Law and Legal
Computational Legal Studies: “Our next paper — OpenEDGAR – Open Source Software for SEC Edgar Analysis is now available. This paper explores a range of #OpenSource tools we have developed to explore the EDGAR system operated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While a range of more sophisticated extraction and clause classification protocols can be developed leveraging LexNLP and other open and closed source tools, we provide some very simple code examples as an illustrative starting point.
Click here for Paper: < SSRN > < arXiv >
Access Codebase Here: < Github >
Abstract: OpenEDGAR is an open source Python framework designed to rapidly construct research databases based on the Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR) system operated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). OpenEDGAR is built on the Django application framework, supports distributed compute across one or more servers, and includes functionality to (i) retrieve and parse index and filing data from EDGAR, (ii) build tables for key metadata like form type and filer, (iii) retrieve, parse, and update CIK to ticker and industry mappings, (iv) extract content and metadata from filing documents, and (v) search filing document contents. OpenEDGAR is designed for use in both academic research and industrial applications, and is distributed under MIT License at https://github.com/LexPredict/openedgar“
The Conversation – Schools must equip students to navigate alt-right websites that push fake new: “More than 60 percent of America’s middle and high school students rely on alt-right internet sites as credible sources for their research papers. The students are using alt-right sites to write papers on topics that range from free speech and the Second Amendment to citizenship, immigration and the Holocaust. These were among the key findings of a preliminary survey of 200 teachers I conducted recently to develop a snapshot of how common it was for middle and high school students to turn to alt-right websites. As a researcher who specializes in teaching what is known as “hard histories,” including slavery, the Holocaust and other genocides, this finding is of concern, particularly as the nation approaches the one-year anniversary of the tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
“Die Sendung mit der Maus (German link) is the oldest kids’ show on German TV – it first aired in 1971. Its main charm was its unhurried, affirming and positive approach to children’s stories and children’s questions. Despite multiple makeovers, the basic format remains the same: each episode has animated shorts (Lachgeschichten) and documentaries about everyday things (Sachgeschichten). But most of all, we children loved the Maus Spots that separated the individual blocks from each other: charming, wordless adventures of a very big, orange mouse and a very small, purple elephant. The best thing is: It’s all available online and if your kids are like mine, they will love Mouse and Elephant, too.” Please take some time out to watch at least a couple of these episodes – there is no dialogue, and you will be rewarded with timeless, charming and restorative little vignettes that are a real gift to counterbalance at least a bit of the stunningly cruel rhetoric and conduct which bombards us daily. Regardless of what languages you speak, these shows will communicate to adults and children. Peace.
Warning – NSFW! Via Thrillist – “Like most unicorns, YouTube isn’t perfect. Its comment sections are famously noxious, its algorithms proliferate conspiracy theorists, its filters fail to protect kids’ feeds, and its ad-revenue-sharing model props up problematic vloggers. But it also has hydraulic press videos. And lo-fi hip-hop beats to study/relax to. And a dude lip-syncing TGIF theme songs while sitting on the toilet. For better or for worse, YouTube is the ultimate time-waster, the place you go when you literally have to watch the Howard Dean scream right now and the place you remain an hour later after the rabbit hole you descended eventually spat you out on an ’80s video dating montage. Sometimes, if enough people deem a particular video undeniably watchable all at once, it becomes a phenomenon with the cultural cache to demand that you take notice and catalog it as a historical event. That’s what caught us: When does a YouTube video turn from merely a YouTube video into a great YouTube video? And which great YouTube videos over the years are the greatest?
“As of [June 18, 2018], FAO will implement an Open Access policy, enabling maximal reach and ease of use for FAO knowledge products. FAO has been disseminating knowledge since its foundation in 1945, and its publications have been freely accessible in the FAO online Document Repository since 1998. The new Open Access policy goes a step further; not only ensuring that FAO’s wealth of knowledge remains easily accessible to users around the world, but actively encouraging and providing a framework for the broader use, reproduction and dissemination of this material. “This policy is a recognition of the importance that FAO places on the universal right of access to information. FAO knowledge is a global public good, and it should be free of unreasonable barriers to access for those who need it most,” said Enrique Yeves, Director of the Office of Corporate Communications. In concrete terms, FAO will apply a Creative Commons 3.0 IGO license to all eligible publications and documents published on its Web site. The policy uses a license developed together with the World Intellectual Property Organization and other United Nations and international organizations and designed for international institutions – which have unique legal status – to allow unrestricted online access to expert research…”
Pew – Digital divides remain, both within and across countries: “In recent years, there have been doubts raised about the overall benefits of internet access and social media use. Concerns or no, the share of people who use the internet or own a smartphone continues to expand in the developing world and remains high in developed nations. When it comes to social media use, people in emerging and developing markets are fast approaching levels seen in more advanced economies. In addition, as people in advanced economies reach the upper bounds of internet penetration, the digital divide continues to narrow between wealthy and developing countries. There has been a steady increase in internet use over the past five years among the 19 emerging and developing economies surveyed. Between 2013 and 2014, a median of 42% across these countries said they accessed the internet at least occasionally or owned a smartphone. By 2017, a median of 64% were online. Meanwhile, internet use among the 17 advanced economies surveyed has remained relatively flat, with a median of 87% across these nations using the internet at least occasionally in 2017, similar to the 86% who said this in 2015 or 2016..”
