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TIME: “Like many of the virus’s hardest hit victims, the United States went into the COVID-19 pandemic wracked by preexisting conditions. A fraying public health infrastructure, inadequate medical supplies, an employer-based health insurance system perversely unsuited to the moment—these and other afflictions are surely contributing to the death toll. But in addressing the causes and consequences of this pandemic—and its cruelly uneven impact—the elephant in the room is extreme income inequality.
How big is this elephant? A staggering $50 trillion. That is how much the upward redistribution of income has cost American workers over the past several decades.
This is not some back-of-the-napkin approximation. According to a groundbreaking new working paper by Carter C. Price and Kathryn Edwards of the RAND Corporation, had the more equitable income distributions of the three decades following World War II (1945 through 1974) merely held steady, the aggregate annual income of Americans earning below the 90th percentile would have been $2.5 trillion higher in the year 2018 alone. That is an amount equal to nearly 12 percent of GDP—enough to more than double median income—enough to pay every single working American in the bottom nine deciles an additional $1,144 a month. Every month. Every single year…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues, September 12, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Even a Federal Judge Agrees That the FBI and NSA Are Flouting Civil Liberty Safeguards; Chinese hackers go after UNC for COVID-19 vaccine info; COVID-19 and Emerging Global Patterns of Financial Crime; and The State Of Identity Security, 2020.
“For years, public trust in the federal government has hovered at near-record lows. That remains the case today, as the United States struggles with a pandemic and economic recession. Just 20% of U.S. adults say they trust the government in Washington to “do the right thing” just about always or most of the time. Yet Americans also have long expressed positive views of the federal government’s performance in several specific areas. And majorities want the government to play a major role on everything from keeping the country safe from terrorism to ensuring access to health care and alleviating poverty. Attitudes about the appropriate role for government and its performance have changed only modestly since 2017, though Democrats have become more critical of government performance in some areas since then. Among the public overall, majorities say the government does a very good or somewhat good job keeping the country safe from terrorism (72%), responding to natural disasters (62%), ensuring safe food and medicine (62%), strengthening the economy (54%) and maintaining infrastructure (53%). Americans are far more critical of how the government handles several other issues, including managing the immigration system (just 34% say it does a good job), helping people get out of poverty (36%) and effectively handling threats to public health (42%)…These are among the findings of Pew Research Center’s study of attitudes about government, which updates studies from 2019, 2017 and 2015. ..”
Washington Post – “Once again, people around the world are waiting eagerly for a vaccine. As with polio, rabies and other infections in the past, teams of scientists are racing to develop one. If they succeed, Americans will line up to be immunized, part of a global campaign to protect the world’s population from the novel coronavirus. But if history is any guide, some will hesitate, frightened by claims that the new, potentially lifesaving vaccines are part of a government effort to control our bodies, that they are harmful or that some untested, alternative treatment is preferable. Vaccines are one of humanity’s greatest achievements, a testament to our species’ intelligence, science and altruism. Smallpox, once a constant threat in most regions of the globe, killed about 30 percent of its victims each year in England and France before a vaccine was introduced there during the first half of the 19th century. By 1850, smallpox deaths in France, estimated at 50,000 to 80,000 annually before the advent of the vaccine, had declined to a tenth of their previous level…Opposition to vaccines persists today, periodically gaining traction in the United States and other countries. Berman, an assistant professor of basic science at an osteopathic medical school, explores the history of anti-vaccine movements and how best to counter them. Such movements, he finds, share beliefs and features: wariness of government control, distrust of the medical establishment and its products, false claims about vaccines (often made by people with economic interests), and unfounded fears of harm, spread by misinformation and social media. Those most vulnerable to such claims are often parents trying to decide what is best for their children’s health. Rather than learning from reliable sources why childhood vaccines are necessary to protect both individuals and the population as a whole from infections, they may receive unreliable information from others in their community who oppose vaccination…”
