Law and Legal
BuzzFeedNews: A quarantine reading list courtesy of Glennon Doyle, Veronica Roth, Julia Alvarez, and more. ” Powell’s Books recently asked some of its favorite authors to share which books they’re reading and recommending during quarantine. Here’s what they had to say…”
Make Use Of: “Which book should you read next? These websites will find the best book for your tastes and recommend titles by experts and famous people. No matter how cooped up or bogged down you feel, books can be your escape. You can dive into a world that takes you away from harsh reality. And if fiction isn’t what you seek, you can learn more through engaged reading than any other media. After all, successful and intelligent people don’t talk about the TV series they’re binge-watching, they talk about the books they are reading. These websites take different routes to suggest books to read. Some work like multiple-choice apps, while others take the effort to ask experts what they think you should be reading. But whichever path you take, at the end of it, you’ll have a new book to enjoy…”
Penn State University video – “CIDD’s Dr. Beth McGraw explains the concept of “clean hand, dirty hand,” a useful tactic that can help you keep potential contaminants away from your clean personal areas. To see more coronavirus questions answered by experts at the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics, submit a question of your own, or learn how you can do your part to #flattenthecurve, visit http://askcidd.psu.edu.” [Very good advice – thank you Pete Weiss]
The Marshall Project – Opposition to stay-at-home orders is the latest example of a history of powerful sheriffs, which stretches back to the end of slavery and the settling of the frontier. “…Mike Herrington [Chaves County NM] is one of at least 60 sheriffs nationwide, spread across more than a dozen states, who are publicly opposing restrictions issued by governors, according to a Marshall Project analysis of news reports and official statements. There are likely many more quietly declining to enforce them. All law enforcement officers have a great deal of discretion, but the power of sheriffs in particular stretches deep into American history, to the end of the Civil War and the settling of the frontier. This history can help us make sense of their increasingly central role in partisan battles about public health and economic recovery, as they clash with governors through viral Facebook posts and media appearances. While police chiefs are appointed and thus insulated from politics, sheriffs are elected and many have built their reputations by defying state and federal laws in areas ranging from immigration to gun control. The best known sheriffs in America in recent years, Joe Arpaio of Arizona and David Clarke of Wisconsin, used racially charged criticism of President Obama to become high-profile allies of President Trump…” [YGTBFKM – Wear a face mask, wash your hands – folks we know and love have died!]
Derek Thomson – The Atlantic – Don’t think of that number as “big” or “bold.” Just think of it as the appropriate dosage for a once-in-a-century economic affliction: “Last week, House Democrats unveiled their latest pandemic-relief package. The bill combines aid for families, a bailout for struggling cities and states, and additional funds for testing, tracing, and hospitals. The price tag is about $3 trillion—and it comes just weeks after the president signed an economic-relief package worth about $2 trillion. Republicans have assailed the bill as a profligate wish list. Even Americans who are suffering from the health and economic ravages of the pandemic may feel a bit stunned by the dollar amount. Does the government really have to spend $5 trillion in three months? Can the United States afford to dump such unfathomable amounts of money into the economy? The answers to those questions are yes and absolutely yes. Small-business activity has plunged nationwide by nearly 50 percent. Hundreds of thousands of companies have already failed. Big retailers such as J.Crew and Neiman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy, while others, including Macy’s, are teetering. By some measures, scarcely one-third of Americans say they are working. Next month’s jobs report will likely show that, for the first time since World War II, a majority of Americans aren’t officially employed…” [The numbers are astounding.]
Questions About the CARES Act’s $500 Billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Funds – The First Report of the Congressional Oversight Commission, May 18, 2020. Commission Members: U.S. Representative French Hill, Bharat Ramamurti, U.S. Representative Donna Shalala, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey. May 18, 2020. “Please find enclosed a copy of the first report of the Congressional Oversight Commission (the “Commission”). The Commission was created by the CARES Act to conduct oversight of the Treasury Department (the “Treasury”) and the Federal Reserve’s implementation of Division A, Title IV, Subtitle A of the CARES Act (“Subtitle A”). Subtitle A provided $500 billion to the Treasury to help support and stabilize the economy by lending and providing liquidity to businesses and state and local governments. Of this amount, $46 billion is set aside for the Treasury to provide loans or loan guarantees to the airline industry and businesses critical to maintaining national security. Any unused portions of this $46 billion, and the remaining $454 billion, may be used to support emergency lending facilities established by the Federal Reserve. This report reviews actions by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve implementing Subtitle A to date, including designing lending programs and facilities. It also outlines some preliminary questions based on those actions that we intend to examine. These questions are not meant to be comprehensive and will not prevent the Commission from reviewing other matters in the future…”
See also Washington Post – $500 billion Treasury fund meant for coronavirus relief has lent barely any money so far, oversight commission finds – A Congressional Oversight Commission created by the Cares Act issued its first report even though it still doesn’t have a chair.
