Law and Legal
Fast Company – Your Gmail inbox is far more customizable than you might imagine—if you know the trick to taking control. “If you want to optimize your inbox, you have to accept a tough but unavoidable reality. In the land of email, there is no holy grail—no single, magical step that’ll deliver you to a state of email utopia. Instead, achieving a manageable, organized inbox is a multilayered process, one in which numerous hacks, tricks, and tools come together to create a setup that works for you. And at the center of that process is your actual inbox and its built-in method of message presentation. With Gmail, that typically means a series of tabs—those clickable categories that appear atop the service’s default inbox view. Gmail automatically identifies which incoming emails belong to which category and then presents them accordingly. Here’s a little secret, though: You don’t have to use those tabs in the way Google designed them. You can hijack them and make them work any way you want…”
“Fortune’s Change the World list is built on the premise that the profit motive can inspire companies to tackle society’s unmet needs. Looking at average 1-year returns, The Change the World list has outperformed companies on the S&P and MCSI lists over the past 2 years, proving that companies can do well while doing good. The 2020 list, our sixth, stresses a crucial corollary: No business succeeds alone. Collaboration among companies, even among rivals, is a common thread, from the effort to make “green” steel, to the campaign to close America’s racial wealth gap, and, above all, in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine… The 2020 list, our sixth, stresses a crucial corollary: No business succeeds alone. Collaboration among companies, even among rivals, is a common thread, from the effort to make “green” steel, to the campaign to close America’s racial wealth gap, and, above all, in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine. As we face unprecedented collective challenges—a global pandemic, climate change, profound income inequality cooperation has become a business superpower. Speaking of cooperation: As always, we’ve selected our list in collaboration with our expert partners at Shared Value Initiative, a consultancy that helps companies apply business skills to social problems…”
Washington Post: “If you hope to settle in to watch the Nov. 3 results, you may want to make other plans. During this year’s Democratic primaries, it took days, and sometimes weeks, for the bulk of votes to get counted. Before the pandemic struck, mail-in states like California were already counting slowly. Then the coronavirus forced dozens of states to quickly expand absentee voting, and the slowdowns got more dramatic. These two trends — more absentee voting, not much time to prepare for it — could lead to some snail’s-paced race calls in November. These charts show how long it took for presidential primary ballots to be counted in each state. We aren’t including caucuses (you may remember Iowa’s fiasco) because that method of voting won’t occur in November. Let’s start with New Hampshire, which held the nation’s first primary…”
The New York Times – Publishing is becoming a winner-take-all game. Nobody dominates it like Madeline McIntosh and Penguin Random House: “After a steep drop at the start of the pandemic, book sales not only recovered but surged. Unit sales of print books are up nearly 6 percent over last year, according to NPD BookScan, and e-book and digital audiobook sales have risen by double digits. Reading, it turns out, is an ideal experience in quarantine…Because of its enormous publishing program, with more than 300 imprints globally and a backlist going back nearly a century, the publisher leads the literary world on seemingly every axis, from the highest-brow fiction to pulpy commercial authors. It publishes Nobel Prize winners like Kazuo Ishiguro and Alice Munro; Pulitzer Prize winners like Colson Whitehead, Anne Tyler and Jon Meacham; and prose deities who shaped 20th-century American literature, including Cormac McCarthy, John Cheever, Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, William Faulkner, John Updike and Joan Didion. It publishes blockbuster authors like Dan Brown, E L James, John Grisham and Danielle Steel. It publishes mega-best-selling children’s and young adult authors like Dr. Seuss and John Green. It publishes the Obamas, whose memoirs Penguin Random House acquired with a record-breaking $65 million advance…”
In publishing, as in other industries, the pandemic has accelerated forces that were already at play, delivering several years’ worth of change in just a few months…”
Washington Post – Here’s what you can visit now: “The coronavirus pandemic continues to have a major impact on Washington’s cultural institutions, even as the region begins to reopen. The responses differ by institution: The Kennedy Center has canceled most performances through the end of 2020. The Smithsonian is taking things slowly, using the analogy of a dimmer switch, rather than just flipping the lights back on: four more museums began welcoming visitors in September, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture, after the National Zoo and the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center successfully reopened in July. As attractions swing open the doors to their buildings and sculpture gardens, safety is obviously a concern, with stringent social distancing precautions: “Thou shalt wear a face mask” is one of the Museum of the Bible’s “Covid Commandments,” and the Smithsonian requires all visitors age six and older to wear face coverings at all times. The Spy Museum provides a “spy gadget,” or stylus, for use with touch screens, elevator buttons and any other surface that might spread germs. The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden has designated entrance and exit gates to control crowd flow. If you’re looking to get the kids out of the house for a few hours, or just spend an afternoon enjoying art in the open air, one of these museums or historic homes could be the answer. Remember to check websites and social media, as some attractions are operating with shortened hours, and not all exhibits may be open…”
