Law and Legal

The Coolest Ways to Experience Boston Museums Virtually Right Now

Boston City Life – Simple slideshows? No way. Check out these interactive, multi-sensory, and downright fun online resources. “Even as art galleries sit empty and museum doors stay shut, cultural institutions everywhere are still coming up with creative ways to connect with the public during the pandemic. Beyond virtual museum tours available for free via Google Arts & Culture, Boston’s best museums are rolling out plenty of innovative new ideas and activities this spring. From a digital music playlist that animates an urban art exhibit, to an interactive game that lets history buffs play sailor, check out these exciting ways to engage online with Boston’s museums right now…” [This is for Jackie – who has been my partner in discovering the wonders of the MFA]

Categories: Law and Legal

Pentagon formally releases 3 Navy videos showing “unidentified aerial phenomena”

CBSNews: “The Pentagon on Monday formally released three unclassified videos taken by Navy pilots that have circulated for years showing interactions with “unidentified aerial phenomena.” One of the videos shows an incident from 2004, and the other two were recorded in January 2015, according to Sue Gough, a Defense Department spokeswoman. The videos became public after unauthorized leaks in 2007 and 2017, and the Navy previously verified their authenticity “After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems, and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena,” Gough said… [Note – the unidentified object remain – unidentified!]

Categories: Law and Legal

USGS Releases First-Ever Comprehensive Geologic Map of the Moon

USGS: “For the first time, the entire lunar surface has been completely mapped and uniformly classified by scientists from the USGS Astrogeology Science Center, in collaboration with NASA and the Lunar Planetary Institute. The lunar map, called the “Unified Geologic Map of the Moon,” will serve as the definitive blueprint of the moon’s surface geology for future human missions and will be invaluable for the international scientific community, educators and the public-at-large. The digital map is available online now and shows the moon’s geology in incredible detail (1:5,000,000 scale). “People have always been fascinated by the moon and when we might return,” said current USGS Director and former NASA astronaut Jim Reilly. “So, it’s wonderful to see USGS create a resource that can help NASA with their planning for future missions.” To create the new digital map, scientists used information from six Apollo-era regional maps along with updated information from recent satellite missions to the moon. The existing historical maps were redrawn to align them with the modern data sets, thus preserving previous observations and interpretations. Along with merging new and old data, USGS researchers also developed a unified description of the stratigraphy, or rock layers, of the moon. This resolved issues from previous maps where rock names, descriptions and ages were sometimes inconsistent…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CDC posts info on additional COVID-19 symptoms

CDC: “Watch for symptoms – People with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported – ranging from mild symptoms to severe illness. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms or combinations of symptoms may have COVID-19:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Children have similar symptoms to adults and generally have mild illness. This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you…”
Categories: Law and Legal

2015 GAO Report on Air Travel and Communicable Diseases was ignored

AIR TRAVEL AND COMMUNICABLE DISEASES: Comprehensive Federal Plan Needed for U.S. Aviation System’s Preparedness GAO-16-127: Published: Dec 16, 2015. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 2015. “All of the 14 airports and 3 airlines GAO reviewed have plans for responding to communicable disease threats from abroad, although the United States lacks a comprehensive national aviation-preparedness plan aimed at preventing and containing the spread of diseases through air travel. U.S. airports and airlines are not required to have individual preparedness plans, and no federal agency tracks which airports and airlines have them. Consequently, it is not clear the extent to which all U.S. airports and airlines have such plans. The plans GAO reviewed generally addressed the high-level components that GAO identified as common among applicable federal and international guidance, such as establishment of an incident command center and activation triggers for a response. GAO identified these components to provide a basis for assessing the breadth of the plans. The plans GAO reviewed for each airport were developed by, or in collaboration with, relevant airport stakeholders, such as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) airport staff. As provided in Annex 9, the Chicago Convention, an international aviation treaty to which the United States is a signatory, obligates member states to develop a national aviation-preparedness plan for communicable disease outbreaks. The Department of Transportation (DOT) and CDC officials contend that some elements of such a plan already exist, including plans at individual airports. However, FAA has reported that individual airport plans are often intended to handle one or two flights with arriving passengers, rather than an epidemic, which may require involvement from multiple airports on a national level. Most importantly, a national aviation-preparedness plan would provide airports and airlines with an adaptable and scalable framework with which to align their individual plans—to help ensure that individual airport and airline plans work in accordance with one another. DOT and CDC officials agree that a national plan could add value. Such a plan would provide a mechanism for the public-health and aviation sectors to coordinate to more effectively prevent and control a communicable disease threat while minimizing unnecessary disruptions to the national aviation system…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Covid-19: Novel Coronavirus Content Free to Access

