Law and Legal

ABA Data Reveals Minority Students Are Disproportionately Represented in Attrition Figures

Recently, AccessLex added new ABA non-transfer attrition data disaggregated by race and ethnicity to Analytix by AccessLex. Non-transfer attrition refers to students who discontinue their legal education for any reason other than transfer to another law school. Previous ABA data reports show that non-transfer attrition often occurs for academic reasons, but can also result from financial and other circumstantial challenges. The ability to evaluate 1L non-transfer attrition data by race and ethnicity is a significant development, enabling a more nuanced analysis of non-completion among law students (NOTE: The following analysis does not include the three ABA-approved law schools in Puerto Rico.)

The new data reveal that historically underrepresented law students—those identifying as American Indian, Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian, and two or more races—are disproportionately represented among students who do not persist beyond the first year. In 2016, white students comprised 62 percent of 1L enrollment and 49 percent of 1L non-transfer attrition. In contrast, minority students made up 30 percent of 1L enrollment but accounted for 44 percent of 1L non-transfer attrition. This disproportionate representation of minority students among those who did not advance to the second year of law school is largely driven by the over representation of Hispanic and black students in 1L non-transfer attrition figures…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Environmental Insights Explorer

Environmental Insights Explorer Beta: “Explore estimated carbon emissions from transportation and buildings, rooftop solar energy potential, and NASA climate forecasts, derived from Google’s proprietary data and leading data sources…The Environmental Insights Explorer analyzes Google Maps data to provide rich insights into the vital signs of our planet.

  • Transportation emissions
  • Building emissions
  • Rooftop solar potential

These insights can be used to create carbon baselines and accelerate climate action plans…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Latest tools for sexual assault victims: Smartphone apps and software

Washington Post: “…[Silicon Valley CEO Jess] Ladd founded Callisto, a nonprofit organization that has created software for reporting sexual misconduct on college campuses. The reports are time-stamped and saved on an encrypted database but not immediately submitted to authorities. The software tracks complaints and then flags those that involve a repeat offender, alerting victims and school officials in the process. By letting a victim know that their assailant has been accused of targeting more than one person, Callisto aims to remove psychological barriers that make reporting assault so difficult, Ladd said. If a victim thinks their assailant may target even more people, she added, that can also be a powerful incentive to take action. “You can go to the police, but most college survivors don’t have any interest in going to the police,” Ladd said. “Sometimes they just don’t want to see their assailant every day or to be on record in case they do it again. Sometimes they want that person to be talked to or expelled.”

For much of the past decade, dozens of apps and websites have been created to help survivors of sexual assault electronically record and report such crimes. They are designed to assist an enormous pool of potential victims. The Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports that more than 11 percent of all college students — both graduate and undergraduate — experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence or incapacitation. Despite the prevalence of such incidents, less than 10 percent of victims on college campuses report their assaults, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center…”

Categories: Law and Legal

FDsys Website to be Retired This December

“This December, the transition from GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys) to govinfo will be complete with the retirement of the FDsys website. In preparation for the retirement of FDsys in December, the two most important things to know about the transition are the following:

  1. Although the FDsys website is being replaced with the new, modern govinfo website, GPO remains committed to ensuring authenticity, integrity, and long term preservation for more than a million documents in our system. govinfo is simply a new front door to accessing the same authenticated and preserved content that you are used to accessing through the FDsys website.
  2. When the FDsys website is retired in December, any existing links to FDsys, including PURLs, will automatically be redirected by GPO to govinfo. We encourage you to update your website links and references to govinfo as is feasible
  3. More information about the transition is available on govinfo: https://www.govinfo.gov/about#fdsys-transition. Feedback on govinfo is welcome at GPO’s online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/govinfo-feedback-survey.” [via Jaime Hays/GPO]
Categories: Law and Legal

Technical Services Law Librarian September 2018 issue

The September 2018 issue of the Technical Services Law Librarian is now available – “This issue is our annual report of the AALL Annual Meeting, this year held in Baltimore, Maryland. A number of our colleagues took the time and effort to attend, take notes, and then write these reviews…” [via Michael Maben]

Categories: Law and Legal

Inventor of World Wide Web announces project to restore power and agency of individuals on the web

Tim Berners-Lee – via his company, inrupt: “I’ve always believed the web is for everyone. That’s why I and others fight fiercely to protect it. The changes we’ve managed to bring have created a better and more connected world. But for all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas. Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible – and necessary.

