Law and Legal
Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy Report – “At least 55 of the largest corporations in America paid no federal corporate income taxes in their most recent fiscal year despite enjoying substantial pretax profits in the United States. This continues a decades-long trend of corporate tax avoidance by the biggest U.S. corporations, and it appears to be the product of long-standing tax breaks preserved or expanded by the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) as well as the CARES Act tax breaks enacted in the spring of 2020. The tax-avoiding companies represent various industries and collectively enjoyed almost $40.5 billion in U.S. pretax income in 2020, according to their annual financial reports. The statutory federal tax rate for corporate profits is 21 percent. The 55 corporations would have paid a collective total of $8.5 billion for the year had they paid that rate on their 2020 income. Instead, they received $3.5 billion in tax rebates. Their total corporate tax breaks for 2020, including $8.5 billion in tax avoidance and $3.5 billion in rebates, comes to $12 billion. This report is based on ITEP’s analysis of annual financial reports filed by the nation’s largest publicly traded U.S.-based corporations in their most recent fiscal year. All data presented here come directly from the income tax notes of these reports. Some companies with unusual fiscal years have not yet filed such reports. Some publicly traded corporations paid nothing on profits in their most recent fiscal year but are not included in this report because they are not part of the S&P 500 or Fortune 500…”
The Intercept: “The popular legal research and data brokerage firm LexisNexis signed a $16.8 million contract to sell information to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to documents shared with The Intercept. The deal is already drawing fire from critics and comes less than two years after the company downplayed its ties to ICE, claiming it was “not working with them to build data infrastructure to assist their efforts.” Though LexisNexis is perhaps best known for its role as a powerful scholarly and legal research tool, the company also caters to the immensely lucrative “risk” industry, providing, it says, 10,000 different data points on hundreds of millions of people to companies like financial institutions and insurance companies who want to, say, flag individuals with a history of fraud. LexisNexis Risk Solutions is also marketed to law enforcement agencies, offering “advanced analytics to generate quality investigative leads, produce actionable intelligence and drive informed decisions” — in other words, to find and arrest people. The LexisNexis ICE deal appears to be providing a replacement for CLEAR, a risk industry service operated by Thomson Reuters that has been crucial to ICE’s deportation efforts. In February, the Washington Post noted that the CLEAR contract was expiring and that it was “unclear whether the Biden administration will renew the deal or award a new contract.”…
Lifehacker – and How to Deal With Them – “…Before we go any further, we should note that experiencing side effects isn’t specific to the COVID vaccine: They can occur after a flu shot or other vaccination, and are a sign that your body is responding to the vaccine. Specifically, in the case of the COVID vaccine, that “your immune system is instructing your body to react in certain ways: it increases blood flow so more immune cells can circulate, and it raises your body temperature in order to kill the virus,” the World Health Organization (WHO) explains. So, when someone experiences mild-to-moderate side effects following the COVID vaccine, it’s not uncommon for their doctors or family members to reassure them that not only is this normal, it’s also a good thing. It doesn’t mean that the vaccine is dangerous—it means that it’s doing its job…”
“Some of the biggest names in corporate America are backing state lawmakers who are pushing bills to make it more difficult to vote, a new Public Citizen report shows. Corporations have contributed $50 million since 2015 to state legislators supporting anti-voter bills, including $22 million over the past two years, according to the report, “The Corporate Sponsors of Voter Suppression.” Meanwhile, industry trade groups have contributed another $36 million to these state legislators. The anti-voter bills included in the report’s analysis would do such things as shorten early-voting periods, cancel voting on Sundays, severely constrain mail-in voting, reduce the number of drop boxes for ballots, criminalize the act of providing food and water to voters waiting in line, and even authorize the state legislature to overturn the results of a presidential election, altogether. “Corporate leaders cannot credibly claim to love America while also giving contributions to lawmakers who are supporting thinly veiled attempts to suppress the vote, especially among people of color,” said Public Citizen Executive Vice President Lisa Gilbert. “The only acceptable action for corporations to take is to stop giving to supporters of these bills, forever.”…
UK Tribune Magazine – “During the pandemic, library workers have been deemed ‘essential’ and many forced to continue work – but government cuts have led to 1,000 closures in a decade, the real measure of how these services are valued…”
“This primer by Seth Abramson also explains, in detail, how and why the attack on the Capitol occurred. The Department of Justice calls the FBI investigation into the January 6 assault on the United States Capitol one of the largest criminal probes in American history. One of the reasons the investigation is so historically vast and complex is that it encompasses five discrete yet overlapping classes of potential criminal defendants. This article details those five classes, establishes the key intersections between each, identifies a small number of key events in the lead-up to the insurrection, and presents an overarching narrative—confirmed by both testimonial and documentary evidence—of how the insurrection occurred…”
Berkman Klein Center for Internet Law – “This policy memo outlines two key strategies for state and local leaders looking to more safely reopen their schools: enhancing school air quality and implementing robust screening testing programs to stop outbreaks before they begin. The memo summarizes insights outlined in a recent public event featuring Dr. Joseph G. Allen, President Anthony Monaco and Vice Provost for Research Caroline Attardo Genco of Tufts University, Dr. KJ Seung, and Mayor Joseph Curtatone of Someville, MA. Better air quality can reduce the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission in indoor settings. Robust air ventilation, filtration, and protocols can help schools protect their students, faculty, and staff from the virus. Partnering with the Broad Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, Tufts University implemented a large-scale, screening testing program for its students, faculty, and staff. Using pooled testing to test multiple samples at once, Tufts was able to test many members of its community through this cost-efficient and effective program. The university then assisted its surrounding communities of Somerville and Medford as they sought to launch testing efforts for their schools as well.Several key considerations for state and local leaders examined in this memo include:
- Ensuring high air quality in schools through ventilation, air filtration, and other techniques and processes.
