Law and Legal
Polico Magazine – Michael Waldman is president of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. He is the author of The Second Amendment: A Biography. -“A fraud on the American public.” That’s how former Chief Justice Warren Burger described the idea that the Second Amendment gives an unfettered individual right to a gun. When he spoke these words to PBS in 1990, the rock-ribbed conservative appointed by Richard Nixon was expressing the longtime consensus of historians and judges across the political spectrum. Twenty-five years later, Burger’s view seems as quaint as a powdered wig. Not only is an individual right to a firearm widely accepted, but increasingly states are also passing laws to legalize carrying weapons on streets, in parks, in bars—even in churches.
Many are startled to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t rule that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to own a gun until 2008, when District of Columbia v. Heller struck down the capital’s law effectively banning handguns in the home. In fact, every other time the court had ruled previously, it had ruled otherwise. Why such a head-snapping turnaround? Don’t look for answers in dusty law books or the arcane reaches of theory. So how does legal change happen in America? We’ve seen some remarkably successful drives in recent years—think of the push for marriage equality, or to undo campaign finance laws. Law students might be taught that the court is moved by powerhouse legal arguments or subtle shifts in doctrine. The National Rifle Association’s long crusade to bring its interpretation of the Constitution into the mainstream teaches a different lesson: Constitutional change is the product of public argument and political maneuvering. The pro-gun movement may have started with scholarship, but then it targeted public opinion and shifted the organs of government. By the time the issue reached the Supreme Court, the desired new doctrine fell like a ripe apple from a tree…”
Recommendo – “On Google Maps: in between the standard street view, and the realistic satellite view, lies another hidden view called Terrain. Terrain is an almost artistic rendering of a physical place without all the distractions of an aerial photograph. Its crisp clarity is tremendously useful as a base map — and beautiful. To get to Terrain mode, go the “hamburger” (stack of 3 lines) in the upper left corner of Maps in a browser, and click on Terrain in the pull-down menu…” [This feature was announced by Google in 2007 but lots of folks have yet to use it.]
For academics, what matters more: journal prestige or readership? [Science]
Vice – Facebook has failed to be fully transparent with data concerning political advertising, so two researchers collected the data themselves.”A team of two researchers has created the most comprehensive visualization of Facebook’s political advertisements. Detailing hundreds of thousands of ads across 34 countries by more than 150 political actors, ad.watch is a new tool aimed at providing transparency to political advertisements on the platform.Three years after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which user data was used to target political ads, someone has finally made a way for ordinary people to learn which political campaign ads are being posted on Facebook all around the world. “With ad.watch, you can explore both country-specific contextual issues and political strategies, as well as broader questions about the power of persuasion that the use of personal data facilitates,” the website notes. “Through our interfaces, you can understand targeting and optimization, compare monetary investment, and trace the timelines of ads.”…”
The Guardian – In Permanent Record, the former spy will recount how his mass surveillance work eventually led him to make the biggest leak in history – “After multiple books and films about his decision to leak the biggest cache of top-secret documents in history, whistleblower Edward Snowden is set to tell his side of the story in a memoir, Permanent Record. Out on 17 September, the book will be published in more than 20 countries and will detail how and why the former CIA agent and NSA contractor decided to reveal the US government’s plans for mass surveillance around the world and in the US – which included monitoring phone calls, text messages and emails. UK publisher Macmillan said the book would see him “bringing the reader along as he helps to create this system of mass surveillance, and then experiences the crisis of conscience that led him to try to bring it down”…”
Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis in Collaboration with Their Communities: An Introduction
Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis in Collaboration with Their Communities: An Introduction By Michele Coleman and Lynn Silipigni Connaway. “The nation is experiencing an opioid epidemic. As communities across the country feel the epidemic’s impact, public health and human service organizations are implementing responses that include healthcare, education, law enforcement and the judicial system, emergency services, drug and addiction counseling, and community services. Public libraries around the country are choosing to be part of this response. With funding from a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, OCLC and the Public Library Association will identify, synthesize, and share knowledge and resources that will help public libraries and their community partners develop effective strategies and community-driven coalitions that work together to address the opioid epidemic in America. This project is called, “Public Libraries Respond to the Opioid Crisis with Their Communities.” This article is the first of two about the project and it focuses on the issues and preliminary themes surfacing in interviews with library staff and the partners. A second article will focus on the data analysis and overall findings…”
“The tension between originalism and stare decisis is well known. Many of the Supreme Court’s most significant constitutional decisions are completely unmoored from the original public understanding of the Constitution. A Supreme Court Justice may recognize that a given precedent is non-originalist, but follow it anyway because of the doctrine of stare decisis. Or, a Supreme Court Justice may decide to deviate from stare decisis because that precedent is non-originalist. The Supreme Court’s unique status, which is perched atop our judiciary, affords its members leeway to make either decision. Lower court judges, however, do not have that sort of discretion. Consider a judge on a federal circuit court of appeals. First, she is bound by Supreme Court precedents interpreting the Constitution, regardless of whether those precedent are originalist or not. No matter how wrong a given Supreme Court case is, that precedent must be followed. Second, she is bound by circuit precedent interpreting the Constitution, regardless of whether that precedent is originalist or not. Only an en banc majority can reverse circuit precedent, and those proceedings are quite rare.
