Law and Legal
Data Driven Journalism: “Revealing 13.4 million documents and implicating more than 120 politicians and world leaders, the Paradise Papers have exposed the hidden happenings of the offshore industry, its users and operators. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) began releasing reports on 6 November 2017, drawing on nearly 7 million loan agreements, financial statements, emails, trust deeds and other paperwork from nearly 50 years at Appleby, a leading offshore law firm. So far, ICIJ has raised questions about the British Royal Family, Trump associates, Apple, Nike, with more to come. And, with over 1.4 terabytes of data to trawl through, there have been no shortages of data to visualise. We put together a roundup of four of the week’s best…”
Social Explorer, November 10, 2017: “Last week’s gubernatorial elections took the country by surprise, with two Democratic candidate victories that exceeded most predictions–a nine point win in Virginia (53.9 percent to 44.9 percent) and a 13.3 point win in New Jersey (55.6 percent to 42.3 percent). Find out more about the Virginia and New Jersey contests down to the county level with Social Explorer. The 2017 gubernatorial data are the latest part of our Election Maps collection. All of our election data come from David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections.”
World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice. WILLIAM J. RIPPLE, CHRISTOPHER WOLF, THOMAS M. NEWSOME, MAURO GALETTI, MOHAMMED ALAMGIR, EILEEN CRIST, MAHMOUD I. MAHMOUD, WILLIAM F. LAURANCE, and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries. November 13, 2017. Vol. XX, No. X BioScience. [Alliance of World Scientists]
“Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity”. These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring…On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse. Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century…”
“Special counsel Robert Mueller has not publicly uttered a single word about the direction of his high-stakes Russia probe. But the way he’s assigned the 17 federal prosecutors on his team — pieced together by POLITICO from court filings and interviews with lawyers familiar with the Russia cases — gives insight into how he’s conducting the investigation and what might be next. His most experienced attorneys have discrete targets, such as former Donald Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and current White House aides. Mueller’s longtime chief of staff is coordinating all the lawyers, including some who cover multiple topics. Select FBI special agents have been tapped to question witnesses…”
Follow up to previous posting November 1, 2017 – Senate Intel Cmte Hearing – Social Media Influence in the 2016 U.S. Elections – see this article in the New York Times – “…For years, Ms. DiResta had battled disinformation campaigns, cataloging data on how malicious actors spread fake narratives online. That morning, wearing headphones so she wouldn’t wake up her two sleeping children, Ms. DiResta watched on her laptop screen as lawyers representing Facebook, Google and Twitter spoke at congressional hearings that focused on the role social media played in a Russian disinformation campaign ahead of the 2016 election. Ms. DiResta knew the lines of questioning inside and out. Along with a handful of people with a similarly obsessive interest in mapping data across social media, she had helped prepare congressional staff members ahead of the hearings. That morning, they gathered in a dedicated channel on the Slack messaging app to watch and listen for answers to questions they had been asking for years…”
Making Sense of the Future of Libraries – IFLA Journal, Vol. 43, No. 4. December 2017.
“We examined five major projects conducted by library associations and related organizations between 2011 and 2016 that focused on the future of libraries and/or librarianship. We employed a sensemaking perspective as the foundation for our research. Through a sensemaking perspective, meaning is intersubjectively cocreated. Threats to identity have created triggers for organizations to reexamine the roles of libraries in their communities. This reexamination of the roles of libraries within the community creates or develops a shared context which impacts both professional identity and advocacy efforts. While it is not clear the exact shape and scope of this crisis in the library profession, it is ‘real’ in that it has been meaningfully named, interpreted and enacted. The issue has been discussed coherently and cohesively in the international library community. It is clear that there is concern, internationally, for the future of librarianship.”
“Health at a Glance 2017 says that all OECD countries have seen life expectancy at birth increase by over 10 years since 1970 to reach an average of 80.6 years. Life expectancy at birth is highest in Japan (83.9 years), and Spain and Switzerland (83 years each), and lowest in Latvia (74.6) and Mexico (75). New analysis in the report reveals that if smoking rates and alcohol consumption were halved, life expectancies would rise by 13 months. A 10% increase in health spending per capita in real terms would, on average, boost life expectancy by 3.5 months. However it is not just spending per se, but also how resources are used, that makes the difference in life expectancy. There is a large variation in the link between changes in health spending and in life expectancy: in the United States, for example, health spending has increased much more than in other countries since 1995, yet life expectancy gains have been smaller.”
