Law and Legal
“The number of unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in more than a decade, according to new Pew Research Center estimates based on 2016 government data. The decline is due almost entirely to a sharp decrease in the number of Mexicans entering the country without authorization. But the Mexican border remains a pathway for entry by growing numbers of unauthorized immigrants from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Because of them, Central America was the only birth region accounting for more U.S. unauthorized immigrants in 2016 than in 2007. There were 10.7 million unauthorized immigrants living in the U.S. in 2016, down from a peak of 12.2 million in 2007, according to the new estimates. The total is the lowest since 2004. It is tied to a decline of 1.5 million people in the number of Mexican unauthorized immigrants from 2007 to 2016. Nevertheless, Mexico remains the country of origin for 5.4 million unauthorized immigrants, or roughly half of the U.S. total…”
ProPublica – “In our final installment of the User’s Guide to Democracy, we asked a live panel of congressional experts to help you stay engaged in politics after the midterms have ended. Congress Works For You. Here’s How to Be a Better Boss.” [h/t Pete Weiss]
“You did it! In this month’s midterm election, you and a whole lot of your fellow voters turned out to the polls to make your voices heard. But you’re not done yet. Voting is just the beginning! The User’s Guide to Democracy has always wanted to help you become not only a more informed voter, but also a more engaged citizen. So, with the winners declared, how do you get your elected representatives in Washington to listen to your voice now? At a live event on Nov. 13 with the New York Public Library, Derek Willis (my colleague here at ProPublica) and Paul Kane (an ace Congressional reporter for The Washington Post) tackled this question with the help of a panel of Capitol Hill insiders. The event, called “Irregular Order: How Congress Really Works,” was moderated by comedian/actor/writer Wyatt Cenac…”
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – 2018 The State of Food and Nutrition in the World: “For the third year in a row, there has been a rise in world hunger. The absolute number of undernourished people, i.e. those facing chronic food deprivation, has increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016. These are levels from almost a decade ago. The share of undernourished people in the world population – the prevalence of undernourishment, or PoU – may have reached 10.9 percent in 2017. Persistent instability in conflict-ridden regions, adverse climate events in many regions of the world and economic slowdowns that have affected more peaceful regions and worsened the food security, all help to explain this deteriorating situation. The situation is worsening in South America and most regions of Africa . Africa remains the continent with the highest PoU, affecting almost 21 percent of the population (more than 256 million people). The situation is also deteriorating in South America, where the PoU has increased from 4.7 percent in 2014 to a projected 5.0 percent in 2017. Asia’s decreasing trend in undernourishment seems to be slowing down significantly. The projected PoU for Asia in 2017 is 11.4 percent, which represents more than 515 million people. Without increased efforts, the world will fall far short of achieving the SDG target of eradicating hunger by 2030…”
“Teens credit social media for helping to build stronger friendships and exposing them to a more diverse world, but they express concern that these sites lead to drama and social pressure. Amid growing concern over social media’s impact and influence on today’s youth, a new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. teens finds that many young people acknowledge the unique challenges – and benefits – of growing up in the digital age. Today, social media use is nearly universal among teens. While notable shares say they at times feel overwhelmed by the drama on social media and pressure to construct only positive images of themselves, they simultaneously credit these online platforms with several positive outcomes – including strengthening friendships, exposing them to different viewpoints and helping people their age support causes they care about. Roughly eight-in-ten teens ages 13 to 17 (81%) say social media makes them feel more connected to what’s going on in their friends’ lives, while around two-thirds say these platforms make them feel as if they have people who will support them through tough times. And by relatively substantial margins, teens tend to associate their social media use with positive rather than negative emotions, such as feeling included rather than excluded (71% vs. 25%) or feeling confident rather than insecure (69% vs. 26%).
