Law and Legal

To enact change in the world, we must protest

National Geographic – To enact change in the world, we must protest – African Americans have a legacy of fighting for their rights in the U.S.—today, the movement has become global…. Now, America is experiencing another wave of social unrest and civil disobedience. We have little choice. Neither Minneapolis nor its police officers represent an American police anomaly. But the killing of Floyd has exposed an awful truth, and radical change is needed. The almost casual nature of Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin, a veteran Minneapolis police officer criminally charged with his death, along with three other officers, reveals how black Americans continue to be targeted, brutalized, and often killed simply because their race renders them suspect. Being black is a pre-existing condition when it comes to law enforcement interaction. Sadly, that state of affairs isn’t breaking news. The news is the sustained intensity of the demand for systemic change being heard both here and abroad in the wake of Floyd’s murder. The geographically and racially diverse protest furor gives guarded hope for meaningful social progress on the policing issues. As America remains firmly locked in a dangerously crowded intersection of pandemic health fears and unleashed anger against the criminal justice system, the focused rage has gone global…”

See also from Nat GeoPhotos can show protests’ complexity—or they can perpetuate old lies – Pictures from demonstrations around the U.S. can become powerful symbols, but some only tell one side of the story.

Categories: Law and Legal

Masks for Covid-19: The WHO now recommends cloth masks for all

Vox: The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday announced changes to its guidelines on who should wear a mask during the Covid-19 pandemic and where they should wear it. The new guidance recommends that the general public wear cloth masks made from at least three layers of fabric “on public transport, in shops, or in other confined or crowded environments.” It also says people over 60 or with preexisting conditions should wear medical masks in areas where there’s community transmission of the coronavirus and physical distancing is impossible, and that all workers in clinical settings should wear medical masks in areas with widespread transmission. It’s a major update to the agency’s April 6 recommendations, which said members of the general public “only need to wear a mask if you are taking care of a person with Covid-19” or “if you are coughing or sneezing.” And it’s important advice for countries around the world battling the virus, especially those in South America, the Middle East, and Africa, where the rate of Covid-19 transmission appears to be accelerating. [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

SEC is plugged into the potential pitfalls of making Covid-19 vaccines

Via Quartz: SEC filings tell us a lot about the potential pitfalls of making Covid-19 vaccines. Companies working on vaccines detail how unlikely it is for a trial to fail, and it underscores how vaccines aren’t a magic bullet—total public health must be considered if we’re going to make progress….Enter 8-K forms. Publicly-traded companies are required to submit this paperwork to the US Securities and Exchange Commission whenever something exceedingly positive—or negative—happens within the company. Companies like Moderna filed them recently as their Covid-19 vaccines have entered some form of clinical testing. Included in most of these forms is a forward-looking statement, which essentially serves as a legal caveat. Their language usually includes an assessment of risks like this, which was taken from Moderna’s 8-K filed in mid-May…Novavax (8-K filed in May, referencing its 10-A form filed in March)…Inovio (8-K filed in June)…These 8-Ks aren’t the only places that companies state risks; sometimes, they’re in the initial registration paperwork companies have to file to the SEC, or regular quarterly reports…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Congress and Law Enforcement Reform: Constitutional Authority

CRS report via LC – Congress and Law Enforcement Reform: Constitutional Authority, June 4, 2020: “In May and June 2020, protests erupted nationwide after the publication of video footage of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of George Floyd, leading to his death. That incident and its aftermath have sparked heightened interest in Congress’s ability to implement reforms of state and local law enforcement. As a companion to this Sidebar outlines in greater detail, congressional power to regulate state and local law enforcement is not without limits. The Constitution grants the federal government only certain enumerated authorities, with the Tenth Amendment reserving all other powers for the states. The regulation of state and municipal law enforcement is an area that the Constitution generally entrusts to the states. However, Congress possesses some authority to legislate on that subject, primarily through statutes designed to enforce the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment and legislation requiring states to take specified action in exchange for federal funds disbursed under the Spending Clause. This Sidebar provides an overview of existing federal statutes intended to prevent and redress constitutional violations by state and local public safety officials. It then presents some recent proposals that would change federal regulation of state and local law enforcement..”