The New York Times – “Supreme Court justices make $265,600 a year. The chief justice gets $277,700. Their law clerks do a lot better. After a year of service at the court, they are routinely offered signing bonuses of $400,000 from law firms, on top of healthy salaries of more than $200,000. What are the firms paying for? In a profession obsessed with shiny credentials, a Supreme Court clerkship glitters. Hiring former clerks burnishes the firms’ prestige, making them more attractive to clients. Still, the former clerks are typically young lawyers just a couple of years out of law school, and the bonuses have a second and more problematic element, said Stephen Gillers, an expert on legal ethics at New York University. “They’re buying something else: a kind of inside information about how the court is thinking and how individual justices might be thinking,” he said. The Supreme Court appears to recognize that this is a problem. Its rules impose a two-year ban barring former clerks from working on “any case pending before this court or in any case being considered for filing in this court.” (The rules also impose a permanent ban on working on “any case that was pending in this court during the employee’s tenure.”) The two-year ban is an attempt to address an appearance of impropriety, said David Lat, a legal recruiter and the founding editor of Above the Law, a legal news website. “They’re just trying to show that these large compensation packages are not buying access to the court,” he said. Professor Gillers said the rule was a partial solution. “The two-year ban is meant to dissipate the value of the inside information,” he said. “You cannot eliminate it altogether.” A new study in Political Research Quarterly [paywall] suggests that the ban has not been completely successful…”
See also Lawyers With More Experience Obtain Better Outcomes. Michael J. Nelson, Lee Epstein. “Work experience acquired through on-the-job-training has been shown to lead to greater success in many occupations, but evidence of a causal connection between experience and success is sparse for appellate lawyers. Do experienced attorneys obtain better outcomes for their clients? Adopting a strategy for causal inference that could be applied to almost any peak court, we assess how similarly-situated novice and experienced attorneys fare against a comparable—and high quality—opponent:the federal government. We find that, on average, the outcomes obtained by experienced attorneys are significantly better than the outcomes they would have obtained had they been novices. This result shores up the importance of attending to attorneys in models of judicial behavior.”
Washington Post – “Want to make sure your ballot counts? Track it online like a UPS delivery. That’s now possible across much of America, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic. I don’t often get emails from my state government, so I was curious about one recently asking me to check out California’s new election website, Where’s My Ballot. There, I typed in my name, birthday and Zip code — and a minute later, I had signed up for personalized voting updates. Now I’ll get a text when my ballot is in the mail, as it’s on its way back to election officials and, eventually, counted.
“A new machine learning-based online tool developed by researchers at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Georgia Tech and Boston Medical Center allows for early detection of COVID-19 outbreaks in different U.S. counties. The COVID-19 Outbreak Detection Tool, updated two to three times per week, predicts how fast an outbreak is spreading within a given county by estimating the doubling time of COVID-19 cases…The tool offers an interactive map and a “data explorer” that allows users to select a specific county to see that county’s population, total new cases and average daily cases of COVID-19 in the past week and the COVID-19 doubling rate, or how many days it takes for the number of cases to double in a given county…”
Fast Company: “…the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies. Under this plan, “rights-of-way” landowners—energy and transportation companies and private owners—commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century. The agreement was spearheaded by the Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago’s Energy Resources Center, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control “rights-of-way” corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration…”
“Thousands of new coronavirus cases continue to emerge on college campuses. A New York Times survey of more than 1,600 American colleges and universities — including every four-year public institution, every private college that competes in N.C.A.A. sports and others that identified cases — has revealed at least cases and at least deaths since the pandemic began. Most of those deaths were reported in the spring and involved college employees, not student More than 150 colleges have reported at least 100 cases over the course of the pandemic, including dozens that have seen spikes in recent weeks as dorms have reopened and classes have started. Many of the metro areas with the most cases per capita in recent days — including Oxford, Miss.; Athens, Ga.; and Champaign, Ill. — have hundreds of cases at universities… This data shows where the virus has been identified over the course of the pandemic, not necessarily where it is prevalent now. The Times has counted more than additional cases at colleges since late July; of those, more than 61,000 cases came since late August. Thousands of new infections have been reported in recent days. Some universities just started reporting data, and The Times recently contacted others for the first time. Because colleges report data differently, and because cases continued to emerge even in the months when most campuses were closed, The Times is counting all reported cases since the start of the pandemic…”
See also The results of the latest Axios/College Reaction Coronavirus poll…51% of college students say it was the wrong choice for their college to allow students on campus – 60% of college students are learning less in current class format – Of those on campus, 50% have gathered with friends without masks – Of those on campus, 57% have seen parties in progress and 12% of college students have attended an on-campus party – Of those on campus, 42% know someone who’s contracted COVID-19 on campus..”
