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CRS report – Congress’s Contempt Power and the Enforcement of Congressional Subpoenas: Law, History, Practice, and Procedure Todd Garvey Legislative Attorney, May 12, 2017. “Congress’s contempt power is the means by which Congress responds to certain acts that in its view obstruct the legislative process. Contempt may be used either to coerce compliance, to punish the contemnor, and/or to remove the obstruction. Although arguably any action that directly obstructs the effort of Congress to exercise its constitutional powers may constitute a contempt, in recent times the contempt power has most often been employed in response to non-compliance with a duly issued congressional subpoena—whether in the form of a refusal to appear before a committee for purposes of providing testimony, or a refusal to produce requested documents.
Congress has three formal methods by which it can combat non-compliance with a duly issued subpoena. Each of these methods invokes the authority of a separate branch of government. First, the long dormant inherent contempt power permits Congress to rely on its own constitutional authority to detain and imprison a contemnor until the individual complies with congressional demands. Second, the criminal contempt statute permits Congress to certify a contempt citation to the executive branch for the criminal prosecution of the contemnor. Finally, Congress may rely on the judicial branch to enforce a congressional subpoena. Under this procedure, Congress may seek a civil judgment from a federal court declaring that the individual in question is legally obligated to comply with the congressional subpoena…”
“The Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR) provides you with crucial perspectives on threats that organizations like yours face. The 12th DBIR is built on real-world data from 41,686 security incidents and 2,013 data breaches provided by 73 data sources, both public and private entities, spanning 86 countries worldwide. Data breaches continue to make headlines around the world. Seemingly, no matter what defensive measures security professionals put in place, attackers are able to circumvent them. No organization is too large or too small to fall victim to a data breach. No industry vertical is immune to attack. Regardless of the type or amount of your organization’s data, there is someone out there who is trying to steal it. Having a sound understanding of the threats you and your peer organizations face, how they have evolved over time, and which tactics are most likely to be utilized can prepare you to manage these risks more effectively and efficiently.
- Take me to your leader – C-level executives were twelve times more likely to be the target of social incidents and nine times more likely to be the target of social breaches than in years past. To further underline the growth of financial social engineering attacks, both security incidents and data breaches that compromised executives rose from single digits to dozens in this report.
- Get out of my cloud – As companies continue to transition to more cost-efficient cloud-based solutions, their email and other valuable data migrate along with them. Criminals simply shift their focus and adapt their tactics to locate and steal the data they find to be of most value. Consequently, there’s been a corresponding increase in hacking cloud-based email servers via the use of stolen credentials. This is not an indication that cloud-based services are less secure, however. It is simply that phishing attacks, credential theft and configuration errors are a natural by-product of the process.
- What a tangled web we weave – Payment card web application compromises are well on their way to exceeding physical terminal compromises in payment card-related breaches. Data from one of our contributors, the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA), substantiates this shift appears to have already occurred, and our larger data set is also trending that way…”
Washington Post – “John Paul Stevens spent more than a third of his near-century on Earth at the Supreme Court, where he often was on a different page from a majority of his fellow justices. “It happens so often that you have to get used to losing,” Stevens, 99, said during an interview this last week at his condominium here, just steps from the Atlantic Ocean. “My batting average was probably pretty low.” But one particular loss lingers and, Stevens says, brings grim reminders almost weekly: the court’s 2008 decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which found the Second Amendment protects a right to individual gun ownership unrelated to possible military service. “Unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Court announced during my tenure on the bench,” Stevens writes in his new memoir, “The Making of a Justice.” Heller and the Second Amendment, Stevens said in the interview, produce “such disastrous practical effects. I think there’s no need for all the guns we have in the country and if I could get rid of one thing it would be to get rid of that whole gun climate.”
…His 531-page book, to be published Tuesday, details the life and career of a World War II Navy code-breaker from a solidly Republican family, nominated to the federal bench by one GOP president (Richard M. Nixon) and elevated to the Supreme Court by another (Gerald R. Ford) who retired in 2010 as the court’s most outspoken liberal. Although, Stevens believes the court changed more than he did…”
Harvard Business Review – Paul J. Zack: “Companies are twisting themselves into knots to empower and challenge their employees. They’re anxious about the sad state of engagement, and rightly so, given the value they’re losing. Consider Gallup’s meta-analysis of decades’ worth of data: It shows that high engagement—defined largely as having a strong connection with one’s work and colleagues, feeling like a real contributor, and enjoying ample chances to learn—consistently leads to positive outcomes for both individuals and organizations. The rewards include higher productivity, better-quality products, and increased profitability.
