Law and Legal
“Today [March 13, 2018], Avaaz members are laying 7,000 empty pairs of shoes on the Capitol lawn to memorialize the 7000 children who have been killed by gun violence since the Sandy Hook school shooting. The event intends to bring Congress face-to-face with the enormous heartbreak of gun violence, and demand they protect America’s children with gun reform. In all, the shoes will cover more than 10,000 square feet. The event begins at 8:30am in the South East Lawn of the Capital. At 8:30am families who have lost their children to gun violence will place their shoes on the lawn, including Tom Mauser whose son, Daniel, was killed in the Columbine massacre. Tom found his son’s shoes after he was killed and has been wearing them ever since. Also in attendance will be Andy and Barbara Parker whose daughter, Allison, was shot on live television while doing a news report for WDBJ. Tom Mauser, whose son was killed in the Columbine school massacre, said: “I’ll be traveling to DC literally wearing my son Daniel’s shoes, the ones he wore the day he died at Columbine. I think this kind of event with shoes offers a very powerful metaphor both for how we miss the victims who once filled those shoes, and also for how we see ourselves wanting to walk in their place, seeking change, so that others don’t have to walk this painful journey.” This event, organized in just two weeks by global advocacy group Avaaz, has struck an emotional nerve with people across the country who have sent in shoes to honor the children we’ve lost and to demand #notonemore. Celebrities have also donated shoes, including: Bette Midler, Susan Sarandon, Alyssa Milano, Chelsea Handler, Vanessa Bayer, Brett Davern, Hayley Mills, Colm Meaney, Brenda Meaney or Harry Clarke.”
“…The digital world continues to expand and mutate in all sorts of ways that will orphan and otherwise impair file formats and programs—from ones long forgotten to ones that work just fine today but carry no guarantees against obsolescence. Instead of a patchwork of one-off solutions, perhaps there’s a better way to keep old software running smoothly—a simpler process for summoning the past on demand. A team at the Yale University Library is trying to build one. Digital archivists deal with least two broad categories of artifacts. There are analog objects or documents scanned into a second, digital life—digitized maps, for instance, or scanned photos. The other objects are natives of the digital world. These files can include everything from a simple compressed image to a game on a CD-ROM to a CAD design for a skyscraper. The relentless march of new versions and new platforms makes obsolescence a constant presence, from as soon as digital objects are conceived…”
“During the past five years, through December 2017, forty-nine federal district court judges each sentenced more than one thousand defendants who appeared before them. All but two of these judges were located in courthouses along the southwest border with Mexico. In contrast, typically judges sentenced several hundred, not several thousand defendants over this five year time span. U.S. District Judge Robert C. Brack, in Las Cruces, in the District of New Mexico, topped the list sentencing 6,858 defendants. Eighty-five percent of those sentenced were convicted for immigration offenses. U.S. District Judge Alia M. Moses was in second place, sentencing 5,135 defendants who appeared in her Del Rio courtroom in the Western District of Texas. In third place was U.S. District Judge Kenneth John Gonzales who sentenced 4,668 defendants. Judge Gonzales also sits with Judge Brack in the Las Cruces courthouse. For federal districts that weren’t located along the southwest border, U.S. District Judge Linda R. Reade sentenced the largest number of defendants – a total of 1,070. Based in her Cedar Rapids courtroom in the Northern District of Iowa, Judge Reade served as chief judge until she retired on October 1, 2017. This new analysis about the varying criminal workloads covers 917 federal district court judges who had sentenced at least 50 defendants. The findings cover all active judges as well as senior judges who had retired from the bench but still heard cases. Information is available not only on each judge’s overall caseload, but by type of suit. Based on both extensive internal government data as well as court records, the research was carried out by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
To view a listing providing info on the number of defendants sentenced by each judge in all 94 federal judicial districts, go to TRAC’s Judge Information Center at: http://tracfed.syr.edu/judges/interp/judgelist.html?tracdecor=1“
Robert Ambrogi – Above the Law – Having now decided to weigh in on this untimely topic, what does the ABA tell us? [This is a must read] “In the classic short story “Rip Van Winkle,” a man fell asleep in 1769 and awoke 20 years later, having slept through the Revolution. One wonders whether the same is true of the authors of Formal Opinion 480, issued March 6 by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility. It tackles the ethics obligations around the “newest format” in online publishing by lawyers, blogs, as well as listservs, online articles, website postings, and “brief online statements or microblogs” such as Twitter. It has been 20 years since the launch of the first blog by a lawyer, which was either in 1998 or 1999, depending who is credited as first. During those two decades, a revolution has occurred in how lawyers publish. This blog, Above the Law, stands as testament to that. Last month, in just 28 days, it had 1.5 million unique visitors [aside – this blog crushes the competition!]. Granted, the ABA has a reputation for being a bit behind the curve on technology issues. But in reading this opinion, one has the feeling that someone at the ABA found it in a desk drawer where it had been lost for a decade and decided, “What the heck, let’s publish it.” Having now decided to weigh in on this untimely topic, what does the ABA tell us?…”