An originalist circuit judge would only have free jurisprudential rein in the rare case of first impression, where neither the Supreme Court nor the circuit court had considered a particular constitutional question. Those cases are even rarer. Even then, the circuit judge would still be at a disadvantage. Circuit courts seldom receive the wealth of originalist party and amicus briefs that are directed to the Supreme Court. Here, the circuit judge will often have to do all of her own originalist research—the proverbial law office history report—without the benefit of the adversarial process. In short, it’s tough for a lower-court judge to be a constitutional originalist. But it can be done. Part I of this essay explains when a lower-court judge can be an originalist. Part II explains how a lower-court judge can be an originalist.”
The New York Times – “America’s museums are more than repositories of ancient Greek statues and Renaissance paintings. They are guardians of a fading social and demographic order. On Thursday, Warren Kanders resigned from the board of the Whitney Museum of Art, after protests over his company’s sale of tear gas grenades that were reportedly used on asylum seekers. His case reveals the extent to which museums have become contested spaces in a rapidly-changing country. On one side of the crossfire are trustees who benefit from a distorted economic system that protects and promotes inequality. Wealthy donors and collectors decide what is valued. They expect appreciation, not scrutiny, for giving generously as government support for the arts wanes. And they are offended by the accusation that they use museums to launder, or “artwash,” their reputations and increase the value of their personal collections.On the other side are people that the system excludes and exploits. An increasingly diverse viewing public, and growing protest movements, are calling for installations and institutions that represent a broader cross-section of America. They demand museums serve more than the interests of the elite. Museums find themselves in the same struggle tearing society apart — a struggle fueled by worsening inequality of every kind…”
Reporters Committee for Freedom of Information – ” The California court of appeal is considering an expansive interpretation of state privacy law — in a pending lawsuit pending involving Yelp — that would make it unlawful to take notes during telephone conversations. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and a coalition of 17 media organizations are urging the court to reject the argument that the California Invasion of Privacy Act prevents note taking. In the case, plaintiff Eric Gruber alleges that Yelp violated the CIPA by recording conversations between him and Yelp employees. Yelp argues that it only made “one-way” recordings in which only the Yelp employee’s voice was recorded.
The district court found that Yelp did not violate CIPA, but Gruber appealed, calling for a more “expansive” reading of what qualifies as a recording under the law that would include “all simultaneously-created records” as long as they are “registered in reproducible form,” whether that be audio, written, photographic or another form of recording. In a friend-of-the-court brief filed July 10, Reporters Committee attorneys argue, along with 17 media organizations, that this expansive interpretation of CIPA could potentially make journalists responsible for damages or criminalize those who take notes — either by hand or by computer — during conversations and consequently, criminalize the common journalistic practice of notetaking. Note taking should not be considered recording, “even if done without the consent of all parties to the communication.”…
Fortune – “Automation is increasingly making its way into the workplace, raising concerns among employees about the ways technology will change their jobs—or eliminate them entirely. A June 2019 report by Oxford Economics predicts that 8.5% of the world’s manufacturing positions alone—some 20 million jobs—will be displaced by robots by 2030. But that’s the wrong way to think about automation and jobs, says Tom Mitchell, professor and interim dean of Pittsburgh-based Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science. Instead, you should look at the tasks involved in your job and evaluate how easily those tasks can be automated.
