Blog Rolls

Manafort Seeks Leniency In Sentencing

Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort pleaded guilty last year to conspiracy against the United States. His lawyers are arguing that at his age, a long imprisonment would amount to a 'life sentence.'

(Image credit: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

HTC Exodus 1 Review: Blockchain Dreams

Wired Top Stories - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 03:01
A smartphone that doubles as a crypto wallet, the Exodus makes for a solid device—as long as you level your expectations.
Categories: Just News

Australian Cardinal George Pell Convicted Of Child Sex Abuse

Once a top advisor to Pope Francis, Pell's conviction had been under seal in Australia pending a separate trial on other abuse charges. There will be no second trial, so the gag order has been lifted.

(Image credit: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Categories: Just News

Elon Musk’s Latest Tweets Could Land Him in Contempt of Court

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 22:46
The SEC has asked a judge to hold the Tesla CEO in contempt of court, but even that didn't stop Musk's tweeting.
Categories: Just News

Is There An Annotated European Union Code?

DipLawMatics Dialogue, Is There An Annotated European Union Code? “I have an EU directive, and I need to find some cases that interpret it.” First, having just taught a class on U.S. statutory legal research, I’m thrilled that a student thought to use an annotated code to find cases interpreting legislation. There isn’t a European Union code, not exactly. But the European Union does have a classification system for its law, and there are sources for finding cases on a particular EU directive, from the European Court of Justice and from national courts. The student was looking for cases on Directive 98/44/EC on patents for biotechnological inventions. Although European Union law isn’t codified, the closest thing to a codification would be the Directory of Legal Acts on EUR-Lex. It arranges EU legislation in force by subject and includes consolidated acts incorporating amendments. Directive 98/44/EC is classified with Intellectual Property legislation at 17.20, but with a general heading at 17 of “Law relating to Undertakings,” I’m not sure I would have found it without already having found the Directory Classification. There is also the EuroVoc thesaurus for browsing legislation (and caselaw) by subject. Either the thesaurus terms or the Directory codes can be used in the EUR-Lex Advanced Search, along with text and other criteria (including type of legislation). In this case, a text search for “biotechnology AND patents” worked just as well…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Drafting Only Men for the Military Is Unconstitutional, Judge Rules

The New York Times: “A military draft that applies only to men is unconstitutional, a federal judge in Houston has ruled, saying that excluding women is no longer justified because they can now serve in combat roles just as men do. Judge Gray H. Miller of Federal District Court in the Southern District of Texas took note of the Supreme Court’s 1981 ruling that the exclusion of women from the draft was “fully justified” because women then were not allowed to serve in combat. But the Pentagon abolished those restrictions in 2015, opening the way for women to serve in any military role for which they could qualify. “While historical restrictions on women in the military may have justified past discrimination, men and women are now ‘similarly situated for purposes of a draft or registration for a draft,’” Judge Miller wrote in his ruling. “If there ever was a time to discuss ‘the place of women in the Armed Services,’ that time has passed.” Though no one has been conscripted into the United States military in more than 40 years, the Military Selective Service Act requires all American men to register when they turn 18, in case a draft is reinstated; they remain eligible through age 25. Men who do not register can be fined, imprisoned and denied services like federal student loans.The ruling came in a case brought by the National Coalition for Men, a men’s rights group, which argued that drafting men exclusively violates the 14th Amendment’s equal-protection clause…”

Categories: Law and Legal

SEC Says Tesla Chief Elon Musk's Tweets Violated Court Settlement

Musk is required to get his statements about Tesla approved by company officials before he publishes. A recent tweet misstated the company's production rate.

(Image credit: Robyn Beck/AP)

Categories: Just News

Microsoft CEO Defends Army Contract for Augmented Reality

Wired Top Stories - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 20:43
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella rebuffed a call from employees to terminate a contract making HoloLens augmented reality headsets for the US Army.
Categories: Just News

Univision Journalist Jorge Ramos Free After Being Reported Detained In Venezuela

The TV network says Ramos has been released. Earlier it said Ramos and his crew were detained while interviewing President Nicolás Maduro. The State Department called for them to be let go.