This is why I have, over recent years, been working with a few people at MIT and elsewhere to develop Solid, an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web. Solid changes the current model where users have to hand over personal data to digital giants in exchange for perceived value. As we’ve all discovered, this hasn’t been in our best interests. Solid is how we evolve the web in order to restore balance – by giving every one of us complete control over data, personal or not, in a revolutionary way.

Solid is a platform, built using the existing web. It gives every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps you use. It allows you, your family and colleagues, to link and share data with anyone. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time.

Solid unleashes incredible opportunities for creativity, problem-solving and commerce. It will empower individuals, developers and businesses with entirely new ways to conceive, build and find innovative, trusted and beneficial applications and services. I see multiple market possibilities, including Solid apps and Solid data storage…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New Experimental Congress.gov Chrome Browser Extension

In Custodia Legis: “Have you ever found yourself reading a news story about legislation, and wished that you could quickly discover the primary source that the article discusses? With that use case in mind, we are excited to bring you an experimental, open source Google Chrome browser extension that will provide you with enhanced access to Congress.gov from third-party webpages, such as news sites. The extension was created by Syed Tanveer, an intern at the Library of Congress, and it does two things.

1. If you highlight a bill citation on a webpage (ex. H.R.5515), it links the citation to the bill summary landing page in the current legislation collection of Congress.gov.
2. The extension also allows you to highlight text and export it to search against a Congress.gov collection of your choice. For example, you could highlight “John McCain” in a news story, click the “c” in the top, right-hand corner of your browser, and then search that text in the member’s profile page collection in Congress.gov…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Recreation Group Sues Trump Administration For Illegally Restricting Access to Potomac River During President’s Frequent Golf Outings

News release, September 20, 2018 – Democracy Forward: “…on behalf of the Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington DC, Democracy Forward sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for unlawfully restricting access to a key portion of the Potomac River without providing the public with the required notice or opportunity for input, effectively blocking the public’s legal right to access the river during President Trump’s frequent golf trips. When traveling for leisure, past Presidents have generally imposed only temporary and limited restrictions, and these security measures have been individually and publicly documented in the Federal Register.  Under the Trump Administration, however, DHS has broken with this practice, instead issuing a rule creating a “permanent security zone” that cuts off the public’s legal right to use a two-mile stretch of the Potomac River abutting the Trump National Golf Club. The rule has created uncertainty surrounding public use of a popular section of the river while the President is golfing, something he has spent nearly 25 percent of his days in office doing. “It is unconscionable that public access to this important stretch of the Potomac, which serves as a training ground for generations of paddlers, is cast into doubt so the President can play golf at his whim,” said Canoe Cruisers Association Chairman Barbara Brown.  “The Administration needs to listen to the hundreds of river users who opposed this rule, and establish with certainty a reasonable outcome that maintains access to this treasured natural resource while addressing the legitimate security considerations for the President.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

The Biggest Threat to Our Democracy Isn’t Hackers or Fake News. It’s Apathy

Fortune: “The headlines today are filled with talk about outside forces imperiling our democracy. But, the truth is that the biggest threat we are facing is us. It’s the apathy that keeps voters home in droves on Election Day, giving the U.S. one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the developed world. We have been hearing a lot of voices warning about the dangers of indifference lately—and it’s time we started listening. Voting is a hard-won right, a weighty responsibility and an incredible privilege that we too often take for granted here in the U.S. In the 2016 presidential election, 40% of the people eligible to vote stayed home instead. That’s 102 million people who “voted” for apathy, more votes than any other candidate got. As a CEO, if there’s something I can do to ensure our employees get a chance to stand up and be counted, I’m not going to hesitate [the author of this article, Chip Bergh, is president and chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co. and serves on the company’s board of directors.] That’s why this week we’re joining Walmart, Patagonia, PayPal, and other leading companies in the “Time to Vote” campaign, pledging to give our employees paid time off to vote—and we urge others to join us.

