Law and Legal
Over half of Americans see friction in the current bilateral economic relationship, and more now see China as a threat – “Over the past year, the United States and China have slapped a series of escalating tariffs on one another, with the U.S. now taxing more than $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. Despite periodic, high-level meetings intended to defuse these trade tensions, results of a new Pew Research Center survey indicate Americans believe economic ties between China and the U.S. are poor. And, amid these economic concerns, unfavorable opinions of China have reached a 14-year high. Today, 60% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of China, up from 47% in 2018 and at the highest level since Pew Research Center began asking the question. Americans also increasingly see China as a threat. Around a quarter of Americans (24%) name China as the country or group that poses the greatest threat to the U.S. in the future, twice as many as said the same in 2007. China is tied with Russia (24%) as the country or group most cited as a threat to the U.S. The only other country to measure in the double digits is North Korea (12%)…”
“Most continue to favor legal status for undocumented immigrants The American public is broadly critical of the way that the federal government is dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border. When it comes to what should be done about the situation, large majorities say it is important to increase the number of judges handling asylum cases and to provide safe and sanitary conditions for asylum seekers. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (65%) say the federal government is doing a very bad (38%) or somewhat bad (27%) job dealing with the increased number of people seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border; just 33% say the government is doing a good job, according to the new survey by Pew Research Center conducted July 22-Aug. 4 among 4,175 adults. In assessing the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, the public views several goals as important. But more people give priority to addressing the backlog of asylum cases and improving conditions for asylum seekers than to making it harder – or easier – for asylum seekers to be granted legal status…”
Brennan Center for Justice: “Using data released by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in June, a new Brennan Center analysis has found that between 2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties. This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018. Before the Shelby County decision, Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act required jurisdictions with a history of discrimination to submit proposed changes in voting procedures to the Department of Justice or a federal court for approval, a process known as “preclearance.”..
Visual Capitalist – Ranking the Top 100 Websites in the World – “As a greater portion of the world begins to live more of their life online, the world’s top 100 websites continue to see explosive growth in their traffic numbers. To claim even the 100th spot in this ranking, your website would need around 350 million visits in a single month. Using data from SimilarWeb, we’ve visually mapped out the top 100 biggest websites on the internet. Examining the ranking reveals a lot about how people around the world search for information, which services they use, and how they spend time online…” [Google remains Number 1]
NIST – U.S. Leadership in AI: A Plan for Federal Engagement in Developing Technical Standards and Related Tools. Prepared in response to Executive Order 13859 Submitted on August 9, 2019. “…United States global leadership in AI depends upon the Federal government playing an active and purpose-driven role in AI standards development. That includes AI standards-related efforts needed by agencies to fulfill their missions by:
- supporting and conducting AI research and development,
- actively engaging in AI standards development,
- procuring and deploying standards-based products and services, and
- developing and implementing supportive policies, including regulatory policies where needed..”
…This plan identifies the following nine areas of focus for AI standards: Concepts and terminology; Data and knowledge; Human interactions; Metrics; Networking; Performance testing and reporting methodology; Safety; Risk management; Trustworthiness…”
By the BBC Visual and Data Journalism team – “The world is getting hotter. July 2019 was one of the warmest months ever recorded – and July temperatures almost everywhere on Earth have been higher in the last 10 years compared with 1880-1900, as this globe shows. Scroll here to find out how the temperature in 1,000 major cities across the world has changed already and how much it could increase by in the coming years…Find out how much the area around your city has already warmed – and what may lie ahead [includes a search engine to search for your country and then the closest city to you]..”
