Law and Legal

Every month the archival institutions of this nation unleash tiny particles of the past in a frenzy of online revelry

The New York Times – “The hashtag parties are the handiwork of a small group of employees at the National Archives. Their aims are twofold: to draw public attention to the holdings of the National Archives, and to refract that attention widely, across a community of like-minded organizations, which can themselves refract it on. “A lot of times people think of the National Archives, and they stop at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution,” said Hilary Parkinson, a public affairs specialist for the agency. “So this was a great chance to show more documents and more records and go beyond just the big anniversaries of things.” Conceived as a six-month campaign, the parties proved far too popular to stop. Since the first hashtag party in August of 2017 (#ArchivesSquadGoals, which surfaced images of Louis Armstrong with his trumpet teacher and of two men pushing 1.5 tons of nickels), Archives data indicates these digital events have prompted some 120,000 tweets, from more than 70,000 contributors. “Archivists tend to be really passionate people,” said Jeannie Chen, a digital engagement manager at the National Archives. “They know their collections so well.” Ms. Chen and Ms. Parkinson are one half of a four-person team at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. that concocts the themes and spreads the word to other organizations in advance through an email sent out roughly two weeks before a party. The recipients are nearly 300 institutions that have asked to be kept in the loop, to have time to scour their own records for relevant content. (Parties typically occur the first Friday of every month; following a New Year’s break, the next is scheduled for February 5.)

  • See also via NARA – “These galleries, libraries, archives, and museums have joined the National Archives to share their collections for #ArchivesHashtagParty. Want to join? Send an email to socialmedia@nara.gov to be added to the participant list and become a part of our community of practice…”
Categories: Law and Legal

How one of America’s ugliest days unraveled inside and outside the Capitol

The Capitol Insurrection via a Washington Post visual timeline: “Jan. 6, 2021, was always on the country’s radar. Two runoff elections that would determine control of the Senate still had not been decided as Tuesday became Wednesday. A joint session of Congress convened to certify Joe Biden’s electoral-vote win while thousands gathered on the Mall in support of President Trump, who continued to falsely claim that the election was stolen from him. As the scene in D.C. continued to darken, smaller demonstrations across the nation also flared, forcing officials in several statehouses to evacuate. This is how the day unfolded…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Sealed U.S. Court Records Exposed in SolarWinds Breach

Krebs on Security: “The ongoing breach affecting thousands of organizations that relied on backdoored products by network software firm SolarWinds may have jeopardized the privacy of countless sealed court documents on file with the U.S. federal court system, according to a memo released Wednesday by the Administrative Office (AO) of the U.S. Courts. The judicial branch agency said it will be deploying more stringent controls for receiving and storing sensitive documents filed with the federal courts, following a discovery that its own systems were compromised as part of the SolarWinds supply chain attack. That intrusion involved malicious code being surreptitiously inserted into updates shipped by SolarWinds for some 18,000 users of its Orion network management software as far back as March 2020. “The AO is working with the Department of Homeland Security on a security audit relating to vulnerabilities in the Judiciary’s Case Management/Electronic Case Files system (CM/ECF) that greatly risk compromising highly sensitive non-public documents stored on CM/ECF, particularly sealed filings,” the agency said in a statement published Jan. 6. “An apparent compromise of the confidentiality of the CM/ECF system due to these discovered vulnerabilities currently is under investigation,” the statement continues. “Due to the nature of the attacks, the review of this matter and its impact is ongoing.” The AO declined to comment on specific questions about their breach disclosure. But a source close to the investigation told KrebsOnSecurity that the federal court document system was “hit hard,” by the SolarWinds attackers, which multiple U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies have attributed as “likely Russian in origin.” The source said the intruders behind the SolarWinds compromise seeded the AO’s network with a second stage “Teardrop” malware that went beyond the “Sunburst” malicious software update that was opportunistically pushed out to all 18,000 customers using the compromised Orion software. This suggests the attackers were targeting the agency for deeper access to its networks and communications…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Masked and armed rioters who were inside the Capitol intent on violence