So it’s clear that creating an employee-centric culture can be good for business. But how do you do that effectively? Culture is typically designed in an ad hoc way around random perks like gourmet meals or “karaoke Fridays,” often in thrall to some psychological fad. And despite the evidence that you can’t buy higher job satisfaction, organizations still use golden handcuffs to keep good employees in place. While such efforts might boost workplace happiness in the short term, they fail to have any lasting effect on talent retention or performance.
In my research I’ve found that building a culture of trust is what makes a meaningful difference. Employees in high-trust organizations are more productive, have more energy at work, collaborate better with their colleagues, and stay with their employers longer than people working at low-trust companies. They also suffer less chronic stress and are happier with their lives, and these factors fuel stronger performance…”
Forced-choice questions yield more accurate data than select-all-that-apply lists: “Anyone who has taken a survey has likely been given the option to “check all that apply” when answering a question. The instruction is widely used in data collection because of its ease and efficiency. But when designing an online survey questionnaire, there is more than one way to ask a respondent to select which options in a series apply to them.
A pollster can show respondents a list and ask them to select all that apply, or the pollster can ask separately about each option. The two methods do not always yield identical results. Studies have repeatedly indicated that more survey respondents endorse (answer “yes” to) each option under the latter approach, known as “forced-choice,” sometimes resulting in very different estimates. However, previous studies have not been clear on which question format produces the more accurate estimates.
Using its national online American Trends Panel (ATP), Pew Research Center conducted a large, randomized experiment comparing these two question formats. The experiment was part of a survey conducted July 30-Aug. 12, 2018, among 4,581 U.S. adults. Respondents were asked whether they or someone in their immediate family had experienced various undesirable events (e.g., treated for addiction to drugs or alcohol, or lost a home to foreclosure). The study randomly assigned half the respondents to answer using a select-all-that-apply list while the other half answered a series of forced-choice “yes/no” questions…” [h/t Lea Wade]
Bennardo, Kevin and Chew, Alexa, Citation Stickiness (April 19, 2019). 20 Journal of Appellate Practice & Process, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3375050 [h/t Joe Hodnicki and Scott Fruehwald]“This Article is an empirical study of what we call citation stickiness. A citation is sticky if it appears in one of the parties’ briefs and then again in the court’s opinion. Imagine that the parties use their briefs to toss citations in the court’s direction. Some of those citations stick and appear in the opinion — these are the sticky citations. Some of those citations don’t stick and are unmentioned by the court — these are the unsticky ones. Finally, some sources were never mentioned by the parties yet appear in the court’s opinion. These authorities are endogenous — they spring from the internal workings of the court itself. In a perfect adversarial world, the percentage of sticky citations in courts’ opinions would be something approaching 100%. The parties would discuss the relevant authorities in their briefs, and the court would rely on the same authorities in its decision-making. Spoiler alert: our adversarial world is imperfect. Endogenous citations abound in judicial opinions and parties’ briefs are brimming with unsticky citations.
So we crunched the numbers. We analyzed 325 cases in the federal courts of appeals. Of the 7552 cases cited in those opinions, more than half were never mentioned in the parties’ briefs. But there’s more — in the Article, you’ll learn how many of the 23,479 cases cited in the parties’ briefs were sticky and how many were unsticky. You’ll see the stickiness data sliced and diced in numerous ways: by circuit, by case topic, by an assortment of characteristics of the authoring judge. Read on!”
Harvard Business School Digital Initiative – “What do a communications studies professor, a politics PhD, a technology policy advisor, and a machine learning engineer have in common? They share deep expertise in the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence — and they’re members of the 2019 Assembly program. Hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab, Assembly brings together a small cohort of technologists, managers, policymakers, and other professionals to confront emerging problems related to the ethics and governance of AI.
AI technologies are increasingly embedded in our lives at home and work — powering our virtual assistants, moderating content on social networking platforms, and helping companies hire new employees. Yet, as AI technologies become more ubiquitous, applying them can raise serious ethical concerns. AI systems are trained using data from the past to make decisions or predictions about the future. This can pose serious risks as societal biases embedded in data get baked into new technical systems. Biased algorithmic outputs are opaque; sometimes even a system’s programmers aren’t sure how a prediction was made. In a world plagued by systemic bias, how do we create AI systems that reduce inequality, rather than perpetuate it? What frameworks can companies use to determine if the application of a machine learning system is unethical? How do we bring communities impacted by AI systems into conversations about AI design and use?..”
