Law and Legal
Just Security – “Former President Donald Trump issued numerous pardons and commutations to friends, family and associates, as well as felons who engaged in heinous crimes involving war crimes, murder, political corruption, and civil rights violations. He seemed to revel in absolving corrupt politicians, corrupt law enforcement officers, and of course, anyone prosecuted by Robert Mueller’s Special Counsel Office. The latter served not just to reward those who refused to cooperate with this Special Counsel, but also undermined future Special Counsel investigations by setting a dangerous precedent for future efforts to conduct such independent investigations, and to hold a corrupt president to the rule of law.
In issuing his pardons, Trump, true to form, followed no process. He did not seek to identify those most worthy of the use of the clemency process. Instead, his abuse of this constitutional power has led many to deplore the expansive executive authority, although it can be a means of meting out justice when wielded impartially and even-handedly to the most deserving after due consideration of the interests of numerous parties. But there is good news. If the Biden administration’s Department of Justice wants to rectify some of Trump’s abuse of the pardon power, there are now options at its disposal…”
Washington Post – “President-elect Joe Biden has made his selections for his incoming Cabinet and top White House positions. Cabinet positions — with the exception of the vice president and White House chief of staff — will require Senate approval, which may face significant delays. Biden promised to be “a president for all Americans” and build a Cabinet that reflects the country’s diversity. If confirmed, his Cabinet will be more racially diverse than not only Trump’s Cabinet, but also Obama’s…”
Fast Company: “We’re not out of the woods, not yet. One year after the first case of COVID-19 was detected in the U.S., more than 400,000 people have died and thousands of businesses have shuttered. On the political front, our democracy endured a months long campaign to subvert the presidential election, culminating in a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. But at Fast Company, we’re also looking to the future. Amid the horrors of 2020, we saw the world awaken to the power of new technology and radical ideas, from mRNA and BLM to satellite internet and sustainable fashion. So as a new president takes office with a mandate to build back better, we’re pausing to reflect on these lights in the darkness. Here are 21 reasons to hope in 2021…”
Reuters – “U.S. President Joe Biden moved swiftly on his first full day in the White House on Thursday to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, his top priority as he turns the page on four years of Donald Trump’s tumultuous leadership…Biden will sign a series of executive orders related to the pandemic later on Thursday, including requiring mask-wearing in airports and on certain public transportation, including many trains, airplanes and intercity buses, officials said…”
The New York Times – “The moves aim to strengthen protections for young immigrants, end construction of President Donald J. Trump’s border wall, end a travel ban and prioritize racial equity…”
Wired – “Faces of the Riot used open source software to detect, extract, and deduplicate every face from the 827 videos taken from the insurrection on January 6. When hackers exploited a bug in Parler to download all of the right-wing social media platform’s contents last week, they were surprised to find that many of the pictures and videos contained geolocation metadata revealing exactly how many of the site’s users had taken part in the invasion of the US Capitol building just days before. But the videos uploaded to Parler also contain an equally sensitive bounty of data sitting in plain sight: thousands of images of unmasked faces, many of whom participated in the Capitol riot. Now one website has done the work of cataloging and publishing every one of those faces in a single, easy-to-browse lineup. Late last week, a website called Faces of the Riot appeared online, showing nothing but a vast grid of more than 6,000 images of faces, each one tagged only with a string of characters associated with the Parler video in which it appeared. The site’s creator tells WIRED that he used simple open source machine learning and facial recognition software to detect, extract, and deduplicate every face from the 827 videos that were posted to Parler from inside and outside the Capitol building on January 6, the day when radicalized Trump supporters stormed the building in a riot that resulted in five people’s deaths. The creator of Faces of the Riot says his goal is to allow anyone to easily sort through the faces pulled from those videos to identify someone they may know or recognize who took part in the mob, or even to reference the collected faces against FBI wanted posters and send a tip to law enforcement if they spot someone…”
Reuters: “The recently updated website for President Joe Biden’s White House carried an invitation for tech specialists savvy enough to find it. Hidden in the HTML code on www.whitehouse.gov was an invitation to join the U.S. Digital Service, a technology unit within the White House. “If you’re reading this, we need your help building back better,” the message said. Former President Barack Obama launched the service in 2014 to recruit technologists to help revamp government services – for example by modernizing Medicare’s payment system or reforming hiring practices across government agencies. Tech specialists join the Digital Service for typically one or two years…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, January 16, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: The evolving threat of ransomware: Beware of cyber extortion in 2021; What if opting out of data collection were easy?; How 5G and AI Are Creating an Architectural Revolution; and Insecure wheels: Police turn to car data to destroy suspects’ alibis.
