Law and Legal
IRS Tax Estimator: “The IRS encourages everyone to use the Tax Withholding Estimator to perform a quick “paycheck checkup.” This is even more important following the recent changes to the tax law for 2018 and beyond. The Estimator helps you identify your tax withholding to make sure you have the right amount of tax withheld from your paycheck at work. There are several reasons to check your withholding:
- Checking your withholding can help protect against having too little tax withheld and facing an unexpected tax bill or penalty at tax time next year.
- At the same time, with the average refund topping $2,800, you may prefer to have less tax withheld up front and receive more in your paychecks.
If you are an employee, the Tax Withholding Estimator helps you determine whether you need to give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate (PDF). You can use your results from the Estimator to help fill out the form and adjust your income tax withholding. If you receive pension income, you can use the results from the estimator to complete a Form W-4P (PDF) and give it to your payer…”
Life Hacker – “When your wifi is bad, you know it—oh, do you know it. And getting it working well again isn’t always as simple as unplugging and replugging your router, one of our favorite troubleshooting techniques for all things technological. You don’t have to memorize every setting in your router to set up a killer wireless network at home, but there are quite a few things you’ll want to know about wifi in order to get the best possible performance on your many devices. To help you out, we’ve put together a special page—Lifehacker’s Complete Guide to Wifi—that you can bookmark and refer to whenever you’re messing around with your wifi (or find that your connection feels slower, but you have no idea why)…”
ars technica – Parsing email headers needs care and knowledge—but it requires no special tools: “I pretty frequently get requests for help from someone who has been impersonated—or whose child has been impersonated—via email. Even when you know how to “view headers” or “view source” in your email client, the spew of diagnostic wharrgarbl can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re looking at. Today, we’re going to step through a real-world set of (anonymized) email headers and describe the process of figuring out what’s what. Before we get started with the actual headers, though, we’re going to take a quick detour through an overview of what the overall path of an email message looks like in the first place. (More experienced sysadmin types who already know what stuff like “MTA” and “SPF” stand for can skip a bit ahead to the fun part!)…”
FastCompany: “For just over a year, Google’s hardware design team has been working inside a new, highly classified design studio. Only a small fraction of Google’s employees are allowed inside this beautiful, birchwood-framed space—a team of around 150, who are hard at work designing the next Pixel phones, Google Home assistants, and all sorts of other things the public (and Google’s competitors) haven’t seen yet. As you can read in our exclusive first visit here, the Design Lab has areas devoted to every aspect of the design process, from precise color evaluation to a materials library that allows team members to handle over 1,000 material swatches. As this dedicated design lab was being developed, Google vice president and head of hardware design Ivy Ross also had another request for the design team: a library, with actual paper books that her designers could grab and read. Each designer was asked to bring in six of the most influential books in their lives, and write a line inside the cover about it. Some are rare art and design tomes. Others are children’s storybooks and pieces of literature. We asked Google to share a small selection of the library’s offerings with us. Think of it as your summer reading list, presented in no particular order, compliments of Google’s hardware design team…”
Forbes – Kalev Leetaru: “Computer science curriculums have long emphasized the power of data, encouraging its harvesting and hoarding, pioneering new ways of mining and manipulating users through it, reinforcing it as the path to riches in the modern economy and proselytizing the idea of data being able to solve all of society’s ills. In contrast, library and information science curriculums have historically emphasized privacy, civil liberties and community impact, blending discussion of public data management with private data minimization. Tomorrow’s future technology leaders could learn much from their library-minded colleagues. As a young computer science student at what was then the #4-ranked computer science program in the nation (today #5), my coursework was filled with all manner of practice and theory on how to acquire, manage and mine the world’s largest datasets. The focus was on capability, of what “could” be done with data, rather than what “should” be done with data. The idea that a technical achievement should be avoided because it might harm society was never even whispered. The idea that data should be minimized to protect privacy was not even a concept. Secure systems design emphasized how to safeguard data from unauthorized access, but never the concept of how to safeguard the users whose data that was from harm. Never once was the concept of an Institutional Review Board or the concept of assessing the societal harm of research ever presented, even while security and architectural review boards were a topic of regular discussion…”
StreetsBlogNYC – The city’s $8-an-hour fees, residential permits, and limits to car ownership made it the world’s cycling capital. Is New York brave enough to try it? – “Reminder: Amsterdam wasn’t Amsterdam until it was Amsterdam. The famed “bike capital” of the world was once as congested and car-choked as the worst Western cities. So how did it became so renowned for its livability and sustainability? The simple answer: by narrowing roads and ending free parking. It’s not rocket science: The city’s technical solutions for overcoming car dominance can be applied to any city — that’s one lesson I teach many American university students who come here to study sustainable transportation. The harder part is how.
