Law and Legal
House Judiciary Committee Releases Transcript of Interview with Former SDNY Prosecutor Geoffrey Berman
“Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) released a transcript of the Committee’s July 9th interview with Geoffrey Berman, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY). Chairman Nadler issued the following statement on the release of the transcript: “While Mr. Berman was U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, his office announced multiple investigations that implicated President Trump, including the prosecution of the President’s longtime legal fixer Michael Cohen. We know from public reporting that the Office may also have been investigating the President’s inaugural committee and his current counsel, Rudy Giuliani. Had Mr. Berman not been removed, he would have had final decision-making authority over whether to investigate the President leading up to the 2020 elections, as well. When he appeared before the Committee last week, Mr. Berman could not comment on these cases—but he was adamant that Attorney General Barr’s scheme to force him out of office and replace him with an outsider raised serious concerns for him, and was designed to disrupt and delay the work of the office—including those implicating the President…”
Vice – The team behind @justiceforgeorgenyc talked about what it takes to track protests and keep their followers informed…”VICE spoke to the people behind the go-to Instagram account for action tracking in New York City, @justiceforgeorgenyc. Their account quickly became a go-to source for anyone trying to make direct action a regular part of their lives, facilitating meet-up, providing live updates, and prioritizing demonstrator safety. Though they declined to share personal information—like their real names, occupations, or previous organizing experience—for security reasons, the TK people behind JusticeforGeorgeNYC were happy to discuss the importance of centering the movement, how to do community-building work from a distance, and why real-time updates boost attendance...”
“July 10 – BRUISED RED – Updated Color Scale: As a country we’ve reached a record number of cases. We’ve added a new color to the scale: “Bruised Red”. There were extremes that were not captured in our original scale. Our scale also has been adjusted to put more weight on “new cases per million” and “positivity”…July 9 – Color Scale Will Be Updated – Unfortunately when a map becomes all “red”, it becomes less useful. We will be making an update shortly that will adjust our color scale and how each state is graded. The shift will put more weight on “new cases per million” and “positivity”. It will continue to include ILI, ICU availability, and testing throughput. It will deemphasize case growth…”
Law360: “By the end of this week, courts in at least 39 states will be accepting eviction lawsuits — often heard remotely due to the pandemic — against tenants behind on their rent. People of color, and especially Black women, have historically faced these suits at twice the rate of other renters; they are also twice as likely to report rent insecurity during the pandemic and three times as likely to face COVID-19 infections. This summer, Law360 traveled to Nashville, Tennessee; Cincinnati, Ohio; and Newark, New Jersey, to document the impact different federal, state and local eviction prevention measures are having on three Black households. These are the stories we found.”
See also – Notes on the Crisis: “…According to an online survey by the company Apartment List, a devastating 32%of households in their survey reported missing their housing payment in the first week of July. 13% made a partial payment, while 19% made no payment at all.30% of households in their survey missed their June payment but 19% of those households had made their June payment in full by the first week of July. A similar pattern will likely recur this month (but won’t if supplementary unemployment benefits aren’t extended as is). These numbers are likely significantly overstated as it is an online survey, especially for mortgages. However, even a significant fraction of this level of delinquency would be significant distress before pandemic unemployment compensation disappears or is cut…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues July 12, 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: Your Smart Speaker Is Listening When It Shouldn’t; The U.S. is ‘looking at’ banning TikTok, cites Chinese surveillance; How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance; and Google Maps Launches New Features To Help People Navigate Coronavirus Hotspots.
