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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
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Ballots and Bedlam

Sun, 09/13/2020 - 16:29

Ballots and Bedlam – Leonard Downie Jr. on leading coverage of the Gore vs. Bush recount — and much more — during his years running The Washington Post

Leonard Downie Jr., former executive editor of The Post, is the Washington-based Weil Family professor of journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School. This article is excerpted from his book “All About the Story: News, Power, Politics, and The Washington Post,” to be published by PublicAffairs this month.

Categories: Law and Legal

Publishers Are Taking the Internet to Court In a lawsuit against the Internet Archive

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 08:11

The Nation – the largest corporations in publishing want to change what it means to own a book. “…The Internet Archive is far more than the Open Library; it’s a nonprofit institution that has become a cornerstone of archival activity throughout the world. Brewster Kahle is an Internet pioneer who was writing about the importance of preserving the digital commons in 1996. He built the Wayback Machine, without which an incalculable amount of the early Web would have been lost for good. The Internet Archive has performed pioneering work in developing public search tools for its own vast collections, such as the television news archive, which researchers and journalists like me use on an almost daily basis in order to contextualize and interpret political reporting. These resources are unique and irreplaceable.

The Internet Archive is a tech partner to hundreds of libraries, including the Library of Congress, for whom it develops techniques for the stewardship of digital content. It helps them build their own Web-based collections with tools such as Archive-It, which is currently used by more than 600 organizations including universities, museums, and government agencies, as well as libraries, to create their own searchable public archives. The Internet Archive repairs broken links on Wikipedia—by the million. It has collected thousands of early computer games, and developed online emulators so they can be played on modern computers. It hosts collections of live music performances, 78s and cylinder recordings, radio shows, films and video. I am leaving a lot out about its groundbreaking work in making scholarly materials more accessible, its projects to expand books to the print-disabled—too many undertakings and achievements to count.

For-profit publishers like HarperCollins or Hachette don’t perform the kind of work required to preserve a cultural posterity. Publishers are not archivists. They obey the dictates of the market. They keep books in print based on market considerations, not cultural ones. Archiving is not in the purview or even the interests of big publishers, who indeed have an incentive to encourage the continuing need to buy…”

Categories: Law and Legal

September 11 anniversary: How to watch the NYC ceremony online

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 19:19

Fast Company: “With all the death and destruction raging across America right now, it’s almost hard to believe that one of the country’s greatest tragedies happened 19 years ago today. On September 11, 2001, two planes slammed into the World Trade Center towers, and another two planes crashed—one into the Pentagon, the other in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In total, 2,977 victims died that day and another 25,000 were injured. Every year since, memorial services have been held to remember the lives lost in 9/11—and this year is no different. However, while a ceremony will be held this year as usual, it’s format will be slightly altered due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, family members of those who lost their lives gather at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City to read out the names of the victims. This year, however, the victims’ names will be read via a pretaped recording. Here are the details about today’s ceremony conducted by the 9/11 Memorial & Museum…And here’s how to watch the NYC September 11 anniversary ceremony online…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Washington Post guide to registering and casting your ballot in your state

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 18:55

We’ve compiled what you need to know about voting in your state so you can make sure your voice is heard this November.” This is an easy to use site – you provide the name of your state, Y/N are you registered to vote, how you plan to vote – In Person or By Mail – and the site provides you the following information: Last day to register; Last day to request a ballot; First day ballots are sent; First day to vote in person; how to request an absentee ballot; how to fill out you ballot; how to return your ballot; how your ballot is verified and counted; and links to all relevant official state websites associated with the voting process. This is an excellent guide for voters in every state – the information is aggregated and accessible on page, is well designed, and easy to navigate. Please Share – and Please Vote.

Categories: Law and Legal

New Committee Hearing Transcripts on

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 18:32

In Custodia Legis: “We want to hear from you! Your feedback is critical to the development of new features on We hope you will join us for the Virtual Public Forum today at 10 a.m. EDT. Also, please take a moment to fill out this feedback form to let us know how we can better meet your legislative information needs. In August, we added the Bound Congressional Record for 1983-1994 to This month we are excited to begin adding committee hearing transcripts to The first batch includes transcripts for hearings from the 115th and 116th Congresses. The Senate Communications search form now displays historical committee names in the selection list when previous Congresses are selected. In the footer, you will find a link to our revamped Ask A Librarian service, where you can seek assistance with your research and legal reference questions. We have also added a link to the Congressional Web Archive in the footer, an archive that consists of congressional websites dating back to the 107th Congress (2001). You can now use ReadSpeaker to listen to the text of a committee report, and you can also download the audio file of that report. We have also made it easier to link to Congressional Budget Office reports of cost estimates and some committee profile pages now contain historical notes about that committee. You can read the full list of enhancements below…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Ars Technica ultimate buying guide for your home office setup