BuzzFeed: “Gun owners who are members of the National Rifle Association and those who are not are sharply divided over support for new gun control proposals, according to a new Ipsos/BuzzFeed News poll. A slew of new proposals have come out of Congress and the White House in the weeks since 17 people were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. President Donald Trump has personally suggested ideas ranging from limiting access to certain types of guns to arming teachers or professionals within schools. Some ideas have more buy-in with gun owners than others. Approximately 76% of gun owners who are not members of the NRA said they’d support raising the minimum age for buying a high-capacity semi-automatic rifle like an AR-15 from 18 to 21. That proposal even has substantial backing among gun-owning NRA members: 53% support it, with only 25% strongly opposed…” [The Ipsos/BuzzFeed News poll was conducted online between March 1 and 6 and questioned 1,052 gun owners in the US 18 and older, including 175 who said that they were NRA members and 877 who said they were not. According to Ipsos, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 8.4 percentage points for NRA members and plus or minus 3.8 percentage points for nonmembers. The poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points for all respondents.]
“Among gun owners, just 16% report that they are a member of the NRA. Views of the NRA are quite different between members and non-members [emphasis added]. 46% of all gun owners believe the NRA is an important defender of Second Amendment rights, but NRA members (77%) and non-members (40%) display a big disparity in this belief. 27% of non-members even go so far as to spurn the NRA as a reflection of their beliefs or interests as a gun owner. NRA membership also impacts support for a number of policies across the board, namely raising the legal gun ownership age from 18 to 21 and raising the minimum age to buy high-capacity semi-automatic rifles to 21. 40% of NRA members believe in raising the legal gun ownership age and 53% support raising the minimum age to 21 for buying high-capacity semi-automatic rifles. Comparatively, non-members support these proposed policies at rates of 64% and 76%, respectively. NRA members also report owning more guns compared to non-members. 17% of Americans report owning more than 5 guns, but 38% of NRA members report so compared to 13% of non-members.
See also Pew Research Center – 5 facts about the NRA and guns in America…there are only 5 million members of the NRA [are you surprised?]
There are reported to be over 327 million guns in America…”There’s a gun for every man, woman, and child, more or less,” says Deborah Azrael of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.” Once again, there are about 5 million members of the NRA.
“Which Web sites get the most traffic? According to the ranking service Alexa, the top three sites in the United States, as of this writing, are Google, YouTube, and Facebook. (Porn, somewhat hearteningly, doesn’t crack the top ten.) The rankings don’t reflect everything—the dark Web, the nouveau-riche recluses harvesting bitcoin—but, for the most part, people online go where you’d expect them to go. The only truly surprising entry, in fourth place, is Reddit, whose astronomical popularity seems at odds with the fact that many Americans have only vaguely heard of the site and have no real understanding of what it is. A link aggregator? A microblogging platform? A social network? To its devotees, Reddit feels proudly untamed, one of the last Internet giants to resist homogeneity. Most Reddit pages have a throwback aesthetic, with a few crudely designed graphics and a tangle of text: an original post, comments on the post, responses to the comments, responses to the responses. That’s pretty much it. Reddit is made up of more than a million individual communities, or subreddits, some of which have three subscribers, some twenty million. Every subreddit is devoted to a specific kind of content, ranging from vital to trivial: r/News, r/Politics, r/Trees (for marijuana enthusiasts), r/MarijuanaEnthusiasts (for tree enthusiasts), r/MildlyInteresting (“for photos that are, you know, mildly interesting”). Some people end up on Reddit by accident, find it baffling, and never visit again. But people who do use it—redditors, as they’re called—often use it all day long, to the near-exclusion of anything else. “For a while, we called ourselves the front page of the Internet,” Steve Huffman, Reddit’s C.E.O., said recently. “These days, I tend to say that we’re a place for open and honest conversations—‘open and honest’ meaning authentic, meaning messy, meaning the best and worst and realest and weirdest parts of humanity.”…[I limit my time on Reddit to a couple of minutes a day – and FB to maybe once or twice a week – also for a couple of minutes. I must say though, that my experience with Reddit although limited to a very small segment of a few communities, has been enlightening. With the emphasis on limiting my time and scoping my reading carefully. I am not on Instagram, so I find the photos on Reddit remarkable and unique – a few each evening is a great rush of nature after being indoors working for too many daylight hours.]
