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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 1 hour 11 min ago

How not to fall for coronavirus BS: avoid the 7 deadly sins of thought

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:58

Via LLRX – How not to fall for coronavirus BS: avoid the 7 deadly sins of thoughtLuke Zaphir, Researcher for the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project, posits that amid the panicked flurry of the pandemic, employing concepts from the field of critical thinking called vice epistemology can be demonstrably useful. This theory argues our thinking habits and intellectual character traits cause poor reasoning. Zaphr targets for discussion 7 “intellectual sins” of which we should be mindful in these challenging times.

Categories: Law and Legal

How to Unlock Hidden Browser Games in Edge, Firefox and Chrome

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:52

Lifehacker: “Your web browser is full of secrets. I typically spend my time poring over new features I can unlock via pages like chrome://flags and about:config, but it’s also nice to take a little break and play the hidden games that come packed into the most popular browsers. Yes, your desktop browser is filled with hidden games. Don’t crack your knuckles and expect to hunker down for a Civilization VI-like session—they’re not that great. They are fun little time-wasters, though. If nothing else, they’re great to send to your friends if you’re looking to impress them with your technical know-how…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Gmail’s new feature makes it easier to personalize your inbox

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:42

TechCrunch: “Google is introducing a new “quick settings” menu in Gmail aimed at helping users browse, discover and use different themes and settings to customize their Gmail experience. These options include the ability to change the density of text, select from different inbox types and add reading panes and options to theme your inbox. They are not new features, but before had been buried in Gmail’s settings. Many users may have not even known the options existed, unless they went digging. From the new Quick Settings menu, Gmail will pop up these various options on the right side of the inbox for easier access. And as you make a selection, you can see your inbox update with the change immediately, allowing you to try out new settings and themes before making a commitment…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Appeals court rules in favor of Google, Apple, Facebook and Twitter in anti-conservative bias suit

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:38

TechCrunch: “The same day Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten to regulate or shut down social media sites, the U.S. appeals court in Washington, D.C. dismissed a lawsuit accusing top tech companies of silencing conservative voices. Filed in 2018 by nonprofit Freedom Watch and right-wing gadfly Laura Loomer, the suit accused Apple, Facebook, Twitter and Google of stifling First Amendment rights. The suit alleged that four of tech’s biggest names “have engaged in a conspiracy to intentionally and willfully suppress politically conservative content.” It specifically cited Loomer’s ban from Twitter and Facebook, following a tweet about Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. Also noted is her inability to grow an audience base and revenue on Google’s YouTube, suggesting that after Trump’s election “growth on these platforms has come to a complete halt, and its audience base and revenue generated has either plateaued or diminished.” Apple’s alleged role is less clear. In the ruling, District Judge Trevor McFadden notes that Freedom Watch and Loomer failed to back up a claim that the companies were “state actors,” involved with the regulation of free speech.

“The Plaintiffs do not show how the Platforms’ alleged conduct may fairly be treated as actions taken by the government itself,” the judge writes. “Facebook and Twitter, for example, are private businesses that do not become ‘state actors’ based solely on the provision of their social media networks to the public.” In other words, the companies cannot violate the first amendment, because banning users doesn’t constitute government abridgment of free speech. Per the decision, “Freedom Watch fails to point to additional facts indicating that these Platforms are engaged in state action and thus fails to state a viable First Amendment claim.”…

Categories: Law and Legal

Inspector General Vacancy Tracker

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:31

POGO – Where Are All the Watchdogs? “Offices of Inspectors General (OIG) serve as independent watchdogs within federal agencies and are essential to a well-functioning federal government. They conduct audits and investigations that identify wasteful government practices, fraud by individuals and government contractors, and other sorts of government misconduct, even including torture. Congress and the public rely on OIG reports to hold agencies and individuals accountable for wrongdoing, identify a need for legislation, and evaluate the effectiveness of government programs and policies. Unfortunately, many OIGs across the government do not have permanent leadership. POGO’s vacancy tracker monitors how long Inspector General positions across the government have been left vacant…”

