Law and Legal
Constitutional Law Prof Blog [h/t Joe Hodnicki]: “Judge Emmet G. Sullivan (D.D.C.) ruled today in Blumenthal v. Trump that members of Congress have standing to sue President Trump for violations of the Foreign Emoluments Clause. At the same time, Judge Sullivan declined to rule on the President’s other three arguments for dismissal–that the plaintiffs lack a cause of action, that they’ve failed to state a claim (because the President’s business interests aren’t “emoluments” under the Clause), and that injunctive relief sought is unconstitutional. Thus, the ruling is a set-back for the President, but Judge Sullivan may yet end up dismissing the case on other grounds. We posted here on the earlier district court ruling that another Emoluments case, brought by Maryland and D.C., can move forward.
The Congressmembers’ case alleges that President Trump’s overseas business holdings and properties generate income and benefits for the President, without the consent of Congress, in violation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause…The court agreed:
[E]ach time the President allegedly accepts a foreign emolument without seeking congressional consent, plaintiffs suffer a concrete and particularized injury–the deprivation of the right to vote on whether to consent to the President’s acceptance of the prohibited foreign emolument–before he accepts it. And although the injury is an institutional one, the injury is personal to legislators entitled to cast the vote that was nullified…”
Knowledge@Wharton – Leadership in the Storm: How Four U.S. Presidents Handled Turmoil
“When presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin began working five years ago on her newest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, she didn’t know how apropos it would be to today’s political climate. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author profiled four presidents — Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson — who led the nation through some of its most difficult times. In the book, Kearns Goodwin chronicled their extraordinary strength and leadership acumen. She shared her insights on the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM.”
Washington Post: “A much-awaited report from the U.N.’s top climate science panel will show an enormous gap between where we are and where we need to be to prevent dangerous levels of warming…The IPCC [United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], the world’s definitive scientific body when it comes to climate change, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a decade ago and has been given what may rank as its hardest task yet. It must not only tell governments what we know about climate change — but how close they have brought us to the edge. And by implication, how much those governments are failing to live up to their goals for the planet, set in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
See also GQ – “What happens when climate changes quickly in a previously frozen place, when the earth heats up and the mountains melt? In the high Swiss Alps, here’s what happens: The ice gives up the bodies—and the secrets—of the past.”
This article is of interest for several reasons – human mediated resolution, customer service and research are increasingly targeted to be replaced by various forms of electronic, robotic and AI applications. So the premise of this article, via ZDNet – A recent AI customer experience study shows that, although businesses have invested in AI solutions, customers are not happy, is useful to share with managers and senior leaders.
Businesses seem to be setting the bar for “good” customer service too low, according to a recent study, which could have significant business impact as the customer experience becomes even more vital as customers decide to buy. Boston, Mass.- based identity and access company LogMeIn recently released a study to analyze the business impact and consumer attitudes of today’s customers and their journey to a sale. It surveyed over 5,000 respondents consisting of business leaders and consumers around the globe. Its 2018 AI Customer Experience study shows that over one-third of consumers were not impressed with their customer journey…”
VentureBeat: “Until just a few days ago, some Facebook users could not delete their accounts — the option to do so simply didn’t work. After VentureBeat reached out to Facebook regarding the issue, an engineer was able to squash the bug. Every few months, there’s a new Facebook scandal that results in a #deletefacebook campaign. This year, long before the Cambridge Analytica trainwreck, I decided to document the process and ultimately ended up writing a quick guide on how to delete your Facebook account (Note: Coincidentally, Facebook yesterday increased the time it takes to delete accounts from 14 days to 30 days)….”
New on LLRX – Book Review of “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)”
Via LLRX – Book Review of “Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)” – Advertising is now part of a complex ecosystem that engages a wide range of components, including but not limited to: social media, Big Data, AI, data mining, competitive intelligence, and marketing. Alan Rothman, reveals and explains for readers just how utterly different and hyper-competitive advertising now is, with work product largely splayed across countless mobile and stationary screens on Planet Earth. Rothman describes how expertly chronicling and precisely assaying the transformative changes happening to this sector is an informative and engaging new book, Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else), by the renowned business author Ken Auletta. Just as a leading ad agency in its day cleverly and convincingly took TV viewers on an endearing cultural tour of the U.S .as we followed the many ad-ventures of Bartles & Jaymes, so too, this book takes its readers on a far-ranging and immersive tour of the current participants, trends, challenges and technologies affecting the ad industry. Auletta’s book is not only timely and insightful, but demonstrably valuable for the professionals in the legal sector who are striving to effectively engage, employ and measure the value of marketing to clients and potential clients in a rapidly changing environment increasingly dependent upon using big data and analytical platforms.
