Law and Legal

Americans Favor Protecting Information Freedoms Over Government Steps to Restrict False News Online

“The widespread concerns over misinformation online have created a tension in the United States between taking steps to restrict that information – including possible government regulation – and protecting the long-held belief in the freedom to access and publish information. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that the majority of Americans are resistant to action by the U.S. government that might also limit those freedoms but are more open to action from technology companies. When asked to choose between the U.S. government taking action to restrict false news online in ways that could also limit Americans’ information freedoms, or protecting those freedoms even if it means false information might be published, Americans fall firmly on the side of protecting freedom. Nearly six-in-ten Americans (58%) say they prefer to protect the public’s freedom to access and publish information online, including on social media, even if it means false information can also be published. Roughly four-in-ten (39%) fall the other way, preferring that the U.S. government take steps to restrict false information even if it limits those freedoms, according to a survey conducted Feb. 26-March 11, 2018, among 4,734 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Papers of Benjamin Franklin Now Online

“The papers of American scientist, statesman and diplomat Benjamin Franklin have been digitized and are now available online for the first time from the Library of Congress. The Library announced the digitization in remembrance of the anniversary of Franklin’s death on April 17, 1790. The Franklin papers consist of approximately 8,000 items mostly dating from the 1770s and 1780s. These include the petition that the First Continental Congress sent to Franklin, then a colonial diplomat in London, to deliver to King George III; letterbooks Franklin kept as he negotiated the Treaty of Paris that ended the Revolutionary War; drafts of the treaty; notes documenting his scientific observations, and correspondence with fellow scientists. The collection is online at: loc.gov/collections/benjamin-franklin-papers/about-this-collection.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Chrome allows users to specify video autoplay blocking

PCWorld: “If you’re the type of person who detests autoplaying video ads with sound, Google’s Chrome browser provides some help. Google Chrome 66 will mute autoplaying video by default, permanently, so even if a video pops up—and Chrome can block some of those, too!—it won’t blow you out of your seat. The Chrome 66 release is now live in the stable channel. As Google explains here, muted videos will always be autoplayed. But autoplayed videos won’t always be muted. Google uses what it calls the Media Engagement Threshold to determine if a video should be muted. (Google’s page goes into the details, though it’s a typically complex Google algorithm.) Put simply, if you’ve played a video on the site before, with sound, Google may think that you want to hear the audio for another video on that site, too…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New searchable database of historical state campaign finance laws

“The Campaign Finance Institute is pleased to release a groundbreaking new tool, “CFI’s Historical Database of State Campaign Finance Laws”. The database covers all of the states’ campaign finance laws every two years since 1996. It is designed for everything from interactive and visualized lookups to downloadable datasets. Anyone with a serious interest in politics is bound to have made, heard, or wondered about claims to the effect that the laws governing money in politics “make a difference”. These claims may be about who runs for office, how they campaign, who wins, how they govern, or what policies come out in the end. But until now it has been impossible to evaluate most of these claims properly. You cannot really understand a law’s effects unless you can compare jurisdictions with different laws to themselves and each other over time..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Immigration Court Cases Now Involve More Long-Time Residents

“The latest available data from the Immigration Court reveals a sharp uptick in the proportion of cases involving immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for years. During March 2018, for example, court records show that only 10 percent of immigrants in new cases brought by the Department of Homeland Security had just arrived in this country, while 43 percent had arrived two or more years ago. Fully twenty percent of cases filed last month involved immigrants who had been in the country for 5 years or more. In contrast, the proportion of individuals who had just arrived in new filings during the last full month of the Obama Administration (December 2016) made up 72 percent, and only 6 percent had been here at least two years. Over time, immigration enforcement priorities have varied, as have the ebb and flow of illegal entrants, visa over-stayers, and asylum seekers. Using the court’s records on the date of entry of each individual, the report examines how long these immigrants typically had resided in the U.S. before their cases were initiated. To read the full report covering the period from October 2000 through March 2018 go to: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/508/. To examine the length of stay for immigrants by state and county of residence go to: http://trac.syr.edu/phptools/immigration/nta/. In addition, many of TRAC’s free query tools – which track the court’s overall backlog, new DHS filings, court dispositions and much more – have now been updated through March 2018. For an index to the full list of TRAC’s immigration tools go to: http://trac.syr.edu/imm/tools/.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Me Too Rising A visualization of the movement from Google Trends