Ars Technica: “As the COVID-19 pandemic continues unabated in many countries, an ever-growing group of people is being shifted from the “infected” to the “recovered” category. But are they truly recovered? A lot of anecdotal reports have indicated that many of those with severe infections are experiencing a difficult recovery, with lingering symptoms, some of which remain debilitating. Now, there’s a small study [JAMA, 2020. DOI: 10.1001/jama.2020.12603] out of Italy in which a group of infected people was tracked for an average of 60 days after their infection was discovered. And the study confirms that symptoms remain long after there’s no detectable virus…”
In Custodia Legis Library of Congress – “It appears that COVID-19 will not go away any time soon. As there is currently no known cure or vaccine against it, countries have to find other ways to prevent and mitigate the spread of this infectious disease. Many countries have turned to electronic measures to provide general information and advice on COVID-19, allow people to check symptoms, trace contacts and alert people who have been in proximity to an infected person, identify “hot spots,” and track compliance with confinement measures and stay-at-home orders. The Global Legal Research Directorate (GLRD) of the Law Library of Congress recently completed research on the kind of electronic measures countries around the globe are employing to fight the spread of COVID-19 and their potential privacy and data protection implications. We are excited to share with you the report that resulted from this research, Regulating Electronic Means to Fight the Spread of COVID-19. The report covers 23 selected jurisdictions, namely Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, England, France, Iceland, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the European Union (EU). The surveys found that dedicated coronavirus apps that are downloaded to an individual’s mobile phone (particularly contact tracing apps), the use of anonymized mobility data, and creating electronic databases were the most common electronic measures. Whereas the EU recommends the use of voluntary apps because of the “high degree of intrusiveness” of mandatory apps, some countries take a different approach and require installing an app for people who enter the country from abroad, people who return to work, or people who are ordered to quarantine…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
Includes symbols otherwise not easily found for: Punctuation, Accents, ligatures & dipthongs, Maths, numbers & units, Emoticons, decoration, UI & miscellaneous, Currency & commercial symbols, Arrows & shapes, Greek, International Phonetic Alphabet, and Fancy Alphabets.
Information Technology and Libraries – An exploration of smart voice assistant use and privacy in libraries: “Smart voice assistants have expanded from personal use in the home to applications in public services and educational spaces. The library and information science (LIS) trade literature suggests that libraries are part of this trend, however there is a dearth of empirical studies that explore how libraries are implementing smart voice assistants in their services, and how these libraries are mitigating the potential patron data privacy issues posed by these technologies. This study contributes to this gap by reporting on the results of a national survey that documents how libraries are integrating voice assistant technologies (e.g. Amazon Echo, Google home) into their services, programming, and check-out programs. The survey also surfaces some of the key privacy concerns of library workers in regard to implementing voice assistants in library services. We find that although voice assistant use might not be mainstreamed in library services in high numbers (yet), libraries are clearly experimenting with (and having internal conversations with their staff about) using these technologies. The responses to our survey indicate that library workers have many savvy privacy concerns about the use of voice assistants in library services that are critical to address in advance of library institutions riding the wave of emerging technology adoption. This research has important implications for developing library practices, policies, and education opportunities that place patron privacy as a central part of digital literacy in an information landscape characterized by ubiquitous smart surveillant technologies.”
Washington Post – “…Snopes, which delves into everything from bizarre urban legends to intricate government policies, has been overwhelmed with so many covid-19-related questions that the website can’t keep up. The company has done something that seems counterintuitive: It has scaled back operations by publishing fewer stories. There have been no furloughs or layoffs; but Snopes is encouraging employees, whose lives have been turned upside down by the pandemic, to take time off if needed. It’s a predicament other fact-checkers and journalists are facing: As the novel coronavirus has swept the globe, so has misinformation about the virus. The World Health Organization has referred to the abundance of articles, commentary and social media postings about this one topic — some accurate, some not — as an “infodemic” which “makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.”…Compared with other big news stories, this pandemic presents a particularly difficult challenge for professional fact-checkers. The multi-headed crisis has its roots in what is essentially a science and medical story, requiring many journalists, not just health reporters, to quickly get up to speed. Covid-19 remains a mystery even to many of the professional scientists who could explain it to a reporter….”
