Research

Will Trump’s Veterans Affairs Exec Order Make a Difference to Whistleblowers?

Project On Government Oversight - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 14:26
President Trump is establishing another office at the VA focused on accountability and whistleblowers. Will it solve problems or create new ones?
Categories: Research

'World's Most Secure' Email Service Is Easily Hackable

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 14:00
Nomx, a startup that offers an email client by the same name, bills itself as the maker of the "world's most secure email service." The startup goes on to suggest that "everything else is insecure." So it was only a matter of time before someone decided to spend some time on assessing how valid Nomx's claims are. Very misleading, it turns out. From a report on Motherboard: Nomx sells a $199 device that essentially helps you set up your own email server in an attempt to keep your emails away from mail exchange (or MX) -- hence the brand name -- servers, which the company claims to be inherently "vulnerable." Security researcher Scott Helme took apart the device and tried to figure out how it really works. According to his detailed blog post, what he found is that the box is actually just a Raspberry Pi with outdated software on it, and several bugs. So many, in fact, that Helme wrote Nomx's "code is riddled with bad examples of how to do things." The worst issue, Helme explained, is that the Nomx's web application had a vulnerability that allowed anyone to take full control of the device remotely just by tricking someone to visit a malicious website. "I could read emails, send emails, and delete emails. I could even create my own email address," Helme told Motherboard in an online chat. A report on BBC adds: Nomx said the threat posed by the attack detailed by Mr Helme was "non-existent for our users." Following weeks of correspondence with Mr Helme and the BBC Click Team, he said the firm no longer shipped versions that used the Raspberry Pi. Instead, he said, future devices would be built around different chips that would also be able to encrypt messages as they travelled. "The large cloud providers and email providers, like AOL, Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail - they've already been proven that they are under attack millions of times daily," he said. "Why we invented Nomx was for the security of keeping your data off those large cloud providers. To date, no Nomx accounts have been compromised."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Moral Restriction and Evolution

Rockwood Leadership - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:00

I’m noticing a strong pattern, particularly among those of us on the left of things, to narrow the limits of who we deem acceptable when times get tough. The political landscape has been bleak lately, and I’ve both seen and personally experienced a lot of reactivity born of fear. I’ve watched our tendencies to circle in and draw lines of safety based on whose political analysis aligns with ours, and rejecting those whose doesn’t. I understand this as a way of feeling connected, but we can no longer afford to reinforce our belonging by shaming and othering; the cost is much too high. There is a lot of “us vs. them” going on, and I know that the only way forward is to expand the “us” so that eventually there is no “them.”

I’m not judging myself or any of us for this pattern, but it certainly won’t get us what so many of us are working toward: a world filled with clean air, water, economic and social security, and a welcoming for every being. In order to move forward, we need to bravely work toward expanding “us,” which can be difficult to do in such bifurcated times. It is so easy to slip into the pattern of delineating the “right” people from the “wrong” ones.

The US Constitution is predicated on “we the people,” and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins with an acknowledgement that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world.” Neither of these documents say “some people,” they say all people. These documents offer us exquisite foundations upon which to anchor our social movements, and although they have often been perverted, their inherent worth remains.

If we are to create a perfect union, then it is time for us to act accordingly. Not in a few years when the context has changed, but now. In this moment. Today. The polar bears, forests, and watersheds cannot wait as we pickily choose who we will call kin. This restricting and rejecting is almost always done on moral grounds, and “we” are as guilty of it as “they” are.

Let’s interrupt this pattern and start again. Let us take a breath…

In a recent chat with some brilliant young staff members, one of them offered the term “transformational unity”. She spoke of the many leaders in social movements who are working to create relationships that transform and allow for possibilities not yet imagined. I believe that this longing for authentic relationship exists in each human heart, and each of us has the capacity to reach for it in every moment. I’m committed to remembering this.

This reach toward authentic relationship, toward wholeness, is often interrupted by what we’ve learned about each other from our families and society at large. I know what I’ve been taught about the x, y, and z communities, and my interactions with them are colored (or, more often, corrupted) by that toxic load of lies and misinformation. It is our responsibility as leaders to baldly look at what we each carry, and steadily work to clear away that internal rubbish. If we are unwilling to do this, our attempts to reach across divides and create reliable relationships is a farce: a politically correct masquerade that gets us, frankly, nowhere.