The top three reasons that potential voters gave for staying home, according to the Pew Research Center, were that they didn’t like the candidates or issues (25%), they weren’t interested or felt their voice wouldn’t make a difference (15%), and that they were too busy or had a scheduling conflict (11%)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity

‘Show Up With Hope’: Anne Lamott’s Plan for Facing Adversity With Earth beset by conflict, climate change, pollution, and other ills, the best-selling author asks: What better time to be hopeful?

You would almost have to be nuts to be filled with hope in a world so rife with hunger, hatred, climate change, pollution, and pestilence, let alone the self-destructive or severely annoying behavior of certain people, both famous and just down the hall, none of whom we will name by name. Yet I have boundless hope, most of the time. Hope is a sometimes cranky optimism, trust, and confidence that those I love will be OK—that they will come through, whatever life holds in store. Hope is the belief that no matter how dire things look or how long rescue or healing takes, modern science in tandem with people’s goodness and caring will boggle our minds, in the best way. Hope is (for me) not usually the religious-looking fingers of light slanting through the clouds, or the lurid sunrise. It’s more a sturdy garment, like an old chamois shirt: a reminder that I’ve been here before, in circumstances just as frightening, and I came through, and will again. All I have to do is stay grounded in the truth…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Library of Congress National Screening Room

“The National Screening Room showcases the riches of the Library’s vast moving image collection, designed to make otherwise unavailable movies, both copyrighted and in the public domain, freely accessible to the viewers worldwide. The majority of movies in the National Screening Room are freely available as both 5 mb MP4 and ProRes 422 MOV downloads. The National Screening Room is a project of the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. The goal of this digital collection is to present to the widest audience possible movies from the Library’s extensive holdings, offering a broad range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning. These selections are presented as part of the record of the past. They are historical documents which reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these movies, which may contain content offensive to users…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Most Dangerous Place to Bicycle in America Pinellas County, Fla., has highest cyclist death rate in Tampa Bay metro area

WSJ [paywall]: The Most Dangerous Place to Bicycle in America. Pinellas County, Fla., has the highest cyclist death rate in the Tampa Bay metro area—which has the highest rate of any metro region in the U.S.

“…The number of cyclists killed in motor-vehicle crashes nationwide hit 840 in 2016—the most recent data available—according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That was the most since 1991 and a 35% jump from 2010.A range of likely reasons explains the rise in deaths, including more overall vehicular traffic and driver distractions, according to people who track transportation trends. Texting by drivers remains a big problem, said Deborah Hersman, chief executive of the nonprofit National Safety Council. “Almost every state in the country has a texting ban, but we still find drivers are texting behind the wheel,” she said. Alcohol is a factor. In 2015, 22% of fatally injured cyclists, and 12% of drivers in these crashes, had a blood-alcohol content level of at least 0.08, the legal limit for motorists in most states, according to the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association…While cyclist death rates have risen in many states since 2010, the three with the most fatalities since then—Florida, California and Texas—account for about 40% of all cyclist deaths, according to NHTSA, despite having 27% of the nation’s population…” This article includes data, graphics and visualizations that clearly identify the growing danger to cyclists in states and metro areas across the country.

Categories: Law and Legal

The Crisis of Election Security

The New York Times – The Crisis of Election Security. As the midterms approach, America’s electronic voting systems are more vulnerable than ever. Why isn’t anyone trying to fix them?

