Law and Legal

The butterflies that could stop Trump’s wall

BBC News – “The obstacles to President Donald Trump’s border wall are not confined to the four walls of Congress. As areas are cleared to start building new sections, some landowners, including a butterfly sanctuary, have sued to stop the construction…The butterfly centre…sits on 110 acres near the southern tip of Texas – an area of low-lying marshes, brush and scrub forests, offering a variety of ecosystems that provide ample habitat for migratory species of all shapes and sizes. It is also flush along the Rio Grande River, which forms more than 1,260 miles (2027 km) of the 2,000-mile border between the United States and Mexico. That puts the small, private environmental preserve in the centre of a raging debate over immigration and national security – and whether and where to build Donald Trump’s oft-promised border wall.

…South Texas is a funnel of sorts for animals that winter in Mexico and burst into the northern climes as the weather warms. It’s also the closest point in the US geographically to Central America, where a growing number of families have been fleeing poverty and political violence to seek refuge on US soil…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Opinion: America’s ability to identify financial stability risks is weakening

Medium Riki Matsumoto – “As the ten year anniversary of the infamous Lehman Weekend has come and gone, it’s important to reflect on the lessons that we learnt. Or in the tragic case of the Office of Financial Research, the independent federal agency Congress set up to identify risks to America’s financial stability; lessons that we should have learnt.

…Through Dodd-Frank, Congress addressed the issue of information: first, it created the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”), consisting of all the federal financial regulatory agencies to identify threats to U.S. financial stability, and to promote market prudence; and second, it created the OFR (Section 153(a) of Dodd-Frank), an independent bureau within the U.S. Treasury, to “serve the needs of the FSOC, to collect and standardize financial data, to perform essential research, and to develop new tools for measuring and monitoring risk in the financial system.” In a way, the OFR was meant to be an independent, beating heart of America’s new financial oversight mechanism, by identifying, monitoring, and evaluating threats to financial stability.

…Since the Trump administrations bureaucratic overhaul, the OFR has experienced 20.6% reduction in total budget, and 40.6% reduction in full-time equivalent staff — a severe cut to capacity…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Lawyers, Law Librarians Are Your Friends

Attorney At Work: Tips on working with law librarians to save you time and money. “I often ask myself how we ever got along without the internet. It’s so helpful when it comes to looking up information such as statutes, court forms and court procedures. Unfortunately, the internet sometimes doesn’t have the information I’m looking for. I have found that the most cost-effective and timely way to obtain the information is to call or email a law librarian…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Near Eastern Landscapes and Declassified U2 Aerial Imagery

Near Eastern Landscapes and Declassified U2 Aerial Imagery, Advances in Archaeological Practice, Published online: 12 March 2019: “Recently declassified photographs taken by U2 spy planes in the 1950s and 1960s provide an important new source of historical aerial imagery useful for Eurasian archaeology. Like other sources of historical imagery, U2 photos provide a window into the past, before modern agriculture and development destroyed many archaeological sites. U2 imagery is older and in many cases higher resolution than CORONA spy satellite imagery, the other major source of historical imagery for Eurasia, and thus can expand the range of archaeological sites and features that can be studied from an aerial perspective. However, there are significant barriers to finding and retrieving U2 imagery of particular locales, and archaeologists have thus not yet widely used it. In this article, we aim to reduce these barriers by describing the U2 photo dataset and how to access it. We also provide the first spatial index of U2 photos for the Middle East. A brief discussion of archaeological case studies drawn from U2 imagery illustrates its merits and limitations. These case studies include investigations of prehistoric mass-kill hunting traps in eastern Jordan, irrigation systems of the first millennium BC Neo-Assyrian Empire in northern Iraq, and twentieth-century marsh communities in southern Iraq.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price

National Geographic – Electric lights have revolutionized our lives, but as illumination increases, the toll on wildlife and human health is becoming harder to ignore

…But if light bulbs have a dark side, it’s that they have stolen the night. The excess light we dump into our environments is endangering ecosystems by harming animals whose life cycles depend on dark. We’re endangering ourselves by altering the biochemical rhythms that normally ebb and flow with natural light levels. And in a primal sense, we’ve lost our connection to nighttime skies, the tapestries into which our ancestors wove their star-studded stories, timed the planting and harvesting of crops, and deduced the physical laws governing the cosmos…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Around $1bn Invested in 2018 Into Legal Tech/NewLaw Companies

