Blog Rolls

6 Themes To Pay Attention To In Upcoming Supreme Court Decisions

From the Census citizenship question and political gerrymandering to the separation of church and state, the high court will make some rulings of consequence over the next month.

(Image credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Categories: Just News

After Grim Deaths In The Borderlands, An Effort To Find Out Who Migrants Were

More than 200 migrants die attempting to cross the Southwest border each year. Slowly, scientists at a Texas laboratory are seeking the story of their bones.

(Image credit: Katie Hayes Luke for NPR)

Categories: Just News

3-Time Formula One Champ Niki Lauda Is Dead At 70

Lauda survived a major crash during the 1976 German Grand Prix, racing again just weeks later. Lauda later went into the aviation business.

(Image credit: Nelson Antoine/AP)

Categories: Just News

Digital Strategy for the Library of Congress

“The Library of Congress’s mission is to engage, inspire, and inform the Congress and the American people with a universal and enduring source of knowledge and creativity. To accomplish that mission, the Library is adopting a digital-forward strategy that harnesses technology to bridge geographical divides, expand our reach, and enhance our services. This document describes how we will secure the Library’s position in an increasingly digital world as we realize our vision that all Americans are connected to the Library of Congress.

The Digital Strategy complements the Library’s 2019-2023 strategic plan, Enriching the User Experience, which enumerates four high-level goals: expand access, enhance services, optimize resources, and measure results. The Digital Strategy describes what the Library plans to accomplish, in terms of digital transformation, over the next five years to achieve these goals. The transformation we describe below applies to all of the Library’s programs, including our collections, researcher services, the United States Copyright Office, the Congressional Research Service, and the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

Digital technology enables us to sustain and expand services to all users, bridging gaps and strengthening connections. The Digital Strategy describes how we will use each interaction as an opportunity to move users along a path from awareness, to discovery, to use, and finally to a connection with the Library through three main goals: throwing open the treasure chest, connecting, and investing in our future.”

Categories: Law and Legal

May Federal Prosecutors Take Direction From the President?

Bruce A. Green and Rebecca Roiphe, May Federal Prosecutors Take Direction From the President?, 87 Fordham L. Rev. 1817 (2019). [h/t Mary Whisner]

“Suppose the president sought to serve as prosecutor-in-chief, telling prosecutors when to initiate or dismiss criminal charges in individual cases and making other discretionary decisions that are normally reserved to trained professionals familiar with the facts, law, and traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice. To what extent may prosecutors follow the president’s direction? In recent presidential administrations, the president has respected prosecutorial independence; while making policy decisions, the president deferred to the Attorney General and subordinate federal prosecutors to conduct individual criminal cases. In a recent article, we argued that this is as it should be because the president has no constitutional or statutory authority to control federal criminal prosecutions. But suppose one comes to the contrary conclusion—that the president, as chief executive, has authority to decide how individual criminal prosecutions should be conducted. In this Article, we explore the consequences for prosecutors who receive the president’s orders. We argue here that federal prosecutors cannot invariably and unquestioningly follow the president’s direction because doing so would violate ethical rules and professional norms. Further, because prosecutors’ professional obligations are created by courts and endorsed by federal statute, presidential control over prosecutorial decision-making would lead to serious separation-of-powers concerns. Particularly, the integrity of the judicial system depends on the ethical rules at issue. By exploring these separation-of-powers concerns, this Article contributes to a growing debate about the power of the executive over prosecution and further supports the independence of the DOJ and federal prosecutors.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Recession Ready: Fiscal Policies to Stabilize the American Economy

This volume [256 pages] —a joint project by The Hamilton Project and the Washington Center for Equitable Growth—focuses on the workhorse antirecession programs known as “automatic stabilizers.”

“The Great Recession is remembered, and properly so, for its massive destruction of household wealth and job losses that reached over 800,000 in a single month. In just the fourth quarter of 2008, real GDP fell at an annual rate of 8.4 percent, while economies across the world were savaged by problems as bad as or worse than our own. Remembered too are the scars left by the economy’s punishing decline: an uneven recovery, many workers who remain disconnected from the job market, an increased debt level, and permanent losses in GDP.  We should also recall how bold and decisive policy actions quickly stopped and reversed the decline. Thanks to a massive countercyclical fiscal stimulus, unprecedented Federal Reserve monetary policy actions, and bold steps to stabilize the financial system, GDP resumed growing in the 3rd quarter of 2009 and rose vigorously in the 4th. Economists estimate that, by 2011, real GDP was 16 percent higher and unemployment was almost seven percentage points lower than they would have been had such firepower not been deployed.

