Law and Legal
Observer “Since the early 19th Century, public libraries in the United States and throughout the world have thrown open their doors to people from all backgrounds, offering the gift of reading, supporting education and encouraging a sense of community. Sadly, some of the services offered have been undervalued in recent years—with budget cuts both in the U.K. and U.S. leading to shortages in funding for some libraries. Meanwhile libraries, whose free resources can be a lifeline for both readers and the wider community, have been quietly adapting to a changing world—improving and expanding their offering, introducing more online access and continuing to provide an invaluable service. This behind the scenes diligence meant that during the pandemic, libraries were able to prove themselves to be more resilient, future-proof and adaptable than many of us may have realized. In fact, the coronavirus crisis has enabled many libraries to truly prove their worth.
When the U.K. and U.S. imposed lockdown measures in March, libraries were forced to close their doors to the public, causing great consternation among users and library staff. “Our Chief Executive, Fiona Williams spoke for all of us when she said that she was heartbroken when we had to close libraries following government advice in March,” Gillian Holmes, executive assistant of Explore York Libraries and Archives in the U.K. told Observer. “We understand that libraries have an essential role to play in these challenging times, especially for our most isolated and vulnerable.”…
Washington Post – “Zoom fatigue, we hear you. Skyrocketing smartphone usage, been there. And yet: When you’re missing your favorite D.C. spots, there’s an easy way for them to still come to you. Local webcams can provide hours of distraction and amusement, plus a status update on the crowded places where we used to casually hang out — and on the District’s cutest newborn, who resides at the National Zoo. Here are five of the Washington area’s best, ranked from least to most entertaining…”
CRS report via LC – COVID-19 Liability: Tort, Workplace Safety, and Securities Law, September 24, 2020: “Although the COVID-19 pandemic is still unfolding, a number of plaintiffs have already filed lawsuits seeking compensation for COVID-19-related injuries. Some stakeholders have expressed concern that the risk of COVID-19-related lawsuits threatens a range of businesses and other entities with substantial financial losses. Those stakeholders claim that this risk may discourage these entities from reopening and adversely affect the economy as the nation attempts to emerge from the pandemic. Some observers are therefore urging Congress to pass legislation insulating businesses, schools, and other organizations from COVID-19-related liability. Others, however, claim that the risk of potential liability arising from COVID-19 is actually minimal, and that enacting a COVID-19 liability shield would remove entities’ legal incentives to take steps to prevent the spread of the disease…”
Fast Company – “Ask COVID19questions.org a question about the disease—how many patients in the ICU were put on a ventilator?—and it will look through 12 hospital systems’ records and find an answer. Months into the pandemic, there are still so many unknowns about COVID-19. Does age or ethnicity affect how likely a COVID patient is to be admitted to the ICU? Are patients who don’t enter the ICU more likely to end up back in the hospital later? And do comorbidities—other health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, that may worsen someone’s COVID-19 case—have any affect on how long a coronavirus patient is hospitalized for? A new website called COVID19questions.org hopes to answer these questions, and more, based on real patient medical record data from more than 200 hospitals. The site was created by a research consortium of 12 hospital systems, including UC San Diego Health and Cedars Sinai Medical Center, called Reliable Response Data Discovery, and funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation…”
Quartz – Here’s how it works, kid: “When you’re young, you just play, / But things will start changing, / You’ll start working one day / Sure, the future is murky, / The job market’s unclear, / But if you can stay nimble, / You have nothing to fear / Let’s review the future of work, / From letters A to Z, / It won’t be so frightening, / Just you see…. “[the article includes an audio version of the “A for Automation” read by Anne Quito]
5 Calls – easiest and most effective way for citizens to make an impact in national and local politics
- Type in your ZIP code (or let your browser or the app find your location for you).
- Choose an issue that’s important to you.
- Make calls!
- You have three members of Congress – two senators and a House rep.
- Some issues need calls to all three (we’ll tell you when they do). For those, call the first person on the list. When you’re done, enter your call results and then move to the next person on your list. Lather, rinse, repeat until you’re done.
