Law and Legal
Ben Amata – GOVDOC-L – Request to GPO – Please catalog CFPB Consumer Complaint database as public access may be removed. GPO’s reponse: “This site is harvested twice a year. For the Consumer Complaint database, the Web Archive team was not able to capture the database user interface in such a way that it functions like the live site, however, they were able to capture all the data using the “download” link and the download function does work from within the Web Archive. From the team: “We were able to capture the download files and users can access it from the Download section. Please see information below. We can capture the page and CSV file etc, but playback does not function in the archive like it does on the live page for the actual database. We do capture the links that allow users to still download and access all the data. I would recommend visiting this URL: http://wayback.archive-it.org/3142/20171201132223/https://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/consumer-complaints/#download-the-data) And downloading the data. We have the data, just not the insanely simple user interface. Here is calendar page for the last 2 years of captures for that page: https://wayback.archive-it.org/org-593/*/http://www.consumerfinance.gov/data-research/consumer-complaints/.The good news is the full database of Consumer Complaint data is captured about every six month.” Thanks to Ben and the terrific professionals at GPO!.
Report of Sentencing Project to UN on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance
- “In a new report to the United Nations on racial disparities, we explain how the United States essentially operates two distinct criminal justice systems: one for wealthy people and another for poor people and people of color. By creating and perpetuating policies that allow racial disparities to exist in its criminal justice system, the United States is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to ensure that all residents—regardless of race—are treated equally under the law.
- For nearly 20 years the Justice Department has sponsored a research fellowship program around race and criminal justice in the name of noted sociologist and civil rights leader, WEB Du Bois. In an op-ed for the Guardian, I call attention to the troubling news that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has diverted this program towards issues that would make a student of the Du Bois legacy shudder.
- More than 5.7 million American kids have experienced parental incarceration at some point during their lives, writes Kara Gotsch, Director of Strategic Initiatives, in the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare’s annual CW360 degrees report. The essay outlines the negative impacts mass parental incarceration has on families and communities, and provides recommendations to reduce our prison population and to support the various needs of children with justice involved families.
- In the American Constitution Society’s blog, Kara also explains why the Trump Administration should address the urgent opioid crisis by prioritizing investments in treatment over incarceration. Ratcheting up already tough sentences for people with drug convictions will produce little public safety benefit while carrying heavy fiscal, social, and human costs.”
Inside Higher Ed: “New print textbooks can still cost students hundreds of dollars, but the cost of etextbooks is falling fast, according to data from etextbook distribution platforms VitalSource and RedShelf — both of which work with all major publishers. Since 2016, the average price of etextbooks on VitalSource has fallen by 31 percent, from $56.36 in 2016 to $38.65 in 2018. Some areas, such as mathematics, have seen more drastic change, said VitalSource. In 2016, the average math etextbook cost $79. Now it’s $39 — a decrease of almost 50 percent. RedShelf confirmed a similar price drop. In 2015, the average etextbook cost $53.11, the company said. Now it’s $39.24. Mike Hale, VitalSource vice president of education for North America, described the price change as “dramatic.” Since January 2016, prices have fallen every month, he said. “Prices on textbooks were, everybody agrees, way too high,” said Hale. “Publishers have finally responded with pricing that is rational.” Tom Scotty, chief operating officer at RedShelf, said the reason the publishers were dropping prices was to capture market share…”
Via LLRX.com – An Exploration of WikiLeaks: What has Taken Me So Long! Sarah Gotschall explored WikiLeaks for a few hours and identified effective ways to search the site that include an efficient advanced search engine and search operators to target your research even further. She includes example of her searches and the results.
