Law and Legal

In one DC TV station, a service dog helps bring disability stories into focus

Poynter: “Until early 2015, Channel 9 was a standard newsroom — and McCarren’s was a standard, if distinguished, broadcast career. Never mind those shelves of awards in her Maryland home — she’s anchored and reported regionally and nationally, winning three Edward R. Murrow Awards, 21 regional Emmys, and Kiplinger and Nieman fellowships — after a quarter century of scoops, scandals and scripts, the news had become routine. The multimedia reporter conferred with her husband, Bill. Her family of origin was military, and from age 10, she had raised dogs and shown them around North America. Maybe she, their family, and the newsroom could raise a puppy to be a service dog for a veteran in need. McCarren took the idea to then-president/general manager Mark Burdette and then-station manager/executive news director Bill Lord. Both, she says, agreed enthusiastically. Soon an English Labrador pup arrived on behalf of Warrior Canine Connection, a nonprofit that links trained dogs to wounded service members. Bunce was named for Marine Cpl. Justin Bunce, injured by an IED in Iraq in 2004…”

Categories: Law and Legal

NYT – On Tour With Notorious R.B.G., Judicial Rock Star

Her fans call her Notorious R.B.G., a nod to the rapper Notorious B.I.G., and Justice Ginsburg embraces the connection: “They say that Bob Dylan, 76, is on a never-ending tour. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is eight years older and has a day job, seems to have acquired Mr. Dylan’s taste for the road. In the space of three weeks, she is set to make at least nine public appearances. They follow a pattern: a thunderous standing ovation from an adoring crowd, followed by gentle questioning from a sympathetic interviewer. Justice Ginsburg mixes familiar stories with insights about the Supreme Court and the law. She lands a couple of jokes. She promises not to step down so long as she can “do the job full steam.” She describes her friendship with Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. The audience swoons, and the show moves on to the next venue. She seems to enjoy the attention. “I am soon to be 85,” she said on Tuesday at New York Law School, “and everyone wants to take their picture with me.”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends

Statutory Interpretation: General Principles and Recent Trends. March 30, 2006 – September 24, 2014. 97-589.

“The exercise of the judicial power of the United States often requires that courts construe statutes to apply them in particular cases and controversies. Judicial interpretation of the meaning of a statute is authoritative in the matter before the court. Beyond this, the methodologies and approaches taken by the courts in discerning meaning can help guide legislative drafters, legislators, implementing agencies, and private parties. The Supreme Court has expressed an interest “that Congress be able to legislate against a background of clear interpretive rules, so that it may know the effect of the language it adopts.” Though the feed-back loop of interpretive practices coming from the courts may not always speak well to actual congressional practice and desires, the judiciary has developed its own set of interpretive tools and methodologies, keeping in mind that there is no unified, systematic approach for unlocking meaning in all cases. Though schools of statutory interpretation vary on what factors should be considered, all approaches start (if not necessarily end) with the language and structure of the statute itself. In this pursuit, the Court follows the principle that a statute be read as a harmonious whole whenever reasonable, with separate parts being interpreted within their broader statutory context. Still, the meaning of statutory language is not always evident. To help clarify uncertainty, judges have developed various interpretive tools in the form of canons of construction. Canons broadly fall into two types. “Language,” or “linguistic,” canons are interpretive “rules of thumb” for drawing inferences based on customary usage, grammar, and the like. For example, in considering the meaning of particular words and phrases, language canons call for determining the sense in which terms are being used, that is, whether words or phrases are meant as terms of art with specialized meanings or are meant in the ordinary, “dictionary” sense. Other language canons direct that all words of a statute be given effect if possible, that a term used more than once in a statute ordinarily be given the same meaning throughout, and that specific statutory language ordinarily trumps conflicting general language. “Ordinarily” is a necessary caveat, since any of these “canons” may give way if context points toward a contrary meaning. Not infrequently the Court stacks the deck, and subordinates the general, linguistic canons of statutory construction, as well as other interpretive principles, to overarching presumptions that favor particular substantive results. When one of these “substantive” canons applies, the Court frequently requires a “clear statement” of congressional intent to negate it. A commonly invoked “substantive” canon is that Congress does not intend to change judge-made law. Other substantive canons disfavor preemption of state law and abrogation of state immunity from suit in federal court. As another example, Congress must strongly signal an intent to the courts if it wishes to apply a statute retroactively or override existing law. The Court also tries to avoid an interpretation that would raise serious doubts about a statute’s constitutionality. Interpretive methods that emphasize the primacy of text and staying within the boundaries of statutes themselves to discern meaning are “textualist.” Other approaches, including “intentionalism,” are more open to taking extrinsic considerations into account. Most particularly, some Justices may be willing to look to legislative history to clarify ambiguous text. This report briefly reviews what constitutes “legislative history,” including, possibly, presidential signing statements, and the factors that might lead the Court to consider it.”