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 18:15

“Working and schooling from home are part of the new normal. Putting together a home office setup that’s pleasant, comfortable, and productive can be tough and time consuming, but lucky for you, we’ve been working from home for years here at Ars. We’re here to tell you remote work doesn’t have to feel so remote. Naturally, as discerning tech connoisseurs, we have some well-curated picks for all the gadgets and furniture you need to make your home office setup cozy and productive. We also threw in a few nice-to-have upgrades for your workspace if you’ve already got the basics down…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Safe Handling of Library Materials

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 17:35

NYU Libraries: “The Barbara Goldsmith Preservation & Conservation Department recommends the following procedures for safe handling of library materials during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  The goal of these recommendations is to protect the health of all members of the NYU community.  This information is subject to change based on ongoing research, and this page will be updated as new information becomes available…”

Categories: Law and Legal

OpenSecrets unveils new online ads database

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 16:48

“With the digital-dominated 2020 election shifting into high gear, OpenSecrets is releasing a new searchable, sortable online ads database that provides comprehensive details about political ad spending on Google and Facebook.  OpenSecrets is tracking over 80,000 online political advertisers, more than four times the number of committees registered with the Federal Election Commission. Each advertiser has its own profile, which includes:

  • Its total spending on both Facebook and Google ads over time
  • Information about and links to each of the Facebook and Google pages where it runs ads
  • Its total Facebook ad spending in each state

Online ads are at the center of strategies to misinform and deceive voters ahead of Election Day. This section will help users identify the online forces behind political messages and better understand their affiliations with political groups. Mysterious “dark money” organizations, industry groups and fake news websites are among the advertisers pouring millions into ads to influence voters…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google To Block Some Search Suggestions to Stop Election Misinformation

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 16:33

Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance: “Google said it will block some autocomplete search suggestions to stop misinformation spreading online during the U.S. presidential election in November. The autocomplete feature of the world’s largest search engine regularly recommends full queries once users begin typing words. The company said on Thursday it will remove predictions that could be interpreted as claims for or against any candidate or political party. In addition, Google said it will pull claims from the autocomplete feature about participation in the election, including statements about voting methods, requirements, the status of voting locations and election security. For instance, if you type in “you can vote” into Google’s search engine, the system may have suggested a full query that includes misleading or incorrect information. Typing those three words into Google on Thursday produced the full phrase “You can vote yourself into socialism” as the top recommended query…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A Low-Yield, Submarine-Launched Nuclear Warhead: Overview of the Expert Debate

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 16:29

CRS – A Low-Yield, Submarine-Launched Nuclear Warhead: Overview of the Expert Debate Updated September 9, 2020 – “The Trump Administration has developed a new low-yield version of the W-76 warhead for existing submarine-launched Trident II (D-5) missiles. Unclassified sources state that the current W76-1 warhead has an explosive yield of around 100 kilotons. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has said the low-yield version, the W76-2, would be configured “for primary-only detonation.” This could mean a yield of less than 10 kilotons. Congress appropriated $65 million for the W76-2 warhead in FY2019 and $10 million to complete work in FY2020. NNSA completed the first modified warhead in February 2019 and began delivering warheads to the Navy by late 2019. The Pentagon announced that the Navy had begun to deploy the warheads on February 4,2020. Congress authorized $19.6 million in the FY2020 NDAA (P.L. 116-92) for the Navy to begin integrating the warhead into the submarine force. NNSA has not disclosed the total number of planned W76-2 warheads, although it is expected to be a very small portion of the W76 stockpile (estimated, in unclassified sources, to be around 1,300 total warheads). The Trump Administration introduced the low-yield version of the W76 warhead in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review(NPR). It cited the need for additional “tailored” and “flexible” capabilities to address the danger of coercive nuclear use, a concept described below, by Russia and North Korea. The NPR stated that this warhead would supplement existing U.S. strategic nuclear capabilities to “enhance deterrence by denying potential adversaries any mistaken confidence that limited nuclear employment can provide a useful advantage over the United States and its allies,” and that low-yield warheads would not add to the number of deployed SLBM warheads, but would replace some “higher-yield [SLBM warheads] currently deployed.”The NPR report, and its argument in favor of a low-yield SLBM warhead, launched a debate among U.S. experts about the rationale for the development of such a warhead and the benefits and risks that might accrue from its deployment. While some argue that this warhead is a response to Russia’s so-called“escalate to de-escalate” strategy that will strengthen deterrence and raise the nuclear threshold, others contend that it will lower the threshold for U.S. use and increase the risk of nuclear war…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New WWF Report – 68% Average Decline in Species Population Sizes Since 1970

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 15:35

“Globally, monitored population sizes of mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, and amphibians have declined an average of 68% between 1970 and 2016, according to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Living Planet Report 2020. Populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have fared worst, with an average decline of 94%. Global freshwater species have also been disproportionately impacted, declining 84% on average. As an important indicator of planetary health, these drastic species population trends signal a fundamentally broken relationship between humans and the natural world, the consequences of which—as demonstrated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—can be catastrophic.

