Law and Legal

Ted Chiang Explains the Disaster Novel We All Suddenly Live In

Electric Lit Interview – The esteemed science fiction author on how we may never go “back to normal”—and why that might be a good thing – “…Halimah Marcus: This pandemic isn’t science fiction, but it does feel like a dystopia. How can we understand the coronavirus as a cautionary tale? How can we combat our own personal inclinations toward the good/evil narrative, and the subsequent expectation that everything will return to normal? – Ted Chiang: We need to be specific about what we mean when we talk about things returning to normal. We all want not to be quarantined, to be able to go to work and socialize and travel. But we don’t want everything to go back to business as usual, because business as usual is what led us to this crisis. COVID-19 has demonstrated how much we need federally mandated paid sick leave and universal health care, so we don’t want to return to a status quo that lacks those things. The current administration’s response ought to serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of electing demagogues instead of real leaders, although there’s no guarantee that voters will heed it. We’re at a point where things could go in some very different ways, depending on what we learn from this experience…”

See also Smithsonian Magazine – How Epidemics of the Past Changed the Way Americans Lived – Past public health crises inspired innovations in infrastructure, education, fundraising and civic debate

Categories: Law and Legal

International Treasure Dolly Parton Will Now Read Us Bedtime Stories

Nashville Scene – The superstar’s Goodnight With Dolly video series is exactly what we need right now  – “It’s no small thing to find comfort and solace in a time of widespread panic. Most of us have never experienced a global pandemic of this scale in our lifetimes. As we responsibly limit our interactions with others by sheltering in place, it’s easy to feel isolated, lonely and afraid. Dolly Parton isn’t giving up on us. The Tennessean who gave us “Jolene,” who gave us “I Will Always Love You,” who is one-third of the glorious feminist comedy 9 to 5, who sends books to 850,000 children per month — the heroic angel Dolly Parton will read us bedtime stories when we need them most.  The legend will kick off a 10-book video series at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 2, with The Little Engine That Could, and will continue weekly with other titles from Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Open Access to ACM Digital Library During Coronavirus Pandemic

March 30, 2020 – “Dear ACM Members: As the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic continues, we at ACM would like to do what we can to help support the computing community. Many computing researchers and practitioners are now working remotely. In addition, teaching and learning have also moved online as more and more campuses close. We believe that ACM can help support research, discovery and learning during this time of crisis by opening the ACM Digital Library to all. For the next three months, there will be no fees assessed for accessing or downloading work published by ACM. We hope this will help researchers, practitioners and students maintain access to our publications as well as increasing visibility and awareness of ACM’s journals, proceedings and magazines. Please be sure to inform your colleagues that the ACM DL is now open, and will continue that way through June 30, 2020. This global health crisis is a unique challenge that has impacted many ACM members. We would like to express our concern and support for all who are affected by this outbreak.”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYSDEC Clarifies Requirements for Execution and Submission of BCP Agreements and Amendments

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”)  has received numerous inquiries about issues arising with the execution of Brownfield Cleanup Program (“BCP”) agreements and amendments  because of the Covid19 pandemic. In response, the NYSDEC has issued the following guidance:

  • The DYSDEC will grant reasonable extensions of time for the execution of Brownfield Cleanup Agreements (BCA) and BCA Amendments on a case-by-case basis.  Requests for extensions should be made to the appropriate Project Manager/Project Attorney.
  • For pending amendments reflecting the transition from Generation 2 to Generation 3 of the program, the agency has granted an extension until June 1, 2020 for the submission of the executed amendment.
  • The NYSDEC is not prepared to dispense with the notary requirement at this time but is currently investigating alternatives.  If applicants encounter issues related to obtaining a notarization, the applicant should contact  Jennifer Andaloro, Esq., Section Chief, OGC Remediation Bureau at
  • The Department will accept electronically signed agreements and amendments during the COVID-19 State of Emergency and will reassess its policy of requiring original/hard copies thereafter.
  • As discussed in a previous Post , the NYSDEC has developed guidance interpreting what constitutes essential construction activities under Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.6 for the Brownfield, Superfund and Spill Response programs.