Via NYT – Benton Foundation – [Commentary] “It seems as if you are never “hard core” enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes. Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century. This is not because a cabal of YouTube engineers is plotting to drive the world off a cliff. A more likely explanation has to do with the nexus of artificial intelligence and Google’s business model. (YouTube is owned by Google.) For all its lofty rhetoric, Google is an advertising broker, selling our attention to companies that will pay for it. The longer people stay on YouTube, the more money Google makes. In effect, YouTube has created a restaurant that serves us increasingly sugary, fatty foods, loading up our plates as soon as we are finished with the last meal. This state of affairs is unacceptable but not inevitable. There is no reason to let a company make so much money while potentially helping to radicalize billions of people, reaping the financial benefits while asking society to bear so many of the costs.
[Zeynep Tufekci is an associate professor at the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina]
For all my friends, colleagues and fellow cyclists – wherever you may be cycling: “There are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands and in cities like Amsterdam and The Hague up to 70% of all journeys are made by bike. The BBC’s Hague correspondent, Anna Holligan, who rides an omafiets – or “granny style” – bike complete with wicker basket and pedal-back brakes, examines what made everyone get back in the saddle.”
Migratory birds have made their thousand-mile flights for millennia, but we are just now learning to map their mesmerizing journeys. “Different types of birds take routes of widely varying lengths. Some round-trip migrations can be as long as 44,000 miles, equivalent to almost two round-the-world trips. Others are much shorter. Some birds even migrate on foot. Many cover thousands of miles and move back and forth between continents…” This is a remarkable interactive map and narrative. You will be humbled and astounded by the endurance, tenacity, persistence and intelligence of seabirds, wading/shorebirds, birds of prey, waterfowl and land birds from over the world whose journeys take place for the most part out of sight and mind, but are nevertheless without peer.
In November 207 the Law Library published a report on Laws on Erasure of Online Information: “This report describes the laws of twelve jurisdictions that have some form of remedy available enabling the removal of online data based on harm to individuals’ privacy or reputational interests, including but not limited to defamation. Six of the countries surveyed are within the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area, and therefore have implemented EU law. Five non-EU jurisdictions are also surveyed (…)” “As described in detail in the EU survey, the EU’s law in this area emerged from a 1995 Data Protection Directive that gave individuals the right to erasure of erroneous or incomplete data. A 2014 decision of the European Court of Justice expanded on this right to provide for the right to remove search results to personal information even without deletion of that information from the original publication, where the individuals’ privacy interests outweigh the public interest in maintaining the information. A 2016 Regulation that will apply in all EU Member States by May 25, 2018, will codify the 2014 decision (…)” “The surveyed countries outside the EU have a range of approaches to these issues:
- Russia has criminal penalties for ‘invasion of personal privacy’ for the illegal spreading of private information about a person, which has been used to prosecute revenge pornography. Its Civil Code provides for the right to demand removal of images improperly distributed on the internet, and under its Law on Information it recognizes the right to be forgotten—the right of applicants to request search engine operators to remove illegal, inaccurate, or outdated search results.
- New Zealand has robust statutory remedies for resolving harmful online content.
- Canadian law provides not only for the processing of complaints regarding privacy and reputational issues through the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, but also for court remedies that include injunctive relief against search engines to delist websites.
- Japanese law allows internet hosting providers to delete defamatory content, provides a safe harbor from liability for such providers, has a mechanism for victims to request the removal of infringing information, and has an easier and faster mechanism for the blocking of revenge porn. It also provides a means by which victims can obtain the identification of offenders from the service provider.
- Israel’s Defamation Law has been applied by a court against Google for failing to change a technical code that resulted in defamatory information in online searches.”
The Law Library of Congress is the world’s largest law library, with a collection of over 2.65 million volumes from all ages of history and virtually every jurisdiction in the world.”
The girl who convinced the Maasai to stop FGM: “Aged eight, Nice Leng’ete was destined to undergo female genital mutilation, leave school and be married off to an older man, according to Maasai tradition. She not only fought against FGM for herself but, through her bravery and persistence, helped overturn this centuries-old practice for thousands of Maasai girls across Kenya and Tanzania. This is her story. Nice Leng’ete is one of the nominees for Outlook Inspirations 2018. To find the other Outlook Inspirations nominees and for lots more details on how to suggest someone, take a look here. You’ll also find our terms and conditions. Closing date is midnight GMT 6th April. Video produced by Ellen Tsang and Andrea Kennedy. Footage by Ken Mungai.”