Wiley Online Library – “Following an outbreak of pneumonia without a clear cause in the city of Wuhan in China, a novel strain of coronavirus (2019-nCoV) was detected in December 2019. Coronaviruses were identified in the mid-1960s and are known to infect humans and a variety of animals (including birds and mammals). Since 2002, two coronaviruses infecting animals have evolved and caused outbreaks in humans: SARS-CoV (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) identified in southern China in 2003, and MERS-CoV (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012. Together, they have caused more than 1600 deaths. It’s in these times of crisis where communities come together even more. As a publisher of trusted health science, we’ve made the relevant research articles, book chapters and entries in our major references freely available below, in support of the global efforts in diagnosis, treatment, prevention and further research in this disease and similar viral respiratory infections. Our approach is to use the world-class information we have available to directly improve health and to support the virtual efforts of healthcare practitioners globally. We are continually monitoring the developments and we will update the content of this page periodically.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Did the Paycheck Protection Program Hit the Target?

Granja, Joao and Makridis, Christos and Yannelis, Constantine and Zwick, Eric, Did the Paycheck Protection Program Hit the Target? (April 25, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3585258

“This paper takes an early look at the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a large and novel small business support program that was part of the initial policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We use new data on the distribution of PPP loans and high-frequency micro-level employment data to consider two dimensions of program targeting. First, we do not find evidence that funds flowed to areas more adversely affected by the economic effects of the pandemic, as measured by declines in hours worked or business shutdowns. If anything, funds flowed to areas less hard hit. Second, we find significant heterogeneity across banks in terms of disbursing PPP funds, which does not only reflect differences in underlying loan demand. The top-4 banks alone account for 36% of total pre-policy small business loans, but disbursed less than 3% of all PPP loans. Areas that were significantly more exposed to low-PPP banks received much lower loan allocations. As data become available, we will study employment and establishment responses to the program and the impact of PPP support on the economic recovery. Measuring these responses is critical for evaluating the social insurance value of the PPP and similar policies.”

Categories: Law and Legal

89% fear economic collapse

“89% of Americans — both Republicans and Democrats — now worry about the economy collapsing, Axios White House editor Margaret Talev writes from the newest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

  • Why it matters: In this 50-50 nation, we almost never see lopsided results like that. This figure is one of the most vivid indications yet that real panic about the future is settling in throughout America.
  • Three-fourths of those polled said they fear their communities will reopen too soon, although there’s a massive partisan gulf on that question…”
Categories: Law and Legal

How our favorite pastimes will change in post COVID-19 world

Morning Consult Analysis – “The coronavirus outbreak has separated many Americans from their typical pastimes, relegating people to their homes during any free time they may have. With this, certain pastimes are seeing new life. But how likely is it that consumers will continue to enjoy these pastimes post-pandemic, and which ones are just temporary ways to pass the time?…” [Note – this extensive analysis includes charts and data]

Categories: Law and Legal

Citation Databases for Legal Scholarship

Beatty, John, Citation Databases for Legal Scholarship (February 26, 2020). 39 Legal Reference Services Quarterly 56 (2020); University at Buffalo School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2019-014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3577192
“Traditional citation sources, such as Web of Science, index limited numbers of law journals. Consequently, although not designed for generating scholarship citation metrics, many law scholarship citation studies use law-specific databases like Westlaw or LexisNexis to gather citations. This article compares citation metrics derived from Web of Science and Westlaw to metrics derived from Google Scholar and HeinOnline’s citation tools. The study finds that HeinOnline and Westlaw generate higher metrics than Web of Science, and Google Scholar generates higher metrics than both. However, metrics from all four sources are highly correlated, so rankings generated from any may be very similar.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Searching Covid-19 Finding Patterns in Our Need for Knowledge