- Some issues only need a call to your House rep; for others, just your senators. Again, we’ll make it clear who you should call.
- You may also see issues that ask you to call a non-Congressional entity, office, etc. Those calls work the same way…”
Lifehacker: “Let’s first acknowledge that if you don’t have to travel right now, you should definitely stay home. But if you absolutely must travel, it’s important to have up-to-date information about what’s going on with COVID-19 at your planned destination. This can be confusing, as the pandemic situation and related travel restrictions seem to change almost day to day—but there are tools out there that show real-time info on risks, restrictions, and requirements for both domestic and international travel. Here are a few options…”
Washington Post link that includes the 16 page presentation – “A senior executive at the U.S. Postal Service delivered a PowerPoint presentation in July that pressed officials across the organization to make the operational changes that led to mail backups across the country, seemingly contradicting months of official statements about the origin of the plans, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post. David E. Williams, the agency’s chief of logistics and processing operations, listed the elimination of late and extra mail trips by postal workers as a primary agency goal during the July 10 teleconference. He also told the group that he wanted daily counts on such trips, which had become common practice to ensure the timely delivery of mail. Several top-tier executives — including Robert Cintron, vice president of logistics; Angela Curtis, vice president of retail and post office operations; and vice presidents from the agency’s seven geographic areas — sat in.” Read the full story here.
CDC COVID-19 Science Update released September 22, 2020 – “Key Findings:
- By April 18, 2020, the estimated cumulative SARS-CoV-2 incidence in the US was ~2%.
- The number of estimated cumulative SARS-CoV-2 infections was 8.6 times the number of confirmed infections: 6,454,951 vs 751,245.
- 84% of the difference between estimated cumulative and reported confirmed cases was due to incomplete testing and 16% was due to test inaccuracy.
- The estimated cumulative infection rate (range: 3.1 to 65.0/1,000) and ratio of estimated cumulative to reported confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infections (range: 5 to 33) varied widely by state (Figure).
- Differences among states were driven by different transmission rates, testing rates, and test positivity rates in each state rather than modeling assumptions.
Methods: Analysis using data from the COVID Tracking Project to assess estimated cumulative SARS-CoV-2 infections by state and evaluate contributions of incomplete testing and imperfect test performance…
Implications: Estimated cumulative SARS-CoV-2 infections were greater than confirmed reported infections, due in part possibly to challenges with testing. Monitoring underestimation of reported confirmed cases can provide more accurate estimates of the cumulative burden of SARS-CoV-2 infection…”
Vox – These maps show how your state is doing. “America’s national Covid-19 epidemic continues, with the country’s daily new cases still higher than most developed nations and the nation recently surpassing 200,000 deaths due to the disease. At the state level, things can look even worse than the national picture. Public health experts look at a few markers to determine how bad things are in each state: the number of daily new cases; the infection rate, which can show how likely the virus is to spread; the percentage of tests that come back positive, which should be low in a state with sufficient testing; and the percentage of hospital beds that are occupied by very sick patients.
A Vox analysis indicates the vast majority of states report alarming trends across all four benchmarks for coronavirus outbreaks. Most states still report a high — sometimes very high — number of daily new Covid-19 cases. Most still have high infection rates. Most still have test positive rates that are too high, indicating they don’t have enough tests to track and contain the scope of their outbreaks. And most still have hospitals with intensive care units that are too packed. Across these benchmarks, no state fares well on all four metrics, which means no state has its epidemic fully under control right now…”
Center for Retirement Research – Boston College: “The COVID-19 recession is unlike anything this country has seen. If the second-quarter contraction were to continue at the same pace for a full year, the economy would shrink by a third! This is the deepest downturn since the Great Depression, and low-income Americans are feeling the brunt of it. What makes this recession unique, however, is that the low-income people living in the most affluent metropolitan areas are worse off than low-income residents of less affluent cities, Harvard economist Raj Chetty explained during a recent interview on Boston’s public radio station, WBUR. “What’s going on is that affluent folks have the capacity to self-isolate, to work remotely, to not go on vacation,” he said. “So in affluent areas, you see enormous drops in consumer spending and business revenue.” In these areas, more than half of the lowest-income workers have lost their jobs, and many of them worked in small businesses, he said. In less affluent cities, people have to go to work and “are out and about more, and business revenue hasn’t fallen nearly as much,” he told his radio host. “In previous recessions, we haven’t seen those sort of patterns.”
