beSpacific - Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002
Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by Johns Hopkins CSSE – total confirmed cases world wide as of 02/24/2020 – 79,554.
- Lancet Article: Here. Mobile Version: Here. Visualization: JHU CSSE. Automation Support: Esri Living Atlas team.
- Data sources: WHO, CDC, ECDC, NHC and DXY. Read more in this blog. Contact US.
- Downloadable database: GitHub: Here. Feature layer: Here.
- Point level: City level – US, Canada and Australia; Province level – China; Country level – other countries.
- Time Zones: lower-left corner indicator – your local time; lower-right corner plot – UTC.
- This website and its contents herein, including all data, mapping, and analysis (“Website”), copyright 2020 Johns Hopkins University, all rights reserved,
Politico – “The U.S. Constitution is famously short—a mere 7,591 words, including its 27 amendments. That makes it all the more remarkable that 110 of those words have been, in effect, lost to the ages. These forgotten words form Section 2 of the 14th Amendment, which was designed to guard against the infringement of voting rights. The lost provision is simple: States that deny their citizens the right to vote will have reduced representation in the House of Representatives. I bet you’ve never heard of that part of our founding document. That’s because, throughout U.S. history, legal ambiguities and confusion over implementation authorities have kept this provision from realizing its potential. But there are ways to put it to work right now. And there’s no better time. From widespread closure of polling locations and expanding imposition of voter identification laws to escalating purges of voter rolls, assaults on the right to vote nationwide illustrate that we need these lost words back, urgently. The 14th Amendment is divided into five sections, all aimed at protecting civil rights in the wake of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery. Section 2 states:
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues February 22, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: A spotter’s guide to the groups that are out to get you; The ‘Robo Revenge’ App Makes It Easy to Sue Robocallers; Activate This ‘Bracelet of Silence,’ and Alexa Can’t Eavesdrop; and Security experts raise concerns about voting app used by military.
ars technica – “…we’re going to teach you how to figure out how many Wi-Fi access points (APs) you need, and where to put them. These rules apply whether we’re talking about a single Wi-Fi router, a mesh kit like Eero, Plume, or Orbi, or a set of wire-backhauled access points like Ubiquiti’s UAP-AC line or TP-Link’s EAPs. Unfortunately, these “rules” are necessarily closer to “guidelines” as there are a lot of variables it’s impossible to fully account for from an armchair a few thousand miles away. But if you become familiar with these rules, you should at least walk away with a better practical understanding of what to expect—and not expect—from your Wi-Fi gear and how to get the most out of it…”
“Apollo supports open access to images of artworks that are out of copyright. [This is a] list of museums and other archives that provide unrestricted downloads of high-resolution images.”
Washington, D.C. (Feb. 19, 2020)—”Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to Amazon seeking information about its subsidiary Ring Inc.’s partnerships with city governments and local police departments, along with the company’s policies governing the data it collects. Ring sells internet-connected home surveillance equipment, such as doorbell cameras and cameras inside children’s bedrooms. The Subcommittee demands Amazon provide information about these partnerships dating back to January 1, 2013. “The Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy is writing to request documents and information about Ring’s partnerships with city governments and local police departments, along with the company’s policies governing the data it collects,” Krishnamoorthi wrote. “The Subcommittee is examining traditional constitutional protections against surveilling Americans and the balancing of civil liberties and security interests.”
