Law and Legal
In Custodia Legis – “Earlier this month, Andrew shared the update to our committee schedule page, which launched in January 2019. With this month’s second release, we have enhanced the navigation of member profile pages. When viewing a bill or resolution on a member profile page, you can use the navigation arrows to move from the next or previous item in the list without having to return to the profile page. New Enhancements for May 2019, Part 2 – Please find the full list of enhancements below…”
The Hill: “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found that chemicals linked to cancer are showing up in milk, meat, produce and even store-made chocolate cakes sold in the U.S., according to an agency study that has not yet been made public. Aspects of the study, presented last week at a scientific conference in Helsinki found the class of chemicals, abbreviated as PFAS, present in a number of other food products. PFAS are often referred to as “forever chemicals” because of the time it takes them to break down. The FDA said it plans to publicly release the findings after details of the study were leaked to The Hill and other U.S. media outlets by environmental groups. “I’m not sure why they released it there and not in the U.S., but I’m just glad it’s out,” said Tom Neltner, chemicals policy director with the Environmental Defense Fund, one of the groups that released the information.
The FDA confirmed the contents of the leaked report. The chemicals in question are used in a staggering number of products including food packaging. Some states have banned packaging that’s made with the chemicals, citing research that shows they can transfer to food items. PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along with high cholesterol and other illnesses. The FDA’s research showed that water contaminated with PFAS likely ends up in the food supply. Fourteen of 91 samples taken by the agency contained the chemicals, while almost half of all meat and seafood samples tested positive. PFAS has been found in the water supply near military bases, airports that often use firefighting foam and factories that manufacture products with PFAS…”
Ever wonder if all of the LinkedIn profiles that boast comprehensive expertise, outstanding performance, and enviable recommendations…are well, real? – Fake LinkedIn Profiles Are Impossible to Detect: “Don’t trust everything you see on LinkedIn. We created a fake LinkedIn profile with a fake job at a real company. Our fake profile garnered the attention of a Google recruiter and gained over 170 connections and 100 skill endorsements. Everyone is talking about fake accounts on Facebook and fake followers on Twitter. LinkedIn hasn’t been part of the conversation, but Microsoft’s social network also has a big problem…[Note – this article is a must read – I had no idea that it was so easy to create fake LinkedIn profiles with what appear to be actual work histories, connections and bona fides…]
Venture Beat: “Mozilla today announced a slew of privacy improvements. The company has turned on Enhanced Tracking Protection, which blocks cookies from third-party trackers in Firefox, by default. Mozilla has also improved its Facebook Container extension, released a Firefox desktop extension for its rebranded Lockwise password keeper, and updated Firefox Monitor with a dashboard for multiple email addresses.
But Enhanced Tracking Protection is the big one. Mozilla added basic Tracking Protection to Firefox 42’s private browsing mode in November 2015. The feature blocked website elements (ads, analytics trackers, and social share buttons) based on Disconnect‘s tracking protection rules. With the release of Firefox 57 in November 2017, Mozilla added an option to enable Tracking Protection outside of private browsing. (Tracking Protection was not turned on by default because it can break websites and cut off revenue streams for content creators who depend on third-party advertising.)..
If you download a fresh copy of Firefox today, Enhanced Tracking Protection will be on by default as part of the Standard setting. That means third-party tracking cookies are blocked without users having to change a thing. You will notice Enhanced Tracking Protection working if there is a shield icon in the address bar. If you click on the shield icon and open the Content Blocking section and then Cookies, you’ll see a Blocking Tracking Cookies section. There you can see the companies listed as third-party cookies and trackers that Firefox has blocked. You can also turn off blocking for a specific site…”
Face Recognition Technology: DOJ and FBI Have Taken Some Actions in Response to GAO Recommendations to Ensure Privacy
Face Recognition Technology: DOJ and FBI Have Taken Some Actions in Response to GAO Recommendations to Ensure Privacy and Accuracy, But Additional Work Remains. GAO-19-579T: Published: Jun 4, 2019. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 2019.