Chetty’s point is demonstrated by comparing what happened to consumer spending this year in San Francisco and Fresno, California, on the tracktherecovery.org website he and other economists have created. (Visitors can sort the spending data by state, industry, and consumer income levels, as well as by city.)…”
Cherokee Nation – Anadisgoi: The Cherokee Nation’s reservation boundaries are now mapped on Google Maps. “After the monumental US Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v Oklahoma, we’ve had many questions about our reservation boundaries, which always existed on paper maps. Now that our reservation is labeled on Google Maps, it’s easy for people around the world to search and see our reservation boundaries,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. The Cherokee Nation reservation boundaries include 7,000 miles in northeastern Oklahoma. “Google Maps aims to provide the freshest, most accurate map possible. In response to July’s Supreme Court decision, we worked to evaluate authoritative data and then used this information to add labels and borders for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole reservations to Google Maps. These reservations are now viewable and searchable on Google Maps,” Raleigh Seamster, program manager for Google Maps said. Cherokee Nation citizen Joseph Erb provided feedback about the reservation mapping project, which includes mapping for all Five Civilized Tribes. “It is an exciting step forward to be included on the map,” Erb said. “This is a visual reminder that our nation is still here and a contemporary Indigenous nation of Continent.”
Smithsonian – 3D-TV, Automated Cooking and Robot Housemaids: Walter Cronkite Tours the Home of 2001. In 1967, the most trusted man in America investigated the home of the 21st century.
- YouTube – Walter Cronkite in the Home Office of 2001 (filmed in 1967) – a view from the past into the present.
CNet – “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) doesn’t hide the fact that the flu shot isn’t perfect (no vaccine is perfect), but the fact of the matter is that the flu shot does work and it remains the most effective prevention method for influenza virus. In this article, learn about where you can find flu shots for cheap and for free, plus more on why you really need one — and why getting your flu shot is “more important than ever” in 2020…”
The Atlantic -“…The worst case, however, is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that uncertainty to hold on to power. Trump’s state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for postelection maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states. Ambiguities in the Constitution and logic bombs in the Electoral Count Act make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day, which would bring the nation to a precipice. The Twentieth Amendment is crystal clear that the president’s term in office “shall end” at noon on January 20, but two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand. We are not prepared for this at all,” Julian Zelizer, a Princeton professor of history and public affairs, told me. “We talk about it, some worry about it, and we imagine what it would be. But few people have actual answers to what happens if the machinery of democracy is used to prevent a legitimate resolution to the election.”
Let us not hedge about one thing. Donald Trump may win or lose, but he will never concede. Not under any circumstance. Not during the Interregnum and not afterward. If compelled in the end to vacate his office, Trump will insist from exile, as long as he draws breath, that the contest was rigged. Trump’s invincible commitment to this stance will be the most important fact about the coming Interregnum. It will deform the proceedings from beginning to end. We have not experienced anything like it before…”
Gizmodo: “At this point, you probably know that you should use some sort of password manager to juggle all your logins across the web. Even if you don’t actually do it, you know you should. Now, 1Password wants to make virtual credit cards an easy obligation with a unique new program. The popular password manager has announced a new partnership with Privacy.com that gives 1Password users the option to use virtual credit cards to protect themselves from fraud. After signing up and enabling the feature in the 1Password X Chrome extension, users will receive a prompt each time they try to make an online credit card purchase asking if they’d like to use a virtual card instead. The virtual cards create unique payment credentials for an individual service for one time use, or you can save a virtual card to continually use for payments on the service in the future.