Brookings – “States across the U.S. are considering paths to re-opening following months of stay-at-home orders and a widespread shuttering of the economy in response to the threat of COVID-19. Policymakers now face the task of crafting strategies that will allow resumption of activity without producing additional waves of infection that could do even more damage to health and economies. Looking to successful examples from around the world, many of these strategies involve widespread testing, coupled with contact tracing and selective quarantine. Yet many questions that are important in designing such policies remain difficult to answer. Getting the answers “right” may be the difference between successful containment or a damaging resurgence of infection. Some of these questions include:
- How effective can a test-and-trace policy really be in containing future waves of infection? Is such an approach feasible in the United States?
- How much testing capacity is needed for effective containment? How much capacity to trace contacts will be needed?
- How accurate must tests be?
- What is the most efficient way to use limited testing capacity?
- How might success depend on still-uncertain assumptions about the spread of the disease itself?
- What social distancing measures might still be needed to enhance containment?…”
“Fortune 500 – Call it the ultimate business scorecard. This marks the 66th edition of our ranking of America’s largest companies. The 500 that made this year’s list represent two-thirds of the U.S. economy, with $14.2 trillion in revenue. Explore the list for a full breakdown of who’s up, who’s down, and why.”
Economist data journalist James Tozer via Twitter – “NEW, FREE DATA: We have just published the code and data behind our excess mortality tracker on Github. We believe this is the first public resource to provide this information, and we hope academics and journalists can use it for their research https://github.com/TheEconomist/covid-19-excess-deaths-tracker. For several weeks @martgnz and myself have been cleaning, analysing and presenting this data on our tracking page @TheEconomist, which provides interactive charts and is free to read. Excess deaths are now being widely used to analyse the covid-19 pandemic, as the most comparable measure across countries. But as @MaxCRoser pointed out yesterday, none of this data has been turned into a public resource yet. Eagle-eyed readers might note that we have several countries in our Github repo that are not included yet on the tracking article page @TheEconomist. We are redesigning the page and will be launching it next week. I will be keeping this repository updated throughout the pandemic. If you have any suggestions, either for things to change or countries to add, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.” [ht/ Sharon Machlis]
Facebook AI Blog: “…In order for AI to become a more effective tool for detecting hate speech, it must be able to understand content the way people do: holistically. When viewing a meme, for example, we don’t think about the words and photo independently of each other; we understand the combined meaning together. This is extremely challenging for machines, however, because it means they can’t just analyze the text and the image separately. They must combine these different modalities and understand how the meaning changes when they are presented together. To catalyze research in this area, Facebook AI has created a data set to help build systems that better understand multimodal hate speech. Today, we are releasing this Hateful Memes data set to the broader research community and launching an associated competition, hosted by DrivenData with a $100,000 prize pool. The challenges of harmful content affect the entire tech industry and society at large. As with our work on initiatives like the Deepfake Detection Challenge and the Reproducibility Challenge, Facebook AI believes the best solutions will come from open collaboration by experts across the AI community…”
Via LLRX – Pete Recommends Weekly highlights on cyber security issues May 16, 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: Zoom bolsters policy and engineering teams as it courts government; The lack of women in cybersecurity leaves the online world at greater risk; How to Set Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to Control Who Sees What; and UK accidentally leaves contact-tracing app plans on open Google Drive.
