom leaders believe, is that journalists haven’t explained themselves well enough. Social media bombards consumers with all matter of content, leaving them ill-equipped to identify quality sources. “For far too long, we have sat there and said, ‘Let the story speak for itself,’” David Walmsley, editor-in-chief of The Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper, tells OZY. “Then we leave this vacuum, and it’s whoever speaks loudest gets heard.” Stepping into that vacuum is veteran journalist and media expert Sally Lehrman. As the director of the Trust Project, a pro-transparency initiative launched late last year, she could be one of the industry’s emerging saviors. With institutional backing from Santa Clara University’s Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and with help from leaders at more than 75 news organizations including The Economist and The Washington Post, the 58-year-old science writer has led the charge in crafting a set of transparency standards for outlets to implement. Based on input from dozens of American and European news consumers with various backgrounds and reading habits, Lehrman’s team developed eight categories of content verification, or “Trust Indicators,” organizations should meet for published work. They include: clearly distinguishing the type of work (for instance, analysis versus opinion), providing the author’s biography and specifying their area of expertise and identifying the methods of reporting (how reporters obtained their information, and why). Dozens of outlets have committed to upholding these standards so far, part of a multi-phase rollout, and have featured the “Trust Mark” on their sites. Meanwhile, tech giants Google, Facebook, Twitter and Bing are mulling ways to present Trust Indicators to consumers…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Dolly Parton set to donate her 100 millionth book to Library of Congress

The Hill: “She doesn’t “do politics,” but Dolly Parton will be just steps from the halls of the Capitol when she visits Washington, D.C., next week to mark a charitable milestone. The legendary “Jolene” singer and songwriter is poised to present the 100 millionth book donation from her Imagination Library to the Library of Congress’s collection on Feb. 27. Parton’s Imagination Library mails free books to children from birth until they start school. The 72-year-old performer has said her father’s illiteracy inspired her to start the program in 1995. The Tuesday morning presentation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden is set to include a book reading with local students. The event is invite-only, but a limited number of visitors and members of the public will be permitted to view the proceedings on a first-come, first-serve basis, a Library of Congress spokeswoman tells ITK. But don’t expect Parton to head across the street to the Capitol to lobby lawmakers. Parton has said before that she doesn’t count herself among Hollywood’s politically active entertainers. “Everybody knows I don’t do politics,” she said last year during an interview on Fox News. “My mother was a Democrat and my daddy was a Republican, so I’m a hypocrat,” the Tennessee-born Grammy Award winner quipped. “I’ve got as many Republican fans as Democrats and I don’t want to make any of them mad at me, so I don’t play politics.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Morgan Lewis report to NPR Board of Directors on workplace sexual harassment

Current: “…The report by law firm Morgan Lewis [scroll down the article – the report is embedded] thoroughly examined how NPR handled subsequent complaints about Oreskes. It also described problems with NPR’s workplace culture that allowed bullying and harassment to take place and noted “very prominent distrust” of management within NPR. Staffers expressed concerns about a lack of transparency in harassment investigations and explanations of the outcomes. Morgan Lewis conducted a two-month investigation into harassment for a special committee of the NPR Board of Directors. NPR employees filed complaints about Oreskes in October 2015, and management mistakenly believed that a “stern” warning to Oreskes had resolved those issues. As reports continued to surface, including some from outside NPR, Mohn wasn’t fully informed of the scope of his behavior, which included inappropriate use of his NPR expense account and sending personal emails to young women who didn’t work at NPR. The firm began its investigation Dec. 12 and completed its final interview Feb. 9, according to the report. Its lawyers interviewed 86 current and former NPR employees, including 71 women and 15 men. Most of those employees requested the interviews and met with investigators individually, whether in person or by telephone, and for 30 to 90 minutes…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – Donald Trump, nonreader-in-chief, again wants to kill off IMLS, the library agency

Via LLRXDonald Trump, nonreader-in-chief, again wants to kill off IMLS, the library agencyDavid Rothman’s commentary argues that “good libraries are all about content and community and the needs of local people.” The FY2019 Federal Budget proposes once again to eliminate Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and hundreds of millions of dollars dedicated to America’s libraries through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Rothman identifies what is at stake if these cuts are approved, and how the ALA and others groups are on point to lead a bi-partisan effort to save this funding now and into the future.

