Law and Legal

What’s in the Natural Resources Management Act

Outside Magazine – The crucial public lands legislation just might pass the Senate. Here’s what you can do to help—and why you should care. “The Senate will vote on the bi-partisan Natural Resources Management Act next week. It looks like it actually stands a chance of passing, in which case it will go to the House of Representatives, which in turn will likely pass it on to the President. If it’s signed into law, NRMA will be the most wide-reaching and important public lands legislation passed since the 1970s. This is an extraordinary achievement in today’s political environment, but what exactly does the NRMA do? Here’s your cheat sheet to the law’s 170 separate provisions…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Scientists Are Totally Rethinking Animal Cognition

The Atlantic – What science can tell us about how other creatures experience the world – “…Jains move through the world in this gentle way because they believe animals are conscious beings that experience, in varying degrees, emotions analogous to human desire, fear, pain, sorrow, and joy. This idea that animals are conscious was long unpopular in the West, but it has lately found favor among scientists who study animal cognition. And not just the obvious cases—primates, dogs, elephants, whales, and others. Scientists are now finding evidence of an inner life in alien-seeming creatures that evolved on ever-more-distant limbs of life’s tree. In recent years, it has become common to flip through a magazine like this one and read about an octopus using its tentacles to twist off a jar’s lid or squirt aquarium water into a postdoc’s face. For many scientists, the resonant mystery is no longer which animals are conscious, but which are not…”

Categories: Law and Legal

TELESCOPE beta There’s a whole world of film out there. Welcome to it.

Thanks to digital distribution, the American audience now has unprecedented access to films from around the world. At Telescope Film, our mission is to connect those films with the people who want to watch them — and to help that audience grow. Telescopefilm.com is a website to promote international film to American audiences. Our online database of international film enables users to search and filter by options including title, director, country, language, and genre, and provides one-click access to all major streaming services in the US. The site will also offer a variety of features to help users discover new content, including curation, a customizable user experience, and an engaged community of fans…” [See also MHz Choice. The best international mysteries, dramas & comedies with easy-to-read English subtitles.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Finding the Story of New York in 5,000 Dog Pictures

The New York Times – A new archival project uses photos dating back to the 1940s to track the very special canine-human bond in New York City. “There were graceful Great Danes, curious German shepherds and regal Rhodesian Ridgebacks. There were Lord Tareyton and Lady Gretchen and Buster and Mingus; tiny terriers and yawning cocker spaniels and snow-covered poodles; dogs in strollers and dogs in goggles, dogs on playgrounds and in sunroofs and on airplanes; goldendoodles that stared into your soul and briards that tugged at the heartstrings. The dogs — specifically, the good dogs of New York — could be found in a treasure trove of photos in The New York Times’s archives. This week, 20 of them were brought back to life in the latest installment of Past Tense, an archival storytelling project from The Times that uses the archive’s six million photos, dating back to 1896, to tell new stories. This selection shows the historical relationship between New Yorkers and their dogs…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Female Librarians on Horseback Delivering Books, ca. 1930s

History Daily – “In the 1930s, many people living in isolated communities had very little access to jobs, let alone a good education for their children. In Kentucky, they had isolated mountain communities which could only get their books and reading material from one source… librarians on horseback…” [amazing – thank you to each and every librarian in America, through all the years of service they have provided and continue to provide to us all.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Inside Law Firms’ Best Results in a Decade

Law.com – Law firms were able to grow revenue more than expenses despite a big rise in the cost of associate salaries. “The law firm industry last year posted its best results in more than 10 years.Post-recession highs in demand and billing rate growth drove strong revenue growth—critical in a year where expense growth accelerated. As a result, the industry saw the strongest net income and profits per equity partner growth we’ve seen since 2007. Am Law 50 firms and niche/boutique firms outperformed the rest of the industry on average, and the Am Law Second 50 were not far behind. And while dispersion remained, the good news is that we saw a larger proportion of firms enjoy demand growth. Even among the Am Law Second Hundred firms, whose performance as a group lagged the other segments, an increased proportion of firms saw demand improvement. With strong inventory growth at year-end, the industry is well-positioned for a strong start to 2019. These results are based on a sample of 191 firms (75 Am Law 100 firms, 54 Second Hundred firms and 62 niche/boutique firms). Thirty-seven of these firms fit our definition of either “international” (between 10 and 25 percent of lawyers based outside the United States), or “global” (at least 25 percent of lawyers based outside the United States)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Global insect decline may see ‘plague of pests’

BBC News: “A scientific review of insect numbers suggests that 40% of species are undergoing “dramatic rates of decline” around the world. The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. But researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom. The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change. Insects make up the majority of creatures that live on land, and provide key benefits to many other species, including humans. They provide food for birds, bats and small mammals; they pollinate around 75% of the crops in the world; they replenish soils and keep pest numbers in check. Many other studies in recent years have shown that individual species of insects, such as bees, have suffered huge declines, particularly in developed economies.