The post NYSDEC Clarifies Requirements for Execution and Submission of BCP Agreements and Amendments appeared first on Schnapf Environmental Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

NYSDEC Issues Further Guidance on Essential Activities For Brownfield Projects

In a prior post, we discussed a letter NYSDEC issued to staff and standby contrators interpreting Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 202.6 (EO) and the Empire State Development Corporation Guidance on shutdown of all non-essential services and activities.

DEC has now posted further clarification on its  website that it considers the following activities as essential services:

  • Remedial construction activities, including new construction starts, at sites that DEC has determined pose a significant threat to public health and/or the environment, including Class 2 sites on the Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites and significant threat sites in the Brownfield Cleanup Program,
  • Completion of remedial construction already under way at non-significant threat sites as necessary to ensure site safety and prevent exposure to site contaminants, including completion of site cover systems,
  • Operation and maintenance activities for active remedial systems that are necessary for the continued protection of human health and the environment,
  • Interim remedial measures to address imminent human exposures and/or threat of significant contaminant migration,
  • Spill response actions,
  • Investigation, including pre-design investigations, of petroleum and hazardous waste releases as determined by DEC on a case-by-case basis to be necessary to address potential human exposures and/or threat of significant contaminant migration

The NYSDEC cautioned that these criteria are subject to change and refinement as the response to the Covid-19 pandemic is fluid. Essential work must continue to comply with the guidance and directives for maintaining a clean and safe work environment issued by the Department of Health and every business, even if essential, must maintain social distance to the extent possible.


The post NYSDEC Issues Further Guidance on Essential Activities For Brownfield Projects appeared first on Schnapf Environmental Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

NYC ICU Doctor Identified COVID Protection Protocols – Listen and Learn How to Protect Yourself

“Dr. David Price of Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City shares information in a Mar. 22 Zoom call with family and friends on empowering and protecting families during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYSDEC Will Exercise Enforcement For Signature Procedures for Certain Waste Streams

To prevent spread of COVID-19, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) will exercise its enforcement discretion with respect to certain provisions of 6 NYCRR Parts 364,372,374-2, and 381. According to a Letter issued by the NYSDEC Office of General Counsel, the agency will not pursue enforcement of requirements for signatures on waste shipping documents. lf a waste shipment is being sent to, or is being received from, a state other than New York, the regulated party should contact the other state regulator to ensure compliance with that state’s requirements.

For hazardous waste shipments, affected parties shall use hybrid and electronic hazardous waste manifests, whenever those options are available to all parties listed on the manifest. If this option is not available to all parties listed on the manifest so that a paper-based hazardous waste manifest must be used, all affected parties must follow the specified procedure from Appendix 30 of 6 NYCRR Part 372 for a transporter signing “on behalf of’ a generator for a hazardous waste shipment.

For Non-Hazardous Waste and Used Oil Shipments, the following procedure must be followed:

  • The driver picking up the waste must print the name of the generator in the Generator Name box.
  • The driver must write “on behalf of in the Generator Signature box and then sign the driver’s name in the appropriate space.
  • lf there is only a Generator Signature box on the waste shipping document, the driver must write “on behalf of’, print the generator’s name, and then sign the driver’s name in that box.

For Low-Level Radioactive Waste Shipments, all affected parties shall follow the specified procedure in 6 NYCRR 381.12for a transporter signing “on behalf of’ a generator for a low-level radioactive waste shipment.

The post NYSDEC Will Exercise Enforcement For Signature Procedures for Certain Waste Streams appeared first on Schnapf Environmental Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

NYSDEC Exercising Enforcement For Bottle Redemptions

Pursuant to Empire State Development Corporation’s  Guidance on Executive Order 202.6, “trash and recycling collection, processing and disposal services” are considered essential business or entities that are not required to reduce in-person workforce by 100%.  The exclusion includes collection, transportation, processing and disposal activities for any solid wastes, regulated medical waste, hazardous wastes, radioactive wastes and other associated waste categories. This also includes all recyclables including redemption of bottle bill containers.

