Law and Legal

A Duty to Monitor and Share: What Law Librarians Can Do to Relate Information Around COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean

Ana Delgado, “A Duty to Monitor and Share: What Law Librarians Can Do to Relate Information Around COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean,” AALL New Voices, June 2020. Note that materials from the webinar organized by American Association of Law Libraries Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Special Interest Section (AALL FCIL-SIS) Continuing Education Committee Chair, Caitlin Hunter, are now available: YouTube video recordings:

Caitlin Hunter (moderator):

  • Law Librarians Combatting Infodemic During the COVID 19 Pandemic: Africa, Asia, and Europe (Alex Zhang, Alison Shea, Yemisi Dina, Mariya Baveda-Bright)
  • Law Librarians Combatting Infodemic During the COVID 19 Pandemic: Latin American and the Caribbean (Marcelo Rodríguez, Dr. Michele A. L. Villagran, Victoria De La Torre)

Slides and handouts are at the AALL FCIL-SIS Continuing Education page:

Thanks to the speakers and all the law librarians involved in these COVID-19 legal responses monitoring projects! Via Lyonette Louis-Jacques.

Categories: Law and Legal

Coronavirus Responses Highlight How Humans Have Evolved to Dismiss Facts That Don’t Fit Their Worldview

Scientific American – Science denialism is not just a simple matter of logic or ignorance:  “Americans increasingly exist in highly polarized, informationally insulated ideological communities occupying their own information universes. Within segments of the political blogosphere, global warming is dismissed as either a hoax or so uncertain as to be unworthy of response. Within other geographic or online communities, the science of vaccine safetyfluoridated drinking water and genetically modified foods is distorted or ignored. There is a marked gap in expressed concern over the coronavirus depending on political party affiliation, apparently based in part on partisan disagreements over factual issues like the effectiveness of social distancing or the actual COVID-19 death rate. In theory, resolving factual disputes should be relatively easy: Just present strong evidence, or evidence of a strong expert consensus. This approach succeeds most of the time, when the issue is, say, the atomic weight of hydrogen. But things don’t work that way when scientific advice presents a picture that threatens someone’s perceived interests or ideological worldview. In practice, it turns out that one’s political, religious or ethnic identity quite effectively predicts one’s willingness to accept expertise on any given politicized issue. “Motivated reasoning” is what social scientists call the process of deciding what evidence to accept based on the conclusion one prefers. As I explain in my book, “The Truth About Denial,” this very human tendency applies to all kinds of facts about the physical world, economic history and current events…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Judiciary Launches Redesigned PACER Website

“The Administrative Office of the U.S Courts on June 28 will launch a redesigned informational website for the Judiciary’s electronic court records system, known as PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). The new PACER website includes features that will make it easier for users to learn how to navigate the system, find what they are looking for more quickly, and understand the fee structure for downloading records. The update is also designed to improve accessibility for people with disabilities. It is the first major update of the PACER website in a decade. The website, now located at, provides information about the PACER service and is the portal to PACER applications. The website upgrade was undertaken in response to feedback from users and as part of the Judiciary’s ongoing effort to improve public access. The new website also will allow the AO to collect additional analytical data to inform future enhancements. The updated website takes advantage of the latest technologies and design best practices to improve usability and accessibility. New features include:

  • More modern navigation tools with helpful graphical aids.
  • Simplified and easy-to-grasp instructions for registering for a PACER account.
  • Mobile-friendly design for use with hand-held devices.
  • More user-friendly directions for locating specific records with systemwide searches or court-specific searches.
  • Directions for easy access to free judicial opinions on, the website for the U.S. Government Publishing Office.
  • More information about pricing in simplified formats. Records downloaded from PACER are free unless a user accumulates over $30 in charges in a single quarter. The charges are 10 cents per page, with multi-page documents capped at $3.
  • A page that outlines how to apply for fee exemptions in the case of researchers and other eligible groups.
  • A set of accessibility tools for people with disabilities allowing them to, for example, adjust text size and contrast elements, or, to access documents through a screen reader.
  • A new tool to search for court-specific information. The website consolidates information about each court, such as court address and contact information, CM/ECF (Case Management/Electronic Case Files) version, counties served by the court, and unique flag definitions used by filers and the courts…”
Categories: Law and Legal

News Deserts and Ghost Newspapers: Will Local News Survive?

UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media – “The paradox of the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic shutdown is that it has exposed the deep fissures that have stealthily undermined the health of local journalism in recent years, while also reminding us of how important timely and credible local news and information are to our health and that of our community. This is a watershed year, and the choices we make in 2020 – as citizens, policymakers and industry leaders – will determine the future of the local news landscape. Will our actions – or inactions – lead to an “extinction-level event” of local newspapers and other struggling news outlets, as predicted by some in the profession? Or will they lead to a reset: an acknowledgment of what is at stake if we lose local news, as well as a recommitment to the civic mission of journalism and a determination to support its renewal? In only a few months, the pandemic and the ensuing recession have greatly accelerated the loss of local news that has been occurring over the past two decades. Layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs have affected thousands of journalists in 2020. Dozens of newspapers have been closed, and there is the threat of dozens – even hundreds – more closures before year’s end. While we don’t yet know what the news landscape will look like in a post-pandemic world, we do know there will be a “new normal.” Because this is a pivotal moment, now seems an appropriate time to hit pause and document the state of local news today. That way, we can begin to address the underlying structural issues that have contributed to the rise of news deserts.

This report is the fourth on the state of local news produced by the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It measures what has been lost, while also assessing what must be done if we are to nurture and revive a vibrant news landscape in the third decade of the 21st century…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CORONA (COvid19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents)

CORONA (COvid19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents) – “Drug Repurposing for COVID-19 – Our overarching vision: A world where data on all treatments that have been used against COVID19 are maintained in a central repository and analyzed so that physicians currently treating COVID19 patients know what treatments are most likely to help their patients and so that clinical trials can be appropriately prioritized.
  • COvid19 Registry of Off-label & New Agents – Phase 1: COMPLETED – Our team reviewed 2500+ papers & extracted data on over 9,000 COVID19 patients. We found 115 repurposed drugs that have been used to treat COVID19 patients and analyzed data on which ones seem most promising for clinical trials. This data is open source and can be used by physicians to treat patients and prioritize drugs for trials. The CDCN will keep this database updated as a resource for this global fight. Repurposed drugs give us the best chance to help COVID19 as quickly as possible! As disease hunters who have identified and repurposed drugs for Castleman disease, we’re applying our ChasingMyCure approach to COVID19.
  • Read our systematic literature review published in Infectious Diseases and Therapy at the following link: Treatments Administered to the First 9152 Reported Cases of COVID-19: A Systematic Review
  • Read the Press Release from PennMedicine at the following link: PennMedicine Press Release
  • COVID19 Drug Repurposing Database Viewer
  • If you are a physician treating COVID19 patients, please visit the FDA’s CURE ID app to report de-identified information about drugs you’ve used to treat COVID19 in just a couple minutes….”
Categories: Law and Legal

Surveilling the virus

ZDNet – With access to tens of thousands of virus samples, COVID-19 researchers are constructing family trees that show the virus’s rapid spread, an unprecedented view of disease…”Scientists Eric Dumonteil and Claudia Herrera of the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University this month described their attempts to build such a family tree using 18,247 samples of the viral RNA, what they refer to as “a global analysis of viral diversity across the world.” Their paper, “Polymorphism and selection pressure of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and diagnostic antigens: implications for immune evasion and serologic diagnostic performance,” was posted June 18th on the bioRxiv pre-print server. The work has not been reviewed yet by peer researchers, and so its findings have to be taken with great caution. The samples of COVID-19 RNA can be downloaded as files from GISAID, a database hosted by Germany that is drawn upon by scientists all over the world. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has been a technical partner supporting the database since its creation in 2006.  To see how those thousands of samples relate to one another, Dumonteil and Herrera turned to a software package called FastTree, developed by Morgan N. Price and colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2009…The kinds of viral surveillance going on may yield a scientific picture of infection around the world that is unlike any picture of disease humanity has ever constructed before…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Microsoft’s New ‘Windows File Recovery’ Tool Restores Deleted Data