The gap between where we currently are and where we aspire to be is where transformation lies. Crossing that gap requires a leap of faith. Being willing to leap – to authentically do the hard and excruciating work of letting go of who we think “we” are, and reaching toward a space with no “they” – puts us in the realm of social transformation. Carrying kindness and compassion in our backpacks can help.

We are almost there. The days of patriarchy and oppression are swiftly drawing to a close. It’s like the ocean: waves are big and fierce right before they break on the shore, and fresh waves are right behind them. It is important that we keep our eyes and hearts on what is coming in because it is precious and deserves careful tending. We must also keep an eye on what is going out; it can be dangerous and merits tending as well.

How we transform is key to what we become. I invite us to relinquish old patterns of “either/or” and embrace the whole, which will be messy and chaotic, but ultimately deeply satisfying. I trust us, and know that we can do this. It’s the best and only thing to do.

My heart to yours,

Akaya
March 2017

Categories: Research

Hackers Exploited Word Flaw For Months While Microsoft Investigated

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 12:00
An anonymous reader writes: To understand why it is so difficult to defend computers from even moderately capable hackers, consider the case of the security flaw officially known as CVE-2017-0199. The bug was unusually dangerous but of a common genre: it was in Microsoft software, could allow a hacker to seize control of a personal computer with little trace, and was fixed April 11 in Microsoft's regular monthly security update. But it had traveled a rocky, nine-month journey from discovery to resolution, which cyber security experts say is an unusually long time. Google's security researchers, for example, give vendors just 90 days' warning before publishing flaws they find. Microsoft declined to say how long it usually takes to patch a flaw. While Microsoft investigated, hackers found the flaw and manipulated the software to spy on unknown Russian speakers, possibly in Ukraine. And a group of thieves used it to bolster their efforts to steal from millions of online bank accounts in Australia and other countries.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Asterisk Watch

SCOTUS Blog - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 11:59

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists.

So in the April 7 edition, we trumpeted that that the newly installed Justice Neil Gorsuch would surely participate in his first conference on April 13. Wrong! As indicated in a footnote in the next order list, the new junior justice sat that conference out (as it turns out, getting ready for the April sitting). So of course we confidently predicted in the April 21 edition that Gorsuch was no doubt going to be in full-on note-taking mode at that day’s conference. Less Wrong. When the order list came out the following Monday, there were no asterisks announcing he hadn’t participated in considering the cases as a general matter. But the order list stated repeatedly, for applications, petitions, rehearing petitions, mandamus petitions and habeas corpus petitions, that “Justice Gorsuch took no part in the consideration or decision of this [matter].” If you counted everything up, the only matters Gorsuch discussed with his colleagues at that conference were five cert petitions (including one serial relist that was denied without comment, one serial relist that occasioned two opinions and one capital case that drew a dissent from Justice Stephen Breyer); two rehearing petitions in capital cases that previously were serial relists; and, most unusual of all, a decision granting a movant’s request to “proceed as a veteran” and thus pay no filing fees under Supreme Court Rule 40.

So why should you care about any of that? You shouldn’t. You should be out frolicking in the spring weather, or enjoying the monuments or doing something normal people do. But you’re not. You’re reading a Supreme Court blog. Reflect on your poor life choices for a moment.

But anyway, I’m not suggesting that Gorsuch is a slouch or something. Far from it. The point is that the “shadow” that is left over after we remove all the cases Gorsuch didn’t participate in gives us the rare opportunity to observe the inner workings of the court. My best guess is that we’re seeing the “discuss list” in action. The justices can’t possibly discuss each of the filings they receive (around 8,000 cert petitions per year, to say nothing of habeas and rehearing petitions and various applications). So through the cert pool and other mechanisms, the justices identify a subset of cases that they need to discuss at their regular private conferences, known as the “discuss list.” Any justice can put a case on the discuss list. The cases that are not selected for discussion are presumptively denied, and thus included on the “dead list.” (It’s all explained in great detail at the last hyperlink.) So the likeliest explanation seems to be that most of the cases for the last conference were “deadlisted” through the cert pool and the court’s other regular mechanisms before Gorsuch began participating in the cert process, and he got up to speed on, and discussed, only the matters that were placed on the discuss list for that conference. It’s rare that people are able to lay their hands on copies of past discuss lists, which are not public documents. So it’s significant (if I’m right) to see one in real time. I’m rarely earnest (or even non-idiotic) in this feature, but let me say in all sincerity: This is kind of neat.

