Law and Legal
Once again Poynter is highlighting the critical, outstanding and timely work of librarians who have seamlessly transitioned to full time news researchers/journalists. This is not actually a new phenomenon (from the Greek to shine – and yes they do) – rather, there is after too many years wait, an epiphany of sorts recognizing the work of our colleagues, our friends, our mentors, our role models. [h/t Barclay Walsh]
“Earlier in this decade, Brandy Zadrozny had been happy in Vermont, baking pies, cross-country skiing, working at the Burlington Public Library, handling the reference desk at Champlain College. That is until she wasn’t. And journalism is grateful. Over the past year, she’s been getting noticed for research and reporting on Russia’s Internet Research Agency, uncovering the secret life of a pro-Trump, white nationalist school shooter and digging deep into Vice Media’s rampant culture of sexual harassment. She’s also made frequent appearances on CNN or MSNBC explaining those stories. On Friday, the librarian-turned-senior researcher and writer announced she was leaving The Daily Beast after five years and moving to NBC News as a national reporter. Zadrozny’s move to NBC — along with The Daily Beast’s senior news editor, tech reporter (and frequent reporting partner) Ben Collins — will allow her to break stories for a broader audience, at a medium where the White House is compelled to respond. In a fractious year for democracy, Zadrozny is one of several news librarians and researchers who have made the difference on big stories. Those include the domestic abuse allegations against (now-departed) senior White House aide Rob Porter and the pervy courting and sexual harassment of teens by Alabama lawyer and later GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore…”
Steve Aftergood – Secrecy News From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy, Volume 2018, Issue No. 15, March 5, 2018 “The National Archives said last week that it will gather tens of millions of pages of classified historical records from Presidential Libraries around the country and will bring them to Washington, DC for declassification review. “We are making this change to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the safeguarding and the declassification of this material and in light of resource challenges,” said NARA chief operating officer William J. Bosanko. “Researchers are expected to benefit from efficiencies we can gain in the declassification process.” “It is important to stress that this change in physical location of the records is temporary and that the records will be returned to the Presidential Libraries as they are declassified,” he wrote in a March 1 message. Is it really necessary to physically move the records to DC in order to declassify them? Isn’t there at least a subset of classified records at presidential libraries that could be readily declassified on site? “My personal opinion is yes (although the size of the subset changes greatly from Library to Library),” replied Mr. Bosanko by email today. “However, this comes back to age-old issues around declassification authority and third-agency referrals. With the policies that are in place, in a practical sense, the answer is no (and, the status quo has not realized the sort of declassification I think is at the heart of your question). And, bringing them here makes it much easier to address long-standing challenges such as certain topics that cut across more than one Administration.” There are approximately 75 million pages of classified records at presidential libraries that will be affected by the move, Mr. Bosanko said. Duplicate copies will not be kept at the libraries during the declassification review. “We are just starting the planning process and many details must still be worked out,” he wrote.”
Does Import Protection Save Jobs? The Estimated Impacts of Proposed Tariffs on Imports of U.S. Steel and Aluminum (2018)
Opentender – “This platform allows you to search and analyse tender data from 33 jurisdictions (28 EU member states, Norway, the EU Institutions, Iceland, Switzerland, Georgia). You can view the data on individual national portals by selecting a country below or explore all available data…”
CBO: “H.R. 4631 would require the Government Publishing Office (GPO) to establish and maintain a website that would allow the public to obtain electronic copies of all Congressionally mandated reports. Under H.R. 4631, all executive, legislative, and judicial branch agencies would be required to provide GPO with reports required by law each year. The Library of Congress (LOC) would provide an annual report on Congressionally mandated reports. Using information from GPO, LOC, and other agencies that produce the thousands of Congressionally mandated reports, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $2 million over the 2018-2022 period. CBO estimates this work would cost about $400,000 a year for four employees (two senior and two junior analysts) to ensure comprehensive compliance with the requirement to list all mandated reports. That spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. H.R. 4631 would affect direct spending by agencies not funded through annual appropriations; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. However, CBO estimates that any net increase in spending by those agencies would be negligible. Enacting the bill would not affect revenues. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4631 would not significantly increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2028. H.R. 4631 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act…”