Ring reportedly works closely with local governments and police departments to promote its surveillance tools and has entered into agreements with cities to provide discounts on Ring products to their residents in exchange for city subsidies. Reports also indicate that Ring has entered into agreements with police departments to provide free Ring products for giveaways to the public. Ring reportedly tightly controls what cities and law enforcement agencies can say about Ring, requiring any public statement to be approved in advance. In one instance, Ring is reported to have edited a police department’s press release to remove the word “surveillance.”…
Washington Post – An elephants story does not end when it dies
See also Goldenberg, S.Z., Wittemyer, G. Elephant behavior toward the dead: A review and insights from field observations. Primates 61, 119–128 (2020). “Many nonhuman animals have been documented to take an interest in their dead. A few socially complex and cognitively advanced taxa—primates, cetaceans, and proboscideans—stand out for the range and duration of behaviors that they display at conspecific carcasses. Here, we review the literature on field observations of elephants at carcasses to identify patterns in behaviors exhibited. We add to this literature by describing elephant responses to dead elephants in the Samburu National Reserve, northern Kenya. The literature review indicated that behavior of elephants at carcasses most often included approaches, touching, and investigative responses, and these occurred at varying stages of decay, from fresh carcasses to scattered and sun-bleached bones. During our own observations, we also witnessed elephants visiting and revisiting carcasses during which they engaged in extensive investigative behavior, stationary behavior, self-directed behavior, temporal gland streaming, and heightened social interactions with other elephants in the vicinity of a carcass. Elephants show broad interest in their dead regardless of the strength of former relationships with the dead individual. Such behaviors may allow them to update information regarding their social context in this highly fluid fission–fusion society. The apparent emotionality and widely reported inter-individual differences involved in elephant responses to the dead deserve further study. Our research contributes to the growing discipline of comparative thanatology to illuminate the cognition and context of nonhuman animal response to death, particularly among socially complex species.”
CNN Business: “Tucked into the sign-up process for many popular e-commerce sites and apps are dense terms-of-service agreements that legal experts say are changing the nature of consumer transactions, creating a veil of secrecy around how these companies function. The small print in these documents requires all signatories to agree to binding arbitration and to clauses that ban class actions. Just by signing up for these services, consumers give up their rights to sue companies like Amazon, Uber and Walmart before a jury of their peers, agreeing instead to undertake a private process overseen by a paid arbitrator. Binding arbitration clauses have been common for decades, whether buying a car or joining a membership club like Costco (but the proliferation of apps and e-commerce means that such clauses now cover millions of everyday commercial transactions, from buying groceries to getting to the airport. In 2019, the US Supreme Court issued the latest in a series of rulings upholding companies’ rights to enforce binding arbitration agreements and banning class action cases.
Consumers are “losing access to the courthouse,” said Imre Szalai, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. He authored a 2019 study which found that 81 companies in the Fortune 100 employ some form of consumer arbitration agreements, with clauses that cover more than 60% of US retail e-commerce sales. In an email, Amazon said it works to resolve customer concerns about its own products or those offered by third-party sellers on its site. “As a result, the vast majority of customer complaints are resolved informally,” said a company spokesperson. “Every customer is important to us, so we seek to resolve customer complaints individually with the customer whenever possible.”…
Washington Post – a nation of voyeurs – For all the worries about hacking, owners of Internet-connected cameras say they love watching people silently from afar — often their own family members. Amazon’s Ring, Google’s Nest and other Internet-connected cameras — some selling for as little as $59 — have given Americans the tools they need to become a personal security force, and millions of people now seeing what’s happening around their home every second — what Ring calls the “new neighborhood watch”. (Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) But the allure of monitoring people silently from afar has also proved more tempting than many expected. Customers who bought the cameras in hopes of not becoming victims joke that instead they’ve become voyeurs.