This project is sponsored by Schema, Google Trends, and Axios: “In late 2019 a novel coronavirus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Over the following months, the regional outbreak exploded into a devastating global crisis with unsettling levels of uncertainty. How does the virus spread? How will we pay the bills? What will happen next? By looking at Google Trends search data related to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can discover patterns in our desire for information — waves of interest that reflect the pandemic’s progression and our understanding of it. The following visualization explores some of the top coronavirus related search trends in the US between January 20 and April 24, 2020. Each bubble represents a query that was among the top trending searches in one or more states (smallest to largest bubbles) on each day…”

Categories: Law and Legal

White House is reviewing detailed guidance for gradual reopening

Washington Post – “…The guidance under review, drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considerably more detailed. Changes could be made, but the guidance is likely to be released within the next seven days, officials said. The 17-page guidance lists recommendations for each of six settings. It says all decisions should be made locally in collaboration with local health officials. An accompanying set of documents provides one-page checklists to help state and local health officials make decisions. The Washington Post obtained copies of the guidance and checklists….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Georgia Copyright Loss at High Court Could Jolt Many States

Bloomberg Law: “Georgia lost a close U.S. Supreme Court case over the state’s ability to copyright its annotated legal code, in a ruling heralded by public access advocates over dissent that lamented its disruptive impact on states’ existing business arrangements. Copyright protection doesn’t extend to annotations in the state’s official annotated code, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for a 5-4 majority on Monday that crossed ideological lines. Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh joined Roberts. The high court clarified the scope of the “government edits doctrine,” which had previously barred copyright in materials created by judges. The doctrine’s logic also applies to materials created by legislatures, Roberts wrote. Because Georgia’s annotations are authored by an arm of the legislature in the course of its official duties, the doctrine bars copyright here, too. The “animating principle” behind the doctrine, Roberts wrote, “is that no one can own the law.” Public.Resource.Org, the pro-access organization that won the dispute, is pleased that the court “rejected the possibility that a full understanding of the law could be made available only to those who can afford to pay for ‘first-class’ access,” said Goldstein & Russell’s Eric Citron, who represented the group. He said they’re looking forward to helping states expand access to their legal codes and they hope this leads to greater public engagement with the law. It’s an important ruling not just for copyright law but for civil liberties, said Ropes and Gray’s Marta Belcher. She was lead counsel on a brief supporting the access group, filed on behalf of the Center for Democracy and Technology and the Cato Institute…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Online database with 26 million documents on Nazi victims, survivors now online

Jewish News Syndicate: “The world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of Nazi persecution reached a “milestone” on Tuesday by publishing 26 million documents to its online database, including new information on forced laborers and deported Jews. The Arolsen Archives–International Centre on Nazi Persecution, formerly known as the International Tracing Service, has a collection of information on about 17.5 million people and belongs to UNESCO’s Memory of the World initiative. It was established by the Western Allies in 1944 and changed its names to Arolsen Archives in 2019.  All 26 million of the Arolsen Archives’ documents, are now available online, a collection that includes information on 21 million people who were displaced, persecuted and murdered by the Nazis…”

Categories: Law and Legal

German minister backs creating legal right to work from home

AP: “Germany’s labor minister wants to enshrine into law the right to work from home if it is feasible to do so, even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told Sunday’s edition of the Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he aims to put forward such legislation this fall. He said initial estimates suggest the proportion of the work force working from home has risen from 12% to 25% during the virus crisis, to around 8 million people. “Everyone who wants to and whose job allows it should be able to work in a home office, even when the corona pandemic is over,” Heil was quoted as saying. “We are learning in the pandemic how much work can be done from home these days.”…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYC will close public roads to traffic to create more recreational space

Road/Show: The coronavirus means there’s a need for more socially distanced rec space, and closing down roads near parks is expected to help. “Social distancing in a major city, in the age of the coronavirus, is nearly impossible, and as more New York residents try to get outside and practice social distancing, there simply isn’t enough space.  Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday the city will close 40 miles’ worth of streets near parks to give residents a lot more room to get out of their homes. Bloomberg first reported the news. The eventual goal is to open 100 miles of public roads for residents to bike, walk, jog and more while spreading groups of people out. It’s not clear which roads will be affected yet, but Mayor De Blasio said the street closures will be “mostly” near parks…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Virus vs The Virus A Trump Twitter Timeline, Self Praise, and American Medicine in Crisis

Dave Pell: “Here’s a look at what the President of the United States was Tweeting as America’s Covid-19 body count continued to mount. The below examples are not exhaustive. But they are certainly exhausting...”

