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A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens…”The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them…”
Law.com: “In September 2017, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) published a powerful essay penned by Ed Walters. Walters exhorts law librarians to roll up their sleeves and wield for themselves the powerful tools grouped under the umbrella of “artificial intelligence.” The full benefits of AI, he argues, will be only be realized in a “read/write” world where law librarians create solutions, not just consume them. On July 14, AALL members will converge in Baltimore for the association’s annual conference. The spirit of Walters’ call-to-arms inhabits the official conference theme: “From Knowledge to Action.” Walters will himself lead a session devoted entirely to enabling law librarians to get past the “hype” of artificial intelligence and actually start using it on substantive projects. There will also be a two-and-a-half hour “deep dive” session that will familiarize attendees with the all-important APIs (application program interfaces) that govern much of how software applications exchange information. Librarians looking to get into heavy duty “data wrangling” will benefit from a session on the open-source platform OpenRefine. Another session will teach librarians how to create their own chat-bots. These are just a few examples of the many action-oriented sessions scheduled over the three-day event…”
CRS Legal Sidebar – President Trump Nominates Judge Brett Kavanaugh: Initial Observations, Andrew Nolan, Section Research Manager. July 10, 2018.“On July 9, 2019, President Trump announced the nomination of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) to fill the impending vacancy on the Supreme Court caused by Justice Kennedy’s scheduled retirement on July 31, 2018. As noted in this earlier Sidebar, Justice Kennedy’s retirement is likely to have significant implications for the Court, Congress, and the nation as a whole. Justice Kennedy, as the Roberts Court’s median vote, was often at the epicenter of legal debates on the High Court, casting decisive votes on issues ranging from the powers of the federal government visà-vis the states, to separation-of-powers disputes, to key civil liberties issues. A critical question now before the Senate as it considers providing its advice and consent to the President’s nomination to the High Court is how Judge Kavanaugh may view the many legal issues in which Justice Kennedy’s vote was often determinative. This Sidebar provides some initial observations on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, noting his background and some initial clues as to how the nominee may impact the future of the Court…”
Law.com: The focus is shifting toward more business intelligence research for partners and away from client-facing work, the survey results indicated. “This year’s survey results show that for firm librarians the focus is switching from practice of law research to business development research—sometimes referred to as competitive intelligence. Specifically, 75 percent of respondents expect to see requests for business of law research increase in the near future, as opposed to 52 percent expecting the same for practice of law research. Asked if the business of law has overtaken the practice of law as their researchers’ principle focus, 31 percent of respondents said it had. More significantly, 84 percent of respondents said they believe their departments should be the primary provider of business of law research for their firms. “In the old days, we used to support the practice of law. Now, we are doing research for business development and we have a very good relationship with our marketing people. We also work with individual lawyers,” says Charles Frey, the director of the library at Munger, Tolles & Olson. Have Frey or other library directors gotten more staff for the new assignments? “It has been one of the challenges,” Frey says. “We have maintained the same staff, but reallocated their time.” Likewise, survey respondents reported that their departments’ staff budgets shrunk slightly from 2017, when they averaged $842,742, to this year, when they averaged $837,697. Their departments’ budgets for print and electronic resources have gone down from $8.2 million in 2017 to $3.2 million this year, a steep 60 percent drop. Some of those cutbacks reflect multiyear subscriptions expiring for print products that were not renewed, according to the library leaders who spoke for this article. There was also an outlier in the data for 2017 that drove last year’s figure so high. Removing that outlier brings the 2017 data to $3.75 million, which would make 2018’s figures just 14 percent lower than 2017. Survey results are impacted by the number and composition of respondents, which change from year to year. The data comes from dozens of firms in the Am Law 200 and beyond…”
“In no aspect of his presidency has Trump acted more immorally and done more damage to the rule of law and constitutional norms than in his exercise of the pardon power. He has granted only five pardons, far fewer than any modern president at a comparable stage. And the immediate practical consequences of these pardons have been modest relative to the havoc he has wreaked with other endeavors — for example, his all-out assault on federal law enforcement institutions. But his pardons violate core principles of justice and appear designed to settle scores with enemies and to encourage allies to resist cooperation with the Mueller investigation. At times, Trump appears almost gleeful about using the pardon power in a manner directly contrary to its purpose. Three of his pardons — the recent surprise grant to conservative political commentator Dinesh D’Souza; the April grant to Scooter Libby, former adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney; and the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio last August — involve grave abuses of presidential power. Each of these pardons was a debasement of the pardon power and an egregious affront to constitutional norms and the rule of law.”