“The FBI’s face recognition office can now search databases with more than 641 million photos, including 21 state databases. In a May 2016 report, we found the FBI hadn’t fully adhered to privacy laws and policies or done enough to ensure accuracy of its face recognition capabilities. This testimony is an update on this work and our 6 recommendations, only one of which has been fully addressed. For example, while the FBI has conducted audits to oversee the use of its face recognition capabilities, it still hasn’t taken steps to determine whether state database searches are accurate enough to support law enforcement investigations…”
Hint – The US is 23rd: “Nine of the 10 best OECD countries for working women are in Europe, and two of the top three are in the Nordics. And although there is progress being made in other parts of the world to close the gender equality gap, there is still a lot of work to be done. This is according to the PwC Women in Work Index 2019, which identified a gradual improvement across the OECD for female economic empowerment…The two top spots are unchanged, with Iceland’s position as the top performer strengthened by an increase in female labour force participation and a fall in the female unemployment rate. One reason for Sweden’s consistently high performance is its progressive parental leave legislation, which actively encourages men to use their statutory time off. The rest of the top 10 is made of countries you would most likely expect to find among the best performers. All the Nordic countries are there, for example, but Norway was knocked out of the top five by Slovenia, which saw a rising number of women in work. New Zealand, the only non-European OECD country in the top 10, sits in third place – its highest ever placing in the index. Luxembourg and Poland also made significant improvements, through narrowing the gender pay gap and a large reduction in the female unemployment rate, respectively…”
The US government pushed back on a lawsuit by BuzzFeed News that seeks the Mueller report in its entirety: “The Department of Justice told a federal court judge that it cannot disclose any redacted parts of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report without harming ongoing national security investigations and other sensitive matters. BuzzFeed News and the advocacy group the Electronic Privacy Information Center are suing the government for the full report into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including the passages of the report that were blacked out when Attorney General William Barr released it to the public on April 18. (In addition, BuzzFeed News filed separate lawsuits for other documents from the special counsel’s office.)
In response to those lawsuits, a 47-page declaration, submitted by Justice Department attorney Vanessa Brinkman, sheds new light about details hidden behind the redactions. For instance, the government has refused to identify some of the Facebook groups used by Russian officials to push propaganda during the campaign. If the government released the names of the groups, the new declaration argued, it would unfairly out unsuspecting Americans who joined the groups and were tricked by Russia’s effort. Brinkman also wrote that in a handful of cases, the Justice Department had previously cited the wrong reasons for redactions in Mueller’s original report. Those passages remain blacked out, but the exemptions supporting them have changed. The government also told the court that parts of the document must remain secret to protect ongoing criminal and national security investigations and internal discussions by Mueller’s team. Those discussions offer “detailed explanations of the basis for the decisions made by the Special Counsel to pursue indictments in some instances, and not to pursue charges in others.”..
Vice – The climate change analysis was written by a former fossil fuel executive and backed by the former chief of Australia’s military. “A harrowing scenario analysis of how human civilization might collapse in coming decades due to climate change has been endorsed by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander. The analysis, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia, describes climate change as “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” and sets out a plausible scenario of where business-as-usual could lead over the next 30 years…”
The paper argues that the potentially “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are often far more probable than conventionally assumed, but almost impossible to quantify because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.” On our current trajectory, the report warns, “planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”
National Park Typeface: “I had trekked pretty far that day and wasn’t exactly lost, but I needed a little reassurance that I was heading the right direction when I came across one of those ubiquitous signs you see in a national park. You know the ones that have the text carved or “routed” into it. Entering Rocky Mountain National Park. I saw those familiar words. Set “National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior” — style. I wondered if it actually was a typeface or “font” that anyone could download and use? Do park rangers have this as a typeface on their computers to set in their word docs, pdfs and power point slides? I had a sketchbook with me and took some rubbings of the letterforms and asked my friend Miles Barger, the Visual Information Specialist for Rocky, if he had the typeface. He asked the sign shop. No one has it? Turns out it isn’t a typeface at all but a system of paths, points and curves that a router follows. The router’s “bit” follows the path and gives the letters its stroke weight or thickness only when engraving a sign. It doesn’t really exist as a typeface unless a sign is made.
Via LLRX – Casetext’s New ‘SmartCite’ Citator Is Its Clever Answer to Shepard’s and KeyCite – Robert Ambrogi writes – “Knowing whether a case is good law is elemental to legal research. To do this, lawyers have long relied on citator services such as Shepard’s from LexisNexis and KeyCite from Westlaw. Now, the legal research service Casetext has introduced a citator of its own, called SmartCite, with many of the features you would expect to find in a citator, plus some that make it unique.”
The Version Museum “is devoted to showcasing the visual history of popular websites, games, apps, and operating systems that have shaped our lives. Merriam-Webster defines the word museum as: An institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value. Certainly the technology we use everyday is both interesting and highly valuable! Much like walking through a real-life museum, Version Museum aims to illustrate the visual, tangible elements of various versions of technology, rather than just the written history behind it. Wikipedia and other sites already do a fantastic job of detailing the story behind websites, apps, and everything else.