Categories: Law and Legal

All Facebook users can now access a tool to port data to Google Photos

TechCrunch: “Facebook’s photo transfer tool is now available globally half a year on from an initial rollout in Europe, the company said today. The data portability feature enables users of the social network to directly port a copy of their photos to Google’s eponymous photo storage service via encrypted transfer, rather than needing to download and manually upload photos themselves — thereby reducing the hassle involved with switching to a rival service. Facebook users can find the option to “Transfer a copy of your photos and videos” under the Your Facebook Information settings menu. This is the same menu where the company has long enabled users to download a copy of a range of information related to their use of its service (including photos). However there’s little that can be done with that data dump. Whereas the direct photo transfer mechanism shrinks the friction involved in account switching. Facebook debuted the feature in Ireland at the back end of last year, going on to open it up to more international markets earlier this year and grant access to users in the US and Canada come April. Now all Facebook users can tap in — though the choice of where you can port your photos remains limited to Google Photos. So it’s not the kind of data portability that’s of any help to startup services (yet). Facebook has said support for other services is being built out. However this requires collaborating developers to build the necessary adapters for photos APIs. Which in turn depends on wider participation in an underpinning open source effort, called the Data Transfer Project (DTP)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Contact Tracing With Your Phone: It’s Easier but There Are Tradeoffs

The New York Times – “Lots of new app ideas are emerging to track Covid-19, but each has issues around privacy, location accuracy and how much appeal it will have to the public and to health officials…The handshake came first. Then the high-five, fist bump and more recently, the elbow touch. Canadian researchers are now working on a new greeting, the CanShake. It is not a mere salutation. The CanShake — which involves people shaking their phones at each other upon meeting to transmit contact information — is one of many emerging concepts seeking to use smartphones to do mass contact tracing to track and contain the spread of Covid-19. All involve harnessing common consumer technology to log people’s location or movements and match it against the location of people known to be sick. There are dozens of versions, many already in practice around the world, including in South Korea, Singapore, China, Italy and Israel. But in the United States, privacy concerns and absence of national policy have made the approach slower to catch on…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Black Lives Matter Suing Trump, Fed Govt Over Force Used Against Protesters Outside WH

BussFeedNews: “The DC chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement filed a lawsuit on Thursday accusing federal law enforcement officers of violating the constitutional rights of peaceful demonstrators who were forcibly cleared from a park north of the White House so President Donald Trump could walk through for a photo op earlier this week. The lawsuit accused officers of attacking the demonstrators without warning and using excessive force — including deploying incendiary devices known as flashbangs, tear gas, smoke canisters, pepper balls, and rubber bullets. “This case is about the President and Attorney General of the United States ordering the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators who were speaking out against discriminatory police brutality targeted at Black people,” the complaint, filed in federal court in Washington, D.C., begins. It’s the first lawsuit filed over the events in Lafayette Square on June 1, and one of the first cases seeking to hold city, state, and federal law enforcement liable for alleged misconduct during protests nationwide that have led to more than 11,000 arrests. Besides the local chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement, the plaintiffs in the DC case include a woman who was in the park with her 9-year-old child and other protesters from DC and Maryland who said they were injured and feared going back out to exercise their free speech rights. They are being represented by the DC ACLU and the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Survey of the 50 richest Americans – pandemic is testing the generosity of billionaires

Washington Post – “America’s love-hate affair with billionaires took an uncomfortable twist this spring: As the coronavirus spread across the country, both fans and critics wondered what these titans of capitalism would do to address this devastating health and economic crisis. The answer so far: Not much, when accounting for their vast personal fortunes. A Washington Post survey of the nation’s 50 wealthiest people and families, who have a collective net worth of nearly $1.6 trillion, found that their publicly announced donations amount to about $1 billion, which sounds like a lot of money but adds up to less than .1 percent of their combined wealth. More than half of these billionaires have publicly donated cash and a few say they have given something — money or in-kind contributions — but declined to specify how much. But almost a third have not announced any donations and declined to comment or did not reply to requests for comment.