LawSites – Robert Ambrogi on July 12, 2012 – “It was eight years ago that Thomson Reuters unveiled WestlawNext to great fanfare, eventually phasing out classic Westlaw entirely. A lot has changed in those eight years, both in the legal market and in legal technology. Today, Thomson Reuters is officially announcing its next-generation legal research platform, Westlaw Edge, which uses advanced artificial intelligence and analytics with the goal of helping legal professionals find answers and perform research more efficiently and with better results. The most-striking features of Westlaw Edge are:
- An enhanced, AI-powered version of the KeyCite citator that provides warnings that cases may no longer be good law in circumstances that traditional citators could not identify.
- WestSearch Plus, an AI-driven legal research tool that guides lawyers quickly to answers to specific legal questions.
- Integrated litigation analytics, providing detailed docket analytics covering judges, courts, attorneys and law firms, for both federal and state courts.
- Statutes Compare, a tool that allows researchers to compare changes to statutes.
Westlaw Edge also includes a variety of user-experience improvements throughout the platform. Westlaw Edge will be offered as a subscription upgrade to Westlaw subscribers. Thomson Reuters will continue to operate Westlaw in its current form until 2024, but it will focus most major development going forward on the new Westlaw Edge platform. Bloggers and journalists attended a briefing yesterday at Thomson Reuters headquarters in New York where company executives presented an overview of Westlaw Edge. I’ve been given a password to test it, and I will write more when I get a chance to try it hands-on. Here are key points from yesterday’s briefing…”
Harvard Business Review: “Late last month, California passed a sweeping consumer privacy law that might force significant changes on companies that deal in personal data — and especially those operating in the digital space. The law’s passage comes on the heels of a few days of intense negotiation among privacy advocates, technology startups, network providers, Silicon Valley internet companies, and others. Those discussions have resulted in what many are describing as a landmark policy constituting the most stringent data protection regime in the United States. Much of the political impetus behind the law’s passage came from some major privacy scandals that have come to light in recent months, including the Cambridge Analytica incident involving Facebook user data. This and other news drove public support for a privacy ballot initiative that would have instituted an even stricter data protection regime on companies that deal in consumer data if the state’s residents voted to pass it in November. But after intense negotiation, especially from leading internet companies and internet service providers, the backers of the ballot initiative agreed to drop the initiative and instead support the passage of the law. The new law — the California Consumer Privacy Act, A.B. 375 — affords California residents an array of new rights, starting with the right to be informed about what kinds of personal data companies have collected and why it was collected. Among other novel protections, the law stipulates that consumers have the right to request the deletion of personal information, opt out of the sale of personal information, and access the personal information in a “readily useable format” that enables its transfer to third parties without hindrance…”
Washington Post – “…After testing password managers that work across browsers and devices, I recommend one called Dashlane. It’s the one simple enough that you’re likely to stick with it, though its features are neck and neck with rivals 1Password and LastPass, which are also fine choices.
Dashlane, used by 10 million people, is free to try on a single device. You pay a subscription to make it securely sync up your passwords (and other secrets such as credit card details and ID numbers) across your computer, phone and tablet. At $3.33 per month, Dashlane happens to be the most expensive of the three, but like the Apple of the password game, its design and customer service are worth it.
Dashlane also has been largely free of drama over its own security. You would be right to wonder how safe it is to keep all your password eggs in one basket. All three of these companies keep your passwords encrypted behind a password they don’t know — so that even if they get hacked, the data is mostly useless. They never send your password over the Internet. In 2015, LastPass reported it was breached, though it reported that no passwords were stolen. There are no security guarantees, but I buy the argument that it’s okay to keep your eggs in one basket if it’s more secure than the basket you build on your own.
The biggest hurdle is changing your habits. With a password manager, you don’t memorize passwords — you retrieve them from an app. Let that sink in: You won’t remember your Gmail password anymore, but you’ll be better off because now your password can be a long bunch of gobbledygook that’s harder to crack…”
“This report, mandated by Executive Order 13526, covers implementation by Government agencies’ of the security classification program and the Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program. The report calls for fuller implementation of the CUI program, and provides recommendations to aid in modernizing the security classification system, which has an estimated annual cost to Government of over $18.39 billion. It calls for adopting strategies that increase the precision and decrease the permissiveness of security classification decisions, improve the efficiency and effectiveness of declassification programs, and the use of modern technology in security classification programs across the Government….”