The Risks Digest – Rick Slade – “Now that vaccines have started to roll out, we have a new risk management lesson from them. Most of the vaccines that have been approved so far are two-dose vaccines. With the rush to get vaccines into people in the most expeditious manner, there is now a new controversy. Do you give as many people as possible one dose of the vaccine, or do you hold back doses so that there will be a guaranteed supply for those who need a second shot?… The calculus involved here is complex. It involves the infectiousness of the virus, the effectiveness of the vaccine, the total numbers of cases, and a number of other considerations. However, in our situation, the answer seems to fall on the delay side of the equation…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
BuzzFeedNews – text and Video: “”We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”…
See also The New Yorker – “Joe Biden’s Love Letter to the Truth – On Wednesday, Joe Biden’s presence where pro-Trump rioters had recently smashed and looted was a victory for democracy and a rebuke of his predecessor…”
See also the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) – “The custom of delivering an address on Inauguration Day started with the very first Inauguration—George Washington’s—on April 30, 1789. After taking his oath of office on the balcony of Federal Hall in New York City, Washington proceeded to the Senate chamber where he read a speech before members of Congress and other dignitaries. His second Inauguration took place in Philadelphia on March 4, 1793, in the Senate chamber of Congress Hall. There, Washington gave the shortest Inaugural address on record—just 135 words —before repeating the oath of office…”
@TheAmandaGorman – The text and video of this magnificent poem – via The Hill: “Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it, somehow we do it, somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, to compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man. And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first. We must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, that even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped…”
CNN Business – “The culmination of Joe Biden’s journey to the Oval Office was seen far beyond Washington DC on Thursday, with images of his inauguration splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the world. Papers in most countries marked the dawn of the Biden era with pictures of the new US President taking the oath of office, and many highlighted the slew of executive orders he signed on his first day. Some front pages also reflected on the end of the tumultuous Trump era, and a handful took a parting swipe at the former President — a decision indicative of the relief much of the international community felt as his time in office drew to a close. But for the most part, it was Biden who commanded the spotlight. Here’s a selection of front pages from various parts of the world…”
Outside – Expert advice for getting through the winter with COVID-19 as bad as it has ever been: “…The brutal paradox in a marathon is that right when you can sniff the finish line, usually between mile 20 and mile 22, the race invariably feels the longest. The same is likely to be true with COVID-19. Cases are rising and fatigue from far-reaching lifestyle modifications is building. We may be done with most of the race, but there is a good chance the final stretch will feel like forever. Here are six principles to help you get through it….”
AP – “At the National Constitution Center, in Philadelphia, they like to joke that what’s bad for the country is often good for the organization. “Web traffic is through the roof,” says the nonprofit’s CEO and president, Jeffrey Rosen. “We had more than 400,000 visitors to our site in the days following Jan. 6,” when supporters of President Donald Trump rampaged in the U.S. Capitol. “Our previous record was around 160,000.” From his extraordinary political rise in 2015-16 through the four years of his presidency, including his unprecedented challenges to his re-election loss to Joe Biden, Trump’s tenure became a kind of ongoing seminar about how the government works and how a democracy might fail. Questions once limited to Constitutional scholars — how many Cabinet members are needed to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the president from power, whether a state legislature has the power to overturn the votes of presidential balloting — became part of everyday conversation…”
MakeUseOf: “Playing board games has become significantly more difficult since the start of 2020s global health pandemic. Physical and social distancing has put all but an end to a hobby that you traditionally play in close proximity to other people. Fortunately, thanks to online video calling, you can still play board games with friends and family. You just need to be clever about how you do it. Here’s how you can play board games with friends and family by simply using Zoom…”
CNN Travel – “They’re watching you, wherever you walk. They know exactly where you pause, when you slow down and speed up, and they count you in and out of the city. What’s more, they’re tracking your phone, so they can tell exactly how many people from your country or region are in which area, at which time. And they’re doing it in a bid to change tourism for the better. Welcome to Venice in a post-Covid world. The canal city may have been known as La Serenissima, or The Most Serene, during its centuries ruling the waves as the powerful Republic of Venice. In the past few years, however, things have become rather less serene, thanks to the almost 30 million visitors who descend each year on the city of just 50,000 inhabitants. Before Covid-19 struck, tourists were arriving in often unmanageable numbers, choking the main streets and filling up the waterbuses. Authorities had tried various measures, from introducing separate residents’ lines at major vaporetto (waterbus) stops to bringing in turnstiles that would filter locals from tourists on busy days. A planned “entrance tax,” due to debut in 2020, has been postponed to January 2022, due to the pandemic. But as well as controlling footfall, the authorities wanted to track tourism itself — not just by registering overnight guests but, in a city where the vast majority of visitors are daytrippers, by counting exactly who is in the city — and where they go…”
ZDNet – “…a couple of weeks ago Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared, in an interview with the Financial Times, that Teams could soon be a digital platform as important as the internet browser. Yes, Microsoft Teams. This startled me a touch. The world seems to have moved rather quickly of late. I thought of all those working-from-home employees, real people who have been thrust onto Teams. I wondered if they like it. I also wondered just how much it records what they do. You see, this became an especially poignant issue when Microsoft slipped into a puddle of controversy with its 365 Productivity Score feature — since modified — one that seemed to rate individual employees for their alleged output. So I scuttled off to find details of how Teams captures data and delivers it to customers — and to look at the nuances from the perspective of employee…”
CRS – The Impeachment and Trial of a Former President January 15, 2021: “For the second time in just over a year, the House of Representatives has voted to impeach President Donald J. Trump. The House previously voted to impeach President Trump on December 18, 2019, and the Senate voted to acquit the President on February 5, 2020. Because the timing of this second impeachment vote is so close to the end of the Trump Administration, it is possible that any resulting Senate trial may not occur until after President Trump leaves office on January 20, 2021. This possibility has prompted the question of whether the Senate can try a former President for conduct that occurred while he was in office…”
The Year in Illustration 2020 – The New York Times – “The most memorable illustrations of 2020, as chosen by art directors at The New York Times.”
CRS In Focus – U.S. Secret Service: Threats to and Assaults on Presidents and Vice Presidents, January 15, 2021: On January 6, 2021,Vice President Mike Pence was presiding over a joint session of Congress to certify the November 2020 presidential election electoral votes when a crowd breached the U.S. Capitol’s security. Due to these events, some Members of Congress have expressed a renewed interest in U.S. Secret Service (USSS) protective detail operations…”