U.S. National Strategy for Financial Literacy 2020 – U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission, September 2020 – “Financial education is key to unlocking the foundations of economic opportunity and powering a strong and resilient economy. Americans must acquire financial skills and knowledge to fully participate in our dynamic economy. In a 2018 study, only one-third of adults could answer at least four of five financial literacy questions on fundamental concepts such as mortgages, interest rates, inflation and risk. Similarly, a 2018 assessment of 15-year-old students found that 16 percent were below a proficient level of financial literacy, 22 percent demonstrated a basic level of financial literacy, while 12 percent successfully demonstrated the highest level of financial skills assessed. Additional performance gaps persist in financial literacy between minority populations and the U.S. population as a whole…To address these disparities in financial literacy, both the private and public sectors offer additional support for minority populations to develop knowledge, skills, and confidence to make more informed financial decisions. These offerings help people attain their goals and financial well-being in what is an increasingly complex environment that contains competing sources of information and influence…”
Like Hacker – “While, sure, anybody could just drive by your house to see what it looks like—all the tin foil in the world isn’t going to shield you from that privacy “violation,” though a fence might help—you can make it harder for people to see your home on Google Maps. The solution involves blurring out your entire house, and while it’s a sure-fire way to make your abode the ugliest-looking address on your virtual block, you may still want to do it. If you don’t like the image Google captured with one of its many Street View cars, or you want to keep random internet strangers from doing digital drive-bys, the option is there. There’s also one big caveat if you use it. Once you elect to blur your address, you can’t unblur it. Full stop. I’m not sure Google even makes exemptions if you’re the new owner of a house that was previously blurred; you can try, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. I also believe this request persists even if, or when, Google takes new Street View images of your area…” [Yes it does persist. Also note, you can request the same blurring of your home on Microsoft Bing – but it is not automatic and can take more than a week to complete.]
Consumer Reports – There is a connection between your diet and your ears: “About 44 million American adults have hearing loss, and that number is expected to almost double to 73 million by 2060. It’s no surprise that minimizing exposure to high-decibel noise protects your ears. But recent and accumulating research indicates that following a healthy diet may be another way to prevent hearing loss. “It’s clear now that diet is a factor, along with other issues such as noise pollution, age, certain types of medications, and even certain medical conditions such as diabetes,” says Enrique Perez, MD, an otolaryngologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In a 2020 review of 22 studies, researchers in Spain found evidence linking fruits and vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamins A, C, and E to a lower risk of developing age-related hearing loss. Other research shows that people who ate fish two to four times a week had about a 20 percent less chance of hearing problems and that getting too little folate—less than 200 mg per day—raised the risk…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
The New York Times – Open water and rain, rather than ice and snow, are becoming typical of the region, a new study has found. “The Arctic is among the parts of the world most influenced by climate change, with sharply rising temperatures, thawing permafrost and other effects in addition to shrinking sea ice. The study, by Laura Landrum and Marika M. Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., is an effort to put what is occurring in the region in context. “Everybody knows the Arctic is changing,” said Dr. Landrum, a climate scientist and the lead author of the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change. “We really wanted to quantify if this is a new climate.” In other words, she said, “has the Arctic changed so much and so fast that the new climate cannot be predicted from the recent past?”
Using years of observational data from the region and computer models, the researchers found that sea ice is already in a new climate, in effect: The extent of ice in recent years is consistently less than what would be expected in even the worst year for ice in the mid-20th century…”
Make Use Of: Many ebook subscription services offer unlimited access to ebooks for a monthly fee. Here are the best ones, compared – “Internet subscription services are the future. They offer unlimited streaming of media for a flat monthly rate, offering some of the best entertainment value around. But what about an internet subscription for literature? Ebook subscription services have been around for a while now, and if you’re an avid reader, if you don’t use one, you’re missing out. These are the best ebook subscription services that will satisfy your need to read…”
“Modern, intuitive design, deeper product integrations and advanced technologies deliver improved data-driven legal insights while enhancing user experience – LexisNexis® Legal & Professional, a leading global provider of information and analytics, today announced the official commercial launch of Lexis+, a feature-rich, premium legal solution. Lexis+ unites advanced research, practical guidance, brief analysis and enhanced tools with a modern user experience to deliver data-driven insights, greater efficiency and better outcomes.
