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Financial Technology: Agencies Should Provide Clarification on Lenders’ Use of Alternative Data

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:35

Financial Technology: Agencies Should Provide Clarification on Lenders’ Use of Alternative Data, GAO-19-111: Published: Dec 19, 2018. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 2018.
“Financial technology—or “fintech”—can help connect lenders and borrowers online. Some fintech lenders told us that they use alternative data to help determine borrowers’ creditworthiness. For example, lenders may supplement traditional data (such as credit scores) with information about a borrower’s college degree. Using alternative data could make loans available to more people, but could also have unintended effects. Fintech lenders may not know how to use the data and still comply with fair lending laws. We recommended that the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection communicate with lenders about how to use alternative data…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Access to Justice Essays Winter 2019

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:30

Dædalus – American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Winter 2019. Access to Justice. Featured Essays Winter 2019:

  • Access to What? Rebecca L. Sandefur – “The access-to-justice crisis is bigger than law and lawyers. It is a crisis of exclusion and inequality. Today, access to justice is restricted: only some people, and only some kinds of justice problems, receive lawful resolution. Access is also systematically unequal: some groups – wealthy people and white people, for example – get more access than other groups, like poor people and racial minorities. Traditionally, lawyers and judges call this a “crisis of unmet legal need.” It is not. Justice is about just resolution, not legal services. Resolving justice problems lawfully does not always require lawyers’ assistance, as a growing body of evidence shows. Because the problem is unresolved justice issues, there is a wider range of options. Solutions to the access-to-justice crisis require a new understanding of the problem. It must guide a quest for just resolutions shaped by lawyers working with problem-solvers in other disciplines and with other members of the American public whom the justice system is meant to serve.”
  • Why Big Business Should Support Legal Aid Kenneth C. Frazier: “Corporations are part of the fabric of society. As members of American society – often, very powerful and influential ones – corporations have a deep interest in the health of the nation’s democracy, a mainstay of which is the system of justice writ large. The concept of justice for all is so important to this democracy that the founders placed it in the Constitution’s first line. But the system is not perfect. Attaining equal justice for all citizens and governing by the rule of law too often are merely aspirations. Corporations have a stake in ensuring that their disputes with others are resolved fairly, in a legal system that is viewed as treating all litigants equally under the law, regardless of size, wealth, or power. Corporate engagement in strengthening legal services in the United States is, in this way, an expression of corporate self-interest.”
  • The Twilight Zone Nathan Hecht: “…Much work is being done to improve access to justice. Lawyers, in a proud tradition of their profession, represent needy clients without charge – pro bono publico – for the public good. The Texas Bar Association estimated that lawyers in the state, where I am a judge, donate more than two million hours annually, conservatively worth half a billion dollars. Legal aid provides basic civil legal services free of cost to the poor and economically struggling: that is, people whose income is usually no more than 125 percent of the federal poverty guidelines (in 2018, $15,175 for a single person). Funding comes from Congress through the federal Legal Services Corporation, sometimes from state appropriations and other public sources, and sometimes from bar associations and private contributions…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:21 – Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress, December 13, 2018: “The diminishment of Arctic sea ice has led to increased human activities in the Arctic, and has heightened interest in, and concerns about, the region’s future. The United States, by virtue of Alaska, is an Arctic country and has substantial interests in the region. Record low extents of Arctic sea ice over the past decade have focused scientific and policy attention on links to global climate change and projected ice-free seasons in the Arctic within decades. These changes have potential consequences for weather in the United States, access to mineral and biological resources in the Arctic, the economies and cultures of peoples in the region, and national security.

