Law and Legal
Discover Which Corporations are the Biggest Regulatory Violators and Lawbreakers Throughout the United States – “Violation Tracker is the first wide-ranging database on corporate misconduct. It covers banking, consumer protection, false claims, environmental, wage & hour, health, safety, employment discrimination, price-fixing, bribery and other cases resolved by more than 50 federal regulatory agencies and all parts of the Justice Department since 2000 — plus state AG and local DA cases and selected class action lawsuits. In all: 412,000 civil and criminal cases with penalties of $616 billion. Other types will come later. Violation Tracker is produced by the Corporate Research Project of Good Jobs First.
NPR: “It has been around two months of quarantine for many of us. The urge to get out and enjoy the summer is real. But what’s safe? We asked a panel of infectious disease and public health experts to rate the risk of summer activities, from backyard gatherings to a day at the pool to sharing a vacation house with another household. One big warning: Your personal risk depends on your age and health, the prevalence of the virus in your area and the precautions you take during any of these activities. Also, many areas continue to restrict the activities described here, so check your local laws. And there’s no such thing as a zero-risk outing right now. As states begin allowing businesses and public areas to reopen, decisions about what’s safe will be up to individuals. It can help to think through the risks the way the experts do. “We can think of transmission risk with a simple phrase: time, space, people, place,” explains Dr. William Miller, an epidemiologist at Ohio State University.
Here’s his rule of thumb: The more time you spend and the closer in space you are to any infected people, the higher your risk. Interacting with more people raises your risk, and indoor places are riskier than outdoors. Dr. Emily Landon, a hospital epidemiologist and infectious diseases specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, has her own shorthand: “Always choose outdoors over indoor, always choose masking over not masking and always choose more space for fewer people over a smaller space.” Our experts shared their thoughts via phone and email interviews…”
Quartz: “…Thousands of people are getting back on their bikes after an extended hiatus: Appointments to tune up old rides are booked weeks into the future. Bicycle trips on trails across the US rose 57% throughout March and April compared to 2019, according to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. There are new converts, too. Bikes under $1,000 have been almost impossible to keep in stock. REI, a national outdoor gear store, said it is selling four times as much cycling equipment as the same time last year, including adult bikes, kids’ bikes, and accessories. “We do not expect sales to slow down in the near term, as long as supply can keep up,” wrote REI merchandising manager Ron Thompsen by email. But supplies are stretched thin. Most bikes are manufactured in Asia, and the coronavirus shutdown slowed production just as sales picked up. Across the US, market research firm NPD reports sales of bicycles and shop services shot up to $733 million in March, a 44% jump over last year. Families and fitness fans are the biggest buyers: Sales of recreational bikes rose 121% to nearly 250,000 in March, while stationary exercise bikes and indoor stands nearly tripled to about 200,000 units. Far from a modest blip, this bicycle boom may have staying power. It’s the third great bicycle boom in American history, and it’s poised to reconfigure the layout of American cities…”
Science: “Timothy Sheahan, a virologist studying COVID-19, wishes he could keep pace with the growing torrent of new scientific papers about the disease and the novel coronavirus that causes it. But there are just too many—more than 4000 alone last week. “I’m not keeping up,” says Sheahan, who works at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “It’s impossible.” A loose-knit army of data scientists, software developers, and journal publishers is pressing hard to change that. Backed by large technology firms and the White House, they are racing to create digital collections holding thousands of freely available papers that could be useful to ending the pandemic, and scrambling to build data-mining and search tools that can help researchers quickly find the information they seek. And the urgency is growing: By one estimate, the COVID-19 literature published since January has reached more than 23,000 papers and is doubling every 20 days—among the biggest explosions of scientific literature ever. Given that volume, “People don’t have time to read through entire articles and figure out what is the value added and the bottom line, and what are the limitations,” says Kate Grabowski, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University’s (JHU’s) Bloomberg School of Public Health who is leading an effort to create a curated set of pandemic papers…”
Washington Post – Twitter labels Trump’s tweets with a fact check for the first time – The action comes after years of criticism that social media companies have allowed the president to push misinformation unchecked… But Trump has made dozens of false claims on social media, particularly on his preferred medium of Twitter, and has also attacked people in ways that critics have argued could violate company policies on harassment and bullying. For example, Twitter’s actions come on a day when Twitter was facing a barrage of criticism over another set of Trump tweets. Earlier on Tuesday, the widower of a former staffer to Joe Scarborough asked Twitter chief executive officer Jack Dorsey to delete tweets by President Trump furthering a baseless conspiracy theory about the staffer’s wife’s death. Those tweets are still up, a reflection of an approach to policing content that can appear inconsistent even as the companies have stepped up their enforcement. The company is debating whether to take action on the Scarborough tweets, said a person familiar with the discussions…”
Axios: “The big picture: A Twitter spokesperson said two of Trump’s tweets “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” The label- accompanied by an ! [explanation point] uses this linked text –Get the facts about mail-in ballots. It does not label Trump’s tweets as erroneous, wrong or apply any other definition that would describe the tweet i.e., incorrect, faulty, inaccurate, invalid, improper…
Via Twitter – the following series of links that state the facts respective to mail-in ballots: “Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud. On Tuesday, President Trump made a series of claims about potential voter fraud after California Governor Gavin Newsom announced an effort to expand mail-in voting in California during the COVID-19 pandemic. These claims are unsubstantiated, according to CNN, Washington Post and others. Experts say mail-in ballots are very rarely linked to voter fraud.”