Slate – They Were Out for Blood – “The men who carried zip ties as they stormed the Capitol weren’t clowning around. “…But there were other rioters inside the Capitol, if you look at the images. And once you see them, it’s impossible to look away. The zip-tie guys. Call the zip ties by their correct name: The guys were carrying flex cuffs, the plastic double restraints often used by police in mass arrest situations. They walked through the Senate chamber with a sense of purpose. They were not dressed in silly costumes but kitted out in full paramilitary regalia: helmets, armor, camo, holsters with sidearms. At least one had a semi-automatic rifle and 11 Molotov cocktails. At least one, unlike nearly every other right-wing rioter photographed that day, wore a mask that obscured his face. These are the same guys who, when the windows of the Capitol were broken and entry secured, went in first with what I’d call military-ish precision. They moved with purpose, to the offices of major figures like Nancy Pelosi and then to the Senate floor. What was that purpose? It wasn’t to pose for photos. It was to use those flex cuffs on someone…They went into the Capitol, as Congress was counting electoral votes, equipped to take hostages—to physically seize officials, and presumably to take lives. The prospect is terrifying. But just because it seems unthinkable doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think hard about what almost happened. Don’t dismiss the zip-tie guys as “LARPers” or “weekend warriors.” First of all, given the well-documented overlap between ex-military, law enforcement, and right-wing militias, it’s entirely possible these guys were weekday warriors using their training in service of extracurricular interests. (One of the Twitter sleuths who are now trying to track them down sure seems to think they’re ex-military.) More importantly, the long awful course of history reminds us how slippery the slope is from playacting as a strike force to actually behaving as a strike force. Once the zip ties go on, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a “real” terrorist or not…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Executive Order on Protecting American Monuments, Memorials, and Statues and Combating Recent Criminal Violence

Executive Order 13933 issued on June 26, 2020: “…Individuals and organizations have the right to peacefully advocate for either the removal or the construction of any monument. But no individual or group has the right to damage, deface, or remove any monument by use of force. In the midst of these attacks, many State and local governments appear to have lost the ability to distinguish between the lawful exercise of rights to free speech and assembly and unvarnished vandalism. They have surrendered to mob rule, imperiling community safety, allowing for the wholesale violation of our laws, and privileging the violent impulses of the mob over the rights of law-abiding citizens. Worse, they apparently have lost the will or the desire to stand up to the radical fringe and defend the fundamental truth that America is good, her people are virtuous, and that justice prevails in this country to a far greater extent than anywhere else in the world. Some particularly misguided public officials even appear to have accepted the idea that violence can be virtuous and have prevented their police from enforcing the law and protecting public monuments, memorials, and statues from the mob’s ropes and graffiti. My Administration will not allow violent mobs incited by a radical fringe to become the arbiters of the aspects of our history that can be celebrated in public spaces. State and local public officials’ abdication of their law enforcement responsibilities in deference to this violent assault must end…”

Sec. 2Policy.  (a)  It is the policy of the United States to prosecute to the fullest extent permitted under Federal law, and as appropriate, any person or any entity that destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue within the United States or otherwise vandalizes government property.  The desire of the Congress to protect Federal property is clearly reflected in section 1361 of title 18, United States Code, which authorizes a penalty of up to 10 years’ imprisonment for the willful injury of Federal property…”

Categories: Law and Legal

WHO Guide – Let’s flatten the infodemic curve

“We are all being exposed to a huge amount of COVID-19 information on a daily basis, and not all of it is reliable. Here are some tips for telling the difference and stopping the spread of misinformation. Due to COVID-19, most of us have a new word in our vocabulary: epidemiology. It is the branch of medical science that deals with the ways diseases are transmitted and can be controlled in a population. Now it is time to learn another new word: infodemiology. As humans, we are a curious and innovative species. We want to understand the world around us and stay up to date on the challenges we face and how to overcome them. One of the ways we do this is by seeking out and sharing information – lots of it. Even scientists around the world are working hard to keep up with the thousands of studies that have come out since COVID-19 appeared. But it is not only scientific studies. There are also official communications from governments and health agencies around the world. Then there are news articles and opinion pieces, and messages from vloggers, bloggers, podcasters and social media influencers. You may also see information shared by friends and family on social media or messaging apps. All of this is called the infodemic: a flood of information on the COVID-19 pandemic. Infodemiology is the study of that information and how to manage it…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Presidential Disability Under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment

CRS report via LC – Presidential Disability Under the Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Constitutional Provisions and Perspectives for Congress, Updated November 5, 2018:  “Sections 3 and 4 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provide for presidential disability or inability. Section 3 of the amendment sets the procedure whereby a President may declare himsel for herself “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office by transmitting a written declaration to this effect to the President pro tempore of the Senate (President pro tem) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (Speaker). For the duration of the disability, the Vice President discharges the President’s powers and duties as Acting President. When the President transmits “a written declaration to the contrary” to the President pro tem and the Speaker, he or she resumes the powers and duties of the office. Section 3 is intended to cover either unanticipated disability, such as injury or illness, or anticipated disability, such as medical treatment. It has been activated three times under circumstances in which the President underwent general anesthesia for medical treatment. It was informally implemented by President Ronald Reagan in 1985 and was formally implemented twice by President George W. Bush, in 2002 and 2007, under similar circumstances.