“Nearly three-fourths (71%) of Americans believe that political correctness has done more to silence important discussions our society needs to have. A little more than a quarter (28%) instead believe that political correctness has done more to help people avoid offending others. The consequences are personal-58% of Americans believe the political climate today prevents them from saying things they believe. Democrats are unique, however, in that a slim majority (53%) do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73%) and independents (58%) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves…”
“Today the FBI released Hate Crime Statistics, 2016, the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest compilation about bias-motivated incidents throughout the nation. Submitted by 15,254 law enforcement agencies, the 2016 data provide information about the offenses, victims, offenders, and locations of hate crimes. Law enforcement agencies submitted incident reports involving 6,121 criminal incidents and 7,321 related offenses as being motivated by bias toward race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender, and gender identity. Please note the UCR Program does not estimate offenses for the jurisdictions of agencies that do not submit reports. Highlights of Hate Crime Statistics, 2016, follow.
Victims of Hate Crime Incidents
- There were 6,063 single-bias incidents involving 7,509 victims. A percent distribution of victims by bias type showed that 58.9 percent of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 21.1 percent were targeted because of the offenders’ religious bias; 16.7 percent were victimized because of the offenders’ sexual-orientation bias; 1.7 percent were targeted because of the offenders’ gender identity bias; 1.0 percent were victimized because of the offenders’ disability bias; and 0.5 percent were victimized because of the offenders’ gender bias. (Due to rounding, percentage breakdowns may not add to 100.0 percent.)
- Fifty-eight (58) multiple-bias hate crime incidents involved 106 victims…”
AP: “President Donald Trump is nominating white men to America’s federal courts at a rate not seen in nearly 30 years, threatening to reverse a slow transformation toward a judiciary that reflects the nation’s diversity. So far, 91 percent of Trump’s nominees are white, and 81 percent are male, an Associated Press analysis has found. Three of every four are white men, with few African-Americans and Hispanics in the mix. The last president to nominate a similarly homogenous group was George H.W. Bush…”
See also – Trump is quietly moving at a furious pace to secure ‘the single most important legacy’ of his administration: “… On the federal bench, virtually all the vacancies Trump has been rushing to fill are lifetime appointments. “This will be the single most important legacy of the Trump administration,” Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told Business Insider. “They will quickly be able to put judges on circuit courts all over the country, district courts all over the country, that will, given their youth and conservatism, will have a significant impact on the shape and trajectory of American law for decades…”
Via LLRX – The State of Law Library eBooks 2017-18 Part Two: Brass Tacks – Ellyssa Kroski discusses the range of eBook pricing models that are currently available along with the pros and cons respective to each. Kroski’s article also addresses other critical issues relevant to managing subscription-based, patron-driven acquisitions, short term loans, access-to-own, as well as strategies for controlling costs, and questions to ask before choosing an eBook solution. Also see Kroski’s The State of Law Library eBooks 2017-18 Part One: The Landscape.
CRS Report – Government Printing, Publications, and Digital Information Management: Issues and Challenges, November 8, 2017. R45014
“In the past half-century, in government and beyond, information creation, distribution, retention, and preservation activities have transitioned from a tangible, paper-based process to digital processes managed through computerized information technologies. Information is created as a digital object which then may be rendered as a text, image, or video file. Those files are then distributed through a myriad of outlets ranging from particular software application and websites to social media platforms. The material may be produced in tangible, printed form, but typically remains in digital formats. The Government Publishing Office (GPO) is a legislative branch agency that serves all three branches of the national government as a centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating, and preserving published information. The agency is overseen by the Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) which in 1895 was charged with overseeing and regulating U.S. government printing. GPO operates on the basis of a number of statutory authorities first granted in the 19th and 20th centuries that presume the existence of government information in an ink-on-paper format, because no other format existed when those authorities were enacted. GPO’s activities include the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP), which provides permanent public access to published federal government information, and which last received legislative consideration in 1962. In light of the governance and technological changes of the past four decades, a relevant question for Congress might arise: To what extent can decades-old authorities and work patterns meet the challenges of digital government information? For example, the widespread availability of government information in digital form has led some to question whether paper versions of some publications might be eliminated in favor of digital versions, but others note that paper versions are still required for a variety of reasons. Another area of concern focuses on questions about the capacity of current information dissemination authorities to enable the provision of digital government information in an effective and efficient manner. With regard to information retention, the emergence of a predominantly digital FDLP may raise questions about the capacity of GPO to manage the program given its existing statutory authorities. These questions are further complicated by the lack of a stable, robust set of digital information resources and management practices like those that were in place when Congress last considered current government information policies. The 1895 printing act was arguably an expression of the state of the art standard of printing technology and provided a foundation which supported government information distribution for more than a century. By contrast, in the fourth or fifth decade of transitioning from the tangible written word to ubiquitous digital creation and distribution, the way ahead is not as clear, due in part to a lack of widely understood and accepted standards for managing digital information. This report examines three areas related to the production, distribution, retention and management of government information in a primarily digital environment. These areas include the Joint Committee on Printing; the Federal Depository Library Program; and government information management in the future.”