This report reminds us that we destroy the planet at our peril—because it is our home. As humanity’s footprint expands into once-wild places, we’re devastating species populations. But we’re also exacerbating climate change and increasing the risk of zoonotic diseases like COVID-19. We cannot shield humanity from the impacts of environmental destruction. It’s time to restore our broken relationship with nature for the benefit of species and people alike,” says WWF-US President and CEO Carter Roberts…”

Categories: Law and Legal

How Google delivers reliable information in Search

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 15:18

Google Blog: “For many people, Google Search is a place they go when they want to find information about a question, whether it’s to learn more about an issue, or fact check a friend quoting a stat about your favorite team. We get billions of queries every day, and one of the reasons people continue to come to Google is they know that they can often find relevant, reliable information that they can trust. Delivering a high-quality search experience is core to what makes Google so helpful. From the early days when we introduced the PageRank algorithm, understanding the quality of web content was what set Google apart from other search engines. But people often ask: What do you mean by quality, and how do you figure out how to ensure that the information people find on Google is reliable?…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Search for Clarity in an Attorney’s Duty to Google

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 23:25

Murphy, Michael, The Search for Clarity in an Attorney’s Duty to Google (August 23, 2020). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-30, Available at SSRN: or

“Attorneys have a professional duty to investigate relevant facts about the matters on which they work. There is no specific rule or statute requiring that an attorney perform an internet search as part of this investigation. Yet attorneys have been found by judges to violate a “Duty to Google” when they have failed to conduct an internet search for relevant information about, for example, a claim, their own client, and even potential jurors in a trial.

So much information is now available to attorneys so easily in electronic search results, it is time to wonder where, when, and how much attorneys should be searching. This Article examines the following questions: is the “Duty to Google” merely yet another example of how attorneys must become proficient in technology to meet their professional ethical obligations? Or is it something more? Where should this duty be codified, if anywhere? At what point does technology like a search engine become so “mainstream” that attorneys have a duty to use it or face allegations of malpractice? How will attorneys know how much Googling is enough?

This article explores an attorney’s duty of investigation and notes that this duty has been, like the rest of legal practice, forever changed (and ever changing) by technology. It examines the potential sources of a Duty to Google and argues that this responsibility is poorly defined. Accordingly, this article argues for a better-defined duty of investigation, codified in a rule of professional conduct. The article concludes by looking to the future and suggesting industry-wide changes to better prepare attorneys to meet their (better defined) obligations of technological competency.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Interactive map shows the key places that must be protected to curb climate change

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 23:12

Fast Company – “The world’s population has tripled since 1950, and the number of megacities has grown from one—New York City—to more than 30, from Mexico City to Shenzhen to Hyderabad. But roughly half of the land on the planet is still in a natural or semi-natural state. A new map shows exactly where that land is, and why it’s critical to protect. The project, called the Global Safety Net, maps out both areas that are already protected, such as national parks, and those that need to be protected to tackle simultaneous crises: climate change and the loss of biodiversity..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Need a Disposable Email Address? Try These Great Services

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 23:09

MakeUseOf: “You need an email address to use almost every website these days, but you probably don’t want to use your real email all the time. Perhaps you don’t trust a site, want to avoid spam, or need to make a second account on a service you already use. We’ll show you services that let you access temporary email addresses to let you send and receive email without using your real address. Keep in mind that most of these sites don’t promise any kind of security, as anyone can access an inbox by name. Also, many websites block these domains, so they might not work everywhere..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Facial Masking for Covid-19 – Potential for “Variolation” as We Await a Vaccine