Section 4 provides for instances of contingent presidential disability. It was intended by the Twenty-Fifth Amendment’s authors to provide for cases in which a President was unable or unwilling to declare a disability. In these circumstances, the section authorizes the Vice President and a majority of either the Cabinet, or such other body established by law (a presidential disability review body), acting jointly, to declare the President to be disabled. When they transmit a written message to this effect to the President pro tem and the Speaker, the Vice President immediately assumes the powers and duties of the office as Acting President…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Better Information Sharing Could Improve Responses to Washington, D.C. Area Helicopter Noise Concerns

Aircraft Noise: Better Information Sharing Could Improve Responses to Washington, D.C. Area Helicopter Noise Concerns. GAO-21-200: Published: Jan 7, 2021. Publicly Released: Jan 7, 2021. “We were asked to review helicopter noise in the Washington, D.C., area, where numerous flights support government, national security, and medical operations. There were about 88,000 helicopter flights within 30 miles of Reagan National Airport in 2017-19, including about 33,000 military and 18,000 law enforcement flights. The Federal Aviation Administration has improved its ability to identify and respond to noise complaints. But the FAA and helicopter operators don’t always tell each other about the complaints they receive. We recommended that the FAA develop a way to share this information to improve responses to these complaints.” [h/t Pete Weiss]

Categories: Law and Legal

CDC – People without symptoms spread virus in more than half of cases

Washington Post: “People with no symptoms transmit more than half of all cases of the novel coronavirus, according to a model developed by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Their findings reinforce the importance of following the agency’s guidelines: Regardless of whether you feel ill, wear a mask, wash your hands, stay socially distant and get a coronavirus test. That advice has been a constant refrain in a pandemic responsible for more than 350,000 deaths in the United States. Fifty-nine percent of all transmission came from people without symptoms, under the model’s baseline scenario. That includes 35 percent of new cases from people who infect others before they show symptoms and 24 percent that come from people who never develop symptoms at all. “The bottom line is controlling the covid-19 pandemic really is going to require controlling the silent pandemic of transmission from persons without symptoms,” said Jay C. Butler, the CDC deputy director for infectious diseases and a co-author of the study. “The community mitigation tools that we have need to be utilized broadly to be able to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 from all infected persons, at least until we have those vaccines widely available.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Capitol Rioters Planned for Weeks in Plain Sight. The Police Weren’t Ready.

ProPublica: Insurrectionists made no effort to hide their intentions, but law enforcement protecting Congress was caught flat-footed. “This story is part of an ongoing collaboration between ProPublica and FRONTLINE that includes an upcoming documentary. The invasion of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was stoked in plain sight. For weeks, the far-right supporters of President Donald Trump railed on social media that the election had been stolen. They openly discussed the idea of violent protest on the day Congress met to certify the result. “We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th,” leaders of the Stop the Steal movement wrote on Dec. 23. They called their Wednesday demonstration the Wild Protest, a name taken from a tweet by Trump that encouraged his supporters to take their grievances to the streets of Washington. “Will be wild,” the president tweeted. Ali Alexander, the founder of the movement, encouraged people to bring tents and sleeping bags and avoid wearing masks for the event. “If D.C. escalates… so do we,” Alexander wrote on Parler last week — one of scores of social media posts welcoming violence that were reviewed by ProPublica in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s attack on the capitol. Thousands of people heeded that call. For reasons that remained unclear Wednesday night, the law enforcement authorities charged with protecting the nation’s entire legislative branch — nearly all of the 535 members of Congress gathered in a joint session, along with Vice President Mike Pence — were ill-prepared to contain the forces massed against them…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CISA: Hackers access to federal networks without SolarWinds