“…as the 2018 elections approach, the American intelligence community is issuing increasingly dire warnings about potential interference from Russia and other countries, but the voting infrastructure remains largely unchanged. D.H.S. has now conducted remote-scanning and on-site assessments of state and county election systems, but these are still largely Band-Aid measures applied to internet-facing servers. They don’t address core vulnerabilities in voting machines or the systems used to program them. And they ignore the fact that many voting machines that elections officials insist are disconnected from the internet — and therefore beyond the reach of hackers — are in fact accessible by way of the modems they use to transmit vote totals on election night. Add to this the fact that states don’t conduct robust postelection audits — a manual comparison of paper ballots to digital tallies is the best method we have to detect when something has gone wrong in an election — and there’s a good chance we simply won’t know if someone has altered the digital votes in the next election. How did our election system get so vulnerable, and why haven’t officials tried harder to fix it? The answer, ultimately, comes down to politics and money: The voting machines are made by well-connected private companies that wield immense control over their proprietary software, often fighting vigorously in court to prevent anyone from examining it when things go awry. In Ohio in 2004, for example, where John Kerry lost the presidential race following numerous election irregularities, Kerry’s team was denied access to the voting-machine software. “We were told by the court that you were not able to get that algorithm to check it, because it was proprietary information,” Kerry recalled in a recent interview on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show.” He was understandably rueful, arguing how wrong it was that elections are held under “the purview of privately owned machines, where the public doesn’t have the right to know whether the algorithm has been checked or whether they’re hackable or not. And we now know they are hackable.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life

Rand: Truth Decay – An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life: Over the past two decades, national political and civil discourse in the United States has been characterized by “Truth Decay,” defined as a set of four interrelated trends: an increasing disagreement about facts and analytical interpretations of facts and data; a blurring of the line between opinion and fact; an increase in the relative volume, and resulting influence, of opinion and personal experience over fact; and lowered trust in formerly respected sources of factual information. These trends have many causes, but this report focuses on four: characteristics of human cognitive processing, such as cognitive bias; changes in the information system, including social media and the 24-hour news cycle; competing demands on the education system that diminish time spent on media literacy and critical thinking; and polarization, both political and demographic. The most damaging consequences of Truth Decay include the erosion of civil discourse, political paralysis, alienation and disengagement of individuals from political and civic institutions, and uncertainty over national policy. This report explores the causes and consequences of Truth Decay and how they are interrelated, and examines past eras of U.S. history to identify evidence of Truth Decay’s four trends and observe similarities with and differences from the current period. It also outlines a research agenda, a strategy for investigating the causes of Truth Decay and determining what can be done to address its causes and consequences.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Voter Enthusiasm at Record High in Nationalized Midterm Environment

Top voting issues: Supreme Court, health care, economy: “With less than six weeks to go before the elections for Congress, voter enthusiasm is at its highest level during any midterm in more than two decades. And a record share of registered voters – 72% – say the issue of which party controls Congress will be a factor in their vote. Opinions about Donald Trump also continue to be an important consideration for voters. A 60% majority views their midterm vote as an expression of opposition or support toward Trump – with far more saying their midterm vote will be “against” Trump (37%) than “for” him (23%). The new national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted among 1,754 adults, including 1,439 registered voters, finds that the Democrats have several advantages at this point in the campaign. First, Democrats hold a 10-percentage point lead over the Republicans in the generic ballot. About half of registered voters (52%) say if the election were today, they would vote for the Democrat in their district or lean toward the Democratic candidate; 42% say they would support the Republican or lean Republican. In June, the Democrats’ lead in the generic ballot was five percentage points (48% Democratic, 43% Republican)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Children Who Get Less Screen Time Think Better, Study Finds

Keeping your kid’s mind sharp might involve making sure they don’t spend all day on their smartphone or other screen devices, suggests yet more research published this week.

Canadian researchers looked at the first bits of data from a 10-year-long U.S. project meant to study how children’s brains develop over time, called the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study (or more cleverly, the ABCD study).

As part of the project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers across the U.S. interviewed children and their parents about their lifestyle habits. That included how much time they spent exercising, sleeping, and watching screens on an average day. The children also took questionnaires, provided spit samples, and completed puzzles that measured their cognitive functions.

The current study looked at the results from 4,524 children from the ages of 8 to 11 who took part in the ABCD study from September 2016 to 2017.

In Canada, as well as the U.S., doctors generally recommend that kids over the age of 6 spend no more than two hours watching screens a day. But only 37 percent of children in the study met this criterion. And these children, the researchers found, were more likely to score better on their cognitive tests.