Consumer Reports – How to choose the right platform for work-from-home meetings or more casual virtual get-togethers: “For many of us, videoconferencing has morphed from an occasionally used tool into part of our daily routine, for both work and staying in touch with family, doctors, teachers, and friends. When we were in the office, the decision about which platform to use was often made by the IT department. Now, increasingly, it’s our call. The first step to picking a service is to get real about how you want to use it. If you’re just holding small, simple group meetings, try a consumer-grade video chat app, such as Apple FaceTime, Google Duo, or Facebook’s new Messenger rooms. But if you’re hosting larger meetings that require presentation features like document-sharing or whiteboarding, the next step up is a free version of the major business-oriented platforms, such as Cisco Webex, Google Meet (a replacement for Hangouts), Microsoft Teams (which will replace the company’s Skype), or Zoom. The host (or the host’s organization) is the only one who needs to register with a service and pay, if there’s a fee. We discuss the pros and cons of major services below, but you shouldn’t discount the importance of familiarity. If you’re used to a particular platform from the office, it’s likely to work for you at home, too…” [h/t Pete Weiss]
TechCrunch: “Enterprise search has always been a tough nut to crack. The Holy Grail has always been to operate like Google, but in-house. You enter a few keywords and you get back that nearly perfect response at the top of the list of the results. The irony of trying to do search locally has been a lack of content.While Google has the universe of the World Wide Web to work with, enterprises have a much narrower set of responses. It would be easy to think that should make it easier to find the ideal response, but the fact is that it’s the opposite. The more data you have, the more likely you’ll find the correct document. Amazon is trying to change the enterprise search game by putting it into a more modern machine learning-driven context to use today’s technology to help you find that perfect response just as you typically do on the web. Today the company announced the general availability of Amazon Kendra, its cloud enterprise search product that the company announced last year at AWS re:Invent. It uses natural language processing to allow the user to simply ask a question, then searches across the repositories connected to the search engine to find a precise answer…”
Marketplace: “Over the past 15 years, public libraries across the country have been rethinking their role as a public space. They’ve evolved from just a place to check out books into community hubs, and the transformation has come with a lot of new initiatives and programs. The Boston Public Library, for example, has been working on developing more affordable housing to sit atop some of its branches. The Austin Public Library offers citizenship courses for immigrants and hosts naturalization ceremonies. And the Bristol Public Library in Indiana, like many others, allows patrons to check out baking equipment to use at home. A lot of these new changes mean that people spend more time in libraries. And that, right now, poses a problem for libraries as they begin to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with Jennifer Pearson, director of the Marshall County Library in Tennessee and president of the Association for Rural and Small Libraries about how her library, and libraries across the country, are continuing to adapt and serve the needs of their patrons…”
WSJ.com – Work emails during the coronavirus pandemic must walk a fine line between being sensitive and oversharing – “When Benjamin Schmerler sends an email, his words speak volumes about the current state of the world. Gone are the exclamation points or occasional emojis. The public-relations firm owner replaces his usual “hope you’re well” with something more heartfelt. And when he signs off, his new-go-to is: ” I wish you vigorous health and a robust mind-set”…
The Financial Times – Free to Read – What went wrong in the president’s first real crisis — and what does it mean for the US?: “When the history is written of how America handled the global era’s first real pandemic, March 6 will leap out of the timeline. That was the day Donald Trump visited the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. His foray to the world’s best disease research body was meant to showcase that America had everything under control. It came midway between the time he was still denying the coronavirus posed a threat and the moment he said he had always known it could ravage America. Shortly before the CDC visit, Trump said “within a couple of days, [infections are] going to be down to close to zero”. The US then had 15 cases. “One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” A few days afterwards, he claimed: “I’ve felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.” That afternoon at the CDC provides an X-ray into Trump’s mind at the halfway point between denial and acceptance. We now know that Covid-19 had already passed the breakout point in the US. The contagion had been spreading for weeks in New York, Washington state and other clusters. The curve was pointing sharply upwards. Trump’s goal in Atlanta was to assert the opposite…”
The New York Times – A stir-crazy nation wonders: Is it safe to stroll on the beach in a deadly pandemic? How about a picnic in the park? Or coffee with a friend at an outdoor table? The risk is in the details. “…“The virus load is important,” said Eugene Chudnovsky, a physicist at Lehman College and the City University of New York’s Graduate Center. “A single virus will not make anyone sick; it will be immediately destroyed by the immune system. The belief is that one needs a few hundred to a few thousand of SARS-CoV-2 viruses to overwhelm the immune response.” While the risk of outdoor transmission is low, it can happen. In one study of more than 7,300 cases in China, just one was connected to outdoor transmission. In that case, a 27-year-old man had a conversation outdoors with a traveler who had just returned from Wuhan. Seven days later, he had his first symptoms of Covid-19. “The risk is lower outdoors, but it’s not zero,” said Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. “And I think the risk is higher if you have two people who are stationary next to each other for a long time, like on a beach blanket, rather than people who are walking and passing each other.”