Follow-up to recent posting – CRS – D.C. Circuit Upholds as Constitutional the Structure of the CFPB – news from Congress – On March 2, 2018, “38 Senators and 75 Representatives, led by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), filed an amicus brief in support of Acting Director Mulvaney and the President’s authority to designate an Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA). “The Federal Vacancies Reform Act has been U.S. law for 20 years,” said Chairman Crapo. “If Congress wanted to supersede the Vacancies Reform Act, and prevent a president from appointing an Acting Director, it could have done so in the text of Dodd-Frank. But, Congress chose not to. I have long argued that the CFPB lacks sufficient accountability, but Director Mulvaney has so far made the Bureau more accountable and transparent, while also fulfilling its mission of protecting consumers. It is in the public’s best interest for him to serve until the nomination and confirmation of a permanent Director.” “For nearly two decades, the President has had the authority to appoint an interim director under the Federal Vacancies Act,” said Chairman Hensarling. “It’s what the Justice Department says, and it’s what the CFPB’s own General Counsel – an Obama appointee – says. Director Mulvaney continues to be an outstanding Acting Director as he restores true and meaningful accountability and due process of law to an agency that desperately needs it. After all, the problem with the CFPB isn’t who’s running it, the problem is the CFPB and its creator, the Dodd-Frank Act.” The brief argues that the text of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) authorizes the President to designate the CFPB’s Acting Director, and this authority is not superseded by Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act. It also argues that the Plaintiff’s position risks presidential encroachment on the advice and consent power of Congress; that the Court should avoid Constitutional issues presented by the Plaintiff; and that the Plaintiff’s requested preliminary relief is not in the public interest.”
The Economist “…of the 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in landfills or the natural environment. Often, as with disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets that account for much of the plastic produced in Europe and America, this happens after a brief, one-off indulgence. If the stuff ends up in the sea, it can wash up on a distant beach or choke a seal. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, it can fragment into “microplastics” small enough to find their way into fish bellies. From there, it seems only a short journey to dinner plates. Countries as varied as Bangladesh, France and Rwanda have duly banned plastic bags. Since last year anyone offering them in Kenya risks four years in prison or a fine of up to $40,000. In January China barred imports of plastic waste, while the European Union launched a “plastics strategy”, aiming, among other things, to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and raise the proportion that is recycled from 30% to 55% over the next seven years. A British levy on plastic shopping bags, introduced in 2015, helped cut use of them by 85%. On February 22nd Britain’s environment secretary, Michael Gove, mused about prohibiting plastic straws altogether. Fearful for their reputations, big companies are shaping up. Coca-Cola has promised to collect and recycle the equivalent of all the drinks containers it shifts each year, including 110bn plastic bottles. Consumer-goods giants such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble vow to use more recycled plastics. McDonald’s plans to make all its packaging from recycled or renewable sources by 2025, up from half today, and wants every one of its restaurants to recycle straws, wrappers, cups and the like…”
See also – Sailing Seas of Plastic: Visualising 268,940 tonnes of plastic floating in the world’s oceans: “An estimated 5.25 trillion plastic particles weighing more than 268,940 tonnes are floating in the world’s oceans, according to a study published in the journal PlosOne and co-authored by dumpark co-founder Laurent Lebreton (now researcher at The Ocean Cleanup). With the goal of turning the science into something everyone could relate to and thus raising awareness about the extent of plastic pollution, we produced the interactive map Sailing Seas of Plastic. In addition to the main study findings, we also wanted to exhibit the measurement data used to calibrate Laurent’s previously developed numerical model and quantify floating, or more precisely buoyant, plastic concentrations in our oceans…”
ACLU: “The TSA and Amtrak Police are trying out new see-through body scanners in New York City’s Penn Station that raise serious constitutional questions. And as is so often the case, the government is not being sufficiently transparent about the devices, how they will be used, on whom, and where they will eventually be deployed. We also don’t know who will have access to the information they collect or for how long. There is also reason to believe the technology may not work as well as the TSA says it does. This “passive millimeter wave” technology works by detecting the heat radiating from the human body and analyzing ways in which those emanations may be being blocked by objects hidden on a person’s body. The machines do not emit x-rays or other radiation. The theory is that the operator of the technology will be able to tell if large object such as a suicide vest device is present underneath a person’s clothing. The technology uses an algorithm to determine whether there is an anomaly. The two devices in use are the Stand Off Explosive Detection Technology created by QinetiQ, and Digital Barriers from Thruvis…”