Fact sheet was compiled by Research Associate Elisa Shearer: “The audio news sector in the United States is split by modes of delivery: traditional terrestrial (AM/FM) radio and digital formats such as online radio and podcasting. While terrestrial radio reaches almost the entire U.S. population and remains steady in its revenue, online radio and podcasting audiences have continued to grow over the past decade. Explore the patterns and longitudinal data about audio and podcasting below. Data on other public radio beyond podcasting are available in a separate fact sheet.
The audience for terrestrial radio remains steady and high: In 2017, 90% of Americans ages 12 and older listened to terrestrial radio in a given week, according to Nielsen Media Research data published by the Radio Advertising Bureau, a figure that has changed little since 2009.
Note: This and most data on the radio sector apply to all types of listening and do not break out news, except where noted. Nielsen lists news/talk among the most listened-to radio formats; in 2017, the news/talk format earned 9.9% of radio audiences during any 15-minute period during the day…”
“Open the Government, together with a coalition of organizations committed to government accountability, civil liberties, human rights, and civil rights, is calling on Congress to immediately investigate the administration’s records management practices relating to the “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement policy and family reunification efforts. This policy has caused a major humanitarian crisis, and the administration has already failed to meet court ordered deadlines to reunify children with their parents. While the government claims to know the location of all children in its custody, recent reports indicate that border agents are improperly destroying records on the separated families, heightening concern that these children might never see their parents again.
“Improper destruction of official records could be contributing to the disappearance of children, lost in a shadowy immigration enforcement system,” according to Lisa Rosenberg, Executive Director of Open the Government. “Lawyers and advocates are working tirelessly to help bring families back together, but urgently need more information to do so. Congress needs to take immediate action to protect records on family separation and demand greater transparency to make sure all the families are reunited.”
To increase access to information on this issue, Open the Government and the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) are also filing a Freedom of Information Act request calling for the disclosure of all policy guidance relating to the handling of records by border agents, implementation of the zero-tolerance policy, and the administration’s family reunification plan (read the FOIA here). The request asks for expedited processing, citing the urgent need to provide information to family members, advocates, and lawyers working to ensure the separated children see their parents again.
The zero-tolerance policy that began in April 2018 has led to the separation of an estimated 2,500 children from their asylum seeking parents, 100 under the age of five. The practice of taking away children has taken place under a cloak of secrecy, and followed a series of opaque policy changes that removed important protections for migrant children seeking asylum at the border. Now, media reports indicate that records linking children to their parents have disappeared, and in some cases have been destroyed, leaving the authorities struggling to identify connections between family members.
Recent investigations have also started to expose secret child holding facilities maintained by private contractors, which came to light only after reporters went to investigate calls from concerned neighbors worried they were witnessing human trafficking. Given such public concern over the treatment of migrant children, it is critical for Congress to act to demand maximum transparency and accountability to hasten an end to this humanitarian crisis.
Read the coalition letter here.”
The big picture: There have been five other cases since 1950 when seats have opened within 150 days of a midterm election. In three of them, the nomination process was completed before the election (David Souter, Antonin Scalia, Arthur Goldberg). In the remaining two instances, both under President Eisenhower, the nomination was delayed until after the election (Potter Stewart, John Marshall Harlan II).
Why it matters: Mitch McConnell, who stalled Merrick Garland’s nomination to replace Antonin Scalia because it was close to a presidential election, has promised that Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings and vote will take place before November.