And even many of the billionaires who have announced donations to covid-19 relief efforts have given amounts that are relatively paltry when compared to the median net worth of an American household, which registers at $97,300, a number that accounts for a family’s assets and subtracting debts, according to the federal Survey of Consumer Finances. To put billionaires’ covid-19 giving in perspective, The Post used this figure to calculate what each of their donations would equate to for the median American donor…”

Categories: Law and Legal

In Changing U.S. Electorate Race and Education Remain Stark Dividing Lines

“Republicans hold wide advantages in party identification among several groups of voters, including white men without a college degree, people living in rural communities in the South and those who frequently attend religious services. Democrats hold formidable advantages among a contrasting set of voters, such as black women, residents of urban communities in the Northeast and people with no religious affiliation. With the presidential election on the horizon, the U.S. electorate continues to be deeply divided by race and ethnicity, education, gender, age and religion. The Republican and Democratic coalitions, which bore at least some demographic similarities in past decades, have strikingly different profiles today. A new analysis by Pew Research Center of long-term trends in party affiliation – based on surveys conducted among more than 360,000 registered voters over the past 25 years, including more than 12,000 in 2018 and 2019 – finds only modest changes in recent years…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to secure your phone before attending a protest

The Verge: “People are taking to the streets to organize for justice and protest against systemic racism and police brutality. If you’re attending or even just watching the protests, then be aware: not only is your phone a trove of information about you and the people you communicate with, it also functions as a tracking device. That’s why it’s important to keep your digital footprint as small as possible — any evidence placing people at protests could be enough to get them arrested. You should account for the fact that your phone may get lost, stolen, or broken. There’s also a risk of your phone being confiscated by authorities — which means that if they’re able to unlock your phone, they’ll have access to data on you and people you know. It could give authorities access to information about what is being organized and who is doing the organizing, and might even give them the information necessary to shut down or prevent protests and arrest those involved. It’s important to keep your digital footprint as small as possible  In other words, it never hurts to prepare for the worst, especially considering recent events. The steps we’ve listed here are a basic start toward protecting your privacy before you attend a protest, but there are additional precautions you can take. Circumstances and situations vary and none of these methods are 100 percent foolproof, but they do offer increased security for you and your info…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Why You Should Wear a Mask to Your Next Job Interview

LifeHacker: “Now that more and more states are reopening, job seekers might find themselves in the position of having to decide how to approach an in-person job interview. Should you wear a mask? Should you avoid shaking hands? Should you attempt to stay at least six feet away from your interviewers? According to Ask a Manager’s Alison Green, the answer is yes—to all of the above. As Green recently explained in The Cut”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

How to Dispose of Live Ammo Left by Police

Gizmodo: “On Tuesday [June 2, 2020], Washington, DC, resident Ed Felten tweeted an image of a black bulb resembling a Christmas ornament, lying in a patch of spring grass. “Very relieved that the unexploded flash-bang grenade that my daughter found and innocently picked up this morning didn’t explode in her face,” Felten, former White House deputy chief technology officer, captioned the image. “Beyond angry that it was left on the streets of our capital city.” Alongside the tweet were various reports of the previous night’s police assaults on civilians with stun (aka “flash-bang”) grenades, rubber bullets and chemical gas. Kicking off the evening, police memorably fired tear gas at peaceful protesters so that the president could take a photo holding a Bible upside-down outside St. John’s Episcopal Church. A flash-bang grenade, detonated at short range, could most certainly cause serious harm: A ProPublica investigation has found that, in at least 50 cases, flash-bangs have burned, maimed, or killed Americans, including slicing off fingers and hands. “When these modified hand grenades explode on the human body, they can cause severe injury or death,” ProPublica wrote in 2015. “The flash powder burns hotter than lava.” In one 2014 case, a mother told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that a flash-bang grenade police threw into her toddler’s crib “blew open his face and his chest.” As militarized police and actual military forces meet protesters on streets across the nation, what should you do when you find leftover weapons of mass destruction and canisters of harmful chemical gas? Gizmodo asked experts for advice…”

