Law and Legal
Ars Technica – Finding masks that meet CDC and WHO guidelines is tough. We did the work for you. “As the United States enters into the colder months and record-high daily cases of COVID-19 continue to be broken on successive days, finding the best mask for your needs is more important than ever. Wearing something is always better than nothing, but unfortunately, finding masks that meet WHO and CDC guidelines isn’t a particularly easy or fruitful endeavor. It’s not hard to meet these recommendations, but researching and compiling the best masks on the market for a range of different needs proved that few manufacturers do. Fortunately, there are some…This article will hopefully serve as a useful refresher on some of those topics, particularly the latest science on masks, how to use them, and what to look for when buying them. Based off criteria from the CDC and WHO, we’ll also highlight a few options that should help keep everyone safe, whether you’re an outdoor runner, hard of hearing, or just in need of a quality reusable mask…”
NPR: “Federal Judge Esther Salas is on a crusade. In July her husband and their son were gunned down at the family’s home in New Jersey. Her husband survived. Her son did not. On Friday, she will attend the New Jersey governor’s signing of a new state law that makes it a crime to publish online or elsewhere personal addresses and telephone information about state judges or their families. Salas will be there even though the law protects only state judges, not federal judges, because the law is named after her son, Daniel…”
After more than a decade of writing life-changing advice, I know when to move on. Here’s what else I learned: “In the very first installment of my column for the Guardian’s Weekend magazine, a dizzying number of years ago now, I wrote that it would continue until I had discovered the secret of human happiness, whereupon it would cease. Typically for me, back then, this was a case of facetiousness disguising earnestness…Writing a column provided the perfect cover for such otherwise embarrassing fare. I hoped I’d help others too, of course, but I was totally unprepared for how companionable the journey would feel: while I’ve occasionally received requests for help with people’s personal problems, my inbox has mainly been filled with ideas, life stories, quotations and book recommendations from readers often far wiser than me…For all that: thank you…I am drawing a line today not because I have uncovered all the answers, but because I have a powerful hunch that the moment is right to do so. If nothing else, I hope I’ve acquired sufficient self-knowledge to know when it’s time to move on. So what did I learn? What follows isn’t intended as an exhaustive summary. But these are the principles that surfaced again and again, and that now seem to me most useful for navigating times as baffling and stress-inducing as ours…”
Get a rep on the phone faster & get better help – This site has a fee component but the search engine is free and provides actionable information at no cost. Note – if you want to speak with a person (not a chat bot) you may have to be on hold a very very long time. This site actually gives you an accurate estimated hold time. I waited two hours to talk to a “human” representative of a major communications company, and the individual was very helpful. Keep working while you are on hold and re-dial immediately if you are dropped and stay in the queue. Do not give up.
The Journal of Academic Librarianship [no payall]- “LibGuides is a library-specific content management system (CMS) designed to help library staff members publish information online without in depth knowledge of HTML or CSS. Produced by Springshare since the late 2000’s, the company markets LibGuides and its other products as created by librarians for librarians with an impressive 6100 libraries and institutions subscribing (Springshare, 2020). Among academic libraries, LibGuides is especially popular. There are over 2300 LibGuides instances at academic institutions (Springshare, 2019) with some institutions having more than one self-contained implementation of the LibGuides system—known as an “instance”—populated by individual LibGuides often called simply “guides”. The prevalence of LibGuides will be unsurprising to anyone who has interacted with the platform. LibGuides allows library staff members to share their expertise easily, quickly, and with a professional-looking final product. Many institutions use it to produce web content that helps users research specific topics and subjects, while others use it as their library website. There are two versions of LibGuides: a basic version, LibGuides, and an upgraded version, LibGuides CMS, with more options for content management and oversight…”
“The National Risk Index (The Index) is an online tool to help illustrate the nation’s communities most at risk of natural hazards. It is made possible through a collaboration between FEMA and dozens of partners in academia; local, state and federal government; and private industry. The Index leverages best available source data to provide a holistic view of community-level risk nationwide by combining multiple hazards with socioeconomic and built environment factors. It calculates a baseline relative risk measurement for each United States county and census tract for 18 natural hazards, based on Expected Annual Loss, Social Vulnerability, and Community Resilience…Specifically, the National Risk Index can help with:
- Enhancing hazard mitigation plans
- Identifying the need for more refined risk assessments
- Encouraging community-level risk communication and engagement
- Developing codes and standards
- Informing long-term community recovery
- Prioritizing and allocating resources
- Updating emergency operations
- Informing the insurance and mortgage industries
- Educating new homeowners and renters
ABC News – There are several basic types of vaccines being developed to battle COVID. “Across the globe, scientists are scrambling to develop multiple vaccines with the goal of stopping the deadly coronavirus in its tracks. All aim to neutralize the virus SARS-COV-2 before it makes you sick with COVID-19, but the way they work and how they were created take divergent paths. Currently there are at least 48 vaccines being tested in experiments with human volunteers, and another 164 that are being studied in a laboratory. Here’s everything you need to know about the different vaccine candidates racing to end the global pandemic..”