How To Recover Deleted Data With The New Microsoft Windows 10 File Recovery Tool: “Anyone who has accidentally deleted a file knows the panic that comes with the mistake. Sometimes you can find the files in the recycle bin and restore them, but other times the files are just plain gone. Anyone familiar with how Windows and other operating systems work might know that files aren’t actually deleted, they’re marked to allow other data to overwrite them in the future. That means with the right recovery software, there is a chance to recover “deleted” files like images or documents. To that end, Microsoft has quietly launched a new tool specifically to help with this task. The new tool is called Windows File Recovery and it’s free…the tool can be found here, and the app is available to download here…”

Categories: Law and Legal

From the Reference Desk: Cyber Operations and International Law

FCIL Special Interest Section of AALL – Jonathan Pratter – “A student had a question: If State A doxes State B for hacking State C, what would be the result under international law? The student was in the law school class, International Law of Cyber Conflict. My immediate response was, “That is a good question. Let me get back to you.” Every reference librarian needs a fall-back response like this. We can’t know everything immediately. The question was substantive, but since the student was asking a librarian, I understood that she wanted to know what resources there are that would help answer the question…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Strict New Rules to Govern Elevator Culture

The New York Times – Going Up? Not So Fast – Small, crowded, enclosed spaces are petri dishes for the coronavirus. “But in urban office buildings, elevators are a necessity, so companies are wrestling with how to make them safer…Change is coming to the daily vertical commute, as workers begin to return to tall office buildings in New York and other cities. The elevator ride, a previously unremarkable 90 or so seconds, has become a daunting puzzler in the calculus of how to bring people back to work safely after the coronavirus pandemic kept them home for months. Employers and building managers are drafting strict rules for going up: severe limits on the number of riders (four seems to be the new magic number), designated standing spots to maximize social distance, mandatory masks, required forward-facing positions — and no talking. Some companies are hiring “elevator consultants” to figure how best to get thousands of people to their desks, balancing risk of elevator density against a potential logjam as riders wait — at least six feet apart — for their turn. Reflecting the widespread interest and concern, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to weigh in as early as next week with guidance for elevators and escalators. For escalators, it will advise one rider every other step and hand sanitizer at the top. For elevators, it will recommend limiting the number of riders but won’t specify a number; arrows showing different paths to get on and get off; masks; and signs urging people to “not talk unless you have to,” said Nancy Clark Burton, a senior industrial hygienist at the C.D.C. who is part of the group developing the new guidance…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Now sending: Business Messages via Google Maps and Search

Google Blog: “People develop loyalty to the brands that make it easy to purchase products and services and connect with their customer support. Google has built digital tools to help brands do this, including the ability to message customers through Google Maps and Search, via Google My Business. Messaging has become such a valuable way to connect with customers that twice as many businesses are messaging via Google now, compared to last year. Today we’re expanding Business Messages in Maps and Search to support all kinds of businesses, and giving them the ability to integrate Business Messages directly with their customer service platforms. Business Messages provides brands a comprehensive messaging solution across Android devices, and through Maps on iOS. To improve connections with customers, we’ve recently introduced new smart replies, visual product carousels, and unique welcome messages. There’s also a smooth transition from automated replies to a customer service agent, so that it’s not disruptive when the customer messages a business…”

Categories: Law and Legal

‘We’re back in business’: UK bookshops see sales soar

The Guardian UK – First week back after shops reopened in England on 15 June saw almost 4m books sold, with Reni Eddo-Lodge’s anti-racism book still topping the charts – “Almost 4m books were sold in the UK in the first six days after bookshops reopened last week – a jump of over 30% on the same week last year as desperate readers returned to browse the aisles for the first time in three months. Bricks and mortar bookshops in England were able to open to shoppers on 15 June for the first time since they closed their doors in March, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the UK’s official sales monitor Nielsen BookScan, which has not been able to report sales figures since 21 March “due to the unprecedented temporary closure of bookshops”, 3.8m print books were sold in the week to 20 June, for a value of £33m. This is up 31% in both volume and value compared to the same week last year, even with bookshops in Scotland and Wales still closed over the period. It is the highest value performance for the year’s 25th week since 2003, when Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released, according to the Bookseller…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Stimulus check update, status, amount, eligibility