JDSupra – “On February 21, 2018, in the case of Digital Realty Trust, Inc. v. Somers, the United States Supreme Court unanimously decided that employees who raise internal complaints about possible violation of securities laws are not protected as whistleblowers under the Dodd-Frank Act. To obtain protection from retaliatory measures undertaken by their employers, employees must report such complaints to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Dodd-Frank Act was enacted in 2010 to protect consumers from abusive practices by financial service providers. While the Act itself expressly limits the definition of a whistleblower to only those employees who make a report of suspected securities violations to the SEC, the regulations interpreting the Act’s anti-retaliation provisions extend its protections well beyond the statute. In reliance upon these regulations, several federal circuit courts throughout the nation adopted the expansive interpretation on the basis that it reflected Congressional intent. This created a split in the circuits as other courts strictly applied the Act’s narrow definition of what actions constitute protected whistleblower activity…”
The times Literary supplement – The leading international weekly for literary culture. Inspired by Oscar Wilde’s question, “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?”, the TLS brings you a wide-ranging – “esoteric yet solid” – weekly podcast on books and ideas
Via Charlie Amiot, J.D.: “One of this week’s ALA ALDirect e-newsletter highlighted a Feb. 24, 2018 CNN article, Librarians digitally archive rare White House images by Betsy Kline. A team of librarians working for the White House Historical Association have been digitizing archives of uncatalogued slides from White House history, most of which haven’t been accessible by the public before now. The White House Historical Association Digital Library – the WHHA is “a private, non-profit organization founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy with a mission to protect, preserve, and provide public access to the rich history of America’s Executive Mansion.” They ask that users create a free account, so I did; they do ask several questions about a user’s affiliations, which sadly may discourage casual users. There is a fairly short TOS to agree to, and with an account users gain the ability to access the archives, create albums, pin and download pictures, etc. Users can also buy high-resolution images if they wish; it is free to download most images at a lower resolution.”
A small city in remote Alaska is working to reduce contamination from the nearby Red Dog Mine: “…The village has long had issues with the mine. Ore from Red Dog is transported by eighty-ton haul trucks along a 50-mile road that links the mine to a port on the Chukchi Sea south of Kivalina. There it’s stored in buildings, then transferred via barges to awaiting offshore bulk carrier ships. The haul road runs through a section of Cape Krusenstern National Monument. A 2001 National Park Service report documented elevated levels of lead, cadmium, and zinc in vegetation along the road, as well as near the storage area by the port. Concentrations of lead and cadmium, the National Park Service report stated, exceed levels found in “many of the most polluted countries in Central and Eastern Europe and all areas of western Russia.”
Rolling Stone: Extreme weather due to climate change displaced more than a million people from their homes last year. It could soon reshape the nation. “In 2017, a string of climate disasters – six big hurricanes in the Atlantic, wildfires in the West, horrific mudslides, high-temperature records breaking all over the country – caused $306 billion in damage, killing more than 300 people. After Hurricane Maria, 300,000 Puerto Ricans fled to Florida, and disaster experts estimate that climate and weather events displaced more than 1 million Americans from their homes last year. These statistics don’t begin to capture the emotional and financial toll on survivors who have to dig through ashes and flooded debris to rebuild their lives. Mental-health workers often see spikes in depression, PTSD and suicides in the months that follow a natural disaster. After Harvey, one study found that 30 percent of residents in flooded areas had fallen behind on their rent or mortgage. One in four respondents said they were having problems paying for food. Politicians inevitably vow to rebuild, to make their city stronger than before. But in the coming years, as the climate gets hotter, the seas keep rising and storms grow more intense, those vows will become less and less credible. Climate change is going to remap our world, changing not just how we live but where we live. As scientist Peter Gleick, co-founder of the Pacific Institute, puts it, “There is a shocking, unreported, fundamental change coming to the habitability of many parts of the planet, including the U.S.A.”…
“MetPublications is a portal to The Met’s comprehensive publishing program with over 1,500 titles, including books, online publications, and Bulletins and Journals from the last five decades. MetPublications includes a description and table of contents for most titles, as well as information about the authors, reviews, awards, and links to related Met titles by author and by theme. Current book titles that are in-print may be previewed and fully searched online, with a link to purchase the book. The full contents of almost all other book titles may be read online, searched, or downloaded as a PDF. Many of these out-of-print books will be available for purchase, when rights permit, through print-on-demand capabilities in association with Yale University Press. For the Met’s Bulletin, all but the most recent issue can be downloaded as a PDF. For the Met’s Journal, all individual articles and entire volumes can be downloaded as a PDF.”