Trump makes unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots will lead to voter fraud – What you need to know – Trump falsely claimed that mail-in ballots would lead to “a Rigged Election.” However, fact-checkers say there is no evidence that mail-in ballots are linked to voter fraud. – Trump falsely claimed that California will send mail-in ballots to “anyone living in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there.” In fact, only registered voters will receive ballots. – Though Trump targeted California, mail-in ballots are already used in some states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska….”
The New York Times – “To help provide a detailed picture of the past, present and future of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, here are five ways of thinking about it in hundreds of metro areas across the country, using data compiled by The New York Times. This page will be updated regularly…”
American Library Association: “This resource guide supplements “Protecting Privacy During a Pandemic,” a town hall hosted by the ALA’s IFC Privacy Subcommittee on May 8, 2020. The recorded session can be viewed online on OIF’s YouTube channel.
Privacy Fundamentals – Even during a public health emergency, libraries should continue to adhere to their mission and stand by the law and ethical standards that govern the provision of library services.
- A publicly supported library provides free, equitable, and confidential access to information for all people of its community.
- The law in most states requires libraries to protect the privacy and confidentiality of library users in order to preserve and protect their civil liberties and their right to receive information.
- Privacy and anonymity are important factors in providing fair and equitable access to the information resources and services provided by the library, particularly for those who are members of marginalized and vulnerable groups.
- In all cases, access to, and delivery of, library resources and services should not be conditioned on the user’s consent to the collection and use of their information for contact tracing or other purposes unrelated to library service…”
CRS reports via LC: HEROES Act (H.R. 6800): Selected Federal Reserve Provisions, May 26, 2020: On May 15, 2020, the House passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), a wide-ranging Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) relief bill. This Insight discusses selected provisions related to the Federal Reserve (Fed). Background – In response to COVID-19, the Fed has taken a number of actions to promote economic and financial stability. Traditionally, the Fed acts as “lender of last resort,”providing solvent banks with short-term liquidity to manage cash flow. In response to the unprecedented economic disruptions posed by the pandemic, the Fed extended that role to nonbank firms and markets to ensure they have continued access to needed funding. In some cases, the Fed provided long-term assistance to borrowers who may not remain solvent if the pandemic persists for an extended time period. To date, the Fed has created nine emergency facilities in response to COVID-19 under its emergency authority found in Section 13(3) of the Federal Reserve Act…”
CRS Report via LC: HEROES Act (H.R. 6800): Selected Consumer Loan Provisions, May 26, 2020: “The economic impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has been largely due to illnesses, quarantines, social distancing, local stay-at-home orders, and other business disruptions. Consequently, many Americans have lost income and face financial hardship.On May 15, 2020, the House passed the HEROES Act (H.R. 6800), a wide-ranging COVID-19 relief bill. This Insight discusses selected provisions in Division K, Title IV related to consumer loans and the financial services industry…”
Fast Company: “Until recently, Sabrina Paseman worked at Apple as a mechanical engineer for products such as the MacBook Pro. Now, she and an ex-Apple marketer are trying to tackle a completely different problem: the global shortage of N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic In a new project called Fix the Mask, Paseman and cofounder Megan Duong suggest a simple design for essential workers who can’t access N95 masks, the respirators that are recommended for healthcare workers to avoid infection from the coronavirus. Surgical masks, which are loose fitting, don’t provide as much protection because the virus can easily travel around the edges of the mask. But Paseman and Duong realized that the masks could easily be modified—even with a handful of rubber bands….”