National Security Archive: “The Secret Service and the White House have emerged as the dubious winners from the hard-fought competition for the National Security Archive’s infamous Rosemary Award for worst open government performance of 2017. The award, which the Archive began bestowing in 2005, is named after President Nixon’s secretary, Rose Mary Woods, who testified she had inadvertently erased 18 and ½ minutes of a crucial Watergate tape when she stretched to answer the phone with her foot still on the transcription pedal. Previous Rosemary Award “winners” include the CIA, the Treasury Department, the Air Force, the FBI, the Justice Department (twice), and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The Secret Service clinched the 2017 award for its claim that “There is no system for keeping track of Presidential visitors at Mar-a-Lago.” This remarkable assertion was made in an October 4, 2017, court filing during the course of the National Security Archive’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking the Secret Service’s White House visitor logs, along with Secret Service records of presidential visitors at other Trump properties. The shocking claim that there is no system for tracking who has access to the President when he is at Mar-a-Lago (or any other Trump property) means that anyone, from lobbyists to foreign agents, can have direct access to the president for the price of a Mar-a-Lago membership paid to the president himself…”
The Week: “No matter what President Trump says, the decline of American manufacturing won’t be reversed by modest tariffs on aluminum and steel. There is more to this issue than industrial metals. Perhaps the largest structural economic crisis this country faces — one that encompasses everything else from outsourcing to stagnant wages to the environment — is the decades-long epidemic of cheap crap. “This is why we can’t have nice things” is a cliché that has lost its meaning. The reason we can’t have nice things in America in 2018 is that we don’t want them. Think about the last pair of socks you purchased. Unless you spent upwards of $25 on them, they were probably made of Chinese acrylic. Getting them on your toes resembled an attempt to strangle a zebra with a sandwich bag. And afterward you couldn’t shake the feeling that your feet were encased in a substance not unlike paint. They probably had a hole in them after a single wear. But, hey, who could pass up 12 pairs for $12 with Prime shipping?..Most Americans would rather have junk, though. Given a choice between purchasing a handful of moderately expensive items and buying replaceable crap whenever they want — and probably having it shipped rather than entering a store — people will choose the latter unless they are very rich. Luxury goods are now the only way around the cheap stuff quandary. It’s fine that very nice things exist and that some people can afford them. What’s crazy is expanding the definition of a luxury to include things like socks made of actual wool rather than plastic or a flip-phone whose battery lasts for more than five hours…”
Via Artificial Lawyer – What Really is Blockchain and Why Does it Matter to Lawyers? “Blockchain. It seems that in a blink of an eye the entire technology world is tilting on its axis with talk of distributed ledgers, cryptocurrencies, ICOs (initial coin offerings), and smart contracts. But what is blockchain, and why might it matter to the legal industry? In October 2008, a white paper was authored by Satoshi Nakamoto with the title, ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System‘. To this day, the actual identity of Nakamoto is unknown, but the current ecosystem of blockchains and their related cryptocurrencies, now worth nearly half a trillion dollars, owes its start to that white paper. The significance of Bitcoin is that its software design solved what is known as the “double spend problem” of digital currency, without involving intermediaries such as banks. In layman’s terms, what this means that, absent special technology, there is nothing to prevent someone from infinitely duplicating digital currency (which is just data). By contrast, if a customer were to take a physical twenty-dollar bill into a store and make a purchase, the customer must hand it to the clerk in exchange for the goods. The store now possesses that paper note, and the customer cannot spend it again. Because we trust the uniqueness of the paper note and the difficulty in duplicating it, we trust that it can store value…” [David Fisher is the founder of Integra Ledger, ‘the blockchain for law’, as well as a co-founder of the Global Legal Blockchain Consortium]
“Presidents have come to dominate the making, interpretation, and termination of international law for the United States. Often without specific congressional concurrence, and sometimes even when it is likely that Congress would disagree, Presidents assert the authority to (a) make a vast array of international obligations for the United States, through both written agreements and the development of customary international law; (b) make increasingly consequential political commitments for the United States on practically any topic; (c) interpret these obligations and commitments; and (d) terminate or withdraw from these obligations and commitments. While others have examined pieces of this picture, no one has considered the picture as a whole. For this and other reasons, commentators have failed to appreciate the overall extent of presidential unilateralism in this area, as well as the extent to which Presidents are able to shift between different pathways of authority in order to circumvent potential restraints. This trend, moreover, has become more pronounced in recent years. In many ways, the growth of this vast executive control over international law resembles the rise of presidential power in other modern contexts ranging from administrative law to covert action. Unlike in those other contexts, however, there is no systematic regulatory apparatus to guide or review the exercise of presidential control over international law. After presenting a descriptive account of the rise of such control, the Article turns to normative issues about the legality and broader legitimacy of this practice. It concludes that much of the modern practice has a plausible legal foundation but that some recent presidential actions and arguments relating to international agreements are questionable under generally accepted separation of powers principles. It also explains that the broader legitimacy question is difficult to assess because it turns on contested issues about the aims of presidential control, its efficacy in practice, and the costs and benefits of possible accountability mechanisms. After mapping out these and related considerations, the Article argues for one general accountability reform: significantly heightened transparency of executive branch actions and their legal bases. The Article then assesses the costs and benefits of additional accountability reforms that might become appropriate as more information about presidential control comes to light.”