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 19:24

New England Journal of Medicine: “As SARS-CoV-2 continues its global spread, it’s possible that one of the pillars of Covid-19 pandemic control — universal facial masking — might help reduce the severity of disease and ensure that a greater proportion of new infections are asymptomatic. If this hypothesis is borne out, universal masking could become a form of “variolation” that would generate immunity and thereby slow the spread of the virus in the United States and elsewhere, as we await a vaccine. One important reason for population-wide facial masking became apparent in March, when reports started to circulate describing the high rates of SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding from the noses and mouths of patients who were presymptomatic or asymptomatic — shedding rates equivalent to those among symptomatic patients. Universal facial masking seemed to be a possible way to prevent transmission from asymptomatic infected people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) therefore recommended on April 3 that the public wear cloth face coverings in areas with high rates of community transmission — a recommendation that has been unevenly followed across the United States…

Ultimately, combating the pandemic will involve driving down both transmission rates and severity of disease. Increasing evidence suggests that population-wide facial masking might benefit both components of the response…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Dozens of scientific journals have vanished from the internet, and no one preserved them

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 19:14

Science Magazine – and no one preserved them – “Eighty-four online-only, open-access (OA) journals in the sciences, and nearly 100 more in the social sciences and humanities, have disappeared from the internet over the past 2 decades as publishers stopped maintaining them, potentially depriving scholars of useful research findings, a study has found. An additional 900 journals published only online also may be at risk of vanishing because they are inactive, says a preprint posted on 3 September on the arXiv server. The number of OA journals tripled from 2009 to 2019, and on average the vanished titles operated for nearly 10 years before going dark, which “might imply that a large number … is yet to vanish,” the authors write. The study didn’t identify examples of prominent journals or articles that were lost, nor collect data on the journals’ impact factors and citation rates to the articles. About half of the journals were published by research institutions or scholarly societies; none of the societies are large players in the natural sciences. None of the now-dark journals was produced by a large commercial publisher…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Courts and Online Hearings: Maintaining Open Justice, Procedural Fairness and Impartiality

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 19:13

Legg, Michael, The COVID-19 Pandemic, the Courts and Online Hearings: Maintaining Open Justice, Procedural Fairness and Impartiality (2021). Forthcoming (2021) Federal Law Review, UNSW Law Research No. 20-46, Available at SSRN:

“The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing mandated health protections saw courts turn to communications technology as a means to be able to continue to function. However, courts are unique institutions that exercise judicial power in accordance with the rule of law. Even in a pandemic courts need to function in a manner consistent with their institutional role and its essential characteristics. This article uses the unique circumstances brought about by the pandemic to consider how courts can embrace technology but maintain the core or essential requirements of a court. This article identifies three essential features of courts – open justice, procedural fairness and impartiality – and examines how this recent adoption of technology has maintained or challenged those essential features. This examination allows for both an assessment of how the courts operated during the pandemic, but also provides guidance for making design decisions about a technology-enabled future court.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Law School Exams during a Pandemic – One Law School’s Experience

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 19:11
Parker, Beth, Law School Exams during a Pandemic – One Law School’s Experience (August 20, 2020). Available at SSRN: or “In 2020, toward the end of the Winter semester, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted life across the globe. Institutions, including law schools, felt the widespread effects of this public health crisis. Law schools were forced to move entire curriculums online in record time and consider how they were going to administer final exams. There is no precedent or manual for how to do this successfully. The pressure of the high stakes law school final exam that the law student’s entire grade and ranking rest upon is stressful, to say the least. Law students are on edge during final exams during normal times, but as the United States became overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic, universities sent students, faculty, and staff home to finish the semester online and were left with a myriad of issues to address. One issue that arose was how to deliver final exams in a completely online format while maintaining the integrity of the law school exam. This article discusses the pivot to flexibility that one law school had to make, under emergency conditions, and with limited resources. Part I describes the law school final exam pre-COVID 19, Part II describes the pre-planning process, Part III discusses the building process, Part IV discusses the administrating process, and Part V explores some of the lessons learned from the experience with exams and suggests how to move forward in an uncertain world.”
Categories: Law and Legal

This might be your most important flu shot ever

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 18:49

Vox – We don’t need people with the (largely preventable) flu flooding our hospitals in a pandemic….How overlapping Covid-19 and flu symptoms are going to make this season very confusing. As US Surgeon General Jerome Adams noted in a radio interview earlier this month, “This is the most important flu season that we’ve faced, I’d say, in my lifetime.” Beyond pushing hospitalization capacity, flu season also has the potential to overwhelm clinics and testing resources. “Both Covid-19 and the flu are contagious respiratory illnesses that present with similar symptoms,” Libby Richards, who teaches nursing at Purdue University and studies individual health behavior, wrote to Vox in an email…It can be hard to tell the difference between Covid-19, flu, and cold symptoms — and some Covid-19 carriers never show any symptoms at all..”

  • This article includes a clear guide to help compare the three illnesses, and see a doctor if you think you could have Covid-19.
Categories: Law and Legal