…It wasn’t until the 1980s that a perfect storm of events — strong advocacy, violent citizen protests, and an oil embargo — forced Amsterdam planners and politicians to advance an agile, car-reduction policy. For example, an intensive, neighborhood-based traffic-calming plan was implemented. The city also built out sidewalks and narrowed residential streets to tight, one-way lanes with humps, keeping speeds at 19 mph or slower…”
Atlas Obscura – The artisans of Aleppo keep plying their ancient trade, one bar at a time: “The Syrian Civil War has been raging for eight years now. In that time it has decimated the ancient tradition of soap-making in Aleppo. Nearly the entire industry’s workforce was forced to flee when the fighting started—some to other cities, some to new countries altogether. Today, though the war rages on in parts of Syria, government forces have mostly regained control of Aleppo, and the city is slowly coming back to life—and going back to work. That includes some of Aleppo’s traditional soap-makers, who are renovating their workshops and reviving production. With help from government organizations and charitable funds, the soap is again becoming a popular and profitable Syrian export. Aleppo soap, known as ghar in Arabic, or Savon d’Alep, is revered by aficionados around the world. Many historians consider it to be the world’s first modern soap bar—solid, rectangular, and used for bathing and personal hygiene. Made by hand, it contains just three ingredients: olive oil, laurel oil, and a tincture of lye. It has no animal fats or derivatives, no harmful chemicals or artificial colors. The result? An intensely moisturizing and delicate balsam widely used by those with sensitive skin, including small babies and those who suffer from eczema, psoriasis, and acne…”
Educopia Institute -“This report [Mapping the Scholarly Communication Landscape – 2019 Census] documents the design, methods, results, and recommendations of the 2019 Census of Scholarly Communication Infrastructure Providers (SCIP), a Census produced by the “Mapping the Scholarly Communication Infrastructure” project team (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Middlebury College, 2018-19). The SCIP Census was created to document key components comprising the organizational, business, and technical apparatuses of a broad range of Scholarly Communication Resources (SCRs) – the tools, services, and systems that are instrumental to the publishing and distribution of the scholarly record.
Using Community Cultivation – A Field Guide (Educopia, 2018) as a framework, we designed a Conceptual Model detailing the impact and outcomes the SCIP Census would address. We then produced and tested a survey instrument with 123 questions that delves into an SCR’s mission, vision, and scoping; technical development and design; administrative and financial scaffolding; community engagement activities; and governance model. The instrument took between 1-3.5 hours for each SCR respondent to complete; variability in time was largely based on the structure, complexity, and availability of an SCR’s organizational, fiscal, and technical information. We conducted the Census through direct invitations, contacting just over 200 identified scholarly communication resource providers by email to participate. The Census remained open for a condensed, month-long collection period (February 18-March 22, 2019). More than 60 SCRs responded to us during this period, and more than 40 tools, services, and platforms ultimately participated in the Census…
Outside – The Trump administration is trying to remove public input from Forest Service decision-making – “The Trump administration is quietly trying to strip public input from the decision-making process used by the U.S. Forest Service. Doing so would mean that logging companies could clear-cut at many as 4,200 acres at a time, and you wouldn’t know about it until you turned up at your favorite spot to find it decimated. But you have one last chance to stop that from happening.