The five Arctic coastal states—the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway, and Denmark (of which Greenland is a territory)—have made or are in the process of preparing submissions to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf regarding the outer limits of their extended continental shelves. The Russian submission includes the underwater Lomonosov Ridge, a feature that spans a considerable distance across the center of the Arctic Ocean. The diminishment of Arctic ice could lead in coming years to increased commercial shipping on two trans-Arctic sea routes—the Northern Sea Route close to Russia, and the Northwest Passage—though the rate of increase in the use of these routes might not be as great as sometimes anticipated in press accounts. International guidelines for ships operating in Arctic waters have been recently updated. Changes to the Arctic brought about by warming temperatures will likely allow more exploration for oil, gas, and minerals. Warming that causes permafrost to melt could pose challenges to onshore exploration activities. Increased oil and gas exploration and tourism (cruise ships) in the Arctic increase the risk of pollution in the region. Cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters will be more difficult than in other areas, primarily because effective strategies for cleaning up oil spills in ice-covered waters have yet to be developed. Large commercial fisheries exist in the Arctic. The United States is currently meeting with other countries regarding the management of Arctic fish stocks. Changes in the Arctic could affect threatened and endangered species, and could result in migration of fish stocks to new waters. Under the Endangered Species Act, the polar bear was listed as threatened on May 15, 2008. Arctic climate change is also expected to affect the economies, health, and cultures of Arctic indigenous peoples. Two of the Coast Guard’s three polar icebreakers—Polar Star and Polar Sea—have exceeded their intended 30-year service lives, and Polar Sea is not operational. The Coast Guard has initiated a project to build up to three new heavy polar icebreakers. On May 12, 2011, representatives from the member states of the Arctic Council signed an agreement on cooperation on search and rescue in the Arctic…”



Categories: Law and Legal

The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:18 – The Legislative Process on the House Floor: An Introduction, December 13, 2018. “The daily order of business on the floor of the House of Representatives is governed by standing rules that make certain matters and actions privileged for consideration. On a day-to-day basis, however, the House usually decides to grant individual bills privileged access to the floor, using one of several parliamentary mechanisms. The standing rules of the House include several different parliamentary mechanisms that the body may use to act on bills and resolutions. Which of these will be employed in a given instance usually depends on the extent to which Members want to debate and amend the legislation. In general, all of the procedures of the House permit a majority of Members to work their will without excessive delay. The House considers most legislation by motions to suspend the rules, with limited debate and no floor amendments, with the support of at least two-thirds of the Members voting. Occasionally, the House will choose to consider a measure on the floor by the unanimous consent of Members. The Rules Committee is instrumental in recommending procedures for considering major bills and may propose restrictions on the floor amendments that Members can offer or bar them altogether. Many major bills are first considered in Committee of the Whole before being passed by a simple majority vote of the House. The Committee of the Whole is governed by more flexible procedures than the basic rules of the House, under which a majority can vote to pass a bill after only one hour of debate and with no floor amendments. Although a quorum is supposed to be present on the floor when the House is conducting business, the House assumes a quorum is present unless a quorum call or electronically recorded vote demonstrates that it is not. However, the standing rules preclude quorum calls at most times other than when the House is voting. Questions are first decided by voice vote, although any Member may then demand a division vote. Before the final result of a voice or division vote is announced, Members can secure an electronically recorded vote instead if enough Members desire it or if a quorum is not present in the House. The constitutional requirements for making law mean that each chamber must pass the same measure with the identical text before transmitting it to the President for his consideration. When the second chamber of Congress amends a measure sent to it by the first chamber, the two chambers must resolve legislative differences to meet this requirement. This can be accomplished by shuttling the bill back and forth between the House and Senate, with each chamber proposing amendments to the position of the other, or by establishing a conference committee to try to negotiate a compromise version of the legislation.”

Categories: Law and Legal

DataCite’s New Search

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:14

DataCiteBlog: “Today we are announcing our first new functionality of 2019, a much improved search for DataCite DOIs and metadata. While the DataCite Search user interface has not changed, changes under the hood bring many important improvements and are our biggest changes to search since 2012. Faster Indexing – Newly registered (and tagged findable) DOIs now appear in the DataCite Search index within a few minutes, compared with the previous up to 12 hour lag. The same is true for metadata updates or DOIs removed from the public search index (by changing the DOI state from findable to registered). Faster indexing is particularly important when related content is published at the same time, e.g. a dataset with a DataCite DOI associated with a journal article with a Crossref DOI…”

See also DataCite 2018 Wrap-up and 2019 Preview – “First, a big pat on the back for last year 2018 saw a lot of changes at DataCite. We went from 5 employees to 8, and we released several new things, both visible and not-so-visible. Here are the highlights from a product release perspective…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Introducing Individual Account Subscription Tiers for Perma

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 19:11

Harvard University’s Blog Post: “For the last year or so, we’ve been working to understand the potential for Perma to help individuals and institutions outside the academic community combat link rot. Two things have become clear through our work. First, link rot is a problem for lots of people, not just scholars. Indeed, link rot matters to anyone who cites, refers or links to web pages with the hope that they won’t change or disappear down the road. Second, Perma can help lots of people prevent link rot, whether or not they’re part of academia. For Perma to continue to serve people outside the academic community, we have to make sure that we use our resources responsibly and focus on users with the greatest need to preserve web sources for public access. To help us do that more effectively, we’re introducing monthly subscription tiers for people whose Perma usage is not sponsored and supported by academic libraries or other registrars…” [ is a service that helps scholars, courts and others create web citation links that will never break. prevents link rot.]