But this new paper takes a broader look. Published in the journal Biological Conservation, it reviews 73 existing studies from around the world published over the past13 years. The researchers found that declines in almost all regions may lead to the extinction of 40% of insects over the next few decades. One-third of insect species are classed as Endangered…”

See also Vox – We have a new global tally of the insect apocalypse. It’s alarming. When insects go extinct, other species follow

Categories: Law and Legal

10 Things to Know about the Required Beginning Date for IRAs

With many thanks to Pete Weiss – everyone should read this FAQ by a tax attorney will help to prevent costly errors when claiming income distribution during retirement – “If you have an IRA, you may have heard the term “required beginning date” or “RBD.” This is an important date that every IRA owner should understand. The significance of the RBD is not limited to IRA owners. It is a critical date for IRA beneficiaries as well. Here are 10 things you need know about the RBD…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Discrimination In The Age Of Algorithms

Via NBER – Discrimination In The Age Of Algorithms. Jon Kleinberg, Jens Ludwig, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Cass R. Sunstein. #25548 [h/t Mary Whisner]

“The law forbids discrimination. But the ambiguity of human decision-making often makes it extraordinarily hard for the legal system to know whether anyone has actually discriminated. To understand how algorithms affect discrimination, we must therefore also understand how they affect the problem of detecting discrimination. By one measure, algorithms are fundamentally opaque, not just cognitively but even mathematically. Yet for the task of proving discrimination, processes involving algorithms can provide crucial forms of transparency that are otherwise unavailable. These benefits do not happen automatically. But with appropriate requirements in place, the use of algorithms will make it possible to more easily examine and interrogate the entire decision process, thereby making it far easier to know whether discrimination has occurred. By forcing a new level of specificity, the use of algorithms also highlights, and makes transparent, central tradeoffs among competing va! lues. Algorithms are not only a threat to be regulated; with the right safeguards in place, they have the potential to be a positive force for equity.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft really doesn’t want you to use Internet Explorer anymore

The Verge: “Microsoft killed off the Internet Explorer brand nearly four years ago, choosing Edge as its modern browser for Windows 10. Internet Explorer lived on as plumbing for Windows and for business compatibility, but Microsoft isn’t supporting it with new web standards – it’s legacy code. Chris Jackson, a cybersecurity expert in Microsoft’s Windows division, has now outlined what he calls the “perils of using Internet Explorer as your default browser.” While most consumers are likely using Chrome, Firefox, or Edge, a number of businesses still rely on Internet Explorer for older web apps that haven’t been modernized. Microsoft has tried many different ways to push businesses to improve their older web apps, but IT admins have naturally taken the easy route of using Internet Explorer and its various compatibility modes over the years. In Windows 10, Internet Explorer 11 uses an Enterprise Mode so that IT admins have to add the sites they want to use old versions of web standards with…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Sherlock at scale: Law enforcement enters the connected age

GNC: “Crime is common,” Sherlock Holmes said in the 1892 novel, The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. “Logic is rare. Therefore it is upon the logic rather than upon the crime that you should dwell.” Holmes famously used his intellect to make deductions about crimes and solve them. For him, logic was the linchpin, helping him associate disparate pieces of evidence. For law enforcement agencies today, it’s not only logic, but connections and relationships that are key in successfully using data as the foundation of information, knowledge and wisdom for decision-making. So how can today’s law enforcement agencies leverage technology to mitigate crime and do their jobs better in the connected age? Here are three ways…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How America uses its land

Bloomberg: “There are many statistical measures that show how productive the U.S. is. Its economy is the largest in the world and grew at a rate of 4.1 percent last quarter, its fastest pace since 2014. The unemployment rate is near the lowest mark in a half century. What can be harder to decipher is how Americans use their land to create wealth. The 48 contiguous states alone are a 1.9 billion-acre jigsaw puzzle of cities, farms, forests and pastures that Americans use to feed themselves, power their economy and extract value for business and pleasure. Using surveys, satellite images and categorizations from various government agencies, the U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the U.S. into six major types of land. The data can’t be pinpointed to a city block—each square on the map represents 250,000 acres of land. But piecing the data together state-by-state can give a general sense of how U.S. land is used…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why data, not privacy, is the real danger