The bottom line: Democrats are looking for ways to block or delay the nomination, but they don’t have the votes to do it as long Republicans stick together…”
Legal Design Lab: “Over the past quarter, the Stanford Legal Design Lab has established a regular on-site civic user testing group at the California courts. Through a policy lab class, Community-Led System Design Practice, our team of five students, teachers, and fellows has developed a user testing protocol for people working on justice innovation. It is particularly aimed at court staff and executives, legal aid leaders, and others who are interested in making the justice system work better for people — and who are considering where to spend resources on innovation. We ran weekly court user testing sessions in May and June 2018, speaking to a total of 55 court-users, with approximately 9 users each visit. On average, we spoke with them for 20 minutes, structured around two short surveys. Our surveys, run on Qualtrics or on paper cards/canvases, asked court visitors to rank different ideas for ‘innovations’ in for civil justice self help, and then to rank different places where self-help resources may be located. These surveys were meant to draw out the explicit rankings of different innovation efforts from the users’ point of view, as well as to understand their driving values and preferences…”
Our work on “Algorithms and Justice,” as part of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, explores ways in which government institutions are increasingly using artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning technologies in their decisionmaking processes. That work has been defined (loosely) by the following mission statement:
The Algorithms and Justice track explores ways in which government institutions incorporate artificial intelligence, algorithms, and machine learning technologies into their decisionmaking. Our aim is to help the public and private entities that create such tools, state actors that procure and deploy them, and citizens they impact understand how those tools work. We seek to ensure that algorithmic applications are developed and used with an eye toward improving fairness and efficacy without sacrificing values of accountability and transparency. Our work begins with a focus on the United States, while developing more generalizable lessons and best practices.
What follows is a retrospective from this first year of work, describing research modes and outputs and identifying takeaways. Headlines include the following:
- The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative is well-positioned to be a resource for government actors, who are open to expert engagement and input on difficult technical questions. From legislators to judges to state attorneys general, we were pleased that our efforts at outreach with government officials whose work intersects with the use of autonomous technologies were well-received and that state actors are so interested and open to further guidance and input on these issues.
- Stakeholders with an interest in the use and development of algorithmic tools are demanding clear data and information to inform decisionmaking, and academic initiatives like ours are well-suited to become data clearinghouses. After months carefully designing variables and functionality alongside members of the research and advocacy communities, data collection for the risk assessment database is underway for a launch at the end of summer 2018. Our team is already finding new information about how risk assessments are developed and used and uncovering trends across tools and developers that will be both fodder for significant research and a basis for further data collection efforts.
- Procurement is one component of a larger process and must be considered in its broader context. We often speak of the importance of government procurement officers and of ensuring those responsible for purchasing decisions understand the impact of algorithmic technologies. But, procurement is part of a process that extends beyond the point of purchase or licensing and includes assessment of the technical development process, adoption of implementation guidelines, and rigorous testing and review. We have been researching this larger ecosystem over the past year to provide robust resources and guidance to government such that they can consider the context and make smart systems-level decisions.
- The operations of government actors in this space raise some issues that are unique, novel, and discrete and other issues closely connected to concerns raised by the operations of private and commercial actors. It is impossible to completely divorce consideration of government use of AI, algorithms, and machine learning technologies from a broader conversation about fairness, transparency, equality, inclusion, and justice, as they relate to development and use of these tools in the private sector.
We look ahead with an eye toward maximizing impact and engagement with key constituencies as we move our work forward…”
BookRiot: “On the third floor of the New York Public Library, off of a quiet, marble-tiled hallway, is the Berg Reading Room. Mary Catherine Kinniburgh is one of the literary-manuscript specialists in charge of the cache of artifacts, which includes a lock of Walt Whitman’s hair, Jack Kerouac’s boots and Virginia Woolf’s walking cane—all guarded by a buzzer and a strict protocol for appointment-only visits. “You can’t help but be a person in space and time in history, particularly in this room. It’s an opportunity to encounter an object in a very physical way, to generate meaning that transcends the shape of time,” Kinniburgh said..”
MakeUseOf (MUO): “Google and Bing might be the web’s most popular search engines, but they’re both a disaster from a privacy standpoint. They routinely harvest your data and use it in more ways than you care to imagine. Is search engine privacy important to you? If so, you should consider using one of these alternative search engines instead. What Kinds of Data Are Google and Bing Collecting? Before we establish the best search engines for user privacy, let’s take a moment to look at what’s wrong with Google and Bing. They will record and/or store four pieces of information every time you enter a query:
- IP address: It can reveal information about your location.
- A Cookie: Cookies let the search engine trace search queries back to your machine.
- Your search query: Lets the search engine show you targeted ads.
- Date and time of query: Gives the provider insight into what information you want and when you want it. Again, companies use it for targeted ads.