Scientific American: “…We prefer information from people we trust, our in-group. We pay attention to and are more likely to share information about risks—for Andy, the risk of losing his job. We search for and remember things that fit well with what we already know and understand. These biases are products of our evolutionary past, and for tens of thousands of years, they served us well. People who behaved in accordance with them—for example, by staying away from the overgrown pond bank where someone said there was a viper—were more likely to survive than those who did not. Modern technologies are amplifying these biases in harmful ways, however. Search engines direct Andy to sites that inflame his suspicions, and social media connects him with like-minded people, feeding his fears. Making matters worse, bots—automated social media accounts that impersonate humans—enable misguided or malevolent actors to take advantage of his vulnerabilities. Compounding the problem is the proliferation of online information. Viewing and producing blogs, videos, tweets and other units of information called memes has become so cheap and easy that the information marketplace is inundated. Unable to process all this material, we let our cognitive biases decide what we should pay attention to. These mental shortcuts influence which information we search for, comprehend, remember and repeat to a harmful extent…”
CRS Insight via LC – COVID-19: Government Resources for Real-Time Economic Indicators updated November 19, 2020: “This CRS Insight presents select real-time economic indicators that attempt to measure the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemicon the U.S.economy. Created by select federal government agencies, these new or unique indicators attempt to measure the demographic, social, and economic impacts of COVID-19 in real-time, or on a weekly or monthly basis, rather than quarterly or annually.For more on traditional economic indicators, please see CRS Report R43295, Resources for Key Economic Indicators…”
Ars Technica: “As the United States enters into the colder months and record-high daily cases of COVID-19 continue to be broken on successive days, finding the best mask for your needs is more important than ever. While wearing something is always better than nothing, unfortunately, finding masks that meet WHO and CDC guidelines isn’t a particularly easy or fruitful endeavor. It’s not hard to meet these recommendations, but researching and compiling the best masks on the market for a range of different needs proved that few manufacturers do. Fortunately, there are some. We’ve written at length on the current pandemic, how it’s been handled, and how best to handle yourself through these discombobulating times. This article will hopefully serve as a useful refresher on some of those topics, particularly the latest science on masks, how to use them, and what to look for when buying them. Based off criteria from the CDC and WHO, we’ll also highlight a few options that should help keep everyone safe, whether you’re an outdoor runner, hard of hearing, or just in need of a quality reusable mask…”
Federal Telework: Key Practices That Can Help Ensure the Success of Telework Programs, GAO-21-238T: Published: Nov 18, 2020. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 2020. During the COVID-19 pandemic, federal agencies have used telework as a strategy to help them continue their work in trying circumstances. We assembled our past work on federal telework to provide information that can help agencies improve their telework programs. [h/t Pete Weiss]
We testified on key practices in 7 categories, including:
- Performance management. For example, agencies should ensure that teleworkers and non-teleworkers are held to the same performance standards.
- Training. For example, training helps keep workers and managers on the same page.