Lexis+ users will appreciate the dramatic visual styling and simplified layout designed to set a new standard in ease of use. Striking imagery, bold colors and typography improve readability, reduce visual “clutter” and emphasize essential information and tasks. The new Experience Dock creates an integrated starting point for core legal tasks and enables seamless switching between product experiences and workflows. New and intuitive features, such as Search Tree, Code Compare and Shepard’s® At Risk, make it easy for practitioners to access the information and insights they need, control their search experience and provide better counsel. Altogether, Lexis+ delivers on the demand for legal solutions that look and work more like the modern technology products that attorneys use in their personal lives…”
Via LLRX – Internet Archive Open Library lawsuit moves forward; arguments set for November 2021 – Chris Meadows discusses the ongoing case by four publishers, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, John Wiley & Sons and Penguin Random House, against the Internet Archives Open Library respective to the scanning, public display, and distribution of entire literary works. As noted, this is “a potentially sensitive, and complex litigation.” The future of the Internet Archive may hang in the balance. This case is shining light on the heightened importance of evaluating fair use during a pandemic that is keeping vast books collections out of users reach for the unforeseeable future, while most education is confined to distance learning.
The New York Times – With two former solicitors general and hundreds of lawyers, the Biden campaign is bracing for an extended legal battle and hoping to maintain trust in the electoral process. “…Inside the campaign, they are creating a “special litigation” unit, which will be led by Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and Walter Dellinger, two former solicitors general, who are joining the campaign. Hundreds of lawyers will be involved, including a team at the Democratic law firm Perkins Coie, led by Marc Elias, which will focus on the state-by-state fight over vote casting and counting rules. And Eric H. Holder Jr., the former attorney general in the Obama administration, will serve as something of a liaison between the campaign and the many independent groups involved in the legal fight over the election, which is already raging in the courts. “We can and will hold a free and fair election this fall and be able to trust the results,” Ms. Remus said in an interview. Mr. Bauer, who was general counsel on both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, said the operation would be “far more sophisticated and resourced” than those during past campaigns. Ms. Remus and Mr. Bauer outlined a multipronged program that will include some elements common to past presidential campaigns, such as fighting off voter suppression and ensuring people understood how to vote, and some more unique to 2020, such as administering an election during a pandemic and guarding against foreign interference…”
“The Law Library of Congress and the Library of Congress Center for Learning, Literacy and Engagement invite you to our 2020 Constitution and Citizenship Day event, “The Bulwark of Freedom”: African-American Members of Congress and the Constitution During Reconstruction, on September 17th at 3 p.m. EDT. This year’s lecture will be an online event and will be given by Michael J. Murphy, a historical publication specialist in the Office of the Historian for the U.S. House of Representatives. Learn about the lives of the first African Americans to serve in the United States Congress during Reconstruction and the challenges they faced. To register for this lecture, please visit our Eventbrite page.” [h/t Emily Carr]
United States: Federal and State Executive Responses to COVID-19. Anna Price, Legal Reference Specialist; Louis Myers, Librarian-in-Residence. September 2020. “The executive branches of federal and state governments in the United States have authority to enact rules and regulations designed to implement, enforce, and carry out laws passed by Congress. The executive branch generally relies on government agencies to perform these actions. Typically, the process is lengthy, including time for public comment and congressional oversight. Under certain circumstances, however, exceptions can apply to the process, allowing agencies to act immediately, lawfully bypassing normally longer regulatory procedures.Although emergency rulemaking has been used in response to previous emergent situations, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in emergency rulemaking affecting every jurisdiction in the United States. The functional effects of emergency rulemaking are wide-ranging and can be contentious. The nature of emergency rulemaking creates difficulties for oversight at both the federal and state level. The rules and regulations enacted under the emergency framework will shape current and future generations as the United States begins to recover from COVID-19’s economic and societal impacts…”