The NYSDEC has Announced that it will not actively enforce violations at facilities unable to fulfill bottle bill redemption operations due to resource restrictions during the ongoing COVID-19 response efforts.

The agency said it recognizes that unintended consequences of the COVID-19 response may make full compliance with requirements challenging for certain facilities and may result in temporary disruptions to required redemption operations.

Redemption of containers is considered an essential service and NYSDEC said that redemption centers should implement appropriate social distancing practices whenever and wherever possible.

The post NYSDEC Exercising Enforcement For Bottle Redemptions appeared first on Schnapf Environmental Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft Edge is becoming the browser you didn’t know you needed

Ars Technica – Edge – Collections, vertical tabs, and immersive reader are particularly compelling: “It’s no secret that we’ve been enthusiastic about Microsoft’s new, Chromium-based Edge browser for a while now. But that enthusiasm has mostly been limited to “a default Windows browser that doesn’t suck,” rather than being for any particularly compelling set of features the new Edge brings to the browser ecosystem. In a folksy announcement this week, Microsoft politely declared its determination to step up our expectations from “doesn’t suck” to somewhere on the level of “oh, wow.” Microsoft Corporate VP Liat Ben-Zur spent plenty of time enthusing about the way the new features are, apparently, already changing her life…The Collections button lives in the browser toolbar and looks like a pair of folders with a plus icon on them. When you click it, a right sidebar slides open, containing a list of any Collections you’ve already made. Clicking any collection brings it into focus, showing you a list of sites, with clear titles and thumbnails present. Site order in the collection can be managed by simply dragging and dropping, and an Add note button at the top allows you to insert rich text formatted note blocks as well. Although Collections aren’t yet generally available in the normal version of Edge, you can find them in both the Dev and Canary channels of Edge Insider…”

Categories: Law and Legal

6 tips to use fewer paper towels at home

CNET – Paper towels are in high demand and low stock these days. These smart ideas help you stretch your supply or avoid using it altogether. “Now that you’re staying home as part of your state’s lockdown, quarantine or shelter in place efforts, you might be using paper towels at an unprecedented rate. It just so happens that these common household items — along with toilet paper, Clorox wipes and hand sanitizer — are in short supply. (Here are alternative stores to buy electronics and other goods.) If you don’t want to fret about when you store will restock (some do offer alerts), it might be time to change your habits. There are easy ways to ration your existing paper towel supply, and other, more readily available items, that you can use instead of reaching for the kitchen roll. You might even find that these new techniques save you money over time. Read on for more tips to cut down your paper towel usage and let us know about any of your additional suggestions in the comments…”

Categories: Law and Legal

LC Coronavirus Resource Guide

In Custodia Legis – “Update: As promised, we are updating this guide today, March 27, 2020, with links to additional legislation (H.R.748), presidential actions, CRS reports, U.S. and state government resources and Law Library Global Legal Monitor Articles.  The updates have (new) at end of the entry so the added content is easy to identify. This is intended as a guide to laws, regulations and executive actions in the United States, at both the federal and the state level, and in various countries with respect to the new coronavirus and its spread. We are also including links to Congressional Research Service (CRS) reports that provide information to Congress about the novel coronavirus. In addition, we provide links to relevant federal agency websites. We intend to update this guide on at least a weekly basis for the immediate future…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Legal Issues Related to the COVID-19 Outbreak and Overview

