Law and Legal

Why university libraries are tossing millions of books

Christian Science Monitor – “Struggling to keep up with the increasing digitization of academia, libraries are purging older volumes to make way for study spaces and coffee shops. The act is a radical shift from when the value of a library was measured by the scope of its books…Libraries are putting books in storage, contracting with resellers, or simply recycling them. An ever-increasing number of books exist in the cloud, and libraries are banding together to ensure print copies are retained by someone, somewhere. Still, that doesn’t always sit well with academics who practically live in the library and argue that large, readily available print collections are vital to research…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal grand jury indictment – 13 Russian nationals, 3 Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws

DOJ News Release: “The Department of Justice announced that a grand jury in the District of Columbia today returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel’s Office. The indictment charges thirteen Russian nationals and three Russian companies for committing federal crimes while seeking to interfere in the United States political system, including the 2016 Presidential election. The defendants allegedly conducted what they called “information warfare against the United States,” with the stated goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general…”

U.S. v. Internet Research Agency, et al (1:18-cr-32, District of Columbia) – “A federal grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment on Feb. 16, 2018, against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities accused of violating U.S. criminal laws in order to interfere with U.S. elections and political processes. The indictment charges all of the defendants with conspiracy to defraud the United States, three defendants with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, and five defendants with aggravated identity theft.” Indictment

DOJ – U.S. v. Richard Pinedo, et al (1:18-cr-24, District of Columbia) Richard Pinedo, of Santa Paula, Calif., pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2018, to identity fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1028. Criminal Information

Axios Commentary: “DOJ charges 13 Russian nationals with interfering in 2016 election”:  KEY LINES … “Some Defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities. “They engaged in operations primarily intended to communicate derogatory information about Hillary Clinton, to denigrate other candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, and to support Bernie Sanders and then-candidate Donald Trump.” — SEE PAGE 20 for a list of advertisements the group ran… THE INDICTMENT ALLEGES that the defendants used Twitter and Facebook to organize pro-Trump and anti-Clinton rallies in New York and Florida in the summer of 2016. The indictment also alleges that the Russians “used false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies in support of then president-elect Trump, while simultaneously using other false U.S. personas to organize and coordinate U.S. political rallies protesting the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” AP “The alleged scheme was run by the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which used bogus social media postings and advertisements fraudulently purchased in the name of Americans to try to influence the White House race.”

The New York TimesHow Unwitting Americans Were Deceived by Russian Trolls

Washington PostIndictment shows how Russians conspired to disrupt U.S. politics — but not how to stop them next time

Categories: Law and Legal

Guidance and the Congressional Review Act

The Regulatory Review, David Zaring: “Congress’s use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to reverse a panoply of Obama Administration rules has been the most important way it has pursued deregulation in the first year of the Trump Administration. But the effort to keep using it to deregulate—which is ongoing—would really take the statute beyond anywhere it has been used before. The CRA provides a streamlined legislative process for overturning rules adopted in opposition to the legislature’s wishes. Congress last used the tool to reverse a rule adopted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would have allowed consumer class actions against banks. The most important facet of the act for regulators is that, once used, it “salts the earth.” No “substantially similar” rule can be subsequently adopted by regulators once Congress has reversed a rule under the CRA. The CFPB, for example, will no longer be able to adopt another, even somewhat different, consumer class action rule without getting legislative approval…”

Categories: Law and Legal

FDPL – 2016 End of Term Presidential Web Archive Now Available

“Between fall 2016 and spring 2017, End of Term (EOT) Web Archive partners conducted outreach and archiving efforts to preserve and document the U.S. Government web presence at the end of the Obama Presidential term. Due to an increased public interest in preserving U.S. Government web content and press regarding the project, the EOT Nomination Tool saw almost 11,400 nominated. In addition to this, through collaboration with DataRefuge, Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), and other efforts, there were over 100,000 additional web pages or datasets nominated. The 2016 EOT crawl contains over 200 Terabytes of websites and data, which includes over 350 URLs/files. Access to this content is available through the EOT Web Archive project page, which contains over 50,000 records available for searching and browsing, or through the Internet Archive Collection page. GPO is proud to be a partner in this important initiative.”

Categories: Law and Legal

OER Adopts Rule Easing Path For Removing E-Designations From Properties

The New York City Office of Environmental Remediation (OER) recently adopted revisions to its regulations governing the E-Designation program that will make it easier for property owners to remove the hazardous materials E-Designation (Haz Mat E). We previously discussed the E-designation program in a Post covering the tools available for developing contaminated sites.