FCW.com: “The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency says it has evidence that hackers are breaching the federal government’s networks by other paths than the recently discovered vulnerabilities in SolarWinds Orion. “Specifically, we are investigating incidents in which activity indicating abuse of Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) tokens consistent with this adversary’s behavior is present, yet where impacted SolarWinds instances have not been identified,” according to updated guidance published Wednesday. “CISA is continuing to work to confirm initial access vectors and identify any changes to the tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).” Characteristics such as a SAML tokens having a 24-hour validity periods or not containing multi-factor authentication details where expected are red flags. As details of the SolarWinds Orion breach have surfaced, analysts and lawmakers have repeatedly commented on how difficult it will be to remove hackers from the government’s networks because their access is probably no longer predicated on flaws in SolarWinds Orion, an IT management software…”

Categories: Law and Legal

DC Mayor Bowser Issues Mayor’s Order Extending Today’s Public Emergency for 15 Days

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 (Washington, DC) – “Today, First Amendment protests turned violent. Many persons came to the District armed and for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction. They have fired chemical irritants, bricks, bottles, and guns. They have breached the security of the Capitol and their destructive and riotous behavior has the potential to spread beyond the Capitol. Their motivation is ongoing. Today, they sought to disrupt the Congressional proceedings relating to the acceptance of electoral college votes. President Trump continues to fan rage and violence by contending that the Presidential election was invalid. Persons are dissatisfied with judicial rulings and the findings of State Boards of Elections, and some persons can be expected to continue their violent protests through the inauguration. Accordingly, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued Mayor’s Order 2021-003, extending the public emergency declared earlier today for a total of 15 days, until and unless provided for by further Mayoral Order.”

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19 Survival Guide

Chicago Tribune: “A Rush University Medical Group rehabilitation psychologist who counsels patients from intensive care to rehab, Abigail Harden drew on her professional experiences to write the COVID-19 Survival Guide: How to Prepare for, Manage, and Overcome a Coronavirus Infection…Resources in the book include VOCID-19 kit packing lists, rehab goal worksheets, daily routine planner pages and journal/diary prompts…

Categories: Law and Legal

Most voters say the events at the US Capitol are a threat to democracy

YouGov: “Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol earlier this afternoon to protest lawmakers certifying Joe Biden’s election victory. According to initial reports, one person was shot and killed and at least one explosive device was found in the area.   A YouGov Direct poll of 1,397 registered voters who had heard about the event finds that most (62%) voters perceive these actions as a threat to democracy. Democrats (93%) overwhelmingly see it this way, while most (55%) Independents also agree. Among Republicans, however, only a quarter (27%) think this should be considered a threat to democracy, with two-thirds (68%) saying otherwise. In fact, many Republicans (45%) actively support the actions of those at the Capitol, although as many expressed their opposition (43%).  Among all voters, almost two-thirds (63%) say that they “strongly” oppose the actions taken by President Trump’s supporters, with another 8% say they “somewhat” oppose what has happened.   Overall, one in five voters (21%) say they support the goings-on at the Capitol. Those who believe that voter fraud took place and affected the election outcome are especially likely to feel that today’s events were justified, at 56%…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Hard lessons for libraries and all of us

Daily News by Kathy Marx – the president and CEO of The New York Public Library: “As we prepare to close the book on a cursed 2020, it is tempting to turn the page, try to forget about a year with unprecedented challenges, and hope to return to the way it all was. I get the temptation. It has been more than nine months of isolation, anxiety, anger, division and, in far too many cases, tragic loss. We are all exhausted, struggling to cope with a new normal that feels more like a dystopian novel than reality. But just as we are now inventing new holiday rituals that focus on what and those most important to us, we must also recalibrate more broadly. As part of an institution that for 125 years has preserved and made accessible the world’s history, culture and knowledge, I see firsthand, every day, the importance of learning lessons from our past, especially our most difficult chapters. We have long known that the digital divide is a key issue, and that millions of our neighbors do not have home connectivity. In 2020, the chasm came into very sharp focus. What was inequality of access became tragic exclusion from almost all educational, economic and civic life. At the height of the pandemic, the city’s public libraries, closed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, still recorded over 1,000 Wi-Fi sessions a day. Our fellow citizens of the greatest city in the world had no other choice but to brave a pandemic to stand outside to get the internet bleeding from our branches. Now they will do so in the cold of winter…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Artificial Intelligence in the Courts, Legal Academia and Legal Practice

