Law and Legal

Links to health departments in all 50 states and US territories

With states and localities re-opening and summer travel underway, it is important to check the restrictions that may be in place before you decide to plan a trip near or far away. “Looking for the website of a state or territorial health department? The resources here link to health departments in all 50 states, 8 US territories and freely associated states, and the District of Columbia.” States have uniformly added links to COVID-19 test sites which is useful information as the availability of free testing expands with more locations in your area.

Categories: Law and Legal

The COVID Racial Data Tracker

“The COVID Racial Data Tracker advocates for, collects, publishes, and analyzes racial data on the pandemic across the United States. It’s a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. This project began when Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, director of the BU Center for Antiracist Research, wrote a series of essays in The Atlantic about the urgent need to gather racial and ethnic demographic data to understand the outbreak and protect vulnerable communities. On April 12, 2020, we started collecting race and ethnicity data from every state that reported it. On April 15, we launched that dataset as the first iteration of the COVID Racial Data Tracker. We update this data twice per week…”

“COVID-19 is affecting Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color the most. The COVID Racial Data Tracker is a collaboration between the COVID Tracking Project and the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Together, we’re gathering the most complete and up-to-date race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 in the United States…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Federal workers are returning to the office

Washington Post – Some members of Congress say they shouldn’t be. “With the number of coronavirus cases increasing across much of the country, leading members of Congress on civil service issues are challenging orders by federal agencies for teleworking federal employees to return to their regular worksites. “I think we have to press the pause button immediately,” Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, said in an interview. “There is no data that could make one comfortable that it is safe to return fully to work and to the status quo. In fact, all of the data suggest the opposite.” Senators representing Maryland and Virginia will send a letter Thursday morning to the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Personnel Management warning against premature reopenings that could lead to new coronavirus cases…“Reopening too quickly by ending maximum telework threatens to erase the progress made against the virus and endanger the health and safety of federal employees and everyone else in an agency’s region through increased community spread,” says the letter, signed by Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Mark R. Warner (D-Va.)…”

Jacqueline Simon, policy director of the American Federation of Government Employees, though, testified that “there should be no reopening unless and until federal agencies have the full capacity to test, protect, trace, and inform their workforces, and unless and until genuine, objective data on the status of the pandemic shows it has subsided.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Mounting Evidence Suggests Coronavirus is Airborne but Health Advice Has Not Caught Up

Nature: “…Converging lines of evidence indicate that SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, can pass from person to person in tiny droplets called aerosols that waft through the air and accumulate over time. After months of debate about whether people can transmit the virus through exhaled air, there is growing concern among scientists about this transmission route. This week, Lidia Morawska, aerosol scientist, who works at the Queensland University of Technology and aerosol scientist Donald Milton at the University of Maryland, College Park, supported by an international group of 237 other clinicians, infectious-disease physicians, epidemiologists, engineers and aerosol scientists, published a commentary in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases that urges the medical community and public-health authorities to acknowledge the potential for airborne transmission. They also call for preventive measures to reduce this type of risk…A few studies, however, have successfully measured the viability of aerosol-borne virus particles. A team at the US Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate in Washington DC found that environmental conditions play a big part in how long virus particles in aerosols remain viable. SARS-CoV-2 in mock saliva aerosols lost 90% of its viability in 6 minutes of exposure to summer sunlight, compared with 125 minutes in darkness. This study suggests that indoor environments might be especially risky, because they lack ultraviolet light and because the virus can become more concentrated than it would in outdoor spaces…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 School Reopening Checklist

“The COVID-19 School Reopening Response Checklist is a tool to assist school and district leaders and other key stakeholders in the decision-making process as they navigate school reopening. It emphasizes areas in need of attention from an equity and ethics perspective. The decision makers can use the Checklist to systematically assess their needs and resources for reopening in 6 areas: continuity of learning, infection control and facilities, food security, health, housing and safety, and supervision.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Johns Hopkins University tracker analyzes school reopening plans across the country

JHU Tracking State and National School Reopening Plans – “This interactive state tracker curates school reopening plans by state, as well as guidance documents by non-governmental organizations, along six operational criteria: 1) Core Academics; 2) SARS CoV-2 Protection; 3) Before/After School Programs, including Athletics, Childcare, and Extracurriculars; 4) Building Access & Student Transportation; 5) School Health Services; and 6) Food and Nutrition, and six ethics and equity criteria 1) Parent Choice; 2) Teacher and Other School Personnel Choice; 3) Children with Special Needs/IEP/ESL/Gifted & Twice Exceptional; 4) Children of Poverty, Children of Color, Systematic Disadvantage (Low-Income Parents & Parents who are Essential Workers); 4) Privacy; and 6) Engagement and Transparency.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Thousands of contracts highlight quiet ties between Big Tech and U.S. military