The findings were published in Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Categories: Law and Legal

Poverty in America

24/7 Wall St: “Poverty might mean different things in different parts of the world and to different people, but it is largely defined as being unable to afford a minimum standard of living. The United States has come a long way in addressing the problem, but progress seems to have slowed despite the recent years of economic recovery. In many ways, the problem has even escalated. Though the economy has added millions of jobs since the recession ended, many of the jobs created are not the same as jobs that were lost. In many areas, the problem of poverty has worsened during the recovery. Poverty is perhaps the most persistent of problems, with consequences that can span a lifetime, be transferred across generations, and loom in the minds of individuals and families living at the edge of poverty.”

Click here to see how poverty is measured.
Click here to see alternative measures of poverty.
Click here to see root causes of poverty.
Click here to see who lives in poverty.
Click here to see what it means to live in poverty.
Click here to see solutions.

Categories: Law and Legal

Office of Legal Counsel Publishes New “Secret Law” Opinions

POGO: “The Justice Department’s little-known but powerful Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) has published the titles and text of four previously withheld opinions as part of a larger release of opinions on its website. The release, which occurred on July 5 and has not been reported until now, came after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal from the Project On Government Oversight that OLC formally replied to last week. The most surprising part of the newly published opinions is how utterly unworthy of redaction they ever were. “After carefully considering your appeal, and as a result of discussions between OLC personnel and this Office, I am releasing additional portions of one page to you,” wrote a Justice Department official who handled POGO’s appeal. POGO sought the names, dates, and authors of five out of seven unclassified OLC opinions issued in the first half of 2017. POGO had obtained a one-page list of opinions, but information for these five opinions was originally redacted. The Justice Department released a new list revealing information about four of the five opinions; however, the name and author of one OLC opinion, issued shortly before the end of the Obama Administration, remains redacted…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying

59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, and a similar share says it’s a major problem for people their age. “At the same time, teens mostly think teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at addressing this issue. Name-calling and rumor-spreading have long been an unpleasant and challenging aspect of adolescent life. But the proliferation of smartphones and the rise of social media has transformed where, when and how bullying takes place. A new Pew Research Center survey finds that 59% of U.S. teens have personally experienced at least one of six types of abusive online behaviors. The most common type of harassment youth encounter online is name-calling. Some 42% of teens say they have been called offensive names online or via their cellphone. Additionally, about a third (32%) of teens say someone has spread false rumors about them on the internet, while smaller shares have had someone other than a parent constantly ask where they are, who they’re with or what they’re doing (21%) or have been the target of physical threats online (16%). While texting and digital messaging are a central way teens build and maintain relationships, this level of connectivity may lead to potentially troubling and nonconsensual exchanges. One-quarter of teens say they have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for, while 7% say someone has shared explicit images of them without their consent. These experiences are particularly concerning to parents. Fully 57% of parents of teens say they worry about their teen receiving or sending explicit images, including about one-quarter who say this worries them a lot, according to a separate Center survey of parents…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Reliable Are the Memories of Sexual Assault Victims?

Scientific American – The expert testimony excluded from the Kavanaugh hearing [Editorial note by SA: If Jim Hopper had been permitted to provide his expert testimony at the September 27, 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation, these would have been his remarks.]

“Incomplete memories of sexual assault, including those with huge gaps, are understandable—if we learn the basics of how memory works and we genuinely listen to survivors….As an expert witness, I review videos and transcripts of investigative interviews. It’s like using a microscope to examine how people recall—and don’t recall—parts of their assault experiences. I’ve seen poorly trained police officers not only fail to collect vital details, but actually worsen memory gaps and create inconsistences. Ignorance of how memory works is a major reason why sexual assault is the easiest violent crime to get away with, across our country and around the world…

Most important of all, when it comes to what will remain stored in our brains, is this: How emotionally activated, stressed, or terrified we were during the experience. Decades of research have shown that stress and trauma increase the differential storage of central over peripheral details…Whether it’s an enemy ambush in an alley or a sexual assault in a bedroom, our brain will encode and retain what were—for us, moment-by-moment as the attack unfolded – the central details of our experience. Seeing an enemy suddenly appear and fire at us from 10 feet away, and fearing we will die. Struggling to breath with a hand over our face, and fearing we will die…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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