Young people also believe social media helps teens become more civically minded and exposes them to greater diversity – either through the people they interact with or the viewpoints they come across. Roughly two-thirds of teens say these sites help people their age interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds, find different points of view or show their support for causes or issues. And they see digital environments as important spaces for youth to connect with their friends and interact with others who share similar interests. For example, 60% of teens say they spend time with their friends online on a daily or nearly daily basis, and 77% say they ever spend time in online groups and forums…”
“Understanding Great Works (Beta) is a free research tool from JSTOR Labs that fosters student engagement with classic literature by connecting passages in primary texts with journal articles and book chapters on JSTOR that cite those lines. Building on the success of the Understanding Shakespeare tool, Understanding Great Works encompasses several key works of British literature such as Frankenstein and Pride and Prejudice, the King James Bible, as well as all Shakespeare sonnets and plays. These initial texts have been selected in collaboration with Studies in English Literature and JSTOR Labs plans to add new ones monthly; we invite you to vote for the texts you’d like to see next. Understanding Great Works is a powerful starting point for research within the primary source; the tool makes it easy to find academic analysis for literary texts and encourages close reading. The literary texts are open access on JSTOR, but an institutional or individual access account may be required to view the full text of the linked journal articles and book chapters.
Understanding Great Works is integrated on the JSTOR platform and easily accessible from the “Tools” menu on the top of each page. The tool is being released in a beta status, which indicates that the tool is publicly available but we are actively testing and updating the features. A companion LibGuide is also available. If you experience any problems with the site or have feedback, we encourage you to contact us at email@example.com.”
The New York Times – “Today, China has the world’s only internet companies that can match America’s in ambition and reach. It is years ahead of the United States in replacing paper money with smartphone payments, turning tech giants into vital gatekeepers of the consumer economy. And it is host to a supernova of creative expression — in short videos, podcasts, blogs and streaming TV — that ought to dispel any notions of Chinese culture as drearily conformist. All this, on a patch of cyberspace that is walled off from Facebook and Google, policed by tens of thousands of censors and subject to strict controls on how data is collected, stored and shared. China’s leaders like the internet they have created. And now, they want to direct the nation’s talent and tech acumen toward an even loftier end: building an innovation-driven economy, one that produces world-leading companies.
“…But in some ways Chinese tech firms are less fettered than American ones. Witness the backlash against Big Data in the United States, the calls to break up giants like Facebook and the anxiety about digital addiction. None of those are big problems for Chinese companies. In China, there is pretty much only one rule, and it is simple: Don’t undermine the state. So titans like Weibo and Baidu heed censorship orders. Unwanted beliefs and ideologies are kept out…”
ADL – “Books Matter. Books have the potential to create lasting impressions. They have the power to instill empathy, affirm children’s sense of self, teach about others, transport to new places and inspire actions on behalf of social justice.” Users may search the more than 750 recommended books, as well as browse using these topics:
- Ability, Disability & Ableism
- Bias, Discrimination & Hate
- Bullying Awareness & Prevention
- Gender & Sexism
- Genocide & Holocaust
- Jewish Culture & Anti-Semitism
- LGBTQ People & Homophobia/Heterosexism
- People, Identity & Culture
- Race & Racism
- Religion & Religious Bigotry
- Social Justice
“In a 1995 interview with Linton Weeks of the Washington Post, the Howard University librarian, collector and self-described “bibliomaniac” Dorothy Porter reflected on the focus of her 43-year career: “The only rewarding thing for me is to bring to light information that no one knows. What’s the point of rehashing the same old thing?” For Porter, this mission involved not only collecting and preserving a wide range of materials related to the global black experience, but also addressing how these works demanded new and specific qualitative and quantitative approaches in order to collect, assess, and catalog them…All of the libraries that Porter consulted for guidance relied on the Dewey Decimal Classification. “Now in [that] system, they had one number—326—that meant slavery, and they had one other number—325, as I recall it—that meant colonization,” she explained in her oral history. In many “white libraries,” she continued, “every book, whether it was a book of poems by James Weldon Johnson, who everyone knew was a black poet, went under 325. And that was stupid to me.”