OK. The moment of sober reflection has passed. Let’s talk about the cases that the court is apparently going to talk about at Friday’s conference.

To begin with, with the exception of the denials noted above, all of our (many) relists are back again this week. Including, let me hasten to add, the group of tax retroactivity cases. Thank you, tax bar, for the many polite notes I received from you informing me of how truly exciting those cases really are. Sincere apologies if I killed your vibe by calling the cases “dull but important,” but I’ve been a lawyer for 23 years, and I thought that was a compliment.

In addition, this week, the knot of relisted cellphone-data cases we identified last week grew by one, with the addition of Rios v. United States, 16-7314. The case adds what I believe is a new wrinkle to the group, in that it is the first to involve “real-time” cellular-phone location data, rather than historical data. But I suspect that even if a grant is in the offing, this case won’t be the vehicle, at least not yet: The respondent (the United States) waived its right to file a brief in opposition, and the court doesn’t ordinarily grant without at least calling for a response.

That brings us to our other new relist for the week: Patchak v. Zinke, 16-498. That case involves a follow-on to the spellcheck-challenging case Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, which held that the government had waived sovereign immunity so that a suit challenging the Department of the Interior’s action taking a certain plot of land into trust for an Indian tribe could proceed. While summary judgment briefing was underway, Congress enacted a statute that (according to the solicitor general) reaffirmed the trust status of the land, ratified the secretary’s decision to take the land into trust, and (according to the petitioner) did not otherwise amend the underlying substantive or procedural laws. What is undisputed is that the statute directed that any pending or future case “relating to” the property in question “shall be promptly dismissed.” Cases involving so-called “jurisdiction-stripping” statutes are undoubtedly interesting – not Multistate Tax Compact interesting (what is?), but good anyway.

Anyway, the questions presented are (1) whether a statute directing the federal courts to “promptly dismiss[]” a pending lawsuit following substantive determinations by the courts (including the Supreme Court’s determination that the “suit may proceed”) – without amending the underlying substantive or procedural laws – violates the Constitution’s separation of powers principles; and (2) whether a statute that does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Surely, Gorsuch is “all-in” for this week’s conference. Tune in next time as I ask, “how wrong can I be before I am right?”

Thanks to Bryan U. Gividen for compiling the cases in this post.

============================================================

Returning Relists

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, 16-111

Issue: Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clause of the First Amendment.

(relisted after the February 24, March 3, March March 17, March 24, March 31, April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Dot Foods, Inc. v. Department of Revenue for the State of Washington, 16-308

Issue: Whether, or under what circumstances, imposing additional tax beyond the year preceding the legislative session in which the law was enacted violates due process.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas v. Robert R. McCormick Foundation, 16-317

Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit correctly held—contrary to several other courts of appeals — that the presumption against federal preemption of state law does not apply in the bankruptcy context; (2) whether the 2nd Circuit correctly held — following the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 3rd, 6th, and 8th Circuits, but contrary to the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 7th and 11th Circuits — that a fraudulent transfer is exempt from avoidance under 11 U.S.C. § 546(e) when a financial institution acts as a mere conduit for fraudulently transferred property, or whether instead the safe harbor applies only when the financial institution has its own beneficial interest in the transferred property; and (3) whether the 2nd Circuit correctly held — contrary to this court’s decisions holding that it is for Congress, and not the courts, to balance the multiple purposes of the Bankruptcy Code, and that courts must therefore rely first and foremost on the text of the code—that 11 U.S.C. § 546(e) is properly construed to extend far beyond its text and impliedly pre-empt fraudulent-transfer actions brought by private parties (as opposed to the “trustee” expressly mentioned in the statute).