Washington Post – Amazon Echo Dot Kids accused of illegally collecting data on children – “A coalition of 19 consumer and privacy groups plans to file a complaint Thursday alleging that Amazon’s Echo Dot Kids Edition is illegally collecting voice recordings and other identifying information on users under 13 and that the system’s parental controls are flawed. The complaint says that the Echo Dot Kids Edition — a colorful, youth-oriented version of Amazon’s popular “smart speaker” systems that allow users to ask questions, play music or control thermostats with voice commands — violates the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, known as COPPA. The 1998 law sharply limits what data companies can collect without permission from parents. The 96-page complaint is the latest in a series by consumer and privacy groups urging the Federal Trade Commission to intensify its enforcement of how leading technology companies treat children and their personal data. The Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown University Law Center served as counsel to the groups on the complaint…”
“…According to a study published Wednesday in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the rail is an example of a rarely observed phenomenon called iterative evolution, in which the same ancestral lineage produces parallel offshoot species at different points in time. This means that near-identical species can pop up multiple times in different eras and locations, even if past iterations have gone extinct…Sea levels are now rising once more, thanks in part to human-driven climate change, so modern Aldabra rails might face the same fate as their extinct sister species. Even if that grim future awaits them, perhaps a third incarnation of the rail will eventually reappear on the far-flung atoll…”
The Guardian – Is engagement with current affairs key to being a good citizen? Or could an endless torrent of notifications be harming democracy as well as our wellbeing? “…We marinate in the news. We may be familiar with the headlines before we have exchanged a word with another human in the morning; we kill time on the bus or in queues by checking Twitter, only to find ourselves plunged into the dramas of presidential politics or humanitarian emergencies. By one estimate, 70% of us take our news-delivery devices to bed with us at night.
In recent years, there has been enormous concern about the time we spend on our web-connected devices and what that might be doing to our brains. But a related psychological shift has gone largely unremarked: the way that, for a certain segment of the population, the news has come to fill up more and more time – and, more subtly, to occupy centre stage in our subjective sense of reality, so that the world of national politics and international crises can feel more important, even more truly real, than the concrete immediacy of our families, neighbourhoods and workplaces. It’s not simply that we spend too many hours glued to screens. It’s that for some of us, at least, they have altered our way of being in the world such that the news is no longer one aspect of the backdrop to our lives, but the main drama. The way that journalists and television producers have always experienced the news is now the way millions of others experience it, too…”
CRS report – Impeachment and Removal, Jared P. Cole, Legislative Attorney; Todd Garvey, Legislative Attorney. October 29, 2015. “The impeachment process provides a mechanism for removal of the President, Vice President, and other “civil Officers of the United States” found to have engaged in “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.” The Constitution places the responsibility and authority to determine whether to impeach an individual in the hands of the House of Representatives. Should a simple majority of the House approve articles of impeachment specifying the grounds upon which the impeachment is based, the matter is then presented to the Senate, to which the Constitution provides the sole power to try an impeachment. A conviction on any one of the articles of impeachment requires the support of a two-thirds majority of the Senators present. Should a conviction occur, the Senate retains limited authority to determine the appropriate punishment. Under the Constitution, the penalty for conviction on an impeachable offense is limited to either removal from office, or removal and prohibition against holding any future offices of “honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.” Although removal from office would appear to flow automatically from conviction on an article of impeachment, a separate vote is necessary should the Senate deem it appropriate to disqualify the individual convicted from holding future federal offices of public trust. Approval of such a measure requires only the support of a simple majority….” Key Takeaways of This Report:
- The Constitution gives Congress the authority to impeach and remove the President, Vice President, and other federal “civil officers” upon a determination that such officers have engaged in treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.
- A simple majority of the House is necessary to approve articles of impeachment.
- If the Senate, by vote of a two-thirds majority, convicts the official on any article of impeachment, the result is removal from office and, at the Senate’s discretion, disqualification from holding future office.
- The Constitution does not articulate who qualifies as a “civil officer.” Most impeachments have applied to federal judges. With regard to the executive branch, lesser functionaries—such as federal employees who belong to the civil service, do not exercise “significant authority,” and are not appointed by the President or an agency head—do not appear to be subject to impeachment. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it would appear that any official who qualifies as a principal officer, including a head of an agency such as a Secretary, Administrator, or Commissioner, is likely subject to impeachment.
- Impeachable conduct does not appear to be limited to criminal behavior. Congress has identified three general types of conduct that constitute grounds for impeachment, although these categories should not be understood as exhaustive: (1) improperly exceeding or abusing the powers of the office; (2) behavior incompatible with the function and purpose of the office; and (3) misusing the office for an improper purpose or for personal gain.