- Technology. For example, addressing access and security issues help telework run smoothly…”
The New York Times – “As the country heads into a dangerous new phase of the pandemic, the government’s management of the P.P.E. crisis has left the private sector still straining to meet anticipated demand…The N95 respirator is emblematic of globalized capitalism: It is made out of fossil fuels, manufactured at enormous scale, often in developing nations by cheap labor, and distributed on the shipping lanes that bind together the far-flung corners of the world; it is used by urbanites to keep pollution expelled by their own factories from their lungs, construction workers raising clouds of concrete dust as they build ever-growing cities and doctors treating patients coughing from the diseases multiplying among increasingly urbanized populations. It is meant to be tossed after a single use. These lightweight scoops of breathable plastic — the shape of which was inspired by the cup of a 1950s molded bra — are simple to use. A person sets a respirator over the nose and mouth, and a tensioned headband seals it against the face. When someone inhales, air passes through tightly woven, electrostatically charged mesh, which snags the vast majority of microscopic airborne particulates — 95 percent, hence the name. The masks are made by melting huge quantities of specialized plastic pellets and then blowing the molten liquid through perforated metal to produce a tangle of filaments that cools and fuses into a dense mat of fibers: the all-important filter. An electrostatic charge is added to help capture microscopic particulates. Then the filter is sealed between two protective layers, and a headband is welded or stapled on. Tens of millions of masks can roll off a factory’s conveyor belts in a month…In late 2019 and the first two months of 2020, the Trump administration was inundated with red alerts about the incoming pandemic from internal entities like the National Security Council and external sources like the nation’s biggest medical-supply corporations. Some of those warnings — including memos addressed directly to the president — highlighted how America’s P.P.E. supply would be overwhelmed. As a whistle-blower report would later reveal, in January, Department of Health and Human Services officials effectively dismissed an offer from one of America’s few remaining N95 manufacturers, Prestige Ameritech, to expand its production lines. And when the head of an H.H.S. agency responsible for preparing the nation for pandemics tried to expand his budget to increase domestic respirator production, he was overruled by a senior H.H.S. official, Robert Kadlec. (H.H.S. says Kadlec was forced to make the decision because of appropriations rules.)..”
“Now in its fifth year, The Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) Weather Photographer of the Year competition 2020 in association with AccuWeather provides a platform for the world’s very best weather photography, depicting weather in its widest sense. The weather in its many forms can make for some of the most stunning photography. With a constantly changing subject, you may be in the right place at the right time to capture a dream shot or have put a lot of preparation and patience into ensuring the perfect photo. Throughout the competition we aim to provide you with some weather photography tips and some useful resources from experienced weather photographers…”
“On December 8 at 2pm ET, the Law Library of Congress will host a webinar to demonstrate how to use our new Foreign Legal Gazettes Database to explore the Law Library’s vast collection of foreign legal gazettes. The Law Library has been collecting foreign legal gazettes since the mid-19th century. We are one of the last libraries to still systematically acquire these publications from as many jurisdictions as possible. Presently, we collect gazettes from about 175 national jurisdictions and approximately 100 subnational jurisdictions.
Our new database allows patrons to search our gazettes by jurisdiction (either via the facets or by clicking on a map), title, content and format. A mobile version has added functionality through sorting capabilities in the columns of the table.
This webinar will be presented by Chief of the Law Library Collection Services Division Kurt Carroll, Supervisor for the Law Library Collection Services Division Betty Lupinacci, Lead Technician for Law Library Legal Processing Workflow Resolution Ken Sigmund, and Law Library Technician Elina Lee. You can register here.”
ZDNet – “IT’s role is more critical than ever in a world that’s increasingly dependent on digital. Organizations are under increasing pressure to stay competitive and create connected experiences. According to Salesforce MuleSoft Connectivity benchmark report, IT projects are projected to grow by 40%; and 82% of businesses are now holding their IT teams accountable for delivering connected customer experiences. Research from MuleSoft proprietary research and third-party findings highlight some of the top trends facing CIOs, IT leaders, and organizations in their digital transformation journey…”
The Atlantic – “More than 3,800 entries were received in this year’s landscape-photography competition, from professional and amateur photographers around the world. Judges of the International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest narrowed the field down to a “Top 101” and then further, to award several category prizes and the International Landscape Photographer of the Year award, which went to Kelvin Yuen for his images of Norway, Scotland, and the American Southwest. The organizers have been kind enough to share some of this year’s top and winning images below.”
