Law and Legal
“As stories of sexual misconduct continue to dominate the news, some alleged perpetrators bear household names (Kevin Spacey, Garrison Keillor, Harvey Weinstein, James Franco), and some don’t (Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle, NPR editor Michael Oreskes, Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine). Though his moniker is absent from modern headlines, there’s one harasser whose name is known to librarians everywhere: Melvil Dewey. In the #MeToo era, how should the library profession handle Dewey’s legacy, tainted as it is by sexism and racism? Dewey—who was, of course, a founder of the American Library Association (ALA) and the inventor of the widely used Dewey Decimal Classification—made numerous inappropriate physical advances toward women, including library colleagues and his own daughter-in-law, over a period of many years. Eventually, Dewey was ostracized by the ALA as a result of what one librarian of the period called his “outrages against decency.” In addition, Dewey refused to admit Jews, African Americans, or other minorities to the Lake Placid Club, the private Adirondacks resort in New York that he and his wife owned and operated for many years. Booker T. Washington was disallowed from its dining rooms, Dewey bought up adjoining land for fear it would otherwise be sold to Jews, and promotional literature made it clear that “no Jews or consumptives [were] allowed” on the property. (“Personally, many of my choicest friends are Jews,” Dewey wrote in an evasive response to a membership request from one Albert Harris of New York City.) Yet 87 years after his death, Dewey remains revered as the “father of modern librarianship,” “a pioneer in library education,” and “a pioneer in the creation of career opportunities for women,” as the Library of Congress website calls him. Indeed, the ALA itself bestows the Melvil Dewey Medal, and American Libraries’ own Dewey Decibel podcast bears his name (but has dropped his likeness from its logo)…”
Google Blog: “Last year, as part of our initiative to connect people to economic opportunity, we introduced job search on Google, which has grown to help tens of millions of job seekers across 12 countries find the right job opportunities that match their unique needs. But the path to success often begins much earlier than a job search. For many, selecting the right college is an early and important step in preparing for the future. The process to find the right school for you, however, can be confusing. Information is scattered across the internet, and it’s not always clear what factors to consider and which pieces of information will be most useful for your decision. In fact, 63 percent of recently-enrolled and prospective students say they have often felt lost when researching college or financial aid options. That’s why we’re bringing a new feature to Search to help you navigate the college search process. Now when you search for a 4-year U.S. college like UCLA or Spelman College, information about admissions, cost, student life and more will surface directly in Search, making it easier to explore educational options and find a college that meets your needs…”
- It implies that each class can be turned into the next by some sort of transformation process, so that information plus something turns into knowledge. However it is not as simple as that. Much or most knowledge comes from experience and insight rather than from information. Knowledge is something you add to information in order to be able to take action; it is not necessarily something you derive from information.
- It implies a hard distinction between each of the four, whereas information and knowledge potentially overlap. Documented knowledge is knowledge, but its also information. Not all knowledge is information, and not all information is knowledge, but some is both information and knowledge.
- It implies wisdom is somehow part of the same family as data and information, and it isn’t. Wisdom is more of a virtue or a spiritual quality, and not amenable to management discipline…”
One Green Planet: “Chile is all set to become the very first country in the Americas to ban plastic bags to fight plastic pollution. Thanks to the new measure, which was approved unanimously by the Congress this week, all retail businesses in Chile will be prohibited from using plastic bags, which will curb the total plastic waste produced by the country. Large retailers and supermarkets will have six months to comply with the policy, while small and medium-sized businesses will have two years to do so, The New York Times reports. During that time, they will be allowed to hand out up to two plastic bags per client…”
Pacific Standard – “Over the last 10 years, the poaching and trafficking of animal products has become the fourth-highest-grossing crime in the world. But because wildlife crime is not bound by national borders and each country has its own rules and ideas, its management and policing has become unwieldy at best…Interpol estimates that wildlife crime—which includes poaching, trafficking, and a growing black market for animal goods—could be a $30 billion industry, driven in part by multinational crime syndicates. Over the last 10 years, the poaching and trafficking of animal products has become the fourth-highest-grossing crime in the world, behind the narcotics trade, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. And, much like those crimes, because wildlife crime is not bound by national borders and each country has its own rules and ideas, its management and policing has become unwieldy at best. With the proper permits, hunting polar bears isn’t illegal in Canada, but officials like Jordan are in desperate need of a way to track pelts as they move out of the Arctic, so they can catch traffickers and distinguish between which pelts were traded lawfully and which were not…”