Categories: Law and Legal

COVID-19: Resources for Tracking Federal Spending and Federal Awards

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 22:02
  • COVID-19: Resources for Tracking Federal Spending May 27, 2020: “Congress has responded to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with various legislation providing relief to individuals and families, state and local governments, businesses, healthcare providers, and other entities. This CRS Insight provides information on selected sources for tracking COVID-19 relief funding provided through these bills. For general information on resources for tracking federal funds, see CRS Report R44027, Tracking Federal Awards: and Other Data Sources, by Jennifer Teefy.” (cited below)
  • Tracking Federal Awards in States and Congressional Districts Using, May 11, 2020: “, available to the public at, is a government source for data on federal awards by state, congressional district (CD), zip code,city,and county. The awards data in is provided by federal agencies and represents grants, contracts, loans, and other financial assistance. Grant awards include money the federal government commits for projects in states, local jurisdictions, regions, territories, and tribal reservations, as well as payments for eligible needs to help individuals and families. Contract awards refer to bids and agreements the federal government makes for specific goods and services. does not include data on actual spending by recipients. also provides tools for examining the broader picture of federal spending obligations within the categories of budget function, agency, and object class. Budget function refers to the major purpose that the spending serves, such as Social Security, Medicare, and national defense. Object class refers to the type of item or service purchased by the federal government, such as grants, contracts, and personnel compensation and benefits. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred multiple pieces of legislation providing relief to individuals and families, state and local governments, businesses, and healthcare providers. According to an Office of Management and Budget memorandum from April 10, 2020, there are plans to identify COVID-19-related federal awards in effective for the June 2020 reporting period. Using to locate and compile accurate data on federal awards presents challenges, in part, because of continued data quality issues that have been identified by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Researchers need to be aware that search results may be incomplete or contain inaccuracies…”
Categories: Law and Legal

A flood of coronavirus apps are tracking us. Now it’s time to keep track of them

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 19:11

MIT Technology Review – Our Covid Tracing Tracker project will document them. “…When we began comparing apps around the world, we realized there was no central repository of information; just incomplete, constantly changing data spread across a wide range of sources. Nor was there a single, standard approach being taken by developers and policymakers: citizens of different countries were seeing radically different levels of surveillance and transparency. So to help monitor this fast-evolving situation, we’re gathering the information into a single place for the first time with our Covid Tracing Tracker—a database to capture details of every significant automated contact tracing effort around the world. We’ve been working with a range of experts to understand what we need to look at, pulling sources including government documents, announcements, and media reports, as well as talking directly to those who are making these apps to understand the technologies and policies involved…So far we have documented 25 individual, significant automated contact tracing efforts globally, including details on what they are, how they work, and what policies and processes have been put in place around them…The most accessible version of the database exists on the page you are reading right now, and on Flourish, a data visualization service. A public version of the underlying data is kept in this read-only spreadsheet, which we update once a day at 6 p.m. US Eastern Time…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Covid-19 Hits Conservation Efforts

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 18:08

UNDARK: Researchers behind habitat restoration and wildlife protection groups are struggling to continue work amid the pandemic. “..Across North America, Africa, and elsewhere, conservation efforts that keep delicate ecosystems in check are struggling as the Covid-19 pandemic keeps many people confined to their homes. There are no tourists, who help fund a range of projects. Volunteers and employees aren’t able to plant trees or remove invasive species, while wildlife rehabilitation centers struggle to keep their doors open. Some programs require large crews that can’t practice social distancing on the job, while many others, like the Platte River restoration, rely on the money brought in from tourism or activity fees to function. Conservation efforts have long had to contend with occasional booms and busts in the industry, but unlike any other event before it, the pandemic has laid bare the weaknesses of the economic cogs that support certain ecosystems. “We’ve kind of got a perfect storm,” said Catherine Semcer, a research fellow for both the U.S.-based Property and Environmental Research Center and the African Wildlife Economy Institute. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Semcer has followed the ways that the global shut down has affected conservation, particularly in Africa.