NexrGov: The creation process of Wikipedia is largely transparent – “Founded in 2001, Wikipedia is on the verge of adulthood. It’s the world’s fifth-most popular website, with 46 million articles in 300 languages, while having less than 300 full-time employees. What makes it successful is the 200,000 volunteers who create it, said Katherine Maher, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent-organization for Wikipedia and its sister sites. Unlike other tech companies, Wikipedia has avoided accusations of major meddling from malicious actors to subvert elections around the world. Part of this is because of the site’s model, where the creation process is largely transparent, but it’s also thanks to its community of diligent editors who monitor the content, said Maher, during an event hosted by Quartz in Washington DC on April 26…Somewhat unwittingly, Wikipedia has become the internet’s fact-checker. Recently, both YouTube and Facebook started using the platform to show more context about videos or posts in order to curb the spread of disinformation—even though Wikipedia is crowd-sourced, and can be manipulated as well…”
Gwen Sinclair / GOVDOC-L: “I am pleased to announce that the Government Information Online virtual reference service has been relocated to a new site using GODORT’sLibAnswers and LibGuides subscription: https://godort.libguides.com/GIO. If you have linked to the previous site, http://govtinfo.org/, please update your link. A redirect will be placed on http://govtinfo.org/ to send traffic to https://godort.libguides.com/GIO during the transition period. For those who are unfamiliar with GIO, it is a cooperative virtual reference service for government information that was begun in 2008 as apartnership between a group of federal depository libraries and the Government Publishing Office (GPO). For many years, the service was coordinated by John Shuler of the University of Illinois at Chicago. GIO is seeking additional volunteers to answer reference questions and contribute to the FAQs. Answering questions on GIO is a great way to hone your reference skills and to provide service to our profession. If you are interested, please contact Gwen Sinclair at email@example.com.”
News release: “Data-Smart City Solutions, a program of Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, today launched a searchable public database comprising cutting-edge examples of public sector data use. The “Solutions Search” indexes interactive maps and visualizations, spanning civic issue areas such as transportation, public health, and housing, that are helping data innovators more accurately understand and illustrate challenges, leading to optimized solutions. The new user-friendly public database includes 200 data-driven models for civic technologists, community organizations, and government employees. “By showcasing successful data-driven initiatives from across the country, we have the opportunity to help city leaders learn from each other and avoid reinventing the wheel,” noted Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and faculty director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Ash Center, who also leads the Civic Analytics Network, a national network of municipal chief data officers. This new Harvard database spans city, county, state, and federal levels, and features a wide variety of interventions and initiatives, including maps, data visualizations, and dashboards. Examples include the California Report Card and GradeDC.gov, dashboards that measure community health – and run on citizen input, allowing residents to rank various city services and agencies. Users can also find Redlining Louisville: The History of Race, Class, and Real Estate, a visualization that explores the impact of disinvestment in Louisville neighborhoods…”
Popular Mechanics: “Twenty-five years ago today, the World Wide Web announced that it was for everybody. On April 30, 1993, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) put the web into the public domain a decision that has fundamentally altered the past quarter-century. While the proto-internet dates back to the 1960s, the World Wide Web as we know it had been invented four year earlier in 1989 by CERN employee Tim Berners-Lee. The internet at that point was growing in popularity among academic circles but still had limited mainstream utility. Scientists Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf had developed Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol (TCP/IP), which allowed for easier transfer of information. But there was the fundamental problem of how to organize all that information. In the late 80s, Berners-Lee suggested a web-like system of management, tied together by a series of what he called hyperlinks. In a proposal, Berners-Lee asked CERN management to “imagine, then, the references in this document all being associated with the network address of the thing to which they referred, so that while reading this document you could skip to them with a click of the mouse.” Four years later, the project was still growing. In January 1993, the first major web browser, known as MOSAIC, was released by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne. While there was a free version of MOSAIC, for-profit software companies purchased nonexclusive licenses to sell and support it. Licensing MOSAIC at the time cost $100,000 plus $5 each for any number of copies…”