NBCNews: “While it’s creepy to imagine companies are listening in to your conversations, it’s perhaps more creepy that they can predict what you’re talking about without actually listening…First, understand that privacy and data are separate things. Your privacy — your first and last name, your Social Security number, your online credentials — is the unit of measure we best understand, and most actively protect. When a bug in FaceTime allows strangers to hear and watch us, we get that, in the same visceral way we can imagine a man snooping outside our window. But your data — the abstract portrait of who you are, and, more importantly, of who you are compared to other people — is your real vulnerability when it comes to the companies that make money offering ostensibly free services to millions of people. Not because your data will compromise your personal identity. But because it will compromise your personal autonomy…

…With 2.3 billion users, “Facebook has one of these models for one out of every four humans on earth. Every country, culture, behavior type, socio-economic background,” [Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology.] With those models, and endless simulations, the company can predict your interests and intentions before you even know them…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Want to Really Block the Tech Giants? Here’s How

Gizmodo: “Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple move more money than many medium-sized nations. Their extraordinary profits are won through extraordinary reach—this is not a secret. That a few companies are afforded unprecedented and shamefully unregulated access into our homes is now an unremarkable fact of living with tiny computers everywhere. When Gizmodo reporter Kashmir Hill, or Kash, as I call her, approached me about her desire to rid herself of these companies, I was excited. As consumers, we are afforded only a few avenues of acceptable dissent—the most reasonable of which is that, if you don’t like what a company is doing, you can move your money and data elsewhere. But increasingly this option is unavailable to us. The tech giants are so thoroughly woven into our lives that it’s difficult to even spot. This experiment was an opportunity to measure the reach of these companies and foreground the ways the world has become organized around them.

What I’m going to describe is how we collected and analyzed data. I have also included links to scripts for macOS and OS X that will build firewall rules for your device so that you too can live a tech-giant free existence—to the extent that such a thing is even possible while remaining online. A caveat we’ve offered before at Gizmodo: This set-up was designed to work for us internally, so it is by no means the best or only way to do this. But hopefully it will give you some insights and starter code on how to approach this problem yourself…”

See also Internet entrepreneur Arianna Huffington says it is time to reevaluate our relationship with technology. If individuals want to thrive in a future dominated by AI and intelligent machines, they will need to create more time and space for human relationships that foster creativity. Less time on smartphones and apps, even disconnecting, will be key…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Bribery, Kickbacks, and Self-Dealing: An Overview of Honest Services Fraud and Issues for Congress

CRS report via FAS – Bribery, Kickbacks, and Self-Dealing: An Overview of Honest Services Fraud and Issues for Congress, January 30. 2019.

“As the trials of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos illustrate, corruption among high-profile public officials continues to be a concern in the United States. Likewise, recent examples abound of powerful executives in the private sector abusing positions of trust for personal gain. Faced with this reality, Congress has shown consistent interest in policing public- and privatesector corruption, enacting a number of criminal provisions aimed at holding corrupt officials accountable for their actions under federal law. However, one of federal prosecutors’ most potent existing tools for combating such corruption—18 U.S.C. § 1346, which defines the crimes of mail and wire fraud as including so-called “honest services” fraud—has been a source of contention between the courts and Congress for years. 18 U.S.C. § 1346 defines the term “scheme or artifice to defraud,” as used in the general statutes prohibiting use of the mails or wires to commit fraud, to include a scheme or artifice to deprive another of the intangible right of honest services. Congress enacted this provision in the late 1980s in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s holding in McNally v. United States that the mail fraud statute was limited in scope to only the protection of tangible property rights. The McNally decision was grounded in concerns that a broader construction of the statute could leave its outer boundaries ambiguous and unjustifiably involve the federal government in setting standards for good government at the local level. Nevertheless, Section 1346 abrogates McNally’s holding, codifying the understanding of some of the lower federal courts that the mail and wire fraud statutes extend to conduct that deprives a person or group of the right to have another act in accordance with some externally imposed duty or obligation, regardless of whether the victim so deprived has suffered or would suffer a pecuniary harm..”