For many conservation efforts, the sudden loss in income will be a major setback for the coming year. Other groups say that the pandemic could cause permanent damage. As for Rowe Sanctuary, Taddicken still isn’t sure what the pandemic’s final impact will be. The sanctuary may have to cut back on some of their river clearing work this year, but his big worry is losing the incremental progress built into the habitat over decades. It would only take a few years without habitat management for the carefully managed river channels and meadows to revert to a state unsuitable for cranes. “You definitely don’t want to go backwards in maintaining the river,” he said. “And if it gets too bad and we don’t get the work we need to get done, we could go backwards.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Even with a vaccine coronavirus may never go away

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:57

Washington Post – “There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away. Even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed, the coronavirus will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world’s population. Experts call such diseases endemic — stubbornly resisting efforts to stamp them out. Think measles, HIV, chickenpox. It is a daunting proposition — a coronavirus-tinged world without a foreseeable end. But experts in epidemiology, disaster planning and vaccine development say embracing that reality is crucial to the next phase of America’s pandemic response. The long-term nature of covid-19, they say, should serve as a call to arms for the public, a road map for the trillions of dollars Congress is spending and a fixed navigational point for the nation’s current, chaotic state-by-state patchwork strategy…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Social Media Usage Is At An All-Time High

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:50

NPR – That Could Mean A Nightmare For Democracy: “America’s new socially distant reality has warped the landscape of the 2020 election. Candidates aren’t out knocking on doors, and U.S. election officials are bracing for a record surge in mail ballots. But another subtler shift is also occurring — inside people’s brains. Four years after Russia’s expansive influence operation, which touched the feeds of more than 100 million users on Facebook alone, Americans’ usage of social media has only increased — and drastically so, as a result of the pandemic. More people are more online right now than at any point in human history, and experts say the Internet has gotten only more flooded since 2016 with bad information. “It’s far, far worse in terms of quantity,” says Steven Brill, a former journalist and now the CEO of NewsGuard, a browser extension that helps users discern the quality of what they’re reading online….A study out last week from researchers at Carnegie Mellon University found that nearly half of the Twitter accounts spreading messages about the coronavirus pandemic are likely bots — automated accounts designed to make it appear that more humans are acting a certain way than truly are…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Small Kicks, Big Waves – Serving Justice for Expectant Mothers in the Business World

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 23:42

Via LLRXSmall Kicks, Big Waves – Serving Justice for Expectant Mothers in the Business WorldKarina Bihar is student of Professor Dennis Kennedy at Michigan State College of Law. I am pleased to publish her timely and significant article. Bihar states: “…a higher number of mothers are entering the workforce than ever before…according the U.S. Department of Labor, 71.5% of mothers in the United States are working. However, there has been very little advancement made in society to help mothers maintain their working status. As a result, many mothers are forced into choosing lower paying jobs, part-time work, or leaving the workforce to care for young children, causing loss of earnings, gender pay gaps, and loss of valuable workers in the market.” Her struggles as an expectant mother in law school gave her greater awareness of the problems that career mothers need addressed and her article provides an actionable, innovative and well documented solution that merits the attention and tangible support of the legal education and professional communities.

Categories: Law and Legal

Johns Hopkins releases report on digital contact tracing to aid COVID-19 response

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 22:51

“Leading global experts contributed to the report, which offers clear guidance and recommendations on ethics and governance as digital technologies are developed to fight the pandemic: “Johns Hopkins University today released a comprehensive report to help government, technology developers, businesses, institutional leaders, and the public make responsible decisions around use of digital contact tracing technology, including smartphone apps and other tools, to fight COVID-19. Digital Contact Tracing for Pandemic Response—a report led by JHU’s Berman Institute for Bioethics in collaboration with the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins, as well as leading experts worldwide—highlights the ethical, legal, policy, and governance issues that must be addressed as digital contact tracing technologies, or DCTT, are developed and implemented. The report’s primary conclusions and recommendations advise that:

  • Privacy should not outweigh public health goals and other values
  • Big technology companies should not unilaterally set terms when such broad public interests are at stake
  • Decisions about the technology and its uses will have to be constantly updated as new information becomes available

As officials in many countries strive to find a balance between respecting civil liberties and controlling the pandemic, the report offers clear, well-supported guidance for leaders as they consider deployment and use of these technologies, as well as the data they collect, store and share. Johns Hopkins will host a web briefing on the report and the broader conversation around testing and contact tracing at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, May 27, at…”

Categories: Law and Legal

OSHA Complaint tracker

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 22:40

“Workplace health and safety is more important now, than ever. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, essential workers—whether unionized or not—have fought employers to ensure that workers and the public are protected. One tool available to workers: complaints made to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. We’ve compiled an interactive map of COVID-19 complaints made nationwide including the names of employers, narrative descriptions of their offenses, and an overall breakdown of complaints by industry.
Data comes from OSHA’s releases of Closed and Open complaints related to COVID-19. Complaints were geolocated using geocodio in the case of Closed complaints; Open complaints were added to industry totals and will be added to the map as employer information is released. Industries were identified using the “Primary NAICS” code in the original data. Data is available from OSHA through May 17th. NAICS codes were matched against NAICS codebooks from 2007, 2012, and 2017. For codes that were still not found (28 in total) they were marked as ‘NOT FOUND’. A spot check found some of these missing ones as Canadian NAICS codes (example). We’ve emailed OSHA for more information…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Violation Tacker

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 22:37

Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Regulatory Violators and Lawbreakers Throughout the United States – “Violation Tracker is the first wide-ranging database on corporate misconduct. It covers banking, consumer protection, false claims, environmental, wage & hour, health, safety, employment discrimination, price-fixing, bribery and other cases resolved by more than 50 federal regulatory agencies and all parts of the Justice Department since 2000 — plus state AG and local DA cases and selected class action lawsuits. In all: 412,000 civil and criminal cases with penalties of $616 billion. Other types will come later. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.

Agency Data Sources | User Guide | Update Log | Corporate Research Project analyses of Violation Tracker data

Categories: Law and Legal

From Camping To Dining Out: Here’s How Experts Rate The Risks Of 14 Summer Activities

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 22:25

NPR: “It has been around two months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But what’s safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household. One big warning: Your personal risk depends on your age and health, the prevalence of the virus in your area and the precautions you take during any of these activities. Also, many areas continue to restrict the activities described here, so check your local laws. And there’s no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what’s safe will be up to individuals. It can help to think through the risks the way the experts do. “We can think of transmission risk with a simple phrase: time, space, people, place,” explains Dr. William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University.

Here’s his rule of thumb: The more time you spend and the closer in space you are to any infected people, the higher your risk. Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor places are riskier than outdoors. Dr. Emily Landon, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, has her own shorthand: “Always choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.” Our experts shared their thoughts via phone and email interviews…”

Categories: Law and Legal

America is entering its third great bicycle revival in 150 years thanks to coronavirus

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 20:14

Quartz: “…Thousands of people are getting back on their bikes after an extended hiatus: Appointments to tune up old rides are booked weeks into the future. Bicycle trips on trails across the US rose 57% throughout March and April compared to 2019, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. There are new converts, too. Bikes under $1,000 have been almost impossible to keep in stock. REI, a national outdoor gear store, said it is selling four times as much cycling equipment as the same time last year, including adult bikes, kids’ bikes, and accessories. “We do not expect sales to slow down in the near term, as long as supply can keep up,” wrote REI merchandising manager Ron Thompsen by email. But supplies are stretched thin. Most bikes are manufactured in Asia, and the coronavirus shutdown slowed production just as sales picked up. Across the US, market research firm NPD reports sales of bicycles and shop services shot up to $733 million in March, a 44% jump over last year. Families and fitness fans are the biggest buyers: Sales of recreational bikes rose 121% to nearly 250,000 in March, while stationary exercise bikes and indoor stands nearly tripled to about 200,000 units.  Far from a modest blip, this bicycle boom may have staying power. It’s the third great bicycle boom in American history, and it’s poised to reconfigure the layout of American cities…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Scientists are drowning in COVID-19 papers. Can new tools keep them afloat?