“The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act (18 USC 249) was passed by Congress in 2009. Despite around 50 criminal referrals each year to federal prosecutors for these hate crimes, few have resulted in actual charges filed in federal court. During the Trump Administration, the number of federal prosecutions under this statute have become even rarer. Only 6 prosecutions were reported each year for FY 2017 and FY 2018. The latest data covering the first nine months of FY 2019, record only 4 hate crime prosecutions thus far. While press reports suggest the El Paso shooter could face federal hate crime charges, the last actual prosecution under 18 USC 249 occurred in Utah in 2018. Examining this wider scope of federal hate crimes under all five statutes, there have been just under 2,000 hate crime referrals since FY 2009. Only 15 percent have resulted in federal prosecutions. During the first 9 months of this fiscal year, there have been 99 referrals that U.S. attorney offices acted upon. Only 17 of these resulted in a federal prosecution. Despite the renewed public attention being given to the commission of hate crimes, referrals to the federal government under hate crime statutes have actually been falling. Available records going back to FY 1986 indicate that 1,000 or more hate crime referrals occurred in these earlier years. These comparisons are based on case-by-case information obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. To read the full report, go to: https://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/crim/569/.”
Washington Post: “The Trump administration moved on Monday to weaken how it applies the 45-year-old Endangered Species Act, ordering changes that critics said will speed the loss of animals and plants at a time of record global extinctions . The action, which expands the administration’s rewrite of U.S. environmental laws, is the latest that targets protections, including for water, air and public lands. Two states — California and Massachusetts, frequent foes of President Donald Trump’s environmental rollbacks — promised lawsuits to try to block the changes in the law. So did some conservation groups. Pushing back against the criticism, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and other administration officials contend the changes improve efficiency of oversight while continuing to protect rare species…Under the enforcement changes, officials for the first time will be able to publicly attach a cost to saving an animal or plant. Blanket protections for creatures newly listed as threatened will be removed. Among several other changes, the action could allow the government to disregard the possible impact of climate change, which conservation groups call a major and growing threat to wildlife…Monday’s changes “take a wrecking ball to one of our oldest and most effective environmental laws, the Endangered Species Act,” Sen. Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a statement. “As we have seen time and time again, no environmental protection – no matter how effective or popular – is safe from this administration.” [Federal Register- Final rule]
See also Vox – A million species are at risk of extinction. Humans are to blame. It will likely take millions of years for the Earth to recover from the biodiversity crisis. “Earlier this year, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) released its biennial Living Planet Report, a global assessment of the health of animal populations all over the world. They found that the average vertebrate population — that is, the average size of any given species population in the organization’s database, whether it has 10,000 individuals or 10 million — has declined 60 percent since 1970…”
betanews: “A new study of over 700 full-time US employees reveals that that 48 percent of employees have access to more company data than they need to perform their jobs, while 12 percent of employees say they have access to all company data. The survey by business app marketplace GetApp also asked employees what classifications of data protection are in place at their company. No more than a third of businesses were found to use any one individual data classification. The lowest in use are Proprietary (15 percent) and Highly Confidential (18 percent). The most commonly used are Confidential — 33 percent of businesses use this classification, Internal — 30 percent, Public — 29 percent and Restricted/Sensitive — 25 percent…[that is why you need librarians….librarians…librarians…]
Phys.Org: “A small team of researchers at Indiana University has created the first global map of labor flow in collaboration with the world’s largest professional social network, LinkedIn. The work is reported in the journal Nature Communications. The study’s lead authors are Jaehyuk Park and Ian Wood, Ph.D. students working with Yong Yeol “Y.Y.” Ahn, a professor at the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering in Bloomington. According to the researchers, the study’s result represents a powerful tool for understanding the flow of people between industries and regions in the U.S. and beyond. It could also help policymakers better understand how to address critical skill gaps in the labor market or connect workers with new opportunities in nearby communities. The study showed some unexpected connections between economic sectors, such as the strong ties between credit card and airline industries. It also identified growing industries during the study period from 2010 to 2014, including the pharmaceutical and oil and gas industries—with in-demand skills such as team management and project management—as well as declining industries, such as retail and telecommunications…”
Thompson Coburn LLP via Lexology – “Given the convenience of established currency and payment systems, what is driving the ever-growing interest in Bitcoin and other virtual currencies? Interest comes from a confluence of several factors. The recent increase in the price of bitcoin showcased the status of this virtual currency as an asset class for investment. There has been a significant increase in hedge funds investing in virtual currencies and retail investors are also investing in and trading the asset. Further, trading markets are emerging – for example, the CBOE Futures Exchange (CFE) and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) have begun offering Bitcoin futures….”
