Law and Legal

New York Enacts One of the Most Aggressive Climate Bills in the U.S.

New York Assembly Passes Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act – “Legislation sets the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent by 2050, and having net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy. Speaker Carl Heastie and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright today announced Assembly passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that sets critical environmental standards, including reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy in order to address and mitigate the effects of climate change (A.8429, Englebright). The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act would require that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) establish:
  • Statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits by regulation, to reduce emissions 85 percent by 2050;
  • Regulations to achieve statewide greenhouse gas emissions reductions; and
  • A process ensuring that a minimum of 35 percent of investments from clean energy and energy efficiency funds are invested in disadvantaged communities….”
Categories: Law and Legal

Law Libraries Embracing AI

Craigle, Valeri, Law Libraries Embracing AI (2019). Law Librarianship in the Age of AI, (Ellyssa Valenti, Ed.), 2019, Forthcoming; University of Utah College of Law Research Paper . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3381798 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3381798

“The utilization of AI provides insights for legal clients, future-proofs careers for attorneys and law librarians, and elevates the status of the information suite. AI training in law schools makes students more practice-ready in an increasingly tech-centric legal environment; Access to Justice initiatives are embracing AI’s capabilities to provide guidance to educational resources and legal services for the under-represented. AI’s presence in the legal community is becoming so common that it can no longer been seen as an anomaly, or even cutting edge. Some even argue that its absence in law firms will eventually be akin to malpractice.This chapter explores some practical uses of AI in legal education and law firms, with a focus on professionals who have gone beyond the role of AI consumers to that of AI developers, data curators and system designers…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft 365 for Campaigns launched, aims to keep political campaigns secure

Neowin – “Today, Microsoft has launched a new service, Microsoft 365 for Campaigns. It will be focussed toward providing a secure platform for political parties to build their campaign upon. Currently, it is only available to federal political campaigns and national-level political parties in the U.S. The service was first announced in May at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference.

The new tool has been designed by Microsoft’s Defending Democracy Program, which was announced last year to protect institutions, electoral processes, and more, in democratic countries. It is noted to be quite easy to set up; any suitable member of an organization can perform the task in less than five minutes using a simple onboarding process…”

Categories: Law and Legal

All Best Buy stores can now repair your Apple devices

The Verge – [June 19, 2019] “Apple announced that Best Buy now offers authorized repairs on its products at each and every one of the retailer’s stores. This gives consumers an important alternative to visiting their nearest Apple store — if there even is one — for service on an iPhone or Mac. Repairs are done with genuine Apple parts and are fully backed by the company, just as if Apple had done the work itself. Best Buy has offered Apple repairs at many locations for some time now, but the completed expansion brings that number up to nearly 1,000 stores. “Best Buy’s Geek Squad has nearly 7,600 newly Apple-certified technicians ready to make same-day iPhone repairs or to service other Apple products,” Apple said in a press release. There are Best Buy stores in neighborhoods that might not have an Apple presence, so this is a nice option to have at the ready. Most Best Buy locations have Apple showcase sections with the company’s iOS devices, MacBooks, HomePod, and other products…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Public Highly Critical of State of Political Discourse in the U.S.

Pew – Reactions to Trump’s rhetoric: Concern, confusion, embarrassment – “The public renders a harsh judgment on the state of political discourse in this country. And for many Americans, their own conversations about politics have become stressful experiences that they prefer to avoid. Large majorities say the tone and nature of political debate in the United States has become more negative in recent years – as well as less respectful, less fact-based and less substantive. Meanwhile, people’s everyday conversations about politics and other sensitive topics are often tense and difficult. Half say talking about politics with people they disagree with politically is “stressful and frustrating.”