Joint Center for Housing Studies Harvard University – “The inaugural State of the Nation’s Housing report in 1988 noted that the majority of Americans were well housed and some conditions have improved since then. More than 40 million units have been built over the past three decades, accommodating 27 million new households, replacing older homes, and improving the quality of the nation’s housing stock.Nevertheless, several challenges highlighted in the first report persist today. Homeownership rates among young adults are even lower than in 1988, and the share of cost-burdened renters is significantly higher, with almost half of all renters paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing. Soaring housing costs are largely to blame. The national median rent rose 20 percent faster than overall inflation between 1990 and 2016 and the median home price rose 41 percent faster. While better housing quality accounts for some of the increased costs, higher costs for building materials and labor, limited productivity gains, increased land costs, new regulatory barriers, and growing income inequality all played major roles as well.”READ THE REPORT
Via WSJ [paywall] – Aleksandr Kogan, at a Senate hearing, calls for stronger check on obtaining users’ content – “An academic who was central to the misuse of Facebook Inc. data sought to turn the tables on internet companies by saying the government should step in to help prevent data-privacy scandals in the future. At a Senate hearing Tuesday, Aleksandr Kogan, a social psychologist and University of Cambridge lecturer, in prepared testimony called on strengthening the system of obtaining users’ consent for subsequent use of their information. That, in turn, would require government intervention, he added, because big internet companies’ profit-making interests inevitably clash with consumers’ privacy interests. Mr. Kogan shared data with Cambridge Analytica, a political data consultancy that worked with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, that he had gathered from Facebook through an app. The academic said Tuesday he was “very regretful” for the anger that many users felt over the revelation that their data had been passed along from Facebook through him to political consultants…”
For additional information and testimony – See Also: Senate Commerce Committee Hearing June 19, 2018 – Cambridge Analytica and Other Facebook Partners: Examining Data Privacy Risks
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, June 19 2018: “House Budget Committee Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR) released his Chairman’s Mark of the House FY 2019 budget resolution. The budget resolution calls for $8.1 trillion of deficit reduction (including rosy growth and other gimmicks), while including reconciliation instructions for committees to enact at least $302 billion over a decade. As we said in a recent press release, proposing a budget is an important first step in the budget process and reconciliation instructions are an important tool for deficit reduction, but much more would need to be done to truly fix the debt. As written, the budget reaches balance by 2027. Deficits would fall steadily from $805 billion (4 percent of GDP) in 2018 to $146 billion (0.5 percent of GDP) by 2026 before producing a $142 billion (0.4 percent of GDP) surplus in 2028. The budget achieves these low deficits in part with extremely rosy economic assumptions. Removing these assumptions, the deficit would total $238 billion (0.8 percent of GDP) by 2028…”
Even soldiers who fight wars from a safe distance have found themselves traumatized. Could their injuries be moral ones?
