Law and Legal

20 percent of Americans have no emergency savings

Axios: “Nearly 20% of Americans surveyed say they have zero savings in case of emergency, a recent survey by bankrate.com reports.
Why it matters: With the jobs outnumbering the jobless, a lowering unemployment rate and wages trickling upward, Americans theoretically should have more money to put away for a rainy day fund. If an economic downturn were to occur, the data shows only a small fraction of Americans would be able to comfortably maintain their lifestyle.
By the numbers: 29% of the U.S. say they have enough emergency savings to last them six months or more — an overwhelming majority of respondents, 62%, are “very or somewhat comfortable with their level of emergency savings.”

  • Lower-income households are more likely to have no emergency funds, but 27% of lowest-income households have enough savings to last them at least three months.
  • Americans lost $19.4 trillion worth of wealth during the Great Recession, per the Treasury Department.
  • Even though 23% of people with zero savings is a seven-year low, people are saving the same amount as they were in 2010…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work

World Economic Forum: “The cost of reskilling the 1.4 million US workers likely to lose their jobs as a result of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and other structural changes over the next decade will largely fall on the government, with the private sector only able to profitably absorb reskilling for 25% of at-risk workers. This is the finding of a World Economic Forum report published today. The report, “Towards a Reskilling Revolution: Industry-Led Action for the Future of Work”, finds that it will be possible to transition 95% of at-risk workers into positions that have similar skills and higher wages. The cost of this reskilling operation would be approximately $34 billion. However, the report also finds that, of the 1.4 million workers at risk, the private-sector could only profitably reskill 25%, or about 350, 000 workers. For the rest, at current rates of reskilling time and costs and foregone productivity, it would be more cost-effective for businesses to replace them with workers with the correct skill-set…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Who Profits From AI? It’s Getting Harder to Find Out

Bloomberg: “As companies from IBM to Samsung Electronics Co. to Halliburton Co. scramble to find the next great invention using artificial intelligence, they may hit a roadblock when trying to patent their ideas. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is making it increasingly difficult to obtain legal protections for inventions related to AI, a field that encompasses autonomous cars, virtual assistants and financial analyses, among countless other uses. The agency, seeing an influx of AI applications, is grappling with how to comply with a law that PTO Director Andrei Iancu has called “anything but clear” concerning what can be patented.

“The U.S. right now is a strong leader in artificial intelligence,” said Kate Gaudry, a patent attorney with Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton in Washington who analyzed data from LexisNexis PatentAdvisor on pending applications at the agency. She found that, of applications given a primary classification of AI-related, about 90 percent got initial rejection letters saying they were abstract ideas. “People are going to catch on that they are unlikely to get a patent,” she said…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Innovation Nation: An American Innovation Agenda for 2020

“Business Roundtable today released “Innovation Nation: An American Innovation Agenda for 2020,” a set of policy recommendations to secure U.S. leadership in innovation, maintain a robust U.S. economy and increase living standards for all Americans through 2020 and beyond. Innovation Nation—a cross-cutting policy agenda—provides a roadmap for the U.S. to effectively continue to compete for and win the global race for innovation to secure inclusive economic growth and opportunity for Americans. In a rapidly changing world, the U.S. must reaffirm its commitment to innovation and how American workers across all sectors can succeed in a future economy.

“This United States is, without question, the world leader in innovation,” said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Chairman of Business Roundtable. This agenda offers a bold vision and concrete plan for America to continue on this path—one that invests in people, science and technology and enables and supports entrepreneurship and risk-taking. It’s this mindset that established America as the great innovator—the nation that invented the light bulb, put a man on the moon and changed the world. Business and government must collaborate to maintain this momentum, position its people for success and spur future innovation…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Most Americans accept that climate change is real and worrying

The Verge: “Most Americans are worried about climate change, and many think the government should fight it, according to the results of two independent polls released this week. The surveys suggest that Americans are finally warming to the scientific consensus about climate change: that it’s real, it’s happening now, and that we are causing it — but the big question is whether that will be enough to spark real political change.

One of the surveys, called Climate Change in the American Mind, comes out of a collaboration between Yale and George Mason University. It probes how a random sample of more than 1,100 people feel about global warming — such as whether they’re worried about it, for example, and whom they think it will harm. The other survey, conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, asked roughly 1,200 people questions like whether they’d be willing to pay to fight climate change. Both surveys aimed to be nationally representative.