CRS Legal Sidebar Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress – Legal Issues Related to the COVID-19 Outbreak: An Overview Updated March 30, 2020: “The COVID-19 outbreak has rapidly shifted the congressional agenda in recent weeks, while altering the daily lives of millions of American residents. Alongside the many medical, economic, social, and public policy questions raised by the pandemic are a range of legal issues. These include both short-term legal questions related to the unfolding outbreak as well as longer-term legal issues that are anticipated to persist in the wake of the crisis. Among the most immediate questions are those related to the scope of state and federal authorities concerning quarantine measures, travel and entry restrictions, the movement of medical goods, health care coverage, and the like. Of more ongoing concern may be legal issues ranging from those related to the development of vaccines, testing, treatments, and other medical countermeasures, to postponing national elections, to civil liability for COVID-19 exposure, to criminal actions related to hoarding and price gouging, to providing economic assistance to individuals and businesses,to foreclosure, eviction, and debt collection moratoria.This Legal Sidebar provides a list of legal resources discussing these and other legal topics related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be updated intermittently as additional legal issues emerge…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Courts and COVID 19

CRS Legal Sidebar Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress – The Courts and COVID-19 March 30, 2020: “The spread of the respiratory disease COVID-19 has prompted far-reaching responses affecting many areas of American life. As Americans strive to practice social distancing to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the disease, the United States federal courts have implemented various measures designed to protect litigants, jurors, court personnel, and members of the public, and to reduce the obstacles to litigation arising from the pandemic.As this Sidebar discusses in more detail,the courts generally possess significant discretion to modify their procedures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are some areas where further changes would require congressional action…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Zoom vs. Google Hangouts: Which video chat service is right for you?

tom’s guide – Deciding between Zoom and Google Hangouts is a game of figuring out your priorities. “Comparing Zoom vs Google Hangouts comes down to your priorities and needs for communication. They’re both video chat clients that have been widely popular for a while, and can both be found on a variety of platforms. And as we all spend more and more time apart, these services have become all the more important, and so we’ve looked closely at both Zoom and Google Hangouts to see how they differ. Surprisingly, they’ve got big differences on a couple of key features…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Zoom Meetings Aren’t End-to-End Encrypted, Despite Misleading Marketing

The Intercept: “Zoom, the video conferencing service whose use has spiked amid the Covid-19 pandemic, claims to implement end-to-end encryption, widely understood as the most private form of internet communication, protecting conversations from all outside parties. In fact, Zoom is using its own definition of the term, one that lets Zoom itself access unencrypted video and audio from meetings. With millions of people around the world working from home in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, business is booming for Zoom, bringing more attention on the company and its privacy practices, including a policy, later updated, that seemed to give the company permission to mine messages and files shared during meetings for the purpose of ad targeting. Still, Zoom offers reliability, ease of use, and at least one very important security assurance: As long as you make sure everyone in a Zoom meeting connects using “computer audio” instead of calling in on a phone, the meeting is secured with end-to-end encryption, at least according to Zoom’s website, its security white paper, and the user interface within the app. But despite this misleading marketing, the service actually does not support end-to-end encryption for video and audio content, at least as the term is commonly understood. Instead it offers what is usually called transport encryption, explained further below…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How long does the coronavirus live on surfaces?

USA Today – Coronavirus can survive on common materials for hours or even days. Here’s what you need to know and how to protect yourself. “Tiny, infected water droplets that drift in the air or land on surfaces have multiplied into a global pandemic.  Typically, an infected person’s cough or sneeze spreads SARS-CoV-2 – the coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19, a highly contagious respiratory illness. To slow the rising number of infections – tens of thousands of Americans have been infected since Jan. 20 – researchers are looking for the coronavirus’ limits. Just how long can it last outside the human body? According to the New England Journal of Medicine, here’s how long the virus could live on a variety of surfaces.  The report also noted the half-life, or rate of decay, of the virus on various materials. That’s the time it took for half of the virus sample to die. The decay rate is important because though the virus may linger on surfaces for days, people are less likely to become infected as the virus dies…” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