“The Lumen database collects and analyzes legal complaints and requests for removal of online materials, helping Internet users to know their rights and understand the law. These data enable us to study the prevalence of legal threats and let Internet users see the source of content removals…” Lumen is an independent research project studying cease and desist letters concerning online content. We collect and analyze requests to remove material from the web. Our goals are to educate the public, to facilitate research about the different kinds of complaints and requests for removal–both legitimate and questionable–that are being sent to Internet publishers and service providers, and to provide as much transparency as possible about the “ecology” of such notices, in terms of who is sending them and why, and to what effect. Our database contains millions of notices, some of them with valid legal basis, some of them without, and some on the murky border. The fact that Lumen has a notice in its database does not mean that Lumen is authenticating the provenance of that notice or making any judgment on the validity of the claims it raises. Conceived, developed, and founded in 2002 by then-Berkman Klein Center Fellow Wendy Seltzer, the project, then called “Chilling Effects”, was initially focused on requests submitted under the United States’ Digital Millennium Copyright Act. As the Internet and its usage has evolved, so has Lumen, and the database now includes complaints of all varieties, including trademark, defamation, and privacy, domestic and international, and court orders. The Lumen database grows by more than 40,000 notices per week, with voluntary submissions provided by companies such as Google, Twitter, YouTube, Wikipedia, Counterfeit Technology, Medium, Stack Exchange, Vimeo, DuckDuckGo, aspects of the University of California system, and WordPress. As of the summer of 2019, the project hosts approximately twelve million notices, referencing close to four billion URLs. In 2018, the project website was visited over ten million times by users from virtually every country in the world. Lumen is supported by a grant from Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin…”
Via LLRX – Re-Opening Your Law Firm: There’s a Bar Association Guide for That! – After months of business closures, many states are beginning to slowly allow more essential businesses to open their doors. In most states, law firms will be among the first wave of businesses that are permitted to resume providing services to the public. This is a welcome development for lawyers, but one that comes hand in hand with uncertainty. After all, resuming business in the midst of a pandemic is uncharted territory, and opening your firm doesn’t mean you’ll be returning to business as usual. Attorney Nicole L. Black identifies the host of issues that must be considered when re-opening, not the least of which is to ensure that the health of both law firm employees and clients is protected.
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues May 24, 2020 – Privacy and security issues impact every aspect of our lives – home, work, travel, education, health and medical records – to name but a few. On a weekly basis Pete Weiss highlights articles and information that focus on the increasingly complex and wide ranging ways technology is used to compromise and diminish our privacy and security, often without our situational awareness. Four highlights from this week: Foreign Hackers Swipe Millions in Unemployment Benefits; An Apple whistleblower has publicly slammed the company, claiming it violated ‘fundamental rights’ after Siri recorded users’ intimate moments without consent; Google censored search results after bogus copyright claims; and COVID-19 data sharing with law enforcement sparks concern.
C/NET – These tips are helpful when you need to find a parking spot in a hurry or if you get lost: “You haven’t traveled anywhere in what seems like ages due to coronavirus quarantine, but as cities and state parks begin to open up, you may find that you’re mapping out a drive or beginning to think about your daily commute. Fortunately, the Google Maps app for Android and iPhone ($699 at Apple) can remove a bit of the strain from driving with some of its hidden features. And even if you aren’t planning to go anywhere far for awhile, you can tuck some of these tips away for when you do. You probably know that with the Google Maps app, you can save addresses, like for work and home, so with a tap you can get directions to the places you travel to frequently. You can also get information about a place — including what to eat, where to stay and what you can do there — to help you make the most of a trip. But Google Maps can help with other tasks you may not know about, such as letting you download a map to use offline. It’ll also show you your driving time to get a more accurate ETA. It can even help you find somewhere to park. Read on to learn how to use these features for making your trip as smooth as possible…”
Forbes – Rob Shevlin: “Amazon has no incentive to cut banks out of the lending or deposit business. Amazon can make more money by providing technology services to help financial institutions underwrite, process, and service loans. Banks will gladly pay for this, because Amazon will do it for a lower cost that what banks incur to do it today.” My argument then, as it is now, is that Amazon is poised to be a vendor—not a competitor—to financial institutions. Google’s Banking Forays Four recent stories regarding Google signal that it, too, is following a similar path and is on its way to becoming the next big fintech vendor: 1) Google checking account; 2) Google debit card; 3) Google AI tool for Paycheck Protection Program loan processing; 4) Google Cloud bank deal….”
The Trust for Public Land just released the 2020 ParkScore® index—ranking the 100 largest U.S. cities by park system. How does your city stack up? D.C. has an excellent 83.3% rating.