Categories: Law and Legal

Hundreds of U.S. Mayors Collectively Oppose Trump Reversal of Clean Power Plan

Yale Environment 360 – “Mayors from 233 U.S. cities, representing more than 51 million Americans in 46 states and territories, have released a joint letter voicing their opposition of the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal the Clean Power Plan, arguing that the reversal would “put our citizens at risk and harm our efforts to address the urgent threat of climate change.” Signatories of the letter, sent directly to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, include mayors from states such as Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. They point to the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events impacting communities across the United States, from severe storms to heat waves. They also cite the growing cost of responding to and preparing for these disasters, as well as for sea level rise. The annual cost of coastal storm damage is expect to reach $35 billion by the 2030s, and coastal property valued at up to $106 billion could be flooded by 2050, according to a report by the Risky Business Project, which analyzes the economic impacts of climate change in the U.S.”

Categories: Law and Legal

2018 Economic Report of the President

Economic Report of the President Together with The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers February 2018 The report “overviews the nation’s economic progress using text and extensive data appendices. The Economic Report of the President is transmitted to Congress no later than ten days after the submission of the Budget of the United States Government. Supplementary reports can be issued to the Congress which contain additional and/or revised recommendations. Documents are available in ASCII text and Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF), with many of the tables also available for separate viewing and downloading as spreadsheets in Microsoft Excel (XLS).”
Categories: Law and Legal

Commentary – The Shallowness of Google Translate

The Atlantic: The Shallowness of Google Translate – The program uses state-of-the-art AI techniques, but simple tests show that it’s a long way from real understanding.

“…The practical utility of Google Translate and similar technologies is undeniable, and probably it’s a good thing overall, but there is still something deeply lacking in the approach, which is conveyed by a single word: understanding. Machine translation has never focused on understanding language. Instead, the field has always tried to “decode”—to get away without worrying about what understanding and meaning are. Could it in fact be that understanding isn’t needed in order to translate well? Could an entity, human or machine, do high-quality translation without paying attention to what language is all about? To shed some light on this question, I turn now to the experiments I made…It’s hard for a human, with a lifetime of experience and understanding and of using words in a meaningful way, to realize how devoid of content all the words thrown onto the screen by Google Translate are. It’s almost irresistible for people to presume that a piece of software that deals so fluently with words must surely know what they mean. This classic illusion associated with artificial-intelligence programs is called the “Eliza effect,” since one of the first programs to pull the wool over people’s eyes with its seeming understanding of English, back in the 1960s, was a vacuous phrase manipulator called Eliza, which pretended to be a psychotherapist, and as such, it gave many people who interacted with it the eerie sensation that it deeply understood their innermost feelings…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Video – The Temple of Knowledge – NYPL branch custodian and his family lived in the library

“Ronald Clark’s father was custodian of a branch of the New York Public Library at a time when caretakers, along with their families, lived in the buildings. With his daughter, Jamilah, Ronald remembers literally growing up in a library, creeping down to the stacks in the middle of the night when curiosity gripped him. A story for anyone who’s ever dreamt of having unrestricted access to books. Directed by: Richard O’Connor Executive Producer: Dave Isay Producers: Rachel Hartman & Shelley Gorelik Audio Produced by: Liyna Anwar Supervising Sound Recordist: Naomi Blech Animation by: Ace & Son Moving Picture Co., LLC Design: Keenon Ferrell Animators: Pilar Newton & Taisiya Zaratskaya Art Production: Ash Syzmanik, Natalie Greene, & Morgan Miller Original Music: Joshua Abrams Music Performed by: Joshua Abrams, Hamid Drake, Marquis Hill, Emmett Kelly, & Adam Thornburg Music Mixed by: Joshua Abrams & Neil Strauch Special Thanks: Ronald Clark & Jamilah Clark In Partnership with American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress NPR POV.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Treasury Releases Report To The President On Orderly Liquidation Authority

