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Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Updated: 2 hours 45 min ago

2017 Voting Record: Where They Stand on Financial Reform

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:29

Americans for Financial Reform: “The AFR Advocacy Fund has released its voting record for 2017, the first year of the 115th Congress. “Where They Stand on Financial Reform” (linked and attached) tracks more than 55 votes—including both legislation and nominations—that gave House members and Senators a choice: They could decide to stand up for consumers, borrowers, investors and the safety, transparency, and accountability of the financial system. Or they could take the side of big banks and other powerful financial industry interests. The report includes summaries of each bill, amendment, resolution, or confirmation decision, and tables of the relevant House and Senate votes with the measures presented side by side, making it easy to see how a particular House member or Senator voted on the full complement of issues, and who voted for or against any particular measure. Taken together, these votes  show a disturbing readiness, on the part of many of those currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, to do the financial industry’s bidding without regard for harm to families and communities. Other members of Congress have, by contrast, resisted the industry’s pressure and consistently stood up for the public interest, but they have been outvoted time and again…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Census Bureau Adds a Citizenship Question

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:26

Social Explorer: “Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau gathers basic information about people and households for the entire American population, such as age, gender, race and number of people in a home. For the first time since 1950, the census will again ask about citizenship. Last night, the Department of Commerce, which oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, decided to add a question that will ask whether or not you are a citizen. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross outlined the justification on the Department website. This question would give nationwide detail on citizenship down to the block level. The Department of Justice requested the new question, saying that it would help enforce the Voting Rights Act, which protects minority voting rights. Next, the Census Bureau must submit the final list of 2020 census questions to Congress by the end of the month. However, many experts, advocates and politicians are concerned that the addition of the citizenship question, especially under an anti-immigrant administration, could discourage people from filling out the survey. The California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who was also part of a coalition of attorneys general who urged against the question, will file a lawsuit against the Trump administration, arguing that “Including the question is not just a bad idea — it is illegal.”  This potential for an undercount could undermine the accuracy of the data, and have far-reaching impacts on representation, services and research. Data from the census are used to determine how electoral districts are drawn, over $600 billion in federal funding are distributed and much more. Using the most recent five-year American Community Survey (ACS), which is based on a large sample of the population, Social Explorer visualized the areas of the country that would be most affected by the addition of the question. According to the 2012-16 ACS, there were 22,214,947 non-citizens in the U.S., representing 7.0 percent of the nation’s population. The map [within this article] shows where non-citizens live at the county level. Click around the map to explore…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Without Context Or Cushion, Do Online Medical Results Make Sense?

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:23

Kaiser Health News: “…The push for [patient] portals has been fueled by several factors: the widespread embrace of technology, incentive payments to medical practices and hospitals that were part of 2009 federal legislation to encourage “meaningful use” of electronic records, and a 2014 federal rule giving patients direct access to their results. Policymakers have long regarded electronic medical records as a way to foster patient engagement and improve patient safety. Studies have found that between 8 and 26 percent of abnormal lab results were not communicated to patients promptly. Are portals delivering on their promise to engage patients? Or are these results too often a source of confusion and alarm for patients and the cause of more work for doctors because information is provided without adequate — or sometimes any — guidance?…A recent study by Singh and his colleagues found that, like Devitt, nearly two-thirds of 95 patients who obtained test results via a portal received no explanatory information about the findings. As a result, nearly half conducted online searches. Many with abnormal results called their doctors. That echoes a 2016 study led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh. These scientists found that in addition to engaging patients, portal use may increase anxiety and lead to more doctor visits…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google Maps learns 39 new languages

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:19

Google Blog:  “…Today, we’re making Google Maps even more useful by adding 39 new languages—spoken by an estimated 1.25 billion people worldwide: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Burmese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Georgian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Kazakh, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Mongolian, Norwegian, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Zulu…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Yemen War Online: Propagation of Censored Content on Twitter

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:18

As a devastating civil war rages on in Yemen, online political networks that coalesce around the war use Twitter to propagate censored content from the open web, making it available to users behind open-web filtering regimes. by Helmi Noman, Robert Faris, and John Kelly. 28 February 2018 Download PDF.

“This study, conducted by the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, analyzes the sharing of information on Twitter among different political groups related to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The study finds that the networks on Twitter are organized around and segregate along political lines. The networks cite web content, including censored websites, that reflects and informs their collective framing of the politically sensitive issues. Each of the factions relies almost entirely on their own sources of information. The study also tests for the availability of this open web content shared on Twitter in the countries most engaged in the public debate over the conflict and find that national filtering policies also seek to shape the narrative by blocking views and perspectives that diverge from government positions on the conflict. While selective exposure to web content is often associated with polarization, the paper shows that social media—in this case Twitter—is used to propagate censored content from the open web, making it more visible to users behind open-web filtering regimes. The evidence shows that government attempts to corral social media users into government-friendly media bubbles does not work, although government filters make it more difficult to access some content. Instead, social media users coalesce into self-defined media spheres aligned around social and political affinities.”

Categories: Law and Legal

NOAA – Garbage Patches: How Gyres Take Our Trash Out to Sea

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 20:14

NOAA Ocean Podcast: Episode 14 How the gyres that circulate our ocean waters also accumulate plastics. Find out what a garbage patch is and isn’t, and what we can do about this ocean-sized problem.

“..Gyres are large systems of circulating ocean currents, kind of like slow-moving whirlpools. There are five gyres to be exact—the North Atlantic Gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, the North Pacific Gyre, the South Pacific Gyre, and the Indian Ocean Gyre—that have a significant impact on the ocean. The big five help drive the so-called oceanic conveyor belt that helps circulate ocean waters around the globe. While they circulate ocean waters, they’re also drawing in the pollution that we release in coastal areas, known as marine debris. The most famous example of a gyre’s tendency to take out our trash is the Great Pacific Garbage patch located in the North Pacific Gyre. The patch is an area of concentrated (and mostly plastic) marine debris. While this is certainly the most talked about garbage patch, it is not the only garbage patch in the ocean. In the last five years, researchers have discovered two more areas where a “soup” of concentrated marine debris collects – one in the South Pacific Ocean, the other in the North Atlantic. As with the North Pacific Garbage Patch, plastic can circulate in this part of the ocean for years, posing health risks to marine animals, fish, and seabirds…”

Categories: Law and Legal

John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 19:51

New York Times Opinion by retired associate justice of the United States Supreme Court – John Paul Steven: “Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society. That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment. Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Immigration Court Outcomes by County of Residence

Tue, 03/27/2018 - 19:40

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “We have just added new features that permit the public to examine the immigrant’s residence in all deportation cases before the Immigrant Court. The new features track the state and county of residence during the period FY 2001 through February of 2018. The new tool is particularly powerful because users can drill in to see for any particular county or state the immigrants’ custody status as well as the eventual outcomes for their Immigration Court proceeding. There are stark contrasts in the typical outcome reached in Immigration Court cases for immigrants residing in different communities. Among the five counties in the country with the highest volume of cases, Queens County in New York City had the highest proportion of immigrants who were granted relief and the lowest proportion who were ordered removed from the country. Cameron County in Texas stood in sharp contrast. Immigrants there had the highest proportion ordered removed and the least granted relief. An important factor in these differing outcomes was whether or not immigrants were able to find attorneys to represent them. To examine results for your particular county, select “Immigrant County” after going to: To read the full report go to:”

Categories: Law and Legal