Mass balance of the Antarctic Ice Sheet from 1992 to 2017 [paywall] – see also Axios – “Why this matters: The safety of coastal populations, including growing megacities worldwide, is intricately tied to the fate of Antarctica’s ice sheet. Until a few years ago, Antarctica was assumed to be far more stable than the Greenland Ice Sheet, but that is no longer the case. The faster and more significantly that Antarctica melts due to global warming, the higher that seas will rise. This means more damaging storm surges and so-called “sunny day” flooding during ordinary high tides. Such flooding is already happening along the U.S. East Coast. If all of Antarctica were to melt, the study says, it would raise global sea levels by a catastrophic 58 meters, or 190 feet. Luckily, no study is projecting this will happen, at least not anytime soon. However, greater than 1 meter, or 3.3 feet, of sea level rise is possible by the end of this century, with more to come thereafter…”
[Via the article in Nature] The Antarctic Ice Sheet is an important indicator of climate change and driver of sea-level rise. Here we combine satellite observations of its changing volume, flow and gravitational attraction with modelling of its surface mass balance to show that it lost 2,720 ± 1,390 billion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017, which corresponds to an increase in mean sea level of 7.6 ± 3.9 millimetres (errors are one standard deviation). Over this period, ocean-driven melting has caused rates of ice loss from West Antarctica to increase from 53 ± 29 billion to 159 ± 26 billion tonnes per year; ice-shelf collapse has increased the rate of ice loss from the Antarctic Peninsula from 7 ± 13 billion to 33 ± 16 billion tonnes per year. We find large variations in and among model estimates of surface mass balance and glacial isostatic adjustment for East Antarctica, with its average rate of mass gain over the period 1992–2017 (5 ± 46 billion tonnes per year) being the least certain.”
See also the Washington Post – Antarctic ice loss has tripled in a decade. If that continues, we are in serious trouble.
Data Science Central – William Vorhies June 12, 2018: “Summary: Data Science is the secret sauce that turns the dumb internet into the smart internet driving changes in society as fast as we drive changes in the internet. The best place to find data on this is Mary Meeker’s Internet Trend Report 2018. Here we use that data to look back at the last year and forward a bit in time to see what impact data science is having. What does the internet run on? It’s been compared to a highway that carries billions of cars. It’s been compared to a vast plumbing system that carries water. It’s been compared to the neurons in a brain that carry electronic impulses. Whether its cars or water or impulses, we all understand those to be a metaphor for data. But does data just go wherever it wants? No. Is it guided by the people who sent it? Not actually. The internet, the one that behaves like streets and highways has crude rules like stop signs, merges, right of way, and maps that tell where and how data can go, or could go. But what makes the internet smart, and really, really valuable is data science. It’s data science that creates the smart rules about
- where to send specific advertising messages
- turning unstructured images, text, and voice signals into smart recognition signals
- speeding up processing by acting on signals at the edge of the system before they even reach their destination
- creating a trust system allowing multiple signals to cooperate
- communicating with us in our native languages
- automating decisions and replacing wrote and repetitive human tasks
- and much, much more.
Without the smart rules created by data science the internet is nothing more than a fancy telephone or telegraph. At best, an information retrieval system but only if you know the specific piece of data you want and exactly where it’s stored..”
“Abstract – Journalists now regularly trumpet fact-checking as an important tool to hold politicians accountable for their public statements, but fact checking’s effect has only been assessed anecdotally and in experiments on politicians holding lower-level offices. Using a rigorous research design to estimate the effects of fact-checking on presidential candidates, this paper shows that a fact-checker deeming a statement false false causes a 9.5 percentage points reduction in the probability that the candidate repeats the claim. To eliminate alternative explanations that could confound this estimate, I use two types of difference-in-differences analyses, each using true-rated claims and “checkable but unchecked” claims, a placebo test using hypothetical fact-check dates, and a topic model to condition on the topic of the candidate’s statement. This paper contributes to the literature on how news media can hold politicians accountable, showing that when news organizations label a statement as inaccurate, they affect candidate behavior.”