Pursuant to Section 11-15 of the New York City Zoning Resolution (“ZR”), E- Designations are  assigned to tax lots during proposed zoning actions to satisfy the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR). A copy of ZR 11-15 is available Here.

E-Designations may be assigned for noise, air quality or hazardous materials. The E-Designation provides notice to developers that certain environmental requirements must be satisfied before the property can be redeveloped. OER has promulgated regulations that establish the procedures for complying with and removing E-Designations. The types of actions triggering E-Designation are discussed in a DOB Memo

The Department of Buildings (DOB) will not approve permit applications or issue a building permit for certain types of work for tax lots subject to an E-Designation until OER issues either a Notice of No Objection or a Notice to Proceed (NTP). OER will issue an NTP after it approves remedial action plan for the tax lot(s) subject to the Haz Mat E. When the cleanup is completed, OER will issue a Notice of Satisfaction (NOS). DOB will not issue a Certificate of Occupancy for sites subject to a Haz Mat E until OER issues the NOS.

ZR 11-15 provides that where the OER NOS indicates that a tax lot that has an (E) designation requires ongoing site management, OER may require that a declaration of covenants and restrictions governing the ongoing site management requirements be recorded against the tax lot(s). The E-Designation will remain on the tax lot so that future work may be subject to the E-Designation

There may be situations where a property owner or developer can permanently remove a Haz Mat E as opposed to simply complying or satisfying the Haz Mat E requirements. A Haz Mat E can be removed from the tax lot(s) by the Department of City Planning when OER has issued what is known a final NOS. In the past, OER  would issue a final NOS when the remediation achieved a Track 1 cleanup. The recent amendments to 15 RCNY §24-08 now authorize OER to issue a final NOS when the remediation allows the tax lot to be put to any use allowed on the site that does not require engineering and institutional controls. OER will send the final NOS to DOB and DCP within ten (10) days.

The amendment also applies to noise and air quality “E” designations. The rule clarifies that where a development project with an E-Designation for noise and/or air quality has been built out to its full development potential according to zoning, and installation reports demonstrate that the noise or air quality requirements have been fully completed, the E- Designations for air quality and noise can be removed from a tax lot consistent with Section 11-15 (d)(1) of the Zoning Resolution of the City of New York.

The post OER Adopts Rule Easing Path For Removing E-Designations From Properties appeared first on Schnapf Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan Proposes CERCLA Amendments

Earlier this week the Trump Administration unveiled its “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America”.  Among the proposals were three amendments to the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) that are designed to incentivize redevelopment of contaminated properties. The proposal can be viewed Here.  Since this document is an overview, it does not contain statutory language.

The first proposed change involves National Priorities List (NPL) sites. Currently, these sites are not eligible for Brownfield funding under CERCLA § 104(k) since they are excluded from definition of brownfield site of §101(39) (B) and eligible response site of section §101(41) (C).  The proposal would allow non-liable parties to be eligible to receive grants and low-interest revolving loans to conduct assessments, complete cleanups, and implement remedy enhancements to accommodate development and perform long-term stewardship at NPL sites or portions of NPL sites. This proposal would include:

  • areas of the NPL site that are not related to the response action;
  • areas that can be parceled out from the NPL response action;
  • areas where the NPL response action is complete but the site has not been delisted yet; or
  • areas where the NPL response action is complete but the facility is still subject to orders or consent decrees under CERCLA

Oddly, the Administration proposes to accomplish this goal by amending CERCLA §101(40) which defines a bona fide prospective purchaser instead of the brownfield site definition at § 101(39) where the NPL exclusion is located. This calls into question of other parties that qualify for other landowner liability protections such as the innocent landowner and contiguous property owner as well as the third-party defense would qualify for this financial assistance.

