Law and Legal
CRS report via FAS – Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History, updated August 1, 2019: “Censure is a reprimand adopted by one or both chambers of Congress against a Member of Congress, President, federal judge, or other government official. While Member censure is a disciplinary measure that is sanctioned by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 5), non-Member censure is not. Rather, it is a formal expression or “sense of” one or both houses of Congress.
Censure resolutions targeting non-Members have utilized a range of statements to highlight conduct deemed by the resolutions’ sponsors to be inappropriate or unauthorized. Before the Nixon Administration, such resolutions included variations of the words or phrases: unconstitutional, usurpation, reproof, and abuse of power. Beginning in 1972, the most clearly “censorious” resolutions have contained the word, “censure,” in the text. Resolutions attempting to censure the President are usually simple resolutions. These resolutions are not privileged for consideration in the House or Senate. They are, instead, considered under the regular parliamentary mechanisms used to process “sense of” legislation.
Since 1800, Members of the House and Senate have introduced resolutions of censure against at least 12 sitting Presidents. Two additional Presidents received criticism via alternative means (a House committee report and an amendment to a resolution). The clearest instance of a successful presidential censure is Andrew Jackson. The Senate approved a resolution of censure in 1834. On three other occasions, critical resolutions were adopted, but their final language, as amended, obscured the original intention to censure the President. In the remaining cases, resolutions remained in committee, without further consideration, or were not adopted in a floor vote. Nevertheless, presidential censure attempts have become more frequent since the Watergate era. This report summarizes the procedures that may be used to consider resolutions of censure and the history of attempts to censure the President (1st -115th Congresses). It also provides citations to additional reading material on the subject…”
Wired – Digital-first. Open source. Subscription. The way textbooks are bought and sold is changing—with serious implications for higher education: “For several decades, textbook publishers followed the same basic model: Pitch a hefty tome of knowledge to faculty for inclusion in lesson plans; charge students an equally hefty sum; revise and update its content as needed every few years. Repeat. But the last several years have seen a shift at colleges and universities—one that has more recently turned tectonic In a way, the evolution of the textbook has mirrored that in every other industry. Ownership has given way to rentals, and analog to digital. Within the broad strokes of that transition, though, lie divergent ideas about not just what learning should look like in the 21st century but how affordable to make it…
The major publishers are publicly traded companies, under pressure to demonstrate constant growth. Pearson’s digital-first strategy is a significant step toward a more sustainable business model. Under the new system, ebooks will cost an average of $40. Those who prefer actual paper can pay $60 for the privilege of a rental, with the option to purchase the book at the end of the term. The price of a new print textbook can easily reach into the hundreds of dollars; under digital-first, students have to actively want to pay that much after a course is already over, making it an unlikely option for most…”
24/7 Wall St: “According to the International Dairy Foods Association in its report on ice cream sales and trends, about 1.4 billion gallons of ice cream and related frozen desserts (like gelato and sorbet) were produced in the United States in 2017 — the last year for which data is available. The average American, the same body reports, consumes more than 23 pounds of ice cream annually. Another industry group, the American Dairy Association, estimated back in 2011 that there were about 80,000 ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt shops around the U.S. — and the number has surely grown since then. There are big ice cream chains, of course, including Baskin-Robbins, Ben & Jerry’s, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Cold Stone Creamery, Carvel, and many more. But many communities also have smaller, independent operations, many of them making their own product, often using local and/or organic ingredients and turning out a changing menu of flavors — including these 18 incredible ice cream varieties that we wish would come back from retirement permanently. Ice cream parlors — or shops, or joints, as you prefer — tend to be community favorites, popular gathering places, for obvious reasons: No reservations are necessary, there’s no dress code, the prices are almost always reasonable, and they sell something almost everybody loves.
24/7 Tempo has assembled a state-by-state list of the best ice cream parlors in America — the best, according to Yelp reviews. Despite being the highest rated, many of these shops are not among the most well-known in their state. In many states the competition is cutthroat. This is the most popular ice cream shop in every state…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues August 4, 2019 – 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: Medicare fraud, identity theft: Genetic testing scams target seniors; NIST Publishes Multifactor Authentication Practice Guide; “You Can Probably Be Identified From Your Anonymized Data”; and CIS Releases Newsletter on Cleaning Up Data and Devices.