Me Too Rising – A visualization of the movement from Google Trends – includes resources from specific to locations around the world – with subject matter focused on: legal services, survivor support, human trafficking, domestic partner violence, college students, sexual harassment, survivors with disabilities.
Categories: Law and Legal

Ban on CDC gun violence research persists

BuzzFeed: The Government’s Two-Decade Ban On Studying Gun Violence Was Supposed To End. It Hasn’t. “In March, Congress gave CDC the green light to study the causes of gun violence. One month later there is no sign of that work starting, and there is little research on what causes America’s high gun death rates…The federal government is still not researching the root causes of gun violence and appears to have no plans to do so, despite Congress freeing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to finally study the issue one month ago. The US has a much higher rate of gun deaths than the rest of the developed world, with around 40,000 shooting deaths recorded each year. But despite gun violence being one of the most hotly debated public safety issues, there has been hardly any federal research on the topic because of a two-decades-old amendment passed by Congress that bans the CDC from spending any money to “advocate or promote gun control.” Since Congress passed that ban in 1996, the CDC has avoided researching guns beyond some basic data collection. As a result, there are massive scientific gaps in what we know about gun violence in America. One study found that gun violence kills about as many people as sepsis, yet has 0.7% as much research funding. There was hope that this would change. New Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a congressional committee in February that he believed the CDC should do more research into gun violence. Then in March Congress gave the CDC the green light. The $1.3 trillion spending bill Trump signed into law came with guidance from the House Rules Committee explicitly stating that the CDC “has the authority to conduct research on the causes of gun violence.” Despite this, it appears that nothing has changed…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Bloomberg – Palantir Knows Everything About You

Peter Thiel’s data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.

“Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company’s engineers and products don’t do any spying themselves; they’re more like a spy’s brain, collecting and analyzing information that’s fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence. It helped planners avoid roadside bombs, track insurgents for assassination, even hunt down Osama bin Laden. The military success led to federal contracts on the civilian side. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Palantir to detect Medicare fraud. The FBI uses it in criminal probes. The Department of Homeland Security deploys it to screen air travelers and keep tabs on immigrants.Police and sheriff’s departments in New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles have also used it, frequently ensnaring in the digital dragnet people who aren’t suspected of committing any crime. People and objects pop up on the Palantir screen inside boxes connected to other boxes by radiating lines labeled with the relationship: “Colleague of,” “Lives with,” “Operator of [cell number],” “Owner of [vehicle],” “Sibling of,” even “Lover of.” If the authorities have a picture, the rest is easy. Tapping databases of driver’s license and ID photos, law enforcement agencies can now identify more than half the population of U.S. adults…”

Categories: Law and Legal

TIME – 100 Most Influential People of 2018

The 100 Most Influential People of 2018 [Searchable List] – “TIME’s annual list of the world’s most influential people is a designation of individuals whose time, in our estimation, is happening right now.” Thoughts about each individual on the list are written by a wide range of iconic individuals who likewise have been pioneers in their respective profession, as well as active and engaged pioneers in change in American society over many decades. Each written bio is also accompanied by a video and photo.

Categories: Law and Legal

Fortune – The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders

The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders – “Though it seems unlikely, Tim Cook and Indira Jaising have something in common besides membership in Fortune’s 2018 ranking of the World’s Greatest Leaders. Cook (No. 14) is the wealthy CEO of Apple, the most valuable publicly traded company on earth; Jaising (No. 20) is an Indian lawyer who cofounded an NGO called Lawyers Collective, which promotes human rights issues. Yet they share this trait: Both have multiplied their organizations’ effectiveness by harnessing the power of unbundling. Following their example is a new imperative for the best leaders. Unbundling means disaggregating enterprises of all kinds, from the smallest startups to entire nations. In business it can mean making a company more valuable by splitting it up, as Hewlett-Packard did and other companies (Honeywell, Pentair, DowDuPont) are doing. Or it can mean increasing value by delegating functions once regarded as necessary parts of the whole; Apple’s outsourcing of complex, high-tech manufacturing, and the staggering capital requirements that go with it, is a dramatic example. Technology makes unbundling possible and often inevitable. For centuries, greater size made companies, nations, and other enterprises more efficient and effective. Increasingly, it doesn’t. Outsourcing and coordinating manufacturing, distribution, research, and nonemployee workers becomes easy and cheap in the digital era. The most extreme example is the Chinese appliance maker Haier, which is not so much a company as a platform that invites entrepreneurs to become one of thousands of microenterprises within its ecosystem. Crazy? Definitely not. Using this radically unbundled model, Haier has become the world’s largest appliance brand…This year’s list puts an emphasis on leaders who are navigating this challenge deftly. (That has meant sidelining some perennially worthy figures, from Pope Francis to Jeff Bezos; to see past years’ lists, visit Fortune.com.) At companies, one solution is to evaluate leaders on wealth creation rather than size as conventionally measured. Leaders of mission-driven nonprofits may face fewer disincentives. Indira Jaising’s little NGO punches far above its weight because it can outsource staff and infrastructure; the Internet lets it communicate widely at low cost and enables volunteers to pitch in from around the world…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Chart on Admissibility of Electronic Evidence