This site focuses on observable changes over time. If you’re a longtime user of a certain product, there’s probably going to be some nostalgia as you look at all the previous iterations of it over the years. This site displays images of a given topic in (mostly) chronological order, starting from the earliest time feasible. All the images are credited when possible. We search for images from the original time period, and use them if they are available. Unfortunately, many of these old images are of poor quality and resolution, and end up looking awful on high-quality modern displays. So for image clarity and quality, many website images are created using the Wayback Machine at web.archive.org. This tool is indispensable for looking back into earlier days of the world wide web. Unfortunately, the images generated from archive.org in modern browsers aren’t 100% faithful to the original way the website would be rendered and viewed in the older browsers of the 1990’s and 2000’s. The fonts, resolutions, and layouts are different. However, in our view, the tradeoff is worth it to get high-quality images that are mostly representative of what the website used to look like…”
The New York Times – Some Democrats say opening an impeachment inquiry could help the House overcome the president’s blockade of its investigations. But others say that could backfire politically. “Liberal House Democrats, struggling to combat President Trump’s stonewalling of congressional oversight, have come out by the dozen in recent days to endorse a new strategy to secure the information that they say they need: opening an impeachment inquiry. Supporters of an inquiry argue that they are not necessarily seeking the president’s ouster but instead are pursuing a legal strategy — warranted by the stakes — to try to break Mr. Trump’s blockade of nearly every document and witness that Democrats have requested since the release of the redacted report by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in April. Opening an investigation, they say, could increase Democratic chances of winning court orders to require compliance with House subpoenas. But others are wary, saying it would be politically risky; impeachment implies an effort to remove the president from office, and Mr. Trump is primed to try to exploit any such effort politically. On Thursday, he called impeachment a “dirty, filthy, disgusting word.” Here’s what you need to know about how impeachment inquiries work….”
An interactive glossary of the acronyms, slang, and terminology of the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology industry. “The Book of Jargon® – Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Technology is one in a series of practice area and industry-specific glossaries published by Latham & Watkins. The definitions provide an introduction to each term and may raise complex legal issues on which specific legal advice is required. The terms are also subject to change as applicable laws and customary practice evolve.
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CRS Legal Sidebar – Enforcing Federal Privacy Law—Constitutional Limitations on Private Rights of Action, May 31, 2019: “Over the last two years, the prospect of a comprehensive federal data privacy law has been the subject of considerable attention in the press and in Congress. Some Members of Congress and outside groups have developed many proposals in the last six months alone. Some of the proposed legislation would limit companies’ ability to use personal information collected online, require that companies protect customers from data breaches, provide certain disclosures about their use of personal information, or allow users to opt out of certain data practices. Some proposals combine all of those elements or take still different approaches.
One overarching question that every data privacy proposal raises is how to enforce any new federal rights or obligations that a given bill would impose. One traditional method of enforcement would be by a federal agency, such as the Federal Trade Commission or Department of Justice, through civil penalties or criminal liability. A bill could also provide for enforcement in civil lawsuits brought by State Attorney Generals. Along with these methods, several outside commentator shave recently called for any new federal privacy legislation to include a federal private right of action—a right that would allow individuals aggrieved by violations of the law to file lawsuits against violators in order to obtain money damages in federal court. At least one bill proposed in Congress includes such a right: the Privacy Bill of Rights Act, S. 1214.
Such proposals for judicial enforcement by individual lawsuits must necessarily tangle with the constitutional limits on when federal courts can hear such claims. This Sidebar considers how the lower courts have addressed such questions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2016 decision in Spokeo v. Robins. As is discussed in detail below, these cases reveals some common principles on the limits of federal justiciability that might inform Congress’s efforts to craft a private right of action in the data privacy context…”
CRS In Focus – Israel and the Palestinians: Chronology of a Two-State Solution, May 31, 2019. “The idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict developed gradually in the years after Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. This product highlights the evolution of thisi dea. In 2002, U.S. policy became explicitly supportive of creating a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Since then,unsuccessful negotiating efforts and other developments have led many observers to doubt the viability of a two-state solution. These doubts have grown during the Trump Administration amid speculation that the plan the Administration has pledged to release may use economic measures to elicit Palestinian concessions on core issues of dispute with Israelis (security, borders, settlements, Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees),without specifically calling for an independent Palestinian state….”
NBER – “Non-college-educated workers in cities are far less likely to work in middle-skill occupations than in the past, and the urban wage premium has sharply eroded. American cities have historically been centers of opportunity, beckoning workers from elsewhere with the promise of economic mobility. In Work of the Past, Work of the Future (NBER Working Paper No. 25588), David Autor concludes that’s a promise cities may no longer be able to keep. He finds that non-college-educated workers in cities are far less likely to work in middle-skill occupations than in the past. What’s more, their shift into low-skilled jobs has come with a steep decline in the wage premium that urban centers once offered.