Consequently, instead of using the Dewey system, Porter classified works by genre and author to highlight the foundational role of black people in all subject areas, which she identified as art, anthropology, communications, demography, economics, education, geography, history, health, international relations, linguistics, literature, medicine, music, political science, sociology, sports, and religion. This Africana approach to cataloging was very much in line with the priorities of the Harlem Renaissance, as described by Howard University professor Alain Locke in his period-defining essay of 1925, “Enter the New Negro.” Heralding the death of the “Old Negro” as an object of study and a problem for whites to manage, Locke proclaimed, “It is time to scrap the fictions, garret the bogeys and settle down to a realistic facing of facts.” Scholarship from a black perspective, Locke argued, would combat racist stereotypes and false narratives while celebrating the advent of black self-representation in art and politics. Porter’s classification system challenged racism where it was produced by centering work by and about black people within scholarly conversations around the world…”
Jewel, Lucille A., Silencing Discipline in Legal Education (April 6, 2018). University of Toledo Law Review, Vol. 49, 2018. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3271967
“In current times, the production of critical legal knowledge has become constrained by a neoliberal education mindset that emphasizes economic performance and measured outcomes over critical thought. In this essay, I argue that academic freedom, in the sense of being free to speak, write, and teach critical knowledge, both in the intellectual sense and in the law practice sense, is being eroded. And, I urge my critically minded colleagues that are traditional law scholars (tenure-track or tenured) to consider the circumstances of law teachers who currently do not have the protections of tenure but who generate valuable knowledge, particularly in the realm of teaching critical common-law analysis and lawyering skills. Together, we should oppose further encroachments of neoliberal rationality into legal education. This is a matter of reform, but it is also a matter of protecting our voice.”
A true apology consists of a sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing, a show of empathic remorse for why you wronged and the harm it caused and a promise of restitution by improving ones actions to make things right. Without the follow-through, saying sorry isn’t an apology, it’s a hollow ploy for forgiveness. That’s the kind of “sorry” we’re getting from tech giants — an attempt to quell bad PR and placate the afflicted, often without the systemic change necessary to prevent repeated problems. Sometimes it’s delivered in a blog post. Sometimes it’s in an executive apology tour of media interviews. But rarely is it in the form of change to the underlying structures of a business that caused the issue. Unfortunately, tech company business models often conflict with the way we wish they would act. We want more privacy, but they thrive on targeting and personalization data. We want control of our attention, but they subsist on stealing as much of it as possible with distraction while showing us ads. We want safe, ethically built devices that don’t spy on us, but they make their margins by manufacturing them wherever’s cheap with questionable standards of labor and oversight. We want groundbreaking technologies to be responsibly applied, but juicy government contracts and the allure of China’s enormous population compromise their morals. And we want to stick to what we need and what’s best for us, but they monetize our craving for the latest status symbol or content through planned obsolescence and locking us into their platforms…”
Ars Technica – Joshua Tauberer – Washington DC has made GitHub the authoritative digital source for DC laws. “Recently, I found a typo in the District of Columbia’s legal code and corrected it using GitHub. My feat highlights the groundbreaking way the District manages its legal code. As a member of the DC Mayor’s Open Government Advisory Group, I was researching the law that establishes DC’s office of open government, which issues regulations and advisory opinions for the District’s open meetings law (OMA) and open records law (FOIA). The law was updated last month, and something seemed to have changed: there was no longer a reference to issuing advisory opinions for FOIA. Comparing the DC Code to the act that made the change, I noticed that something was amiss in section (d):..”
Via Secrecy News – “It is hard even for attentive members of the public to fully comprehend the U.S. military budget. “The scale of spending alone makes it hard to grasp. Public understanding of the costs of war is further limited by secrecy, faulty accounting, and the deferral of current costs,” I argued recently in a short paper for the Costs of War Project at Brown University. See The Costs of War: Obstacles to Public Understanding, November 14, 2018.