DeStefano, Michele, Innovation: A New Key Discipline for Lawyers and Legal Education (June 27, 2019). New Suits: Appetite for Disruption in the Legal World co-curated by Michele DeStefano and Dr. Guenther Dobrauz (Stämpfli Verlag 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411020 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3411020 – “Over the past two years, I have interviewed hundreds of in-house and law firm lawyers from around the globe to explore the changing legal marketplace, expectations of clients, and innovation in law. One of my main conclusions is that we are experiencing an Innovation Tournament in Law and almost everyone is playing in it. As I explain in more detail in my book, Legal Upheaval: A Guide to Creativity, Collaboration, and Innovation in Law, driven by a combination of technology, socio-economics, and globality, we are witnessing innovation on almost every legal dimension, including how legal services are priced, packaged, sourced, and delivered. Importantly, this innovation is not only coming from legal tech startups and new law companies. Law firms, the Big Four, and corporate legal departments are creating innovations of their own including new services, products, tools, and, importantly, new processes. Even those that aren’t creating innovations are playing in the Innovation Tournament by utilizing the innovations (or exapting them) to become more efficient and deliver better service. Although we are not yet seeing disruption in the law marketplace in the Clayton Christensen sense, all lawyers should care about the Innovation Tournament regardless and here’s why…”
Dennis Kennedy via his blog: “I’ve collected and curated a list of my best innovation tips. It’s now available as a free PDF download. Everyone working in the innovation field, especially in law, gets stuck from time to time. When you do, you need a guide to help you with some tips, nudges, and insights to get you moving in the right direction. This PDF is designed to do exactly that. There is no need to tough it out and go it alone when just a little help will get you back on the right path. And at the right price – free. As you might have guessed, I developed this list in connection with a book project that I’m working on. More details on that soon. Very soon, because the manuscript is finished…”
MarketWatch – Brett Arends: “Can we please stop pretending that the Second Amendment contains an unfettered right for everyone to buy a gun? It doesn’t, and it never has. The claims made by the small number of extremists, before and after the Orlando, Fla., massacre, are based on a deliberate lie. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution doesn’t just say Congress shall not infringe the right to “keep and bear arms.” It specifically says that right exists in order to maintain “a well-regulated militia.” Even the late conservative Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia admitted those words weren’t in there by accident. Oh, and the Constitution doesn’t just say a “militia.” It says a “well-regulated” militia. What did the Founding Fathers mean by that? We don’t have to guess because they told us. In Federalist No. 29 of the Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton explained at great length precisely what a “well-regulated militia” was, why the Founding Fathers thought we needed one, and why they wanted to protect it from being disarmed by the federal government…”
CNN Business: “A draft executive order from the White House could put the Federal Communications Commission in charge of shaping how Facebook, Twitter and other large tech companies curate what appears on their websites, according to multiple people familiar with the matter. The draft order, a summary of which was obtained by CNN, calls for the FCC to develop new regulations clarifying how and when the law protects social media websites when they decide to remove or suppress content on their platforms. Although still in its early stages and subject to change, the Trump administration’s draft order also calls for the Federal Trade Commission to take those new policies into account when it investigates or files lawsuits against misbehaving companies. Politico first reported the existence of the draft. If put into effect, the order would reflect a significant escalation by President Trump in his frequent attacks against social media companies over an alleged but unproven systemic bias against conservatives by technology platforms. And it could lead to a significant reinterpretation of a law that, its authors have insisted, was meant to give tech companies broad freedom to handle content as they see fit…According to the summary seen by CNN, the draft executive order currently carries the title “Protecting Americans from Online Censorship…”
The Verge: “After shutting down the Trips app and consolidating its flights and hotel booking tools under Google Travel, the company today announced new features to help travelers plan their trip in its entirety. An update coming to Google Flights will now show travelers guides on popular destinations based on their country and the time of year. You can also specify exact travel dates and destinations to get historical data on flight prices and find the best time to book. Google says it’s so confident in this price prediction that it will offer a refund on select flights if a fare drops after you’ve booked. (It’s not automatic and you still have to file a claim, but it’s a nice deal if you’re planning to get away ahead of the Labor Day holiday.) The offer starts next Tuesday August 13th until September 2nd, and is limited to travelers flying out of the US…”
Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition – SPARC: “This database puts libraries on a more level playing field with vendors by detailing what thousands of peer institutions have paid for journal subscription packages. Institutions can leverage this pricing data, as well as the other resources on this site, to make clearer assessments about the suitability of these Big Deals and to strengthen their negotiating power…Sourcing: Pricing Data: Individual entries are linked to third party resources within the database; non-linked entries come from Freedom of Information requests (courtesy of Ted Bergstrom and Paul Courant). FTE Data: UK Higher Education Statistics Agency for UK FTE (HE student enrollment FTE + HE staff); DOE IPEDS for US FTE (“Full-time equivalent fall enrollment” + “Total FTE staff”); Universities Canada and COPPUL for Canadian FTE (student data only). Institutional Categories: Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education…”
Anonymone Labs: “At this moment, there is a copy of every unencrypted email, text, photo, gif or emoji you have ever sent in your digital life. These copies are stored under your name/identity in the national data storage facility operated by the U.S. National Surveillance Agency. (One of the newest and largest of these is local to us here at Anonyome Labs—the Utah Data Center.) What this also means is that every unencrypted email, text, or photo you chose to delete after sending or receiving, still exists in this databank as if it were never deleted; deleting only erases it from your device. If you want to see what is in your NSA file, there is currently no clear-cut process in place to obtain your file and no enforced legal obligation for the NSA to give you records of that file. If you used commercial cell phone service or the internet to “deliver” these personal notes and letters to your contacts via text message or email, it is considered that the moment you did you gave tacit consent (even if you didn’t know it) to surrender your privacy and thus ownership of your most intimate or mundane thoughts, conversations, and memories. Many have accepted our current digital reality as just a necessity of living in a post-9/11 world, but there is more to consider in this conversation than is typically laid out in the discussion of privacy…”
Bloomberg Businessweek – Joel Stein – Avoiding digital snoops takes more than throwing money at the problem, but that part can be really fun – “…It isn’t going to be easy. I use Google, Facebook, Amazon, Lyft, Uber, Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify. I have two Amazon Echos, a Google Home, an iPhone, a MacBook Air, a Nest thermostat, a Fitbit, and a Roku. I shared the secrets of my genetic makeup by spitting in one vial for 23andMe, another for an ancestry site affiliated with National Geographic, and a third to test my athletic potential. A few months ago, I was leaving my house in Los Angeles for a hike when I heard my Ring speaker say, “Where are you going, Joel?” in my wife’s voice. She was at a pottery class, but the smart doorbell sent her an alert when it detected me heading outside.
Ryan Calo, an assistant law professor at the University of Washington and an affiliate scholar at Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society, says that what my wife knows about my whereabouts is trivial compared with what most of the companies named above know. “In the early days of Nest, some of the employees would try to figure out where another employee was, and they’d look at the network to see if that person was home or not,” he says. Google, which now owns Nest, declined to comment.
If I wanted to regain my privacy, I had only one choice as an American: I needed gadgets to combat my gadgets. But I didn’t want Silicon Valley companies to know I was buying privacy gear. So I decided to get it only from companies headquartered outside the Bay Area. And to hide my purchases from Big Tech…”
“The librarian greeted me, asked for my name, and scanned a shelf of books along the wall. She pulled one from the collection, and placed it on the counter—but left her hand on the book. She smiled. “Don’t remove this white band,” she said. “Don’t rip it. Don’t touch it. It will cause problems.” I nervously smiled in return. There is nothing more frightening than a confident librarian. The white band on the book, as fellow devotees of the glorious InterLibrary Loan system know, contains all of the information to facilitate return of the item to the lending library. Removed bands slow down the system. And the last thing that I would ever want to do is hurt, in any way, a system that has been so good to me.
…InterLibrary Loan continues to be an essential resource—even in the digital era. It is comforting to delude ourselves that everything is available online, but there’s a wealth of significant material that remains only in print. The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC), which maintains WorldCat, reported 280 million ILL requests since the organization began in 1967, including 6.9 million in 2018 alone…”