Commentary – Maybe we shouldn’t use Zoom after all

FBI warns Zoom, teleconference meetings vulnerable to hijacking: “…The FBI has received multiple reports of conferences being disrupted by pornographic and/or hate images and threatening language,” the FBI cautioned. “As individuals continue the transition to online lessons and meetings, the FBI recommends exercising due diligence and caution in your cybersecurity prevent against unwanted participants joining Zoom or other video teleconferencing meetings, the FBI advises users to not make Zoom meetings or classrooms public. Instead, users should require a meeting password, or use the Zoom waiting room to control who has access to particular meetings. The bureau also recommends not sharing links on public social media posts, and instead providing links directly to intended participants…”

TechCrunch: “Now that we’re all stuck at home thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, video calls have gone from a novelty to a necessity. Zoom, the popular videoconferencing service, seems to be doing better than most and has quickly become one of, if not the most, popular option going. But should it be? Zoom’s recent popularity has also shone a spotlight on the company’s security protections and privacy promises. Just today, The Intercept reported that Zoom video calls are not end-to-end encrypted, despite the company’s claims that they are. And Motherboard reports that Zoom is leaking the email addresses of “at least a few thousand” people because personal addresses are treated as if they belong to the same company. It’s the latest examples of the company having to spend the last year mopping up after a barrage of headlines examining the company’s practices and misleading marketing. To wit:

  • Apple was forced to step in to secure millions of Macs after a security researcher found Zoom failed to disclose that it installed a secret web server on users’ Macs, which Zoom failed to remove when the client was uninstalled. The researcher, Jonathan Leitschuh, said the web server meant any malicious website could activate Mac webcam with Zoom installed without the user’s permission. The researcher declined a bug bounty payout because Zoom wanted Leitschuh to sign a non-disclosure agreement, which would have prevented him from disclosing details of the bug….”
Categories: Law and Legal

Preliminary Estimates of Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019

Preliminary Estimates of the Prevalence of Selected Underlying Health Conditions Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 — United States, February 12–March 28, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. ePub: 31 March 2020.

  • Summary – What is already known about this topic? – Published reports from China and Italy suggest that risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease include underlying health conditions, but data describing underlying health conditions among U.S. COVID-19 patients have not yet been reported.
  • What is added by this report? – Based on preliminary U.S. data, persons with underlying health conditions such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung disease, and cardiovascular disease, appear to be at higher risk for severe COVID-19–associated disease than persons without these conditions.
  • What are the implications for public health practice? – Strategies to protect all persons and especially those with underlying health conditions, including social distancing and handwashing, should be implemented by all communities and all persons to help slow the spread of COVID-19…”
  • Washington Post – Why older and chronically ill Americans are at greatest risk from coronavirus
Categories: Law and Legal

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—Tax Relief for Individuals and Businesses March 20, 2020 – March 31, 2020 R46279 – “Congress is considering a number of proposals that seek to mitigate the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. One such proposal, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (S. 3548), was introduced in the Senate on March 19, 2020. On March 22, 2020, an updated version of the CARES Act was circulated, as a proposed amendment to H.R. 748. A cloture vote on a motion to proceed, which was designed to allow consideration of the CARES Act, was rejected on March 22. A third version of the CARES Act was released on March 25, 2020. On March 25, the Senate voted 96-0 to pass H.R. 748, having previously amended it with the CARES Act. Tax relief for individuals and businesses in the CARES Act includes:

  • a one-time rebate to taxpayers;
  • modification of the tax treatment of certain retirement fund withdrawals and charitable contributions;
  • a delay of employer payroll taxes and taxes paid by certain corporations; and
  • other changes to the tax treatment of business income and net operating losses.

This is the latest in a series of legislative packages addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Two bills have already been enacted into law: the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020 (P.L. 116-123) and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (P.L. 116-127). On March 23, 2020, an alternative to the CARES Act, the Take Responsibility for Workers and Families Act (H.R. 6379), was introduced in the House.

Categories: Law and Legal


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