CNET – Everything to know about the IRS payment – “Answers to all your stimulus payment questions are here. Find out how much of the $1,200 you could receive, see if the IRS has scheduled your 2020 check yet, learn when your money will arrive and more…We’ll help you understand:

Here’s the current conversation is around a second stimulus check for 2020how much could you get with another round and who may and may not qualify for a payment in a second round…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How the World Missed COVID-19’s Silent Spread

The New York Times – “…Interviews with doctors and public health officials in more than a dozen countries show that for two crucial months — and in the face of mounting genetic evidence — Western health officials and political leaders played down or denied the risk of symptomless spreading. Leading health agencies including the World Health Organization and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control provided contradictory and sometimes misleading advice. A crucial public health discussion devolved into a semantic debate over what to call infected people without clear symptoms. The two-month delay was a product of faulty scientific assumptions, academic rivalries and, perhaps most important, a reluctance to accept that containing the virus would take drastic measures. The resistance to emerging evidence was one part of the world’s sluggish response to the virus. It is impossible to calculate the human toll of that delay, but models suggest that earlier, aggressive action might have saved tens of thousands of lives. Countries like Singapore and Australia, which used testing and contact-tracing and moved swiftly to quarantine seemingly healthy travelers, fared far better than those that did not…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Lockdowns Tamed Road Traffic. Here’s How Cities Aim to Keep It Down

The New York Times – Lockdowns Tamed Road Traffic. Here’s How Cities Aim to Keep It Down – Officials are trying to prevent a return to urban gridlock and pollution as residents begin to travel again. “As coronavirus lockdowns loosen around the world, city leaders are scrambling to address a new problem: the prospect of gridlock worse than before the pandemic. From Shenzhen to Milan to Austin, officials are trying to coax people back onto buses and subways and reclaim road space for cyclists and pedestrians. In many cities, officials worry that people will avoid public transit for fear of catching the virus, and decide to drive instead, which will push vehicle traffic higher than ever. Staving off a surge of cars on city streets is important not only to avoid congestion delays, accidents and higher air pollution, which kills an estimated four million people worldwide each year. It’s impossible to stop global warming unless cities sharply reduce pollution from cars, trucks and motorcycles.

“Cities have a window of opportunity to make changes and keep the cleaner air they saw during the lockdowns,” said Corinne Le Quéré, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia who has tracked global carbon dioxide emissions during the pandemic. “But if they don’t pay attention to this issue, emissions could rebound back to where they were before or even go higher.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

There’s no replacement for the thrill of browsing in a bookstore

Washington Post – “…The covid-Zoom era has made bookshelf snoops of all of us. Late-night host Seth Meyers has reshuffled stacks of books on the endtable in his attic where he’s now taping his show, treating his copy of Colleen McCullough’s novel “The Thorn Birds” like it’s a discount Ed McMahon. (A Goodreads list is keeping track of his selections.) Celebrities and experts compelled to conduct interviews from home have been committing naked acts of performative shelving, putting on their best intellectual face for the webcams, inspiring plenty of speculation about the speakers’ inner lives — or at least a few rounds of “Spot ‘The Power Broker’.” But squinting at strangers’ bookcases is only so satisfying, and as weeks in quarantine have dragged on, I’ve wanted a browsing experience that’s more promiscuously bookish. For a dedicated reader like myself, it’s a serious loss: Shuttered bookstores are a reminder of how much of our reading lives is a process of discovery, and how online retailers’ attempts to re-create the discovery experience tend to be huge letdowns. Algorithms can tell you what you like based on what you’ve said you liked before. They can also make a few guesses at what you might like based on what other people say they like that’s related to what you’ve said you like. But they can’t introduce you to the thing you might like for the first time, all for yourself…”