(Image credit: Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Categories: Just News

Bike Commuters Are Dying in Record Numbers

Outside: “According to a report from the League of American Bicyclists released last month, 2016 went down in the record books as the deadliest year for U.S. cyclists since 1991. The report cites data from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which recorded 840 cycling fatalities in 2016—the first time the annual death toll has crept above the 1991 figure of 836. That the United States has a problem keeping its cyclists safe is no surprise. A broader look at federal data reveals that the number of cyclists who die each year has hovered between 600 and 800 for the past several decades, with an average of 800 per year from 2006 to 2016. (The league’s report didn’t include data from 2017, when deaths dropped incrementally to 783.) Across the country, mayors of big cities have declared ambitious efforts to put an end to biker and pedestrian deaths. Vision Zero initiatives have popped up in places like New York, Denver, Austin, and Los Angeles, and with them have come new bike lanes, bike-friendly road designs, increased signage, and other attempts to make roads safer for cyclists. Clearly, though, it’s not enough to put a dent in the death tolls. As we reported last year, three years into its Vision Zero plan, Los Angeles saw a 5 percent increase in the number of cyclist and pedestrian deaths. Then there are the 840 people killed nationwide in 2016…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers Pulls National Guard From Border, Says 'No Justification'

"There is simply not ample evidence to support the president's contention of a national security crisis at our southwestern border," Evers said after issuing the order Monday.

(Image credit: Jose Luis Magana/AP)

Categories: Just News

Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law Updated

Via FAS – Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law Updated, February 11, 2019.

“The mail and wire fraud statutes are exceptionally broad. Their scope has occasionally given the courts pause. Nevertheless, prosecutions in their name have brought to an end schemes that have bilked victims out of millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars. The statutes proscribe (1) causing the use of the mail or wire communications, including email; (2) in conjunction with a scheme to intentionally defraud another of money or property; (3) by means of a material deception. The offenses, along with attempts or conspiracies to commit them, carry a term of imprisonment of up to 30 years in some cases, followed by a term of supervised release. Offenders also face the prospect of fines, orders to make restitution, and forfeiture of their property. The mail and wire fraud statutes overlap with a surprising number of other federal criminal statutes. Conduct that supports a prosecution under the mail or wire fraud statutes will often support prosecution under one or more other criminal provision(s). These companion offenses include (1) those that use mail or wire fraud as an element of a separate offense, like racketeering or money laundering; (2) those that condemn fraud on some jurisdictional basis other than use of the mail or wire communications, like those that outlaw defrauding the federal government or federally insured banks; and (3) those that proscribe other deprivations of honest services (i.e., bribery and kickbacks), like the statutes that ban bribery of federal officials or in connection with federal programs. Among the crimes for which mail or wire fraud may serve as an element, RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) outlaws employing the patterned commission of predicate offenses to conduct the affairs of an enterprise that impacts commerce. Money laundering consists of transactions involving the proceeds of a predicate offense in order to launder them or to promote further predicate offenses…”

Categories: Law and Legal

CRS – U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress

Via FAS – U.S. Role in the World: Background and Issues for Congress, Updated February 14, 2019. – “…The overall issue for Congress is how to respond to recent developments regarding the U.S. role in the world. Potential key issues for Congress include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

  • Is the U.S. role changing, and if so, in what ways?
  • Should the U.S. role change?
  • Is a change of some kind in the U.S. role unavoidable?
  • How are other countries responding to a possibly changed U.S. role?
  • Is a changed U.S. role affecting world order?
  • What implications might a changed U.S. role in the world have for Congress’s role relative to that of the executive branch in U.S. foreign policymaking?
  • How might the operation of democracy in the United States affect the U.S. role in the world, particularly in terms of defending and promoting democracy and criticizing and resisting authoritarian and illiberal forms of government?
  • Would a change in the U.S. role be reversible, and if so, to what degree? Congress’s decisions on this issue could have significant implications for numerous policies, plans, programs, and budgets, and for the role of Congress relative to that of the executive branch in U.S. foreign policymaking..”
Categories: Law and Legal

CRS Social Security Primer

Via FAS – Social Security Primer Updated, February 7, 2019

“Social Security provides monthly cash benefits to retired or disabled workers and their family members, and to the family members of deceased workers. Among the beneficiary population, almost 83% are retired or disabled workers; family members of retired, disabled, or deceased workers make up the remainder. In December 2018, approximately 62.9 million beneficiaries received a total of $84.4 billion in benefit payments for the month; the average monthly benefit was $1,342. Workers become eligible for Social Security benefits for themselves and their family members by working in Social Security-covered employment. An estimated 94% of workers in paid employment or self-employment are covered, and their earnings are subject to the Social Security payroll tax. Employers and employees each pay 6.2% of covered earnings, up to an annual limit on taxable earnings ($132,900 in 2019)…”

Categories: Law and Legal

The first library on another celestial body

Arch Mission Foundation: “The Lunar Library represents the first in a series of lunar archives from the Arch Mission Foundation, designed to preserve the records of our civilization for up to billions of years. It is installed in the SpaceIL “Beresheet” lunar lander, scheduled to land on the Moon in April of 2019. The Lunar Library contains a 30 million page archive of human history and civilization, covering all subjects, cultures, nations, languages, genres, and time periods. The Library is housed within a 100 gram nanotechnology device that resembles a 120mm DVD. However it is actually composed of 25 nickel discs, each only 40 microns thick, that were made for the Arch Mission Foundation by NanoArchival. The first four layers contain more than 60,000 analog images of pages of books, photographs, illustrations, and documents – etched as 150 to 200 dpi, at increasing levels of magnification, by optical nanolithography. The first analog layer is the Front Cover and is visible to the naked eye. It contains 1500 pages of text and images, as well as holographic diffractive logos and text, and can be easily read with a 100X magnification optical microscope, or even a lower power magnifying glass…”

Categories: Law and Legal

2020 Census Preparations Were Slowed By The Partial Government Shutdown

The recent partial government shutdown delayed preparations for the 2020 head count, including for a field test of the controversial citizenship question, internal Census Bureau documents suggest.

(Image credit: Claire Harbage/NPR)

Categories: Just News

How important is your privacy?

Axios: “…A full 81% of consumers say that in the past year they’ve become more concerned with how companies are using their data, and 87% say they’ve come to believe companies that manage personal data should be more regulated, according to a survey out Monday by IBM’s Institute for Business Value. Yes, but: They aren’t totally convinced they should care about how their data is being used, and many aren’t taking meaningful action after privacy breaches, according to the survey. Despite increasing data risks, 71% say it’s worth sacrificing privacy given the benefits of technology…”

Categories: Law and Legal

Researchers break digital signatures for most desktop PDF viewers

ZDNet: “A team of academics from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany say they’ve managed to break the digital signing system and create fake signatures on 21 of 22 desktop PDF viewer apps and five out of seven online PDF digital signing services. This includes apps such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, Foxit Reader, and LibreOffice, and online services like DocuSign and Evotrust –just to name the most recognizable names. The five-person research team has been working since early October 2018 together with experts from Germany’s Computer Emergency Response Team (BSI-CERT) to notify impacted services. The team went public with their findings over the weekend after all affected app makers and commercial companies finished patching their products. The reason why researchers were willing to wait months so all products would receive fixes is because of the importance of PDF digital signatures.

Digitally signed PDF documents are admissible in court, can be used as legally-binding contracts, can be used to approve financial transactions, can be used for tax filing purposes, and can be used to relay government-approved press releases and announcements. Having the ability to fake a digital signature on an official PDF document can help threat actors steal large amounts of money or cause chaos inside private companies and public institutions…”

Categories: Law and Legal

A true story about smartphone addiction

The New York Times – Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain – “And if you’re anything like me — and the statistics suggest you probably are, at least where smartphones are concerned — you have one, too. I don’t love referring to what we have as an “addiction.” That seems too sterile and clinical to describe what’s happening to our brains in the smartphone era. Unlike alcohol or opioids, phones aren’t an addictive substance so much as a species-level environmental shock. We might someday evolve the correct biological hardware to live in harmony with portable supercomputers that satisfy our every need and connect us to infinite amounts of stimulation. But for most of us, it hasn’t happened yet. I’ve been a heavy phone user for my entire adult life. But sometime last year, I crossed the invisible line into problem territory. My symptoms were all the typical ones: I found myself incapable of reading books, watching full-length movies or having long uninterrupted conversations. Social media made me angry and anxious, and even the digital spaces I once found soothing (group texts, podcasts, YouTube k-holes) weren’t helping. I tried various tricks to curb my usage, like deleting Twitter every weekend, turning my screen grayscale and installing app-blockers. But I always relapsed. Eventually, in late December, I decided that enough was enough. I called Catherine Price, a science journalist and the author of “How to Break Up With Your Phone,” a 30-day guide to eliminating bad phone habits. And I begged her for help…”

Categories: Law and Legal

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