And it’s not just Google and Microsoft that have access to this information. Some search providers will sell your data to third-parties, and they will all hand over your information to the NSA and other similar entities on request.So, which search engines should you use instead? [hint – DuckDuckGo is at the top of the list…]
Pew – As the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag turns 5 years old, a look at its evolution on Twitter and how Americans view social media’s impact on political and civic engagement: “This month marks the fifth anniversary of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which was first coined following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. In the course of those five years, #BlackLivesMatter has become an archetypal example of modern protests and political engagement on social media: A new Pew Research Center analysis of public tweets finds the hashtag has been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter – an average of 17,002 times per day – as of May 1, 2018. The conversations surrounding this hashtag often center on issues related to race, violence and law enforcement, and its usage periodically surges surrounding real-world events – most prominently, during the police-related deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the subsequent shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in July 2016. The rise of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag – along with others like #MeToo and #MAGA (Make America Great Again) – has sparked a broader discussion about the effectiveness and viability of using social media for political engagement and social activism. To that end, a new survey by the Center finds that majorities of Americans do believe these sites are very or somewhat important for accomplishing a range of political goals, such as getting politicians to pay attention to issues (69% of Americans feel these platforms are important for this purpose) or creating sustained movements for social change (67%).
Certain groups of social media users – most notably, those who are black or Hispanic – view these platforms as an especially important tool for their own political engagement. For example, roughly half of black social media users say these platforms are at least somewhat personally important to them as a venue for expressing their political views or for getting involved with issues that are important to them. Those shares fall to around a third among white social media users…”
Columbia Journalism Review: “…the Media Deserts Project [is] a research effort that is trying to map the ways in which many of America’s rural communities are indeed impoverished by the lack of fresh, daily local news and information. As daily newspapers cut and slashed personnel through the Great Recession (or closed completely), they also reduced their coverage of local government and public affairs on their perimeters and in their urban cores. Ownership of local radio stations consolidated in rural areas around right-leaning media organizations with overt political agendas. Broadband access and last-mile challenges in rural communities compounded the issue, making the digital divide as much about geography as it was about income disparities. The Media Deserts Project is about mapping these changes using geographic information systems down to the ZIP code. The goal is to identify the scope of the problem and, in so doing, help community members and journalism entrepreneurs design localized solutions…” [h/t Pete Weiss for these links]
The Hill: “Special counsel Robert Mueller is asking a federal court in Virginia for 100 blank subpoenas in the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The request was made in a filing on Wednesday. The subpoenas would require their recipients to testify in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria on July 25, when Manafort’s trial in Virginia is set to begin. No further information was provided in the filing, and a spokesman for the special counsel did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. The request comes roughly a month after Mueller filed a request for 150 blank subpoenas. [emphasis added]
- See also the Washington Examiner: “Special counsel Robert Mueller on Wednesday asked for 150 blank subpoenas in the Eastern District of Virginia where he has filed charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. The request covers 75 potential subpoenas. In legal cases, two subpoenas are issued for each witness with one going to the individual and a second sent to the court. A blank subpoena allows the government to fill in the name of a witness after it is served. Mr. Mueller revealed little about the subpoenas in the two-page filing, saying only that the recipient must appear at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia on July 25 to testify. Mr. Manafort’s Virginia trial for money laundering, tax evasion and other charges is scheduled to start on July 25.”
- See also the Washington Examiner – Paul Manafort is being treated like a ‘VIP’ in prison, says special counsel: “…Mueller’s team of prosecutors on Wednesday cite a recorded prison call where Manafort says he can visit with his lawyers “every day,” has “gone through all the discovery now” and has “all my files I would like at home.” “Among the unique privileges Manafort enjoys at the jail are a private, self-contained living unit, which is larger than other inmates’ units, his own bathroom and shower facility, his own personal telephone, and his own workspace to prepare for trial,” prosecutors wrote. “Manafort is also not required to wear a prison uniform. On the monitored prison phone calls, Manafort has mentioned that he is being treated like a ‘VIP’.” Telphone logs show that in the last three weeks, Manafort has had more than 100 phone calls with his attorneys and another 200 calls with other persons. “Manafort also possesses a personal laptop that he is permitted to use in his unit to review materials and prepare for trial. The jail has made extra accommodations for Manafort’s use of the laptop, including providing him an extension cord to ensure the laptop can be used in his unit and not just in the separate workroom,” wrote Mueller’s team of Andrew Weissman, Greg Andres, and Brandon L. Van Grack…”