Categories: Law and Legal


“University of Melbourne Law School Academic Research Service has compiled a bibliography of worldwide COVID-19 legal literature and made it available on open access on the Melbourne Law School’s website. Please note that:

  • The bibliography predominantly comprises scholarship, but also includes selected professional literature.
  • We are attempting to be exhaustive in our coverage of scholarship written in English (we have not included scholarship written in any other languages).
  • The bibliography on the webpage contains citations only (and indicates jurisdiction if that is not evident from the citation). There is a link to a PDF of the entire bibliography – the PDF is annotated to include abstracts, notes etc.
  • The bibliography is arranged alphabetically by broad legal subject.
  • Links are provided for all scholarship available in full text on open access databases.
  • The bibliography is being regularly updated – the next update will be on 1st July and will add approximately 200 articles to what is already a very long list.
  • The explanatory notes at the top of the bibliography list the sources we use to compile the bibliography.
  • Following the scholarship, we have a section (Part B) listing statements and guidelines from selected international and regional institutions, and a section (Part C) on selected websites and blogs regularly publishing COVID-19 legal literature.
  • We hope you find the bibliography useful. Please pass it on to anyone who may be interested, and feel free to plunder for your own purposes. Please do send information about articles etc you are aware of that have not been included – we’re keen to crowdsource!
  • Lastly, for anyone interested in a comprehensive publication on COVID-19 and the law in Australia, I note one resource in particular – it is an open access book written by three Melbourne barristers and is regularly updated: Emrys Nekvapil, Maya Narayan and Stephanie Brenker, COVID-19 and the Law of Australia (2020)

[Via Robin Gardner, MLS Academic Research Service Manager, LLB, Grad Dip Legal Practice, BA, Grad Dip Information Management]

Categories: Law and Legal

Bringing Greater Precision to the COVID-19 Response

“Fighting the COVID-19 pandemic calls for precision – understanding who is most vulnerable and why, where the disease is spreading fastest, and how interventions like social distancing are working. This website offers a toolkit of large-scale datasets and actionable analysis for government officials, policymakers, and citizens from the national level to the hyper-local. Our data sets include:

  • COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index (CCVI)
  • COVID-19 Confirmed Cases + CCVI
  • Social Distancing Tracking
  • Twitter Data for Nurse Sentiment
  • Google Live Popularity Data
  • US Social Distancing Poll Data…”
Categories: Law and Legal

MIT Study – Which businesses should be open?

MIT News – “In light of Covid-19, an MIT study looks at tradeoffs between economic value and public health, across different types of retail. Banks and bookstores. Gyms and juice bars. Dental offices and department stores. The Covid-19 crisis has shuttered some kinds of businesses, while others have stayed open. But which places represent the best and worst tradeoffs, in terms of the economic benefits and health risks. A new study by MIT researchers uses a variety of data on consumer and business activity to tackle that question, measuring 26 types of businesses by both their usefulness and risk. Vital forms of commerce that are relatively uncrowded fare the best in the study; less significant types of businesses that generate crowds perform worse. The results can help inform the policy decisions of government officials during the ongoing pandemic As it happens, banks perform the best in the study, being economically significant and relatively uncrowded…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Phone Settings You Need to Know Before Protesting

LifeHacker: “Tempting as it might be to just roll on up to a protest, a little planning can go a long way, especially if you’re going to take your phone with you. We’ve talked about a helpful shortcut iOS users can use to keep themselves safe (and we have an Android version in the works!), but there’s a lot more you need to do with your device to ensure your protection and privacy…”

Categories: Law and Legal

People are microwaving library books and masks to kill COVID-19

Detroit Free Press – and that’s bad: “People are getting creative when it comes to staying safe from COVID-19 and it has prompted at least one Michigan library to issue a public warning: Stop microwaving books…Library books have metal in the security radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which are located inside of the book. When the metal entered the microwave, a hole was burned into the cover…”

Categories: Law and Legal


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