Categories: Law and Legal

United States Census Bureau Data Repository

“The United States Census Bureau Data Repository preserves and disseminates survey instruments, specifications, data dictionaries, codebooks, and other materials provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. ICPSR, the host of this data repository, has also listed additional Census-related data collections from its larger holdings. The repository helps fulfill key recommendations made by the 2017 “Report of the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking.” Specifically, the repository improves transparency by establishing a “searchable inventory, through which the public can learn about the data that government collects.” The robust metadata also enables “researchers inside and outside government…[to] be better able to identify which data are needed and useful for answering policy questions, conducting program evaluations, and reducing inefficient and unnecessary data requests.”

Categories: Law and Legal

OPM Report – Understaffing, lack of training at agencies hampering agency services to public

Washington Post – “Shortages of employees — a common feature of troubled government programs — are hampering a range of services to the public and stressing the federal workforce, the government’s central personnel agency said Wednesday. The report comes just ahead of a White House budget proposal that is expected to include plans for carrying out a long-term reduction in the federal workforce, as ordered by the Trump administration last April. In preparing its initial “Federal Workforce Priorities Report,” the Office of Personnel Management, under an initiative it undertook around the same time, reviewed the role workforce issues played in underperforming or at-risk programs at two dozen Cabinet departments and large independent agencies. OPM found personnel issues factored in 59 percent of programs on the Government Accountability Office’s “high-risk” list and in 38 percent of reports by inspectors general of “management challenges” within their agencies. Specifically, inadequate staff was cited as a problem in 34 percent of the former and 14 percent of latter. Lack of employee skills, and training and development were also common themes. “The services provided by agencies for the benefit and protection of the American public are dependent upon having the necessary Federal workforce. However, many programs cited capacity shortcomings affecting both the management and mission accomplishment of at least 20 (or 83% of) agencies,” it said. “Gaps in staffing levels were hampering agency performance or placing performance at risk as well as causing stress for overworked employees. Impacted missions and services included those related to public safety, health care, real estate, business ventures, citizen and veteran benefits, law enforcement, and Federal revenue and cost control activities,” the report said…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Deliberate Learning, Motivation and Resilience

Kass, Kim, Millennials, Deliberate Learning, Motivation and Resilience (January 30, 2018). Learning Curve, Forthcoming; Valparaiso University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 18-3. Available at SSRN: – “Law school faculty and staff frequently engage in conversations about the challenges of teaching the millennial generation. The millennial generation will continue to fill law school seats for the next several years. Many of these students have had much different educational and life experiences than the law faculty who have been tasked with teaching them. As such, as educators, we have to adjust our teaching in order to meet the needs of this generation of law students.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Of Judges and Robots

Capeta, Tamara, Of Judges and Robots (June 4, 2017). Liber amicorum Marko Ilešič – Challenges of Law in Life Reality, Univerza v Ljubljani, Pravna fakulteta, Ljubljana, 2017, 129-142 . Available at SSRN: – “In this contribution, I develop my thoughts on how we can use knowledge about our fears of replacing human judges by robots in order to better understand what we really expect from judges. I conclude that our expectation of adjudication is much more than we are prepared to admit about justice than just the application of law”

Categories: Law and Legal

Beginning July 2018 Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”