When speaking with people they do not know well, more say they would be very comfortable talking about the weather and sports – and even religion – than politics. And it is people who are most comfortable with interpersonal conflict, including arguing with other people, who also are most likely to talk about politics frequently and to be politically engaged. Donald Trump is a major factor in people’s views about the state of the nation’s political discourse. A 55% majority says Trump has changed the tone and nature of political debate in this country for the worse; fewer than half as many (24%) say he has changed it for the better, while 20% say he has had little impact…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How a Universal Contract Language Puts Lawyers In Control

Artificial Lawyer – “The adoption of innovative contract pre-screening technology offers transformative opportunities to law firms and general counsel alike. In today’s climate, the information tools a business adopts are intrinsically linked with its success. Only by demonstrating their use of the most powerful technology can managers expect to:

  • Attract and retain top talent
  • Offer more than their competitors
  • Exceed clients’ expectations
  • And, most importantly, grow the business in a profitable way

For too long, technology has played a minor role in law firms. But this is changing at a rapid pace. In particular in the bread-and-butter work of corporate lawyers, approving and reviewing contracts…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Virtuous and Vicious Circles in the Data Life-cycle

information research – vol. 24 no. 2, June, 2019 – Virtuous and vicious circles in the data life-cycle. Elizabeth Yakel, Ixchel M. Faniel, and Zachary J. Maiorana.

“In this article published in the journal Information Research, the authors present an in-depth case study that follows collaborative data sharing, curation, and reuse practices among 11 zooarchaeologists and two curators during a large data reuse project. A data life-cycle model highlights how factors in one life-cycle phase impacted other phases forming virtuous (positive) and vicious (negative) circles. Studies of data practices have generally engaged issues from the singular perspective of data producers, sharers, curators, or reusers. Taking a perspective that captures the trajectory of data, this case study discusses actions and their consequences throughout the data life-cycle. This research theme explores how different stakeholders and their work practices positively and/or negatively affected other phases of the life-cycle. More specifically, the authors focus on data production practices and data selection decisions made during data sharing as these have frequent and diverse consequences for other life-cycle phases in our case study…”

Categories: Law and Legal

It’s Time to Switch to a Privacy Browser

Wired – “There’s a new battleground in the browser wars: user privacy. Firefox just made its Enhanced Tracking Protection a default feature, Apple continues to pile privacy-focused features into its Safari browser, and people are more aware than ever before of the sort of information they can reveal every time they set a digital footprint on the web. If you want to push back against online tracking, you’ve got several options to pick from when choosing a default browser. These are the browsers that put user privacy high on the list of their priorities…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Are Tax Practitioners Protecting Your Personal Information?

GAO WatchBlog: “Doing your taxes can be complicated. So it’s no surprise that nearly 90% of taxpayers use either a paid preparer or tax software to prepare and file their taxes each year. In an age of data breaches and identity theft, how safe is your information after you provide it to one of those third parties? We take a look in today’s WatchBlog..The information that you provide to your paid preparer or tax software package is a potential goldmine for identity thieves because it contains a lot of personal, financial, or federal tax information. Fraudsters may steal this information and use it to collect a fraudulent tax refund or commit other types of crimes…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Developing Artificially Intelligent Justice

Re, Richard M. and Solow-Niederman, Alicia, Developing Artificially Intelligent Justice (May 19, 2019). Stanford Technology Law Review, Forthcoming; UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-16. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3390854

“Artificial intelligence, or AI, promises to assist, modify, and replace human decision-making, including in court. AI already supports many aspects of how judges decide cases, and the prospect of “robot judges” suddenly seems plausible—even imminent. This Article argues that AI adjudication will profoundly affect the adjudicatory values held by legal actors as well as the public at large. The impact is likely to be greatest in areas, including criminal justice and appellate decision-making, where “equitable justice,” or discretionary moral judgment, is frequently considered paramount. By offering efficiency and at least an appearance of impartiality, AI adjudication will both foster and benefit from a turn toward “codified justice,” an adjudicatory paradigm that favors standardization above discretion. Further, AI adjudication will generate a range of concerns relating to its tendency to make the legal system more incomprehensible, data-based, alienating, and disillusioning. And potential responses, such as crafting a division of labor between human and AI adjudicators, each pose their own challenges. The single most promising response is for the government to play a greater role in structuring the emerging market for AI justice, but auspicious reform proposals would borrow several interrelated approaches. Similar dynamics will likely extend to other aspects of government, such that choices about how to incorporate AI in the judiciary will inform the future path of AI development more broadly.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Protect your online identity now: Fight hackers with these 5 security safeguards