Another important amendment would be to clarify and expand the current liability exemption State and local governments set forth in CERCLA §101(20) (D). This section excludes from the definition of owner or operator units of state government or local governments that  involuntarily acquire contaminated property by virtue of their sovereign function. Local governments have been concerned about eminent domain actions where they obtain title through a negotiated purchase in lieu of condemnation (see City of Wichita v. Aero Holdings, Inc, 177 F. Supp. 2d 1153 (D.Kan. 2000)0 or in the absence of a judicial ruling that the local government lawfully exercised its power of eminent domain.  The Administration proposal does not explain how it will amend §101(20)(D) to eliminate this concern. However, it does state that such liability protection would be conditioned upon State and local governments not contributing to the contamination and meeting the obligations imposed on Bona Fide Prospective Purchasers (BFPPs), including exercising appropriate care with respect to releases of hazardous substances at the facility

It should be noted that towards the end of 2017,  the House of Representatives passed the Brownfields Enhancement, Economic Redevelopment, and Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 3017) which appears to encompass some of the changes proposed by the Administration. The bill reauthorizes the federal brownfield program and amends the definition of brownfield site to include sites where there is no viable party and EPA determines it is appropriate that the site be assessed, investigated, or cleaned up by a non-liable party. It also amends §101(20)(D) by deleting reference to “involuntarily” acquiring title. The legislature would allow local governments to be eligible for brownfield funding where if they do not qualify as a the BFPP because they acquired the site prior to January 11, 2002 and did not otherwise contribute or cause the contamination. A Senate bill has similar language regarding the local government exemption

Finally, the Administration proposes to amend CERCLA Section §122(a) to provide EPA with express settlement authority to enter into administrative agreements with BFPPs and other statutorily protected parties to perform remedial action in appropriate circumstances (e.g., partial, early remedial action) would promote and expedite the cleanup and reuse of Superfund sites. Currently, this section provides the President with authority to enter into an agreement with any person to perform a response action when the President determines the action will be done properly.  However,  when EPA enters into a settlement for a remedial action with a potentially responsible party, the settlement must be approved by the Attorney General and entered the United States District Court as a consent decree.  The need to obtain DOJ approval can be time-consuming and often discourages EPA regional offices from considering Prospective Purchaser Agreements or other administrative settlements with BFPPs.

The post Trump Administration Infrastructure Plan Proposes CERCLA Amendments appeared first on Schnapf Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Diversity Immigrants’ Regions and Countries of Origin: Fact Sheet

Diversity Immigrants’ Regions and Countries of Origin: Fact Sheet. Jill H. Wilson, Analyst in Immigration Policy. February 13, 2018. “Ongoing congressional deliberations over whether to maintain, alter, or eliminate the diversity immigrant visa program (also known as the “lottery” or DV program) include an interest in the geographical origins of immigrants who have been admitted through this program. This fact sheet provides data on the regional and national origins of diversity immigrants (DV immigrants) and how they have shifted over time..”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – D.C. Circuit Upholds as Constitutional the Structure of the CFPB

D.C. Circuit Upholds as Constitutional the Structure of the CFPB – Part I. Todd Garvey, Legislative Attorney; Jared P. Cole, Legislative Attorney. February 12, 2018.

“The entire U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued a potentially important decision on January 31, upholding the structural design of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The en banc court held by a vote of 7-3 that the agency’s various statutory elements of independence, including a provision that limited the President’s authority to remove the CFPB Director, do not infringe upon the President’s powers under Article II of the Constitution. The decision, PHH Corp. v. CFPB, comes after a previous (but since vacated) three-judge panel decision held that providing removal protections to the sole director of the CFPB violated the Constitution. Although the en banc court rejected the earlier panel’s constitutional reasoning, the D.C. Circuit nonetheless reinstated the previous decision’s statutory holding, which had invalidated the CFPB’s interpretation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974 (RESPA). The D.C. Circuit’s latest decision therefore effectively rejected the CFPB enforcement action that gave rise to the case, but reaffirmed, and may expand, what is likely Congress’s chief tool for ensuring agency independence: the use of “for-cause” removal protections. This two-part Sidebar series begins with a brief summary of the Supreme Court’s views of the President’s removal power before addressing the PHH litigation and the en banc majority opinion. Part II of this series will address some of the separate opinions issued in the case and then highlight certain implications for Congress.”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons

Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons, Amy F. Woolf. Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy. February 13, 2018. “Recent debates about U.S. nuclear weapons have questioned what role weapons with shorter ranges and lower yields can play in addressing emerging threats in Europe and Asia. These weapons, often referred to as nonstrategic nuclear weapons, have not been limited by past U.S.-Russian arms control agreements, although some analysts argue such limits would be of value, particularly in addressing Russia’s greater numbers of these types of weapons. Others have argued that the United States should expand its deployments of these weapons, in both Europe and Asia, to address new risks of war conducted under a nuclear shadow. The Trump Administration addressed these questions in the Nuclear Posture Review released in February 2018, and determined that the United States should acquire two new types of nonstrategic nuclear weapons: a new low-yield warhead for submarine-launched ballistic missiles and a new sea-launched cruise missile…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC): Structure and Activities