“Some people have a single task job, like toll booth [operators],” he says. “Those people are in trouble because their job is going to be automated.” That’s bad news for them, of course, but what does it mean for you?..”
The Paris Review – “The semicolon was born in Venice in 1494. It was meant to signify a pause of a length somewhere between that of the comma and that of the colon, and this heritage was reflected in its form, which combines half of each of those marks. It was born into a time period of writerly experimentation and invention, a time when there were no punctuation rules, and readers created and discarded novel punctuation marks regularly. Texts (both handwritten and printed) record the testing-out and tinkering-with of punctuation by the fifteenth-century literati known as the Italian humanists. The humanists put a premium on eloquence and excellence in writing, and they called for the study and retranscription of Greek and Roman classical texts as a way to effect a “cultural rebirth” after the gloomy Middle Ages. In the service of these two goals, humanists published new writing and revised, repunctuated, and reprinted classical texts. One of these humanists, Aldus Manutius, was the matchmaker who paired up comma and colon to create the semicolon. Manutius was a printer and publisher, and the first literary Latin text he issued was De Aetna, by his contemporary Pietro Bembo. De Aetna was an essay, written in dialogue form, about climbing volcanic Mount Etna in Italy. On its pages lay a new hybrid mark, specially cut for this text by the Bolognese type designer Francesco Griffo: the semicolon (and Griffo dreamed up a nice plump version) is sprinkled here and there throughout the text, conspiring with colons, commas, and parentheses to aid readers…”
Follow up to previous postings –Equifax data breach settlement: How to file a claim for $125 or free credit reporting and Proving you deserve $20,000 from the Equifax settlement will be nearly impossible – today via The New York Times:
“Overwhelmed by requests from consumers seeking compensation related to the giant 2017 data breach at the credit bureau Equifax, the Federal Trade Commission is recommending that people accept free credit monitoring rather than cash. In a blog post published on Wednesday, the agency announced that because of the high volume of requests, the F.T.C. would not be able to offer $125 to consumers whose data was hacked, the upper limit of what was initially offered. Instead, the commission is recommending that consumers seek credit-monitoring services. “The public response to the settlement has been overwhelming,” wrote Robert Schoshinski, assistant director of the F.T.C.’s division of privacy and identity protection, referring to an agreement reached with Equifax last week. As a result, “each person who takes the money option will wind up only getting a small amount of money,” he added. “Nowhere near the $125 they could have gotten if there hadn’t been such an enormous number of claims filed.”…”
The New York Times – It’s not the first self-driving bike. But equipped with an A.I. chip, it may be the nearest to thinking for itself. “As corporate giants like Ford, G.M. and Waymo struggle to get their self-driving cars on the road, a team of researchers in China is rethinking autonomous transportation using a souped-up bicycle. This bike can roll over a bump on its own, staying perfectly upright. When the man walking just behind it says “left,” it turns left, angling back in the direction it came. It also has eyes: It can follow someone jogging several yards ahead, turning each time the person turns. And if it encounters an obstacle, it can swerve to the side, keeping its balance and continuing its pursuit. It is not the first-ever autonomous bicycle (Cornell University has a project underway) or, probably, the future of transportation, although it could find a niche in a future world swarming with package-delivery vehicles, drones and robots. (There are even weirder ideas out there.) Nonetheless, the Chinese researchers who built the bike believe it demonstrates the future of computer hardware. It navigates the world with help from what is called a neuromorphic chip, modeled after the human brain…”
Online Journalism Blog: “Earlier this month the BBC Data Unit published a story on unduly lenient sentences which involved working with data that was trapped in phrases. We needed to be able to take a collection of words such as “11 years and 5 months’ imprisonment” and convert that into something that could be used in spreadsheet calculations (specifically, comparing the lengths of time represented by two different phrases). It’s a problem you come across every so often as a journalist — especially with FOI requests — so in this post — taken from the book Finding Stories in Spreadsheets — I’ll explain how to do that. First, here’s what the data looks like..”