Via LLRX – Text Analysis Systems Mine Workplace Emails to Measure Staff Sentiments – Giving the processes of observation, analysis and change at the enterprise level a modern spin, is a fascinating new article in the September 2018 issue of The Atlantic, titled What Your Boss Could Learn by Reading the Whole Company’s Emails, by Frank Partnoy. Alan Rothman summarizes and annotates this article that raises timely and significant issues around privacy, data mining and organizational management. Rothman concludes his review by posing important questions concerning the impact of text analysis data on executive training and development and on employee performance.
Legal Ontologies and How to Choose Them: the InvestigatiOnt Tool: “Ontologies are often at the basis of systems that support question answering, information extraction and knowledge modelling tasks. They are used to model the domain of knowledge for which a system is developed and the underlying concept structure. The design of ontology-based systems is usually assigned to computer scientists which need, in addition to the technical knowledge, a further knowledge about the domain for which the system is developed (e.g., economics, health care, law, agri-food sector). A particularly challenging domain is law, where concepts of increasing complexity are used and related to each other. In this context, there is the need to define tools able to support both developers and end-users towards a better understanding of the legal concepts expressed in the legal ontologies, so that an informed decision about the best ontology to select, depending on the target application, can be taken.”
Borgman, C. L. (2018). Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier. Berkeley Technology Law Journal, 33(2), 287–336.
“As universities recognize the inherent value in the data they collect and hold, they encounter unforeseen challenges in stewarding those data in ways that balance accountability, transparency, and protection of privacy, academic freedom, and intellectual property. Two parallel developments in academic data collection are converging: (1) open access requirements, whereby researchers must provide access to their data as a condition of obtaining grant funding or publishing results in journals; and (2) the vast accumulation of ‘grey data’ about individuals in their daily activities of research, teaching, learning, services, and administration. The boundaries between research and grey data are blurring, making it more difficult to assess the risks and responsibilities associated with any data collection. Many sets of data, both research and grey, fall outside privacy regulations such as HIPAA, FERPA, and PII. Universities are exploiting these data for research, learning analytics, faculty evaluation, strategic decisions, and other sensitive matters. Commercial entities are besieging universities with requests for access to data or for partnerships to mine them. The privacy frontier facing research universities spans open access practices, uses and misuses of data, public records requests, cyber risk, and curating data for privacy protection. This paper explores the competing values inherent in data stewardship and makes recommendations for practice, drawing on the pioneering work of the University of California in privacy and information security, data governance, and cyber risk.”
Poynter: “Google wants to make it easier for people to find fact checks. To do that, the company is building another version of what it’s most known for: a search engine. On Tuesday, the Google News Initiative launched the beta version of a tool that’s specifically for fact-checking content. The feature, which the company has been working on for months, uses the same signals as other Google products, such as Google News, to surface work from fact-checkers like Snopes and (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact. “The goal here is to have fact-checking journalists have an easier job of locating all the work that fact-checkers have done on a specific topic,” said Cong Yu, a research scientist at Google. “For users, it’s if you want to know more about a certain topic.” The product alpha launched about six months ago, when fact-checking organizations started using it and giving Google feedback. Full Fact, a fact-checking charity based in the United Kingdom, was one of those organizations. While she didn’t test the fact-checking search engine directly, Mevan Babakar, Full Fact’s head of automated fact-checking, told Poynter in an email that, while the tool could be useful for collecting fact checks, it could also have unintended consequences…”
Most still want U.S. as top global power, but see China on the rise – “America’s global image plummeted following the election of President Donald Trump, amid widespread opposition to his administration’s policies and a widely shared lack of confidence in his leadership. Now, as the second anniversary of Trump’s election approaches, a new 25-nation Pew Research Center survey finds that Trump’s international image remains poor, while ratings for the United States are much lower than during Barack Obama’s presidency. The poll also finds that international publics express significant concerns about America’s role in world affairs. Large majorities say the U.S. doesn’t take into account the interests of countries like theirs when making foreign policy decisions. Many believe the U.S. is doing less to help solve major global challenges than it used to. And there are signs that American soft power is waning as well, including the fact that, while the U.S. maintains its reputation for respecting individual liberty, fewer believe this than a decade ago. Even though America’s image has declined since Trump’s election, on balance the U.S. still receives positive marks – across the 25 nations polled, a median of 50% have a favorable opinion of the U.S., while 43% offer an unfavorable rating. However, a median of only 27% say they have confidence in President Trump to do the right thing in world affairs; 70% lack confidence in him…”