“In Codice Ratio is a research project that aims at developing novel methods and tools to support content analysis and knowledge discovery from large collections of historical documents. The goal is to provide humanities scholars with novel tools to conduct data-driven studies over large historical sources. The project concentrates on the collections of the Vatican Secret Archives, one of the largest and most important historical archive in the world. In an extension of 85 kilometres of shelving, it maintains more than 600 archival collections containing historical documents on the Vatican activities, such as, all the acts promulgated by the Vatican, account books, correspondence of the popes, starting from the eighth century…”
Bloomberg: “Twitter Inc. sold data access to the Cambridge University academic who also obtained millions of Facebook Inc. users’ information that was later passed to a political consulting firm without the users’ consent. Aleksandr Kogan, who created a personality quiz on Facebook to harvest information later used by Cambridge Analytica, established his own commercial enterprise, Global Science Research (GSR). That firm was granted access to large-scale public Twitter data, covering months of posts, for one day in 2015, according to Twitter. “In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015,” Twitter said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.” The company has removed Cambridge Analytica and affiliated entities as advertisers. Twitter said GSR paid for the access; it provided no further details. The Telegraph earlier reported that Twitter sold data to Kogan, who told the U.K. newspaper that he was in compliance with Twitter’s policies but didn’t elaborate on what level of access he received…”
Pew Report – At the same time, the contours of connectivity are shifting: One-in-five Americans are now ‘smartphone only’ internet users at home: “Americans tend to view the impact of the internet and other digital technologies on their own lives in largely positive ways, Pew Research Center surveys have shown over the years. A survey of U.S. adults conducted in January 2018 finds continuing evidence of this trend, with the vast majority of internet users (88%) saying the internet has, on balance, been a mostly good thing for them personally. But even as they view the internet’s personal impact in a positive light, Americans have grown somewhat more ambivalent about the impact of digital connectivity on society as a whole. A sizable majority of online adults (70%) continue to believe the internet has been a good thing for society. Yet the share of online adults saying this has declined by a modest but still significant 6 percentage points since early 2014, when the Center first asked the question. This is balanced by a corresponding increase (from 8% to 14%) in the share of online adults who say the internet’s societal impact is a mix of good and bad. Meanwhile, the share saying the internet has been a mostly bad thing for society is largely unchanged over that time: 15% said this in 2014, and 14% say so today. This shift in opinion regarding the ultimate social impact of the internet is particularly stark among older Americans, despite the fact that older adults have been especially rapid adopters of consumer technologies such as social media and smartphones in recent years. Today 64% of online adults ages 65 and older say the internet has been a mostly good thing for society. That represents a 14-point decline from the 78% who said this in 2014. The attitudes of younger adults have remained more consistent over that time: 74% of internet users ages 18 to 29 say the internet has been mostly good for society, comparable to the 79% who said so in 2014…”
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Via LLRX.com – Detainers, Detention and Deportation: From Presence to Personhood – Ken Strutin’s latest guide on criminal law is an expansive, extensively documented, expert work that provides researchers, scholars, lawyers, judges, advocates for criminal justice, librarians, students, and Americans, a timely and essential guide to seminal issues that are currently the subject of widespread debate – in Congress, in states and local communities across the country – and litigation – in America’s courts, the court of public opinion, and on social media. Strutin takes up the immense challenge of these volatile subjects with his first statement: “There is no such thing as an “illegal” person. For the virtues of citizenship are not exclusive to law books, but found in the dignity of individuals. Ancient peoples who made the first journeys to new lands quickly discovered that humanity is a flower that can bloom anywhere. Since then, lines on maps have served to separate people from personhood. He continues – “Immigration laws and policies have the power to conflate race, ethnicity and national origin with lawbreaking, economic rivalry, and terrorism. A targeted noncitizen occupies an indissoluble bubble of isolation and obloquy that separates them from the moral force of state laws, the integrity of its officials, and the decency of its citizens. For them America is an inside out prison comprised of sensitive locations, sanctuary cities, and degrading confinement. If the immigration system bears a resemblance to criminal justice, it is because they share a forge upon which people are hammered out.” Through the outstanding scholarship Strutin offers here, it is my hope that readers will engage with these issues that are intrinsically connected to Democracy and respect for human rights.
