Law and Legal

Mapping the World’s Coal Capacity

Center for Data Innovation: “Climate news publication Carbon Brief has created several data visualizations mapping the location and capacity of the world’s coal power plants. An interactive timeline map allows users to scroll from 2000-2017 to see where plants are operating, opening, and have closed. The maps illustrate that the world’s coal capacity has nearly doubled since 2000, and that China alone has increased the size of its coal fleet nearly five times in that period. The visualizations also show that global investment in coal is slowing, and that CO2 emissions from coal may have peaked because larger, more efficient plants are replacing older ones.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Copenhagenize your city: the case for urban cycling in 12 graphs

The Guardian: “Danish-Canadian urban designer Mikael Colville-Andersen busts some common myths and shows how the bicycle has the potential to transform cities around the world.”

Categories: Law and Legal

More than $82 million in outside income earned in 2017 by Kushner and Ivanka

Washington Post: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to new financial disclosure forms released Monday. Ivanka Trump earned $3.9 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, while Kushner reported over $5 million in income from Quail Ridge, a Kushner Cos. apartment complex acquired last year in Plainsboro, N.J. The filings show how the couple are collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Supreme Court’s conservative justices uphold Ohio’s voter purge system

Vox: “The US Supreme Court on Monday upheld Ohio’s system for purging voters from the rolls. The Court split 5-4 along partisan lines, with the five conservative-leaning justices, in a majority opinion by Justice Samuel Alito, upholding the system and the four liberal-leaning justices opposing it. The ruling focused in large part on technical interpretations of federal voting laws, although the argument underlying Ohio’s system is, in fact, a much bigger one about voter suppression. So what is Ohio’s voter purge system? It’s a means of removing voter registrations that the state feels are outdated from its rolls — forcing someone to have to register once again to vote. Ohio uses a multi-step approach to do this: First, it waits for someone to not vote for two years. Then it mails them a prepaid return card to make sure the would-be voter still lives at the same address. If the state does not get the card back and the person does not vote in any election for four more years, the state assumes the person has moved and removes the person’s voter registration from the rolls, citing a change of residence. Opponents of the system argue that it violates the federal National Voter Registration Act and Help America Vote Act, which restrict a state from removing someone from the rolls just because the person failed to vote. Opponents also claim that the system is unreasonable, in part because many people who received the return cards simply threw them away without responding — not because they no longer live at the residences, but because they may not have known what the cards were for.

The Supreme Court’s Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute ruling concluded, however, that Ohio’s voter purge system did not violate federal laws. The Court found that Ohio’s system uses a lack of voting as just one piece of evidence, along with the lack of response to the prepaid return card, to trigger a person’s removal from the rolls. Since a person not voting is not the sole basis for removal from the rolls, the Court said, it’s legal under federal law…”

Categories: Law and Legal

‘Heritage activists’ preserve global landmarks ruined in war, threatened by time

Microsoft/Transform: “Eight years ago, French architect Yves Ubelmann was working in Afghanistan when he took a seemingly minor picture of a village brimming with mud homes. It was a quick snapshot, separate from his archeological work. When he returned to the site two years later, the village was gone – destroyed – and one of its few remaining traces was an elderly man who remembered Ubelmann taking the photo. He wanted it. “’The picture is the only link I have to my personal history,’” the man said, prompting Ubelmann to share it. The small gesture crystallized for him the power of preserving history and helped inspire him to start Iconem, a Paris company that creates 3D digital models of historic landmarks threatened by war, conflict, time and nature. With drones that can capture thousands of images, Iconem has surveyed sites in 20 countries, including the 109-acre ruins of Pompeii, ancient Assyrian cities in northern Iraq and the mountainous remains of third-century Buddhist monasteries in Afghanistan. The team has documented Angkor Wat in Cambodia and sites in Hyderabad, India, and Delos, Greece. The digital preservations are helping teachers, students and researchers understand civilizations through historic landmarks that are often difficult to access. “It’s a way to keep history alive,” says Ubelmann. “If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where you go.”