Harvard Dataverse: “ParlSpeech V2 contains complete full-text vectors of more than 6.3 million parliamentary speeches in the key legislative chambers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, covering periods between 21 and 32 years. Meta-data include information on date, speaker, party, and partially agenda item under which a speech was held. The accompanying release note provides a more detailed guide to the data. (2020-03-11)…”
American Libraries – Library workers say contact tracing is a good fit for their skills: “Gathering information, educating patrons, hunting down hard-to-find items—it’s all part of the everyday work of librarians. That’s why some cities are turning to them to serve on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic as so-called contact tracers. The work entails searching for individuals believed to have been exposed to someone infected with COVID-19, warning them that they might have contracted the virus, and encouraging them to self-quarantine. As city employees are often unable to report to work because of building closures and furloughs, librarians are being reassigned not only to work as contact tracers but also making masks and organizing at food banks. “I think it’s a great fit,” says Lisa Fagundes, adult services librarian at San Francisco Public Library’s (SFPL) Main Library, who first discovered the contact tracer program through a local news story. About 40 to 50 librarians from SFPL are now working as contact tracers, she says. Their skill set dovetails with the work because librarians are already trained on the ethics of maintaining patron privacy, and they also make a practice of asking open-ended questions to help identify patrons’ needs, Fagundes says. “That’s useful for contact tracing,” she says…”
GW Today – Researchers warn scientists are fighting health misinformation in the wrong place. “Communities on Facebook that distrust establishment health guidance are more effective than government health agencies and other reliable health groups at reaching and engaging “undecided” individuals, according to a first-of-its-kind study published today by researchers at George Washington University and other institutions in the journal Nature. The researchers tracked the vaccine conversation among 100 million Facebook users during the height of the 2019 measles outbreak. The new study and its “battleground” map reveal how distrust in establishment health guidance could spread and dominate online conversations over the next decade, potentially jeopardizing public health efforts to protect populations from COVID-19 and future pandemics through vaccinations. Professor Neil Johnson and his GW research team, including professor Yonatan Lupu and researchers Nicolas Velasquez, Rhys Leahy and Nico Restrepo, collaborated with researchers at the University of Miami, Michigan State University and Los Alamos National Laboratory to better understand how distrust in scientific expertise evolves online, especially related to vaccines. [h/t Pete Weiss]
“There is a new world war online surrounding trust in health expertise and science, particularly with misinformation about COVID-19, but also distrust in big pharmaceuticals and governments,” Dr. Johnson said. “Nobody knew what the field of battle looked like, though, so we set to find out.”…
Bracewell LLP: “This guide describes the key provisions of the Main Street Loan Facilities and the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility (collectively, the “Facilities”) that were recently introduced and expanded by the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury, and provides considerations about the programs for borrowers, lenders and other interested parties. Part I provides an Executive Summary; Part II describes the terms of the Main Street Loan Facilities and provides related practical considerations; and Part III describes the Primary Market Corporate Credit Facility and provides related practical considerations…”
CRS report via LC: What’s the Difference?—Comparing U.S. and Chinese Trade Data, May 20, 2020 – “The size of the U.S. bilateral trade deficit with the People’s Republic of China (China) has been and continues to be an important issue in bilateral trade relations. President Trump and some Members of Congress view the deficit as a sign of unfair economic policies in China.In the 116thCongress, the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act (H.R. 704 and S. 2) and the United States Reciprocal Trade Act (H.R. 764) mention U.S. trade deficits as a reason for the proposed legislation. The escalation of the Sino-U.S. trade tensions and both sides’ imposition of tariffs on one anothers’ trades since spring 2018 contributed to a significant decline in bilateral merchandise trade in 2019, and the corresponding merchandise trade balance. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the 2019bilateral merchandise trade deficit with China was $345.6billion, down from $419.2 billion in 2018. According to China’s General Administration of Customs, China’s trade surplus with the United States in 2019 was $295.5 billion, a decline of $27.9 billion from 2018. The difference between the officially reported trade balances of the two nations was less than $55 billion for the first time in 20 years.
This report examines the differences in the trade data reported by the Chinese and U.S. governments in two ways. First, it compares the trade figures using the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (Harmonized System)to discern any patterns in the discrepancies between the U.S. and Chinese data. This comparison reveals that 96% of the difference in the value of China’s exports to the United States in 2019arises primarily from differences in the reported values for four types of goods. Those four types of goods, in order of the size of the discrepancy, were electrical machinery, toys and sporting goods, machinery, and footwear; all four have been major sources of the discrepancy for over a decade..”