Law and Legal
Gizmodo – “It’s not always convenient or possible to glance at your smartphone’s screen as you normally would, but with a few tweaks to your phone’s settings, you can get the most important information without having to look down at the display. Here’s how to get your phone to read the info you need aloud to you through the speaker or your headphones…”
CNN – Here’s the right (and wrong) way: “So, about masks — they do next to nothing if you don’t wear them properly. Yep, even the cloth coverings touted as the best thing since social distancing have instructions. We’ve laid them out below, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. And remember: Masks are effective only if they cover your mouth, nose and chin. And however tempting it may be to remove your mask for a moment, doing that could expose your fingers and face to the very virus you’re trying to avoid. Keep that and more in mind when wearing your mask — If we all do it right, we could save 33,000 lives…”
- See also LifeHacker – Risk Isn’t Just About You – includes a video with more information on correct mask use and cleaning.
University of Plymouth – The Arts Institute – The Ancient Mariner Big Read – “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is a founding fable of our modern age. We are the wedding guests, and the albatross around the Mariner’s neck is an emblem of human despair and our abuse of the natural world. Yet in its beautiful terror there lies a wondrous solution – that we might wake up and find ourselves saved. Art knows no boundaries. The Ancient Mariner Big Read is an inclusive, immersive work of audio and visual art from the 21st century that reflects the sweeping majesty and abiding influence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 18th century epic poem.
First published in 1798 – we use Coleridge’s revised version of 1817 – but still vitally relevant today, it is no coincidence, perhaps, that this poem is the first great work of English literature to speak to isolation and loneliness – and the possibility of redemption if we mend our ways. Three years in the making, drawing on the talents of actors, artists, performers, poets, and writers, The Ancient Mariner Big Read is a brand-new digital work of art in its own right – a wild and tempestuous voyage into the unknown.”
National Interest: “…Medical experts predict that “there almost certainly will not be enough vaccine for at least several years, even with the unprecedented effort to manufacture billions of doses. About 70 percent of the world’s population—or 5.6 billion people—will probably need to be inoculated to begin to establish herd immunity and slow [the coronavirus’s] spread.” For the vaccine to work, most people will have to agree to be vaccinated. Following the introduction of the polio vaccine in 1955, the United States eradicated polio. However, it took until 1979 for there to be zero new U.S.-originated cases of the disease. Around the world, it has taken extraordinary efforts, supported by the World Health Organization and non-governmental organizations, to convince people in developing nations of the safety of the vaccine and to persuade them to be vaccinated. Polio remains a threat in some places. Challenges to inoculating the public may well come from the objections driven by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories. A popular belief, attributed to one, since-discredited, study published in 1997, is that vaccines cause autism. Other debunked beliefs are that vaccines undermine the body’s natural immunity and that they contain toxins. We have seen in recent years an increase in anti-vaccination movements. The number of Americans who believe in the importance of getting their children vaccinated has decreased from 94 percent in 2015 to 84 percent in December 2019, according to a Gallup poll. “Anti-vaxxers,” who choose not to have themselves and/or their children vaccinated against preventable viral infections such as measles, which was eradicated in the United States in 2000, caused multiple outbreaks in under-vaccinated neighborhoods…” Amitai Etzioni is a University Professor and Professor of international affairs at The George Washington University. His latest book, Reclaiming Patriotism, was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2019 and is available fordownload without charge, and Ruth B. Etzioni received her PhD in bio statistics from Carnegie Melon. She is a Full Member of the Member of the Division of Public Health Sciences Fred Hutch Cancer Center.
“From the Cornell Lab of Ornithology e-newsletter: Public Comment Period Open: The federal government is moving ahead with removing protections for birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The American Ornithological Society has this summary, and you can provide public comments through July 20.