Categories: Law and Legal

Before the Electric Car Takes Over, Someone Needs to Reinvent the Battery

Mon, 01/07/2019 - 18:52

Bloomberg: “Solid-state technology promises to be cheaper and charge faster than anything on the road today. But no one is close to figuring it out. To deliver an electric vehicle that’s cheaper, safer and capable of traveling 500 miles on a single charge, the auto industry needs a breakthrough in battery technology. Easier said than done. Scientists in Japan, China and the U.S. are among those struggling to crack the code of how to significantly boost the amount of energy a battery cell can store and bring an EV’s driving range into line with a full tank of gas. That quest has zeroed in on solid-state technology, an overhaul of a battery’s internal architecture to use solid materials instead of flammable liquids to enable charging and discharging. The technology promises major improvements on existing lithium-ion packs, which automakers say are hitting the limits of their storage capabilities and may never hold enough power for long-distance models. If it can be mastered, solid-state technology could help speed the demise of the combustion-engine car and potentially slash EV charging times to about 10 minutes from as much as several hours. The supercharger network built by Tesla Inc., now offering some of the fastest charge times, needs approximately 30 minutes to bring a depleted car to 80 percent…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Playing with data and its consequences

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 18:02

First Monday – Volume 24, Number 1 – 7 January 2019 > Gutiérrez.

“The fundamental paradigm shift brought about by datafication alters how people participate as citizens on a daily basis. “Big data” has come to constitute a new terrain of engagement, which brings organized collective action, communicative practices and data infrastructure into a fruitful dialogue. While scholarship is progressively acknowledging the emergence of bottom-up data practices, to date no research has explored the influence of these practices on the activists themselves. Leveraging the disciplines of critical data and social movement studies, this paper explores “proactive data activism”, using, producing and/or appropriating data for social change, and examines its biographical, political, tactical and epistemological consequences. Approaching engagement with data as practice, this study focuses on the social contexts in which data are produced, consumed and circulated, and analyzes how tactics, skills and emotions of individuals evolve in interplay with data. Through content and co-occurrence analysis of semi-structured practitioner interviews (N=20), the article shows how the employment of data and data infrastructure in activism fundamentally transforms the way activists go about changing the world.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Paper – Agile Research

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 17:59

First Monday – Volume 24, Number 1 – 7 January 2019 > Twidale.

In this paper we ask: “how might we take the ideas, the methods and the underlying philosophy behind agile software development and explore applying them in the context of doing research — even research that does not involve software development?” We look at some examples of agile research methods and think about how they might inspire the design of even better methods. We also try to address some potential criticisms of an approach that aims to minimize a need for Big Design Up Front by developing tighter iteration cycles, coupled with reflection and learning as part of a process for doing research.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Preserving Online News In An Ephemeral Web

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 17:56

Forbes – A Look At Four Months Of Global Digital Journalism – “From the dawn of modern print journalism through the beginning of the web era, newspapers represented an archival medium. Once rendered into print, a news article was immutable and could safely be referenced for perpetuity without fear that a few days later it would say something very different. As libraries and other institutions collected and archived newspapers, their contents were also safely preserved for continued access by future generations. Multiple libraries all held independent copies of an article, ensuring that even if some copies were lost or modified, others survived. In contrast, in the web era, journalism has been largely transformed into live blogging, with articles wholesale rewritten or simply deleted. As online journalism has rapidly risen into a dominant distribution format over the past quarter century, what does its ephemeral nature mean for the archival and preservation of our societal record?…”