CRS Report – Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC): Structure and Activities. December 22, 2017 – February 12, 2018 R45052

“The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) and its Office of Financial Research (OFR) were established by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 111-203) to address several potential sources of systemic risk. Some observers argue that communication and coordination of financial regulators was insufficient to prevent the financial crisis of 2008. To foster coordination and communication, the FSOC assembles the heads of federal financial regulators, representatives from state regulatory bodies, and an independent insurance expert in a single venue. The OFR supports the FSOC with data collection, research, and analysis. The FSOC does not generally have direct regulatory authority; its role is to make policy recommendations to member agencies where authority already exists or to Congress where additional authority is needed. However, it is responsible for monitoring financial stability and designating nonbank financial companies and financial market utilities as systemic, which subjects those entities to heightened prudential regulation and the direct regulatory authority of other agencies. The FSOC considers a company to pose a threat to financial stability if a company’s financial distress or activities could be transmitted to other firms or markets, causing broader disruptions to financial intermediation or other financial market functions. Three of the many relevant factors used for designation include leverage, interconnectedness with other systemically important nonbank financial institutions (SIFIs), and whether a primary prudential regulator already has responsibility for the SIFI and the activity. Additional FSOC and OFR responsibilities include

  • collection and analysis of financial data,
  • issuing nonbinding recommendations to member agencies,
  • facilitating the resolution of jurisdictional issues among member agencies,
  • issuing a congressionally mandated annual report, and
  • reviewing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules under some circumstances…”
Categories: Law and Legal

10 Data Science Projects You Can Join Today

This post was written as part of a collaboration with data.world, a site for sharing and hosting data. Authors Shannon Peifer and Gabriela Swider are on the data.world team. “Finding the right data can be difficult. And even once you have it, how do you collaborate with others to make sense of it? People work harder and learn more when they’re able to discover data they’re passionate about. Sharing those passions with other data scientists makes problem solving easier. Here are some great projects from people doing just that…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Estimating and Projecting Potential Output Using CBO’s Forecasting Growth Model: Working Paper 2018-03

CBO Working Paper – Estimating and Projecting Potential Output Using CBO’s Forecasting Growth Model: Working Paper 2018-03, February 8, 2018.

“As part of its responsibility for producing baseline projections of the economy and the federal budget, CBO regularly produces estimates and projections of potential output, a measure of the economy’s fundamental ability to supply goods and services. The projection of potential output serves as a key input to CBO’s macroeconomic forecasts and budget projections, helping the agency maintain consistency between its projections of labor supply and capital accumulation and its projections of taxes on income from labor and capital, of federal expenditures, and of the accumulation of public debt. This paper updates the agency’s description of the data sources, analytic methods, and modeling framework that it uses both to estimate historical values of the components of potential output and to project those values into the future. It describes the major changes that CBO has introduced in its approach since it last published a methodological description in 2001, outlines the linkages between its analysis of potential output and other elements of its economic and policy analysis, and discusses some of the major challenges associated with understanding and projecting recent trends in fundamental components of the economy.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New budget estimated to keep deficits over $1 trillion mark indefinitely

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget: “Based on the score from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the budget deal would increase next year’s deficit to roughly $1.2 trillion. Annual budget deficits would remain over $1 trillion indefinitely.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Report and analysis on modern day redlining in major metro areas

Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting: “In the 1930s, the federal government encouraged lending institutions to deny mortgages to people who lived in neighborhoods with large populations of immigrants and African Americans. The practice became known as redlining because the government drew lines around certain neighborhoods, deeming them “hazardous,” and colored them red. It wasn’t until 1968 that the Fair Housing Act outlawed this type of discrimination. But millions of mortgage records analyzed by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting show that the legacy of redlining persists 50 years later: In dozens of cities across the country, African Americans, Latinos, Asians and Native Americans remain more likely to be denied a conventional mortgage than whites. This disparity existed even after controlling for the applicants’ income, loan amount and certain neighborhood characteristics. Reveal’s analysis exposed a pattern of denials in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, St. Louis and San Antonio and in smaller ones such as Chico, California; Iowa City, Iowa; and Mobile, Alabama. Philadelphia became a focus of Reveal’s coverage because it consistently proved statistically significant, regardless of which variables were included – and because it has one of the widest lending disparities among the largest metro areas. Black applicants there were almost three times as likely to be denied a conventional home purchase loan as white applicants. Reveal’s analysis was based on publicly available data released through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HDMA, and maintained by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council. The act, passed in 1975, requires mortgage lenders to report basic data about loan applications to ensure fair lending practices.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Book captures papers by 30+ legal marketing experts

Via Ron Freidmann: “Stephen McGarry of AILFN publishes an updated book with chapters by 30+ legal market thought leaders covering many timely topics.” Ron’s KM chapter is here.

