Law and Legal
Knowledge@Wharton – David DeSteno, Northeastern University psychology professor: “A couple years ago, Google’s HR department … [was] trying to figure out which teams were most successful. And their prediction going in was technical expertise [would be the key attribute for success]. But what they found is that the teams that actually had the most success … had a culture of empathy and compassion for each other.… It’s very rare that one person has all the skills. And so they have to be willing to support each other, to help each other, and it was a big determinate in success. Work by Wharton [professor] Adam Grant on these emotions shows the same thing. He did work with Francesca Gino [and] they looked at people who were working in call centers. … What they found is that when the managers actually showed gratitude for these people’s work, their efforts at trying to garner money — it was a development office for fundraising — doubled. And similar work Adam did with Amy Wrzesniewski at Yale School of Management showed that anticipating pride in your success, and having a culture where the managers reward that, also increases people’s productivity, but it also increases their resilience and lowers their stress…”
Majority of Americans Polled Believe Something Like the Holocaust Could Happen Again– “The survey found there are critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust Julius Berman, President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), announces the release of a comprehensive national survey of Holocaust awareness and knowledge among adults in the United States on the occasion of Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day). The survey found there are critical gaps both in awareness of basic facts as well as detailed knowledge of the Holocaust, and there is a broad-based consensus that schools must be responsible for providing comprehensive Holocaust education. In addition, a significant majority of American adults believe that fewer people care about the Holocaust today than they used to, and more than half of Americans believe that the Holocaust could happen again…”
Harvard Institute of Politics – Youth Poll: “A new national poll of America’s 18-to 29-year-olds by Harvard’sInstitute of Politics (IOP), located at the Kennedy School of Government, finds that nearly two-thirds (64%) of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America. For the first time, the Harvard Public Opinion Project asked a series of questions about how responsible 18-to 29-year-olds believed different groups were for the existing problems in American politics and society today. Politicians were viewed as very or somewhat responsible by at least 7-in-10 young Americans, regardless of political affiliation. Money in politics and the media were mentioned by at least 6-in-10 Democrats, Republicans and Independents..”
New York Fed – Liberty Street Economics: “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) introduces significant changes to the federal income tax code for individuals and businesses. Several provisions of the new tax law are particularly significant for the owner‑occupied housing market. In this blog post, we compare the federal tax liability and the marginal after-tax cost of mortgage interest and property taxes under the old and new tax codes for a wide range of hypothetical recent home buyers in a high tax state. We find that impacts vary substantially along the income/home price distribution…”
The Verge: A new sidebar includes Google Calendar alongside messages: “Google revealed yesterday that it’s planning to launch a new Gmail design in the coming weeks. The refreshed design will appear for Gmail users on the web, bringing it closer to the company’s tweaks for Gmail on mobile devices. The Verge has obtained screenshots of the new Gmail design, currently being tested inside Google and with trusted partners. The new design includes some subtle elements of Google’s Material Design, and a number of new features that were originally introduced for Google’s Inbox overhaul of Gmail…”
“The new onboarding process will make Privacy Badger easier to use and understand. These latest changes are just some of the many improvements EFF has made to the project, with more to come! Privacy Badger was created with the objective of protecting users from third-party tracking across the web—all users. To do this, Privacy Badger needed a couple of key features:
- The ability to catch sneaky trackers without completely breaking your browsing experience when possible.
- Simple to use and understand.
Privacy Badger uses heuristics, meaning it observes and learns who is tracking you rather than maintaining a manual list of trackers. Even if there is a third-party tracker that is rather unknown, or new, Privacy Badger will see that tracker. If your Privacy Badger sees the tracker three times, it will block that tracker so you don’t have to wait for someone to eventually update that list. It’s also a matter of trust—Privacy Badger blocks by behavior and not by a third-party controlled list that might be sold to advertisers. Second, we try to make Privacy Badger simple and informative. Your Privacy Badger learns on its own and displays a badge showing how many trackers it has seen. If it breaks a website’s functionality, you can quickly disable Privacy Badger on that site…”
Washington Post: “When the Trump-affiliated firm Cambridge Analytica obtained data on tens of millions of Facebook users, it used the “Big 5” or “Five Factor Model” personality test to target them with ads designed to influence their votes in the 2016 election. The test scores people on five traits — openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism — and was used in the election to predict the way a voter would respond to an advertisement. But the Big 5 can predict a lot more — including how likely you are to even use Facebook or any other social media …That’s because the way you score on the test can tell you how likely you are to become addicted to your screen. Research shows that people who score high on neuroticism, low on conscientiousness, and low on agreeableness are more likely to become addicted to social media, video games, instant messaging, or other online stimuli. Studies have also found that extraverts are more likely to become addicted to cellphone use than introverts. Some of the correlations make sense. Less agreeable people may be more apt to immerse themselves in technology because it does not require the kind of friendly interactions that real life does. Neurotic people have been shown to spend more time online because it validates their desire to belong or be part of a group. Conscientious people are less impulsive and therefore more able to control and organize their time. But then it gets complicated. Because according to a new study out of the State University of New York at Binghamton, specific combinations of those personality traits can mitigate or exaggerate one’s propensity to addiction…”