Preserving history has been especially urgent in Syria, where seven years of war have destroyed or damaged all six of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage sites, including centuries-old temples, mosques, citadels, tombs and bazaars. Ubelmann’s grandfather was an architect who restored bombed churches in France after World War II and Ubelmann sees Iconem’s work in Syria in a similar vein: preserving the country’s heritage and rebuilding landmarks crumbled by bombs, mortars and looters.

Categories: Law and Legal

Amazon Slammed for Destroying As-New and Returned Goods

Fortune: “Amazon is destroying “massive amounts” of as-new and returned items in Germany, according to a report from business weekly WirtschaftsWoche and news show Frontal 21. The types of items being destroyed here go way beyond the “health and personal care” products that Amazon has long been destroying when people return them, for sanitary reasons. We’re talking things like washing machines, smartphones and furniture. The revelation drew an angry response from the German government and environmental campaigners. “This is a huge scandal,” Jochen Flasbarth from the German environment ministry told WirtschaftsWoche. “We are consuming these resources despite all the problems in the world. This approach is not in step with our times.” Greenpeace’s Kirsten Brodde said there was a need for a new “law on banning the waste and destruction of first-hand and usable goods.”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

DOJ Defending Trump’s Ability To Profit From Foreign Officials Staying At His Hotel

BuzzFeed: “The Justice Department argued Monday that President Donald Trump could continue to profit from foreign governments patronizing his hotel in Washington, DC, without violating the US Constitution, as long as he didn’t explicitly provide something in return. The fact that foreign officials were quoted in media reports saying they would spend money at the Trump International Hotel in DC in order to please the president did not matter, Justice Department lawyer Brett Shumate argued. A payment could only be considered an unconstitutional “emolument” if there was an exchange involved, he said, either for an official act by Trump or a service similar to something an employee would do. “A federal officeholder does not violate the constitution by owning an interest in a company that may do business with a foreign government,” Shumate said. A federal judge in Maryland heard arguments on Trump’s latest effort to knock out a lawsuit filed by the District of Columbia and Maryland accusing the president of violating the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause and Domestic Emoluments Clause. The foreign emoluments clause states that “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the United States] shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” The domestic emoluments clause says the president will be paid for his service and “shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.” US District Judge Peter Messitte, sitting in Greenbelt, Maryland, ruled in March that DC and Maryland had standing to sue the president. In this next phase, Messitte will decide what an “emolument” is, and whether the word applies to the Trump hotel’s dealings with foreign governments and US agencies. Messitte said at the end of the two-hour hearing that he planned to issue an opinion by the end of July…”

See also via CRS – The Emoluments Clause: History, Law, and Precedents

Categories: Law and Legal

Here Are 18 Things You Might Not Have Realized Facebook Tracks About You

BuzzFeed: “When Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he said he’d have his team follow up on questions he couldn’t answer in full during the hearing. On Monday, Congress released a massive document with written answers to those questions. These responses were a good reminder that Facebook records a ton of information about you, including:

  • Information from “computers, phones, connected TVs, and other web-connected devices”
  • mouse movements” on your computer
  • “app and file names” (and the types of files) on your devices
  • whether the browser window with Facebook open is “foregrounded or backgrounded
  • information about “nearby Wi-Fi access points, beacons, and cell towers”
  • information “about other devices that are nearby or on their network”
  • “battery level”
  • “available storage space”
  • installed “plugins”
  • “connection speed”
  • “purchases [users] make” on off-Facebook websites
  • contact information “such as an address book” or, for Android users, “call log or SMS log history” if synced, for finding “people they may know” (Here’s how to turn off contact uploading or delete contacts you’ve uploaded.)
  • information “about how users use features like our camera”
  • “location of a photo or the date a file was created” through the file’s metadat
  • information through your device’s settings such as “GPS location, camera, or photos
  • information about your *online and offline actions* and purchases from third-party data providers
  • “device IDs, and other identifiers, such as from games, apps or accounts users use
  • “when others share or comment on a photo of them, send a message to them, or upload, sync or import their contact information”…”
Categories: Law and Legal

