Democrats and Republicans can agree to very little about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, including how to investigate it. The fallout is impacting the ability to work across party lines.
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The face of the U.S. government's pandemic response donated his personal model of the SARS-CoV-2 virion to the Smithsonian Institution for a future exhibit.
(Image credit: The National Museum of American History)
The water outages in Jackson, Miss. began Feb. 15 as a winter storm swept across the state. An untold number of residents are still without clean water weeks later.
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Residents will be able to enjoy many indoor and outdoor activities for the first time in months, including dining, movie theaters, amusement parks and recreational sports.
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The quadrennial Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers is an improvement from the D+ four years ago, but shows federal investment is still lacking.
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Former Parler CEO John Matze was stripped of all of his shares in the alternative social media company after a dispute with co-founder Rebekah Mercer. The company was nearing a $1 billion valuation.
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In Custodia Legis – New Report on Tax Treatment of Cryptocurrency Block Rewards Published March 2, 2021 by Laney Zhang: “The foreign law specialists of the Law Library of Congress recently completed a multinational report titled Taxation of Cryptocurrency Block Rewards. The report surveys the tax treatment of new tokens obtained by cryptocurrency mining or staking, often known as “block rewards,” in 31 countries around the globe. It also addresses the tax implications of cryptocurrency tokens acquired through activities like airdrops and hard forks (also referred to as “chain splits”) in various jurisdictions. “The Library of Congress report contains valuable information on how countries are responding, or failing to respond, to this new technology. How nations tax the people who maintain cryptocurrency networks will obviously have a big effect on attracting or repelling innovators and investment,” said Abraham Sutherland in the press release issued by Congressman Tom Emmer’s office announcing the publication of the report. The report shows that while tax authorities of a number of countries have published guidance on the taxation of mined tokens such as Bitcoin and other “proof-of-work” cryptocurrencies, only a few specifically address the taxation of tokens received through staking, a term used to describe the process of obtaining reward tokens in the newer “proof-of-stake” cryptocurrencies…”
Collections Include Photographs of Community Impact, Web Archiving of Public Health Data and Artist Responses to the Health Crisis – “As the world marks the one-year anniversary of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Library of Congress has been collecting materials and documenting this time in history through a variety of initiatives. The Library’s rapid-response collecting since the start of lockdowns and social distancing measures over the past year has included acquiring photographs that document the pandemic’s impact on individuals and communities, capturing artists’ responses to the outbreak, mapping the pandemic’s spread and archiving the world’s response online. “The extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our communities, families and social interactions is unlike anything we’ve seen in the past century,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “Archivists and librarians at the Library of Congress are committed to documenting and preserving this difficult time in history through the eyes of artists, photographers, scientists and digital communicators in our collections.” Here are examples of the Library’s wide-ranging collecting over the past year, along with links to visuals and other materials…”
The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Final Report – “…The NSCAI Final Report presents an integrated national strategy to reorganize the government, reorient the nation, and rally our closest allies and partners to defend and compete in the coming era of AI-accelerated competition and conflict. It is a two-pronged approach. Part I, “Defending America in the AI Era,” outlines the stakes, explains what the United States must do to defend against the spectrum of AI-related threats, and recommends how the U.S. government can responsibly use AI technologies to protect the American people and our interests. Part II, “Winning the Technology Competition,” addresses the critical elements of the AI competition and recommends actions the government must take to promote AI innovation to improve national competitiveness and protect critical U.S. advantages. The recommendations are designed as interlocking and mutually reinforcing actions that must be taken together…”