ZDNET – Having your identity stolen can be a nightmare, and cleaning up the mess can take months. You can make life difficult for a would-be identity thief by locking down these five key aspects of your online life. “…You don’t have to be the next victim. With a little effort (and, yes, a little expense), you can lock down the security of crucial online services. Follow these five guidelines and you can make life extremely difficult for a would-be identity thief…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New online guide to the Paperwork Reduction Act

“The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) is a law governing how federal agencies collect information from the public.” This new site, https://pra.digital.gov/ addresses the following topics:

  • About the PRA
  • Do I need clearance?
  • PRA approval process
  • Clearance types
  • Estimating burden
  • Additional resources
Categories: Law and Legal

Boaty McBoatface makes major climate change discovery on maiden outing

UK Telegraph: “Boaty McBoatface’s maiden outing has made a major discovery about how climate change is causing rising sea levels. Scientists say that data collected from the yellow submarines’s first expedition will help them build more accurate predictions in order to combat the problem. The mission has uncovered a key process linking increasing Antarctic winds to higher sea temperatures, which in turn is fuelling increasing levels. Researchers found that the increasing winds are cooling water on the bottom of the ocean, forcing it to travel faster, creating turbulance as it mixed with warmer waters above. Experts said the mechanism has not been factored into current models for predicting the impact of increasing global temperatures on our oceans, meaning forecasts should be altered. Boaty McBoatface – the publicly named robotic submersible carried on the research vessel RRS Sir David Attenborough – took its first expedition in April 2017, studying the bottom of the Southern Ocean…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to Make a Flowchart in Microsoft Word

Make Use Of:  “All the tools needed to make flowcharts in Microsoft Word 2013, 2016, or 2016 lie within the Drawing Tools. But first do these three preliminary steps:

  • Maximize your page area. Collapse the Ribbon by clicking the little upward arrow (or click Ctrl + F1) on the extreme right so only the tab names show.
  • Display the Grid. Click the View tab and click the Gridlines checkbox. The grid helps you align and size the flowchart symbols precisely as you can snap them to the gridlines.  You can also customize the gridlines: Page Layout > Arrange > Align > Grid Settings.
  • Use the Drawing Canvas. Inserting any shape or “drawing” in a Word document automatically creates a drawing canvas. You will have to resize the canvas to frame your entire flowchart. As this Microsoft support page says, it is especially useful when using different shapes (as in a flowchart). Also, you can customize the drawing canvas itself to create attractive backdrops for your flowchart…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Should the police be able to investigate your genetic family tree for any crime, no matter how minor?

The New York Times – Want to See My Genes? Get a Warrant – Should the police be able to investigate your genetic family tree for any crime, no matter how minor? “…Genetic genealogy requires lots of DNA samples and an easy way to compare them. Americans have created millions of genetic profiles already. A 2018 study published in Science predicted that 90 percent of Americans of European descent will be identifiable from their DNA within a year or two, even if they have not used a consumer DNA service. As for easy access, GEDmatch’s website provides exactly this opportunity. Consumers can take profiles generated from other commercial genetic testing services, upload them free and compare them to other profiles. So can the police. We should be glad whenever a cold case involving a serious crimes like rape or murder can be solved. But the use of genetic genealogy in the Centerville assault case raises with new urgency fundamental questions about this technique…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Retail’s Secret Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move

The New York Times: “Imagine you are shopping in your favorite grocery store. As you approach the dairy aisle, you are sent a push notification in your phone: “10 percent off your favorite yogurt! Click here to redeem your coupon.” You considered buying yogurt on your last trip to the store, but you decided against it. How did your phone know? Your smartphone was tracking you. The grocery store got your location data and paid a shadowy group of marketers to use that information to target you with ads. Recent reports have noted how companies use data gathered from cell towers, ambient Wi-Fi, and GPS. But the location data industry has a much more precise, and unobtrusive, tool: Bluetooth beacons. These beacons are small, inobtrusive electronic devices that are hidden throughout the grocery store; an app on your phone that communicates with them informed the company not only that you had entered the building, but that you had lingered for two minutes in front of the low-fat Chobanis…