“Welcome to An Ocean of Books. What you see is the big map of a sea of literature, one where each island represents a single author, and each city represents a book. The map represents a selection of 113 008 authors and 145 162 books. This is a poetic experiment where we hope you will get lost for a while. You might wonder why some authors are next to each other, or why sometimes an author seems to be positioned at an unexpected spot, or why some authors seem to be lost by themselves. Each of the authors of the map are not positioned randomly, nor by hand. We calculated the distance between each of them, based on their complex relationship on the web. From these values, we generated two-dimensional positions for all the authors, thanks to a machine learning technique called Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP). Finally, an island was assigned to each author, matching the island size with the author’s presence on the web. An example is the surprising proximity of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the famous oceanographer, and Carl Sagan, the eminent astronomer. While at first glance their two fields of work couldn’t be more different, the amount of articles on the web mentioning both authors makes them connected in many ways. A simple Google search on both of their names will reveal that. Two great scientific communicators with intertwined destinies.”
VIA LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, September 20, 2020 – 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. Four highlights from this week: How to Blur Your House in Google Maps’ Street View; USPS Phishing Texts Are Flooding Phones Across The Country; Creepy ‘Geofence’ Finds Anyone Who Went Near a Crime Scene; and Weather Apps Continue To Share Data With Third Parties.
Fast Company – “As devastating wildfires continue to burn across the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington, hazy skies and smoke are being reported as far away as Toronto and New York. These hazy conditions are not mere annoyances. As Luke Montrose, an environmental toxicologist, wrote recently for Fast Company, air pollution from wood smoke is a serious public health concern. Smoke from large wildfires can travel thousands of miles, across states, countries, and even oceans, and the fires currently burning on the West Coast include some of the biggest ever recorded. To get a sense of how far smoke from the current wildfires is traveling, you can turn to a number of interactive maps and data tools that let you track smoke conditions in real time. I’ve rounded up some useful options..”
The New York Times – “Polls are finding Americans increasingly wary of accepting a virus vaccine. And scientists inside and outside the government are worried that regulators, pressured by President Trump for results before Election Day on Nov. 3, might release an unproven or unsafe vaccine. “The release of these protocols seems to reflect some public pressure to do so,” said Natalie Dean, a biostatistician and expert in clinical trial design for vaccines at the University of Florida. “This is an unprecedented situation, and public confidence is such a huge part of the success of this endeavor.” Pfizer and Moderna revealed details of their vaccine trials on Thursday…[h/t Pete Weiss]
- AstraZeneca’s 111-page trial blueprint, known as a protocol, states that its goal is a vaccine with 50 percent effectiveness — the same threshold that the Food and Drug Administration has set in its guidance for coronavirus vaccines.