Washington Post – “Major social platforms put new limits on political ads in the run-up to the controversial 2020 election due to concerns they amplify misinformation. But a new Duke University paper published today [J. Scott Babwah Brennen & Matt Perault, March 2, 2021 Breaking Blackout Black Boxes: Roadblocks to Analyzing Platform Political Ads] says a persistent lack of transparency in online political ads is preventing researchers from studying how that changed campaign spending, or impacted individual campaigns. Researchers trying to answer these questions instead encountered a major black box. The report estimates that in the final months of the election, campaigns directed 94 percent of their advertising spending through consulting firms. Duke researchers want Washington to change rules so that political organizations have to report how advertising agencies are spending on their behalf. Currently political campaigns have to disclose that they paid an agency or consulting firm, and researchers can’t see how those firms are spending the money…”
AP: “Domestic extremist groups pose a serious threat to the military by seeking to recruit service members into their ranks and, in some cases, joining the military to acquire combat experience, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday [March 3, 2021]. Report to Armed Services Committees on Screening Individuals Who Seek to Enlist in the Armed Forces – prepared last year at the request of Congress, did not assess whether the problem of extremism in the military is growing, but it cited a number of examples of service members with extremist affiliations. It said the number of current and former military members who ascribe to white supremacist ideology is unknown. “Military members are highly prized by these groups as they bring legitimacy to their causes and enhance their ability to carry out attacks,” the report said. “In addition to potential violence, white supremacy and white nationalism pose a threat to the good order and discipline within the military.” For example, the report noted that a Marine was discharged in 2018 for having ties to a neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division, and it said the group’s co-founder served in the Army National Guard in Florida…”
Retteen, Aaron and Hall, Malikah, Persistent Identifiers and the Next Generation of Legal Scholarship (February 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3168863 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3168863
“The world of scholarly communications has seen distinct growth regarding the use of persistent identifiers in the effort to preserve, disseminate, analyze, and help locate academic content. A persistent identifier is a unique string of letters, numbers, and/or symbols associated with digital content that will never change over time. Persistent identifiers exist in different forms and for different functions, and this Article will discuss the importance and relevance to legal scholarship of two of the most pervasive persistent identifiers in scholarly communications – the digital object identifier (DOI) and the ORCID identifier (ORCID iD). The use of persistent identifiers in academic publishing has become so pervasive that robust, data-driven services have been developed and integrated into the publication process that rely on and leverage this information standard. Publishers of legal scholarship and other legal materials have not widely adopted persistent identifiers, and, as a result, the legal discipline cannot enjoy the variety of benefits offered by this system. In addition, legal scholarship will be left out of future developments and innovations that rely on persistent identifiers to measure impact and other bibliometrics of scholarship. Obtaining disciplinary adoption of persistent identifiers is necessary, prudent, and feasible. This Article will identify existing barriers regarding the implementation of persistent identifiers among publishers of legal scholarship, as well as provide an anecdotal example of creating a sustainable workflow between the law library and student-run law journals. This Article concludes with a call to action for all stakeholders in legal publishing to adopt persistent identifiers and usher in a new generation for legal scholarship and other legal materials.”
Banking Policy Issues in the 117th Congress, March 2, 2021: “Over the past 14 years, banking has experienced significant events and changes and has regularly been the subject of policymaker initiatives and debates. In response to the 2007-2009 financial crisis, Congress—primarily through the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank Act; P.L. 111-203)—and bank regulators,using new and existing authorities, increased bank regulation. While some observers view those changes as necessary and effective, others argued that certain regulations were unjustifiably burdensome. To address those concerns, the 2018 Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (P.L. 115-174) relaxed certain regulations. Opponents of that legislation argue that it unnecessarily pared back important safeguards, while proponents of deregulation argue that additional measures are needed. More recently, the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has created unprecedented economic conditions that could stress the banking industry. As a result, the 117th Congress faces many issues related to banking, including…”
bioRxiv preprint – Meta-Research: Citation needed? Wikipedia and the COVID-19 pandemic, Omer Benjakob, Rona Aviram, and Jonathan Sobel.