WSJ via DowJones/Fidelity: “…while Chrome has gobbled up 69% of the desktop-laptop browser market share, according to NetMarketShare, its competitors, all with single-digit percentages, have been laser-focused on kicking Chrome square in the blue dot. Microsoft’s new Edge browser, rolling out to Windows 10 machines this summer and available now for download on a Mac, is based on Chromium, the same underlying technology as Chrome — yet it uses less of your Windows computer’s RAM and battery. An independent, Mozilla’s Firefox, the Bernie Sanders of browsers, now puts privacy front and center. Meanwhile, Apple’s built-in Safari browser has the best blend of privacy, performance and battery to offer on Macs, and it’s only getting better this fall with MacOS Big Sur…Unsurprisingly, on Macs, it was also the built-in browser that performed the best. Companies that create the operating systems can do more to optimize for their own browsers. Both Microsoft and Apple said they work a lot on how to minimize processor and memory demands from inactive tabs.Safari used about 5% to 10% less RAM than Chrome, Firefox and Edge in my tests. Compared with Chrome, Safari kept the 13-inch MacBook Pro running an extra 1 to 2 hours on a charge. Plus, the laptop was a lot cooler and quieter, with the exception of in-browser video calls….Yes, Microsoft’s browser is great on Apple machines, too. Mind blown. But the podcast web app, like some other sites, just won’t run unless it identifies a Chrome browser. ..In the next release of Safari coming this fall in MacOS Big Sur, Apple made it easier for developers to port Chrome extensions over. Plus, the updated browser, which I’ve been testing in beta on a MacBook Pro, is faster — and has those little tab icons, aka favicons, turned on by default. Like Firefox and Edge, Safari’s also has lots of default privacy features, including tracker blocking. The forthcoming version includes a toolbar that lets you see the blocked trackers on the site you’re visiting, and a new weekly privacy report shows you all blocked trackers — even across your iPhone and iPad…”
The New York Times – “The number of daily coronavirus tests being conducted in the United States is only 36 percent of the level considered necessary to mitigate the spread of the virus, as many states struggle to ramp up testing and catch up to the recent surge in cases. An average of 656,000 people per day were tested over the past week, according to data collected by the Covid Tracking Project, far below the current nationwide target of 1.8 million daily tests. The target, which is based on a methodology developed by researchers at the Harvard Global Health Institute, is different for each state and varies over time as infection rates change…”
CBS News: “A newly-discovered comet is giving skywatchers quite the show during the month of July. Early risers may have already caught a glimpse of the comet Neowise as it streaks across the sky, but don’t worry — some of the best viewing moments have yet to come. What is NEOWISE? Astronomers discovered the comet, known as Comet C2020 F3 NEOWISE, back in March. It was named for the NASA mission that spotted it, for the Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer. The mission was tasked with finding as many near-Earth asteroids as possible, looking for ones that could be potentially hazardous to the planet. But astronomers knew they found something unique when they spotted Neowise. On July 3, Neowise was closer to the sun than the orbit of Mercury, coming dangerously close to breaking apart. The sun heated up much of the comet’s icy makeup, erupting in a large debris trail of gas and dust. Measuring about 3 miles across, Neowise is considered a fairly large comet — providing skywatchers with a spectacular view from Earth. It’s made up of material dating back to the origin of our solar system, 4.6 billion years ago, scientists said. The event is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience — the comet takes about 6,800 years to complete its path around the sun, according to NASA…”
“With legislation to address racism and the use of excessive force by law enforcement stalled in Congress, there is broad public support in the United States for permitting citizens to sue police officers in order to hold them accountable for misconduct or using excessive force. The legal doctrine of “qualified immunity” generally protects officers from being held personally liable in lawsuits unless they commit clear violations of law. A proposal to limit qualified immunity has emerged as a stumbling block in the congressional debate over policing. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say that civilians need to have the power to sue police officers to hold them accountable for misconduct and excessive use of force, even if that makes the officers’ jobs more difficult. Just 32% say that, in order for police officers to do their jobs effectively, they need to be shielded from such lawsuits. About eight-in-ten Black adults (86%) favor permitting citizens to sue police officers to hold them accountable for misconduct, as do 75% of Hispanic adults and 60% of white adults. There also are sizable partisan differences in views of qualified immunity, reflecting the divisions over the issue in Congress. A majority of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents (84%) say citizens need the power to sue police officers for the use of excessive force and misconduct, compared with 45% of Republicans and Republican leaners. The national survey, conducted June 16-22 among 4,708 adults using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel, finds that the public’s evaluations of police performance in several key areas have declined since the Center last explored attitudes among police officers and the public in 2016…”
Harvard University: “For many of our international students, studying in the United States and studying at Harvard is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. These students enrich the learning environment for everyone. Harvard, like many other institutions, has sought to balance addressing concerns for public health during this global pandemic with preserving our academic mission of teaching and scholarship, and we have undertaken careful planning to address the unique circumstances of our community and to enable students to make educational progress safely. …Within the last hour, we filed pleadings together with MIT in the US District Court in Boston seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the order. We will pursue this case vigorously so that our international students—and international students at institutions across the country—can continue their studies without the threat of deportation…”
Read the full lawsuit filed by Harvard and MIT and supporting documents:
The Guardian: “At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of a contentious new national security law, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech and force internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the law took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the last year of protests. Charles Mok, a pro-democracy lawmaker who represents the technology sector, tweeted: “We are already behind the de facto firewall.” Hong Kong is facing a dramatic decline of one of its most important advantages – a free and open internet – a defining trait that sets it apart from mainland China where Facebook, Twitter, Google and most major foreign news sites are blocked…”
“The public deserves the most complete data available about COVID-19 in the US. No official source is providing it, so we are at the COVID Tracking Project. Every day, our volunteers compile the latest numbers on tests, cases, hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state and territory.