BuzzFeed: “Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ordered a review of the US Attorneys’ Manual, which features high-level policy statements as well as practical guidance to prosecutors on how to do their jobs. Since the fall, the US Department of Justice has been overhauling its manual for federal prosecutors. In: Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tough-on-crime policies. Out: A section titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial.” References to the department’s work on racial gerrymandering are gone. Language about limits on prosecutorial power has been edited down. The changes include new sections that underscore Sessions’ focus on religious liberty and the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on government leaks — there is new language admonishing prosecutors not to share classified information and directing them to report contacts with the media. Not all changes are substantive: Long paragraphs have been split up, outdated contacts lists have been updated, and citations to repealed laws have been removed. The “US Attorneys’ Manual” is something of a misnomer. Federal prosecutors in US attorney offices across the country use it, but so do other Justice Department — often referred to as “Main Justice” — lawyers. The manual features high-level statements about department policies and priorities as well as practical guidance on every facet of legal work that comes through the department…”
The United States Holocaust Museum – Americans and the Holocaust [this presentation includes text, video/audio and photographs] – “Holocaust history raises important questions about what Europeans could have done to stop the rise of Nazism in Germany and its assault on Europe’s Jews. Questions also must be asked of the international community, including the United States. What did the US government and the American people know about the threats posed by Nazi Germany? What responses were possible? And when? This exhibition examines the motives, pressures, and fears that shaped Americans’ responses to Nazism, war, and genocide. By the time Nazi Germany forced the world into war, democratic civilization itself was at stake. The US military fought for almost four years to defend democracy, and more than 400,000 Americans died. The American people—soldiers and civilians alike—made enormous sacrifices to free Europe from Nazi oppression. Yet saving Jews and others targeted for murder by the Nazi regime and its collaborators never became a priority. The United States alone could not have prevented the Holocaust, but more could have been done to save some of the six million Jews who were killed…”
See also The Dallas Morning News Opinion: Holocaust Museum project debunks myth that Americans weren’t aware of the plights of Jews in Nazi Germany
Privacy and Freedom of Expression In the Age of Artificial Intelligence – April 2018. Joint Paper by Privacy International and ARTICLE 19 [a global human rights organisation, which works around the world to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression and information (‘freedom of expression’). Established in 1987, with its international office in London, ARTICLE 19 monitors threats to freedom of expression in different regions of the world, and develops long-term strategies to address them.]
“Artificial Intelligence (AI) is part of our daily lives. This technology shapes how people access information, interact with devices, share personal information, and even understand foreign languages. It also transforms how individuals and groups can be tracked and identified, and dramatically alters what kinds of information can be gleaned about people from their data. AI has the potential to revolutionise societies in positive ways. However, as with any scientific or technological advancement, there is a real risk that the use of new tools by states or corporations will have a negative impact on human rights. While AI impacts a plethora of rights, ARTICLE 19 and Privacy International are particularly concerned about the impact it will have on the right to privacy and the right to freedom of expression and information. This scoping paper focuses on applications of ‘artificial narrow intelligence’: in particular, machine learning and its implications for human rights.The aim of the paper is fourfold:
- Present key technical definitions to clarify the debate;
- Examine key ways in which AI impacts the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy and outline key challenges;
- Review the current landscape of AI governance, including various existing legal, technical, and corporate frameworks and industry-led AI initiatives that are relevant to freedom of expression and privacy; and
- Provide initial suggestions for rights-based solutions which can be pursued by civil society organisations and other stakeholders in AI advocacy activities. We believe that policy and technology responses in this area must:
- Ensure protection of human rights, in particular the right to freedom of expression and the right to privacy;
- Ensure accountability and transparency of AI…”
CurrencyConvertOnline: “Welcome to easy accurate and powerful online currency converter. You can convert 2636 currencies and cryptocurrencies with 60 languages support. Among other things, we recommend you to visit the useful sections of the site for analytics: exchange rates table andcurrency converter with support cryptocurrencies. No less important are two sections: list of all currencies in the world, list of all the cryptocurrencies. All of these tools work with support for 170 currencies and 2466 cryptocurrencies. Please enjoy!