The results line up where the two surveys overlap: both report that around 70 percent of Americans agree climate change is real. The Climate Change in the American Mind survey finds that 69 percent of Americans say they’re “somewhat worried” about global warming. That’s the finding that stands out for Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and one of the survey’s co-investigators: it’s seven percentage points higher than when people were asked the same question back in March. “We’ve never seen a shift like that before,” he told The Verge in an interview…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Blockchain and the Law: A Critical Evaluation

Quintais, João and Bodó, Balázs and Giannopoulou, Alexandra and Ferrari, Valeria, Blockchain and the Law: A Critical Evaluation (January 17, 2019). Pedro Quintais, B. Bodó, A. Giannopoulou, & A. Ferrari (2019). Blockchain and the Law: A Critical Evaluation. Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law & Policy (2)1; Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2019-03; Institute for Information Law Research Paper No. 2019-01. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3317404

“It is a high-risk, high-reward enterprise to write a scholarly monograph on an emerging technology when its societal use, economic worth, and even its technical design are still in flux. With little empirical material with which to work, one often has to resort to extrapolating the future developments from the myriad seed of possibilities of the present. Yet, there are moments in time when undertaking such an enterprise seems inevitable, because there is a rough consensus that the emerging technology represents more than just an incremental improvement of already existing routines, and promises—or threatens—a disruption of the status quo. Such is the case of blockchain or distributed ledger technologies. In that light, Primavera De Filippi and Aaron Wright’s Blockchain and the Law is a timely and valuable contribution.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Consultants in Bank Lawsuit Saved by the (Statute of Limitations) Bell

Christmas arrived early for two environmental consulting firms when a federal district court ruled in Bank United, N.A. v. Merritt Environmental Consulting Corp, 2018 U.S. Dist. Lexis 214448 (S.D.N.Y. 12/20/2018) that a lender had waited too long to file a complaint against the consultants for failing to identify radioactive contamination in a phase 1 environmental site assessment. The outcome was based on provision of the New York statute of limitations (SOL) that allows breach of contract actions to be governed by the shorter for professional malpractice SOL.

Because the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, the evidentiary record is not well-developed. The briefing was focused on which statute of limitations should apply. We have used facts from the briefs, from a related lawsuit filed by the property owner/borrower against a variety of potential responsible parties in 105 Mt. Kisco Associates v Caraozza et al, 2017 U.S. Dist. Lexis 47855 (S.D.N.Y. 3/30/17) as well as information from publicly-available databases.

Environmental History

During World War II, the property that was subject to the BankUnited mortgage was part of a nuclear refinery that was owned and operated by Canadian Radium and Uranium Corporation (CRU). The refinery extracted radium and polonium from the uranium residues for use by the Manhattan Project.  After World War II, CRU shifted to producing commercial-grade radium from instruments and watch dials.

Apparently, CRU had a sloppy operation which caused extensive radiological contamination. Radiological surveys conducted by the Atomic Energy Commission (“AEC”) in 1952 and 1956 identified “significant radiation levels, removable contamination and airborne radioactive material concentration” In the late 1950s, CRU pled guilty to charges of allowing three employees to be overexposed to radiation. CRU was ordered to remove radioactive waste within the buildings but this work did not involve any soil remediation.

In 1966, the Mt. Kisco Urban Renewal Agency (“MKURA”) acquired the CRU facility, decontaminated and demolished the structures, graded the site and constructed a new road where one of the CRU buildings. The contaminated building materials were disposed off-site at the Croton Point Sanitary Landfill. Grading activities spread contaminated soils throughout the former CRU facility.

In the 1970s, the MKURA conveyed the property to the Village of Mt. Kisco (“Village”) which, in turn, transferred the CRU facility property to a private developer who subdivided the parcel and constructed three buildings. From the mid-1970s to 2012, a series of lumber businesses owned and operated the property with a street address of 105 Mt. Kisco Avenue.

In 1979, the Westchester County Department of Health (WCDOH) performed a limited radiological survey. Because the highest dose rates were found in an area surrounded by a high chain link fence that was not used by the public, the WCDOH concluded there was no public health risk but forwarded the radiation survey to the radiation branch of the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) and New York State Department of Health (“NYSDOH”).