The What, Why, and How of Digital Forensics

Law Technology Today: “Digital forensics is a branch of forensic science focused on recovery and investigation of artifacts found on digital devices. Any devices that store data (e.g. computers, laptops, smartphones, thumb drives, memory cards or external hard drives) are within the ambit of digital forensics. Given the proliferation of digital devices, there has been a ramp-up in use of digital forensics in legal cases and investigations…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Global Migration Data Portal

Data Drive Journalism: “You’ve scanned large reports, scoured online annexes, and navigated website after website for information scattered across different organizations and agencies. Yet you still haven’t found the migration information and data you’re looking for to support a story or analysis. There’s now a website to make your search easier. Created for journalists and others interested in migration, the Global Migration Data Portal makes migration data, data sources and topics more accessible and understandable. Launched in December 2017 and administered by IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre, the Portal brings together key facts and figures about global migration trends and topics in one place and communicates global data on migration through visualizations, infographics and videos. Covering migration has been recognized as one of the biggest challenges facing the news media, in part because contradictory data, statistics, and terminology can lead to myths and misconceptions about migration. The Portal aims to be a reliable tool for journalists to meet this challenge…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Facilitating Meaningful Change Within U.S. Law Schools

Patrick H. Gaughan, Facilitating Meaningful Change Within U.S. Law Schools, 16 U.N.H. L. Rev. 243 (2018)

“Despite the widely recognized challenges and complaints facing U.S. legal education, very little is understood about how law schools can adapt faster and better. This Article uses institutional theory, behavioral economics, and psychology to explain why change has proven so difficult for U.S. law schools. Next, using institutional entrepreneurship, the Article explains the theoretical steps necessary to overcome the institutional resistance to change. The Article then discusses the characteristics of opportunities that are most likely to better meet the needs of law students while also providing sustainable benefits to the individually innovating law schools. Using management theory, the Article then proposes a seven-step change process model to enable individual law schools to systematically overcome institutional resistance, formulate unique strategies, and actually achieve meaningful change.” [h/t Joe Hodnicki]

Categories: Law and Legal

Lessig – Congress’ Latest Move to Extend Copyright Protection Is Misguide

Lawrence Lessig – Wired [Lawrence Lessig (@lessig) is the Roy L. Furman professor of law and leadership at Harvard University and founder of Equal Citizens. He was lead counsel in Eldred v. Ashcroft (2002)]: “Almost exactly 20 years ago, Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which extended the term of existing copyrights by 20 years. The Act was the 11th extension in the prior 40 years, timed perfectly to assure that certain famous works, including Mickey Mouse, would not pass into the public domain. Immediately after the law came into force, a digital publisher of public domain works, Eric Eldred, filed a lawsuit challenging the act. The Constitution gives Congress the power to secure copyrights “for limited times,” for the express purpose of “promot[ing] Progress.” Extending the copyright of an existing work, Eldred argued, could not promote anything — the work already exists. And repeated extensions of existing terms cannot be what the framers meant by “limited times.” The Supreme Court agreed to hear the challenge. I was lead counsel for the plaintiff. And in addition to our brief, a scad of creators who build upon the public domain, along with librarians, archivists, and economists, filed briefs in support of Eldred; Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman agreed to sign the economists’ brief only if the words “no brainer” were included. Yet the court rejected our challenge to the law…Twenty years later, the fight for term extension has begun anew. Buried in an otherwise harmless act, passed by the House and now being considered in the Senate, this new bill purports to create a new digital performance right—basically the right to control copies of recordings on any digital platform (ever hear of the internet?)—for musical recordings made before 1972…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The World Isn’t Prepared for Retirement