Artificial Lawyer: “Research by investment bank, Investec, has found that around $1bn was invested into legal tech and related NewLaw businesses in 2018 alone (see below), at least in the major markets. Moreover, capital is expected to keep flowing into this sector in 2019 with consolidation seen as a likely driver of further change. The bank has divided the current market into four groups:

  • Legal Tech consolidators
  • NewLaw/Law Company consolidators
  • eDiscovery/Doc Review/LPOs
  • Private Equity funds known to be looking for Legal Tech and NewLaw platform investments…”
Categories: Law and Legal

New data tools from the Google News Initiative, built for publishers

Google Blog: “…A year ago, we launched News Consumer Insights: a report built on top of Google Analytics that helps news organizations of all sizes understand and segment their audiences with a subscriptions strategy in mind. Thousands of news organizations around the world, including BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Conde Nast and Village Media, have used this tool to measure, understand and grow their businesses. Today, we’re launching a new, free insights tool called Realtime Content Insights (RCI), built to help newsrooms make quick, data-driven decisions on content creation and distribution. Journalists will be able to identify which articles are the most popular across their audience and what broader topics are trending in their regions. RCI also helps newsrooms visualize their data with a full screen display mode. It’s now available for publishers using all versions of Google Analytics…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Introducing News Inside – Marshall Project launches a print publication that will be distributed in prisons and jails

The Marshall Project – By Lawrence Bartley – “As I was trying to win parole last year, a friend suggested that I submit an essay to The Marshall Project for a series called “Life Inside.” I was in the midst of five parole hearings, a verbal and emotional ordeal with years of my life on the line. I was stressed. I had no desire to share. But after a little nudging and a lot of struggle, I managed to spill my feelings about the prospect of freedom after 27 years in the system. It was the publication of that essay that led to me walking through the office doors of The Marshall Project two months later—having finally won parole—to talk with their staff about my experiences. That conversation led to me joining their team and to the creation of News Inside—a collection of TMP’s award-winning journalism that relates directly to incarcerated lives. In the past month, we began distributing the pilot edition of this print publication to prisons and jails; to date it is circulating in 30 facilities in 19 states. I wanted to share our rich articles with my information-poor former community, particularly those who believe study is a chance for redemption, who sacrifice sleep and risk a misbehavior report to pore over textbooks under shaded lamps after lights-out, who struggle to find resources to expand their minds…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to Translate Languages With Google Sheets

Lifehacker: “There are more efficient ways of keeping track of important foreign language vocabulary than a hand-held dictionary. If you’re learning a new language or making basic translations, try using the Google Translate formula in Google Sheets for an easy access list of what you know—or want to know…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Laptops to Stay in Bags as TSA Brings New Technology to Airports

Bloomberg: “Air passengers at a growing number of U.S. airports will no longer need to remove electronics, liquids, and other items from their carry-on luggage at security checkpoints as the Transportation Security Administration rolls out new technology. The TSA took a major step in a broader plan to revamp its overall screening process with faster, more advanced technology when it signed a contract Thursday for hundreds of new carry-on baggage screening machines, Administrator David Pekoske said on a press call Friday. The agency has tested the new technology at more than a dozen airports since 2017, along with the relaxed protocols that allow passengers to leave items such as laptops and toiletries inside their luggage…”

Categories: Law and Legal

IT and security professionals think normal people are just the worst

ZDNet – Two surveys of IT and security experts suggest they put most of the blame for data insecurity at the feet of ignorant, careless employees. “To survive in this world, you have to have someone to blame. If you decide everything’s your fault, you’ll find yourself in a mental mire from which it’s almost impossible to emerge. My torrid views are confirmed by two studies that have descended just above my sensitive MacBook butterfly keyboard. One, courtesy of SaaS operations management platform BetterCloud, offers grim reading. 91 percent of the 500 IT and security professionals surveyed admitted they feel vulnerable to insider threats. Which only makes one wonder about the supreme (over-)confidence of the other 9 percent…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft stops selling ebooks and will refund customers for previous purchases