The New York Times – The Wounds of the Drone Warrior – “…It has been almost 16 years since a missile fired from a drone struck a Toyota Land Cruiser in northwest Yemen, killing all six of its passengers and inaugurating a new era in American warfare. Today, targeted killings by drones have become the centerpiece of U.S. counterterrorism policy. Although the drone program is swathed in secrecy — the C.I.A. and the military share responsibility for it — American drones have been used to carry out airstrikes in at least eight different countries, analysts believe. Over the past decade, they have also provided reconnaissance for foreign military forces in half a dozen other countries. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based organization that has been tracking drone killings since 2010, U.S. drone strikes have killed between 7,584 and 10,918 people, including 751 to 1,555 civilians, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia. The U.S. government’s figures are far lower. It claims that between 64 and 116 noncombatants outside areas of active hostilities were killed by drones between 2009 and 2016. But as a report published last year by the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic and the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies noted, the government has failed to release basic information about civilian casualties or to explain in /detail why its data veers so significantly from that of independent monitors and NGOs. In Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the report found, the government officially acknowledged just 20 percent of more than 700 reported strikes since 2002…”
“An Overview of Recent Findings – The United States continues to be in the grasp of an opioid epidemic. According to research done by the Rockefeller Institute of Government, drug death rates increased in almost every state between 2015 and 2016 — and those numbers continue to rise. The damage from opioid abuse is not limited to individual users, but has ripple effects that impact families, communities, and governments. Policymakers and activists are grappling with how to best address the problem, but are often stymied by budget constraints and a lack of evidence as to what actually works. Recent research, however, has found that legal access to marijuana may be a potential tool for addressing the opioid crisis…”
“Hiking is one of just a few sports that doesn’t require a gym membership or a pile of expensive gear. That being said, one necessity for an exceptional hike is beautiful scenery. Traversing green forests and taking in breathtaking views along the way makes for an unparalleled experience, and each state has at least one town that’s home to a handful of picturesque trails. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed trail database and online guide Hiking Project, which lists close to 150,000 miles of trails across the country. 24/7 Wall St. ranked the town or town equivalent with the most trails running through it as the best place to hike in each state. Not surprisingly, a majority of the towns on this list are located near state parks, nature preserves, or central to iconic hikes that pass through a number of states, such as the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. For example, the longest trail passing through Stehekin, Washington is section L of the Pacific Crest Trail, specifically the part that runs from Rainy Pass mountain in Washington to Manning Park, British Columbia. This 71-mile hike is the final stretch of the 2,650-mile long trail. Not all states are designed for hiking. Therefore, the best place to hike in one state may not even make the top 50 places in another state. The best place to hike in Nebraska, a state primarily made up of miles of grasslands, is Omaha, where the longest known trail is not even a full mile long. Omaha only has a total of 12 trails running through it, the most of any other place in Nebraska according to the Hiking Project database. At the other end of the spectrum is California, where hiking trails are abundant, and the number of towns is much greater. The census designated place of Yosemite Valley, California, though, ranks highest with an impressive 3,372 trails coursing through it…” Do not forget to seek out trails close to home – there are no doubt terrific sites nearby that are not “famous” but will help you enjoy outdoor walking and hiking without traveling.
Bike Friendly Cities Index 2018: “The Copenhagenize Index gives cities marks for their efforts towards reestablishing the bicycle as a feasible, accepted and practical form of transport. The interest in taking the bicycle seriously as transport once again continues unabated around the world. Every city used to be bicycle friendly before planners and engineers started to change the paradigm and plan for cars and relegate bicycle users, pedestrians and public transport users to third class citizens. Now those cities around the world who are taking up the challenge and modernising themselves by implementing bicycle infrastructure, policy, bike share systems, etc. – as well as restricting car use – are the cities we all look to for New Century inspiration. The ranking system was developed in 2011 together with James Schwartz from The Urban Country. Inspiration was gleaned from rankings like Monocle’s Liveable Cities Index and rankings produced by The Economist. In short, cities are given between 0 and 4 points in 14 different categories. In addition, there is a potential for a maximum of 12 bonus points awarded for particularly impressive efforts or results. In the case of a tie, the city with the highest baseline score is ranked higher. The 14 parameters are effective at determining the bicycle friendliness of any given city, showing what’s in place at the time of ranking. The bonus points allow us highlight extra efforts that are difficult to see in the parameters. For example, a city may score down the middle on politics because the mayor and other politicians are promising infrastructure. Bonus points can assist in determining the level of the political will and the scope of the proposed work. Once the infrastructure starts being built, the city will score higher in Infrastructure next time around…” [the team’s graphics rock – terrific report – highlights important innovations in transportation in cities that will surprise you!]
World Health Organization: “The 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases is the foundation for the identification of health trends and statistics globally, and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is the diagnostic classification standard for all clinical and research purposes. ICD defines the universe of diseases, disorders, injuries and other related health conditions, listed in a comprehensive, hierarchical fashion that allows for:
- easy storage, retrieval and analysis of health information for evidenced-based decision-making;
- sharing and comparing health information between hospitals, regions, settings and countries; and
- data comparisons in the same location across different time periods.
