Blog Rolls

As A New Gandhi Takes Over, Can India's Opposition Find Its Footing Again?

Rahul Gandhi, the 47-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family, takes over the Congress party from his mother. Will the generational shift signal a change in fortune for the lackluster opposition?

(Image credit: Sam Panthaky/AFP/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Charles Jenkins, Cold War Defector To North Korea, Dies At 77

Stationed at the DMZ, the sergeant made a fateful decision in 1965 to cross over to North Korea. He spent the next four decades as a trophy of Pyongyang.

(Image credit: Sadayuki Mikami/AP)

Categories: Just News

Does Preschool Pay Off? Tulsa Says Yes

Tulsa, Okla., has been the focus of much debate over the long-term benefits of preschool. The most recent findings by Georgetown University researchers are another strong endorsement for early ed.

(Image credit: Chelsea Beck/NPR)

Categories: Just News

Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions

Crowdsourcing Accurately and Robustly Predicts Supreme Court Decisions — By Daniel Martin Katz, Michael Bommarito, Josh Blackman – via SSRN

ABSTRACT:  Scholars have increasingly investigated “crowdsourcing” as an alternative to expert-based judgment or purely data-driven approaches to predicting the future. Under certain conditions, scholars have found that crowd-sourcing can outperform these other approaches. However, despite interest in the topic and a series of successful use cases, relatively few studies have applied empirical model thinking to evaluate the accuracy and robustness of crowdsourcing in real-world contexts. In this paper, we offer three novel contributions. First, we explore a dataset of over 600,000 predictions from over 7,000 participants in a multi-year tournament to predict the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Second, we develop a comprehensive crowd construction framework that allows for the formal description and application of crowdsourcing to real-world data. Third, we apply this framework to our data to construct more than 275,000 crowd models. We find that in out-of-sample historical simulations, crowdsourcing robustly outperforms the commonly-accepted null model, yielding the highest-known performance for this context at 80.8% case level accuracy. To our knowledge, this dataset and analysis represent one of the largest explorations of recurring human prediction to date, and our results provide additional empirical support for the use of crowdsourcing as a prediction method.”  (via SSRN)

Categories: Law and Legal

Interview – The U.S. Has Way Too Many Secrets

The U.S. Has Way Too Many Secrets, December 11, 2017 by The Archive. This article originally appeared in Bloomberg.

“A Q&A with Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, on the historical value of Hillary Clinton’s emails, the sins of Julian Assange, and what national secrets are really worth keeping. How much does it cost to keep a secret? Well, the U.S. government sort of has an answer: $16.89 billion. That’s how much it spent in 2016 to classify information that it deems too sensitive to be released to the public. Some secrets are worth keeping, of course — like how to cook up chemical weapons, for instance. But others, less so. Rodney McDaniel, a top National Security Council official during the administration of President Ronald Reagan, estimated that only 10 percent of classification was for the “legitimate protection of secrets.” Former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, a head of the 9/11 commission, said that “three quarters of what I read that was classified should not have been.” In fact, he argued that overclassification had left the U.S. more vulnerable to the 9/11 attacks. And that’s to say nothing of its everyday effects on government accountability and efficiency, congressional oversight and public awareness…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Macron Awards U.S. Climate Scientists Grants To 'Make Our Planet Great Again'

A day before an international summit on the climate, the French president offers some researchers an opportunity to make France a "second homeland."

(Image credit: Michel Euler/AP)

Categories: Just News

WaPo – Data visualization for users to track major techn transformations during their lifetime

Washington Post Viz: What Tech World Did You Grow Up In? “In the past three decades, the United States has seen staggering technological changes. In 1984, just 8 percent of households had a personal computer, the World Wide Web was still five years away, and cell phones were enormous. Americans born that year are only 33 years old. Here’s how some key parts of our technological lives have shifted, split loosely into early, middle and current stages…”