TechCrunch: “The fact that Facebook probably has a profile of you whether you’re a Facebook user or not might come as a surprise to some users, though today even the company’s chief executive denied knowledge of the practice — or at least the term used to describe it. In the [April 11, 2018] hearing with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, New Mexico Representative Ben Lujan cornered Mark Zuckerberg with a question about so-called “shadow profiles” — the term often used to refer to the data that Facebook collects on non-users and other hidden data that Facebook holds but does not offer openly on the site for users to see…
“Lujan: It may surprise you that we’ve not talked about this a lot today. You’ve said everyone controls their data, but you’re collecting data on people who are not even Facebook users who have never signed a consent, a privacy agreement. And it may surprise you that on Facebook’s page when you go to “I don’t have a Facebook account and would like to request all my personal data stored by Facebook” it takes you to a form that says “go to your Facebook page and then on your account settings you can download your data.”So you’re directing people that don’t even have a Facebook page to sign up for a Facebook page to access their data… We’ve got to change that…”
K-12 Education: Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities GAO-18-258: Published: Mar 22, 2018. Publicly Released: Apr 4, 2018. “Black students, boys, and students with disabilities were disproportionately disciplined (e.g., suspensions and expulsions) in K-12 public schools, according to GAO’s analysis of Department of Education (Education) national civil rights data for school year 2013-14, the most recent available. These disparities were widespread and persisted regardless of the type of disciplinary action, level of school poverty, or type of public school attended. For example, Black students accounted for 15.5 percent of all public school students, but represented about 39 percent of students suspended from school—an over representation of about 23 percentage points…”
“Facebook is in the national spotlight this week as its co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, testifies before Congress. Zuckerberg is expected to face questions from lawmakers over the company’s recent disclosure that data on up to 87 million of its users may have been improperly shared with a political consulting firm during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His trip to Capitol Hill comes as many Americans express concerns over the way social media firms are handling personal information. Here are five facts about Americans’ use of Facebook, drawn from recent Pew Research Center surveys…”
“The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the entity that maintains the standards used across the internet, said on Monday, April 9, that Google, Microsoft, and Mozilla signed on to support web-based technology for biometric authentication. In other words, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox will soon support signing into online accounts using fingerprint scanners, voice authentication, facial recognition, and so on without additional software. The support for biometric logins stems from the Web Authentication (WebAuthn) standard submitted by the Fast Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, another consortium focused on security solutions. It defines how browsers can utilize a component built into web pages that can access biometric-based hardware without any additional software or browser plugins installed on the user’s machine. Moreover, WebAuthn supports FIDO’s Client to Authenticator Protocol (CTAP). This specification enables an external device, such as a security key or smartphone, to authenticate an account or service through USB, Bluetooth, or NFC connectivity. Thus, if your desktop or laptop doesn’t include a fingerprint scanner or infrared camera, an external device could work as a substitute...”
“The Human Rights Council adopted resolution 34/7 on March 23, 2017, on “the right to privacy in the digital age”. This contained two follow-up steps: organize an expert workshop on the topic and to prepare a report. The intent was to identify principles, standards and define best practices regarding the promotion and protection of the right to privacy in the digital age. The workshop took place on 19-20 February 2019 in Geneva. The submission of the report had a scheduled deadline of April 9, 2018. The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) took the opportunity to provide a meaningful input on the challenges relating to the right of privacy in the digital age. In the report, IFLA reiterates the valuable role libraries can play with regard to the promotion and protection of this important right. You can access the full document here.”
Assessment Methodology for Economic Analysis GAO-18-151SP: Published: Apr 10, 2018. Publicly Released: Apr 10, 2018. “GAO identifies five key methodological elements to the baseline structure of an economic analysis: Objective and scope, Methodology, Analysis of effects, Transparency and Documentation. GAO’s assessment methodology evaluates each key element and provides an overall assessment based on the assessment of the individual key elements. We prepared this report to answer the question: What are key methodological elements of an economic analysis that is intended to inform decision-makers and stakeholders?”
9to5google: “The Google Phone app received a major update in February that added a convenient chat head for quick in-call controls. In the coming weeks, the default dialer for Pixel, Nexus, and Android One devices is adding spam filtering, with a new beta program to try the feature out now. In 2016, the app began alerting users to potential spam callers by flashing the incoming call screen bright red, with another “Suspected spam caller” alert just underneath the phone number. The new spam filtering feature goes a step further by no longer bothering you. When a potential spam call is detected, it will be sent straight to voicemail. As such, the phone will not ring and you won’t be interrupted. Meanwhile, users will not receive a missed call or voicemail notification, though filtered calls will appear in call history and any voicemails left will still show up in that respective tab. This feature is rolling out worldwide over the next few weeks, but those who join the new beta will have initial access to it. Like its other programs, Google notes that the test allows you to use experimental features before they’re released.”
