Law and Legal
On this day in history, I honor the memory of those who did not return…and all the survivors who now comprise several generations of my extended family around the world.
LinkIesta: “Un ricordo personale. Nei giorni precedenti alla deportazione del 16 ottobre 1943 gli ebrei romani erano stati avvertiti che stava per succedere qualcosa di terribile, ma non vi prestarono attenzione. Perché la violenza umana, spesso, è qualcosa a cui non vogliamo credere..
…All’alba del 16 ottobre, cento SS circondano il Ghetto e iniziano il rastrellamento. I passanti guardano attoniti le SS che portano via tutti: donne, vecchi, bambini, neonati, e continuano a guardare, anche una volta allontanati, imbambolati, turbati, forse alcuni contenti come quei testimoni, quando assistono convinti della giusta esecuzione di un gruppo di condannati…
Erano 1023 persone, messe su dei camion e portati a via della Lungara per due giorni. Il convoglio, partirà infatti alle 14.05 di lunedì 18 ottobre per Auschwitz, giungendo al campo alle ore 23.00 del 22 ottobre. Ma i deportati rimasero chiusi nei vagoni sino all’alba. Un certo Lazzaro Sonnino, era riuscito a fuggire, gettandosi dal convoglio in movimento, all’altezza di Padova. 820 di loro furono immediatamente portati nelle camere a gas. Dei 1023 tornarono in Italia solo 15 uomini e 1 donna.”
Quartz: “A study published Tuesday (Oct. 16) in the journal Environmental Science and Technology found microplastics in more than 90% of the packaged food-grade salt—also known as table salt—for sale in stores. The team, from South Korea’s Incheon National University and Greenpeace East Asia, sampled 39 brands of salt harvested in 21 countries. Only three of the samples had no detectable microplastics. Microplastics are virtually everywhere. Sea salt and lake salt are made by evaporating water and harvesting the salt that remains. Plastic waste flows from rivers into those bodies of water, so it’s no surprise that the salt contains traces of it too. Scientists have been finding microplastics in salt for years, including in salt from China, Spain, and eight countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. But the latest study goes a step further, finding that looking at where the salt was produced is a good indicator of how much plastic pollution is coming from that particular region…”
Quartz: “Internal FBI documents released last week provide an intriguing peek at its private intranet for agents and other personnel. The system—called BU|NET, an apparent portmanteau of “bureau” and “network”—includes FBI.tv, a homegrown YouTube channel of sorts that includes live commercial programming (Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, and the Department of Justice’s in-house legal training network, Justice Television) as well as on-demand offerings like “Active Shooter–Managing the Mass Casualty Threat,” “Advancements in Maritime Intelligence,” “Boston Marathon Bombing Investigation,” and the admittedly unexpected “Bullying in the Workplace.” The documents were obtained by Russ Kick, a researcher and writer who runs AltGov2.org, an online repository of declassified files he has successfully pried loose through the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). He learned about FBI.tv only from a tranche of screenshots of the BUNET homepage he received in February…”
The New York Times: “The closed-door “training academy” was aimed at a select group: recent law school graduates who had secured prestigious clerkships with federal judges. It was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right, and it had some unusual requirements. “Generous donors,” the application materials said, were making “a significant financial investment in each and every attendee.” In exchange, the future law clerks would be required to promise to keep the program’s teaching materials secret and pledge not to use what they learned “for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.” The conservative legal movement has made bold moves before, and it has long cultivated law students and young lawyers, partly to ensure a deep bench of potential judicial nominees. The Heritage Foundation, along with the Federalist Society, helped compile the lists of potential Supreme Court nominees from which President Trump chose his two appointees, Justices Neil M. Gorsuch and Brett M. Kavanaugh. The two groups also helped identify many of the scores of Mr. Trump’s appointees to the lower federal courts. But legal experts said the effort by Heritage to train and influence law clerks raised serious ethical questions and could undermine the duties the clerks have to the justice system and to the judges they will serve.