Bloomberg: It’s not just America. New data show people all over the globe don’t understand basic concepts of investment and inflation. “Most online quizzes are relatively mindless, promising to reveal which vegetable, sandwich or rock band best represents your personality. That was not the case for a short online test given to 16,000 people in 15 countries this year. It revealed just how unprepared a good chunk of the world is for retirement. The three-question test, given as part of the Aegon Retirement Readiness Survey 2018, measured how well people understand basic financial concepts. Many of the participants failed the quiz, with big potential consequences for their future security. Beyond the sobering lack of financial literacy, there were some rather curious data in Aegon’s annual survey, published on Tuesday…”

The case for a new social contract for retirement – “Alex Wynaendts, CEO of Aegon, outlines the case for a new social contract for retirement and calls for a more positive view on aging. “The need for a new social contract is urgent. People are today living longer than at any other time in history. While this is a cause for celebration, it also poses profound and far-reaching challenges for society.  In many countries, the traditional social contract for retirement – based on the three pillars of social security, workplace retirement benefits and personal savings – is crumbling, and responsibility is shifting fast from governments and employers to individuals.

Perhaps the biggest challenge of all is that we need to ensure the long-term sustainability of social security benefits. Ultimately this requires governments to make difficult financial decisions and trade-offs, such as reducing retirement benefits, raising taxes or increasing the retirement age. What we need is to ensure fairness across generations, reducing the risk of poverty for the elderly now and in the future. In a world in which responsibility for preparing for retirement is shifting, we need to ensure that there is universal access to long-term saving products and services that encourage people to save. By doing so we will be able to serve otherwise vulnerable groups, such as those working on a freelance basis or taking time out of work to care for family and loved ones…”

Categories: Law and Legal

What got breached this week? The List Keeps On Growing

Note – I highly recommend the column on LLRXPete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues – to stay current on the constantly widening scope of security issues that impact all of us, with increasing frequency – at home, at work, when you are traveling, via the compromise of your data on social media, by the government, corporations, academia, through e-commerce transactions, and health care institutions and systems (this is not even a complete list).

On to the article via The Register: What got breached this week? Ticket portals, DNA sites, and Atlanta’s police cameras

Categories: Law and Legal

Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide developed by leading experts in suicide prevention “Suicide is a public health issue. Media and online coverage of suicide should be informed by using best practices. Some suicide deaths may be newsworthy. However, the way media cover suicide can influence behavior negatively by contributing to contagion, or positively by encouraging help-seeking.

The Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide were developed by leading experts in suicide prevention and in collaboration with several international suicide prevention and public health organizations, schools of journalism, media organizations and key journalists as well as Internet safety experts. The recommendations are based on more than 50 international studies on suicide contagion. Lead Partners:

  • American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
  • Annenberg Public Policy Center
  • Columbia University Department of Psychiatry
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness, New Hampshire
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education..”
Categories: Law and Legal

Immigration Court Backlog Jumps While Case Processing Slows

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “The Immigration Court’s backlog keeps rising. As of the end of May 2018, the number of cases waiting decision reached an all-time high of 714,067. This compares with a court backlog of 542,411 cases at the end of January 2017 when President Trump assumed office. During his term the backlog has increased by almost a third (32%) with 171,656 more cases added. The pace of court filings has not increased – indeed, case filings are running slightly behind that of last year at this time. What appears to be driving the burgeoning backlog is the lengthening time it now takes to schedule hearings and complete proceedings in the face of the court’s over-crowded dockets. For example, cases that ultimately result in a removal order are taking 28 percent longer to process than last year – up from 392 days to an average of 501 days – from the date of the Notice to Appear (NTA) to the date of the decision. And compared with the last full fiscal year of the Obama administration, cases resulting in removal take an average of 42 percent longer. Decisions granting asylum or another type of relief now take over twice as long as removal decisions. Relief decisions this year on average took 1,064 days – up 17 percent – from last year. Wait times in Houston, San Antonio, Chicago, Imperial (California), Denver, and Arlington (Virginia) now average over 1,400 days before an immigrant is even scheduled for a hearing on his or her case. At many hearing locations hearings are currently being scheduled beyond 2021 before an available slot on the docket is found. To read the full report, including how long at each court hearing location current cases are waiting before their hearing is scheduled, go to:”