In 1987, the former CRU facility was evaluated for inclusion on the Department of Energy (DOE) Formerly Utilized Sites Remedial Action Program (FUSRAP) list. DOE determined the former CRU facility was not eligible for the FUSRAP program because it had been commercial operation that had not been under the jurisdiction of DOE’s predecessor-AEC

After NYSDEC became aware of the FUSRAP evaluation in 1993, the agency asked NYSDOH to conduct a survey of the former CRU site. The survey detected elevated levels of gamma ray and radon levels at the site owned and occupied by Richard’s Home Center and Lumber, Inc (RHCL). Radon levels inside RCHL were higher than average for residential structures in the Village. The NYSDOH advised that further construction on the RHCL parcel should be curtailed until more data was available to assess the extent of the contamination.

Between 1993 and 1995, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) conducted a preliminary assessment and site inspection under the federal Superfund program. Although “hot spots” of elevated radioactivity exposure rates were noted, EPA concluded the site was not a candidate for the National Priorities List. The CRU facility was archived the on the CERCLIS site.

In July 1998, the NYSDEC conducted a comprehensive radiological survey of the former CRU plant to evaluate the extent of the remaining radioactive contamination and help the Village determine if land use should be limited. NYSDEC found that highest levels of radium-contaminated soils were present under the parking lot and outside storage of the RHCL parcel to a depth of about four feet.  NYSDEC suggested the property owners consider removing the most impacted soils and that no soil excavation should occur until the parcels are fully characterized.

In September 2013, EPA engaged Weston to perform a site reassessment investigation. Weston collected outdoor gamma screening levels in the outdoor sheds and other storage buildings at the RHCL property but RHCL did not allow Weston to collect indoor gamma level screenings. The highest gamma readings were in the rear of the RHCL parcel. Weston returned in November 2013 to collect soil samples.

The Phase 1 Report and ESA Desktop Review

RHCL went into default on its mortgage with Community Mutual Savings Bank (CMSB) in 2012. The principal of RHCL, Paul Carazzo, and a local developer, Mark Stagg, formed a new business venture whereby RCHL sold the property to Amanda Lane LLC, an entity owned by Stagg. Amanda Lane LLC assumed the obligations of the CMSB mortgage.  The two men then formed two LLCs– 105 Mt. Kisco Associates LLC and NY Stone and Landscape Supply (NY Stone). 105 Mt. Kisco was to acquire the land from Amanda Lane and then lease it to NY Stone to operate a masonry and lumber store.

To facilitate the transaction, 105 Mt. Kisco Associates LLC applied for a $3.25MM mortgage from BankUnited.  In November 2013, BankUnited retained Merritt Environmental Consulting Corp (MECC) to perform a Phase I report. In discussing the Sanborn Maps for 1932-1949, the MECC Report stated that the southern portion of the property contained a lumber shed, an auto sales and service facility, and a woodworking facility while the northern portion of the property contained commercial and residential buildings. The report not only failed to id not indicate that the parking lot of the RHCL parcel had once been a part of the CRU facility but the section titled “Historical Use Information on Adjoining Properties” failed to mention CRU. However, the EDR database search identified the CRU facility as a hazardous substance waste disposal site (HSWDS) within1/8 mile from the Property. MECC recommended a phase 2 but it was for the purpose of assessing impacts from former petroleum tanks that had been identified on Sanborn maps. MECC did not discuss the possibility that the RHCL parcel was potentially impacted with radiological contamination by the former CRU plant

In March 2014, BankUnited retained Lender Consulting Services (LCS) to confirm that the MECC phase 1 satisfied the ASTM 31527-05 standard so that the bank could qualify for the CERCLA innocent landowner. The briefs indicated that LCS had done this work pursuant to a master services agreement for performing phase 1 reports, not simply reviewing reports for ASTM compliance.

BankUnited closed on the mortgage on March 20, 2014 and required a $40K escrow to remediate any potential impacts from the historic petroleum storage tanks identified in the MECC Report.

Post-Closing Developments

In June 2014, Weston issued a Site Reassessment Letter discussing its 2013 investigation. Weston reported that soil samples from paved and unpaved areas of what was now the NY Stone premises had elevated levels of radium, contaminated sediments in a drainage ditch that received stormwater runoff from the property and that there was a potential for groundwater contamination because of the proximity of the contaminated soil to the water table.

In June 22, 2015, the EPA, NYSDEC and NYSDOH met with the Mt. Kisco Associates to discuss the contamination. EPA advised the property owner that a cleanup was required. EPA commissioned Weston to conduct a Removal Assessment which included yet another radiological survey.