- “Law clerks are not supposed to be part of a cohort of secretly financed and trained partisans of an organization that describes itself on its own web page as ‘the bastion of the American conservative movement,’” said Pamela S. Karlan, a law professor at Stanford. “The idea that clerks will be trained to elevate the Heritage Foundation’s views, or the views of judges handpicked by the foundation, perverts the very idea of a clerkship.”…
“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission today announced the launch of the agency’s Strategic Hub for Innovation and Financial Technology (FinHub). The FinHub will serve as a resource for public engagement on the SEC’s FinTech-related issues and initiatives, such as distributed ledger technology (including digital assets), automated investment advice, digital marketplace financing, and artificial intelligence/machine learning. The FinHub also replaces and builds on the work of several internal working groups at the SEC that have focused on similar issues. The FinHub will:
- Provide a portal for industry and the public to engage directly with SEC staff on innovative ideas and technological developments;
- Publicize information regarding the SEC’s activities and initiatives involving FinTech on the FinHub page;
- Engage with the public through publications and events, including a FinTech Forum focusing on distributed ledger technology and digital assets planned for 2019;
- Act as a platform and clearinghouse for SEC staff to acquire and disseminate information and FinTech-related knowledge within the agency; and
- Serve as a liaison to other domestic and international regulators regarding emerging technologies in financial, regulatory, and supervisory systems.
- For more information, visit the new FinHub page, which replaces the FinTech@sec.gov address that was established in connection with the issuance of DAO Report on July 25, 2017. To contact FinHub staff, use the form available at the FinHub page.”
Washington Post: “Two years ago, the Agriculture Department issued 192 written warnings to breeders, exhibitors and research labs that allegedly violated animal welfare laws, and the agency filed official complaints against 23, according to agency data. This year, those figures plummeted: The department had issued 39 warnings in the first three-quarters of fiscal 2018, and it filed and simultaneously settled one complaint — with a $2,000 fine for an infamous Iowa dog breeder who had already been out of business for five years. In August, USDA issued no warnings, filed no complaints and imposed no penalties through settlements with any of the 8,000 or so facilities it licenses and inspects under the federal Animal Welfare Act, according to documents obtained by an animal rights group. The agency says the drop is the result of a suspension of hearings due to litigation, as well as a revamped enforcement process that emphasizes working more closely with alleged violators rather than a protracted investigative process that numerous internal audits have faulted for ineffectiveness. But the result is less transparency into an increasingly opaque enforcement system. In two years, the agency’s records have gone from being publicly searchable online to often available only by Freedom of Information Act requests and in redacted form. And the enforcement changes, critics charge, favor regulated-animal businesses while further eroding public accountability…”
“Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suits filed by nonprofit and advocacy organizations seeking access to federal government records have more than doubled since President Trump assumed office. This sudden burst in FOIA activity is a marked departure from the slower rise that had prevailed during much of the previous two presidential administrations. In FY 2001, nonprofit lawsuits accounted for one out of every seven federal FOIA suits filed. Today nonprofit filings make up over half. Fueling this rise were two forces. First, more and more nonprofits are going to court to challenge the government’s refusal to release requested records. Second, some organizations are returning to court with increasing frequency. Nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups that filed just a single suit were the most numerous during the past 18 years. Despite their larger numbers, the single filers only accounted for 15 percent of all FOIA lawsuits filed by nonprofits. At the other extreme, slightly over one in ten (11%) of nonprofits filed five or more FOIA cases. This much smaller group accounted for two out of every three lawsuits nonprofit groups filed. Judicial Watch, Inc. led the list, filing a total of 391 new suits during the past 18 years. The American Civil Liberties Union was in second place with 130 suits. In third place was Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) with 94 suits followed closely by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) with 88. In fifth place was the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) with 74 FOIA suits. This research, conducted for the FOIA Project by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, documents the increasingly important role played by nonprofit organizations in challenging unlawful withholding by agencies through court action. Despite changes in the party that held the presidency over the past 18 years, there was surprising continuity in which organizations remained the most active litigators. Yet as a growing number of nonprofit organizations joined the ranks of FOIA filers, some new organizations have emerged as new frequent filers. Thus far during the Trump presidency, while Judicial Watch remains the most active filer, two new groups — American Oversight and the Democracy Forward Foundation — edged out the American Civil Liberties Union in the rankings for second and third most frequent FOIA filers. In fifth place, was WildEarth Guardians.”