- AstraZeneca Blueprints – Read the full article on the disclosure…”
BuzzFeedNews: “A huge trove of secret government documents reveals for the first time how the giants of Western banking move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, enriching themselves and their shareholders while facilitating the work of terrorists, kleptocrats, and drug kingpins. And the US government, despite its vast powers, fails to stop it. Today, the FinCEN Files — thousands of “suspicious activity reports” and other US government documents — offer an unprecedented view of global financial corruption, the banks enabling it, and the government agencies that watch as it flourishes. BuzzFeed News has shared these reports with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 news organizations in 88 countries. These documents, compiled by banks, shared with the government, but kept from public view, expose the hollowness of banking safeguards, and the ease with which criminals have exploited them. Profits from deadly drug wars, fortunes embezzled from developing countries, and hard-earned savings stolen in a Ponzi scheme were all allowed to flow into and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from the banks’ own employees. Money laundering is a crime that makes other crimes possible. It can accelerate economic inequality, drain public funds, undermine democracy, and destabilize nations — and the banks play a key role. “Some of these people in those crisp white shirts in their sharp suits are feeding off the tragedy of people dying all over the world,” said Martin Woods, a former suspicious transactions investigator for Wachovia. Laws that were meant to stop financial crime have instead allowed it to flourish. So long as a bank files a notice that it may be facilitating criminal activity, it all but immunizes itself and its executives from criminal prosecution. The suspicious activity alert effectively gives them a free pass to keep moving the money and collecting the fees.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, is the agency within the Treasury Department charged with combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes. It collects millions of these suspicious activity reports, known as SARs. It makes them available to US law enforcement agencies and other nations’ financial intelligence operations. It even compiles a report called “Kleptocracy Weekly” that summarizes the dealings of foreign leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin. What it does not do is force the banks to shut the money laundering down…”
EPIC – “The Justice Department, as part of an open government lawsuit brought by EPIC, has released another round of previously unpublished material from the Mueller Report. The newly disclosed passages are listed in the “Redaction” column of a DOJ spreadsheet—though outside of their original context from the Mueller Report. The spreadsheet was originally drafted to answer questions from Judge Reggie B. Walton, who is conducting an “in camera” review of the complete Mueller Report after determining that Attorney General Bill Barr’s redactions may have been “self-serving.” Among the newly disclosed material is an excerpt from an Internet Research Agency document that describes the Russian government’s goal of “spread[ing] distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general” and states that “All the primaries are purchasable.” The DOJ previously released new passages from the Mueller Report in June, and the court is expected to decide soon whether additional material must be published. EPIC’s Freedom of Information Act case—the first in the nation for the disclosure of the Mueller Report—is EPIC v. DOJ, No. 19-810.”
Power and Status (and Lack Thereof) in Academe: Academic Freedom and Academic Librarians, In the Library with the Lead Pipe, September 16, 2020. “Academic librarians do not experience full academic freedom protections, despite the fact that they are expected to exercise independent judgment, be civically engaged, and practice applied scholarship. Academic freedom for academic librarians is not widely studied or well understood. To learn more, we conducted a survey which received over 600 responses from academic librarians on a variety of academic freedom measures. In this article, we focus specifically on faculty status for librarians and the ways this intersects with academic freedom perceptions and experiences. Even though all librarians who answered our survey share similar experiences when it comes to infringements on their freedom, faculty librarians are more likely to feel they are protected in their free expression. We find it useful to situate librarians within a growing cohort of “third space” academic professionals who perform similar duties to traditional faculty but lack tenure and its associated academic freedom protections. We argue that more attention needs to be paid in the library profession to academic freedom for librarians, and that solidarity with other non-traditional faculty on campus is a potential avenue for allyship and advocacy.”
Via Cases Trees, this beautiful updated map which you may search by using the various colors on the map or by tree species/common name; by address or place/location. Scientific names for each tree are provided, as well as health/condition of each tree. This seasonal guide to urban forestry is a wonderful educational tool for all ages. Highly recommended.
Slate – Throughout all of the late-breaking, notorious fame, the justice knew that she was just one link in the chain : “Whenever she spoke, Justice Ginsburg was at pains to say that she stood on the shoulders of giants. At her confirmation hearings, in her prepared statement to the Senate, she was meticulous about who truly deserved the credit for her landmark career, and it wasn’t RBG: “We could not have come to this point—and I surely would not be in this room today—without the determined efforts of men and women who kept dreams of equal citizenship alive in days when few would listen. People like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman come to mind. I stand on the shoulders of those brave people.” I never heard her give a public speech in which she didn’t thank, by name, the allies, champions, fighters, of whom she inevitably saw herself as a beneficiary; she cast herself as someone lucky enough to be in a long line of champions and fighters, and also as someone set and determined to pay it forward to the people who would someday stand on her shoulders.
- See also The New York Times – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Advice for Living – By Ruth Bader Ginsburg, October 1, 2016.
- See also Next Draft – Ruth Hashanah – “It’s considered a big deal if a person dies on Shabbat, and an even bigger deal when it happens on Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. Ginsburg died as the sun set into both. In Jewish tradition, this would make her a Tzadik (RBGT); a person of great righteousness…”