Blog Rolls

Tusks, Horns, and Claws: The Fight to Dismantle the Facebook Animal Parts Bazaar

Wired Top Stories - Tue, 06/05/2018 - 07:00
In Facebook groups, wildlife traffickers can hawk their wares to buyers across the globe. A team of whistleblowers hopes that an undercover sting—and a novel legal attack—can cut off the illicit trade where it lives online.
Categories: Just News

Former U.S. Intelligence Officer Charged With Selling Secrets To China

Ron Rockwell Hansen, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer, was seized by federal agents en route to the Seattle airport, where prosecutors say he meant to board a China-bound flight.

Categories: Just News

White House Appeals Ruling That President Can't Block Twitter Followers

Trump has blocked numerous critics from his @realDonaldTrump account. But a ruling in May said the president's account is "a public forum" and that his followers enjoy First Amendment guarantees.

(Image credit: J. David Ake/AP)

Categories: Just News

The Education Of Bobby Kennedy — On Race

"Robert Kennedy was in search of love and found it in black America, and it was reciprocated," says historian David Margolick, reflecting on RFK's legacy 50 years after his death.

(Image credit: Andrew Sacks / Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Midterm Messages: Women Are Owning 2018, But So Is Trump

The dominant storylines from the 2018 primaries so far have been that women have dominated and the president has had his own relative success — and a big impact on GOP congressional candidates.

(Image credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Categories: Just News

Transcript: Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, On Trump-Kim Summit

Schumer, D-N.Y., and other top Democrats sent a letter to President Trump yesterday, laying out tough demands ahead of Trump's summit with North Korea. He talks about them with NPR's Rachel Martin.

Categories: Just News

Transcript: Apple CEO Tim Cook On Screen Time Controls, Working With China

Cook, who has led Apple since 2011, spoke with NPR's Steve Inskeep in a wide-ranging interview on Monday as the company kicked off its annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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A 24/7 Emergency Room Charges An 'After-Hours' Fee. Who Should Pay?

A severe allergic reaction sent a patient at night to an ER, which now wants to charge more than for a daytime visit. Billing specialists say the patient might have grounds for an appeal.

(Image credit: Edwin Remsburg/VW Pics/UIG via Getty Images)

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What You Need To Know About The Coming Showdown Between Trump And Mueller

Following months on a collision course, the White House and the special counsel's office are on track for a standoff that could take Washington, D.C., into terra incognita.

(Image credit: AFP Contributor/AFP/Getty Images)

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Mueller's Team Accuses Manafort Of Witness Tampering, Asks Judge To Detain Him

The former Trump campaign manager and an unnamed associate tried to contact two potential witnesses "in an effort to secure materially false testimony," prosecutors say.

(Image credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

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New on LLRX – Popular Face-to-Face Conferencing Software

Via LLRXPopular Face-to-Face Conferencing Software – Brandon Wright Adler reviews free and fee based meeting/conferencing software that meets the requirements to support effective communications with team and/or group members in disparate locations.

Categories: Law and Legal

New on LLRX – Correcting The Legal Industry’s Bad Turn On Lean Thinking

Via LLRXCorrecting The Legal Industry’s Bad Turn On Lean Thinking – Ken Grady’s commentary focuses on the challenges to successfully operationalizing “lean” in the legal sector. He states – “to understand why lean thinking is struggling in the legal industry, we need to understand who is teaching lean. Most of the people who “teach” lean in the legal industry have little experience implementing lean. They have read books, consulted, taught, and advised, but they haven’t been on the front lines doing thousands of hours of lean.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Searching for a Stronghold in the Fight Against Disinformation

Molly McKew, Center for International Governance Innovation: “Social media giants are under intense scrutiny for — at best — turning a blind eye to the proliferation of information operations on their platforms and — at worst — knowingly profiteering from and facilitating the use of their platforms for these kinds of campaigns. As a result, a number of social media companies are implementing voluntary measures to show they can self-police before the 2018 US mid-term elections. Facebook, Twitter and Google/YouTube have instituted new transparency and verification measures for advertising, designed to limit the ability of foreign actors, such as Russia, to run campaigns during national elections. Twitter is taking down malicious botnets that contribute to disinformation campaigns. YouTube, Google and Facebook are looking at how their algorithms trend, sort and promote content, after criticism that disinformation outperforms real news in their news feeds. Facebook is allowing access to data for research (with an emphasis on looking ahead, not behind), and partnering with the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab to “identify, expose, and explain disinformation during elections around the world.”   Most of these measures are viewed as important steps forward, if not enough to deter or disrupt hostile information campaigns, which are constantly evolving to evade detection measures. In private conversations, journalists and researchers have also voiced concerns that Facebook’s new partnerships are another effort to “buy up” talent and expertise that had previously provided outside review, even as Facebook retains greater control of the data. Additionally, some of the algorithmic tweaks are having unintended consequences, including making the problem of “siloing” worse.  The focus has been on ads, bots and Russians. But ads aren’t really the issue. Bots aren’t the only, or even the primary, means of amplification. The Kremlin prefers to use proxies and deniability — and their disinformation tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) are being cloned by a range of state and non-state actors around the world. Focusing on these areas does nothing to alter the fundamental nature of the business model of social media, which creates echo chambers by design…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Criminal Prosecutions Jump 60% for Illegal Border Crossers