Eponymous librarian (internet folk hero) Jessamyn West‘s Opinion piece on CNN –Libraries are fighting to preserve your right to borrow e-books – “Librarians to publishers: Please take our money. Publishers to librarians: Drop dead. That’s the upshot of Macmillan publishing’s recent decision which represents yet another insult to libraries. For the first two months after a Macmillan book is published, a library can only buy one copy, at a discount. After eight weeks, they can purchase “expiring” e-book copies which need to be re-purchased after two years or 52 lends. As publishers struggle with the continuing shake-up of their business models, and work to find practical approaches to managing digital content in a marketplace overwhelmingly dominated by Amazon, libraries are being portrayed as a problem, not a solution. Libraries agree there’s a problem — but we know it’s not us…”
Internet Innovation Alliance – Are Millennials okay with the collection and use of their data online because they grew up with the internet? “In an effort to help inform policymakers about the views of Americans across generations on internet privacy, the Internet Innovation Alliance, in partnership with Icon Talks, the Hispanic Technology & Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP), and the Millennial Action Project, commissioned a national study of U.S. consumers who have witnessed a steady stream of online privacy abuses, data misuses, and security breaches in recent years. The survey examined the concerns of U.S. adults—overall and separated by age group, as well as other demographics—regarding the collection and use of personal data and location information by tech and social media companies, including tailoring the online experience, the potential for their personal financial information to be hacked from online tech and social media companies, and the need for a single, national policy addressing consumer data privacy…”
- Download: “Concerns About Online Data Privacy Span Generations” IIA white paper pdf.
- Download: “Consumer Data Privacy Concerns” Civic Science report pdf.
Follow up to previous posting on BeSpacific – Science’s pirate queen Alexandra Elbakyan is plundering the academic publishing establishment (includes multiple sub-links) and SciHub continues to get attacked around the world – via Boing Boing: “Sci-Hub (previously) is a scrappy, nonprofit site founded in memory of Aaron Swartz, dedicated to providing global access to the world’s scholarship — journal articles that generally report on publicly-funded research, which rapacious, giant corporations acquire for free, and then charge the very same institutions that paid for the research millions of dollars a year to access. In a field of giant, corrupt monopolists, Elsevier is still notable for its rapacious conduct, so it’s not surprising to learn that the company has sent a copyright threat to a to Citationsy, a service that helps scholars and others create citations to scientific and scholarly literature, alleging that merely linking to Sci-Hub is a copyright infringement…”
LA Times – “A cluster of new and proposed state and federal laws will soon make it harder for people accused of crimes to defend themselves. All of these laws are well-intended — to protect privacy by shielding sensitive personal information — but they suffer from a fundamental unfairness that needs correction. These laws tilt the scale in favor of the prosecution by giving police access to lots of useful data while putting critical information out of defendants’ reach. Social media messages, photo metadata, Amazon Echo recordings, smart water meter data, and Fitbit readings have all been used in criminal cases. The new laws would limit how defendants can access this key evidence, making it difficult or impossible for defendants to show they acted in self-defense, or a witness is lying, or someone else is guilty of the crime.
The California Consumer Privacy Act, which was approved in 2018, allows law enforcement officers to obtain data from technology companies and prohibit those companies from immediately notifying the person they are investigating. Such delayed notice may be necessary to investigate someone who is dangerous or likely to destroy evidence or flee. But the law does not give defense investigators the same right to delay notification to witnesses or others — who might well pose a threat to the defendant — when they subpoena data from tech companies as part of the defense’s case. Legislators need to amend the law to fix this flaw by the Sept. 13 deadline for making final changes to the statute…”
Follow up to my previous postings via BeSpacific – Skip Cash for Equifax Breach and Get Credit Monitoring, F.T.C. Tells Victims – more guidance via the Washington Post – “It’s been less than two weeks since the Equifax data-breach settlement was announced, and already at least two websites trying to scam information-seekers have been shut down. Thus begins the effort to catch unscrupulous individuals looking to make a buck off the credit bureau’s major data breach. Let me say this now, because I have no doubt there will be many email phishing attempts, telephone calls and probably gift-card scams trying to capitalize on Equifax’s $700 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission: If anyone calls or emails you about the settlement, do nothing — and I mean not a single thing — until you verify the information with the Federal Trade Commission or your state or local consumer-protection office.