Google Chromium Blog: “For the past several years, we’ve moved toward a more secure web by strongly advocating that sites adopt HTTPS encryption. And within the last year, we’ve also helped users understand that HTTP sites are not secure by gradually marking a larger subset of HTTP pages as “not secure”. Beginning in July 2018 with the release of Chrome 68, Chrome will mark all HTTP sites as “not secure”…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Eight Essays On Sexual Discrimination And Harassment In DC Across Politics, Policy, And The Media

New Republic – Eight Essays On Sexual Discrimination And Harassment In D.C., Across Politics, Policy, And The Media, February 8, 2018. Elizabeth Drew, Ana Marie Cox, Sarah Jones, Eve Fairbanks, Heather Boushey, Ai-jen Poo, Monica Potts, Jill Abramson:

“…Last year, a number of congressmen were either forced to resign or got out, taking sudden retirement or announcing that they wouldn’t run for reelection. The most famous case of a House member’s past catching up with him was that of now-former Michigan Representative John Conyers. At 88, Conyers was the longest-serving member of the House and the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, which meant that if the Democrats won the House this November he’d be the next committee chairman, and this must have alarmed the party leaders since, among other things, Conyers was displaying signs of senility, showing up at a congressional meeting in his pajamas and the like. But eventually Conyers was forced out by the House leaders, with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi making the public and private case that Conyers had to resign. Members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), of which Conyers had been a founder, were upset that he was forced out…As the United States faces up to the prevalence and impact of sexual misconduct in the workplace, the consistent story we have heard from survivors, time and again, is one of power imbalance. Actual or perceived, the distance between power held by men and by women in this country has directly resulted in cycles of harassment, misconduct, and abuse from which our society has looked away for decades. Imagine, then, the breeding ground for abuse created in the nation’s capital by some of the world’s most powerful men—and it is usually men—for the domestic workers laboring behind the closed doors of their Washington residences…”

See also The Atlantic – Why Didn’t the White House See Domestic Violence as Disqualifying?..That the president’s staff was unable to recognize the seriousness of the allegations against Rob Porter may reflect how many members of his team have faced similar claims…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History

Resolutions to Censure the President: Procedure and History, February 1, 2018.

“Censure is a reprimand adopted by one or both chambers of Congress against a Member of Congress, President, federal judge, or other government official. While Member censure is a disciplinary measure that is sanctioned by the Constitution (Article 1, Section 5), non-Member censure is not. Rather, it is a formal expression or “sense of” one or both houses of Congress. As such, censure resolutions targeting non-Members use a variety of statements to highlight conduct deemed by the resolutions’ sponsors to be inappropriate or unauthorized. Resolutions that attempt to censure the President for abuse of power, ethics violations, or other behavior, are usually simple resolutions. These resolutions are not privileged for consideration in the House or Senate. They are, instead,considered under the regular parliamentary mechanisms used to process “sense of” legislation…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Knowledge Management Priorities in Large Law Firms – 2018 Survey

This posting [snipped] is authored by Ron Friedmann, Prism Legal: “I report here on the 2018 Knowledge Management (KM) Summit survey results. The Summit is a meeting of senior knowledge management professionals from large US, UK, Canadian, and Australian law firms. Mary Abraham, Oz Benamram, and I organize the meeting. To prepare for it, we survey invitees to learn about current KM priorities. We share detailed survey results with respondents and I publicly share here a subset of results. (You can view the 2017 knowledge management survey results here. An Appendix at the end has demographic information and qualifiers about the survey.) We ask three primary questions; the quoted text in parentheses corresponds to chart labels that appear later this this report.