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “Federal criminal prosecutions of individuals apprehended by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the southwest border with Mexico jumped 30 percent in April 2018 over March figures. Since January, criminal prosecutions were up 60 percent, rising from 5,191 in January to 8,298 in April. This increase followed rising border apprehensions and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ April 6, 2018 announcement of a “zero-tolerance policy” calling for the criminal prosecution of those who illegally cross over our southwest border. Southwest border apprehensions still dwarf the number of criminal prosecutions. In April 2018 preliminary estimates indicate that criminal prosecutions totaled 22 percent of Border Patrol apprehensions that month, up slightly from 20 percent of BP apprehensions in January 2018. Criminal prosecutions of referrals from Customs and Border Protection increased in April in all five federal judicial districts along the southwest border. Prosecutions were highest in the Western District of Texas where prosecutions doubled between January and April. However, April numbers even for border areas that historically have experienced particularly prosecution levels were still significantly lower than in the past when previous administrations also implemented “zero-tolerance” and called for the criminal prosecution of all illegal southwest border crossers. To read the full report, including detailed figures on criminal prosecutions for each of the five southwest border districts over the last decade along with recent trends for border areas within each district, go to:

Categories: Law and Legal

eBooks vs Physical Books: the Importance of Choice

IFLA Library Advocacy and Literacy Blog: “eBooks are often portrayed as being in conflict with physical books – the modern versus the traditional, function versus experience, and (more or less openly) Amazon versus bookstores and established publishers. Sales figures are regularly analysed for the relative trends. Partisans of physical books cite numbers from the big publishers, which tend to show increased sales of hardcopies making up for a fall in eBook sales Amazon’s tax practices, and recent stories about fake eBooks on the site potentially being used for money laundering have provided further ammunition for those who seek to paint eBooks as a ‘bad thing’. Others point out that once independent eBook publishing (much of which runs through Amazon) is included, the eBook market looks a lot healthier (see also this Quartz piece). A recent study (paywalled) from the University of Arizona, based on focus group studies, provides interesting insights looks at user experiences and attitudes towards eBooks, aiming to establish at the micro level (rather than the macro, whole-of-market level) what may underpin consumers’ behaviour…”

A key finding from the article concerns the difference in people’s feelings about owning digital and physical books, or rather that there is a much stronger sense of ownership of physical objects. It underlines that reading an eBook feels more like ‘renting’ than buying, more like a service than a good.

Categories: Law and Legal

BEA Releases for the First Time Detailed Data on More than 200 Medical Conditions

BEABlog: “The Bureau of Economic Analysis for the first time released statistics that provide information on how much Americans spend to treat more than 200 specific medical conditions, such as acute myocardial infarctions, chronic kidney disease, and osteoarthritis. The new statistics, which cover the years 2000 through 2014, are part of BEA’s Health Care Satellite Account created in 2015. The project offers a new way of analyzing health care spending by breaking out spending by the treatment of disease, rather than by place of service such as a hospital or doctor’s office. What’s new with the more detailed release is information for 261 detailed medical conditions as well as 63 broader medical groupings such as heart conditions and hypertension. This infographic lays this out for you.  Until now, spending information was available only for 18 much more expansive categories, such circulatory, musculoskeletal, and respiratory conditions. The newly available detailed statistics provide researchers and other data users a fresh tool to gain deeper insights into spending patterns to treat different medical conditions. No other official data source regularly produces such statistics at this level of detail. Here are some findings:

  • Much of the growth in inflation-adjusted health care spending (using the overall PCE price index) is driven by a small number of conditions. Roughly, 30 of the 261 medical conditions accounted for 42 percent of inflation adjusted growth in per capita spending over the 15-year period. Those 30 conditions include hepatitis, diabetes, and osteoarthritis.
  • Aging and obesity, spending on innovative technology, and seeking preventative services played a role in the spending growth for many of the 30 conditions.