NBC News: “Over the past two years, thousands of tech company employees have taken a stand: they do not want their labor and technical expertise to be used for projects with the military or law enforcement agencies. Knowledge of such contracts, however, hasn’t been easy for tech workers to come by. On Wednesday, newly published research from the technology accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry revealed that the Department of Defense and federal law enforcement agencies including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, have secured thousands of deals with Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Dell, IBM, Hewlett Packard and even Facebook that have not been previously reported. The report offers a new window into the relationship between tech companies and the U.S. government, as well as an important detail about why such contracts are often difficult to find…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New IHME Forecasts Show More Than 200,000 US Deaths by November

“In its first projections of COVID-19 deaths out to November 1, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington is forecasting more than 200,000 deaths in the United States. The forecast shows 208,255 deaths (with a range of 186,087 to 244,541). Those numbers drop to 162,808 (157,217 to 171,193), if at least 95% of people wear masks in public. “We can now see the projected trajectory of the epidemic into the fall, and many states are expected to experience significant increases in cases and deaths in September and October,” said IHME Director Dr. Christopher Murray. “However, as we all have come to recognize, wearing masks can substantially reduce transmission of the virus. Mask mandates delay the need for re-imposing closures of businesses and have huge economic benefits. Moreover, those who refuse masks are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”  IHME’s new projections include the re-imposition of strong social distancing mandates when deaths per day reach a level of 8 per one million people, comparing that with a forecast if no action is taken, and a forecast if social distancing mandates are combined with at least 95% mask wearing in public spaces…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Audit Finds Facebook’s Decisions Were ‘Setbacks for Civil Rights

The New York Times – “An independent audit faulted the social network for allowing hate speech and disinformation to thrive — potentially posing a threat to the November elections. Auditors handpicked by Facebook to examine its policies said that the company had not done enough to protect people on the platform from discriminatory posts and ads and that its decisions to leave up President Trump’s inflammatory posts were “significant setbacks for civil rights.” The 89-page audit put Facebook in an awkward position as the presidential campaign heats up. The report gave fuel to the company’s detractors, who said the site had allowed hate speech and misinformation to flourish. The audit also placed the social network in the spotlight for an issue it had worked hard to avoid since the 2016 election: That it may once again be negatively influencing American voters. Now Facebook has to decide whether its approach to hateful speech and noxious content — which was to leave it alone in the name of free expression — remains tenable. And that decision puts pressure on Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, who has repeatedly said that his company was not an arbiter of truth and that it would not police politicians’ posts…”

See also Facebook is out of control. If it were a country it would be North KoreaCarole Cadwalladr – “There is no power on this earth that is capable of holding Facebook to account. No legislature, no law enforcement agency, no regulator. Congress has failed. The EU has failed. When the Federal Trade Commission fined it a record $5bn for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, its stock price actually went up. Which is what makes this moment so interesting and, possibly, epochal. If the boycott of Facebook by some of the world’s biggest brands – Unilever, Coca-Cola, Starbucks – succeeds, it will be because it has targeted the only thing that Facebook understands: its bottom line. And if it fails, that will be another sort of landmark. Because this is a company that facilitated an attack on a US election by a foreign power, that live-streamed a massacre then broadcast it to millions around the world, and helped incite a genocide…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Winners of the 2020 Audubon Photography Awards

Audubon.org: “Every spring, the judges of the Audubon Photography Awards gather at Audubon’s headquarters in Manhattan to review their favorite images and select the finalists. But as with much of life in 2020, this year’s awards had to be handled differently due to pandemic-related travel, work, and social-distancing restrictions. So, for our 11th annual awards, which saw more than 6,000 submissions, the judges assembled in an epic day-long Zoom meeting to winnow down the remaining pool to just the 10 winners and honorable mentions shown here. As always, the task was simultaneously unenviable and inspiring. The thousands of submissions from nearly 1,800 entrants showed birdlife in all of its splendor. In total, photographers from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and 7 Canadian provinces entered images that captured the creativity, wonder, and beauty of species small and large, terrestrial and aquatic. This year we also continue with two new awards introduced in 2019: The Fisher Prize, which recognizes an image that is as artistic as it is revealing, and the Plants for Birds category, which honors the top photographs illustrating the crucial relationship between native plants and birds. Our heartfelt congratulations to the photographers behind these stunning shots, and thank you to all of the entrants for your truly remarkable appreciation of birds.” [Enjoy]