Craig Ball posted a well documented chart, Admissibility of Electronic Evidence, authored by U.S. District Judge Paul Grimm and attorney Kevin Brady. Thanks to all for sharing!

Categories: Law and Legal

Foreign Affairs – Is Democracy Dying?

Comment May/June 2018 Issue – By Gideon Rose: “Centralization of power in the executive, politicization of the judiciary, attacks on independent media, the use of public office for private gain—the signs of democratic regression are well known. The only surprising thing is where they’ve turned up. As a Latin American friend put it ruefully, “We’ve seen this movie before, just never in English.” The United States has turned out to be less exceptional than many thought. Clearly, it can happen here; the question now is whether it will. To find an answer, the articles in this issue’s lead package zoom out, putting the country’s current troubles into historical and international perspective.  Some say that global democracy is experiencing its worst setback since the 1930s and that it will continue to retreat unless rich countries find ways to reduce inequality and manage the information revolution. Those are the optimists. Pessimists fear the game is already over, that democratic dominance has ended for good. To counsel against despair, Walter Russell Mead uses history, and Ronald Inglehart uses theory. Democracies in general, and American democracy in particular, have proved remarkably resilient over time. They have faced great challenges, but they have also found ways of rising to those challenges and renewing themselves. There is no reason they can’t do so once again—if they can somehow get their act together…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Majority of US teens fear a shooting could happen at their school – most parents share their concern

“In the aftermath of the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, a majority of American teens say they are very or somewhat worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school – and most parents of teens share that concern, according to new Pew Research Center surveys of teens ages 13 to 17 and parents with children in the same age range. Meanwhile, when it comes to what can be done to prevent this kind of violence, far more teens view proposals focused on mental illness, assault-style weapon bans and the use of metal detectors in schools as potentially effective than say the same about allowing teachers and school officials to carry guns in schools. The surveys of teens and parents were conducted in March and April 2018, following the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School – one of the deadliest mass school shootings in U.S. history. Seventeen people were killed in the attack and more than a dozen others were injured. The surveys also come as the nation prepares to mark the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. Overall, 57% of teens say they are worried about the possibility of a shooting happening at their school, with one-in-four saying they are very worried. About three-in-ten (29%) say they are not too worried about this, and just 13% say they are not at all worried. Nonwhite teens express a higher level of concern than their white peers. Roughly two-thirds (64%) of nonwhite teens, including 73% of Hispanics, say they are at least somewhat worried about this, compared with 51% of white teens. School shooting fears differ by gender as well: 64% of girls say they are very or somewhat worried about a shooting happening at their school, compared with 51% of boys…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Linkedin – The Skills Companies Need Most in 2018 – And The Courses to Get Them

Linkedin Learning Blog: “Whenever there is change, there is opportunity. With report after report showing the world of work changing faster than ever today, it’s fair to assume there’s more opportunity than ever. The challenge? It isn’t easy to know where that opportunity exists. If only some organization with the resources necessary to answer that question could release a roadmap… Well, consider this is your roadmap. Using a combination of LinkedIn data and survey results, we determined both the soft and the hard skills companies need most. And then we provided LinkedIn Learning courses that teach those skills, which we’ve made free for all of January 2018…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Visualizing the US congress – updated April 2018

Vicky Chuqiao Yang, Northwestern University: “This is a interactive visualization I made of the congress members’ ideology positions, reduced to 2 dimensions, using the DW-NOMINATE method. This visualiztaion is developed as part of the IDEAS Focus Summer School on Data Visualization at Northwestern University. How to use this visulaization:

  • Each circle represents a congress member
  • The colors represent party membership
  • Hover mouse over a circle to see name and state of the congress member.
  • Use the slider bar to scroll over years…” [h/t Anne Zald]
Categories: Law and Legal

Evidence for declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change

Evidence for declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change. Ecology Letters, (2018) 21: 243–252 doi: 10.1111/ele.12889

“Forest resilience to climate change is a global concern given the potential effects of increased disturbance activity, warming temperatures and increased moisture stress on plants. We used a multi-regional dataset of 1485 sites across 52 wildfires from the US Rocky Mountains to ask if and how changing climate over the last several decades impacted post-fire tree regeneration, a key indicator of forest resilience. Results highlight significant decreases in tree regeneration in the 21st century. Annual moisture deficits were significantly greater from 2000 to 2015 as compared to 1985–1999, suggesting increasingly unfavourable post-fire growing conditions, corresponding to significantly lower seedling densities and increased regeneration failure. Dry forests that already occur at the edge of their climatic tolerance are most prone to conversion to non-forests after wildfires. Major climate-induced reduction in forest density and extent has important consequences for a myriad of ecosystem services now and in the future.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Boulder, Colorado latest city to sue Big Oil over climate change

Grist: “Remember those lawsuits California and New York filed against major oil producers for knowingly heating up the planet? Two counties in Colorado just teamed up with the city of Boulder to file a similar lawsuit of their own. The complaint alleges that oil companies contributed greenhouse gases to the atmosphere for decades while knowing the consequences. Boulder, Boulder County, and San Miguel County are taking ExxonMobil and Suncor Energy (Canada’s biggest oil company) to court in an effort to hold them accountable for damages caused by extreme weather — events scientists have linked to increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Colorado has seen a 2 degree F increase on average over the past 30 years, making it the 20th fastest warming state in the U.S. since 1970…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Verge – Google’s AI experiments let you talk to books and test word association skills

Google’s work in natural language understanding is getting better all the time – “Google today announced a pair of new artificial intelligence experiments from its research division that let web users dabble in semantics and natural language processing. For Google, a company that’s primary product is a search engine that traffics mostly in text, these advances in AI are integral to its business and to its goals of making software that can understand and parse elements of human language. The website will now house any interactive AI language tools, and Google is calling the collection Semantic Experiences. The primary sub-field of AI it’s showcasing is known as word vectors, a type of natural language understanding that maps “semantically similar phrases to nearby points based on equivalence, similarity or relatedness of ideas and language.” It’s a way to “enable algorithms to learn about the relationships between words, based on examples of actual language usage,” says Ray Kurzweil, notable futurist and director of engineering at Google Research, and product manager Rachel Bernstein in a blog post. Google has published its work on the topic in a paper here, and it’s also made a pre-trained module available on its TensorFlow platform for other researchers to experiment with.”

Categories: Law and Legal

World Economic Outlook, April 2018 Cyclical Upswing, Structural Change

World Bank: “The global economic upswing that began around mid-2016 has become broader and stronger. This new World Economic Outlook report projects that advanced economies as a group will continue to expand above their potential growth rates this year and next before decelerating, while growth in emerging market and developing economies will rise before leveling off. For most countries, current favorable growth rates will not last. Policymakers should seize this opportunity to bolster growth, make it more durable, and equip their governments better to counter the next downturn.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing Multiple Federal Agencies 2018

CIGIE Releases First-Ever Report on the Top Management and Performance Challenges Facing Multiple Federal Agencies: “Today, the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE) released its first-ever report of the top management and performance challenges facing multiple federal agencies. For nearly 20 years, individual Inspectors General have created management challenges reports identifying the most critical, systemic problems facing the agencies they oversee. Today’s report marks the first time that the Inspectors General, through CIGIE, have examined these reports from across the federal government to identify and analyze challenges that are common to their agencies. The report identifies the 7 challenges that were the most frequently reported in management challenges reports created by individual federal Offices of Inspector General in 2017. The complete PDF text of the report is here. Those 7 challenges are:

  • Information Technology Security and Management
  • Performance Management and Accountability
  • Human Capital Management
  • Financial Management
  • Procurement Management
  • Facilities Maintenance
  • Grant Management”
Categories: Law and Legal

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