The August 2015, Weston issued a Removal Assessment report which found radon levels in excess of EPA Site-Specific Action Levels (“SSALs”) in the main building and in soil samples. 105 Mt. Kisco Associates did not notify BankUnited of the EPA investigations or that it had filed a lawsuit against potentially responsible parties including MECC until November 16, 2015. 105 Mt. Kisco Associates advised the bank that its consultant estimated the cleanup costs could range from $4MM to $30MM.

Beginning in April 2016, EPA engaged Weston to perform additional investigations. The Weston Phase II Report found elevated levels of alpha and beta particles, radium, bismuth, lead, and thallium.

On December 10, 2016, 105 Mt. Kisco Associates defaulted on its mortgage. Reasoning that foreclosure was not a viable remedy because of the presence of the radioactive contamination, BankUnited entered into a forbearance agreement on May 9, 2017 whereby the bank agreed to accept payments of interest while it contemplated its options. BankUnited subsequently commissioned an appraisal that determined that the property had “little to no value” because of radiological contamination and estimated cleanup costs. Indeed, the appraisal concluded stated that in its “As-Is” condition, the property had a zero value.

The Bank Litigation Against the Consultants

On July 13, 2017, 42 months after the loan closing and 20 months after it was notified of the contamination by its borrower, BankUnited filed a complaint against MECC, LCS, and their insurers. The complaint asserted breach of contract, professional malpractice, negligent misrepresentation and declaratory action against the insurers.

Under the New York statute of limitations (SOL), breach of contract claims are generally subject to a six-year statute of limitations while actions for professional malpractice must be commenced within three years. The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the breach of contract and misrepresentation claims on grounds that they were merely duplicative of professional malpractice claim. The defendants also argued that the professional malpractice count should also be dismissed because the complaint was brought after the three year SOL had expired.

The court began its analysis by noting that the New York State legislature amended the professional malpractice SOL in 1996 in response to a line of cases that applied a six-year breach of contract SOL to nonmedical malpractice claims. Prior to the 1996 amendments, the applicable SOL in a nonmedical malpractice action depended on the proposed remedy, not on the theory of liability. The 1996 amendment provided that where the underlying complaint claims there was a failure to utilize reasonable care or where acts of omission or negligence are alleged, the applicable SOL will be three years regardless of the theory of liability.

The court noted that the breach of contract count claimed MECC and LCS failed to act “‘in a manner consistent with that level of care and skill ordinarily exercised by other professional consultants under similar circumstances at the time the Services are performed” and by failed to perform the ESA in accordance with ASTM Standard E 1527-05. Therefore, the court held that the truncated professional malpractice SOL applied to the breach of contract count so long as MECC or LCS qualified as “professionals”

The court then turned the question of who is a “professional” for purposes of the professional malpractice SOL. BankUnited claimed the individuals who performed the work for MECC and LCS did not qualify as professionals because they did not hold professional licenses. The court rejected this argument, explaining that the New York Court of Appeals has held that the meaning of “professional” for purposes of the SOL was to be guided by:

“[t]he qualities shared by such groups” as lawyers, doctors, architects, engineers, and accountants, which qualities include extensive formal learning and training, licensure and regulation indicating a qualification to practice, a code of conduct imposing standards beyond those accepted in the marketplace and a system of discipline for violation of those standards. Additionally, a professional relationship is one of trust and confidence, carrying with it a duty to counsel and advise clients.”

The court said the allegations in the breach of contract count resembled many of the criteria in the passage from the Court of Appeals opinions. Examples the court found instructive were that complaint asserted the defendants were bound by applicable professional standards set forth by ASTM E1517 and failed to act “with the skill ordinarily exercised by professional environmental consultants”.  Moreover, the complaint stated that plaintiff’s relationship with MECC and LCS was one of “trust and confidence” and that the defendants were hired to “counsel and advise”. In addition, the court said that environmental consultants performed a duty analogous to a real estate appraiser — a vocation that has been held to qualify as professional under the professional malpractice SOL.

BankUnited also argued that the fact the defendants satisfied the definition of “Environmental Professional” for purposes of the EPA All Appropriate Inquiries rule did not mean they were a professional for purposes of the professional malpractice SOL. However, the court found that the requirements to satisfy the AAI definition was the kind of extensive, albeit informal, training articulated by the New York Court of Appeals

Thus, the court found the defendants met the definition of a professional and that the truncated three-year SOL for professional malpractice applied to the breach of contract action.