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 19:43

Science: “Timothy Sheahan, a virologist studying COVID-19, wishes he could keep pace with the growing torrent of new scientific papers about the disease and the novel coronavirus that causes it. But there are just too many—more than 4000 alone last week. “I’m not keeping up,” says Sheahan, who works at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It’s impossible.” A loose-knit army of data scientists, software developers, and journal publishers is pressing hard to change that. Backed by large technology firms and the White House, they are racing to create digital collections holding thousands of freely available papers that could be useful to ending the pandemic, and scrambling to build data-mining and search tools that can help researchers quickly find the information they seek. And the urgency is growing: By one estimate, the COVID-19 literature published since January has reached more than 23,000 papers and is doubling every 20 days—among the biggest explosions of scientific literature ever. Given that volume, “People don’t have time to read through entire articles and figure out what is the value added and the bottom line, and what are the limitations,” says Kate Grabowski, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU’s) Bloomberg School of Public Health who is leading an effort to create a curated set of pandemic papers…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Twitter fact-checks Trump’s tweets for first time

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 19:38

Washington Post – Twitter labels Trump’s tweets with a fact check for the first time – The action comes after years of criticism that social media companies have allowed the president to push misinformation unchecked… But Trump has made dozens of false claims on social media, particularly on his preferred medium of Twitter, and has also attacked people in ways that critics have argued could violate company policies on harassment and bullying. For example, Twitter’s actions come on a day when Twitter was facing a barrage of criticism over another set of Trump tweets. Earlier on Tuesday, the widower of a former staffer to Joe Scarborough asked Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey to delete tweets by President Trump furthering a baseless conspiracy theory about the staffer’s wife’s death. Those tweets are still up, a reflection of an approach to policing content that can appear inconsistent even as the companies have stepped up their enforcement. The company is debating whether to take action on the Scarborough tweets, said a person familiar with the discussions…”

Axios: “The big picture: A Twitter spokesperson said two of Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” The label- accompanied by an ! [explanation point] uses this linked text Get the facts about mail-in ballots. It does not label Trump’s tweets as erroneous, wrong or apply any other definition that would describe the tweet i.e.,  incorrect, faulty, inaccurate, invalid, improper…
Via Twitter – the following series of links that state the facts respective to mail-in ballots: “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud. On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”

Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud – What you need to know – Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud. – Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots. – Though Trump targeted California, mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska….”

Categories: Law and Legal

Five Ways to Monitor the Coronavirus Outbreak in the U.S.

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 14:37

The New York Times – “To help provide a detailed picture of the past, present and future of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, here are five ways of thinking about it in hundreds of metro areas across the country, using data compiled by The New York Times. This page will be updated regularly…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Protecting Privacy In A Pandemic: A Resource Guide

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 12:40

American Library Association: “This resource guide supplements “Protecting Privacy During a Pandemic,” a town hall hosted by the ALA’s IFC Privacy Subcommittee on May 8, 2020. The recorded session can be viewed online on OIF’s YouTube channel.
Privacy Fundamentals – Even during a public health emergency, libraries should continue to adhere to their mission and stand by the law and ethical standards that govern the provision of library services.

  • A publicly supported library provides free, equitable, and confidential access to information for all people of its community.
  • The law in most states requires libraries to protect the privacy and confidentiality of library users in order to preserve and protect their civil liberties and their right to receive information.
  • Privacy and anonymity are important factors in providing fair and equitable access to the information resources and services provided by the library, particularly for those who are members of marginalized and vulnerable groups.
  • In all cases, access to, and delivery of, library resources and services should not be conditioned on the user’s consent to the collection and use of their information for contact tracing or other purposes unrelated to library service…”
Categories: Law and Legal