Categories: Law and Legal

Decision tree – How the Mueller Investigation Could Play Out for Trump

The New York Times: “Of all the questions hanging over the special counsel investigation, one stands out: How will President Trump fare in the end? An indictment is one possibility that has grown increasingly unlikely. The office of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, has told the president’s lawyers that it plans to abide by the Justice Department’s view that sitting presidents cannot be indicted no matter what the evidence shows. Still, if Mr. Mueller finds wrongdoing, Mr. Trump could be indicted after he leaves office. But for now, there are several other potential outcomes while Mr. Trump is president. The New York Times spoke to defense lawyers, legal experts and former Justice Department officials to determine how the Mueller investigation may play out for Mr. Trump. The Times explored the likeliest outcomes in this little-tested area of the law; some have nearly endless permutations that are not covered here…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Facebook Gave Some Companies Special Access to Additional Data About Users’ Friends

WSJ via Morningstar: “Facebook Inc. struck customized data-sharing deals that gave select companies special access to user records well after the point in 2015 that the social network has said it walled off that information, according to court documents, company officials and people familiar with the matter. Some of the agreements, known internally as “whitelists,” also allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user’s Facebook friends, the people familiar with the matter said. That included information like phone numbers and a metric called “friend link” that measured the degree of closeness between users and others in their network, the people said. The whitelist deals were struck with companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor Co., who advertised on Facebook or were valuable for other reasons, according to some of the people familiar with the matter. They show that Facebook gave special data access to a broader universe of companies than was previously disclosed. They also raise further questions about who has access to the data of billions of Facebook users and why they had access, at a time when Congress is demanding the company be held accountable for the flow of that data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why you should become a ‘library tourist’

treehugger: “A few weeks back I wrote about how you should set yourself a ‘secret mission’ when traveling in a foreign city. The idea is that, by pursuing something interests you, you’ll escape the usual tourist traps and see more of a city’s local side. For me, that’s often food shops and market stalls. Others seek out supermarkets, pharmacies, music stores, and bakeshops. Now I have another suggestion: Why not engage in library tourism? This fun idea comes via an article in The Daily Beast, titled, “We Took Our Young Children on a Library World Tour — And It Was Marvellous.” Stuart Kells recounts his family’s quest to visit several of the most prominent libraries in the world, including,

“In Switzerland: Zurich’s Bibliothek and the wonderful 18th-century Abbey Library of St. Gall. In London: the British Library and Lambeth Palace. At Oxford, the Bodleian. In the U.S., the Morgan, the Folger, the Houghton, the Smithsonian, plus the great public libraries of New York and Boston, and the ‘head office’ of them all: the Library of Congress.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Chemical Industry Scores a Big Win at the E.P.A.

The New York Times – The Chemical Industry Scores a Big Win at the E.P.A. – “The Trump administration, after heavy lobbying by the chemical industry, is scaling back the way the federal government determines health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals on the market, documents from the Environmental Protection Agency show. Under a law passed by Congress during the final year of the Obama administration, the E.P.A. was required for the first time to evaluate hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals and determine if they should face new restrictions, or even be removed from the market. The chemicals include many in everyday use, such as dry-cleaning solvents, paint strippers and substances used in health and beauty products like shampoos and cosmetics. But as it moves forward reviewing the first batch of 10 chemicals, the E.P.A. has in most cases decided to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances’ presence in the air, the ground or water, according to more than 1,500 pages of documents released last week by the agency…”

Categories: Law and Legal


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