In her three part article on AI in Legal Research and Law Practice, Carolyn Elefant, attorney, tech guru, and legal blogger, shares actionable information, knowledge and topical resources that were the foundation of her presentation at the AALL 2019 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. Elefant’s mission has always been to ensure that solo and small firms have current information, not just on new technology developments, but also on how these new tools can be applied in practice. AI is a fast-moving target that presents significant challenges to professionals in many roles – lawyers, law librarians, KM, CI/BI, competitive intelligence, marketing, and research analysts to name but a few. Elefant’s primer illuminates the critical role law librarians play in the effective implementation of AI within their organizations.
Architectural Design: “Jean-Jacques Megel-Nuber’s first drawing of his imagined bookstore on wheels had little in common with its final design. “It looked like the cabins in a Christmas market,” says Megel-Nuber, who is from the Alsace region of eastern France, known for its festive seasonal markets. He had originally thought about opening a brick-and-mortar bookshop but decided he wanted one that could travel to French country towns whose bookstores have often closed. He also wanted a space where he could live during his travels…Today, the space in which he works and lives has a bright interior with light-colored pine bookshelves and benches. A medal cladding painted a dark blue encircling the bookstore’s entrance adds a modern edge. “He left me carte blanche,” says Pauline Fagué, a recent graduate of interior design school who helped create La Maison Qui Chemine (or “The Wandering House”) with her partner, a carpenter. At the time, the couple’s firm was so new they did not have a finished prototype, but they took on the project eagerly…”
MIT Technology Review – AI algorithms can generate text convincing enough to fool the average human—potentially providing a way to mass-produce fake news, bogus reviews, and phony social accounts. Thankfully, AI can now be used to identify fake text, too.
“The news: Researchers from Harvard University and the MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab have developed a new tool for spotting text that has been generated using AI. Called the Giant Language Model Test Room (GLTR), it exploits the fact that AI text generators rely on statistical patterns in text, as opposed to the actual meaning of words and sentences. In other words, the tool can tell if the words you’re reading seem too predictable to have been written by a human hand…”
CNN Perspectives – Andrew Grotto – “Our national discussions about cybersecurity and privacy follow a frustrating pattern: a headline-grabbing incident like the recent Capital One breach occurs, Congress wrings its hands and policymakers more or less move on. So it is no surprise cybersecurity hasn’t been much of a focus as the race to the 2020 presidential election heats up. The issue is here to stay, and it should be debated by the candidates. Here are some concrete ideas that would significantly improve the safety and security of the nation — but require presidential leadership if they are to come to fruition.
Beef up election security – The candidates have been justifiably outraged over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s stonewalling on election security legislation that would direct resources and expertise to state and local governments to help modernize election systems and implement paper-based backups for electronic voting, among other improvements. As Special Counsel Robert Mueller warned in Congressional hearings last week, the Russians and other bad actors will undoubtedly attempt to threaten the integrity of the 2020 election. This is no time to stand pat — Congress should pass — and the President should sign — legislation on election security before the 2020 election, not after…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends – Weekly highlights on cyber security issues July 28, 2019 – 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: Viral App FaceApp Now Owns Access To More Than 150 Million People’s Faces And Names; What Does Incognito Mode Actually Do? Here’s Everything You Need to Know; How vulnerable are the undersea cables that power the global internet?; and Equifax To Pay Hundreds Of Millions In Data Breach Settlement (with many caveats).
The New York Times – The White House Blocked My Report on Climate Change and National Security – Politics intruded on science and intelligence. “That’s why I quit my job as an analyst for the State Department. Ten years ago, I left my job as a tenured university professor to work as an intelligence analyst for the federal government, primarily in the State Department but with an intervening tour at the National Intelligence Council. My focus was on the impact of environmental and climate change on national security, a growing concern of the military and intelligence communities. It was important work. Two words that national security professionals abhor are uncertainty and surprise, and there’s no question that the changing climate promises ample amounts of both. I always appreciated the apolitical nature of the work. Our job in the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research was to generate intelligence analysis buttressed by the best information available, without regard to political considerations. And although I was uncomfortable with some policies of the Trump administration, no one had ever tried to influence my work or conclusions. That changed last month, when the White House blocked the submission of my bureau’s written testimony on the national security implications of climate change to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The stated reason was that the scientific foundation of the analysis did not comport with the administration’s position on climate change…” [Rod Schoonover was, until recently, a senior analyst in Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the State Department. He also worked as director of environment and natural resources at the National Intelligence Council and was a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.]