More information and analysis is available in a newly published article in the June issue of Health Affairs, a health care journal.

Categories: Law and Legal

15 experts painfully opine on whether US president can pardon himself

Vox – Sean Illing: “Can presidents pardon themselves? The answer, surprisingly enough, is not that clear. But since President Trump just tweeted that he has the “absolute right” to pardon himself, the question is suddenly relevant. Trump’s lawyers have previously explored the potential uses of presidential pardons — including whether the president can pardon himself — as part of an effort to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to a Washington Post report last July. And just this weekend, Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuiliani said that the president has the power to pardon himself, although he insisted that doing so would be “unthinkable.” I reached out to 15 legal experts and asked them if the president has the constitutional authority to pardon himself. As it turns out, this is something of a legal gray area. The overwhelming consensus was that Trump could make a plausible legal argument that his pardoning powers extend to himself, mostly because the Constitution isn’t clear about this — and, frankly, because this is just not a situation the framers expected. All the experts agreed about one other fact: Even if Trump does pardon himself, that would not shield him from impeachment hearings. And most believe if he did make a move like this, it would be both an admission of guilt and a potential constitutional crisis. You can read their full responses [in this article.].” I chose one of the responses to share in full – as follows:

Julie O’Sullivan, law professor, Georgetown University – The text of the Constitution says that the president has no pardon power over impeachment. If the president were to pardon himself to preempt a legitimate investigation into potential criminal wrongdoing, it would have no effect on congressional investigations. In the debates surrounding the framing of the Constitution, the framers were very clear: No one, least of all the president, can be above the law. If President Trump does this, and it does not immediately provoke an impeachment inquiry — that is, if the Republican majority can excuse such a blatant disregard for the rule of law — then we are in a full-blown constitutional crisis. The Saturday Night Massacre pales by comparison. That was a stupid burglary. This is potential collusion with a foreign power over the most important electoral contest in the United States.

Categories: Law and Legal

U.S. Department of State Personnel: Background and Selected Issues for Congress

CRS report via FAS – U.S. Department of State Personnel: Background and Selected Issues for Congress. Cory R. Gill, Analyst in Foreign Affairs. May 18, 2018.
“Shortly after his confirmation as Secretary of State in April 2018, Secretary Mike Pompeo lifted the hiring freeze that former Secretary Rex Tillerson left in place for over a year. Guidance issued after Secretary Pompeo’s action indicates that the department intends to increase Foreign and Civil Service personnel levels in a manner consistent with the language and funding Congress included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (P.L. 115-141). The Trump Administration has taken additional actions affecting Department of State personnel, including designing “keystone modernization projects” within its Leadership and Modernization Impact Initiative. These projects seek to strengthen workforce readiness and enhance performance management and employee accountability, among other goals. The State Department is also prioritizing efforts to address long-standing concerns regarding the perceived lack of diversity in the Foreign Service. The Trump Administration has moved more slowly than previous Administrations in transmitting nominations for senior Department of State positions to the Senate for advice and consent; meanwhile, the Senate has taken longer than it has in the past to provide advice and consent for many of those nominations that have been transmitted.Some Members of Congress and other observers have expressed varying levels of concern with some of these developments, with some arguing that the Trump Administration (especially under former Secretary Tillerson) had been purposefully attempting to weaken the Department of State and diminish its influence in developing and implementing U.S. foreign policy. Secretary Pompeo pledged that he will work to enable the Department of State to play a central role in implementing President Trump’s agenda and protecting the national security of the United States, while empowering the department’s personnel in their roles..”

Categories: Law and Legal

After Weeks Out Of The Public Eye, Melania Trump Re-Emerges at White House Event

First lady Melania Trump had been out of the public eye for weeks following treatment for what the White House described as a benign kidney condition.

(Image credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP)

Categories: Just News

(Robo)Call Me Maybe: Robocalls to Wireless Phones Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

CRS report via FAS – (Robo)Call Me Maybe: Robocalls to Wireless Phones Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, Kathleen Ann Ruane, Legislative Attorney. May 29, 2018. “Robocalls—calls placed using an automated dialing system or artificial or prerecorded voice—are on the rise. Advances in technology have made it cheaper and easier than ever to dial millions of consumers’ numbers in infinitesimal periods of time. Furthermore, with more consumers using their wireless phones as their primary, or only, contact number, the invasiveness of robocalls has increased because callers may now reach consumers wherever they go…”
Categories: Law and Legal


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