Bennett Moses, Lyria, Artificial Intelligence in the Courts, Legal Academia and Legal Practice (August 7, 2017). Australian Law Journal, 91(7), p. 561-574 (2017), UNSW Law Research Paper No. 20-79, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3742515

“Advances in technology, in particular in artificial intelligence, will continue to have a significant impact on the discipline of law in academia, the practicing profession and the courts. While technological forecasting is a dangerous game, current trends suggest that over the next ten years there will likely be greater reliance on data analytic tools in assessing students, predicting judicial outcomes and making decisions about criminal defendants both pre- and post-conviction. There is also likely to be greater diffusion of expert systems offering standardised legal advice and legal documents, although it is less likely that there will be significant technological innovation in that field. There are significant differences between an artificial intelligence that mirrors doctrinal logic (expert systems) and an artificial intelligence based on projection from empirical observation (data analytics). In particular, few legal professionals understand the mechanisms through which data analytics produces predictions. The limitations inherent and assumptions embedded in these tools are thus often poorly understood by those using them. This essay will explore the limitations of artificial intelligence technologies by considering the ways in which what they produce (for clients, law students and society) differs from what they replace. Ultimately, if we, as legal professionals, want to harness the benefits and limit the detriments of new artificial intelligence technologies, we need to understand what their limitations are, what assumptions are embedded within them and how they might undermine appropriate decision-making in legal practice, legal academia and, most crucially, the judiciary.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Future of Law Schools: COVID-19, Technology, and Social Justice

Sundquist, Christian, The Future of Law Schools: COVID-19, Technology, and Social Justice (August 1, 2020). Connecticut Law Review, Vol. 53(1), 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3665221

“The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare not only the social and racial inequities in society, but also the pedagogical and access to justice inequities embedded in the traditional legal curriculum. The need to re-envision the future of legal education existed well before the current pandemic, spurred by the shifting nature of legal practice as well as demographic and technological change. This article examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on legal education, and posits that the combined forces of the pandemic, social justice awareness and technological disruption will forever transform the future of both legal education and practice.”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Notorious RGB: Lessons on Legal Writing from the Legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Lebovits, Gerald, The Notorious R.B.G.: Lessons on Legal Writing from the Legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg (November 2020). Gerald Lebovits, The Legal Writer, The Notorious R.B.G.: Lessons on Legal Writing from the Legendary Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 92 N.Y. St. B.J. 76 (Nov. 2020)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3718087 – “The article discusses Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s advice on legal writing.”
Categories: Law and Legal

How years of online misinformation erupted into real-world insurrection

Fast Company – “On social networks, a toxic stew of lies simmered for years—until the president’s supporters responded with violent action at the U.S. Capitol…Despite the many fact-checking outlets and news organization efforts devoted to correcting Trump’s errors, he is un-fact-checkable. His constant stream of half truths and outright lies have fostered an environment where millions of people cannot discern between fact and fiction. For average Americans, this has created confusion. But for a faction of Trump supporters, the president’s rhetoric and claims have created pure delusion. They don’t trust Congress. They don’t believe COVID-19 is real. They won’t wear masks. They think the COVID-19 vaccine is a sham. They follow a conspiracy theory called QAnon that says President Trump is fighting a deep network of government corruption…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending

CRS report via LC – Resources for Tracking Federal COVID-19 Spending, Updated January 6, 2021 – “Congress has responded to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with supplemental appropriations measures providing relief and assistance to individuals and families, state and local governments, businesses, health care providers, and other entities. For more information, see CRS Report R46474, Laws Enacted in Response to COVID-19: Resources for Congressional Offices, by Meredith Sund. This report provides selected sources for tracking COVID-19 relief and assistance spending. It includes links to and information on government sources detailing spending amounts at various levels, including consolidated spending by multiple government agencies, spending by individual government agencies, and spending to specific recipients and geographies. The sources themselves are large government databases, individual agencies, oversight entities, and selected nongovernmental entities that attempt to repackage information on spending amounts obtained from available government sources.Due to the continually evolving nature of information provided by sources that track federal COVID-19 spending, this report may be updated frequently. For a legislative summary of the enacted bills, and a broad discussion of both the discretionary and direct spending measures provided by Congress, see CRS Report R46449, Tallying Federal Funding for COVID-19: In Brief, by William L. Painter. For general information on resources for tracking federal funds, see CRS Report R44027, Tracking Federal Awards: USAspending.gov and Other Data Sources, by Jennifer Teefy.”

Categories: Law and Legal

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