- Partnering with laboratories and universities for testing.
- Developing a robust test results notification protocol.
- Implementing contact tracing protocols.
- Augmenting personnel capacity for testing processes.
- Engaging the community to support the testing program and foster consent.
- Establishing strong information technology and logistics systems for testing program coordination…”
Business Insider – “A user in a low level hacking forum on Saturday published the phone numbers and personal data of hundreds of millions of Facebook users for free online. The exposed data includes personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It includes their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and — in some cases — email addresses. Insider reviewed a sample of the leaked data and verified several records by matching known Facebook users’ phone numbers with the IDs listed in the data set. We also verified records by testing email addresses from the data set in Facebook’s password reset feature, which can be used to partially reveal a user’s phone number. A Facebook spokesperson told Insider that the data was scraped due to a vulnerability that the company patched in 2019…”
The New York Times – “These large, long-lived trees support more life-forms than any other trees in North America. And they’re magnificent…Oaks support more life-forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food, protection or both for birds to bears, as well as countless insects and spiders, among the enormous diversity of species….“There is much going on in your yard that would not be going on if you did not have one or more oak trees gracing your piece of planet earth,” he writes in his new book, “The Nature of Oaks: The Rich Ecology of Our Most Essential Native Trees.” Oaks support more life-forms than any other North American tree genus, providing food, protection or both for birds to bears, as well as countless insects and spiders, among the enormous diversity of species. Oaks also supply more of what he calls “fascinating interactions,” intimate details the book chronicles, month by month…”
Nature – “Some publishers say they are battling industrialized cheating. A Nature analysis examines the ‘paper mill’ problem — and how editors are trying to cope…Much of this literature cleaning has come about because, last year, outside sleuths publicly flagged papers that they think came from paper mills owing to their suspiciously similar features. Collectively, the lists of flagged papers total more than 1,000 studies, the analysis shows. Editors are so concerned by the issue that last September, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a publisher-advisory body in London, held a forum dedicated to discussing “systematic manipulation of the publishing process via paper mills”. Their guest speaker was Elisabeth Bik, a research-integrity analyst in California known for her skill in spotting duplicated images in papers, and one of the sleuths who posts their concerns about paper mills online…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, April 4, 2021 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Five highlights from this week: Electric Cars, Smart Refrigerators Pose Cyber Risk To US Utilities, GAO Finds; Supreme Court Sides With Facebook Over Unwanted Automated Texts; Hunting the hunters: How Russian hackers targeted US cyber first responders in SolarWinds breach; National Weather Service Digital Infrastructure Is a Disaster; and CRS In Focus – Biometric Technologies and Global Security.