JAMA Study – Sudden loss of wealth in middle or older age may be a risk factor for all-cause mortality.
Editorial – From Misfortune to Mortality – Sudden Loss of Wealth and Increased Risk of Death. Alan M. Garber, MD, PhD. JAMA. 2018;319(13):1327-1328. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.3418. [First page preview is free]
Original Investigation – Negative Wealth Shock and All-Cause Mortality. Lindsay R. Pool, PhD; Sarah A. Burgard, PhD; Belinda L. Needham, PhD; Michael R. Elliott, PhD; Kenneth M. Langa, MD, PhD; Carlos F. Mendes de Leon, PhD
“Whether it is the consequence of unfortunate decisions or unavoidable circumstances, financial loss and ruin can disrupt lives and can be both a result and a harbinger of catastrophic decline in health. The intriguing study by Pool and colleagues in this issue of JAMA raises an important question that has been easier to explore with anecdotes and hypothetical examples than by analyzing population data: is financial ruin a harbinger of physical decline? Specifically, are people who lose much of their wealth more likely to die?
“All adults and children should eat more fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or conventionally grown. With EWG’s 2018 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, you can choose healthy produce while minimizing unwanted doses of multiple toxic pesticides. Many shoppers don’t realize that pesticide residues are common on conventionally grown produce, even after it is carefully washed or peeled. EWG’s analysis of the most recent tests by the Department of Agriculture found that nearly 70 percent of samples of conventionally grown produce were contaminated with pesticide residues. The USDA tests found a total of 230 different pesticides and pesticide breakdown products on the thousands of produce samples analyzed. EWG’s analysis of the tests shows that there are stark differences among various types of produce. The Shopper’s Guide lists the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables with the most pesticide residues, and the Clean Fifteen, for which few, if any, residues were detected.
Key findings from this year’s guide:
- More than one-third of strawberry samples analyzed in 2016 contained 10 or more pesticide residues and breakdown products.
- More than 98 percent of samples of strawberries, peaches, potatoes, nectarines, cherries and apples tested positive for residue of at least one pesticide.
- Spinach samples had, on average, almost twice as much pesticide residue by weight compared to any other crop.
- Avocados and sweet corn were the cleanest. Less than 1 percent of samples showed any detectable pesticides.
- More than 80 percent of pineapples, papayas, asparagus, onions and cabbages had no pesticide residues.
- No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen tested positive for more than four pesticides.”
Keyword searchable transcript of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Hearing on Data Privacy and Protection
C-SPAN video and keyword searchable text – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Hearing on Data Privacy and Protection. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, testified before a joint hearing by the Senate Judiciary & Commerce Committees on access to user’s data, April 12,10, 2018.
“In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth, the Library of Congress has made available online—for the first time—musical manuscripts and scrapbooks from the legendary composer’s personal and professional archives housed in the nation’s library. These digital offerings and others nearly tripled the existing content at loc.gov/collections/leonard-bernstein/about-this-collection/. The public can now access for free more than 3,700 items, including photos, writings, correspondence, scripts, musical sketches, scrapbooks and audio recordings. This web presentation is a revealing snapshot of Bernstein’s extensive collection at the Library…The Bernstein Collection consists of an estimated 400,000 items, one of the largest and most varied in the Library’s Music Division. In addition to music and literary manuscripts, personal correspondence, audio and video recordings, fan mail, business papers, photographs and datebooks, there are unexpected items that range from passports and license plates to batons and the suit in which Bernstein conducted his New York Philharmonic debut in 1943. Also among these unusual items are Bernstein’s notes for a Holocaust opera (tentatively titled “Babel”) he was working on the year of his death; a manuscript for an unproduced circa 1941 ballet, “Conch Town” that included the music for what became “America” from “West Side Story”; and a seven-page, color-illustrated letter to his mother documenting a trip to Israel during the 1948 war…”
Rolling Stone: “The social media giant has swallowed up the free press, become an unstoppable private spying operation and undermined democracy. Is it too late to stop it? “We shouldn’t be asking Facebook to fix the problem. We should be fixing Facebook. It’s our collective misfortune that this perhaps silliest-in-history supercorporation – a tossed-off hookup site turned international cat-video vault turned Orwellian surveillance megavillain – has dragged us all to the very cliff edge of modern technological capitalism. We’ve reached a moment in history where many companies are more powerful than even major industrialized nations, and in some cases have essentially replaced governments as de facto regulators and overseers. But some of those companies suck just a little too badly at the governing part, leaving us staring into a paradox.The Russians call this situation a sobaka na sene, a dog on the hay. Asleep in the manger, the dog itself won’t eat the hay. But it won’t let you eat it either…”