Categories: Law and Legal

T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers’ location data

and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country – via Motherboard: “…Motherboard’s investigation shows just how exposed mobile networks and the data they generate are, leaving them open to surveillance by ordinary citizens, stalkers, and criminals, and comes as media and policy makers are paying more attention than ever to how location and other sensitive data is collected and sold. The investigation also shows that a wide variety of companies can access cell phone location data, and that the information trickles down from cell phone providers to a wide array of smaller players, who don’t necessarily have the correct safeguards in place to protect that data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A bookstore in Atlanta where half of the books aren’t for sale

The New York Times – Where Books Meet Black Mecca “There’s a lot that is not for sale at For Keeps, a little bookstore with brick walls on Auburn Avenue, which for decades had been the center of commerce, culture and spirit for this city people call Black Mecca. That copy of Jet magazine from 1964, the one with Alan Alda and Diana Sands on the cover, illustrating an article about interracial romances in the theater? Not for sale. The book of Swahili names for your baby, or that copy of The African Communist? Nope. But you are welcome to spend all day here reading, if you like. That’s the point.

“The reason I’m not selling them is because I want people to have as many interactions with them as they can,” said Rosa Duffy, 28, a visual artist with deep Atlanta roots who opened the bookstore in November. There is plenty to buy, of course. Her shelves hold used black-lit classics from authors like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and Ralph Ellison. If they’re well worn, that’s all the better. “I think it tells a story,” she said. “Someone actually went through it and read every word and received something from it and you’re next. It’s like they are almost doing you a favor.”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Sometimes Google Books scans pictures of human hands along with the book pages

Wired: “Google Books contains more than 25 million volumes, disembodied like spirits from their spines. The individual titles are digitized by data entry workers who flip the pages for machines, working so quickly their hands and fingers sometimes get caught by the scans. These glitches, collected in Andrew Norman Wilson’s Scan Ops, reveal the old-school manual labor that still supports the digital age, even at the Googleplex. “It’s quite Fordist,” Wilson says. “Press button, turn page, repeat…

…The images expose the disconnect between how Google Books is experienced and how it’s produced. But the process is constantly evolving. Are these the last vestiges of manual labor before automation and artificial intelligence take over? Or maybe a sign that in the digital future, digital work—in the five-fingered sense—will always be around? Images from Scan Ops are on view in the exhibition All I Know Is What’s On the Internet at the Photographer’s Gallery in London through February 24.”

Categories: Law and Legal

U.S. wealth concentration returns to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties

NBER Working Paper Series: Global Wealth Inequality , Gabriel Zucman, Working Paper 25462, January 2019. “This article reviews the recent literature on the dynamics of global wealth inequality. I first reconcile available estimates of wealth inequality in the United States. Both surveys and tax data show that wealth inequality has increased dramatically since the 1980s, with a top 1% wealth share around 40% in 2016 vs. 25–30% in the 1980s. Second, I discuss the fast growing literature on wealth inequality across the world. Evidence points towards a rise in global wealth concentration: for China, Europe, and the United States combined, the top 1% wealth share has increased from 28% in 1980 to 33% today, while the bottom 75% share hovered around 10%. Recent studies, however, may under-estimate the level and rise of inequality, as financial globalization makes it increasingly hard to measure wealth at the top. I discuss how new data sources (leaks from financial institutions, tax amnesties, and macroeconomic statistics of tax havens) can be leveraged to better capture the wealth of the rich.”

See also – “The World Inequality Database (WID.world) aims to provide open and convenient access to the most extensive available database on the historical evolution of the world distribution of income and wealth, both within countries and between countries.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Brief and timely explainer – How to do fact checking

Oxford University Press Blog: “The actor Cary Grant once said of acting that, “It takes 500 small details to add up to one favorable impression.” That’s true for writing as well—concrete details can paint a picture for a reader and establish credibility for a writer. Details can be tricky, however, and in the swirl of research and the dash of exposition, it is possible to get things wrong: dates, names, quotes, and facts. I’ve been doing some fact-checking of my own lately for a book project and have a few tips. {short except appears below]

  • If you don’t know, don’t assume.
  • Don’t be misled by terminology.
  • Beware of common knowledge.
  • Learn what needs checking.
  • Look for original sources.
  • Ask for help.
  • Be wary of quotes.
  • Admit defeat when necessary…”
Categories: Law and Legal

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