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Definition of Exchange Rate – Exchange Rate (also known as forex rate, FX rate, foreign-exchange rate, or Agio) is a relative value between two currencies at which one currency can be exchanged for another currency. It is also thought as the price of one currency in terms of another currency. For example, the US Dollar (USD) – Euro (EUR) exchange rate means the relative price of USD in terms of EUR. It is assumed that the USD/EUR exchange rate is 0.823, which means you need €0.823 to buy $1. Exchange rate is commonly used for converting currency (for travel, or oversea online shopping), engaging in speculation, or trading in the foreign exchange market…”
National Archives publishes online dashboard of its investigations into lost, altered or destroyed public records
Sunlight Foundation: “To engage in a monumental understatement, it’s a big deal for the public’s information to be altered or disposed of without justified intention and public notice of the removal. In spring 2018, for the first time the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) has begun using the Internet to inform the American public about its ongoing investigations of unauthorized dispositions in an online dashboard. In a year that continues to be marked by regression on transparency and accountability under the Trump administration, this is a welcome development that shines a bright light on a matter of significant public concern and shows continued commitment by NARA to its open government plan. “For many years in the Performance Accountability Report, we have included a table of all open and closed cases by financial year, but it was available only as an end-of-the-year snapshot and not as a real-time, ongoing tool that we have now via the website,” Laurence Brewer, chief records office of the United States, informed Sunlight in an email. For those unfamiliar, “unauthorized disposition” refers to the unlawful or accidental removal, defacing, alteration or destruction of federal records under 44 USC 3106 and 36 CFR Part 1230. This section of the U.S. Code requires federal agencies are required to “notify the Archivist of any actual, impending, or threatened unlawful removal, defacing, alteration, corruption, deletion, erasure, or other destruction of records in the custody of the agency.” The Archivist and NARA staff constantly monitor the media, nonprofit watchdogs like Sunlight, and feedback from the general public for potential unauthorized dispositions. (You can contact NARA at UnauthorizedDisposition@nara.gov if you are aware of a potential records issue or want more information.) NARA’s Records Management Oversight and Reporting Program is responsible for establishing case files as it investigates allegations, including communications with a given agency until the issue is resolved. “Our goal is to close cases as quickly as we can, however, some cases are complex in nature or under litigation,” said Brewer. “NARA currently has fifteen cases that have been open 365 days or more. NARA has been actively working on our older open cases. Since last year, we have closed thirteen cases that were open for a year or more. NARA spends a considerable amount of time reviewing the background information on each legacy case and in some cases, restarting dialogue between NARA and the agency, which may include escalating to the Senior Agency Official for Records Management.” The new NARA dashboard, which is updated monthly, lists open and closed unauthorized dispositions, including open and closed letters for each, where they are available or — crucially — are permissible to disclose. NARA suggests that the public contact its Freedom of Information Act Office using a case ID. Once a given case is closed, NARA moves it to an Unauthorized Dispositions Closed Cases page. A list of the cases that were open and/or closed prior to 2016 is available to the public online in past Performance Accountability Reports…”
LC Collection – more than 225 years of decisions – “U.S. Reports United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court. A citation to a United States Supreme Court decisions includes three elements that are needed to retrieve a case. For example, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). 467 indicates the volume in which the…View 35,578 Items”
“United States Reports is a series of bound case reporters that are the official reports of decisions for the United States Supreme Court. A citation to a United States Supreme Court decisions includes three elements that are needed to retrieve a case. For example, Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984). 467 indicates the volume in which the case is reported, U.S. indicates the abbreviation for U.S. Reports, 837 indicates the initial page number of the case, and 1984 indicates the year the case was decided. Early reports of U.S. Supreme Court decisions were named for the clerk who compiled them. U.S. Reports includes the content from these nominative reporters. You can translate a citation from a nominative reporter to a volume of the U.S. Reports by using this chart: http://www.mass.gov/courts/case-legal-res/law-lib/laws-by-source/cases/earlyus.html“
Fast Company – In a world of fake news, the only antidote is our ability to judge the reputation of the people supplying us with information: “There is an underappreciated paradox of knowledge that plays a pivotal role in our advanced hyper-connected liberal democracies: the greater the amount of information that circulates, the more we rely on so-called reputational devices to evaluate it. What makes this paradoxical is that the vastly increased access to information and knowledge we have today does not empower us or make us more cognitively autonomous. Rather, it renders us more dependent on other people’s judgments and evaluations of the information with which we are faced. We are experiencing a fundamental paradigm shift in our relationship to knowledge. From the “information age,” we are moving towards the “reputation age,” in which information will have value only if it is already filtered, evaluated, and commented upon by others. Seen in this light, reputation has become a central pillar of collective intelligence today. It is the gatekeeper to knowledge, and the keys to the gate are held by others. The way in which the authority of knowledge is now constructed makes us reliant on what are the inevitably biased judgments of other people, most of whom we do not know…”