BuzzFeedNews: “It’s officially fall in the US, which means it’s time for cozy sweaters, pumpkin-flavored everything, and…your seasonal influenza vaccine. Given that last year’s flu season was one of the deadliest in the last 40 years — an estimated 80,000 people died, including 180 children — it’s important to get a flu shot as soon as possible. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who is 6 months or older get vaccinated by the end of October. And this year, it doesn’t even necessarily have to be a shot. The nasal spray vaccine is back this flu season — so, needle-phobes, rejoice. Keep in mind that the flu shot isn’t perfect. Even if you get vaccinated, you can still get the flu. But your symptoms should be less severe, and you are less likely to be hospitalized or die of the flu. To answer all of your flu shot questions, we spoke with Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at the Johns Hopkins Health System in Baltimore, Maryland, and included advice from a panel of public health experts at the 2018 CDC and National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) flu vaccination conference…”
The New York Times: The president has long sold himself as a self-made billionaire, but a Times investigation found that he received at least $413 million in today’s dollars from his father’s real estate empire, much of it through tax dodges in the 1990s.
“President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found. Mr. Trump won the presidency proclaiming himself a self-made billionaire, and he has long insisted that his father, the legendary New York City builder Fred C. Trump, provided almost no financial help. But The Times’s investigation, based on a vast trove of confidential tax returns and financial records, reveals that Mr. Trump received the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire, starting when he was a toddler and continuing to this day. Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings. These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances. The Trumps paid a total of $52.2 million, or about 5 percent, tax records show. The president declined repeated requests over several weeks to comment for this article. But a lawyer for Mr. Trump, Charles J. Harder, provided a written statement on Monday, one day after The Times sent a detailed description of its findings. “The New York Times’s allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory,” Mr. Harder said. “There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate.”..
Fast Company: “For years, artists and researchers have been experimenting with training neural networks to generate images that look real. But most of them look like strangely distorted, grotesque caricatures of how a computer thinks the world looks. No longer. Over the weekend, a Google intern and two researchers from Google’s DeepMind division released a paper, currently under review for a 2019 conference, featuring AI-generated images that blow everything else out of the water. Based on the small thumbnails, it’s almost impossible to tell that they’re not real images: There’s a chestnut-colored dog with his tongue hanging out, a beautiful ocean vista, a monarch butterfly, and a juicy hamburger complete with melted cheese and a bun that looks like it was brushed with butter. The textures of the images, from the dog’s fur to the hamburger’s juices, are incredibly realistic, with careful study revealing only tiniest of tells that the image isn’t a real one…”
FCW.com: “Amid a barrage of daily headlines about turnover, disarray and mismanagement, the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking to reinvent itself as an agile agency focused on customer service. The effort is paying off – without much in the way of publicity, a unified VA services website at Vets.gov has attracted 40,000 daily users and spurred a 700 percent increase in online appointment scheduling. Marcy Jacobs, the executive director of the digital services team at VA, is being honored with a Service to America Medal for Management Excellence on Oct. 2 for her work on Vets.gov. But if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you’ll have to check before Veterans Day — because despite the success of the Vets.gov deployment, the digital services team is pivoting to a new content plan. As VA Secretary Robert Wilkie announced at a recent Senate hearing, on Veterans Day a new VA.gov website is launching. Instead of serving as a corporate front door for the VA organization, the reimagined VA.gov will be a portal for veterans to access a full suite of services available to them…”
“The use of digital technology has had a long stretch of rapid growth in the United States, but the share of Americans who go online, use social media or own key devices has remained stable the past two years, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center data. The shares of U.S. adults who say they use the internet, use social media, own a smartphone or own a tablet computer are all nearly identical to the shares who said so in 2016. The share who say they have broadband internet service at home currently stands at 65% – nearly identical to the 67% who said this in a survey conducted in summer 2015. And when it comes to desktop or laptop ownership, there has actually been a small dip in the overall numbers over the last two years – from 78% in 2016 to 73% today. A contributing factor behind this slowing growth is that parts of the population have reached near-saturation levels of adoption of some technologies. Put simply, in some instances there just aren’t many non-users left. For example, nine-in-ten or more adults younger than 50 say they go online or own a smartphone. And a similar share of those in higher-income households have laptops or desktops. Still, there are noteworthy numbers of non-users of various technologies. Surveys conducted by the Center over the years highlight how these non-adopters of various technologies often face substantial and multifaceted barriers…”
Mapping Interface Provides Neighborhood-Level Information on Children’s Outcomes – October 1, 2018 — “The U.S. Census Bureau, in collaboration with Raj Chetty and Nathan Hendren from Harvard University and John Friedman from Brown University, released new research and a mapping interface that looks at children’s outcomes in adulthood. The Opportunity Atlas estimates children’s earnings distributions, incarceration rates, and other outcomes in adulthood by parental income, race and gender for every census tract in the United States. Users can view data, overlay their own data points of interest, and export into a data set for analysis.