The hollowing out of middle-skill jobs has remade labor markets across the United States, leaving behind mostly low-skill, low-paid jobs on the one hand and high-skill, highly remunerated jobs on the other. Autor examines this job polarization on a geographic basis, yielding a new finding: Polarization has been far more pronounced in urban than in suburban or rural labor markets. The impact of job polarization on urban markets alone has been a key part of the secular fall in wages over the past four decades for workers without a college degree.
Autor identifies three mechanisms through which the drop in wages for non-college workers has occurred. Occupational polarization has shunted non-college workers from middle-skill jobs, such as clerical or factory work, into traditionally low-paid jobs that require little specialized training, for example in the retail and hospitality sectors. Second, because occupational polarization has been much more pronounced in dense urban areas than in suburbs and rural areas, it has differentially diminished the fraction of non-college workers holding middle-skilled jobs in high-wage cities. Finally, and as a result, job polarization has unwound the wage premium for non-college workers residing in cities. This premium prevailed in the decades following World War II….”
ADP Research Institute – 2019 State of the Workforce Report – “The first annual State of the Workforce Report provides decision makers with organizational benchmarks to compare against their own internal HR statistics. Employers and decision makers can gain a better understanding of the hierarchical structure of organizations, pay levels, how pay and promotions are connected and how employers retain workers throughout their organizations.
- Males and females show significant disparities across pay and organizational hierarchies – Gender differences across hierarchy levels show that the proportion of women in senior level positions is significantly lower than that of men. This pattern was evident across all industries and intensifies up the corporate ladder. A “glass ceiling” was evident at the 4th hierarchy level which showed the steepest decline in the representation of women across the levels….
- A comparison of promotion rates over a one-year period against the proportion of new hires reveals that firms are more confident in promoting from within versus hiring externally for management positions. At the supervisory levels, firms promoted more internally than they hired externally—17.2 percent of managers are promoted, while 15.6 percent are new hires. The disparity becomes even more apparent at the highest rankings within an organization, where 21.5 percent were internally promoted and only 12.5 percent were new hires…”
TIME: “Colin Goddard lay in a pool of his own blood, hoping his racing heart would not tip off the approaching gunman that he was still alive. The shooter hovered over Goddard, paused and fired two more bullets into him anyway. Goddard survived the April 16, 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech, which killed 32 people and was the worst school shooting in U.S. history. Twelve years later, he tries not to dwell on the day, but he has dozens of constant reminders: bullet fragments lodged in his body, leaching toxins into his blood.
Like hundreds and possibly thousands of shooting survivors across the country, Goddard, a 33-year-old father of two, is suffering a lesser-known and often unrecognized side effect of gun violence: lead poisoning. When he was shot in his French class that spring day, one bullet pierced his right shoulder cleanly, but three others shattered when they hit his hips and left knee. Because the fragments did not pose life-threatening risks, trauma surgeons left them in his body—a common and widely accepted practice in emergency rooms throughout the United States. Now, with his blood lead levels seven times higher than what is considered safe, Goddard faces long-term health risks, including neurological problems, kidney dysfunction and reproductive issues.
The metal’s toxicity is well-documented, but only wildlife have so far benefitted from efforts to outlaw its use in bullets, and even those results have been limited. California on July 1 will become the first state to ban lead hunting bullets, the culmination of a yearslong battle that pitted environmentalists against the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups. “I was told, ‘You’re going to be fine in the long-term,’ and that’s not right,” Goddard says. “It throws you back when you realize you’re not out of the woods yet, and this terrible day is not entirely behind you.”
Via LLRX – Terms, Tags, and Classification = It is helpful to classify documents or other content items to make them easier to find later. Searching the full text alone can retrieve inaccurate results or miss appropriate documents containing different words from the words entered into a search box. A document or content management system may include features for tagging, keywords, categories, indexing, etc. Taxonomist Heather Hedden identifies the difference between these elements to facilitate the implementation of more effective knowledge and content management.
New on LLRX – Whither Law Student Information Literacy? – Dennis Kim-Prieto, J.D., M.S.L.I.S., M.F.A. presented this paper, and the associated PowerPoint slides, at the Learning Information Literacy Across the Globe Conference, held in Frankfurt em Main, May 10, 2019. Information Literacy has only recently been applied to instructional frameworks and benchmarking assessment for legal research skills in the United States. This paper seeks to answer two simple questions: what has information literacy done for legal research since AALL has adopted Legal Research Competencies and Standards for Law Student Information Literacy, and what is the future of information literacy in legal research classrooms and the practice of law around the world?