The economic expansion that started almost ten years ago continues to this day.  Policymakers should know that the “stimulus,” derided as an “8-letter word” in the overheated political debates at the time, worked; though not every program performed equally well. So, they should examine the findings of mainstream economists who have documented the effectiveness and limitations of the policies which steered our economy away from the abyss.  Recessions are inevitable. Policymakers who might rely on Federal Reserve policy as the lone response to recession should think again; we know that fiscal stimulus is effective. Furthermore, economic conditions have changed; were the U.S. economy to fall into recession in this current low interest rate environment, the Fed’s monetary policy options would be far more limited than they were in 2009, and a higher debt level could complicate the use of discretionary stimulus. Consequently, policymakers should learn about proposals to help the next recovery start faster, make job creation stronger, and restore confidence to businesses and households so they resume investing and spending again. Enacting these proposals in fully reasoned detail before the next recession strikes will help us avoid the delays and risks associated with writing stimulus legislation in the middle of a meltdown…”

Categories: Law and Legal

House Intel Committee releases transcripts of Michael Cohen’s 2 day closed-door testimony

Cohen’s February 2019 testimony can be found here. Cohen’s March 2019 testimony can be found here. [May 20, 2019], the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence voted to release Michael Cohen’s testimony and related exhibits to the public by a vote of 12 – 7. Afterwards, Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) made the following statement: “With the completion of Special Counsel Mueller’s work and the release of his report, it is critically important that the Committee, and the Congress, make public as much information as possible that bears on Mueller’s findings, explain the evidence he uncovered, and expose the obstructive actions taken by this President and those who surround him. “It is in this light that the Committee today releases the transcripts of two days of interviews of Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.”

Cohen’s February and March 2019 testimony corroborate information previously received by the Committee, including the Trump Tower Moscow deal under negotiation throughout the 2016 election season by then-candidate Donald Trump. Cohen also presented significant and troubling new detail regarding the false statement that he provided to our Committee in August 2017 and for which, in part, he is now in prison. Since Cohen’s testimony, the Committee has already begun to follow up on information that Cohen provided related to attorneys for others involved in a joint defense agreement – including Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. and Ivanka Trump – to determine whether they aided in Cohen’s obstruction of the Committee’s investigation…”

See also Politico – Cohen: Trump’s attorney urged false testimony – President Donald Trump’s former fixer also said Jay Sekulow dangled a pardon to ‘shut down’ the Russia probe.

Categories: Law and Legal

Top Reason For CEO Departures Among Largest Companies Is Now Misconduct, Study Finds

Nearly 40% of the 89 CEOs who departed in 2018 left for reasons related to unethical behavior brought on from allegations of sexual misconduct or other types of ethical lapses

(Image credit: Ted S. Warren/AP)

Categories: Just News

GM's Big Upgrade, ‘Game of Thrones’' Unsatisfying End, and More News

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:50
Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.
Categories: Just News

Whitney Houston Hologram Tour And New Album In The Works 7 Years After Her Death

The mega-star sold tens of millions of records and had 11 number 1 hits throughout her career. And in less than year, Houston, or at least a light-projected version of her, could be at it again.

(Image credit: Matt Sayles/AP)

Categories: Just News

Finland is winning the war on fake news. What it’s learned may be crucial to Western democracy.

CNN – “…Finland has faced down Kremlin-backed propaganda campaigns ever since it declared independence from Russia 101 years ago. But in 2014, after Moscow annexed Crimea and backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, it became obvious that the battlefield had shifted: information warfare was moving online. Toivanen, the chief communications specialist for the prime minister’s office, said it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of misinformation operations to have targeted the country in recent years, but most play on issues like immigration, the European Union, or whether Finland should become a full member of NATO (Russia is not a fan).

As the trolling ramped up in 2015, President Sauli Niinisto called on every Finn to take responsibility for the fight against false information. A year later, Finland brought in American experts to advise officials on how to recognize fake news, understand why it goes viral and develop strategies to fight it. The education system was also reformed to emphasize critical thinking…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The Lack of Diversity on the Magistrate Judge Bench

Jennifer L. Thurston, Black Robes, White Judges: The Lack of Diversity on the Magistrate Judge Bench, 82 Law and Contemporary Problems 63-102 (2019) [h/t Mary Whisner]

“…From 2009 to 2016, females on the district court bench increased 13.2%, from 19.4% to 32.6%, and non-white district judges increased 10.6%, from 16.4% to 27.0%.24 During this same period, the number of female magistrate judges increased only by 7.2% and non-whites increased by a paltry 1.2%.25 “Pipeline issues” may account for some part of the problem when seeking to diversify the magistrate judge bench, but, given the success of recent Presidential Administrations in diversifying the district judge bench, it cannot account for all of it. Some of the problem stems from the selection process for magistrate judges. Applicants tend to be self-selected. Facing an all-white bench is likely to be discouraging to prospective non-white hopefuls. Likewise, unlike the political selection process for district judges, magistrate judge candidates engage in a multi-step merit selection process that winnows applicants down to a handful from which the successful candidate emerges. Differing instructions to the selection panels, differing priorities, and differing judicial philosophies all work against the selection of diverse candidates for the magistrate judge bench…Some of the problem stems from the selection process for magistrate judges. Applicants tend to be self-selected. Facing an all-white bench is likely to be discouraging to prospective non-white hopefuls. Likewise, unlike the political selection process for district judges, magistrate judge candidates engage in a multi-step merit selection process that winnows applicants down to a handful from which the successful candidate emerges. Differing instructions to the selection panels, differing priorities, and differing judicial philosophies all work against the selection of diverse candidates for the magistrate judge bench…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Skunkworks: Inside the Innovation Labs of 3 Fortune 500 Companies

Fortune – Go behind the scenes at Facebook, Levi’s, and Ford.