- The House has impeached 19 individuals: 15 federal judges, one Senator, one Cabinet member, and two Presidents. The Senate has conducted 16 full impeachment trials. Of these, eight individuals—all federal judges—were convicted by the Senate…”
American Libraries – Marshall Breeding: “The library technology industry, broadly speaking, shows more affinity toward utility than innovation. Library automation systems are not necessarily exciting technologies, but they are workhorse applications that must support the complex tasks of acquiring, describing, and providing access to materials and services. They represent substantial investments, and their effectiveness is tested daily in the library. But more than efficiency is at stake: These products must be aligned with the priorities of the library relative to collection management, service provision, and other functions.
Outdated automation systems can reinforce work patterns that no longer reflect priorities as core library activities change. Bursts of innovation can create new products better aligned with current library realities. The products that emerge out of these creative booms then become mainstays that support the next phase of library operations. The academic library sector can be seen as a cycle of innovation that began eight years ago with the inception of an automation product substantially different from previous systems. The trajectory of innovation for public and school libraries has followed a different course, characterized by incremental change layered on top of longstanding systems with aging architectures…
“As the United States becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, and as companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley grapple with how to build workforces that reflect these changing demographics, Americans have a complicated, even contradictory, set of views about the impact of diversity and the best way to achieve it. Most say it’s a good thing that the country has a diverse population, but many also say this introduces its own set of challenges. And while a majority values workplace diversity, few endorse the idea of taking race or ethnicity into consideration in hiring and promotions, according to a new Pew Research Center survey.
When it comes to diversity in the communities where they live, most U.S. adults (66%) – including a majority of those who live in neighborhoods with little diversity – are satisfied with the racial mix in their area. A majority (54%) says children should go to local schools, even if that results in most schools being less diverse. Fewer (42%) say children should go to schools that are racially and ethnically mixed, even if that means some students go to school outside of their local community. Overall, white, black and Hispanic adults are about equally likely to say it’s good that the U.S. population is racially and ethnically mixed, and majorities across these groups say this has had a positive impact on U.S. culture. But black Americans place more value than whites and Hispanics on workplace diversity and school integration.
Opinions on these issues also vary considerably along party lines, with Democrats and those who lean to the Democratic Party more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to express positive views of the importance and impact of racial and ethnic diversity. This is the case even after taking into account the differences in the racial composition of the two parties. These are among the key findings on views about diversity from a nationally representative survey of 6,637 U.S. adults conducted online Jan. 22-Feb. 5, 2019, in English and Spanish, using Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel…”
#NYSenate Bill S5072A was passed Wednesday allowing state officials to provide Congress with the state tax returns of President Trump, state and other federal elected officials (and) another bill passed curtailing the impact of Presidential pardons.
HuffPo – “The TRUST Act, sponsored by state Sen. Brad Hoylman, would let the New York tax commissioner release any state tax return requested by one of three congressional committees for any “specific and legitimate legislative purpose.” Those committees include the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee and the Joint Committee on Taxation…”
EveryCRSReport.com – Global Measles Vaccination Trends, April 19, 2019 IN11104.
“Congress has long taken an interest in infectious disease prevention and control. Measles is a highly contagious virus that is transmitted through droplets emitted from an infected person when coughing and sneezing. The virus can live for up to two hours in the airspace or on a surface where an infected person coughed or sneezed. Other people can contract the disease if they breathe contaminated air or touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching a contaminated surface. Up to 90% of those in the proximity of an infected person who are not immune to the disease will be infected. Symptoms usually include high fever, rash, runny nose, and ear infections. Measles can also cause hearing loss, blindness, encephalitis (an infection that causes brain swelling), severe diarrhea, and severe respiratory infections such as pneumonia. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that up to two of every 1,000 children infected with measles will die…”
“The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA; Title IV of P.L. 103-322) was originally enacted in 1994. It addressed congressional concerns about violent crime, and violence against women in particular, in several ways. It allowed for enhanced sentencing of repeat federal sex offenders; mandated restitution to victims of specified federal sex offenses; and authorized grants to state, local, and tribal law enforcement entities to investigate and prosecute violent crimes against women, among other things. VAWA has been reauthorized three times since its original enactment. Most recently, Congress passed and President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-4), which reauthorized most VAWA programs through FY2018, among other things.