“Equifax, the credit reporting firm, is facing more than 240 class-action lawsuits from consumers — in addition to suits from shareholders and financial institutions — over the way it handled a massive data breach that affected 145.5 million Americans. The lawsuits were detailed in the company’s third-quarter earnings report Thursday, its first since revealing the breach in September. The incident prompted three top officials to leave the company, including former chief executive Richard Smith. Equifax also said in its filings that it had received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia “regarding trading activities by certain of our employees in relation to the cybersecurity incident.” Shortly after news of the breach broke, reports circulated that top officials had sold Equifax stock after the company found out about the breach, but before disclosing it to the public. Equifax said this week that it had cleared its executives of wrongdoing after an internal investigation found that the executives did not personally know about the breach before their stock sales. To date, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton has not confirmed or denied that the SEC is investigating those executives for insider trading, according to the Associated Press.”
CRS Report – Speechwriting Resources: Fact Sheet November 4, 2015
“As elected officials and leaders, Senators and Representatives are frequently called upon to deliver speeches and other public remarks to a range of audiences. Congressional staff often prepare draft speeches for Members of Congress. Effective delivery can greatly improve the reception of a speech. In general, congressional speechwriters should make every effort to become familiar with the speaking style of the Member for whom they are writing, adjusting drafts accordingly. Contemporary American public address emphasizes a style that is natural, direct, low key, casual, and conversational. These elements usually put listeners at ease and promote a sense of community between audience and speaker. In general, speeches are best written in simple, direct, and often short sentences that listeners easily understand. They should be written with a sense for an event’s occasion and purpose and likely audience, including such factors as age, gender, culture, profession, political affiliation, and size of audience. Speechwriters should strive to maintain a clear theme throughout a speech. This fact sheet provides links to resources that can assist in the speechwriting process. Please note, that although the Congressional Research Service (CRS) can assist with background research for speeches, policy guidelines prohibit CRS from writing speeches for Congress.”
FBI database for gun buyers missing millions of records by WaPo’s Devlin Barrett, Sandhya Somashekhar and Alex Horton: “The FBI’s background-check system is missing millions of records of criminal convictions, mental illness diagnoses and other flags that would keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands, a gap that contributed to the shooting deaths of 26 people in a Texas church this week. Experts who study the data say government agencies responsible for maintaining such records have long failed to forward them into federal databases used for gun background checks – systemic breakdowns that have lingered for decades as officials decided they were too costly and time-consuming to fix…The FBI said it doesn’t know the scope of the problem, but the National Rifle Association says about 7 million records are absent from the system, based on a 2013 report by the nonprofit National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics.”
- See also this Directory of National Criminal Justice Web Sites
Trump Reshaping Courts at Fastest Pace in Five Decades – “Republican lawyers and lawmakers are working together to install conservative judges on the influential federal appeals courts at a clip not seen in decades…In the weeks before Donald J. Trump took office, lawyers joining his administration gathered at a law firm near the Capitol, where Donald F. McGahn II, the soon-to-be White House counsel, filled a white board with a secret battle plan to fill the federal appeals courts with young and deeply conservative judges. Mr. McGahn, instructed by Mr. Trump to maximize the opportunity to reshape the judiciary, mapped out potential nominees and a strategy, according to two people familiar with the effort: Start by filling vacancies on appeals courts with multiple openings and where Democratic senators up for re-election next year in states won by Mr. Trump — like Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania — could be pressured not to block his nominees. And to speed them through confirmation, avoid clogging the Senate with too many nominees for the district courts, where legal philosophy is less crucial. Nearly a year later, that plan is coming to fruition. Mr. Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon, and on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to send a ninth appellate nominee — Mr. Trump’s deputy White House counsel, Gregory Katsas — to the floor Republicans are systematically filling appellate seats they held open during President Barack Obama’s final two years in office with a particularly conservative group of judges with life tenure. Democrats — who in late 2013 abolished the ability of 41 lawmakers to block such nominees with a filibuster, then quickly lost control of the Senate — have scant power to stop them. “We will set records in terms of the number of judges,” Mr. Trump said at the White House recently, adding that many more nominees were in the pipeline. Mr. Trump started with 21 open appellate seats because after Republicans gained control of the Senate in 2015, they essentially shut down the confirmation process….Almost Half of Appeals Judges Are Eligible for Senior Status State of the federal appeals courts at the start of each president’s first term. Liberals have accused Mr. Trump of outsourcing his nominations process to the Federalist Society. Mr. Trump has also had help from the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, in lowering impediments and keeping the confirmation assembly line moving.”