The AOS statement (July 1) begins: In March, we published a blog post on the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), outlining current threats to this landmark law and opportunities for action. AOS members and the broader public now have another opportunity to weigh in on this important process. To recap, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) issued a proposed regulation that would lock in a 2017 legal opinion reinterpreting the MBTA that ended enforcement of “incidental take” under the law. The public comment period for this stage ended in March, and many scientists, state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, and others submitted comments expressing concern and providing information to consider as part of an analysis to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act….” [h/t Mary Whisner]
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The New York Times – Months into the pandemic, many U.S. cities still lack testing capacity. “In the early months of the outbreak in the United States, testing posed a significant problem, as supplies fell far short and officials raced to understand how to best handle the virus. Since then, the country has vastly ramped up its testing capability, conducting nearly 15 million tests in June, about three times as many as it had in April. But in recent weeks, as cases have surged in many states, the demand for testing has soared, surpassing capacity and creating a new testing crisis. In many cities, officials said a combination of factors was now fueling the problem: a shortage of certain supplies, backlogs at laboratories that process the tests, and skyrocketing growth of the virus as cases climb in almost 40 states. Fast, widely available testing is crucial to controlling the virus over the long term, experts say, particularly as the country reopens. With a virus that can spread through asymptomatic people, screening large numbers of people is seen as essential to identifying those who are carrying the virus. Testing in the United States has not kept pace with other countries, notably in Asia, which have been more aggressive. When there was an outbreak in Wuhan in May, for instance, Chinese officials tested 6.5 million people in a matter of days…”
Washington Post: “As China’s Communist Party dismantles Hong Kong’s freedoms, teachers are facing pressure to toe Beijing’s line. Schools are emerging as ideological battlegrounds as officials seek to transform freethinking students into patriots loyal to the motherland through punishment, coercion, surveillance and propaganda-style education. “I feel like we have suddenly been put on the front line,” said Chan, whose Chinese history syllabus officials have made compulsory for the first time. “The government seems to have found that education is easier to blame for the current situation in Hong Kong, and easier to fix.” A culture of self-censorship and government control that was already growing in schools intensified recently as Beijing introduced a security law aimed at eliminating dissent, according to nearly a dozen teachers and students who spoke to The Washington Post. The law, published June 30, compels Hong Kong’s government to “promote national security education” and pinpoints campuses for “supervision and regulation.” This week, education authorities told schools to review their library collections and remove books that could violate the law. Titles including those by democracy activist Joshua Wong have already disappeared from public libraries….”
Fast Company – “At this point, we know that wearing masks can help stop the spread of the coronavirus. But a team at Goldman Sachs Research believes that it’s also beneficial for the economy. In a recent report, the economists argue that mask wearing could avert economic shutdowns and save 5% of U.S. GDP. According to the research, a federal mandate forcing people to wear masks in public could lower the national daily growth rate of new coronavirus infections from 1.6% to 0.6%. To achieve a similar decrease in infections by closing businesses would bring about a fall in GDP of 5%. In other words, masks work very well at curbing the spread of the disease and are far less economically painful than shutting down the economy. The report points out that the United States stands apart from other countries when it comes to wearing face masks. In Asia, mask-wearing has been common for some time and has been widespread during the coronavirus outbreak. In Europe, many countries have mandated masks in public. But the United States has no federal mandate, nor cultural norms that have led to the widespread use of masks. In fact, it’s become a highly polarized and politicized issue…”
CNET – “Since the summer of 2019, I’ve been speaking with one of the world’s leading pandemic experts about what a global outbreak could look like. Now, as the world enters a grim new phase, he says we’re in a whole new ball game..Eric Toner has been planning for a pandemic for years. He’s briefed world leaders on outbreaks and how to best prepare entire nations for mass casualties. He’s simulated epidemics in real time and studied the world’s response to major global health emergencies like SARS and the 1918 influenza pandemic….The US response has been extraordinarily disappointing and wrongheaded,” he told me via Zoom, at the end of June. “Whenever there’s been an opportunity to do the right thing, we seem to have done the wrong thing. The US has to recognize that it is competing for first or second position of the worst affected country in the world.”…
“…the aim of the Fortune/IBM Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals List: to cut through the perception juggernaut—a “prestige bias,” if you will, that often helps some hospitals with loftier reputations and more ample funding appear better than they truly are, even as it hides the hard-won successes and steady performance of lesser-known systems. On this year’s list are names you might expect. Two California stalwarts, for instance—Stanford Hospital and UCLA Medical Center—are indeed among the country’s best-performing teaching hospitals when measured on clinical outcomes and other objective criteria. But then you might be surprised to learn that St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital also has world-class stats where it counts. It boasts a remarkably low rate of risk-adjusted patient mortality, according to government figures. That’s true both while patients are undergoing treatment in the hospital and after they’re sent home. Average lengths of hospital stays, meanwhile—again, adjusted for the severity of the illness—are lower at St. Joe’s too. So is the average inpatient cost (by a lot). No wonder patients themselves give the Michigan hospital consistently high marks in the long-running HCAHPS (or, familiarly, “H-caps”) survey conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)…”