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is committed to transparency and keeping the public and stakeholders informed of our work upholding the safety of our food supply. As part of this continued commitment, today we are releasing a new tool to communicate foodborne illness outbreak information frequently and as soon as the FDA begins an outbreak investigation – prior to a public health advisory or recall of a certain food product being issued.
Today our FDA investigation team, the Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) Network, is starting the ongoing publication of a new investigation table that will include information on all foodborne outbreaks for which the FDA has initiated an investigation. The table, which will be updated on a weekly basis, will include information about each stage of an outbreak investigation. Currently, a public health advisory or recall is issued for any outbreak investigation that results in specific, actionable steps consumers can take to protect themselves such as a recommendation to not eat a certain type of food or recalled food product. This practice will remain the same.
This new tool will allow the FDA to share information with the public even earlier in the process. However, it is important to note that during the early phases of an investigation, there may not be any specific action that consumers can take while information is being gathered and the investigation develops. For example, in the early stages of an investigation, we may not know what specific commodity or food vehicle is responsible for the illnesses and the time frame in which it was available for purchase. This information is crucial to the development of accurate public health messages to help protect consumers from exposure to potentially contaminated food and enable retailers and consumers to take appropriate actions…”
Smithsonian Magazine – Green spaces planted with fruits, veggies and herbs are sprouting across the globe, and the bounty is meant to share – “Imagine strolling through an urban public park, admiring the trees and flowers. Your stomach starts to rumble. You reach up and pluck a few greengage plums from the tree overhead, and munch them as you continue walking. Later, perhaps, you stop to help a group of volunteers dig up potatoes from the park’s root vegetable garden, to be placed in crates and cycled to the nearby food pantry. Is this the park of the future? A growing movement of gardeners, food activists, landscape designers, urban planners and others is encouraging us to think “edible” when it comes to public green space. Flowers are pretty, they say, but if those blossoms become apples or zucchini, isn’t that even better? “Public food landscapes can transform public spaces from being passive scenes to view or experience at a relatively superficial level,” says Joshua Zeunert, a landscape designer and professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who studies edible public spaces. By “public food landscape,” Zeunert means food-producing land fully accessible to the public that is intended to be used for public benefit. This could include community vegetable gardens, public parks with “edible forests” of fruit and nut trees, public university campuses with agriculture projects that benefit the community and neighborhood centers with food-producing green roofs…”
OpenCulture – “There is no one Blade Runner. Ridley Scott’s influential “neo-noir” has appeared in several different versions over the past 38 years, both official — the “director’s cut,” the “final cut,” and lest we forget, the now-derided first theatrical cut — and unofficial. So has Blade Runner‘s soundtrack, the first official release of which lagged the film by about a dozen years, and even then didn’t include all the music so integral to the unprecedented aesthetic richness of the futuristic setting. Then, about a dozen more years later, followed an expanded soundtrack album, which for many fans still proved unsatisfying. In the name of completeness and sonic fidelity, at least five widely distributed bootlegs have attempted to fill the gap. Now, in our 21st-century age of streaming, we have fan-made “remasters” of the Blade Runner soundtrack like the above, the 5.7-million-times-viewed work of a user called Greendragon861. Running just over one hour and 52 minutes — nearly the length of the various cuts of Blade Runner itself — this sonic experience includes, of course, the well-known electronic pieces by composer Vangelis, those that come right to mind when you envision the flame-belching industrial landscape of 21st-century Los Angeles or a police “spinner” taking to the skies. But it also incorporates background music, sound effects, and even snatches of dialogue from the movie. The result feels a great deal like watching Blade Runner without actually watching Blade Runner…”