New Statesman “After years of complaints from users, Goodreads’ reign over the world of book talk might be coming to an end. On a typical day, a long-time user of Goodreads [owned by Amazon], the world’s largest community for reviewing and recommending books, will feel like they’re losing their mind. After numerous frustrated attempts to find a major new release, to like, comment on, or reply to messages and reviews, to add what they’ve read to their “shelf” or to discover new titles, users know they’ll be forced to give up, confronted with the fact that any basic, expected functionality will evade them. Sometimes even checking what they’ve already read will be next to impossible. Across a huge range of reading habits and preferences, this the one thing that unites millions of Goodreads users: that Goodreads sucks, and is just shy of unbearable. There should be nothing in the world more benign than Goodreads, a website and app that 90 million people around the world use to find new books, track their reading, and attempt to meet people with similar tastes. For almost 15 years, it has been the dominant platform for readers to rate books and find recommendations. But many of the internet’s most dedicated readers now wish they could share their enthusiasm for books elsewhere. What should be a cosy, pleasant corner of the internet has become a monster…”
OECD September 2020, The Economic Impacts of Learning Losses: “The worldwide school closures in early 2020 led to losses in learning that will not easily be made up for even if schools quickly return to their prior performance levels. These losses will have lasting economic impacts both on the affected students and on each nation unless they are effectively remediated.While the precise learning losses are not yet known, existing research suggests that the students in grades 1-12 affected by the closures might expect some 3 percent lower income over their entire lifetimes. For nations, the lower long-term growth related to such losses might yield an average of 1.5 percent lower annual GDP for the remainder of the century. These economic losses would grow if schools are unable to re-start quickly. The economic losses will be more deeply felt by disadvantaged students. All indications are that students whose families are less able to support out-of-school learning will face larger learning losses than their more advantaged peers, which in turn will translate into deeper losses of lifetime earnings..”
Washington Post – “This spring, adults suddenly working from home full-time got a lesson in ergonomics the hard way. This fall, make sure your kids don’t have to. To ensure learning from home isn’t a pain in the neck (or strain on the eyes), we turned to experts in ergonomics and children’s health. They prioritize two conditions for healthy learning: frequent movement throughout the day and a screen at eye level.
Movement and having the screen at eye level are the biggest things to reduce issues of lower back and neck pain,” says Daren Molina, a sports medicine specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, where he’s starting to see an uptick in kids coming in with problems related to not moving and poor neck posture…”
The New York Times – “Working remotely may have eliminated your commute and allowed you to spend the day in your pajamas, but it also means you’re most likely bombarded with digital communication every second of the day — from personal and professional emails crowding your inboxes to push notifications reminding you of every news development to the nonstop viral allure of Twitter and Instagram. If you are suffering from tech fatigue, or simply trying to become more productive online, here are steps you can take to organize your digital landscape…”
How Google, Facebook, and Twitter plan to handle misinformation surrounding 2020 presidential election results
Fortune via Yahoo Finance: “Google, Facebook, and Twitter are preparing for an unprecedented hurdle they may face on the night of Nov. 3: Not knowing who won the 2020 presidential election. A massive number of voters are expected to vote by mail, at least partially driven by a desire to avoid contracting the coronavirus. But it’s still unclear whether all ballots will be counted by the night of the election. Any difficulties or delays could ultimately postpone election results by days or weeks, which could allow election misinformation and false claims of victory to go viral. Google, Facebook, and Twitter will be under increased pressure to control election-related misinformation, which the three have historically struggled to police. Politicians, political campaigns, foreign actors, and even average users have long used the services to disseminate false claims about candidates, and in some cases undermine the credibility of this year’s election given its unique circumstances. The three companies recently announced new policies aimed at mitigating false claims of victory. Here’s what they plan to do…”
Fisher KA, Tenforde MW, Feldstein LR, et al. Community and Close Contact Exposures Associated with COVID-19 Among Symptomatic Adults ≥18 Years in 11 Outpatient Health Care Facilities — United States, July 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:1258–1264. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6936a5external icon – “Findings from a case-control investigation of symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities found that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity. Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant than were those with negative SARS-CoV-2 test results..Community and close contact exposures continue to drive the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. CDC and other public health authorities recommend community mitigation strategies to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19…”