“This is a speak-now-or-forever-lose-your-ability-to-have-input situation,” says Sam Evans, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). The organization has put together an easy tool that will enable you to participate in what’s potentially the last public-comment period about the vast majority of decisions affecting national forests. If the public doesn’t speak up now and stop this proposed logging rule from going forward, it won’t have a chance to weigh in when logging, roads, or even pipelines threaten the lands where they recreate. Way back in 1969, Richard Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires all federal agencies to begin considering the environmental impacts of any projects they undertake. Part of that is a requirement to solicit public input and look for less impactful alternatives. NEPA is one of the mechanisms that makes federal management of public lands so much more robust and democratic than state management. Everyone with a stake in national-forest management, including local users, has a right to comment. And the agency is supposed to be accountable to those people…”
The New York Times – “When the most consequential law governing speech on the internet was created in 1996, Google.com didn’t exist and Mark Zuckerberg was 11 years old. The federal law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, has helped Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and countless other internet companies flourish. But Section 230’s liability protection also extends to fringe sites known for hosting hate speech, anti-Semitic content and racist tropes like 8chan, the internet message board where the suspect in the El Paso shooting massacre posted his manifesto. The First Amendment protects free speech, including hate speech, but Section 230 shields websites from liability for content created by their users. It permits internet companies to moderate their sites without being on the hook legally for everything they host. It does not provide blanket protection from legal responsibility for some criminal acts, like posting child pornography or violations of intellectual property. Now, as scrutiny of big technology companies has intensified in Washington over a wide variety of issues, including how they handle the spread of disinformation or police hate speech, lawmakers are questioning whether Section 230 should be changed…”
PoliticoPro Blog [free]: To receive federal funding, federal agencies must begin developing their budgets 18 months ahead of the next fiscal year. They must also monitor the progress of their requests as they are pushed and pulled through the White House, House of Representatives and Senate. The federal budget process: step-by-step – Download the entire infographic here.
- Step 1: Agencies and Office of Management and Budget begin working on future budgets. The process begins in the executive branch of government and sets fiscal policy, proposing how much should be spent on public programs and how much revenue should be generated through taxes, and how much deficit or surplus should be tolerated.
- Step 2: President sends a proposed budget to Congress the first Monday in February. While this deadline is never missed, several other deadlines throughout the budget process timeline are often missed. There is no penalty for missing a federal budget deadline…”
Washington Post – “The places change, the numbers change, but the choice of weapon remains the same. In the United States, people who want to kill a lot of other people most often do it with guns. Public mass shootings account for a tiny fraction of the country’s gun deaths, but they are uniquely terrifying because they occur without warning in the most mundane places. Most of the victims are chosen not for what they have done but simply for where they happen to be. There is no universally accepted definition of a public mass shooting, and this piece defines it narrowly. It looks at the 165 shootings in which four or more people were killed by a lone shooter (two shooters in a few cases). It does not include shootings tied to gang disputes or robberies that went awry, and it does not include domestic shootings that took place exclusively in private homes. A broader definition would yield much higher numbers…
…This tally begins Aug. 1, 1966, when a student sniper fired down on passersby from the observation deck of a clock tower at the University of Texas. By the time police killed him, 17 other people were dead or dying. As Texas Monthly’s Pamela Colloff wrote, the shooting “ushered in the notion that any group of people, anywhere — even walking around a university campus on a summer day — could be killed at random by a stranger.”