Categories: Law and Legal

7 Free Web Annotation and Markup Tools You Should Know

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 17:52

Hongkiat: “Contextual feedback is crucial for remote teams working online to have fast and efficient feedback system. Asking and taking feedback is tedious and usually happens off-context using email and text message. There are some tools, however, that allow teams to discuss things and collaborate online in much better way. Web Annotation and Markup tools help you to comment, discuss and collaborate right on web pages or screenshots or PDFs. Such tools add context to the content and make use of highlights, sticky notes, comments, etc. for making discussions with context. In this post, we’re showcasing the best yet freely available tools for contextual feedback. These tools let you annotate, comment and discuss on the web quickly and easily…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Ultimate Women in Science Reading List: 150 Essential Titles

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 17:50

The Ultimate Women in Science Reading List: 150 Essential TitlesDale DeBakcsy: “December 16 2018 saw my fifth anniversary of writing the Illustrated Women in Science column, and of the many ways that occurred to me to celebrate, the one I thought would be most useful would be to tramp through the Women in Science bookshelves whose contents I have been assembling for the past couple decades and write down, once and for all, a bibliography of great women in science biographies and memoirs, to share with those who are looking to start their own collection or who are just looking for an off-the-beaten-path scientist to spend some time with. Here then are 150 from the shelves, arranged alphabetically by scientist, with a few words here and there when the spirit moves me! Dig in, and happy collecting!..”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Federalist Society’s impact on the law

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 15:47

Washington Post Magazine: “The conservative and libertarian society for law and public policy studies has reached an unprecedented peak of power and influence. Brett Kavanaugh, whose membership in the society dates to his Yale Law School days, has just been elevated to the Supreme Court; he is the second of President Trump’s appointees, following Neil Gorsuch, another justice closely associated with the society. They join Justice Clarence Thomas (who said last spring he’s “been a part of the Federalist Society now since meeting with them … in the 1980s”), Chief Justice John Roberts (listed as a member in 1997-98) and Justice Samuel Alito (a periodic speaker at society events). The newly solidified conservative majority on the court will inevitably decide more cases in line with the society’s ideals — which include checking federal power, protecting individual liberty and interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning. In practice, this could mean fewer regulations of the environment and health care, more businesses allowed to refuse service to customers on religious grounds, and denial of protections claimed by newly vocal classes of minorities, such as transgender people…”

The next most important segment of the judiciary — the federal appeals courts — is also filling up with Federalist Society members: Twenty-five of the 30 appeals court judges Trump has appointed are or were members of the society. “Our opponents of judicial nominees frequently claim the president has outsourced his selection of judges,” McGahn quipped to a Federalist Society gathering in 2017. “That is completely false. I’ve been a member of the Federalist Society since law school. Still am. So, frankly, it seems like it’s been in-sourced.”..”

Categories: Law and Legal

Censoring China’s Internet, for Stability and Profit

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 15:31

The New York Times – Thousands of low-wage workers in “censorship factories” trawl the online world for forbidden content, where even a photo of an empty chair could cause big trouble.

“…China has built the world’s most extensive and sophisticated online censorship system. It grew even stronger under President Xi Jinping, who wants the internet to play a greater role in strengthening the Communist Party’s hold on society. More content is considered sensitive. Punishments are getting more severe. Once circumspect about its controls, China now preaches a vision of a government-supervised internet that has surprising resonance in other countries. Even traditional bastions of free expression like Western Europe and the United States are considering their own digital limits. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube have said that they would hire thousands more people to better keep a handle on their content…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Google, Facebook, and the Legal Mess Over Face Scanning

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 15:23

“Confusion over biometric privacy laws in the U.S. is leading to different outcomes for tech giants embroiled in legal disputes over facial scanning. An Illinois court recently ruled that Google did not flout local laws by using facial-scanning to help people organize photo galleries through its Photos service. Facebook, on the other hand, is appealing a ruling that its face-identifying “tag” tool violated similar laws. Here, Fortune analyzes the differences between the two cases…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A Guide To Who’s Who In House Leadership For The 116th Congress

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 15:18

NPR: “The 116th Congress officially convened on Thursday with Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives for the first time in eight years. And with Democrats’ newfound power and Republicans’ first time in the minority in nearly a decade, both parties saw a shuffle in their leadership teams. The Democratic leadership is a diverse slate, representing the record number of women and minorities their new caucus brings to Capitol Hill — Nancy Pelosi is resuming her place as the first female House speaker in history, with four other top positions either being filled by a woman or person of color. Republicans, however, have a leadership slate made up almost entirely of white males. Here’s who you need to know in House leadership for both parties in the new Congress…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Devices That Will Invade Your Life in 2019 (and What’s Overhyped)