The Washington Post surveyed more than 50 owners of in-home and outdoor camera systems across the United States about how the recording devices had reshaped their daily lives. Most of those who responded to online solicitations about their camera use said they had bought the cameras to check on package deliveries and their pets, and many talked glowingly about what they got in return: security, entertainment, peace of mind. Some said they worried about hackers, snoops or spies. But in the unscientific survey, most people also replied that they were fine with intimate new levels of surveillance — as long as they were the ones who got to watch. They analyzed their neighbors. They monitored their kids and house guests. And they judged the performance of housekeepers, babysitters and other domestic workers, often without letting them know they were being recorded. “I know maybe I should” tell them, one woman explained, “but they won’t be as candid.”…
Quartz: “It’s not every Supreme Court brief that goes off the beaten legal path, supplementing jurisprudence with humor and spicing up statutory interpretation with devastating wit. But the filing from environmentalists fighting the US Forest Service (USFS) over its grant of a license for a gas pipeline through the Appalachian Trail is one such gem. Sadly, the substance of the case isn’t amusing. Whether you believe national and natural treasures should be protected from pesky energy companies, or that nature-loving tree-huggers should thank the heavens for businesses willing to drill deep and spend billions of dollars to someday deliver consumer savings, the case highlights the growing tension between government, industry, and the people over how to handle American land…”
Tax Justice Network – “The Financial Secrecy Index ranks jurisdictions according to their secrecy and the scale of their offshore financial activities. A politically neutral ranking, it is a tool for understanding global financial secrecy, tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, and illicit financial flows or capital flight. The index was launched on 18 February 2020. The Financial Secrecy Index complements our Corporate Tax Haven Index, which ranks the world’s most important tax havens for multinational companies. The menu on the left provides more information on how the index works, and provides context…”
BBC News article includes extensive history, narrative, graphics, photos and insight into how and why Amazon collects massive amounts of data Amazon on users through multiple channels of e-commerce and devices – by Leo Kelion – “You might call me an Amazon super-user. I’ve been a customer since 1999, and rely on it for everything from grass seed to birthday gifts. There are Echo speakers dotted throughout my home, Ring cameras inside and out, a Fire TV set-top box in the living room and an ageing Kindle e-reader by my bedside. I submitted a data subject access request, asking Amazon to disclose everything it knows about me Scanning through the hundreds of files I received in response, the level of detail is, in some cases, mind-bending. One database contains transcriptions of all 31,082 interactions my family has had with the virtual assistant Alexa. Audio clips of the recordings are also provided. The 48 requests to play Let It Go, flag my daughter’s infatuation with Disney’s Frozen. Other late-night music requests to the bedroom Echo, might provide a clue to a more adult activity…”
“This Essay proposes the creation of a federally-run class action website and supporting administration (collectively, Classaction.gov) that would both operate a comprehensive research database on class actions and assume many of the notice and claims processing functions performed by class action claims administrators today. Classaction.gov would bring long-demanded transparency to class actions and, through forces of legitimization and coordination, would substantially increase the rate of consumer participation in class action settlements. It also holds the key to mitigating other problems in class action practice, such as the inefficiencies and potential abuses associated with multi-forum litigation, the limited success of CAFA’s notice requirement in spurring effective pubic oversight of class actions, and the potential for abuse inherent in cy pres settlement awards.”
Monika Bickert, VP Content Policy, Facebook: “…This paper explores possible regulatory structures for content governance outside the United States and identifies questions that require further discussion. It builds off recent developments on this topic, including legislation proposed or passed into law by governments, as well as scholarship that explains the various content governance approaches that have been adopted in the past and may be taken in the future.2 Its overall goal is to help frame a path forward—taking into consideration the views not only of policymakers and private companies, but also civil society and the people who use Facebook’s platform and services. This debate will be central to shaping the character of the internet for decades to come. If designed well, new frameworks for regulating harmful content can contribute to the internet’s continued success by articulating clear, predictable, and balanced ways for government, companies, and civil society to share responsibilities and work together. Designed poorly, these efforts may stifle expression, slow innovation, and create the wrong incentives for platforms…”
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18, 2020 – PRNewswire – “Travel booking platform Qtrip.com today released its 1st Annual Airfare Study, carrying on the legacy of its sister brand CheapAir.com. The team crunched more than 917 million airfares in 8,000 markets to reveal the best and worst times to book U.S. domestic flights. The study finds that airfares have become less volatile over the last few years, and the best deals appear progressively earlier..”