  1. What are your top priorities for 2016? (“2016 Priority”)
  2. What did you focus on in 2015? (“2015 Focus”)
  3. What would you like to discuss with the group in 2016? (“2016 Discuss”)…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Cliff Notes for Managing the Data Science Function

William Vorhies – Data Science Central: “There are an increasing number of larger companies that have truly embraced advanced analytics and deploy fairly large numbers of data scientists.  Many of these same companies are the one’s beginning to ask about using AI.  Here are some observations and tips on the problems and opportunities associated with managing a larger data science function.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Broadening Understanding of the Interplay Between Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Broadening Understanding of the Interplay Between Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

“TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has released a pre-publication, non-edited, draft version of Research Report 195: Broadening Understanding of the Interplay Between Public Transit, Shared Mobility, and Personal Automobiles. The study broadens the understanding of the interplay among emerging and established modes of transportation. Built upon the findings of TCRP Research Report 188, this report explores how shared modes—and ridesourcing companies in particular—interact with the use of public transit and personal automobiles.”

Categories: Law and Legal

PinMe: Tracking a Smartphone User around the World

PinMe: Tracking a Smartphone User around the World. Arsalan Mosenia, Xiaoliang Dai, Prateek Mittal, Niraj Jha (Submitted on 5 Feb 2018). arXiv:1802.01468 [cs.CR]

“With the pervasive use of smartphones that sense, collect, and process valuable information about the environment, ensuring location privacy has become one of the most important concerns in the modern age. A few recent research studies discuss the feasibility of processing data gathered by a smartphone to locate the phone’s owner, even when the user does not intend to share his location information, e.g., when the Global Positioning System (GPS) is off. Previous research efforts rely on at least one of the two following fundamental requirements, which significantly limit the ability of the adversary: (i) the attacker must accurately know either the user’s initial location or the set of routes through which the user travels and/or (ii) the attacker must measure a set of features, e.g., the device’s acceleration, for potential routes in advance and construct a training dataset. In this paper, we demonstrate that neither of the above-mentioned requirements is essential for compromising the user’s location privacy. We describe PinMe, a novel user-location mechanism that exploits non-sensory/sensory data stored on the smartphone, e.g., the environment’s air pressure, along with publicly-available auxiliary information, e.g., elevation maps, to estimate the user’s location when all location services, e.g., GPS, are turned off.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Descriptive Metadata for Web Archiving

“OCLC Research established the Web Archiving Metadata Working Group (WAM) to develop recommendations for descriptive metadata. Their approach is tailored to the unique characteristics of archived websites, with an eye to helping institutions improve the consistency and efficiency of their metadata practices in this emerging area. The result of this collaboration is three publications that cover recommendations to help institutions improve the consistency and efficiency of their metadata practices, a literature review of user needs, and a review of web harvesting tools. The RLP Web Archiving Metadata Working Group working with Jackie Dooley, RLP Program Officer, has written three publications focused on descriptive metadata for web archiving. The work arose in part from two recent surveys—one of end users of archived web content and the other of web archiving practitioners—both of which showed that lack of a common approach to creating metadata was the most widely shared challenge across the web archiving community. In response, OCLC Research established the Web Archiving Metadata Working Group to develop recommendations for descriptive metadata…”

Descriptive Metadata for Web Archiving: Recommendations of the OCLC Research Library Partnership Web Archiving Metadata Working Group
Descriptive Metadata of Web Archiving: Literature Review of User Needs
Descriptive Metadata of Archiving: Review of Harvesting Tools

Categories: Law and Legal

‘Fiction is outperforming reality’: how YouTube’s algorithm distorts truth

theguardian – An ex-YouTube insider reveals how its recommendation algorithm promotes divisive clips and conspiracy videos: “There are 1.5 billion YouTube users in the world, which is more than the number of households that own televisions. What they watch is shaped by this algorithm, which skims and ranks billions of videos to identify 20 “up next” clips that are both relevant to a previous video and most likely, statistically speaking, to keep a person hooked on their screen. Company insiders tell me the algorithm is the single most important engine of YouTube’s growth. In one of the few public explanations of how the formula works – an academic paper that sketches the algorithm’s deep neural networks, crunching a vast pool of data about videos and the people who watch them – YouTube engineers describe it as one of the “largest scale and most sophisticated industrial recommendation systems in existence”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Decoding DNA of California’s giant redwoods to Redwoods