“The U.S. Department of the Treasury today released a report regarding its review and recommendations on the Orderly Liquidation Authority (OLA).  The report responds to the Presidential Memorandum directing Treasury to propose recommendations to align OLA with the Core Principles for Financial Regulation and determine whether the Bankruptcy Code should be reformed to better enable resolution of financial companies.  Treasury’s recommendations ensure that taxpayers are protected by strengthening the bankruptcy procedure for a failed financial company and retaining OLA in very limited circumstances with significant reforms…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies® Honoree List

“Since 2007, Ethisphere has honored the World’s Most Ethical Companies who recognize their critical role to influence and drive positive change in the business community and societies around the world and work to maximize their impact wherever possible. In 2018, 135 companies are being honored from 23 countries and 57 industries. Among the list are twelve 12-time honorees and fifteen first-time honorees.” The global list of winners is here.

Categories: Law and Legal

GPO Handouts from ALA’s Midwinter Meeting

“Several representatives from GPO’s Library Services & Content Management unit took part in the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia this January. Staff members presented information on a variety of Federal Depository Library Program topics and shared a number of handouts, which are now available on”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Text mining 101

EU OpenMinted Project Paper – What is text mining, how does it work and why is it useful? “This article will help you understand the basics in just a few minutes. Text mining seeks to extract useful and important information from heterogeneous document formats, such as web pages, emails, social media posts, journal articles, etc. This is often done through identifying patterns within texts, such as trends in words usage, syntactic structure, etc. People often talk about ‘text and data mining (TDM)’ at the same time, but strictly speaking text mining is a specific form of data mining that deals with text…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Jump in Federal Civil Environmental Litigation

“The latest available data from the federal courts show that during January 2018 the government reported 172 new environmental civil lawsuits filed. This is the third month in a row in which an unusually large number of new environmental matters were filed, bringing the latest quarter to a total of 745 new cases. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, this number is up 276 percent over the previous quarter when the number of civil filings of this type totaled 198. The jump in lawsuits during the last quarter was driven by litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana (New Orleans) involving various claimants and BP Exploration & Production, Inc. These suits were part of the multi-district litigation that was assigned to U.S. District Judge Carl J. Barbier in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Here the cause of action arose largely under the Oil Pollution Act, Title 33 Section 2701. Civil environmental litigation in the remaining 93 federal judicial districts shows no recent upward trend. In fact, for the rest of the country the quarter ending October 2016 showed the highest level of new environmental suits and new civil litigation has generally fallen since then. For further details, see:”

Categories: Law and Legal

Rare copy of Declaration of Independence survived Civil War hidden behind wallpaper

Washington Post – “During the Civil War, the precious document was hidden behind wallpaper in a home in Virginia to keep Union soldiers from finding it. Later, it sat in a closet in Kentucky, in a broken frame, unappreciated and stored in a cardboard box.

And later still it was stuck behind a cabinet in the office of an energy executive outside Houston. It was a rare parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence, made in Washington in the 1820s for founding father James Madison, and apparently unknown to the public for more than a century. Now, the copy, one of 51 that scholars are aware of, has resurfaced via its purchase last month by billionaire philanthropist David M. Rubenstein. It is one of the exquisite facsimiles made from the original handwritten calfskin document crafted in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776. Scholars say it bears the image of the Declaration that most people know, in part because the original is now so badly faded. “This is the closest … to the original Declaration, the way it looked when it was signed in August of 1776,” said Seth Kaller, a New York rare-document appraiser who assisted in the sale. “Without these … copies you wouldn’t even know what the original looked liked.”..

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