Motherboard – Yodlee, America’s largest financial data broker, says the data it sells it is anonymous. A confidential document obtained by Motherboard shows people could be unmasked in the data. “Yodlee, the largest financial data broker in the U.S., sells data pulled from the bank and credit card transactions of tens of millions of Americans to investment and research firms, detailing where and when people shopped and how much they spent. The company claims that the data is anonymous, but a confidential Yodlee document obtained by Motherboard indicates individual users could be unmasked. The findings come as multiple Senators have urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Envestnet, which owns Yodlee, for selling Americans’ transaction information without their knowledge or consent, potentially violating the law. “Let me be blunt. This is bullshit ‘anonymization,'” Nicholas Weaver, a senior researcher at the International Computer Science Institute at UC Berkeley, told Motherboard in an email after reviewing a section of the document….”
INPUT Magazine: “Google’s image-labeling AI tool will no longer label pictures with gender tags like “man” and “woman,” according to an email seen by Business Insider. In the email, Google cites its ethical rules on AI as the basis for the change. This is a progressive move by Google — and one that will hopefully set a precedent for the rest of the AI industry…”
“Katie Holten has created a New York City Tree Alphabet. Each letter of the Latin alphabet is assigned a drawing of a tree from the NYC Parks Department’s existing native and non-native trees, as well as species that are to be planted as a result of the changing climate. For example, A = Ash. Everyone is invited to download the free font, NYC Trees, and to write words, poems, messages, or love letters, in Trees. We’ll select some of these messages to plant with real trees around the city. JOIN US! * The New York City Tree Alphabet is an alphabetical planting palette, allowing us to rewrite the urban landscape by planting messages around the city with real trees. What messages would you like to see planted? Download the free font here or visit www.nyctrees.org to write with Trees….”
School Library Journal: “…Caring for others is often part of the job of being a school and youth librarian. In librarianship, as in some other professions such as nursing, there’s growing awareness that this caregiving is a form of work layered on top of other job responsibilities. It’s emotional labor, and when librarians are overworked and drained from dealing with others’ needs and not having time for their own, it can lead to what researchers call compassion fatiguLibrarians are often counseled at professional conferences, on blogs, and on social media that toward off compassion fatigue, they must practice self-care: go for a walk during lunch hour, take a five-minute meditation break, drink enough water. Although these tips are useful on an individual level, not everyone is able to take advantage of them, and to some, they seem like Band Aid suggestions that don’t address the underlying causes of burnout. However, some schools and public libraries are taking compassion fatigue seriously and using effective strategies to support their staff and insulate them from burnout. Researchers define compassion fatigue as the combination of secondary trauma and burnout—and have often applied it to the experiences of doctors, nurses, and first responders who are regularly exposed to traumatic events. Librarians, too, are often exposed to trauma. Librarians in Philadelphia made headlines a couple years ago because they were administering Narcan to people overdosing outside the library…”
The Sentencing Project: “Nationwide there are more people serving life sentences today (206,000) than the entire prison population in 1970 (196,000), according to a new fact sheet released by The Sentencing Project’s Campaign to End Life Imprisonment. Starting in the 1970s, the United States’s prison population began its steady upward climb to the vastly overcrowded system we have today. While recent reforms have decreased the overall prison population by 0.5% between 2003 and 2016, there has been a 30% increase in life sentences during this period. The expansion of life imprisonment is a key component in the structure of mass incarceration. In 24 states, there are more people serving life sentences than the state’s entire prison population in 1970, found Senior Research Analyst Ashley Nellis. In an additional nine states, the life imprisonment total is within 100 people of those states’ 1970 prison population. In particular, Nevada and Utah have life-sentenced populations more than four times the states’ entire prison population in 1970. The next two most dramatic shifts are in Louisiana and Alaska, where the life-sentenced populations are more than double their overall prison populations in 1970. Life sentences have been shown to have little effect on crime rates since people “age out” of crime—meaning that we’re spending a fortune on geriatric care to keep people in prison who pose little threat to public safety. As states pass more reforms to address 40 years of prison expansion, it is clearly important to adopt sentencing reforms to dramatically reduce the scale of punishment for people serving life sentences.”