The Verge – Ebooks will no longer be accessible as of July 2019: “Starting today, Microsoft is ending all ebook sales in its Microsoft Store for Windows PCs. Previously purchased ebooks will be removed from users’ libraries in early July. Even free ones will be deleted. The company will offer full refunds to users for any books they’ve purchased or preordered. Microsoft’s “official reason,” according to ZDNet, is that this move is part of a strategy to help streamline the focus of the Microsoft Store. It seems that the company no longer has an interest in trying to compete with Amazon, Apple Books, and Google Play Books. It’s a bit hard to imagine why anyone would go with Microsoft over those options anyway…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Report – The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2018

Institute for Women’s Policy Research Report -The Gender Wage Gap by Occupation 2018: “Women’s median earnings are lower than men’s in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women. Data for both women’s and men’s median weekly earnings for full-time work are available for 125 occupations. The occupation with the largest gender wage gap is ‘securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents’ in 2018; women’s median weekly earnings for full-time work in this occupation were just 63.9 percent of those of men’s, corresponding to a gender wage gap of 36.1 percent.The median gender earnings ratio for all full-time weekly workers was 81.1 percent, a weekly gender wage gap of 18.9 percent.

Altogether, there are just five occupations in which women’s median earnings are at least 105 percent of men’s, while there are 108 occupations in which women’s median earnings were 95 percent or less than men’s (that is, a wage gap of at least 5 cents per dollar earned by men). In general, the highest paid occupations have the biggest gender gaps; all but one of the ten occupations with the largest gender wage gaps have earnings that are higher than median earnings for all full-time workers ($886). The occupation with the highest earnings gap in favor of women is ‘combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food,’ with a median weekly gender earnings ratio of 115.9 percent, a gender wage gap in favor of women of 15.9 percent, and median weekly earnings for all full-time workers of just $436…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Inextricable Role of Gender in the History of Fact-Checking

TIME: “In 1965, as he neared completion on the first part of a corporate history of Time Inc., the writer Robert Elson showed a draft of his work to Patty Divver, who had started as a researcher at TIME in the early 1930s. She had a fairly major complaint: “I have one thing to say about that — and this as been my war with Time Incorporated — or was my war at Time Incorporated for 25 years. There is absolutely no awareness in the whole damned volume that women had anything to do with Time Incorporated!” In fact, as Divver knew well, women had a lot to do with the company’s history. Notably, in the publication’s first decades, as TIME was creating the concept of the modern magazine fact-checker, women were almost exclusively responsible for that crucial work. At a moment when the fight against false information is a matter of global importance — so much so that the work now has its own annual observance, International Fact-Checking Day, marked on April 2 — it’s clearer than ever that the work fact-checkers do matters greatly.

Most of the women who worked at TIME in its early days held the job of “researcher,” a role that was inescapably entwined with gender. All of TIME’s researchers were women until 1973. On the one hand, the job offered opportunity, responsibility and a path to a career at a time when women were becoming a larger proportion of the gainfully employed. Researchers would work with the (usually male) writers to gather the necessary research material for an article. After it was written and edited, they would then confirm that every fact was correct as it was written. Researchers had unusual power in some ways; they were encouraged to talk back and to take an active part in reporting stories, though “women were completely and utterly unknown in U.S. industry,” as Divver later recalled….” [h/t Barclay Walsh – The Fact-Checking/Researcher Rock Star]

Categories: Law and Legal

The culture war at the heart of open source

Steve Klabnick: “There’s a war going on. When isn’t there a war going on? But I’m not talking about a physical war here: I’m talking about a war over meaning. This particular war is a fight over what “open source” means…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Boston Public Library’s 78rpm Records Come to the Internet

Internet Archives Blog – Reformatting the Boston Public Library Sound Archives – “Following eighteen months of work, more than 50,000 78rpm record “sides” from the Boston Public Library’s sound archives have now been digitized and made freely available online by the Internet Archive. ”This project and the very generous support and diversity of expertise that converged to make it possible, all ensure the Library’s sound collections are not only preserved but made accessible to a much broader audience than would otherwise ever have been possible, all in the spirit of Free to All.” said David Leonard, President of the Boston Public LIbrary. In 2017, the Boston Public Library transferred their sound archives to the Internet Archive so that the materials could be reformatted digitally and preserved physically.  Working in collaboration with George Blood LP, using their specialty turntable and expert staff, these recordings have been digitized at high standards so that others can use these materials for research. This is now the largest collection within the Great 78 Project, which aims to bring hundreds of thousands of 78rpm recordings to the Internet…”

Categories: Law and Legal


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