Categories: Law and Legal

EFF Report on Law Enforcement Use of Face Recognition Technology

“Face recognition—fast becoming law enforcement’s surveillance tool of choice—is being implemented with little oversight or privacy protections, leading to faulty systems that will disproportionately impact people of color and may implicate innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit, says an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) report released today. Face recognition is rapidly creeping into modern life, and face recognition systems will one day be capable of capturing the faces of people, often without their knowledge, walking down the street, entering stores, standing in line at the airport, attending sporting events, driving their cars, and utilizing public spaces. Researchers at the Georgetown Law School estimated that one in every two American adults—117 million people—are already in law enforcement face recognition systems. This kind of surveillance will have a chilling effect on Americans’ willingness to exercise their rights to speak out and be politically engaged, the report says. Law enforcement has already used face recognition at political protests, and may soon use face recognition with body-worn cameras, to identify people in the dark, and to project what someone might look like from a police sketch or even a small sample of DNA…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Civilians who risk their lives to save strangers, students, colleagues

In towns and cities across our country, Americans are sacrificing their livesduring mass shootings at schools, concert venues, in workplaces, in malls and public buildings. These individuals do not stop to think about the consequences of their actions – they react within seconds, using their bodies to shield, protect, and save the lives of others, most often – children. These men and women are not military personnel, or police officers – they are teachers, athletic coaches, culinary workers, custodians, principals. They sacrifice their lives during regularly occurring mass shooting events on school campuses, which have been transformed into a uniquely American form of “killing fields” in which innocent civilians are executed. For the generation who watched the Vietnam War on black and white TV sets every evening, this analogy resonates deeply. The impact of these sights and sounds now travel to us with an immediacy that seemingly belies our ability to respond. But history has taught us that there are always individuals who do not hesitate or pause, but act with clarity, alacrity and purpose to save the lives of others in spontaneous acts that transcend the natural impulse to flee from danger.

Please read this article from the Daily Beast – What Makes a Hero Like Aaron Feis Is a Brain Mystery – “Aaron Feis and other staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School lost their own lives while saving the lives of others. Science still struggles to explain such acts of heroism.”

And via Politico – “Two days before the school shooting in Florida that left 17 dead, the Trump administration proposed [$25 million cut] in federal education programs meant to help prevent crime in schools and assist them in recovery from tragedies.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Where Old, Unreadable Documents Go to Be Understood

Atlas Obscura – A transcriber on the Isle of Man can decipher almost anything. “…Linda Watson’s company, Transcription Services, has a rare specialty—transcribing historical documents that stump average readers. Once, while talking to a client, she found the perfect way to sum up her skills. “We are good at reading the unreadable,” she said. That’s now the company’s slogan. For hundreds of years, history was handwritten. The problem is not only that our ancestors’ handwriting was sometimes very bad, but also that they used abbreviations, old conventions, and styles of lettering that have fallen out of use. Understanding them takes both patience and skill. “I see the job as a cross between a crossword puzzle and a jigsaw puzzle,” says Watson…Most of the documents that people need to understand, though, are wills and legal papers, which have their own pleasures. “The inventories I love,” she says. “It’s like someone comes to the front door and says, come on in to my house and have a look around.”

 

Categories: Law and Legal

4 Laws That Could Stem the Rising Threat of Mass Shootings

Scientific American – Pro-gun advocates claim new laws will not make us safer. But here is evidence the right laws will do exactly that. “The right gun laws do prevent shootings, research strongly indicates. And these laws do not mean confiscating everybody’s guns. Scientific American spoke with Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center, and Daniel Webster, director of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Gun Policy and Research, about four feasible legal and policy changes that would be most effective. Here are the life-saving laws and the data that supports them…”

  • Require permits to purchase
  • Ban individuals convicted of any violent crime from gun purchase
  • Make all serious domestic violence offenders surrender firearms
  • Temporarily ban active alcohol abusers from firearms
Categories: Law and Legal

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