Uses include monitoring of the incidence and prevalence of diseases, observing reimbursements and resource allocation trends, and keeping track of safety and quality guidelines. They also include the counting of deaths as well as diseases, injuries, symptoms, reasons for encounter, factors that influence health status, and external causes of disease…”
“..Google had created a tool that could forecast a host of patient outcomes, including how long people may stay in hospitals, their odds of re-admission and chances they will soon die. What impressed medical experts most was Google’s ability to sift through data previously out of reach: notes buried in PDFs or scribbled on old charts. The neural net gobbled up all this unruly information then spat out predictions. And it did it far faster and more accurately than existing techniques. Google’s system even showed which records led it to conclusions. Hospitals, doctors and other health-care providers have been trying for years to better use stockpiles of electronic health records and other patient data. More information shared and highlighted at the right time could save lives — and at the very least help medical workers spend less time on paperwork and more time on patient care. But current methods of mining health data are costly, cumbersome and time consuming. As much as 80 percent of the time spent on today’s predictive models goes to the “scut work” of making the data presentable, said Nigam Shah, an associate professor at Stanford University, who co-authored Google’s research paper, published in the journal Nature. Google’s approach avoids this. “You can throw in the kitchen sink and not have to worry about it,” Shah said…”
“The politically aware, digitally savvy and those more trusting of the news media fare better; Republicans and Democrats both influenced by political appeal of statements In today’s fast-paced and complex information environment, news consumers must make rapid-fire judgments about how to internalize news-related statements – statements that often come in snippets and through pathways that provide little context. A new Pew Research Center survey of 5,035 U.S. adults examines a basic step in that process: whether members of the public can recognize news as factual – something that’s capable of being proved or disproved by objective evidence – or as an opinion that reflects the beliefs and values of whoever expressed it. The findings from the survey, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 8, 2018, reveal that even this basic task presents a challenge. The main portion of the study, which measured the public’s ability to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, found that a majority of Americans correctly identified at least three of the five statements in each set. But this result is only a little better than random guesses. Far fewer Americans got all five correct, and roughly a quarter got most or all wrong. Even more revealing is that certain Americans do far better at parsing through this content than others. Those with high political awareness, those who are very digitally savvy and those who place high levels of trust in the news media are better able than others to accurately identify news-related statements as factual or opinion…”
Via Bob Ambrogi: “In 2012, something happened that I called a sea change in the legal profession: The American Bar Association formally approved a change to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct to make clear that lawyers have a duty to be competent not only in the law and its practice, but also in technology. More specifically, the ABA’s House of Delegates voted to amend Comment 8 to Model Rule 1.1, which pertains to competence, to read as follows: Maintaining Competence – To maintain the requisite knowledge and skill, a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology, engage in continuing study and education and comply with all continuing legal education requirements to which the lawyer is subject. (Emphasis added.) Of course, the Model Rules are just that — a model. They provide guidance to the states in formulating their own rules of professional conduct. Each state is free to adopt, reject, ignore or modify the Model Rules. For the duty of technology competence to apply to the lawyers in any given state, that state’s high court (or rule-setting body) would first have to adopt it. On this page, I track the states that have formally adopted the revised comment to Rule 1.1. The total so far is 31…”
Quartz: “Hang on to your data, dear Facebook friends. Cambridge Analytica—the political consultancy that collapsed into bankruptcy in May after a scandal about its nefarious information-collection methods—is apparently metamorphosing. The company that Marc Zuckerberg admitted targeted 87 million Facebook users’ data, and whose work could well have influenced elections in the US and UK, may be currently disgraced. But it also appears to be putting a new face on its same old data-gathering gig. The Associated Press (AP) on June 15 reported that top staffers from the fallen consultancy are back on the job at a newly-formed company with a name that’s eerily reminiscent of the last place they worked—Data Propria. As the name implies, the new company is similarly preoccupied with gathering information, specifically to target voters and consumers. Basically, it’s the same mission that Cambridge Analytica had. Matt Oczkowski—head of product at the predecessor firm—is leading Data Propria, which also employs Cambridge Analytica’s former chief data scientist, David Wilkinson, and others from the scandal-ridden company…”
“It’s not just Google and Facebook that are spying on you. Your TV, your cellphone provider and even your LinkedIn account have side hustles in your data. But, in many cases, you can opt out — if you know where to look. I dug into a bunch of popular products and services you might not think of as data vacuums or security risks and found their default privacy settings often aren’t very private. So I collected here some common settings you can change to stop giving away so much. The following links will let you skip ahead to clickable instructions for televisions, LinkedIn, Twitter, Yahoo, cellphone carriers and WiFi routers. Two weeks ago, I offered similar suggestions on the worst default settings for Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple. Thousands of you told me about your experiences trying to protect your privacy and asked about how to go further…”