See also JezebelThe Occupation of Washington, D.C.: “…Yet the military exists to guard power, and its use is an all-encompassing play that ensures that birthright, once given, is kept. And Trump has done his best to transform Washington into a version of Tom Cotton’s [R- Senator – AK]  fantasy; he’s ordered military planes to hover over the city, in the type of “show-of-force” mission more typically used to warn of incoming troops—an operation reportedly called “Operation Themis” after the Greek figure Themis, a Titaness of “divine law and order.” (That this name is shared with an Italian program designed to secure the country’s borders and eliminate “terrorist threats” is appropriate.) Trump has suggested taking over the direction of the city’s police force, a move quickly countered as unprecedented and decidedly illegal by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Even the city’s curfew is a warning to residents to expect and plan for violence. “It’s after 7, they can do whatever they want to you,” one protester told the Washington Post. “There are no rules.”..

Categories: Law and Legal

ACLU files class action suit on behalf of journalist targeted during protests

ACLU: “We are facing a full-scale assault on the First Amendment freedom of the press. As people take to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and too many other Black people who have been killed by police in recent years, journalists have joined them to bear witness. While covering these protests in cities throughout the country, journalists have become conspicuous targets for arrest, intimidation, and assault by police officers, even though (or perhaps because) they are clearly identifiable as members of the press.  These apparently deliberate attacks on journalists violate the First Amendment freedom of the press, and they will not go unanswered. The ACLU of Minnesota is filing a class-action lawsuit against Minnesota’s state and local law enforcement officials to ensure that police officers who target journalists are held fully accountable for their unlawful actions. We also plan to protect another of our essential First Amendment rights: the right to protest. We’re pursuing legal actions to stop police brutality against protesters and organizers…”

See also via The Marshall Project – “Reporters beware. “Chaos” is the wrong word to describe the moment, and media outlets must do better to cover the threat to civil liberties posed by this administration. The Atlantic Five ways in which reporters can hold the police more accountable. ProPublica More: Police in Denver were supposed to get training to better understand First Amendment protections. That hasn’t happened. Colorado Independent..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Reopening After The Covid-19 Shutdown? This Course Can Help

News@Northeastern: “Government leaders are calling for the economy to reopen. What does that mean for businesses that have been struggling to survive during the COVID-19 shutdowns? A new online course offers a free step-by-step guide to help owners of small and medium-sized businesses create and navigate a recovery plan.  COVID-19: A Practical Approach to Enterprise Restart & Recovery Planning, created by Northeastern’s Global Resilience Institute in consultation with the D’Amore-McKim School of Business, can be applied to organizations other than businesses, including medical and educational facilities, churches, and non-governmental organizations that must not only bounce back from the lockdown but also adapt to new public-health regulations and limitations…It provides a template that enables operators to fill in the details of their organization as they attempt to recover…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Supreme Court to Consider Whether Web Addresses Using Generic Terms May Be Trademarked

CRS Legal Sidebar via LC – Isn’t It Generic: Supreme Court to Consider Whether Web Addresses Using Generic Terms May Be Trademarked – June 2, 2020: “What can be trademarked? On May 4, 2020, in its first telephonic oral argument ever, the Supreme Court heard arguments addressing this question. Generally, trademarks protect the goodwill that a company has built in a “distinctive”name or mark. Whether a mark is distinctive can depend on a number of factors, but, under long-standing trademark principles, a “generic” mark is never distinctive and therefore may not be protected under trademark law. A mark is generic if it is the “common name of a product” or “the genus of which the particular product is a species.” For example, one could not trademark the name “LITE BEER for light beer, or CONVENIENT STORE for convenience stores.”Booking.com, a hotel reservation company, applied to the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) for a trademark on its business name, BOOKING.COM. The PTO denied the application, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (Fourth Circuit) held that BOOKING.COM is a protectable mark. In PTO v. Booking.com, the Supreme Court is poised to address the question whether combining two generic terms can result in a protectable, distinctive trademark. Specifically, the case presents the question whether “the addition by an online business of a generic top-level domain (‘.com’) to an otherwise generic term can create a protectable trademark.”This Sidebar will discuss the relevant legal background before addressing potential implications for Congress…”