Categories: Law and Legal

Study – Google, Amazon funnel at least $25 million to coronavirus conspiracy sites

Why is ad tech paying US$25 million to COVID-19 disinfo sites? – Household brands are inadvertently funding disinformation sites to spread COVID-19 conspiracies, thanks to ad tech companies that do not effectively screen the sites to which they provide ads services.  New research from the Global Disinformation Index (GDI) shows that Google, Amazon and other tech companies are paying COVID-19 disinformation sites at least US$25 million in ad revenues to carry ads for well-known brands such as Bloomberg News, Crest Toothpaste, L’Oreal, Made.com, Merck and many others. We have analysed nearly 500 ad-supported, high-traffic web disinformation sites with a high concentration of COVID-19 conspiracy content. These websites include well-known disinformation sites like AmericanThinker.com, BigLeaguePolitics.com, TheGatewayPundit.com and RT.com. Many of these named sites have been flagged by others for carrying COVID-19 disinformation…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A Time Lapse World Map of Every Covid-19 Death

Kottke.org: “From January to the end of June, over 500,000 people died of confirmed cases of Covid-19. In order to demonstrate the magnitude of the pandemic, James Beckwith made a time lapse map of each Covid-19 death. Each country is represented by a tone and an expanding blip on the map when a death from Covid-19 is recorded. Each day is 4 seconds long, and at the top of the screen is the date and a counter showing the total numbers of deaths. Every country that has had a fatality is included. As was the case with the pandemic, the video starts slow but soon enough the individual sounds and blips build to a crescendo, a cacophony of death. The only way this could be made more ominous & upsetting is by including the first song off of Cliff Martinez’s Contagion soundtrack as a backing track. As Beckwith notes in the description: “It is likely a sequel will need to be made.” (via open culture)

Categories: Law and Legal

Majority of Americans See Work To Do on Gender Equality

“A hundred years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, about half of Americans say granting women the right to vote has been the most important milestone in advancing the position of women in the country. Still, a majority of U.S. adults say the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men, even as a large share thinks there has been progress in the last decade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Among those who think the country still has work to do in achieving gender equality, 77% point to sexual harassment as a major obstacle to women having equal rights with men. Fewer, but still majorities, point to women not having the same legal rights as men (67%), different societal expectations for men and women (66%) and not enough women in positions of power (64%) as major obstacles to gender equality. Women are more likely than men to see each of these as a major obstacle…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The claim that masks interfere with your ability to get enough oxygen is false

PopularInformation: “The claim that masks interfere with your ability to get enough oxygen is false. Christopher Labos, a doctor affiliated with McGill University, explains:

There are actually only two ways to develop low oxygen levels in the blood. One is to deliver less oxygen into the lungs, and the other is to impair the lungs’ ability to allow oxygen to diffuse into the bloodstream. A mask will obviously not impair gas exchange within the lungs, and the cloth face coverings advocated by public health experts do not provide an airtight seal that would impair oxygen delivery into the airways. Furthermore, masks are designed to filter out large particles, like water droplets, and cannot stop tiny molecules like oxygen that can infiltrate between the weave of any fabric…It is frankly implausible to think that wearing a mask is dangerous. Think of all the surgeons, nurses, anesthetists, and perfusionists that have worn masks during long operations and suffered no ill effects.”

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX for June 2020

  • Reopening Your Law Firm: Your ClientsNicole L. Black has published a series of articles focused on helping your firm work remotely and effectively throughout the pandemic. As many firms throughout the country are planning and executing phased re-openings, Nicole identifies issues and actions to assess and implement to permit your firm to open its doors to clients safely, with their best interests in mind.
  • As libraries go digital, paper books still have a lot to offer usKsenya Kiebuzinski, University of Toronto Libraries, offers perspective on how librarians face challenges in maintaining traditional means of accessing and delivering information to our users while embracing innovative media. We appreciate the value of both analogue (print books, manuscripts, maps, globes) and digital resources like Google Maps, databases and digital archives. One format captures the history of institutions in general, and of libraries, in particular. The other allows for more equitable and experimental access. Yet, being an advocate for print can be a thankless task. For librarians in all sectors this article is a lessons learned to share with colleagues and decision makers.
  • Goodbye World – An Innovative Approach to Estate PlanningShellie Steele Reed is a non-traditional law student with experience in local government. This paper was written for Dennis Kennedy’s Delivering Legal Services course at Michigan State University College of Law (MSU). Shellie’s experience living in ten states and in Japan led her to believe that legal issues are often symptoms of larger problems. While taking classes through the Center for Law, Technology & Innovation program at MSU, Shellie has focused on learning skills needed to provide efficient and effective legal services, with an emphasis on process improvement and solving access to justice issues.
  • 2020 Directory of Directories – This new guide by Marcus P. Zillman is a comprehensive listing of directory, subject guide and index resources and sites on the Internet. The guide includes sites in the private, public, corporate, academic and non-profit sectors and spans the following subject matters: Academic/Education; Economics/Business; Government and Statistics; Humanities; Information and Information Science; Law; Medicine; News; Science and Engineering; and Social Sciences.
  • Virtual Legal Conferences: A Formula For Success – Along with most conferences in all sectors, the largest legal technology conferences, ILTACON, will be held virtually this year. Nicole L. Black proposes using avatars to make such conferences more interesting and impactful.
  • 5 things you should do right now to fight the rising number of COVID-19 cases – The increase of COVID-19 cases across the country calls for quick action that is repeatable, sustained and undertaken by the largest possible number of community participants. Prof. Kacey Ernst and graduate student Paulina Columbo, both of the University of Arizona, provide sound, actionable advice as we continue to navigate life during a pandemic.
  • On DAM (Digital Asset Management) Work: an Interview with Angela Pagliaro – This is an interview with Angela Pagliaro, Global Content Librarian at Merck Animal Health and formerly a Knowledge Services Consultant at ETS, done by Naomi House of INALJ.
  • Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, June 27, 2020Four highlights from this week: How to make sure Google automatically deletes your data on a regular basis; Wrongfully Accused by an Algorithm; Library officials warn: Stop microwaving books to kill COVID-19; and Making .gov More Secure by Default.
  • Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, June 21, 2020Four highlights from this week: Zoom Finally Caves, Lets Free Users Have End-to-End Encryption; Researchers Create a Tool That Can Perfectly Depixelate Faces; North Korea Kim Jong Un cyber army more effective than nuclear weapons; Outrage over police brutality has finally convinced Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM to rule out selling facial recognition tech to law enforcement.
  • Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, June 14, 2020Four highlights from this week: Zoom bolsters policy and engineering teams as it courts government; The lack of women in cybersecurity leaves the online world at greater risk; How to Set Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to Control Who Sees What; and UK accidentally leaves contact-tracing app plans on open Google Drive.
  • Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, June 6, 2020Four highlights from this week: How to take back the information you’ve given to all your favorite apps and websites; More Cyber Training Does Not Mean Fewer Data Breaches; Google faces $5 billion lawsuit in U.S. for tracking ‘private’ internet use; and COVID-19 Complicates Already Challenged FDA Foreign Inspection Program.
Categories: Law and Legal

Programs to Collect Data on Law Enforcement Activities: Overview and Issues

CRS report via LC – Programs to Collect Data on Law Enforcement Activities: Overview and Issues, July 6, 2020: “The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN,while he was in the custody of law enforcement, and several other recent high-profile deaths of African Americans at the hands of police,have generated interest in legislation to reform policing practices. Two major pieces of legislation that contain police reform proposals are before Congress: H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020—passed by the House on June 25, 2020—and S. 3985, the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act. Each bill would establish programs to collect data on a variety of policing activities, such as the use of force, racial profiling, the use of no-knock warrants, and in-custody deaths. In some cases, state and local law enforcement agencies would report these data directly to the Department of Justice (DOJ). In other instances, states would be required to establish systems for collecting required data and reporting them to DOJ. Both pieces of legislation would provide incentives for state and local governments to report data by attaching conditions to the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG)or the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) programs. DOJ currently operates programs to collect and report data on the use of force by police officers and in-custody deaths. For instance, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) collects data on use-of-force incidents that result in the death or serious bodily injury of a person, as well as when a police officer discharges a firearm at or in the direction of a person.DOJ also collects data on deaths of people who are temporarily detained, under arrest, in the process of being arrested, en route to be incarcerated,or incarcerated at a municipal or county jail, a state prison, a state-run boot camp prison, a boot camp prison that is contracted out by the state, any state or local contract facility,or any other local or state correctional facility (including juvenile facilities), per the requirement of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-242)…”