- Neta C. Crawford of Brown University estimated the post-9/11 costs of war at $5.9 trillion through FY 2019.
Via Secrecy News: “Several short introductions to basic aspects of U.S. military policy have recently been updated by the Congressional Research Service. Intended for congressional consumers, they may also be useful to others.”
- Defense Primer: Organization of U.S. Ground Forces, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018
- Defense Primer: Special Operations Forces, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018
- Defense Primer: Navigating the NDAA, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018
- Defense Primer: Defense Appropriations Process, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018
- Defense Primer: Department of the Army and Army Command Structure, CRS In Focus, updated November 16, 2018
Inc. Justin Bariso – “Uber’s new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, has been on the job only a matter of weeks, but a recent email to employees is proof positive that he’s the right man for the job. Yesterday, government officials in London announced that they would not be renewing Uber’s license to operate in the city. Shortly thereafter, Uber announced its intent to appeal the decision. Uber’s chief executive responded to the news with a remarkable email to employees. You can find Khosrowshahi’s entire message at the end of this article, but it’s the following piece that stuck out to me as especially noteworthy:
While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I’ve learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it’s worth examining how we got here. The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.
In just a few short sentences, Uber’s new leader teaches some major lessons in emotional intelligence. What’s EQ Got to Do With It? Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify emotions (in both yourself and others), to recognize the powerful effects of those emotions, and to use that information to inform and guide behavior. In essence, it’s the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you. Uber’s new CEO follows what I refer to in my forthcoming book as one of the 10 commandments of emotional intelligence: the ability to learn from other perspectives. A lesser-skilled leader may have seen the London transportation authority’s decision as unfair, insulting, maybe even a direct attack on innovation itself. (In fact, previous actions by Uber seem to flaunt the positions of regulatory authorities.)..”
“In Academic Year 2018-19, Stanford Libraries will host the speaker series, “Information, Intelligent Machines, and New Knowledge.”The series will begin in autumn with the “Discovery Sessions,” a series of presentations and discussions oriented to work going on within libraries to address the rapidly changing digital information landscape. The sessions are an exploration of artificial intelligence, digital infrastructure, and digital interfaces to improve information access and discovery in libraries and archives. The series will demonstrate applications of AI to search and discovery, metadata enrichment, and digitization. The session will be one hour and consist of a 30 minute talk + 30 minutes of Q&A, including questions from remote participants. The Discovery Sessions will be recorded and distributed widely
- The first Discovery Session took place on October 29, 2018 with Nicole Coleman of the Stanford Libraries speaking on Library-Inspired Artificial Intelligence. For information about future Discovery Sessions, click here.
- The second Discovery Session took place on November 26, 2018 with Ruggero Gramatica, CEO of Yewno – How AI will change libraries – via YouTube.
Krebs on Security – “Maybe you were once advised to “look for the padlock” as a means of telling legitimate e-commerce sites from phishing or malware traps. Unfortunately, this has never been more useless advice. New research indicates that half of all phishing scams are now hosted on Web sites whose Internet address includes the padlock and begins with “https://”. Recent data from anti-phishing company PhishLabs shows that 49 percent of all phishing sites in the third quarter of 2018 bore the padlock security icon next to the phishing site domain name as displayed in a browser address bar. That’s up from 25 percent just one year ago, and from 35 percent in the second quarter of 2018. This alarming shift is notable because a majority of Internet users have taken the age-old “look for the lock” advice to heart, and still associate the lock icon with legitimate sites. A PhishLabs survey conducted last year found more than 80% of respondents believed the green lock indicated a website was either legitimate and/or safe.