…Please, for your safety, if you’re searching for information connected to the settlement, go to ftc.gov/equifax . There you’ll find details about the settlement, and you’ll be sent to the real website to file a claim. I also want to warn you that you may get phishing emails or scam telephone calls pretending to be from the administrator handling the Equifax settlement…”
TED Talk – Dawn Wacek – she advocates for equitable library service for all community members. “Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don’t actually do what we think they do. What if your library just … stopped asking for them altogether?”
Polico Magazine – Michael Waldman is president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He is the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography. -“A fraud on the American public.” That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum. Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an individual right to a firearm widely accepted, but increasingly states are also passing laws to legalize carrying weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.
Many are startled to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun until 2008, when District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capital’s law effectively banning handguns in the home. In fact, every other time the court had ruled previously, it had ruled otherwise. Why such a head-snapping turnaround? Don’t look for answers in dusty law books or the arcane reaches of theory. So how does legal change happen in America? We’ve seen some remarkably successful drives in recent years—think of the push for marriage equality, or to undo campaign finance laws. Law students might be taught that the court is moved by powerhouse legal arguments or subtle shifts in doctrine. The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the Constitution into the mainstream teaches a different lesson: Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political maneuvering. The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree…”
Recommendo – “On Google Maps: in between the standard street view, and the realistic satellite view, lies another hidden view called Terrain. Terrain is an almost artistic rendering of a physical place without all the distractions of an aerial photograph. Its crisp clarity is tremendously useful as a base map — and beautiful. To get to Terrain mode, go the “hamburger” (stack of 3 lines) in the upper left corner of Maps in a browser, and click on Terrain in the pull-down menu…” [This feature was announced by Google in 2007 but lots of folks have yet to use it.]
For academics, what matters more: journal prestige or readership? [Science]
Vice – Facebook has failed to be fully transparent with data concerning political advertising, so two researchers collected the data themselves.”A team of two researchers has created the most comprehensive visualization of Facebook’s political advertisements. Detailing hundreds of thousands of ads across 34 countries by more than 150 political actors, ad.watch is a new tool aimed at providing transparency to political advertisements on the platform.Three years after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which user data was used to target political ads, someone has finally made a way for ordinary people to learn which political campaign ads are being posted on Facebook all around the world. “With ad.watch, you can explore both country-specific contextual issues and political strategies, as well as broader questions about the power of persuasion that the use of personal data facilitates,” the website notes. “Through our interfaces, you can understand targeting and optimization, compare monetary investment, and trace the timelines of ads.”…”
The Guardian – In Permanent Record, the former spy will recount how his mass surveillance work eventually led him to make the biggest leak in history – “After multiple books and films about his decision to leak the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history, whistleblower Edward Snowden is set to tell his side of the story in a memoir, Permanent Record. Out on 17 September, the book will be published in more than 20 countries and will detail how and why the former CIA agent and NSA contractor decided to reveal the US government’s plans for mass surveillance around the world and in the US – which included monitoring phone calls, text messages and emails. UK publisher Macmillan said the book would see him “bringing the reader along as he helps to create this system of mass surveillance, and then experiences the crisis of conscience that led him to try to bring it down”…”
Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis in Collaboration with Their Communities: An Introduction
Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis in Collaboration with Their Communities: An Introduction By Michele Coleman and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. “The nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic. As communities across the country feel the epidemic’s impact, public health and human service organizations are implementing responses that include healthcare, education, law enforcement and the judicial system, emergency services, drug and addiction counseling, and community services. Public libraries around the country are choosing to be part of this response. With funding from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, OCLC and the Public Library Association will identify, synthesize, and share knowledge and resources that will help public libraries and their community partners develop effective strategies and community-driven coalitions that work together to address the opioid epidemic in America. This project is called, “Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities.” This article is the first of two about the project and it focuses on the issues and preliminary themes surfacing in interviews with library staff and the partners. A second article will focus on the data analysis and overall findings…”
“The tension between originalism and stare decisis is well known. Many of the Supreme Court’s most significant constitutional decisions are completely unmoored from the original public understanding of the Constitution. A Supreme Court Justice may recognize that a given precedent is non-originalist, but follow it anyway because of the doctrine of stare decisis. Or, a Supreme Court Justice may decide to deviate from stare decisis because that precedent is non-originalist. The Supreme Court’s unique status, which is perched atop our judiciary, affords its members leeway to make either decision. Lower court judges, however, do not have that sort of discretion. Consider a judge on a federal circuit court of appeals. First, she is bound by Supreme Court precedents interpreting the Constitution, regardless of whether those precedent are originalist or not. No matter how wrong a given Supreme Court case is, that precedent must be followed. Second, she is bound by circuit precedent interpreting the Constitution, regardless of whether that precedent is originalist or not. Only an en banc majority can reverse circuit precedent, and those proceedings are quite rare.