  • At the Facebook AI Research lab, the online publisher is teaching robots how to learn. It promises to share the results with its friends….
  • Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab in San Francisco uses lasers, pigments, and ingenuity to keep the jeansmaker technologically fashion-forward…
  • At the Pittsburgh-area test track of Argo AI, majority shareholder Ford is running its first self-driving cars through their paces….
Categories: Law and Legal

Political Parties Still Have Cybersecurity Hygiene Problems

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 19:00
Three years after the DNC hack, a new report finds that political parties around the world have ongoing security flaws that leave them vulnerable to attack.
Categories: Just News

16-Year-Olds Want a Vote. Fifty Years Ago, So Did 18-Year-Olds

The New York Times – “Stuart Goldstein still has the red-and-white bumper stickers and other artifacts from 1969, when he helped persuade New Jersey lawmakers that 18-year-olds should be able to vote. He was 18 himself then, working with two other college students, David DuPell and Ken Norbe, to build a political network that grew to 10,000 volunteers. They took students to Trenton in busloads and even sneaked into a Richard Nixon rally seeking his support. Theirs was an early salvo in a movement that would end in 1971 with the ratification of the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21.

Fifty years later, there is a nascent movement to change the voting age again — this time to 16 — but there are some big differences between the efforts. Then, liberal and conservative activists united behind a powerful argument that went back to World War II, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt lowered the draft age to 18: Young people were being conscripted to fight America’s wars but couldn’t vote in its elections. Today, there is no similarly popular argument. Indeed, a recent poll found that 75 percent of registered voters opposed letting 17-year-olds vote, and 84 percent opposed it for 16-year-olds. In March, when Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts proposed a 16-year-old voting age amendment to House Democrats’ sweeping voting rights bill, it failed 126 to 305, with almost half of her fellow Democrats voting against it and only one Republican in support. Opponents in both parties have expressed doubts that 16-year-olds are mature enough to vote. But local, youth-led campaigns to lower the voting age have persisted since at least 2013, when Takoma Park, Md., gave 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote in municipal elections….”

Categories: Law and Legal

US District Judge in DC rules Congress may subpoena records from Trump accounting firm

BuzzFeedNews: ” A federal judge in Washington, DC, on Monday rejected President Donald Trump’s efforts to block a subpoena issued by House Democrats to his longtime accounting firm. US District Judge Amit Mehta wrote in a 41-page opinion that the House Oversight Committee had presented “facially valid legislative purposes” in subpoenaing Mazars LLP for financial records related to Trump and his eponymous businesses. “It is not for the court to question whether the Committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations,” Mehta wrote.

At a court hearing last week, Trump’s attorney William Consovoy told the judge that they would appeal if they lost. Mehta denied Consovoy’s request to delay his ruling pending an appeal, finding that any risk of “irreparable harm” — that is, once Congress got the records, there was no going back — was outweighed by the public interest in Congress getting access to records it sought. “The court is well aware that this case involves records concerning the private and business affairs of the President of the United States. But on the question of whether to grant a stay pending appeal, the President is subject to the same legal standard as any other litigant that does not prevail,” Mehta wrote…”

Categories: Law and Legal

James Holzhauer's 'Jeopardy!' Greatness, in Charts

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 05/20/2019 - 18:27
How good is 'Jeopardy!' champ James Holzhauer? You have to see it to believe it.
Categories: Just News

The Other Reasons Kids Aren't Getting Vaccinations: Poverty and Health Care Access

Religious and ideological opposition to vaccines has fueled the current measles outbreak. But there's another factor driving low vaccination rates in some communities: poverty.

(Image credit: Selena Simmons-Duffin/NPR)

Categories: Just News

Teenager Is Latest Migrant Child To Die In U.S. Custody

The 16-year-old boy was found unresponsive after a routine welfare check at a facility near the U.S. border with Mexico. He was the fifth migrant child since December to die after being detained.

(Image credit: David J. Phillip/AP)

Categories: Just News

California Teachers Pay For Their Own Substitutes During Extended Sick Leave

A teacher battling cancer has to pay for her own substitute. Now some lawmakers are calling for a change in the state education code to eliminate this hardship.

(Image credit: Stephanie Lister/KQED)

Categories: Just News

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