In reality, the https:// part of the address (also called “Secure Sockets Layer” or SSL) merely signifies the data being transmitted back and forth between your browser and the site is encrypted and can’t be read by third parties. The presence of the padlock does not mean the site is legitimate, nor is it any proof the site has been security-hardened against intrusion from hackers…”
General Motors, Sears and Toys R Us: Layoffs across America highlight our shredding financial safety net
NBC News – Millions of Americans are in danger of entering their final decades unable to afford ballooning medical bills and cost-of-living expenses. “Today’s aging workforce faces an uncertain future. The announcement this week that General Motors will lay off 15 percent of its salaried workforce and shutter multiple plants in North America was a sobering reminder of how far the American worker has fallen. Unlike most large private sector corporations today, thousands of employees at GM still enjoy some union benefits. The company has reportedly set aside $2 billion for layoffs and buyouts. It’s not much, but it’s something — many workers, if they are laid off en masse, will be far less lucky.
Some older Americans are lucky enough to have been grandfathered into generous pension plans and others hope social security and personal savings will be enough to sustain themselves. But for millions of younger people, the outlook is bleaker — an ever-diminishing social safety net, with retirement dependent almost entirely on how well they manage savings. Two-thirds of millennials have nothing saved for retirement…”
Motherboard – “Meeting the goals set in the 2015 Paris Accord is arguably impossible, according to data from a new UN report. The Emissions Gap report, published on Tuesday, says that while carbon emissions stayed relatively level between 2014 and 2016, carbon emissions in 2017 went up by 1.2 percent. Composed by climate scientists using the most up-to-date scientific data, the report aims to determine whether we’re on track to meet the goals set by international climate agreements, such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord. The “emissions gap” is the difference between how low our emissions need to be, and where they actually are. The UN report concludes that the world isn’t hitting the emissions targets necessary to curb warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. While the goal is not impossible, it’s unlikely to be met under current political conditions, which have rendered us unable to take significant action against climate change for more than half a century.
“According to the current policy and [Nationally Determined Contributions] scenarios, global emissions are not estimated to peak by 2030, let alone by 2020,” the report reads. “As the emissions gap assessment shows, this original level of ambition needs to be roughly tripled for the 2°C scenario and increased around fivefold for the 1.5°C scenario.”
Variety – “YouTube has concluded that its investments in original programming should have a home on the free, ad-supported side — not just tucked behind a paywall. In a shift in strategy, the Google-owned video platform said that starting next year it will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions. Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis.
“As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase,” a YouTube rep said in a statement. “This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation.”
America’s Concentration Crisis – An Open Markets Institute Report – “Monopoly power is all around us: as consumers, business owners, employees, entrepreneurs, and citizens. When we purchase everything from washing machines to groceries, website domains to medical supplies, and even when we select a coffin for a recently deceased loved one, we are constrained by the small set of actors who increasingly control America’s commerce. Due to extreme concentrations of wealth and political power, our country is experiencing severe economic inequality, stagnant household income, the collapse of business formation and innovation, and historic levels of political polarization. This report shows that such concentration is not unique to one or two economic sectors. It is persistent across a diverse range of industries. And it is often even more extreme in a regional, rather than national, context. As the charts also illustrate, monopolistic corporations often present themselves as champions of consumer choice. But while it may appear as though there are endless brands to choose from online and on the shelf, most are owned by a few large parent companies, the array of labels a mere façade creating the illusion of abundant options. Locating data on how few companies control individual markets, though, has long been difficult, and not by accident. Although Americans used anti-monopoly policies throughout much of the 20th century to preserve competition, a shift in ideology in the late 1970s allowed increased monopolization across the economy. To shield this pro-corporate turn from the public, the government halted the collection and publication of industry concentration data in 1981.
To remedy this gap in public knowledge, Open Markets purchased extensive, up-to-date industry intelligence from IBISWorld, a team of analysts who collect economic and market data, with the intention of releasing the information regarding industry concentration to the public. Our hope is that these startling numbers will accelerate action to re-establish the choice, competition, and liberty upon which our democracy depends.”