University of California Digital Library: “The National Technical Reports Library (NTRL – U.S. Department of Commerce) has become an open access resource, following a decision made by the National Technical Information Service (NTIS). NTRL was previously licensed as Tier 2 by five UC campuses. With the change of NTRL to open access, the PID redirects to the Open NTRL platform and a catalog record for Open NTRL will be available soon.
http://uclibs.org/PID/144637 (Open Access; on the Open NTRL platform)
Open NTRL includes the following advanced search capabilities –
- Search by title words
- Search by source agency
- Search by author
- Search can be limited by year of publication
- Search can be limited to documents available in full text
Note: Customer registrations and password access features are not available in Open NTRL…”
EveryCRSReport.com: Selected Legal Tools for Maintaining – Government Contractor Accountability, September 26, 2018: “Federal procurement statutes and the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) establish largely uniform policies and procedures applicable to government contracts “to deliver on a timely basis the best value product or service to the [government], while maintaining the public’s trust and fulfilling public policy objectives.” To meet these ends, federal agencies have a number of legal tools at their disposal to help ensure a contractor adequately performs a contract or, if warranted, to hold a contractor accountable for performance failures or misconduct…
- Corrective Actions
- Incentive Fees
- Performance and Payment Surety Bonds
- Liquidated Damages
- Contract Termination for Default
- Contractor Performance Evaluations
- Suspension and Debarment
- Civil Fraud Enforcement…”
“The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, with nearly 170 million items in our collections, and extensive expert services and programs. What does this mean for you? The Library of Congress has built the largest collection of human knowledge ever assembled. It is an aweinspiring achievement—a testament to the wisdom of Congresses throughout our history, which have invested national resources in the ideal of a universal collection available to all. Yet, as Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam noted more than a century ago, “A book used is fulfilling a higher purpose than a book which is merely preserved.” In other words, it is not enough to collect and preserve. To be successful, collections must be used. This same principle applies to all parts of our agency— services and programs too must be accessible and used. The Library’s collection and its human expertise hold untold intellectual and inspirational value. I have seen firsthand the spark that results when someone makes a connection with the Library: when a Member of Congress is moved listening to a historian bring to life a founding document of history; when high school music students from Maryland studied the papers of Leonard Bernstein and wrote original music inspired by what they saw; when teachers at our summer institutes have shared with me their innovative strategies for making history come alive using the Library’s collections in the classroom; when Smokey Robinson saw his very first piece of sheet music submitted to the U.S. Copyright Office. How do we extend those experiences to people across the country?
To meet this challenge, the Library is embarking on an exciting new journey that puts users first. By expanding access and enhancing services, while applying data and optimizing resources, we will build lifelong and meaningful connections with our users of today and of tomorrow. This strategic plan, Enriching the Library Experience, is our roadmap to expanding the Library’s reach and deepening our impact, thus fulfilling our mission to engage, inspire, and inform our users. I can’t wait to see the many thousands of sparks we ignite. Maybe one of them will be yours…. [Carla Hayden – 14th Librarian of Congress]