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Carpenter v. United States, 16-402

Issue: Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cell phone records revealing the location and movements of a cell phone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Sonoco Products Co. v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-687

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states and requires them to allow taxpayers to elect to use the compact’s equally weighted apportionment formula until the state prospectively withdraws from the compact; (2) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the contracts clause; (3) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the due process clause; and (4) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the commerce clause.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-688

Issues: (1) Whether a state statute that retroactively imposes over $1 billion in increased tax liability on out-of-state businesses for the benefit of in-state businesses violates the dormant commerce clause; (2) whether a state tax law that has a 6 1/2-year period of retroactivity and targets out-of-state businesses for increased tax liability of over $1 billion violates the due process clause; and (3) whether a state’s retroactive repeal of a central provision of the decades-old Multistate Tax Compact violates the contracts clause by imposing over $1 billion in retroactive tax liability on out-of-state taxpayers.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Gillette Commercial Operations North America & Subsidiaries v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-697

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

International Business Machines Corp. v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-698

Issues: (1) Whether a state, without violating the constitutional bar against the impairment of contracts, can retroactively withdraw from the Multistate Tax Compact so as to divest taxpayers of benefits under that compact for a period of 6 1/2 years before that withdrawal; and (2) whether, consistent with due process, a state can, by statute, change its tax laws retroactively for a period of more than six years, when the change was not promptly instituted and when the change was designed to increase state tax revenues by overriding a Michigan Supreme Court decision determining taxpayer obligations under prior law.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-699

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC v. Michigan Department of Treasury, 16-736

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc., 16-784

Issue: Whether the safe harbor of Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits avoidance of a transfer made by or to a financial institution, without regard to whether the institution has a beneficial interest in the property transferred, consistent with decisions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th Circuits, but contrary to the decisions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 7th and 11th Circuits.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, 16-833

Issues: (1) Whether a federal court has the authority to reimpose, under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the same “anti-retrogression” preclearance standard invalidated as to Section 5 by Shelby County v. Holder; (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit erred in holding that, although the challenged reforms did not adversely affect minority voting, the North Carolina legislature nonetheless intended to deny African Americans the right to vote; and (3) whether statistical racial disparities in the use of voting mechanisms or procedures are relevant to a vote denial claim under Section 2.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Graham v. United States, 16-6308

Issues: (1) Whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time; and (2) whether 18 U.S.C. § 2703, which contains both a provision that requires the government to seek a warrant in order to obtain stored location information from cellular service providers, as well as a provision allowing law enforcement to obtain this data on less than probable cause, supports application of the good-faith exception to law enforcement’s acquisition of over seven months of cell-site location information without a warrant.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Jordan v. United States, 16-6694

Issues: (1) Whether the trial court’s order granting a request by the accused’s codefendant to prohibit the accused from testifying about details that were exculpatory to the accused but prejudicial to his codefendant constituted an impermissible limitation on the accused’s right to testify in his own behalf as set forth in Rock v. Arkansas; and (2) whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

Caira v. United States, 16-6761

Issue: Whether the Supreme Court should resolve a split of authority among the courts by rejecting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit’s reasoning in United States v. Caira, which holds that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in information held by a third party.

(relisted after the April 13 and April 21 conferences)

 

New Relists

Patchak v. Zinke, 16-498

Issues: (1) Whether a statute directing the federal courts to “promptly dismiss” a pending lawsuit following substantive determinations by the courts (including the Supreme Court’s determination that the “suit may proceed”) – without amending the underlying substantive or procedural laws – violates the Constitution’s separation of powers principles; and (2) whether a statute that does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

(relisted after the April 21 conference)

 

Rios v. United States, 16-7314

Issues: (1) Whether law-enforcement officers must secure a warrant to obtain real-time cellular-phone location data; (2) whether courts must instruct juries on the required unanimity regarding the specific categories of acts in RICO conspiracy cases, and likewise whether this court’s conclusions in Richardson v. United States apply in RICO cases; and (3)  whether courts should deliver uniform jury instructions on reasonable doubt and preserve the standard of proof necessary to sustain a criminal conviction.

(relisted after the April 21 conference)

The post Asterisk Watch appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Petitions to watch | Conference of April 28

SCOTUS Blog - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:59

In its conference of April 28, 2017, the court will consider petitions involving issues such as whether a statute which does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment; whether statistical racial disparities in the use of voting mechanisms or procedures are relevant to a vote denial claim under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act; and whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time.

Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission 16-111

Issue: Whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment.

Dot Foods, Inc. v. Department of Revenue for the State of Washington 16-308

Issue: Whether, or under what circumstances, imposing additional tax beyond the year preceding the legislative session in which the law was enacted violates due process.

Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas v. Robert R. McCormick Foundation 16-317

Issues: (1) Whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit correctly held – contrary to several other courts of appeals – that the presumption against federal pre-emption of state law does not apply in the bankruptcy context; (2) whether the 2nd Circuit correctly held – following the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 3rd, 6th, and 8th Circuits, but contrary to the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 7th and 11th Circuits – that a fraudulent transfer is exempt from avoidance under 11 U.S.C. § 546(e) when a financial institution acts as a mere conduit for fraudulently transferred property, or whether instead the safe harbor applies only when the financial institution has its own beneficial interest in the transferred property; and (3) whether the 2nd Circuit correctly held – contrary to the Supreme Court’s decisions holding that it is for Congress, and not the courts, to balance the multiple purposes of the Bankruptcy Code, and that courts must therefore rely first and foremost on the text of the code – that 11 U.S.C. § 546(e) is properly construed to extend far beyond its text and impliedly pre-empt fraudulent-transfer actions brought by private parties (as opposed to the “trustee” expressly mentioned in the statute).

Carpenter v. United States 16-402

Issue: Whether the warrantless seizure and search of historical cell-phone records revealing the location and movements of a cell-phone user over the course of 127 days is permitted by the Fourth Amendment.

Patchak v. Zinke 16-498

Issues: (1) Whether a statute directing the federal courts to “promptly dismiss” a pending lawsuit following substantive determinations by the courts (including the Supreme Court’s determination that the “suit may proceed”) – without amending the underlying substantive or procedural laws – violates the Constitution’s separation of powers principles; and (2) whether a statute that does not amend any generally applicable substantive or procedural laws, but deprives the petitioner of the right to pursue his pending lawsuit, violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Sonoco Products Co. v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-687

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states and requires them to allow taxpayers to elect to use the compact’s equally weighted apportionment formula until the state prospectively withdraws from the compact; (2) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the contracts clause; (3) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the due process clause; and (4) whether Michigan’s retroactive repeal of, and withdrawal from, the compact violated the commerce clause.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-688

Issues: (1) Whether a state statute that retroactively imposes over $1 billion in increased tax liability on out-of-state businesses for the benefit of in-state businesses violates the dormant commerce clause; (2) whether a state tax law that has a 6 1/2-year period of retroactivity and targets out-of-state businesses for increased tax liability of over $1 billion violates the due process clause; and (3) whether a state’s retroactive repeal of a central provision of the decades-old Multistate Tax Compact violates the contracts clause by imposing over $1 billion in retroactive tax liability on out-of-state taxpayers.

Gillette Commercial Operations North America and Subsidiaries v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-697

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

International Business Machines Corp. v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-698

Issues: (1) Whether a state, without violating the constitutional bar against the impairment of contracts, can retroactively withdraw from the Multistate Tax Compact so as to divest taxpayers of benefits under that compact for a period of 6 1/2 years before that withdrawal; and (2) whether, consistent with due process, a state can, by statute, change its tax laws retroactively for a period of more than six years, when the change was not promptly instituted and when the change was designed to increase state tax revenues by overriding a Michigan Supreme Court decision determining taxpayer obligations under prior law.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-699

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

DIRECTV Group Holdings, LLC v. Michigan Department of Treasury 16-736

Issues: (1) Whether the Multistate Tax Compact has the status of a contract that binds its signatory states; and (2) whether a state law that imposes retroactive tax liability for a period of almost seven years, in a manner that upsets settled expectations and reasonable reliance interests, violates the due process clause.

Merit Management Group, LP v. FTI Consulting, Inc. 16-784

Issue: Whether the safe harbor of Section 546(e) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits avoidance of a transfer made by or to a financial institution, without regard to whether the institution has a beneficial interest in the property transferred, consistent with decisions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 8th, and 10th Circuits, but contrary to the decisions from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 7th and 11th Circuits.