See also The New York Times – 260,000 Words, Full of Self-Praise, From Trump on the Virus

See also The New Yorker – What the Coronavirus Crisis Reveals About American Medicine – Medicine is a system for delivering care and support; it’s also a system of information, quality control, and lab science. All need fixing. “…Every enterprise learns its strengths and weaknesses from an Aisin-fire moment—from a disaster that spirals out of control. What those of us in the medical profession have learned from the COVID-19 crisis has been dismaying, and on several fronts. Medicine isn’t a doctor with a black bag, after all; it’s a complex web of systems and processes…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Pandemic Will Change American Retail Forever

The Atlantic– “…To see how the pandemic is already reshaping American retail, you don’t even have to go outside and count storefronts. Your receipts and credit-card statements tell the whole story. On Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that retail spending in March collapsed by the largest number on record. Travel spending—including on airlines, hotels, and cruises—is down more than 100 percent, if you include refunds. Department stores and clothing stores are facing an extinction-level event after having experienced years of decline. Pockets of resiliency and even strength include grocery stores and liquor stores, which in March had their best month of growth on record. Home-improvement spending is up, as well. Some of these changes are violent interruptions to modern life, like the shuttering of gyms and cessation of sit-down restaurant service. But in the long term, COVID-19 probably won’t invent new behaviors and habits out of thin air as much as it will accelerate a number of preexisting trends…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Supreme Court Rules That Georgia Can’t Copyright Its Annotated Code

Reason.com: “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5–4 today that the state of Georgia can’t claim copyright over its annotated code. The ruling is a victory for Carl Malamud, an open government activist who posted the state’s annotated code online in 2013. Malamud and his organization, Public.Resource.Org, have been working for more than a decade to digitally liberate state laws and regulatory codes. State governments often claim they must copyright the works to recoup the costs of researching and printing the voluminous editions. Georgia contracts with LexisNexus to research and distribute the annotated codes. LexisNexus then gets exclusive rights to publish the codes, while Georgia gets a cut of any sales. The non-annotated codes are available for free, but the hardcover annotated set costs $412. Malumud and transparency groups say that flies in the face of precedents that the law cannot be copyrighted. Under the “government edicts doctrine,” this applies to judicial opinions, legislative statutes, and other writings that have the force of law. As a matter of public policy, citizens must be able to inspect the laws they are bound by, and no one can claim authorship or ownership of them. In short, they belong to the people. After Public.Resource.Org posted Georgia’s annotated code online for free, the state sued Malamud in federal court in 2015. A U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of the state in 2017, finding that the annotations were only commentary and didn’t carry the force of law. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision, setting up a circuit split and a showdown at the Supreme Court…”

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19 Demographic and Economic Resources

“[On April 23, 2020] the U.S. Census Bureau released a new resource page on census.gov to help federal agencies, businesses and communities make decisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Similar to the Census Bureau’s resource pages created during natural disasters, this resource page includes information on population demographics, economic indicators and businesses. It features a new interactive data hub that centralizes data previously released from the American Community Survey and the County Business Patterns program to facilitate users’ access to data useful in pandemic-related decision-making. The data hub, released as a beta version, will be updated periodically as the situation changes and as feedback is received from users.

The data hub provides four interactive features:

  •  The COVID-19 Impact Report allows users to browse dashboards with demographic and business data for the nation, states and counties. Information is presented in an interactive visualization that allows for further exploration and downloading.
  • The Demographic and Economic Analysis feature provides selected statistics in an interactive map that can be incorporated into users’ own maps.
  • The Highlighted Datasets allow users to access even more of these key data in an interactive map that includes further details down to the census tract level.
  • The Categorical Datasets search allows users to select a data theme and to find and download (in map service and Excel formats) the census data that interests them…”
Categories: Law and Legal

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