Washington Post: “…Facebook pledged to continue refining its privacy practices and investigating its entanglement with Cambridge Analytica in nearly 500 pages of new information supplied to Congress and published Monday (See also TechCrunch as a non pay-walled source) – though the social giant sidestepped some of lawmakers’ most critical queries. Much as it did during the hearing, Facebook told lawmakers on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee that it is reviewing all apps available on its platform that had access to large queries of data, a process that already has resulted in 200 suspensions…
But Facebook did say that its consultants embedded in 2016 presidential campaigns, including President Trump’s team, “did not identify any issues involving the improper use of Facebook data in the course of their interactions with Cambridge Analytica.” In another exchange, Facebook said it had provided “technical support and best practices guidance to advertisers, including Cambridge Analytica, on using Facebook’s advertising tools.”
Via EveryCRSReport – FBI Director Nominations, 1973-2017, May 29, 2018: “The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The statutory basis for the present nomination and confirmation process was developed in 1968 and 1976, and has been used since the death of J. Edgar Hoover in 1972. From 1973 through 2017, eight nominations for FBI Director were confirmed, and two other nominations were withdrawn by the President before confirmation. The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent. There are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director. From 1973 through 2017, two Directors were removed by the President. President William J. Clinton removed William S. Sessions from office on July 19, 1993, and President Donald J. Trump removed James B. Comey from office on May 9, 2017. Robert S. Mueller III was the first FBI Director to be appointed to a second term, and this was done under special statutory arrangements. He was first confirmed by the Senate on August 2, 2001, with a term of office that expired in September 2011. In May 2011, President Barack Obama announced his intention to seek legislation that would extend Mueller’s term of office for two years. Legislation that would allow Mueller to be nominated to an additional, two-year term was considered and passed in the Senate and the House, and President Obama signed the bill into law (P.L. 112-24) on July 26, 2011. Mueller subsequently was nominated and confirmed to the two-year term, and he served until September 4, 2013. This report provides an overview of the development of the process for appointing the FBI Director, briefly discusses the history of nominations to this position from 1973-2017, and identifies related congressional hearing records and reports.”
Via EveryCRSReport – Resources for Key Economic Indicators:, May 30, 2018: An understanding of economic indicators and their significance is seen as essential to the formulation of economic policies. These indicators, or statistics, provide snapshots of an economy’s health as well as starting points for economic analysis. This report contains a list of selected authoritative U.S. government sources of economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), income, inflation, and labor force (including employment and unemployment) statistics. Additional content includes related resources, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and links to external glossaries.”
The Guardian: Demise of nine out of 13 of the ancient landmarks linked to climate change by researchers – “Some of Africa’s oldest and biggest baobab trees have abruptly died, wholly or in part, in the past decade, according to researchers. The trees, aged between 1,100 and 2,500 years and in some cases as wide as a bus is long, may have fallen victim to climate change, the team speculated. “We report that nine of the 13 oldest … individuals have died, or at least their oldest parts/stems have collapsed and died, over the past 12 years,” they wrote in the scientific journal Nature Plants, describing “an event of an unprecedented magnitude”. “It is definitely shocking and dramatic to experience during our lifetime the demise of so many trees with millennial ages,” said the study’s co-author Adrian Patrut of the Babeș-Bolyai University in Romania. Among the nine were four of the largest African baobabs. While the cause of the die-off remains unclear, the researchers “suspect that the demise of monumental baobabs may be associated at least in part with significant modifications of climate conditions that affect southern Africa in particular”…
This story appears in the summer 2018 edition of CNET Magazine: “Harley darts into a decrepit room in Connecticut. She’s searching for evidence. There are plenty of potential distractions in the room: Wires hang from the ceiling. Warped wood paneling buckles away from the walls. Faded yellow cabinets look like someone kicked a hole in them. “Are you ready to go to work?” Brett Hochron, a detective with the Westchester County Police, in New York, asks his partner. Harley immediately spots a lighter on a table and grabs it. She starts drooling. It’s a cold February afternoon, but Harley is focused. The basket of tennis balls next to the table doesn’t even get a glance. That’s because Harley is a very good dog. She’s also a graduate of an elite K-9 search class that trains dogs to sniff out electronics, including phones, hard drives and microSD cards smaller than your thumb…”