Pew – More Americans have confidence in scientists, but there are political divides over the role of scientific experts in policy issues – “In an era when science and politics often appear to collide, public confidence in scientists is on the upswing, and six-in-ten Americans say scientists should play an active role in policy debates about scientific issues, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. The survey finds public confidence in scientists on par with confidence in the military. It also exceeds the levels of public confidence in other groups and institutions, including the media, business leaders and elected officials. At the same time, Americans are divided along party lines in terms of how they view the value and objectivity of scientists and their ability to act in the public interest. And, while political divides do not carry over to views of all scientists and scientific issues, there are particularly sizable gaps between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to trust in scientists whose work is related to the environment…But a partisan divide persists. More Democrats (43%) than Republicans (27%) have “a great deal” of confidence in scientists – a difference of 16 percentage points. The gap between the two parties on this issue (including independents who identify with each party, respectively) was 11 percentage points in 2016 and has remained at least that large since…”
Vice – A quirk of copyright law means that millions of books are now free for anyone to read, thanks to some work from the New York Public Library: “Prior to 1964, books had a 28-year copyright term. Extending it required authors or publishers to send in a separate form, and lots of people didn’t end up doing that. Thanks to the efforts of the New York Public Library, many of those public domain books are now free online. Through the 1970s, the Library of Congress published the Catalog of Copyright Entries, all the registration and renewals of America’s books. The Internet Archive has digital copies of these, but computers couldn’t read all the information and figuring out which books were public domain, and thus could be uploaded legally, was tedious. The actual, extremely convoluted specifics of why these books are in the public domain are detailed in a post by the New York Public Library, which recently paid to parse the information in the Catalog of Copyright Entries. In a massive undertaking, the NYPL converted the registration and copyright information into an XML format. Now, the old copyrights are searchable and we know when, and if, they were renewed. Around 80 percent of all the books published from 1923 to 1964 are in the public domain, and lots of people had no idea until now…”
The Book Bus, an independent bookstore on wheels, brings the joy of reading to those who need it most
Road Trippers – After Melanie Moore retired from teaching, she filled a 1962 Volkswagen Transporter with books and hit the road – “…Though the Book Bus is an independent, mobile store, Moore often partners with coffee shops and community markets across the greater Cincinnati area to set up a pop-up shop for a day or two. In the winter months—or during a heatwave—businesses like Wyoming Community Coffee invite Moore to park the bus in front of the building and bring some boxes of books inside to sell. During the warmer months, Moore still partners with local businesses, but instead opens the cotton flaps, displays her books in the sunlight, and invites customers to spend time walking around the bus, taking in all it has to offer. For both Moore and the local businesses, the relationship is mutually beneficial. “These businesses usually like to have me come, because it gives them a special something to draw people in,” Moore says. A one-woman business, Moore drives The Book Bus, acts as a salesperson, sets up partnerships across Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, and runs all social media accounts. According to Moore, the Book Bus has enough fans that she usually ends up bringing her own customers. “Even today, I introduced this coffee shop to a couple of regular [Book Bus] customers who have never been here before,” she says…”
- Healthcare Bots and Subject Directories 2019 – Marcus Zillman’s guide focuses on a wide range of selected resources from health sciences, technology, academic, government and genetic research sectors, identifying traditional, complimentary and alternative sources to execute expert healthcare related subject matter searches.
- Considerations for Conversations – Nancy Dixon, a leader in the field of Knowledge Management, has been thinking about and studying what makes conversations work, and she has created a chart as a way to organize her thinking. She shares it to provide both an actionable guide to use with customers and colleagues, as well as to encourage conversation and additional thoughts.
- Law Librarians: The Missing Link As Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Adapt to Artificial Intelligence – Part 1 – The Basics – What is AI? In her three part article on AI in Legal Research and Law Practice, Carolyn Elefant, attorney, tech guru, and legal blogger, shares actionable information, knowledge and topical resources that were the foundation of her presentation at the AALL 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Elefant’s mission has always been to ensure that solo and small firms have current information, not just on new technology developments, but also on how these new tools can be applied in practice. AI is a fast-moving target that presents significant challenges to professionals in many roles – lawyers, law librarians, KM, CI/BI, competitive intelligence, marketing, and research analysts to name but a few. Elefant’s primer illuminates the critical role law librarians play in the effective implementation of AI within their organizations.
- Law Librarians: The Missing Link As Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Adapt to Artificial Intelligence – Part II – AI Tools for Solo and Small Law Firms – by Carolyn Elefant.
- Law Librarians: The Missing Link As Solo & Small Firm Lawyers Adapt to Artificial Intelligence – Part III – The Role of Law Librarians in The Adoption of AI in the Legal Profession – by Carolyn Elefant.
- Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 28 2019 – Four highlights from this week: Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People’s Faces And Names; What Does Incognito Mode Actually Do? Here’s Everything You Need to Know; How vulnerable are the undersea cables that power the global internet?; and Equifax To Pay Hundreds Of Millions In Data Breach Settlement (with many caveats).
- Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 19, 2019 – Four highlights from this week: Trump is rattling sabers in cyberspace — but is the U.S. ready?; Casting the Dark Web in a New Light; Army researchers develop metrics for cyber defenders’ agility; and How To Clear Out Your Zombie Apps and Online Account.
- Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 13, 2019 – Four highlights from this week: How Fake News Could Lead to Real War; Researchers detail privacy-related legal, ethical challenges with satellite data Firefox 68 arrives with darker reader view, recommended extensions, IT customizations; ICE, FBI use state driver’s license photos for facial-recognition scans; and Google tracks all Gmail account purchases, even if emails are deleted.
- Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, July 7, 2019 – Four highlights from this week: The Strange Politics of Facial Recognition; U.S. Congress expands probe of White House personal email use; All the countries where someone managed to shut down the entire internet — and why they did it; and Over 80% of facial recognition suspects flagged by London’s Met Police were innocent, report says.
“The OCLC Research linked data Wikibase prototype (“Project Passage”) provided a sandbox in which librarians from 16 US institutions could experiment with creating linked data to describe resources—without requiring knowledge of the technical machinery of linked data. This report provides an overview of the context in which the prototype was developed, how the Wikibase platform was adapted for use by librarians, and eight use cases where pilot participants (co-authors of this report) describe their experience of creating metadata for resources in various formats and languages using the Wikibase editing interface. During the ten months of the pilot, the participants gained insight in both the potential of linked data in library cataloging workflows and the gaps that must be addressed before machine-readable semantic data can be fully adopted. Among the lessons learned:
- The building blocks of Wikibase can be used to create structured data with a precision that exceeds current library standards.
- The Wikibase platform enables user-driven ontology design but raises concerns about how to manage and maintain ontologies.
- The Wikibase platform, supplemented with OCLC’s enhancements and stand-alone utilities, enables librarians to see the results of their effort in a discovery interface without leaving the metadata-creation workflow.
- Robust tools are required for local data management.
- To populate knowledge graphs with library metadata, tools that facilitate the import and enhancement of data created elsewhere are recommended.
- The pilot underscored the need for interoperability between data sources, both for ingest and export.
- The traditional distinction between authority and bibliographic data disappears in a Wikibase description…”
Phys.org: A small team of researchers at Indiana University has created the first global map of labor flow in collaboration with the world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn. “The work is reported in the journal Nature Communications. The study’s lead authors are Jaehyuk Park and Ian Wood, Ph.D. students working with Yong Yeol “Y.Y.” Ahn, a professor at the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering in Bloomington. According to the researchers, the study’s result represents a powerful tool for understanding the flow of people between industries and regions in the U.S. and beyond. It could also help policymakers better understand how to address critical skill gaps in the labor market or connect workers with new opportunities in nearby communities. The study showed some unexpected connections between economic sectors, such as the strong ties between credit card and airline industries. It also identified growing industries during the study period from 2010 to 2014, including the pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries—with in-demand skills such as team management and project management—as well as declining industries, such as retail and telecommunications…”
- “Seeking to shield themselves from online hatred, some Twitter users say they’ve switched their account locations to Germany where local laws prevent pro-Nazi content.
- While German laws make it harder for explicitly hateful content to remain online, local researchers say it is not a hate-free internet utopia.
- Germany has imposed stricter laws on social media companies about content moderation as some conservative American lawmakers have criticized the companies of showing bias in their content removal decisions…”
CRS report via FAS – 3D Printing: Overview, Impacts, and the Federal Role, August 2, 2019: “Three-dimensional (3D) printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a highly flexible manufacturing process that has been used in product development and production for the past 30 years. Greater capabilities, lower prices, and an expanded range of manufacturing materials have vastly expanded adoption of 3D printers over the last decade and a half. The economic and scientific potential of this technology, as well as certain regulatory concerns (such as 3D printing of firearms), have recently increased congressional interest.
3D printers are used in a variety of industries—such as aerospace, medicine, and education—as well as in nonspecific custom prototyping. Both private industry and the federal government have supported these applications of 3D printing. Support from the federal government has included basic and applied research funding from the National Science Foundation, as well as research and development funding from mission agencies such as the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. More broadly, federal support for additive manufacturing has been provided through the flagship institute of the Manufacturing USA program, the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (also known as America Makes). This consortium of industry, university, and government seeks to “[accelerate] the adoption of additive manufacturing technologies in the United States to increase domestic manufacturing competitiveness.” In recent years, hundreds of millions of dollars—public and private—have been invested in 3D printing-related companies and 3D printing research and development…”