During the Great Recessions, the term “toxic assets” became a cliché. It was used to describe loans and other financial instruments that had fallen significantly and for which there is no longer a functioning market. The presence of these so-called toxic assets on their balance sheets caused many banks to fail.
As it turned out, JPMC actually acquired some toxic assets in the more traditional sense when it purchased the acquired the insolvent Washington Mutual Bank (WMB). As a result of this transaction, the bank eventually entered into a series of consent orders with United States and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to resolve the liability of WMB and various predecessors involving the former BKK Sanitary Landfill Site in West Covina, California. Under the consent order JPMC agreed to pay $27 million to the DTSC for its past response costs and remaining $58 million to the PRP steering committee. In addition, JPMC paid DTSC $1 million for attorney fees and other costs incurred related to the Consent Decree. In the federal consent agreement, JPMC agreed t pay to EPA $1MM for past response costs.
The story began back in 1959 when Home Savings of America FSB (“Home Savings”) purchased land in West Covina, California. In 1963, Home Savings leased a portion of the landfill to BKK Corp., which developed and operated the a landfill that accepted both solid waste and hazardous wastes. Around 1973, Home Savings transferred title to the BKK Facility to a subsidiary, Oxford Investment Corp. (“Oxford”) which held title until approximately 1977 when BKK Corp. exercised a lease option to acquire title to the facility.
In 1995, Oxford became a direct subsidiary of H.F. Ahmanson & Company, the parent corporation of Home Savings. Oxford was subsequently renamed Ahmanson Developments Inc. In 1998, H.F. Ahmanson &c Company merged into Washington Mutual Inc (WMI), which was the parent corporation of WMB. As part of that transaction, Home Savings merged into WMB, and Ahmanson Developments Inc., became a direct subsidiary of WMI.
In 2004, NAMCO Securities Corp., a subsidiary of WMB, loaned BKK Corp. money to assist BKK Corp. with maintaining its post-foreclosure financial assurance. However, BKK Corp. notified DTSC later that year that it could no longer perform its post-closure obligations for the closed hazardous waste landfill or operate the Leachate Treatment Plant.
DTSC was forced to retain a contractor to conduct emergency response activities at the BKK Facility. The agency then issued an Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Determination and Order and Remedial Action Order (ISE Order) to BKK Corp. and approximately fifty (50) other parties including WMB.
DTSC subsequently entered into a series of administrative settlement agreements with some of the PRPs named in the ISE Order. WMB was one of the settling respondents. DTSC later filed an action for cost recovery against 25 PRPs including WMB which resulted in a consent order that required the settling defendants to undertake various actions regarding the BKK site and to reimburse DTSC for certain costs it had incurred or would incur in the future related to the Subject Property.
After the Office of Thrift Supervision closed WMB and appointed FDIC as the receiver, WMI and WMI Investment Corp. commenced a chapter 11 petition. DTSC, the PRP steering committee and certain of its members filed proofs of claim in the WMB Receivership alleging that WMB and its subsidiaries or affiliates were liable for response costs and other damages associated with the BKK Facility. These claims were disallowed.
In 2012, the Bankruptcy Court approved a settlement agreement whereby the settling parties agreed, among other things, that JPMC would fund the obligations of the WMI Entities for Response Costs associated with the BKK Facility and act as their agent for certain insurance policies. Interestingly, the settlement agreement provided that the automatic stay would be lifted to the limited extent required to determine WMI’s liability for response costs related to the BKK Facility.