- To view the full report, including the top-ten most active litigants during each presidential administration, go to: http://foiaproject.org/2018/10/18/nonprofit-advocacy-groups-foia-suits-double-under-trump/“
Sentencing Project: “As Florida voters consider an Election Day initiative to end the state’s lifetime ban on voting for citizens with a felony record, a new report from The Sentencing Project finds that since 1997 changes to state felony disenfranchisement laws across the country have restored voting rights to 1.4 million people.
Expanding the Vote: Two Decades of Felony Disenfranchisement Reform, by Morgan McLeod, Communications Manager, found that 23 states have eased voting restrictions for people with felony convictions. The state changes have come about through various mechanisms, including legislative reform, executive action, and a ballot initiative. Reforms highlighted in the report include:
- Alabama scaled back the number of crimes subject to disenfranchisement, impacting 76,000 people.
- California restored voting rights to certain categories of people on community supervision and to those with felony convictions incarcerated in jail, impacting 95,000 people.
- Maryland expanded voting rights to individuals on probation and parole, impacting 40,000 people.
- Virginia’s former-Governor Terry McAuliffe restored voting rights to 173,000 people.
While these policy changes represent national momentum for reform of restrictive voting rights laws, more than 6 million citizens are still prohibited from voting due to a felony conviction. Nearly 4.7 million are not incarcerated but live in one of 34 states that prohibit voting by people on probation, parole, or who have completed their sentence. Florida accounts for more than a quarter of the disenfranchised population nationally, and nearly half of the post-sentence disenfranchised population…”
feedly: “As the internet merges into a conglomerate of algorithms and distraction, it’s more important than ever to have control over the information you are consuming. That’s where RSS comes in handy, but it is not always clear on how exactly that is the case. So, let me break down it down for you…” [h/t/ Pete Weiss – please see his excellent article on that identifies the continued value of using RSS feed via LLRX- https://llrx.com/2016/12/what-is-rss-and-how-to-use-it-effectively/.]
“EPIC has obtained records concerning “Media Monitoring Services,” a controversial DHS project to track journalists, news outlets, and social media accounts. The records, released in EPIC’s FOIA lawsuit against the federal agency, reveal that the DHS bypassed the agency’s own privacy officials and ignored the privacy and First Amendment implications of monitoring the coverage by particular journalists of a federal agency. As a result of EPIC’s lawsuit, the agency previously admitted that it did not conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment for the program, as required by law. EPIC has successfully obtained several Privacy Impact Assessments, including for a related media tracking system (EPIC v. DHS) and for facial recognition technology (EPIC v. FBI). In EPIC v. Presidential Election Commission, EPIC challenged the Commission’s failure to publish a Privacy Impact Assessment prior to the collection of state voter data.” [h/t Pete Weiss]
BBC: The Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986 left a ring of ghost villages as residents fled, fearing radiation poisoning. But now people are choosing to live in the crumbling houses on the edge of the exclusion zone.
“…Today it is still illegal to live inside the exclusion zone. Despite this, about 130 to 150 people do. Many are women, still farming their ancestral land in their 70s and 80s. And just outside of the exclusion zone, there are a number of new arrivals…”
White, Nancy J., Legal Analysis: There’s a Template for that! (September 12, 2018). ALSB Journal of Business Law & Ethics Pedagogy, Volume 2, Forthcoming . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3248471“Legal analysis is often one of the more difficult skills to teach undergraduate and first-year law students. This skill, related to what is called “legal frame working” in law school, is needed by law students and lawyers, to analyze legal issues and requires the user of the legal framework to have a detailed understanding of the law. This same level of skill is not taught at the undergraduate level, but a basic understanding increases critical thinking and helps undergraduate students conceptualize how the law is used. This paper describes a simplified method for introducing the skill of legal analysis to undergraduate students and first-year law students using a legal analysis template developed by the author.”