Washington Post – As threats to California’s giant redwoods grow, the key to their salvation might be in their complex genetic code. “As California’s climate changes to one of extremes and humans continue to harvest, the only coast redwoods on the planet are in peril. The challenge to preserving them is here, in forests like this one — and so, scientists believe, is the key to a solution. For the first time, scientists are mapping the coast redwood’s genome, a genetic code 12 times larger than that of a human being. By the end of the year, scientists hope to have mapped the complete genome of the coast redwood and of the giant sequoia, a close cousin that also is among the tallest trees in the world, some reaching hundreds of feet high. The genetic code of a single 1,300-year-old redwood from a stand just north of here and of a same-age sequoia will serve as baselines and the first step in better understanding how to make these forests more genetically diverse as a defense against rising man-made threats…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Internet of Things – When your home spies on your every move

Gizmodo – The House That Spied on Me: “Thanks to the Internet of Things, I could live in my very own tech-mediated Downton Abbey. That’s the appeal of smart homes for most people, and why they are supposed to be a $27 billion market by 2021. But that wasn’t my primary motivation. The reason I smartened up my house was to find out whether it would betray me…I installed internet-connected devices to serve me, but by making the otherwise inanimate objects of my home “smart” and giving them internet-connected “brains,” I was also giving them the ability to gather information about my home and the people in it. The company that sold me my internet-connected vacuum, for example, recently said that it collects a “rich map of the home” and plans to one day share it with Apple, Amazon, or Alphabet, the three companies that hope to dominate the smart home market. Once I made my home smart, what would it learn and whom would it tell?…”

Categories: Law and Legal

36 indicted in global cybercrime ring that stole $530M

DOJ: “A federal indictment was unsealed today charging 36 individuals for their alleged roles in the Infraud Organization, an Internet-based cybercriminal enterprise engaged in the large-scale acquisition, sale, and dissemination of stolen identities, compromised debit and credit cards, personally identifiable information, financial and banking information, computer malware, and other contraband. Following the return of a nine-count superseding indictment by a Las Vegas, Nevada, grand jury alleging racketeering conspiracy and other crimes, federal, state, local, and international law enforcement authorities arrested 13 defendants from the United States and six countries: Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Kosovo and Serbia…“Today’s indictment and arrests mark one of the largest cyberfraud enterprise prosecutions ever undertaken by the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Cronan. “As alleged in the indictment, Infraud operated like a business to facilitate cyberfraud on a global scale. Its members allegedly caused more than $530 million in actual losses to consumers, businesses, and financial institutions alike—and it is alleged that the losses they intended to cause amounted to more than $2.2 billion. The Department of Justice refuses to allow these cybercriminals to use the perceived anonymity of the Internet as a shield for their crimes. We are committed to working closely with our international counterparts to identify, investigate, and bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes, wherever in the world they operate.”

Download Superseding Indictment
Download InFraud Splash Page of website

Categories: Law and Legal

The Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art

The Cyberlaw Guide to Protest Art, January 22, 2018: “In the wake of Trump’s election and the resurgence of political art inspired by movements like the Women’s March, the Cyberlaw Clinic was approached by artists seeking clarification of their rights and responsibilities as creators and activists online. In response, a team of Berkman Klein staff, Clinic students, and allied creative folks created this Guide. It’s in plain language, meant to be accessible and helpful for folks across the political spectrum who are using art to engage in civic dialogue, to minimize their risks and maximize their impact. We took on this project because art plays a significant role in American democracy. Across the political spectrum, protest art — posters, songs, poems, memes, and more —inspires us, gives us a sense of community, and provides insight into how others think and feel about important and often controversial issues. While protest art has been part of our culture for a very long time, the Internet and social media have changed the available media and the visibility of protest artists. Digital technologies make it easy to find existing works and incorporate them into your own, and art that goes viral online spreads faster than was ever possible in the analog world. Many artists find the law that governs all of this unclear in the physical world, and even murkier online. The authors have seen how the law can undermine artists, writers, and musicians when they’re caught unaware, and distract them from the work they want to do. But we’ve also observed how savvy creators use the law to enhance their work and broaden their audiences. This guide is intended to ensure that you, the reader, can be one of the savvy ones.”

Categories: Law and Legal


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