Internet Archive Blogs: “The Internet Archive is a treasure trove of fascinating media, texts, and ephemera. Items that if they didn’t exist here, would be lost forever. Yet so many of our community members have difficulty describing what exactly it is…that we do here. Most people know us for the Wayback Machine, but we are so much more. To that end, we’ve put together a fun and useful guide to exploring the Archive. So, grab your flashlight and pith hat and let your digital adventure begin…
1. Pick a place & time you want to explore. Search our eBooks and Texts collection and download or borrow one of the 3 million books for free, offered in many formats, including PDFs and EPub.
2. Enter a time machine of old time films. Explore films of historic significance in the Prelinger Archives.
3. Want to listen to a live concert? The Live Music Archive holds more than 12,000 Grateful Dead concerts.
4. Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Hearts of Men? Only the Shadow knows. You can too. Listen to “The Shadow” as he employs his power to cloud minds to fight crime in Old Time Radio.
5. To read or not to read? Try listening to Shakespeare with the LibriVox Free Audiobook Collection.
6. Need a laugh? Search the Animation Shorts collection for an old time cartoon.
7. Before there was Playstation 4… there was Atari. Play a classic video game on an emulated old time console, right in the browser. Choose from hundreds of games in the Internet Arcade.
8. Are you a technophile? Take the Oregon Trail or get nostalgic with the Apple II programs. You have instant access to decades of computer history in the Software Library.
9. Find a television news story you missed. Search our Television News Archive for all the channels that presented the story. How do they differ? Quote a clip from the story and share it.
10. Has your favorite website disappeared? Go to the Wayback Machine and type in the URL to see if this website has been preserved across time. Want to save a website? Use “Save Page Now.”
Make Law Better – Speaker Deck – The Legal Innovation Agenda in Vectors and Phases by Daniel Martin Katz, Associate Professor of Law, Illinois Tech – Chicago Kent College of Law + Chief Strategy Officer @ LexPredict. Published March 10, 2018.
Bias in Online Classes: Evidence from a Field Experiment – Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford – Rachel Baker of the University of California, Irvine; Thomas Dee of Stanford; Brent Evans of Vanderbilt University; and June John of Stanford: “While online learning environments are increasingly common, relatively little is known about issues of equity in these settings. We test for the presence of race and gender biases among postsecondary students and instructors in online classes by measuring student and instructor responses to discussion comments we posted in the discussion forums of 124 different online courses. Each comment was randomly assigned a student name connoting a specific race and gender. We find that instructors are 94% more likely to respond to forum posts by White male students. In contrast, we do not find general evidence of biases in student responses. However, we do find that comments placed by White females are more likely to receive a response from White female peers. We discuss the implications of our findings for our understanding of social identity dynamics in classrooms and the design of equitable online learning environments.”
Harry Potter: A History of Magic – Explore the wonders of the British Library exhibition: Online exhibits; Artwork and artifacts; Articles; Videos.
Via All Generalizations are False – Home of the Media Bias Chart – Version 3.0 of the Chart – “As I discussed in my post entitled “The Chart, Second Edition: What Makes a News Source Good?” the most accurate and helpful way to analyze a news source is to analyze its individual stories, and the most accurate way to analyze an individual story is to analyze its individual sentences. I recently started a blog series where I rank individual stories on this chart and provide a written analysis that scores the article itself on a sentence-by-sentence basis, and separately scores the title, graphics, lede, and other visual elements. See a couple of examples here. Categorizing and ranking the news is hard to do because there are so very many factors. But I’m convinced that the most accurate way to analyze and categorize news is to look as closely at it as possible, and measure everything about it that is measurable. I think we can improve our media landscape by doing this and coming up with novel and accurate ways to rank and score the news, and then teaching others how to do the same. If you like how I analyze articles in my blog series, and have a request for a particular article, let me know in the comments. I’m interested in talking about individual articles, and what makes them good and bad, with you….”