Categories: Law and Legal

MIT Technology Review – Victims of Sexual Harassment Have a New Resource: AI

MIT Technology Review – The Download: “If you have ever dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace, there is now a private online place for you to go for help. Botler AI, a startup based in Montreal, on Wednesday launched a system that provides free information and guidance to those who have been sexually harassed and are unsure of their legal rights. Using deep learning, the AI system was trained on more than 300,000 U.S. and Canadian criminal court documents, including over 57,000 documents and complaints related to sexual harassment. Using this information, the software predicts whether the situation explained by the user qualifies as sexual harassment, and notes which laws may have been violated under the criminal code. It then generates an incident report that the user can hand over to relevant authorities. Ritika Dutt, a cofounder of Botler AI, was stalked at a previous job, and the experience left her feeling trapped. “I didn’t know if it was something that was really going wrong or if I was just being overly sensitive about it,” Dutt says. “I didn’t know what my rights were, if he was breaking any laws, or how to deal with it.” Her personal experience—along with the recent string of allegations of sexual misconduct, particularly among powerful men in media, entertainment, and politics—motivated Botler AI to attempt to create an unbiased tool that can be a resource for the average person. “At the end of the day, hearing about all these cases angered me. On a personal level I got so annoyed and upset,” Dutt says. “How many people think they can do this and get away with this? Everyone should be able have a resource to go to get information and get educated without fear of judgment…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24961.

“TRB’s Transit Cooperative Research Program (TCRP) has released a pre-publication, non-edited version of TCRP Research Report 194: Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies. The guidebook explores the importance of knowledge management (KM), which is an organization’s process for collecting, storing, and sharing organizational information and knowledge, and provides guidance on implementing KM strategies in transit agencies. In addition, the guidance includes action plans for developing particular aspects of KM, analysis of KM strategies at several transit agencies, and a catalog of KM technology tools and resources.”

Topics
Categories: Law and Legal

The New Rules of Dog Ownership – A codified set of behaviors for dog owners in public places

Wes Silver – Outside: “Human society is made possible by rules, both written and unwritten. Yet there’s no such series of concrete, accepted rules for dog owners, and that’s becoming a problem. Take my experience this past weekend. In need of a quick getaway, my girlfriend and I booked a room at the Kimpton Goodland, in Santa Barbara, California, with our two mutts. All Kimpton hotels are incredibly dog friendly, which makes the boutique chain a unique resource for dog owners. There’s no extra deposit or fees for dog owners, and the pups are allowed anywhere in the hotel. (Except for the restaurants.) It’s a unique opportunity to enjoy a nice hotel with your dogs. But this weekend, even we were annoyed with the behavior of other dog owners. Dogs locked in rooms unattended barked persistently. Owners let their small untrained and unsocialized pets bark at other guests in the lobby and hotel bar. Some took their dogs to the poolside lawn for bathroom breaks.  Of course, Kimpton, and other dog-friendly businesses, has some basic guidelines for dog owners: pay for any damage the dogs cause, pick up after them, keep them under control. But rules like that are both vague and extremely basic. There’s no further instruction on how to behave in public with your dog from dog owner organizations like the American Kennel Club. While the AKC offers a Good Canine Citizen certification to the dogs themselves, it offers no guidance for owners.  If we want to be able to take our dogs into more hotels and businesses, and if we want to be welcome in public places and in general get along with the rest of human society, then us dog owners need a rulebook—an agreed-upon set of behaviors that will allow us, as a community, to better share our limited resources and to interact with the non-dog-owning public in a way that’s positive for everyone. This is my best effort at setting those rules down in writing…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges

Executive Compensation at Private and Public Colleges By Dan Bauman, Tyler Davis, Ben Myers, and Brian O’Leary December 10, 2017 – “The Chronicle‘s executive-compensation package includes the latest data on more than 1,200 chief executives at more than 600 private colleges from 2008-15 and nearly 250 public universities and systems from 2010-16. Hover over bars to show total compensation as well as pay components including base, bonus, and other. Click bars to see details including other top-paid college employees, how presidents compare with their peers, and how presidential pay looks in context to an institution’s expenses, tuition, and pay for professors. Updated December 10, 2017, with 2015 private-college data.”