Categories: Law and Legal

101+ Virtual Tours of Popular Tourist Attractions Around the World [2020]

Upgraded Points: “Do canceled travel plans have you stuck at home wishing you were anywhere else? We all know how that feels, but luckily, we have a solution. You can still satisfy your wanderlust by exploring famous sights — from your couch! We’ve put together a list of 101 virtual tours from over 35 countries around the world so that you can explore without having to catch a flight or spend a dime! We’ve organized this gigantic list by country so you can easily navigate to your country of choice… or simply work your way down the list and digitally travel all over the globe…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship

CRS Legal Sidebar via LC – Section 230 and the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship – June 3, 2020: “On May 28, 2020, President Trump issued the Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship (EO), expressing the executive branch’s views on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act. As discussed in this Legal Sidebar, Section 230, under certain circumstances,immunizes online content providers from liability for merely hosting others’ content.The EO stakes out a position in existing interpretive disputes about the law’s meaning and instructs federal agencies, including the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the Department of Justice, to take certain actions to implement this understanding. This Legal Sidebar explores the legal implications of the EO. It first briefly describes how courts have interpreted Section 230 before explaining what the EO says. Next, the Sidebar discusses the FCC and FTC’s authority to enforce Section 230, focusing on the EO’s instructions to these agencies, before concluding with a discussion of how international trade obligations affect the United States’ ability to modify Section 230…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Trump’s order to curtail power of social media giants faces legal challenge

Legal Insider: “Mayer Brown has filed a lawsuit against President Donald Trump on behalf of non-profit digital rights group Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), alleging that his recent executive order to curtail the protection of social media giants such as Twitter violates the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech. The lawsuit alleges that President Trump’s executive order violates the First Amendment because it is “plainly retaliatory” and attacks a private company – Twitter – for exercising its right to comment on the President’s statements. The order was brought after Twitter added a fact-checking label to two of @realDonaldTrump’s tweets about California’s vote-by-mail plans to show where they could get ‘the facts’ – saying they believe the Tweets could confuse voters. The lawsuit also alleges that the order breaches the First Amendment by seeking to “curtail and chill the constitutionally protected speech of all online platforms and individuals by demonstrating the willingness to use government authority to retaliate against those who criticise the government.” The order expressly names online content giants Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. CDT is an organisation that promotes and protects free expression on the internet. It cites cases including New York Times Co. v Sullivan, which states that “The right of citizens to inquire, to speak and to use information to reach consensus is a precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it.” The First Amendment prohibits government officials from using their power to retaliate against an individual or entity for engaging in free speech or take steps to chill free speech. It also bars the government from trying to censor lawful speech through threat of liability or reprisal. The claim alleges that the executive order violates all of these…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Mayors and governors: This is how you tackle racism

Brookings – Camille Busette – “While we have terms for others who have experienced trauma, in over 400 years of racism, we do not yet have a term for Black and Brown people who experience racial terrorism. This is a devastating and telling omission in our lexicon because it conveys how a majority-white society in the United States has refused to acknowledge the ongoing experience of living day in and day out in a society that was founded on the reality of working African slaves, and later African Americans, until their tendons literally snapped from their bones.  When, for nearly nine minutes, Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck on May 25, 2020, not releasing the pressure when Mr. Floyd said he could not breathe, not releasing it when bystanders cried out, nor releasing it for almost three minutes after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, the inhumane treatment and brutality upon which this nation was founded were exposed in all of their ugliness for everyone, worldwide to see. In this moment, as we reflect on just how deranged, sadistic, and yet commonplace Mr. Floyd’s murder was, mayors and governors are under pressure to respond urgently to endemic racism. Because that hasn’t been done effectively in the 400-plus years since slaves first arrived on our shores, mayors and governors are going to have to create their own blueprints.  So, mayors and governors, here is what you must do now to create sustained racism-free equity...”

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