Open Culture: “Reading Dante’s Inferno, and Divine Comedy generally, can seem a daunting task, what with the book’s wealth of allusion to 14th century Florentine politics and medieval Catholic theology. Much depends upon a good translation. Maybe it’s fitting that the proverb about translators as traitors comes from Italian. The first Dante that came my way—the unabridged Carlyle-Okey-Wicksteed English translation—renders the poet’s terza rima in leaden prose, which may well be a literary betrayal. Gone is the rhyme scheme, self-contained stanzas, and poetic compression, replaced by wordiness, antiquated diction, and needless density. I labored through the text and did not much enjoy it. I’m far from an expert by any stretch, but was much relieved to later discover John Ciardi’s more faithful English rendering, which immediately impresses upon the senses and the memory, as in the description above in the first stanzas of Canto II…Even after hundreds of years of cultural shifts and upheavals, the Inferno and its humorous and horrific scenes of torture still retain a fascination for modern readers and for illustrators like Daniel Heald, whose 1994 map, above, while lacking Botticelli’s gilded brilliance, presents us with a clear visual guide through that perplexing valley of pain, which remains—in the right translation or, doubtless, in its original language—a pleasure for readers who are willing to descend into its circular depths. Or, short of that, we can take a digital train and escalators into an 8-bit video game version…”
Recode: “Verizon? Go right ahead. Charter? You too. Amazon and other tech companies with billions to burn? Go for it. That’s the message from a federal judge, who has ruled today that AT&T can buy Time Warner — and, crucially, didn’t apply any restrictions to his decision. That clears the way for other “vertical” mergers, which means other people who control distribution — cable guys, telco guys, tech guys — can buy content guys. So, again, take a last look at this chart that shows how the media landscape is in for a seismic change…”
The Face of Legal Technology in 2018 (and What it Means for the Future of Access to Justice) By Kristen Sonday, Paladin Updated: May 8, 2018.
“Introduction – In recent years, a curious paradox has emerged: There is far more legal technology being built than ever before, yet somehow, the access to justice (ATJ) gap in America keeps widening. In an age of natural disasters, politically charged immigration measures, an opioid epidemic (for which the Legal Services Corporation recently created a task force) and a housing emergency, the United States is facing a bona fide ATJ crisis. Right now, a whopping 86% of low-income Americans who need legal assistance never receive it—a shocking statistic that disproportionately affects women, immigrants, and minorities…Employing the first ever data-driven analysis of legaltech companies and their founders, I present two crucial (and until now, anecdotal) root causes:
1. Lack of representation from diverse communities within legaltech; and
2. Lack of focus by legaltech on problems that affect access to justice…”
The science that’s never been cited – [but may be viewed and downloaded] “…To get a better handle on this dark and forgotten corner of published research, Nature dug into the figures to find out how many papers actually do go uncited (the methods are available in the Supplementary information). It is impossible to know for sure, because citation databases are incomplete. But it’s clear that, at least for the core group of 12,000 or so journals in the Web of Science — a large database owned by Clarivate Analytics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — zero-citation papers are much less prevalent than is widely believed. Web of Science records suggest that fewer than 10% of scientific articles are likely to remain uncited. But the true figure is probably even lower, because large numbers of papers that the database records as uncited have actually been cited somewhere by someone. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there is less low-quality research to worry about: thousands of journals aren’t indexed by the Web of Science, and concerns that scientists pad out their CVs with pointless papers remain very real. But the new figures may reassure those dismayed by reports of oceans of neglected work. And a closer look at some uncited papers shows that they have use — and are read — despite having apparently been ignored. “Lack of citation cannot be interpreted as meaning articles are useless or valueless,” says David Pendlebury, a senior citations analyst at Clarivate…”
Center for Data Innovation: “Climate news publication Carbon Brief has created several data visualizations mapping the location and capacity of the world’s coal power plants. An interactive timeline map allows users to scroll from 2000-2017 to see where plants are operating, opening, and have closed. The maps illustrate that the world’s coal capacity has nearly doubled since 2000, and that China alone has increased the size of its coal fleet nearly five times in that period. The visualizations also show that global investment in coal is slowing, and that CO2 emissions from coal may have peaked because larger, more efficient plants are replacing older ones.”
The Guardian: “Danish-Canadian urban designer Mikael Colville-Andersen busts some common myths and shows how the bicycle has the potential to transform cities around the world.”
Washington Post: “Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s daughter and son-in-law, brought in at least $82 million in outside income while serving as senior White House advisers during 2017, according to new financial disclosure forms released Monday. Ivanka Trump earned $3.9 million from her stake in the Trump International Hotel in Washington, while Kushner reported over $5 million in income from Quail Ridge, a Kushner Cos. apartment complex acquired last year in Plainsboro, N.J. The filings show how the couple are collecting immense sums from other enterprises while serving in the White House, an extraordinary income flow that ethics experts have warned could create potential conflicts of interests…”