If you could use a smile, a chuckle, a break, then return to the beloved Far Side. “Welcome to TheFarSide.com, the first official online home of The Far Side! Created by Gary Larson, the single-panel cartoon ran daily in newspapers from 1980 to 1995. In those fifteen years, The Far Side went from garnering controversy to becoming one of the most beloved cartoons of its time. Until now, it has never been offered online. We encourage you to read Gary’s Letter to find out why. (Yes, he is definitely still alive.) TheFarSide.com offers a deep dive into Gary’s offbeat sense of humor with The Daily Dose, an ever-changing, random selection of cartoons. Comic Collections offer a different themed collection of his classic cartoons updated weekly. You’ll also find exclusive, never-before-seen extras such as sketches straight from Gary’s personal Sketchbooks. And finally, beginning in 2020, and commemorating the fortieth anniversary of The Far Side, we will periodically unveil new work by the man himself! In truth, we really have no idea what might show up. But, on the other hand, what’s changed?”
SCOTUS Blog – Opinion analysis – Disputes over Trump financial records to continue: “This morning [July 9, 2020] the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited rulings in the battle over efforts to obtain financial records belonging to President Donald Trump. By a vote of 7-2, the justices sent a pair of cases challenging congressional subpoenas for the records back to the lower courts for another look, holding that subpoenas involving the president must be subject to a tougher standard than the courts had applied. In a third case, in which the president challenged a subpoena by a Manhattan district attorney, the justices – again by a vote of 7-2 – rejected the president’s claim that he is always immune from state grand jury proceedings while he is in office. But the decision in that case does not mean that the financial records that the grand jury seeks will be turned over: The court sent the case back to the trial court and agreed that the president could still argue that complying with this subpoena would interfere with his ability to do his job. The upshot of today’s decisions is that the disputes are likely to continue in the lower courts for some time; even if the House of Representatives and the New York prosecutor ultimately prevail, neither Congress nor the New York grand jury will have access to the documents anytime soon.
The dispute at the heart of Trump v. Mazars began in April 2019, when three different committees of the House of Representatives issued subpoenas for the president’s financial records. Explaining that it wanted the records as part of an investigation into the adequacy of current government ethics laws, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform sought documents from Mazars, the president’s longtime accountant. The second case, Trump v. Deutsche Bank (argued and decided together with Mazars), arose after the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank and Capitol One seeking records relating to the president, his family and the Trump Organization as part of an investigation into possible foreign influence in U.S. elections…”
- See also The Atlantic – Trump Is Successfully Running Out the Clock – From his financial disclosures to his tax returns to impeachment, the president is finding that stonewalling pays off.
- See also The New York Times – Don’t Be Fooled, Trump Is a Winner in the Supreme Court Tax Case. His taxes will probably not become public before the election. And that is what he most cares about. By Josh Chafetz, a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center.
ABC Action News / Tampa: “Are you planning a trip anytime soon? AAA has an interactive map you can use to check travel restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic before you head out.”