The New York Times: “DRAIN, Ore. — All the county libraries closed in this wooded corner of Oregon when the money ran out. But believers in the power of books rejected that fate, and in town after town they jumped back into the book-lending business on their own. Or tried to. The tiny library in Drain, population 1,000, scheduled a grand reopening party this fall after more than 18 months of darkness, but party planners had a problem as the date loomed: The library didn’t own any books. Fifty miles away, Reedsport’s librarians couldn’t get access to the old list of library card holders, so they may have to build a new system from scratch. And in the city of Roseburg, a new library is preparing to open with no plans to share materials with other libraries around the county, breaking a tradition of sharing that goes back generations. “It’s every library for themselves, and you don’t know where it’s going to lead,” said Robert Leo Heilman, a volunteer at the town library in Myrtle Creek. The long, steep decline of the timber industry in southwest Oregon starting in the 1990s brought lean times to local governments. Then came newcomers and retirees, who were just fine with that. Low taxes and skepticism about government became part of the culture, and in Douglas County, a majority of voters in 2016 rejected a modest property tax increase to keep the 11 county libraries alive…”
The Verge: “Starting on Wednesday [October 17, 2018], Apple will allow US users to download all of their data from the company, following a GDPR-mandated feature for EU citizens that launched in May. The download tool is accessible from the company’s Data and Privacy page, and it encompasses device-syncing data like iCloud bookmarks as well as iTunes purchases and retail-level information like your Apple Care support history. Users will have to authenticate with their Apple ID before receiving the data.
The new availability comes as part of the launch of a revamped privacy page, which emphasizes Apple’s data-retention policies and differential privacy efforts. The new page encourages users to turn on two-factor authentication and gives them the option to opt out of targeted ads and notifications from Apple. The company’s use of differential privacy has expanded to many of the new features introduced with iOS 12, including Memoji characteristics like hair length and Screen Time’s classification of specific websites…”
World Economic Forum: “How well countries adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will determine whether they ‘thrive’ or ‘stagnate’ and could further divide workforces and increase social tensions, according to the latest version of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Almost 40 years after its first annual assessment of the global economy, the Forum’s 2018 report uses new methodology to understand the full impact of the 4IR, and finds factors including human capital, agility, resilience, openness and innovation becoming increasingly important. The new index measures 140 economies against 98 indicators, organized into 12 ‘pillars’ or drivers of productivity, to determine how close the economy is to the ideal state or ‘frontier’ of competitiveness. The US topped the rankings, being ‘closest to the competitiveness frontier’, with Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan, completing the top five. At the other end of the scale, Haiti, Yemen and Chad were found to be the least competitive economies. Competitiveness is not only associated with higher incomes, but also better socioeconomic outcomes, including life satisfaction…”
Law Practice Today: Emotional Intelligence and Lawyers—an Old New Frontier – “…Still think that EQ is too soft? Or that you either have “it” or you don’t? Neuroscience supports the concept that emotions start in our brains. A few years ago I enrolled in an online course through Coursera, Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence, in which Case Western Reserve University Professor Richard Boyatzis walked us through the science behind resonant leadership, and introduced me to such topics as emotional contagion and the physiological reasons why strategies for renewal after stressful events are so critical. As Amy Brann summarizes in her 2016 article, The Neuroscience of Emotional Intelligence, while there are instinctive responses to emotions leading to certain behaviors, other areas of our brain (from which we get reasoning and decision making) can help override these responses. More importantly, this is a skill that can be learned and developed over time; a skill that I strongly believe all future lawyers need to develop…”