The Schnapf Environmental Journal that was published from 1998 to 2008 and is available from the newsletter page of this website discussed a number of instances where lenders incurred environmental liability as a result of acquisitions. For example, the 2002 September issue discussed Citibank’s liability for the Shattuck Chemical Company. The December 2004 issue covered the listing of a bank branch office to the federal superfund list.
The post JP Morgan Chase Actually Acquired “Toxic” Assets During the Great Recession appeared first on Schnapf Law.
“The Court Messaging Project (now called Wise Messenger) is an open-source initiative from Stanford’s Legal Design Lab, to build an out-of-the-box tool for any court or legal services group to send automated messages to their clients. The overarching goal of the project is to make the court system more navigable and to improve people’s sense of procedural justice — that legal system is fair, comprehensible, and user-friendly.”
An analysis of 9.7 million tweets reveals that news organizations played the largest role in which content was linked to compared with other information providers. “As news organizations battle charges of “fake news,” compete with alternate sources of information, and face low levels of trust from a skeptical public, a new Pew Research Center study suggests that news outlets still play the largest role in content that gets shared on Twitter, at least when it comes to one contentious issue in the news: immigration. The study, which aimed to better understand the types of information sources that users on one popular social media platform may see about a major national policy issue, finds that news organizations play a far larger role than other types of content providers, such as commentary or government sites. During the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency, roughly four-in-ten of the 1,030 most linked-to sites in immigration-related tweets (42%) were outlets that purport to do original reporting – what the study refers to as the News Organizations category. And the prominent role these sites played becomes even greater when looking at the frequency with which they were shared: Fully 75% of the tweets during this time period linked to News Organizations. The study also finds little clear evidence that “fake news” sites were a major factor in the information stream on Twitter around immigration. Overall, just 2% of the sites catalogued in the study appeared on at least one of three external lists of “fake news” sites, and the vast majority of sites classified as News Organizations were established at least a year before the 2016 election, suggesting they were not created solely for influence during the election…”
“Generational differences have long been a factor in U.S. politics. These divisions are now as wide as they have been in decades, with the potential to shape politics well into the future. From immigration and race to foreign policy and the scope of government, two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents. And on many issues, Millennials continue to have a distinct – and increasingly liberal – outlook. These differences are reflected in generations’ political preferences. First-year job approval ratings for Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, differ markedly across generations. By contrast, there were only slight differences in views of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton during their respective first years in office. Just 27% of Millennials approve of Trump’s job performance, while 65% disapprove, according to Pew Research Center surveys conducted in Trump’s first year as president. Among Gen Xers, 36% approve and 57% disapprove. In Obama’s first year, 64% of Millennials and 55% of Gen Xers approved of the way the former president was handling his job as president. Among Boomers and Silents, there is less difference in first-year views of the past two presidents; both groups express more positive views of Trump’s job performance than do Gen Xers or Millennials (46% of Silents approve, as do 44% of Boomers)….”
A majority of Americans use Facebook and YouTube, but young adults are especially heavy users of Snapchat and Instagram: “A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives. Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users. As has been the case since the Center began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook. As has been the case since the Center began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook. But the social media story extends well beyond Facebook. The video-sharing site YouTube – which contains many social elements, even if it is not a traditional social media platform – is now used by nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults and 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds. And the typical (median) American reports that they use three of the eight major platforms that the Center measured in this survey…”
Via Quora, there are 23 answers on this posting – so this is just one – read all of them here: “#1 — Google tracks you. We don’t. You share your most intimate secrets with your search engine without even thinking: medical, financial and personal issues, along with all the day to day things that make you, well, you. All of that personal information should be private, but on Google it’s not. On Google, your searches are tracked, mined, and packaged up into a data profile for advertisers to follow you around the Internet through those intrusive and annoying ever-present banner ads, using Google’s massive ad networks, embedded across millions of sites and apps. So-called incognito mode won’t protect you either. That’s a myth. “Incognito” mode isn’t really incognito at all. It’s an extremely misleading name and in my opinion should be changed. All it does is delete your local browsing history after your session on your device, but does nothing from stopping any website you visit, including Google, from tracking you via your IP address and other tracking mechanisms like browser fingerprinting. Here’s the fine print: