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AP – “Katie Jones sure seemed plugged into Washington’s political scene. The 30-something redhead boasted a job at a top think tank and a who’s-who network of pundits and experts, from the centrist Brookings Institution to the right-wing Heritage Foundation. She was connected to a deputy assistant secretary of state, a senior aide to a senator and the economist Paul Winfree, who is being considered for a seat on the Federal Reserve. But Katie Jones doesn’t exist, The Associated Press has determined. Instead, the persona was part of a vast army of phantom profiles lurking on the professional networking site LinkedIn. And several experts contacted by the AP said Jones’ profile picture appeared to have been created by a computer program…”
How-to-Geek: “If you’re just getting started with Google Docs, its extensive features and add-ons can be a little overwhelming. Here are some tips to help you get started with this powerful alternative to Microsoft Word. What is Google Docs? If you’ve heard of Google Docs before, feel free to skip ahead. If you’ve never heard of it before, here’s a crash course on what you need to know. We’ll go over the basics and get you brushed up with what Google Docs is and how you can get started right away. Google Docs is a free, web-based word processor offered by Google as part of its complete office suite—Google Drive—to compete with Microsoft Office. The other main services included in the cloud-based suite are Sheets (Excel) and Slides (Powerpoint)…”
American Oversight – Trump’s Tax Returns: “According to the Treasury Department, Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s refusal to comply with a House committee’s request for the president’s tax returns is based on a Justice Department legal analysis — even though the IRS issued a memorandum concluding that such documents must be produced unless there is a claim of executive privilege. We’ve asked the Justice and Treasury Departments for records of and communications about that legal analysis for the IRS memo…”
AP – Justice backs Mnuchin’s refusal to turn over Trump’s taxes: “…The 33-page opinion from the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argues that the committee’s chairman, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., wanted to make the president’s tax returns public and because of that plan, the request was not to carry out a legitimate legislative function. But Neal has said the law is clear the information must be released to Congress, the documents were sought to aid a committee investigation into whether the IRS is doing its job properly to audit a sitting president, and obtaining them would be a “necessary piece” of the committee’s work…”
iFixit: If you’re worried you’re not getting the battery life you should, the battery may just be old. Over time, batteries degrade, leading to lower and lower life after a couple years—meaning you might be able to solve your problem with an inexpensive battery replacement. Apple rates iPhone batteries at 500 charge cycles, or about a year and a half of typical use–more on that in a bit. To check your iPhone’s battery health, you can go into the settings and navigate to Battery > Battery Health. If it’s under 80% or so, it may be time to replace the battery. We wrote a detailed step-by-step guide on how to check your battery health.
While you could take your phone to Apple for a replacement, they’ll charge you at least $50. You can save money by doing it yourself, and it’s much easier than you might think. We photographed straightforward and easy-to-follow guides for every iPhone model. We also sell the parts and tools you’ll need to get the job done for much less than Apple. But you’re nervous. Opening your phone is an endeavor. I feel you! But you’re not in this alone–we’ve got your back. And literally thousands of people have come before you. We get sent success stories every week from community members who’ve replaced their iPhone battery. You got this!…”
Vox – The war to free science. “The 27,500 scientists who work for the University of California generate 10 percent of all the academic research papers published in the United States. …The University of California decided it doesn’t want scientific knowledge locked behind paywalls, and thinks the cost of academic publishing has gotten out of control. Elsevier owns around 3,000 academic journals, and its articles account for some 18 percent of all the world’s research output. “They’re a monopolist, and they act like a monopolist,” says Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, head of the campus libraries at UC Berkeley and co-chair of the team that negotiated with the publisher. Elsevier makes huge profits on its journals, generating billions of dollars a year for its parent company RELX.
This is a story about more than subscription fees. It’s about how a private industry has come to dominate the institutions of science, and how librarians, academics, and even pirates are trying to regain control. The University of California is not the only institution fighting back. “There are thousands of Davids in this story,” says University of California Davis librarian MacKenzie Smith, who, like so many other librarians around the world, has been pushing for more open access to science. “But only a few big Goliaths.”…
See also the related articles: Louisiana State Univ will terminate comprehensive subscription deal with Elsevier; UC terminates subscriptions with Elsevier in push for open access to publicly funded research; Thousands of scientists run up against Elsevier’s paywall
Teachers & Writers Magazine, Jehan Roberson, May 28, 2019: “That titular truism is one that led many of us to teach, to write, and to examine critically the power held by stewards of “things worth knowing.” At every turn we must question not only the why’s, but the how’s and the who’s. How was this information acquired, and by whom? How did you come to access it? Who gets to decide what you access, what you see and what you don’t? Whose work, whose body is on the line? These and other questions led me to the source from which so much information flows—the library. I met with cataloguer Michelle Chan and metadata librarian Alexandra Provo, colleagues of mine at New York University, where I manage the Hemispheric Digital Video Library (HIDVL). Our discussion attempted to address the above questions and more, and how they inform the obsessively granular and massively important task of cataloguing and organizing library materials. An edited version of that conversation is here…]
See also additional resources:
the Points Guy: “If you’ve checked in online for a flight or selected your seat in advance, you may have been presented with a visual seat map — either allowing you to choose which available seat you would like or showing you where on the plane you will be sitting. Some seat maps are very easy to read because all seats are either the same or very similar. While others are much more complicated because there is a huge difference between the different seats in the cabin. You may already know this, but before we get into the complex seat maps, here are some basics…” [Note – a must read guide to choosing your seating location on a wide variety of carriers.]
Daxton R. Stewart, Killer Apps: Vanishing Messages, Encrypted Communications, and Challenges to Freedom of Information Laws When Public Officials “Go Dark”, 10 Case W. Res. J.L. Tech. & Internet  (first article) (2019)
“Government officials such as White House staffers and the Missouri governor have been communicating among themselves and leaking to journalists using apps such as Signal and Confide, which allow users to encrypt messages or to make them vanish after they are received. By using these apps, government officials are “going dark” by avoiding detection of their communications in a way that undercuts freedom of information laws. This article explores the challenges presented by government employee use of encrypted and ephemeral messaging apps by examining three policy approaches: (1) banning use of the apps, (2) enhancing existing archiving and record-keeping practices, or (3) legislatively expanding quasi-government body definitions. Each of these approaches will be analyzed as potential ways to manage the threat presented by “killer apps” to open records laws.”
Washington Post: Children’s bicycle manufactures and retailers are bracing for rough times ahead as market research shows fewer kids are riding bikes, while prices for cycling equipment are almost certain to increase because of the Trump Administration’s tariffs on Chinese-made goods. The number of children ages 6 to 17 who rode bicycles regularly — more than 25 times a year — decreased by more than a million from 2014 to 2018, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. That includes both casual rides around the neighborhood and more serious cycling for fitness or competition. And from 2018 to 2019, children’s bicycle sales decreased 7 percent in dollars and 7.5 percent in bikes sold, a drop serious enough that retailers have already goosed prices to make up for lower demand, according to market research firm NPD Group. It’s all caused the American bicycling industry — worth $5.6 billion, according to the National Bicycle Dealers Association — to hunker down in preparation for things to get worse.
The Trump Administration has imposed a 25 percent tariff on $250 billion of Chinese goods, and has threatened to more than double the duties. Those tariffs impact almost every component that goes into a bicycle, from metal frames to fabric seats, plus entire bikes shipped to the U.S. after being assembled in China. Retailers largely pass those costs off to consumers, said Brian Nagel, managing director and research analyst at investment bank Oppenheimer. That could substantially raise the prices of items on the shelves, including bicycle accessories such as helmets, lights and gloves…
The Intercept: “In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat before members of both houses of Congress and told them his company respected the privacy of the roughly two billion people who use it. “Privacy” remained largely undefined throughout Zuckerberg’s televised flagellations, but he mentioned the concept more than two dozen times, including when he told the Senate’s Judiciary and Commerce committees, “We have a broader responsibility to protect people’s privacy even beyond” a consent decree from federal privacy regulators, and when he told the House Energy and Commerce Committee, “We believe that everyone around the world deserves good privacy controls.” A year later, Zuckerberg claimed in interviews and essays to have discovered the religion of personal privacy and vowed to rebuild the company in its image.
But only months after Zuckerberg first outlined his “privacy-focused vision for social networking” in a 3,000-word post on the social network he founded, his lawyers were explaining to a California judge that privacy on Facebook is nonexistent. The courtroom debate, first reported by Law360, took place as Facebook tried to scuttle litigation from users upset that their personal data was shared without their knowledge with the consultancy Cambridge Analytica and later with advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign. The full transcript of the proceedings — which has been quoted from only briefly — reveal one of the most stunning examples of corporate doublespeak certainly in Facebook’s history.”..
Alex Howell [includes video of the forum]: “On June 7, the Transparency Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives hosted a remarkable forum inside of the United States Capitol that featured ten presentations from government officials and members of civil society on innovative tools and technologies. Following is a run down of who spoke and the services, tools and projects they shared:
- Oversight.gov, with Michael Horowitz, Inspector General, Department of Justice
- EveryCRSReport.com, with Daniel Schuman, Demand Progress Education Fund
- Congress.gov, with Andrew Weber, Library of Congress
- PopVox.com, with Marci Harris, POPVOX
- ClerkPreview.House.gov, with Veneice Smith, Clerk, House of Representatives
- CourtListener.com, with Steve Schultze
- GovTrack.us, with Ben Hammer, GovTrack
- Represent, with Derek Willis, ProPublica
- OpenSecrets.org, with Sheila Krumholz, Center for Responsive Politics
- Dome Watch, with Steve Dwyer, Majority Leader Hoye.”
Journalist’s Resources: “Many Americans are turning to the internet with their health questions. And their use of the internet to seek answers isn’t limited to search engines and established health resources. Researchers at Microsoft analyzed survey and search data to find that “a surprising amount of sensitive health information is also sought and shared via social media.”
While social media helps connect people with similar experiences, it also carries significant pitfalls. In an op-ed published in Nature, Heidi Larson, an anthropologist and director of the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, writes: “The deluge of conflicting information, misinformation and manipulated information on social media should be recognized as a global public-health threat.”
Is it possible to stem the tide of misinformation online? If it is, what are the most effective ways to do so? We turned to a source of high-quality information – peer-reviewed academic research – to look for answers. Below we’ve summarized seven recent academic studies on the efficacy of interventions used to correct health misinformation. It’s worth noting that the first three studies included in this roundup focus on a small group of students from one university. Additionally, all of these studies are behavioral experiments, which tend to have relatively small sample sizes, and are intended to complement other forms of research…”
NiemanLab: “Should journalists learn to code?” is an old question that has always had only unsatisfying answers. (That was true even back before it became a useful heuristic for identifying Twitter jackasses.) Some should! Some shouldn’t! Helpful, right? One way the question gets derailed involves what, exactly, the question-asker means by “code.” It’s unlikely a city hall reporter will ever have occasion to build an iPhone app in Swift, or construct a machine learning model on deadline. But there is definitely a more basic and straightforward set of technical skills — around data analysis — that can be of use to nearly anyone in a newsroom. It ain’t coding, but it’s also not a skillset every reporter has. The New York Times wants more of its journalists to have those basic data skills, and now it’s releasing the curriculum they’ve built in-house out into the world, where it can be of use to reporters, newsrooms, and lots of other people too…”
“It used to be that surveillance cameras were passive. Maybe they just recorded, and no one looked at the video unless they needed to. Maybe a bored guard watched a dozen different screens, scanning for something interesting. In either case, the video was only stored for a few days because storage was expensive. Increasingly, none of that is true. Recent developments in video analytics—fueled by artificial intelligence techniques like machine learning—enable computers to watch and understand surveillance videos with human-like discernment. Identification technologies make it easier to automatically figure out who is in the videos. And finally, the cameras themselves have become cheaper, more ubiquitous, and much better; cameras mounted on drones can effectively watch an entire city. Computers can watch all the video without human issues like distraction, fatigue, training, or needing to be paid. The result is a level of surveillance that was impossible just a few years ago…”
Washington Post – The new plan to remove a trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere: Bury it – “It sounds like an idea plucked from science fiction, but the reality is that trees and plants already do it. Last month, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere surpassed 415 parts per million, the highest in human history. Environmental experts say the world is increasingly on a path toward a climate crisis. The most prominent efforts to prevent that crisis involve reducing carbon emissions. But another idea is also starting to gain traction — sucking all that carbon out of the atmosphere and storing it underground. It sounds like an idea plucked from science fiction, but the reality is that trees and plants already do it, breathing carbon dioxide and then depositing it via roots and decay into the soil. That’s why consumers and companies often “offset” their carbon emissions by planting carbon-sucking trees elsewhere in the world. But an upstart company, Boston-based Indigo AG, now wants to transform farming practices so that agriculture becomes quite the opposite of what it is today — a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.
By promoting techniques that increase the potential of agricultural land to suck in carbon, the backers of Indigo AG believe they can set the foundation for a major effort to stem climate change. On Wednesday, the company announced a new initiative with the ambitious goal of removing 1 trillion tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by paying farmers to modify their practices. Called the Terraton Initiative (a “teraton” is a trillion tons), the company forecasts that the initiative will sign up 3,000 farmers globally with more than 1 million acres in 2019…”
“About Semantic Sanity – Semantic Sanity provides an adaptive ArXiv feed tailored to your research interests. This feed uses an AI model that recommends the latest papers across all ArXiv categories in Computer Science to help you stay up to date. Our AI model learns from you – when you indicate whether or not a paper is relevant, your feed will improve. It only takes a few clicks to see the most relevant research.
More Features & Benefits
- Open access preprints from all ArXiv categories in Computer Science.
- Refine feeds using categories and keywords.
- Save feeds and papers to read later.
- Create multiple feeds to track diverse research interests…”
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Calls for Limiting Collateral Consequences for People With Criminal Records
“More than 44,000 collateral consequences exist nationwide that continue to punish people with felony records long after the completion of their sentence. Today the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is releasing Collateral Consequences: The Crossroads of Punishment, Redemption and the Effects on Communities, a report highlighting the relevant data and arguments for and against the imposition of collateral consequences on people with felony convictions. The report finds that many collateral consequences are unrelated either to the underlying crime or to a public safety purpose. In these circumstances, the imposition of collateral consequences “negatively affects public safety and the public good.” The Commission’s research and analysis was based in part by expert and public input, including testimony by The Sentencing Project’s Marc Mauer on the negative impacts of felony disenfranchisement laws. The report offers actionable recommendations to the President, Congress, and numerous federal agencies. The Commission’s recommendations include:
- Avoiding punitive mandatory consequences that do not serve public safety, bear no rational relationship to the offense committed, and impede people convicted of crimes from safely reentering society
- Eliminating restrictions on welfare benefits and food stamps based on felony drug convictions
- Limiting discretion of public housing providers to bar people with criminal convictions from accessing public housing
- Lifting restrictions on access to student loans based on criminal convictions and removing the federal ban on Pell Grants to fund in-prison college programs
- Encouraging states to restore voting rights to people upon completion of their prison sentence…”
Forrester – “Small Gains To CX Quality Emerged Amidst Broad Stagnation – Forrester’s 2019 US Customer Experience Index (CX Index) reveals that the overall quality of the US customer experience rose by an anemic 0.4 points, to 70.2. The report is based on Forrester’s CX Index methodology, which measures how well a brand’s CX strengthens the loyalty of its customers. In this year’s report, we reveal the complete numerical scores of all 260 brands across 16 industries, based on a survey of 101,341 US adult customers.
- Some scores at the brand level inched upward. Although 14% of brand scores rose, 5% of scores declined and a whopping 81% stagnated. Of the brands that posted statistically significant score changes, the size of the gains and losses were about the same — a modest 3 points…”
Federal Agencies Rank Dead Last in Forrester Customer Experience Index – “..As they have in the past, federal agencies measured in the index comprised several of the worst overall brand scores, with USAJobs.Gov—the federal government’s jobs portal—scoring an index-worst 46.5. Other poor scorers falling in the lowest scoring metric—“very poor,” or scores lower than 55—include Healthcare.Gov, the IRS and Education Department…”
LawFare: “The House of Representatives adopted a resolution on June 11 authorizing Rep. Jerrold Nadler, chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary, to go to court to pursue civil enforcement of subpoenas issued to Attorney General William Barr and former White House Counsel Don McGahn. Importantly, however, the measure also makes changes that will increase the power of House committees to pursue enforcement of additional subpoenas.
At present, House Democrats have chosen not to open a formal impeachment inquiry against President Trump. But other efforts to investigate potential misconduct by the executive branch and to check the president’s use of executive authority are proceeding on several fronts. In a number of cases—such as the attempts to obtain Trump’s personal financial records and to limit the administration’s ability to spend money on a border wall—this work has involved going to court. The resolution regarding subpoena power sets up the potential for another round of lawsuits…”
CRS Legal Sidebar via LC – Regulating Big Tech: Legal Implications. June 11, 2019. “Amidst growing debate over the legal framework governing social media sites and other technology companies, several Members of Congress have expressed interest in expanding current regulations of the major American technology companies, often referred to as “Big Tech.” This Legal Sidebar provides a high-level overview of the current regulatory framework governing Big Tech, several proposed changes to that framework, and the legal issues those proposals may implicate. The Sidebar also contains a list of additional resources that may be helpful for a more detailed evaluation of any given regulatory proposal…”