The Verge: “…Mark Graham – Director, Internet Archive Wayback Machine – …So we archive some tweets — not all of them and not even nearly most of them — but we do archive tens of millions of tweets every week, and we archive them from a variety of sources. For example, there’s a service on the Wayback Machine called “Save Page Now,” and anyone can go to web.archive.org, and they can put a URL into the Save Page Now feature, and they can archive that URL. That’s used actually tens of millions of times a week to archive individual URLs, many of which are tweets. In addition to that, though, we do also archive tweets from various feeds. People have constructed their own lists of tweets to archive, and then there are other feeds that we also follow. In addition to archiving individual tweets, we archive the URLs that are in tweets so that can be a webpage that’s referred to in a tweet. It could be a YouTube video, for example. So as a result of us parsing URLs in tweets, we actually archive several hundred thousand YouTube videos every single week…”
“The Federal Trade Commission hears from millions of consumers each year about fraud, identity theft, and other problems, allowing us to warn other consumers about scams they should watch out for, while also providing the agency with an important source of information to support our enforcement actions. Starting today, the FTC will be making this information more accessible by releasing its aggregated consumer complaint data on a quarterly basis in a new interactive online format. Up until now, the FTC has released aggregated consumer complaint data collected through our Consumer Sentinel Network on an annual basis. Our new tool will provide a more timely snapshot of what consumers are reporting, while empowering users to explore the data by types of fraud, state, and a variety of other dimensions. As part of this initiative, we are also introducing our first Consumer Protection Data Spotlight, which will take a deep dive into the data to illuminate important stories we are hearing from consumers. This first edition of the Data Spotlight focuses on a disturbing trend in 2018 – scammers are increasingly demanding to be paid with gift cards, particularly iTunes and Google Play cards. The percentage of consumers who told the FTC that scammers demanded to be paid with gift cards or reload cards such as MoneyPak has increased 270 percent since 2015. Gift and reload cards are now the number one reported method of payment for imposter scams…”
Library of Congress – Collection Includes Letters, Personal Diaries, Speeches and White House Records of the 26th President and his Family: “The largest collection of the papers of President Theodore Roosevelt, documenting his extraordinary career in the White House and as vice president, governor of New York, and as a naturalist, writer and reformer, has been digitized and is now available online from the Library of Congress. The digitization of the massive collection comes just before the 160th anniversary of Roosevelt’s birthday. The nation’s 26th president was born Oct. 27, 1858, and died nearly 100 years ago on Jan. 6, 1919. The Roosevelt collection is online at: loc.gov/collections/theodore-roosevelt-papers/about-this-collection/. The Roosevelt papers are one of the largest presidential collections held by the Library, consisting of about 276,000 documents and comprising about 461,000 images. It includes letters, speeches, executive orders, scrapbooks, diaries, White House reception records and press releases of his administration, as well as family records. The collection provides a closer look at Roosevelt as an individual and as a powerful president from 1901 to 1909 who established a tradition of using his position as a “bully pulpit” by appealing to the broader public through the media. Roosevelt strengthened the presidency by seeking to centralize power after a time when Congress and the Supreme Court had dominated government, and he survived an attempted assassination during his unsuccessful run for the presidency in 1912…”
University of Wisconsin: “It can be distressing to witness the pain of family, friends or even strangers going through a hard time. But what if, just like strengthening a muscle or learning a new hobby, we could train ourselves to be more compassionate and calm in the face of others’ suffering?
That is the question behind research from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and a new study suggests that as little as two weeks of compassion meditation training — intentionally cultivating positive wishes to understand and relieve the suffering of others — may reduce the distress a person feels when witnessing another’s suffering. It may also improve their ability and likelihood to respond with compassion.
The findings, published May 22 in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, may have implications for professions in which people routinely work with others who are suffering, like doctors, law enforcement officers and first responders who experience high levels of distress or empathic burnout…”