“With the COVID-19 pandemic’s outbreak at the beginning of2020, millions across the world flocked to Wikipedia to read about the virus. Our study offers an in-depth analysis of the scientific backbone supporting Wikipedia’s COVID-19 articles.Using references as a readout, we asked which sources informed Wikipedia’s growing pool of COVID-19-related articles during the pandemic’s first wave (January-May 2020). We found that coronavirus-related articles referenced trusted media sources and cited high-quality academic research. Moreover, despite a surge in preprints, Wikipedia’s COVID-19 articles had a clear preference for open-access studies published in respected journals and made little use of non-peer-reviewed research up-loaded independently to academic servers. Building a timeline of COVID-19 articles on Wikipedia from 2001-2020 revealed a nuanced trade-off between quality and timeliness, with a growth in COVID-19 article creation and citations, from both academic research and popular media. It further revealed how pre existing articles on key topics related to the virus created a frame-work on Wikipedia for integrating new knowledge. This “scientific infrastructure” helped provide context, and regulated the influx of new information into Wikipedia. Lastly, we constructed a network of DOI-Wikipedia articles, which showed the landscape of pandemic-related knowledge on Wikipedia and revealed how citations create a web of scientific knowledge to sup-port coverage of scientific topics like COVID-19 vaccine development. Understanding how scientific research interacts with the digital knowledge-sphere during the pandemic provides in-sight into how Wikipedia can facilitate access to science. It also sheds light on how Wikipedia successfully fended of disinformation on the COVID-19 and may provide insight into how its unique model may be deployed in other contexts.”
Tech Republic – Jack Wallen: “…Before I divulge which browser I landed on, let me explain my criteria. This is where it gets tricky. Every user values different features and has different needs. For some, it’s reliability; others might place a higher premium on security. While I believe both reliability and security are very high on the must-have list (with security clearly at the top), I’ve come to realize that most mobile web browsers do as good a job as the competition at securing data that is always under threat. Some browsers use a VPN, some use encryption, while others rely on a combination of numerous features, but most of them try something. Fortunately, the browser I’ve chosen as my top does handle security quite well–with a caveat I will explain in a bit. For me, the driving force behind my choice is efficiency. When I’m on the go, I don’t want a mobile app getting in the way of me getting things done as quickly and easily as I can. I want a UI that’s going to work with me, not against me. I want speed and usability, not added bloat and complexity. In the end, the mobile browser that won this mobile battle for supremacy is Opera…”
Gizmodo: “In the latest in a string of security-related headaches for Microsoft, the company warned customers Tuesday that state sponsored hackers from China have been exploiting flaws in one of its widely used email products, Exchange, in order to target American companies for data theft. In several recently published blog posts, the company listed four newly discovered zero-day vulnerabilities associated with the attacks, as well as patches and a list of compromise indicators. Users of Exchange have been urged to update to avoid getting hacked. Microsoft researchers have dubbed the main hacker group behind the attacks “HAFNIUM,” describing it as a “highly skilled and sophisticated actor” focused on conducting espionage via data theft. In past campaigns, HAFNIUM has been known to target a wide variety of entities throughout the U.S., including “infectious disease researchers, law firms, higher education institutions, defense contractors, policy think tanks and NGOs,” they said. In the case of Exchange, these attacks have meant data exfiltration from email accounts. Exchange works with mail clients like Microsoft Office, synchronizing updates to devices and computers, and is widely used by companies, universities, and other large organizations. In the case of Exchange, these attacks have meant data exfiltration from email accounts…”
In the wake of the historic 2020 election turnout, state legislatures across the U.S. are considering bills to make it harder to vote. Activist Stacey Abrams warns of a return to Jim Crow-era laws.
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The former head of the Center for American Progress was criticized for tweets disparaging some lawmakers. President Biden said in a statement he accepted Tanden's request.
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At least six journalists were arrested Saturday while covering protests against a military coup. They are charged with violating a public order law and could be sentenced up to three years in prison.
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Utah is considering naming a new park in honor of dinosaurs discovered there. Researchers expect to uncover more Utahraptor bones — provided they can get them out of a massive block of rock.
(Image credit: Utah Geological Survey)