An originalist circuit judge would only have free jurisprudential rein in the rare case of first impression, where neither the Supreme Court nor the circuit court had considered a particular constitutional question. Those cases are even rarer. Even then, the circuit judge would still be at a disadvantage. Circuit courts seldom receive the wealth of originalist party and amicus briefs that are directed to the Supreme Court. Here, the circuit judge will often have to do all of her own originalist research—the proverbial law office history report—without the benefit of the adversarial process. In short, it’s tough for a lower-court judge to be a constitutional originalist. But it can be done. Part I of this essay explains when a lower-court judge can be an originalist. Part II explains how a lower-court judge can be an originalist.”
The New York Times – “America’s museums are more than repositories of ancient Greek statues and Renaissance paintings. They are guardians of a fading social and demographic order. On Thursday, Warren Kanders resigned from the board of the Whitney Museum of Art, after protests over his company’s sale of tear gas grenades that were reportedly used on asylum seekers. His case reveals the extent to which museums have become contested spaces in a rapidly-changing country. On one side of the crossfire are trustees who benefit from a distorted economic system that protects and promotes inequality. Wealthy donors and collectors decide what is valued. They expect appreciation, not scrutiny, for giving generously as government support for the arts wanes. And they are offended by the accusation that they use museums to launder, or “artwash,” their reputations and increase the value of their personal collections.On the other side are people that the system excludes and exploits. An increasingly diverse viewing public, and growing protest movements, are calling for installations and institutions that represent a broader cross-section of America. They demand museums serve more than the interests of the elite. Museums find themselves in the same struggle tearing society apart — a struggle fueled by worsening inequality of every kind…”
Reporters Committee for Freedom of Information – ” The California court of appeal is considering an expansive interpretation of state privacy law — in a pending lawsuit pending involving Yelp — that would make it unlawful to take notes during telephone conversations. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 17 media organizations are urging the court to reject the argument that the California Invasion of Privacy Act prevents note taking. In the case, plaintiff Eric Gruber alleges that Yelp violated the CIPA by recording conversations between him and Yelp employees. Yelp argues that it only made “one-way” recordings in which only the Yelp employee’s voice was recorded.
The district court found that Yelp did not violate CIPA, but Gruber appealed, calling for a more “expansive” reading of what qualifies as a recording under the law that would include “all simultaneously-created records” as long as they are “registered in reproducible form,” whether that be audio, written, photographic or another form of recording. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed July 10, Reporters Committee attorneys argue, along with 17 media organizations, that this expansive interpretation of CIPA could potentially make journalists responsible for damages or criminalize those who take notes — either by hand or by computer — during conversations and consequently, criminalize the common journalistic practice of notetaking. Note taking should not be considered recording, “even if done without the consent of all parties to the communication.”…
Fortune – “Automation is increasingly making its way into the workplace, raising concerns among employees about the ways technology will change their jobs—or eliminate them entirely. A June 2019 report by Oxford Economics predicts that 8.5% of the world’s manufacturing positions alone—some 20 million jobs—will be displaced by robots by 2030. But that’s the wrong way to think about automation and jobs, says Tom Mitchell, professor and interim dean of Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. Instead, you should look at the tasks involved in your job and evaluate how easily those tasks can be automated.
“Some people have a single task job, like toll booth [operators],” he says. “Those people are in trouble because their job is going to be automated.” That’s bad news for them, of course, but what does it mean for you?..”