“In my opinion, pool water, fresh water in a lake or river, or seawater exposure would be extremely low transmission risk even without dilution (which would reduce risk further),” Dr. Rasmussen said in an email. “Probably the biggest risk for summer water recreation is crowds — a crowded pool locker room, dock or beach, especially if coupled with limited physical distancing or prolonged proximity to others. The most concentrated sources of virus in such an environment will be the people hanging out at the pool, not the pool itself.”..
Erin S. Bromage, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. “It seems many people are breathing some relief, and I’m not sure why. An epidemic curve has a relatively predictable upslope and once the peak is reached, the back slope can also be predicted. We have robust data from the outbreaks in China and Italy, that shows the backside of the mortality curve declines slowly, with deaths persisting for months. Assuming we have just crested in deaths at 70k, it is possible that we lose another 70,000 people over the next 6 weeks as we come off that peak. That’s what’s going to happen with a lockdown. As states reopen, and we give the virus more fuel, all bets are off. I understand the reasons for reopening the economy, but I’ve said before, if you don’t solve the biology, the economy won’t recover. There are very few states that have demonstrated a sustained decline in numbers of new infections. Indeed, as of May 3rd the majority are still increasing and reopening. As a simple example of the USA trend, when you take out the data from New York and just look at the rest of the USA, daily case numbers are increasing. Bottom line: the only reason the total USA new case numbers look flat right now is because the New York City epidemic was so large and now it is being contained. When you think of outbreak clusters, what are the big ones that come to mind? Most people would say cruise ships. But you would be wrong. Ship outbreaks, while concerning, don’t land in the top 50 outbreaks to date. Ignoring the terrible outbreaks in nursing homes, we find that the biggest outbreaks are in prisons, religious ceremonies, and workplaces, such as meat packing facilities and call centers. Any environment that is enclosed, with poor air circulation and high density of people, spells trouble.
Some of the biggest super-spreading events are: Meat packing: In meat processing plants, densely packed workers must communicate to one another amidst the deafening drum of industrial machinery and a cold-room virus-preserving environment. There are now outbreaks in 115 facilities across 23 states, 5000+ workers infected, with 20 dead. (ref); Weddings, funerals, birthdays: 10% of early spreading events; Business networking: Face-to-face business networking like the Biogen Conference in Boston in late February. As we move back to work, or go to a restaurant, let’s look at what can happen in those environments….
Scott Galloway predicts a handful of elite cyborg universities will soon monopolize higher education
Intelligencer: “WeWork on its “seriously loco” $47 billion valuation a month before the company’s IPO imploded. Now, Galloway, a Silicon Valley runaway who teaches marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, believes the pandemic has greased the wheels for big tech’s entrée into higher education. The post-pandemic future, he says, will entail partnerships between the largest tech companies in the world and elite universities. MIT@Google. iStanford. HarvardxFacebook. According to Galloway, these partnerships will allow universities to expand enrollment dramatically by offering hybrid online-offline degrees, the affordability and value of which will seismically alter the landscape of higher education. Galloway, who also founded his own virtual classroom start-up, predicts hundreds, if not thousands, of brick-and-mortar universities will go out of business and those that remain will have student bodies composed primarily of the children of the one percent. At the same time, more people than ever will have access to a solid education, albeit one that is delivered mostly over the internet. The partnerships he envisions will make life easier for hundreds of millions of people while sapping humanity of a face-to face system of learning that has evolved over centuries. Of course, it will also make a handful of people very, very rich. It may not be long before Galloway’s predictions are put to the test…”
Axios: “The CDC finally released long-delayed reopening guidance for schools, workplaces, camps, childcare centers, mass transit, and bars and restaurants.
- The six one-page “decision tool” documents use traffic signs and other graphics to tell organizations what they should consider before reopening.
- The CDC planned a document for churches, but that wasn’t posted, AP reports. The White House raised concerns about recommended restrictions.
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