Turning to the negligent misrepresentation claim, the court noted that claims for negligent misrepresentation are subject to a three-year SOL unless the claim was based on actual or constructive fraud which are governed by a six-year SOL .The court said plaintiff did not plead actual fraud but suggested it pleaded constructive fraud based on “‘the existence of a fiduciary or confidential relationship between the parties. The court explained that the plaintiff’s only support for its constructive fraud claim “was a single conclusory sentence” that MECC had a special relationship with BankUnited because MECC and its staff held themselves out as ‘Certified Environmental Specialists.” However, the court said that it could find any authority for the proposition that “Certified Environmental Specialists” are in a special relationship with their clients to justify imposing additional obligations on them. Because the only misrepresentations alleged in the complaint were the failure to uncover the conditions that Plaintiff alleged MECC and LCS would have found had they performed up to professional standards, the court found the negligent misrepresentation claim “stand[s] in the shadow of negligence” rather than in the “shadow of fraud.” In the absence of any plausible claim of constructive fraud, the court ruled the three-year SOL applied to Plaintiff’s negligent misrepresentation claims.

Plaintiff argued  that even if its claims were subject to a three-year SOL, these claims did not accrue until BankUnited discovered the radioactive condition on the Premises, or, alternatively, that the SOL did not begin to run until the bank suffered damages, which it alleged was either when the contamination became public through the 2015 EPA report or the series of news articles reporting on the conditions of the premises in 2016.

However, the court held that the discovery exception applied to exposure to latent contamination and the bank had not alleged such injury. Because the bank did not allege that conditions became more dangerous after the closing and did not plead a latent, exposure-induced harm, the court rules the discovery rule did not apply and there was no ground to adjust the accrual date of Plaintiff’s claims.

The bank also claimed that the SOL did not start to run until it sustained an actual injury which it was when the Premises was rendered worthless. A claim for professional malpractice accrues when the malpractice is committed or when all the facts necessary for the cause of action have occurred and an injured party can obtain relief in court. In this case, the court found that the SOL began to run when the MECC and LCS delivered their reports and the bank had relied on them to close the loan.

Because Plaintiff’s breach of contract, professional malpractice, and negligent misrepresentation claims accrued by March 20, 2014 and the complaint was not was commenced until July 13, 2017, the court ruled the banks claims against the consultants were barred by the SOL

The New York SOL is unusual. In another state, the breach of contract count would have survived, the parties would have proceeded to discovery and we might have found out why the phase 1 failed to discover the site’s atomic legacy. In any event, the case serves as a lesson to lenders to make sure they understand the applicable state SOL when determining how to proceed with a defaulted loan.

The post Consultants in Bank Lawsuit Saved by the (Statute of Limitations) Bell appeared first on Schnapf Environmental Law.

Categories: Law and Legal

2019 National Intelligence Strategy of the United States

“This National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) provides the Intelligence Community (IC) with strategic direction from the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) for the next four years. It supports the national security priorities outlined in the National Security Strategy as well as other national strategies. In executing the NIS, all IC activities must be responsive to national security priorities and must comply with the Constitution, applicable laws and statutes, and Congressional oversight requirements.”

“…The strategic environment is changing rapidly, and the United States faces an increasingly complex and uncertain world in which threats are becoming ever more diverse and interconnected. While the IC remains focused on confronting a number of conventional challenges to U.S. national security posed by our adversaries, advances in technology are driving evolutionary and revolutionary change across multiple fronts. The IC will have to become more agile, innovative, and resilient to deal effectively with these threats and the ever more volatile world that shapes them. The increasingly complex, interconnected, and transnational nature of these threats also underscores the importance of continuing and advancing IC outreach and cooperation with international partners and allies..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Watch the Doomsday Clock announcement January 24 at 10 a.m. Eastern time

“The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will host a live international news conference at 10 a.m. EST/1500 GMT on Thursday, January 24, 2019, to announce the 2019 time of the Doomsday Clock. The news conference will take place at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Watch the announcement live on clock.thebulletin.org, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter.   Speakers for the Doomsday Clock announcement on January 24, 2019 include:

  • Jerry Brown, executive chair, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; former Governor of California
  • William J. Perry, chair, Bulletin Board of Sponsors; former Secretary of Defense
  • Rachel Bronson, president and CEO; Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
  • Herb Lin, Bulletin Science and Security Board; Senior Research Scholar for cyber policy and security at the Center for International Security and Cooperation and Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, both at Stanford University
  • Robert Rosner, chair, Bulletin Science and Security Board; William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, and the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago
  • Susan Solomon, Bulletin Science and Security Board; Lee and Geraldine Martin Professor of Environmental Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Sharon Squassoni, Bulletin Science and Security Board; Research Professor of Practice at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University

Read the 2018 Doomsday Clock Statement.
Questions about the Clock? See our FAQ.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects

EveryCRSReport.com – Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes, and Effects, December 2018: “When federal agencies and programs lack funding after the expiration of full-year or interim appropriations, the agencies and programs experience a funding gap. If funding does not resume in time to continue government operations, then, under the Antideficiency Act, an agency must cease operations, except in certain situations when law authorizes continued activity. Funding gaps are distinct from shutdowns, and the criteria that flow from the Antideficiency Act for determining which activities are affected by a shutdown are complex. Failure of the President and Congress to reach agreement on full-year or interim funding measures occasionally has caused shutdowns of affected federal government activities. The longest such shutdown lasted 21 full days during FY1996, from December 16, 1995, to January 6, 1996. More recently, a relatively long funding gap commenced on October 1, 2013, the first day of FY2014, after funding for the previous fiscal year expired. Because funding did not resume on October 1, affected agencies began to cease operations and furlough personnel that day. A 16-full-day shutdown ensued, the first to occur in over 17 years. Subsequently, two comparatively brief shutdowns occurred during FY2018, in January and February 2018, respectively.

  • Government shutdowns have necessitated furloughs of several hundred thousand federal employees, required cessation or reduction of many government activities, and affected numerous sectors of the economy. This report discusses causes of shutdowns, including the legal framework under which they may occur;processes related to how agencies may plan for the contingency of a shutdown;effects of shutdowns, focusing especially on federal personnel and government operations; and issues related to shutdowns that may be of interest to Congress.
  • This CRS report is intended to address questions that arise frequently related to the topic of government shutdowns. However, the report does not closely track developments related to the appropriations process for a given fiscal year. For links to CRS resources related to annual appropriations, see the “CRS Appropriations Status Table.” Additional resources related to funding gaps and shutdowns are identified below…
  • For links to agency shutdown plans (also sometimes called “contingency plans”) of varying dates, see the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB’s) website…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Unpaid Federal Workers Owe $438 Million in Mortgage and Rent Payments This Month

Zillow Research:

  • Federal employees who are not being paid during the shutdown and own their homes make about $249 million in monthly mortgage payments.
  • Those who rent pay about $189 million for housing each month, according to a recent HotPads analysis.
  • About 3,900 mortgage originations are processed each business day for loans backed directly by federal government agencies such as the FHA and the Rural Housing Service. It isn’t clear what portion of those are delayed – or for how long – but as many as 39,000 mortgages could have been affected by today.
Categories: Law and Legal

GW-Stanford Study Recommends Nuclear Waste Program “Reset”

“The U.S. must start from scratch with a new nuclear waste management and disposal strategy – a Stanford-led panel and recommends that the United States “reset” its nuclear waste program by moving responsibility for commercially generated, used nuclear fuel away from the federal government and into the hands of an independent, not-for-profit, utility-owned and funded nuclear waste management organization. The three-year study led by Rod Ewing in the Center for International Security and Cooperation has made a series of recommendations focused on the back-end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Their report, Reset of America’s Nuclear Waste Management Strategy and Policy, is here.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Congressman John Sarbanes posts resources for furloughed feds

“If you are a furloughed federal employee, or a family member of a furloughed federal employee, I wanted to share some resources that you may find helpful [banking, utilities, credit unions, telecom, unemployment insurance.) “

Categories: Law and Legal

Earliest fragments of English reveal how interconnected Europe has been for centuries

BBC: “The interconnectedness of Europe has a long history, as we’re reminded when we explore the roots of the English language – roots that stretch back to the 5th Century. Anglo-Saxon England “was connected to the world beyond its shores through a lively exchange of books, goods, ideas,” argues the Medieval historian Mary Wellesley, describing a new exhibition at the British Library in London – Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms: Art, Word, War – that charts the genesis of England.