“National Library Week (April 4 – 10, 2021) is a time to celebrate our nation’s libraries, library workers’ contributions and promote library use and support. The theme for National Library Week 2021 is “Welcome to Your Library.” During the pandemic, library workers continue to exceed their communities’ demands and adapt resources and services to meet their users’ needs during these challenging times. Whether people visit in person or virtually, libraries offer endless opportunities to transform lives through education and lifelong learning. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and observed in libraries across the country each April. All types of libraries – school, public, academic and special – participate…”
- Nation to celebrate library workers’ contributions, April 6, 2021
- First-ever National Library Outreach Day to take place during National Library Week
MakeUseOf: “Google’s Full Coverage feature has been a part of Google News since 2018, but for those who consume their news by simply searching for a topic, the feature was never visible. That’s about to change, as Google has announced on The Keyword that Full Coverage will make its way to Google Search, helping anyone learn more about a breaking news story by simply searching for the topic. If you like to make sure you fully understand a news story from all sides, this is for you…”
The Hill – “…Copyright bots are automated programs that search digital content to identify copyright infringements. Google’s Content ID for YouTube is a prominent example. According to a Google publication, 98 percent of YouTube’s copyright issues were handled through the automated Content ID system in 2018. When a user uploads a video to YouTube, Content ID scans the contents against a database of files submitted by digital content owners. If the newly uploaded video matches a copyrighted file, the copyright holders have the option to make money from the offending video, be granted access to the video’s viewing statistics, or have the video taken down. However, this process is open to exploitation. A post from NYU’s Journal of Intellectual Property and Entertainment Law has called copyright actions like YouTube’s “a tool for censorship, bullying, extortion.” As the Beverly Hills police officer showed, an alleged bad actor who wishes to cover up his misconduct faces a low bar. Other examples include the Azerbaijani government allegedly censoring journalists and a former candidate for Colorado Assembly filing multiple claims against a critic’s YouTube channel, resulting in the termination of the critic’s account twice…”
Domestic Travel Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People – “People who are fully vaccinated with an FDA-authorized vaccine can travel safely within the United States. If you are fully vaccinated, take the following steps to protect others if you travel: Have You Been Fully Vaccinated? People are considered fully vaccinated:
- 2 weeks after their second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
- 2 weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine
If you don’t meet these requirements, you are NOT fully vaccinated. Keep taking all precautions until you are fully vaccinated. If you have a condition or are taking medication that weakens your immune system, you may NOT be fully protected even if you are fully vaccinated. Talk to your healthcare provider. Even after vaccination, you may need to continue taking all precautions…”
The New York Times – Confronting late-stage pandemic burnout, with everything from edibles to Exodus – “…Call it a late-pandemic crisis of productivity, of will, of enthusiasm, of purpose. Call it a bout of existential work-related ennui provoked partly by the realization that sitting in the same chair in the same room staring at the same computer for 12 straight months (and counting!) has left many of us feeling like burned-out husks, dimwitted approximations of our once-productive selves. What time is it? What day is it? What did we do in October? Why are we standing in front of the refrigerator staring at an old clove of garlic? Just recently I myself spent half an hour struggling to retrieve a word from the faulty memory system that has replaced my prepandemic brain. (“Institution.” That was the word.) Sometimes, when I try to write a simple email, I feel I’m just pushing disjointed words around, like peas on a plate, hoping they will eventually coalesce into sentences. Am I excited about my daily work in this month of April, 2021? I would have to say that I am not. “Malaise, burnout, depression and stress — all of those are up considerably,” said Todd Katz, executive vice president and head of group benefits at MetLife. The company’s most recent Employee Benefit Trends Study, conducted in December and January, found that workers across the board felt markedly worse than they did last April…”
Book Riot – “…According to the Central for Disease Control (CDC), eight out of ten deaths related to COVID-19 are individuals aged 65 years and older. Because of the especially high health risks, seniors and senior centers have had to take strict precautions for protection. While some seniors are able to access virtual socializing via cell phones and Zoom, others who are less familiar with these technologies are at risk of being left out as face-to-face contact is limited. As a result, seniors have become especially socially isolated during the pandemic. Libraries have been hard at work to combat this isolation and continue to serve the senior demographic (safely) during the pandemic…”
MakeUseOf: “Most of the time, your iPhone’s ability to save locations alongside the photos you take is a great feature—you can search by cities and countries, create Memories in the Photos app, and more. But you might not want to include that location data when you’re sharing your photos via iMessage or posting them to social media. Here’s how to remove geotags before you share…”
YouTube – “The biggest searchable collection of Rail Cab Ride Videos with maps and extensive search options. All videos are real time, show a front view, and cover an entire stretch. Search in 8000+ videos – Or browse: Trains – Local Transport – Line Names – Rolling Stock.”
Vox: “The pandemic has accelerated the move to remote work and with it the possibility that those employees can live anywhere they please. That could mean a higher standard of living and a lower income tax rate for the growing number of remote workers. But in some instances it could mean having to pay taxes for a place where they now neither live nor work — or even being taxed on the same income twice. It can be a very complicated situation, and the internet abounds with people trying to figure out what’s going on. Reddit, specifically, is full of questions about where remote workers should file their taxes this year: If you quarantined with family for a couple months in a different state than where you work but didn’t update your tax withholdings, do you have to file two state tax returns? If you worked remotely in a state without income tax but your job is in a state that has income tax, do you have to pay it? What do you do if you’re being taxed by a state you haven’t set foot in? The answers, unsatisfyingly, depend on a number of factors, including which states and how long you were there, according to tax experts we spoke with. Ahead of tax season, here’s what to look out for when filing your taxes on remote work…”