For example, a user can set up a virtual card to handle their monthly Spotify subscription renewal. 1Password’s extension will create a virtual card through Privacy.com’s system that will only pass along the virtual card’s information while your primary card is processed with your bank normally. The idea is that Privacy.com is operating like a password manager for your cards. The keys to your financial kingdom should stay safe in an encrypted format. And if Spotify suffers a data breach, there’s less of a need to freak out and go through the headache of setting up new payments for every dang thing you buy online. No one can take your Spotify card and head to Amazon to buy $2,000 worth of sneakers. Card details will be saved in 1Password for quick reference in the future…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
“Welcome to COVID-19 Data Discovery from Clinical Records – your resource for questions and answers about COVID-19, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. We use electronic health record (EHR) data from 12 leading medical centers to answer simple and complex clinical questions related to COVID-19. Because we consult multiple centers, we have a relatively large number of COVID-19 cases to discover patterns while maintaining patient and institutional privacy. In this project, EHR data never leaves the medical centers, only aggregate statistics are exchanged…
Our network is currently composed of 202 hospitals in 12 health systems (11 in the USA and one in Germany), which collectively have electronic health record data from over 45 million patients. Between January 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, our Consortium had 928,255 patients tested for SARS-CoV-2, 59,074 diagnosed with COVID-19, with 19,022 hospitalized and 2,591 deceased. We have access to data from at least one hospital in every USA state.For this project, no patient-level data are ever transmitted outside of each health system, only data aggregates, and the privacy of individuals and institutions is preserved. We also use a novel, distributed analytics technique to consult data and build multivariate models, in a secure manner Our network started as the patient-centered SCAlable National Network for Effectiveness Research (pSCANNER) and later expanded to the network we have today. We welcome new partnerships to broaden our geographical coverage and the robustness of our answers to COVID-19 questions.”
Google Blog: “More than one billion people turn to Google Maps for essential information about how to get from place to place–especially during the pandemic when safety concerns are top of mind. Features like popular times and live busyness, COVID-19 alerts in transit, and COVID checkpoints in driving navigation were all designed to help you stay safe when you’re out and about. This week, we’re introducing the COVID layer in Maps, a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. How it works – When you open Google Maps, tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of your screen and click on “COVID-19 info”. You’ll then see a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down. Color coding also helps you easily distinguish the density of new cases in an area. Trending case data is visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city-level data where available…”
Misinformation more likely to use non-specific authority references: Twitter analysis of two COVID-19 myths
Misinformation more likely to use non-specific authority references: Twitter analysis of two COVID-19 myths – “This research examines the content, timing, and spread of COVID-19 misinformation and subsequent debunking efforts for two COVID-19 myths. COVID-19 misinformation tweets included more non-specific authority references (e.g., “Taiwanese experts”, “a doctor friend”), while debunking tweets included more specific and verifiable authority references (e.g., the CDC, the World Health Organization, Snopes). Findings illustrate a delayed debunking response to COVID-19 misinformation, as it took seven days for debunking tweets to match the quantity of misinformation tweets. The use of non-specific authority references in tweets was associated with decreased tweet engagement, suggesting the importance of citing specific sources when refuting health misinformation.” The Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review. September 2020,Volume 1, Special Issue on COVID-19 and Misinformation.
The Markup:”…An array of free website-building tools, many offered by ad-tech and ad-funded companies, has led to a dizzying number of trackers loading on users’ browsers, even when they visit sites where privacy would seem paramount, an investigation by The Markup has found. Some load without the website operators’ explicit knowledge—or disclosure to users. Website operators may agree to set cookies—small strings of text that identify you—from one outside company. But they are not always aware that the code setting those cookies can also load dozens of other trackers along with them, like nesting dolls, each collecting user data. To investigate the pervasiveness of online tracking, The Markup spent 18 months building a one-of-a-kind free public tool that can be used to inspect websites for potential privacy violations in real time. Blacklight reveals the trackers loading on any site—including methods created to thwart privacy-protection tools or watch your every scroll and click. We scanned more than 80,000 of the world’s most popular websites with Blacklight and found more than 5,000 were “fingerprinting” users, identifying them even if they block third-party cookies. We also found more than 12,000 websites loaded scripts that watch and record all user interactions on a page—including scrolls and mouse movements. It’s called “session recording” and we found a higher prevalence of it than researchers had documented before…”