…To protect yourself from beacons in the short term, you can delete any apps that may be spying on you — including apps from retailers — and shut off location services and Bluetooth where they are not needed. You can also follow The Times’s guide on how to stop apps from tracking your location. For Android users, the F-Droid app store hosts free and open- source apps that do not spy on users with hidden trackers…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Study – Your Facebook profile can indicate if you have a medical condition

CNN – “In a new study, researchers were able to predict 21 types of medical conditions — ranging from pregnancy to skin disorders — by analyzing people’s Facebook profiles. Facebook status updates were “particularly effective at predicting diabetes and mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and psychoses,” the study found. The study will be published June 19 in PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published since 2006 “People’s personality, mental state, and health behaviors are all reflected in their social media and all have tremendous impact on health,” the study said. To conduct the study, researchers linked consenting patients’ electronic medical records with their social media. In total, they looked at 949,530 Facebook status updates across 999 participants whose posts were longer than 500 words. The researchers identified language that likely indicated the characteristic behavior or symptoms of certain diagnoses…”

Categories: Law and Legal

When a book disappears, it turns up here

Fully searchable banned book database catalogues 125,000 titles – When Argentinian artist Marta Minujin wanted to build a replica of the Parthenon out of banned books, UBC professor Florian Gassner was one of the first people she turned to for help. Gassner, a senior instructor in UBC’s department of Central, Eastern, and Northern European studies, was a visiting professor at the University of Kassel (Germany) at the time. He and colleague Nikola Roßbach came up with list of 70,000 titles that Minujin used in her work. But they weren’t done. After The Parthenon of Books was unveiled in 2017, Gassner, Roßbach and a team of students went to work on a new project that launched last month. We asked Gassner what it’s all about…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Supreme Court rules in case watched for impact on Trump pardons

Politico: “The Supreme Court ruled Monday in a closely watched “double jeopardy” case, issuing a decision that preserves states’ power to limit the impact of future pardons by President Donald Trump or his successors. In a 7-2 ruling, the justices declined to disturb a longstanding legal principle known as dual sovereignty, which allows state governments to bring their own charges against defendants already tried or convicted in federal court, or vice versa. Lawyers for an Alabama man facing a gun charge in federal court after pleading guilty to the same offense in state court — resulting in a nearly three-year extension of his prison sentence — failed in their effort to persuade the justices to hold that the Constitution’s prohibition on double jeopardy prevents such follow-on prosecutions.

The federal government had argued that overturning the dual-sovereignty doctrine would upend the country’s federalist system, and that the phenomenon of overcriminalization makes states’ ability to preserve their own sphere of influence and prevent federal encroachment on law enforcement more important. Democrats and others bracing for potential pardons by Trump of individuals convicted in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were tracking the case, Terance Gamble v. U.S., because a decision overturning the dual sovereigns rule could have complicated efforts by state prosecutors to blunt the impact of any attempt Trump may make to grant clemency to those targeted by Mueller’s team….”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Beginner’s Guide to Google Sheets

How to Geek – “If you’re just beginning to use Google Sheets, its extensive features and add-ons can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips to get you on the fast track to start using this powerful, free alternative to Microsoft Excel. What Is Google Sheets? – If you’ve heard of Google Sheets before, feel free to skip ahead. If you’ve never heard of it, here’s a crash course on what you need to know. We’ll go over the basics and get you brushed up with what Google Sheets is and how you can get started right away.

Google Sheets is a free, web-based spreadsheet program offered by Google as part of its complete office suite—Google Drive—to compete with Microsoft Office. The other main services included in the cloud-based suite are Docs (Word) and Slides (Powerpoint)…” [See also The Beginner’s Guide to Google Docs]

Categories: Law and Legal

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