The fundamental goals of VAWA are to prevent violent crime; respond to the needs of crime victims; learn more about crime; and change public attitudes through a collaborative effort by the criminal justice system, social service agencies, research organizations, schools, public health organizations, and private organizations. The federal government tries to achieve these goals primarily through federal grant programs that provide funding to state, tribal, territorial, and local governments; nonprofit organizations; and universities.
VAWA programs generally address domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking—crimes for which the risk of victimization is highest for women—although some VAWA programs address additional crimes. VAWA grant programs largely address the criminal justice system and community response to these crimes, but certain programs address prevention as well…”
EveryCRSReport.com – The Yield Curve and Predicting Recessions. April 11, 2019 IN11098. “Economists and financial markets closely monitor interest rates in hopes of gleaning information about the path of the economy. One measure of particular interest is the “yield curve.” Recently, the yield curve associated with U.S. Treasuries inverted. This Insight discusses possible explanations for the inversion, including whether the inversion is signaling that the economy will enter a recession. What Is the Yield Curve? – A yield curve plots the interest rates on various short-term, medium-term, and long-term bonds by the same issuer. Normally, short-term interest rates are lower than longer-term interest rates for a variety of reasons, producing an upward-sloping yield curve. For example, Figure 1 shows the Treasury bond yield curve on February 5, 2015; as the maturity date lengthens, the yield is higher at each point on the curve. What Is a Yield Curve Inversion? Occasionally, short-term interest rates are higher than longer-term rates, creating an inverted yield curve. Recently, the yield curve associated with U.S. Treasuries has shown signs of inversion. On March 27, 2019, the yields on 3-year and 5-year Treasuries were below the yield on shorter-term Treasuries. The 10-year yield was also lower than the yield on Treasuries with a maturity of a year or less. The yields on 20-year and 30-year Treasuries were above the yield on 3-month Treasuries, but the spread between the two has been narrowing, suggesting that the portions of the yield that have not inverted are beginning to flatten. As the figure illustrates, the yield curve inversion has occurred because short-term rates have risen and long-term rates have declined…”
Harvard Law Today [article includes video of the lecture]- In a last lecture to the graduating classes of J.D.s and LL.M.s, the former HLS dean invokes “The Next Generation” to impart final words of wisdom
“In her Last Lecture to the Harvard Law School graduating class, 300th Anniversary University Professor and former HLS Dean Martha Minow focused on the art of asking good questions—a talent she told the students would be key to their work in the future, and a skill that they should “cherish and cultivate.” “I would like more time with all of you,” she told the graduates at Austin Hall in April. Her informal talk was peppered with humor and personal reflection, even invoking her love of “Star Trek.” She also referenced two of her favorite commencement speeches, one by author J.K. Rowling, and one by humorist Art Buchwald, quoting the latter in its entirety: “Graduates, we the older generation are leaving you a perfect world. Don’t louse it up.”…
The New York Times – “What little privacy people don’t give away, companies tend to take. Given this unfortunate reality, to get complete privacy you’d need to install a labyrinthine series of software tools that make the internet slow and unusable — think specialty Web browsers, encrypted email and chat; virtual private networks; and security-focused incognito operating systems. Or you’d need to stay off the internet altogether. But don’t lose hope. Although total privacy is all but unattainable, you can protect yourself in two ways: Lock down your devices and accounts so they don’t give away your data, and practice cautious behavior online. Getting started is easy. By making a few simple changes to your devices and accounts, you can maintain security against outside parties’ unwanted attempts to gain access to your data as well as protect your privacy from those you don’t consent to sharing your information with. You really can take back some control over who has access to your data. Here’s how, according to the experts at Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times Company. Start with these tools, but keep in mind that behavior matters just as much…”
CNN – “Special counsel Robert Mueller’s prosecutors didn’t want former FBI Director James Comey’s memos released because they feared that President Donald Trump and other witnesses could change their stories after reading Comey’s version of events, according to an argument they made in a January 2018 sealed court hearing. The newly released record gives a rare glimpse into the Mueller team’s concerns at a time the special prosecutors were publicly silent about their work — and before redacted versions of Comey’s memos were made public.
A court order on Tuesday forced the Justice Department to provide a transcript of the hearing to CNN as part of a lawsuit over access to the Comey memos. The Justice Department implored a federal judge to keep the memos under seal after CNN and other news organizations asked for their release. Mueller’s plea to keep the memos under seal coincided with negotiations with Trump’s legal team over a potential interview with the President at Camp David, planned for the days following the court hearing and which ultimately fell through. At the time of the late January hearing, several other witnesses to the Comey developments had already spoken to Mueller…”