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 14:57

The New York Times – A.I. that responds to your voice. Next-generation wireless networks. If this year’s biggest consumer technology trends have a familiar ring, there’s a reason for that. “But as is often the case, there will also be plenty of talk in the coming week about overly optimistic tech that you would do best to sidestep for now. That’s because some of the most hyped technologies — especially self-driving cars — are so far from reality that you won’t see them in stores or dealerships anytime soon. Here’s what to watch, and what to avoid…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The BitCurator Consortium

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 14:55
“The BitCurator Consortium (BCC) is an independent, community-led membership association that serves as the host and center of administrative, user and community support for the BitCurator environment. Its purpose is to support curation of born-digital materials through the application of open-source digital forensics tools by institutions responsible for such materials.Governance decisions are driven by the community and are enacted through its Executive Council, which includes seven member institution representatives.BCC achieves its mission through the following activities:
  • Building a relationship network among archivists, curators, and librarians charged with preserving digital content
  • Hosting an annual forum
  • Compiling documentation and scripts
  • Conducting new research in digital forensics that addresses specific, practical member concerns
  • Developing advocacy and awareness materials and programs that articulate the unique value of digital forensics
  • Providing training and learning opportunities for professionals and students to develop needed skills and competencies
  • Gathering statistics that track trends, needs, and developments in digital forensics
  • Exploring collective arrangements that allow libraries, archives, and museums to negotiate effectively with key vendors…”
Categories: Law and Legal

Plants of the World Online portal

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 14:49

“In 2015, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew launched its first Science Strategy establishing its vision to document and understand global plant and fungal diversity and their uses, bringing authoritative expertise to bear on the critical challenges facing humanity today. The Science Strategy also committed Kew to delivering nine strategic outputs with the overarching aim to disseminate Kew’s scientific knowledge of plants and fungi to maximize its impact in science, education, conservation policy and management. The Plants of the World Online portal (POWO), is one of the nine strategic outputs and its aim is to enable users to access information on all the world’s known seed-bearing plants by 2020. With over 8.5 million items, Kew houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world in the Victorian Herbarium and Fungarium in West London. They represent over 95% of known flowering plant genera and more than 60% of known fungal genera and yet, only 20% of this knowledge is available online. POWO is Kew’s way of turning 250 years of botanical knowledge into an open and accessible online global resource. POWO draws together Kew’s extensive data resources including its regional Floras and monographs, alongside images from the digitisation of the collections. The portal has been designed to maximise accessibility and enables the dissemination of plant information to its users via a mobile, tablet or desktop computer.

…Ultimately, POWO will become a single point of access for authoritative plant species information, a multi-dimensional catalogue of plant life, including information on identification, distribution, traits, conservation, molecular phylogenies and uses. The codebase is open source and Kew hopes to support existing partner networks to set up their own portals, creating a distributed network of botanical data hubs. POWO aims to become a resource that has global coverage which can empower and inform citizens, policy makers, conservationists and farmers everywhere, about the importance of plants and fungi to life. In addition, a key function of POWO is to ensure that Kew’s floristic data can be harvested and ingested by the World Flora Online (WFO) portal enabling Kew to support the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC) Target 1 2020…”

Categories: Law and Legal

My Year of Citation Studies, Parts 1-4

Thu, 01/03/2019 - 23:46

Whisner, Mary, My Year of Citation Studies, Parts 1-4 (Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall 2018). Law Library Journal, Vol. 110, Nos. 1-4, Pp. 167-80, 283-94, 419-28, 561-77 (2018). Available at SSRN:

Have you ever wondered about citation rates for law review articles? I have, and it led to a series of four pieces in Law Library Journal‘s “Practicing Reference” column.  It started with a professor who asked for lists about frequently cited student notes and comments, thinking that those would be good examples to show students in a journal seminar. That led me to investigate different tools for tracking citations—HeinOnline, Shepard’s, KeyCite, and Web of Science—looking at pieces published in a sample of journals in 2012. Parts 3 and 4 studied citations to articles from a sample of journals in 1982, 1992, and 2002. Here I consolidate the four parts into one PDF, for readers’ convenience. Part 4 concludes with a summary of findings and comments on what I learned by undertaking the project.
Categories: Law and Legal