MIT Technology Review – “Facebook and Twitter might have the bells and whistles, but the word processing software’s simplicity and accessibility have made it a winning tool… In just the last week, Google Docs has emerged as a way to share everything from lists of books on racism to templates for letters to family members and representatives to lists of funds and resources that are accepting donations. Shared Google Docs that anyone can view and anyone can edit, anonymously, have become a valuable tool for grassroots organizing during both the coronavirus pandemic and the police brutality protests sweeping the US. It’s not the first time. In fact, activists and campaigners have been using the word processing software for years as a more efficient and accessible protest tool than either Facebook or Twitter…”
Public Companies: Disclosure of Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors and Options to Enhance Them
Public Companies: Disclosure of Environmental, Social, and Governance Factors and Options to Enhance Them, GAO-20-530: Published: Jul 2, 2020. Publicly Released: Jul 6, 2020. “Nonfinancial information about how a company does business (e.g., a bank’s cybersecurity program) could be an indicator of its long-term financial performance. Investors have been asking companies to disclose more on these environmental, social, and governance topics (known as “ESG”). We reviewed disclosures from 32 companies. Most included some of this information, but it wasn’t always clear or useful. For example, it was hard to compare climate or resource-related information when companies used different calculation methods or reported results in different units of measurement. We discussed several options to improve these disclosures.” [h/t Pete Weiss]
Bloomberg: “Nathan Tankus, 28, hasn’t finished his bachelor’s degree at New York City’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He has, however, mastered enough knowledge of economics and finance to become a widely followed commentator on the Federal Reserve. A newsletter he launched this year has followers at the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Department of the Treasury. He’s also followed on Twitter by journalists, economic think-tankers, and Wall Street economists…”
[Note – The New York Times obtained the CDC data included in this article after winning a FOIA lawsuit.] The New York Times – “…Racial disparities in who contracts the virus have played out in big cities like Milwaukee and New York, but also in smaller metropolitan areas like Grand Rapids, Mich., where the Bradleys live. Those inequities became painfully apparent when Ms. Bradley, who is Black, was wheeled through the emergency room. “Everybody in there was African-American,” she said. “Everybody was. Early numbers had shown that Black and Latino people were being harmed by the virus at higher rates. But the new federal data — made available after The New York Times sued the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — reveals a clearer and more complete picture: Black and Latino people have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus in a widespread manner that spans the country, throughout hundreds of counties in urban, suburban and rural areas, and across all age groups…”
Bloomerg Opinion via MSN: “One big change brought on by Covid-19 is that virtually all the scientific research being produced about it is free to read. Anyone can access the many preliminary findings that scholars are posting on “preprint servers.” Data are shared openly via a multitude of different channels. Scientific journals that normally keep their articles behind formidable paywalls have been making an exception for new research about the virus, as well as much (if not all) older work relevant to it…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly Highlights on Cybersecurity Issues July 5, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Industry Calls on Government to Invest Billions for Developing Secure 5G Networks; Enterprise IT concerns – quarantined workers breaking company policy could expose enterprise systems and data; What is a credit bureau?; and Key questions about enforcement of California’s privacy law.
LA Times via MSN: “Six months into a pandemic that has killed over half a million people, more than 200 scientists from around the world are challenging the official view of how the coronavirus spreads. The World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintain that you have to worry about only two types of transmission: inhaling respiratory droplets from an infected person in your immediate vicinity or — less common — touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth. But other experts contend that the guidance ignores growing evidence that a third pathway also plays a significant role in contagion. They say multiple studies demonstrate that particles known as aerosols — microscopic versions of standard respiratory droplets — can hang in the air for long periods and float dozens of feet, making poorly ventilated rooms, buses and other confined spaces dangerous, even when people stay six feet from one another…”
The New York Times – “In a post-quarantine world, heat sensors could help spot sick people with elevated temperatures as they enter public places. But it’s not that simple. “A fever is one indicator that someone may be exhibiting coronavirus symptoms, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends temperature screenings in a variety of environments, including schools and businesses. As shelter-in-place restrictions vary across many cities and counties around the country, officials have begun buying technology like infrared cameras in the hopes of helping track and contain the spread of the outbreak. I’m a video journalist at The New York Times, and last year, I was trained to use infrared cameras for an article that exposed immense methane leaks at oil and gas facilities, worsening global warming. When the pandemic took hold, I started seeing more and more companies like Amazon using this technology to help identify sick people in their warehouses. Thermal imaging cameras are beginning to appear in Subway restaurants. Carnival Cruise Lines, whose ships became hot spots for the virus’s spread, said all passengers and crew would be screened when it began sailing again…”