- See also Trump Nominee for Federal Judgeship Has Never Tried a Case – “A 36-year-old lawyer who has never tried a case and who was unanimously deemed “not qualified” by the American Bar Association has been approved for a lifetime federal district judgeship by the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
Berlin Aging Study II (BASE-II) – a larger longitudinal study examining the physical, psychological, and social conditions for healthy aging. In total, 341 adults aged 61 to 82 years took part in the present study.
“A study conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development has investigated the relationship between the availability of nature near city dwellers’ homes and their brain health. Its findings are relevant for urban planners among others. Noise, pollution, and many people in a confined space: Life in a city can cause chronic stress. City dwellers are at a higher risk of psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety disorders, and schizophrenia than country dwellers. Comparisons show higher activity levels in city dwellers’ than in country dwellers’ amygdala — a central nucleus in the brain that plays an important role in stress processing and reactions to danger. Which factors can have a protective influence? A research team led by psychologist Simone Kühn has examined which effects nature near people’s homes such as forest, urban green, or wasteland has on stress-processing brain regions such as the amygdala. Research on brain plasticity supports the assumption that the environment can shape brain structure and function. That is why we are interested in the environmental conditions that may have positive effects on brain development. Studies of people in the countryside have already shown that living close to nature is good for their mental health and well-being. We therefore decided to examine city dwellers,“ explains first author Simone Kühn, who led the study at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Indeed, the researchers found a relationship between place of residence and brain health: those city dwellers living close to a forest were more likely to show indications of a physiologically healthy amygdala structure und were therefore presumably better able to cope with stress. This effect remained stable when differences in educational qualifications and income levels were controlled for. However, it was not possible to find an association between the examined brain regions and urban green, water, or wasteland. With these data, it is not possible to distinguish whether living close to a forest really has positive effects on the amygdala or whether people with a healthier amygdala might be more likely to select residential areas close to a forest. Based on present knowledge, however, the researchers regard the first explanation as more probable. Further longitudinal studies are necessary to accumulate evidence.”
“After multiple women came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, of sexual misconduct, at least 20 high-profile men in a variety of industries have also been accused. Since then, a number have resigned, been fired or experienced other fallout after claims ranging from inappropriate text messages to rape. Here is a list of such cases that have been brought to public attention since the Weinstein scandal broke on Oct. 5, 2017. We’ll update this list periodically as we get new information…” “Note: The list includes only accusations of sexual misconduct that were made against men in the United States, that were made since The New York Times published its investigation into Harvey Weinstein on Oct. 5, and after which there has been public fallout, like a resignation or an inquiry. The dates in the table indicate when news broke of accusations against each man.”
- Also via The New York Times – Trump’s Female Accusers Feel Forgotten. A Lawsuit May Change…
- Also via the Washington Post – Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32
- Also via The New York Times – Roy Moore, Alabama Senate Candidate Under Siege, Tries to Discredit Accusers
CNN – “Here is a list of the deadliest single day mass shootings in US history from 1949 to the present. If the shooter was killed or committed suicide during the incident that death is not included in the total.”
See also Study: Gun deaths, injuries in California spike following Nevada gun shows: “More than 4,000 gun shows are held annually in the U.S., and gun shows account for 4 to 9 percent of annual firearm sales. Some gun shows draw thousands of attendees and hundreds of sellers, whose transactions may not be subject to vigorous oversight. Some of these transactions are between private parties and do not involve a background check. Research has shown that firearms from gun shows are disproportionately implicated in crimes. California has some of the strongest firearm laws in the country, including a comprehensive set of statutes regulating gun shows. Nevada has some of the least restrictive firearm laws in the country and no explicit regulations on gun shows.
“Our study suggests that California’s strict regulations — on firearms, generally, and on gun shows, specifically — may be effective in preventing short-term increases in firearm deaths and injuries following gun shows,” said the study’s lead author, Ellicott Matthay, a Ph.D. student in UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health.
Study finds 3M Americans carry a loaded handgun daily – “Approximately 9 million handgun owners in the United States carry loaded handguns on a monthly basis—about 7 million of whom have concealed carry permits—while 3 million report carrying on a daily basis. These are among the findings from a new study led by Northeastern professor Matthew Miller and his colleagues, published Thursday afternoon in the American Journal of Public Health. The study is the first of its kind in more than 20 years to assess why and how often gun owners carry their loaded firearms…”
The men and women of our armed forces who have died in “three wars” – Iraq, Afghanistan and in other lands where they were deployed to “fight terrorism.”
See News Releases are official statements of the Department of Defense. Go to DoD News for more information and for links to other news items.
In related reading this blog posting – In Flanders fields the poppies blow