Categories: Law and Legal

Video: How the Court System Is Abused to Chill Activist Speech

EFF: “One of the most pernicious forms of censorship in modern America is the abuse of the court system by corporations and wealthy individuals to harass, intimidate, and silence their critics. We use the term “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation,” more commonly known as a “SLAPP,” to describe this phenomenon. With a SLAPP, a malicious party will file a lawsuit against a person whose speech is clearly protected by the First Amendment. The strategy isn’t to win on the legal merits, but to censor their victims through burdensome, distracting, and costly litigation. SLAPP suits often make spurious defamation claims and demand outrageous monetary penalties to bully their enemies.  In EFF’s work, we’ve seen SLAPPs deployed against journalists and bloggers, cartoonists, and even people who have posted reviews on websites like Yelp and eBay. They’ve been used by election power players against their political opponents and by corporations against non-profits whose job is to hold them in check. In fact, EFF faced such a scheme when an Australian company filed a lawsuit to censor one of our “Stupid Patent of the Month” articles.  Although EFF won in court, the lawsuit required resources that we otherwise could have devoted to other battles…”

Categories: Law and Legal

New data on: Commuting Times, Median Rents and Language other than English Use

“The nation experienced an increase in commuting time, median gross rent and a rise in English proficiency among those who spoke another language. These are only a few of the statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012-2016 American Community Survey five-year estimates data release, which features more than 40 social, economic, housing and demographic topics, including homeowner rates and costs, health insurance and educational attainment. “The American Community Survey allows us to track incremental changes across our nation on how people live and work, year-to-year,” said David Waddington, chief of the Social, Economic, and Housing Statistics Division. “It’s our country’s only source of small area estimates for socio-economic and demographic characteristics. These estimates help people, businesses and governments throughout the country better understand the needs of their populations, the markets in which they operate and the challenges and opportunities they face.” The survey produces statistics for all of the nation’s 3,142 counties. In addition, it is the only full dataset available for three-fourths of all counties with populations too small to produce a complete set of single-year statistics (2,322 counties). Each year, Census Bureau data helps determine how more than $675 billion of federal funding are spent on infrastructure and services, from highways to schools to hospitals…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress

Retirement Benefits for Members of Congress, Katelin P. Isaacs, Specialist in Income Security. December 5, 2017: “…Under both Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) and Federal Employees’Retirement System (FERS)., Members of Congress are eligible for a pension at the age of 62 if they have completed at least five years of service. Members are eligible for a pension at age 50 if they have completed 20 years of service, or at any age after completing 25 years of service. The amount of the pension depends on years of service and the average of the highest three years of salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member’s retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary…”

Categories: Law and Legal

As the Southern California Fires Rage, a Boeing 747 Joins the Fight

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 17:52
The Global Supertanker is a modified Boeing 747 that drops mass quantities of fire retardant from just 200 feet above the ground.
Categories: Just News

After Court Ruling, Military Will Accept Openly Transgender Recruits As Of Jan. 1

A federal judge upheld a temporary injunction against President Trump's ban on new trans troops in the military. Now, the Pentagon faces a deadline to begin accepting these applicants in the new year.

(Image credit: Matthias Schrader/AP)

Categories: Just News

Crispr Therapeutics Plans to Launch Its First Clinical Trial in 2018

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 12/11/2017 - 16:56
The study, testing a genetic tweak to the stem cells that make red blood cells, could begin as soon as next year.
Categories: Just News

How Labels Can Affect People's Personalities And Potential

What is it that makes you...you? How much of a person's personality and potential are based on the expectations of others? NPR's Shankar Vedantam explores new research that suggests the labels we use to categorize people affect not just who they are now, but who they'll become in the future.

Categories: Just News

Christopher Plummer Nominated For Golden Globe After Replacing Kevin Spacey

The 75th Golden Globe nominations were announced on Monday. Among the nominees is actor Christopher Plummer, for his role replacing Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World, after Spacey faced allegations of sexual misconduct.

Categories: Just News

Civil Rights Reporters, Simeon Saunders Booker, Jr. And Roy Reed, Die At 99 And 87

Simeon Saunders Booker, Jr., risked his life to cover the civil rights movement in the 1950s and '60s for Jet and Ebony magazines. He was the first black reporter hired by The Washington Post. Roy Reed covered the movement for The New York Times and was tear-gassed covering the Bloody Sunday marchers. Booker, 99, and Reed, 87, died on Sunday.

Categories: Just News

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