“Something like 80% of all surviving Old English verse survives in four physical books… for the first time in recorded history they are all together [in this exhibition],” she tells BBC Culture. “The period that is represented by Old English is about 600 years, which is like between us and back to Chaucer… imagine if there were only four physical books that survived from that period, what would that say about our literature?”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – 10 x 10: 100 Insightful KM Resources

Via LLRX – 10 x 10: 100 Insightful KM Resources – KM expert Stan Garfield shares ten categories of KM resources, each with ten links to useful sources of knowledge about the field. The ten resources in each category are recommended starting points for those who want to learn more about KM. Each category heading is linked to a more extensive list for greater exploration.

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – Tax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline

Via LLRXTax Fraud By The Numbers: The Trump Timeline – Former CPA, writer and teacher Ken Boyd provides readers with an explanation of tax fraud that is clearly presented, instructive and relevant to the ongoing Mueller investigation. Boyd uses the extensive New York Times investigative report of November 2018 that documented a history of tax fraud allegedly committed by Donald Trump, his father and siblings, as the foundation for his lesson on various types of tax fraud. The allegations documented by the Times are under review by the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance.

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – Deep Web Research and Discovery Resources 2019

Via LLRXDeep Web Research and Discovery Resources 2019 – How big is the Deep Web? It is estimated to comprise 7,500 terabytes – although an exact size is not known, and the figures vary widely on this question. The magnitude, complexity and siloed nature of the Deep Web is a challenge for researchers. You cannot turn to one specific guide or one search engine to effectively access the vast range of information, data, files and communications that comprise it. The ubiquitous search engines index, manage and deliver results from the Surface web. These search results include links, data, information, reports, news, subject matter content and a large volume of advertising that is optimized to increase traffic to specific sites and support marketing and revenue focused objectives. On the other hand, the Deep Web – which is often misconstrued as a repository of dark and disreputable information [Note – it is not the Dark Web], has grown tremendously beyond that characterization to include significant content on a wide range of subject matters covering a broad swath of files and formats, databases, pay-walled content as well as communications and web traffic that is not otherwise accessible through the surface Web. This comprehensive multifaceted guide by Marcus Zillman providers you with an abundance of resources to learn about, search, apply appropriate privacy protections, and maximize your time and efforts to conduct effective and actionable research within the Deep Web.

Categories: Law and Legal

Employees from IRS USDA TSA calling in sick with expanded work without pay

Washington Post: “…The Trump administration last week ordered at least 30,000 IRS workers back to their offices, where they have been working to process refunds without pay. It was one of the biggest steps the government has taken to mitigate the shutdown’s impact on Americans’ lives. But IRS employees across the country — some in coordinated protest, others out of financial necessity — won’t be clocking in, according to Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, and several local union officials. The work action is widespread and includes employees from a processing center in Ogden, Utah, to the Brookhaven campus on New York’s Long Island. The move is the leading edge of pushback from within the IRS, and it signals the potential for civil servants to take actions that could slow or cripple government functions as the shutdown’s political stalemate continues in Washington. U.S. Department of Agriculture meat inspectors have begun to call in sick, Transportation Security Administration sickouts at airports have been rising, and federal law enforcement agencies say the shutdown is increasing stress among agents and affecting investigations….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration

Climate Change: Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration GAO-19-166: Published: Jan 17, 2019. Publicly Released: Jan 17, 2019.

“Climate change may increase the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, which could drive people around the world from their homes. We found that, while the State Department, USAID, and DOD haven’t focused on the link between climate change and migration, State identified migration as a risk in one of its climate change risk assessments in early 2017. However, State later changed its approach and no longer provides clear guidance to its staff on how to assess climate change risks. This may prevent it from identifying and addressing climate change as a factor in human migration. We recommended State provide its staff with this guidance. Bangladesh is expected to experience migration due to climate change.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Best VPN services of 2019: Reviews and buying advice

PCWorld: “Choosing the right virtual private network (VPN) service is no simple task. A VPN should keep your internet usage private and secure, but not every service handles your data in the same way. Just look at the critiques of notable computer security experts and online pundits to understand the challenge. (Want to know more about VPNs and what they can and can’t do? Skip down to our “What is a VPN?” section below.) Since it takes research to find out if a VPN service has a history of good or bad behavior, we’ve done the legwork to find the best VPN out there. In order to win our seal of approval, the service has to protect online privacy; allow you to keep anonymity; offer a good variety of locations from which to direct your traffic; offer fast, reliable performance; and provide an easy-to-use interface...”

 

Categories: Law and Legal

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