See also via beSpacificA Plan to Make Police Data Open Source Started on Reddit

Categories: Law and Legal

NIST Kick-Starts ‘Threshold Cryptography’ Development Effort

Establishing the emerging technique’s building blocks is a near-term focus – “A new publication by cryptography experts at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) proposes the direction the technical agency will take to develop a more secure approach to encryption. This approach, called threshold cryptography, could overcome some of the limitations of conventional methods for protecting sensitive transactions and data. The document, released today in a final version as NIST Roadmap Toward Criteria for Threshold Schemes for Cryptographic Primitives (NISTIR 8214A), offers an outline for developing a new way to implement the cryptographic tools that developers use to secure their systems. Its authors are inviting the cryptography community to collaborate with them on NIST’s budding Threshold Cryptography project, which in part seeks to ensure that threshold implementations are interoperable. “We are kicking the threshold cryptography development effort into high gear,” said Apostol Vassilev, a NIST computer scientist. “Over the coming months, the Threshold Cryptography project will be engaging with the public to define criteria for this work. We want to get feedback from the community so we can consider a variety of threshold schemes and standardization paths.”…
Categories: Law and Legal

A Plan to Make Police Data Open Source Started on Reddit

Wired – “…For years, researchers, journalists, and activists have turned to official records, from incident reports to misconduct complaints, as one window into police behavior in the United States. “The problem is that all of this data, although it’s public, is buried inside of these really crappy or antiquated public records portals,” says Kristin Tynski. Few states make it easy to mass-export law enforcement data, which can make the process tedious. Some states require a formal public records request to access the documents; sometimes people have had to sue for the data. And once the data has been downloaded, it has to be cleaned, combined, and standardized to create a national data set—the kind that might help researchers find patterns of racial bias, excessive use of force, or repeat complaints of misconduct. Tynski’s group, which calls itself the Police Data Accessibility Project, aims to do just that…”

Categories: Law and Legal

An Update to the Economic Outlook: 2020 to 2030

Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – “Today, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released updated economic projections, incorporating the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. These estimates are an update to CBO’s May projections; they incorporate data through June 26 – not including the latest jobs report – as well as the estimated effects of fiscal support enacted so far. CBO projects rapid economic growth beginning in the third quarter of this year and a return to the pre-crisis economic trajectory by 2028. Using the CBO’s latest forecasts, we have updated our ten-year budget projections, which now show that debt will eclipse the size of the economy this year and reach 120 percent of GDP by 2030.  Importantly, CBO’s projects represent the middle of a wide range of likely outcomes. The agency’s economic projections and our fiscal projections both come with a wide range of uncertainty…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Managing the Risk From COVID-19 During a Return to On-Site University Research

Managing the Risk From COVID-19 During a Return to On-Site University JSR-20-NS1 July 2, 2020 Distribution Statement A: Approved for Public Release. Distribution is unlimited. JASON The MITRE Corporation: “…After months of allowing only essential personnel on campus, universities have begun to ramp up research and allow typically a fraction of their researchers back on campus. The operations must evolve to keep the basic reproduction number, R, less than one in order to allow future increases in personnel density. This report outlines several different means of lowering the basic reproduction number, which are summarized in this section. A low basic reproduction number relies on individuals recognizing the danger of COVID-19 and taking the recommended actions: washing hands, wearing face masks, keeping a minimum six foot separation from others, minimizing multiple occupancy in rooms, and tracking their own health. Universities must encourage these actions through signage, training, and modeling of good behavior by leaders. Face masks are particularly important.

  • Key Finding: Mask use can be highly effective as one component of risk reduction strategies for COVID-19 infection and transmission. However, mask effectiveness is variable, depending on the materials, designs and user discipline in wearing the masks.  Key Recommendation: Universities should provide masks that meet demonstrated technical performance at the levels needed, even if the level of performance exceeds that required by the city or state. Training should be provided on how to properly wear masks.
  • Key Finding: The use of a campus-wide “infographic” or “dashboard” showing the on-campus population, virus testing statistics, and information on the compliance with COVID-19 rules will create a shared situational awareness. In this pandemic, universities are not islands and the reproduction number on-campus will not be very different than that of the surrounding community. If the R of the surrounding community changes, the university may need to changes its on-campus density.
  • Key Finding: Universities will influence and be subject to disease dynamics of the larger communities within which they are embedded. Key Recommendation: Universities should engage with state and local officials to understand the exposure of their personnel both on and off cam2 Managing the Risk from COVID-19 July 2, 2020 pus. Universities can make use of daily symptom attestation to detect emerging cases and track the health of the population. Daily symptom attestation can reduce disease spread beyond what can be accomplished with individual mitigation behaviors such as wearing masks…”
Categories: Law and Legal

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