North Carolina v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP 16-833

Issues: (1) Whether a federal court has the authority to reimpose, under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the same “anti-retrogression” preclearance standard invalidated as to Section 5 by Shelby County v. Holder; (2) whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit erred in holding that, although the challenged reforms did not adversely affect minority voting, the North Carolina legislature nonetheless intended to deny African Americans the right to vote; and (3) whether statistical racial disparities in the use of voting mechanisms or procedures are relevant to a vote denial claim under Section 2.

Graham v. United States 16-6308

Issues: (1) Whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time; and (2) whether 18 U.S.C. § 2703, which contains both a provision that requires the government to seek a warrant in order to obtain stored location information from cellular-service providers, as well as a provision allowing law enforcement to obtain this data on less than probable cause, supports application of the good-faith exception to law enforcement’s acquisition of over seven months of cell-site location information without a warrant.

Jordan v. United States 16-6694

Issues: (1) Whether the trial court’s order granting a request by the accused’s codefendant to prohibit the accused from testifying about details that were exculpatory to the accused but prejudicial to his codefendant constituted an impermissible limitation on the accused’s right to testify in his own behalf as set forth in Rock v. Arkansas; and (2) whether the Fourth Amendment requires law enforcement to obtain a warrant to acquire cell-site location information used to track and reconstruct the location and movements of cell-phone users over extended periods of time.

Caira v. United States 16-6761

Issue: Whether the Supreme Court should resolve a split of authority among the courts by rejecting the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit’s reasoning in United States v. Caira, which holds that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in information held by a third party.

Rios v. United States 16-7314

Issues: (1) Whether law-enforcement officers must secure a warrant to obtain real-time cellular-phone location data; (2) whether courts must instruct juries on the required unanimity regarding the specific categories of acts in Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act conspiracy cases, and likewise whether the court’s conclusions in Richardson v. United States apply in RICO cases; and (3) whether courts should deliver uniform jury instructions on reasonable doubt and preserve the standard of proof necessary to sustain a criminal conviction.

The post Petitions to watch | Conference of April 28 appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Spring 2017 Quarterly CPEG Notes

Chicago Political Economy Group - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 10:40
Click below to read the Spring 2017 edition of CPEG Notes, a series of quarterly analyses of current economic reality by the Chicago Political Economy Group. In this edition: Luis Diaz-Perez on the early days of the Trump Administration, Joe Persky summarizes the bleak domestic economic scene, Bruce Parry and Bill Barclay tackle the political
Categories: Research

Today in OpenGov: Useful government data, Trump gets an F for transparency, and more…

Sunlight Foundation - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 07:48

In today's edition, we ask how government data can be truly useable, keep up on the latest news around the Trumps and transparency, follow a Russian protest movement, and more…
 

washington watch
 
  • In his first 100 days as President, Donald Trump has established the worst open government record in modern history.  This week, Sunlight joined 16 other organizations and individuals in a similar assessment: "In a statement issued today, a group of 17 organizations and individuals with expertise in governance issues gives President Donald Trump an F for his performance on government integrity, transparency and accountability in the first 100 days of his presidency." Read the full statement here
  • President Trump's inaugural committee broke records for fundraising — and corporate influence to start an administration. This story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette details some of the companies and individuals from western Pennsylvania who gave lavishly to help the president throw his inaugural celebration. It's worth remembering that the committee still hasn't disclosed how much it spent, on what, or how much remains to donate to charity.
  • Kushner business ties raise conflict questions. A partnership between Jared Kushner and an Israeli tycoon under investigation for bribery in at least four countries "underscores the mystery behind [Kushner's] family's multibillion-dollar business and its potential for conflicts with his role as perhaps the second-most powerful man in the White House, behind only his father-in-law, President Trump." (New York Times)
  • Ivanka Trump's potential conflicts in White House role may eclipse even her father's. "On April 25, presidential daughter Ivanka Trump joined a panel on women entrepreneurs in Berlin, where the moderator asked: 'What is your role, and who are you representing, your father as president of the United States, the American people, or your business?; Ivanka Trump said she wasn’t there for her firm, but the question crystallized her situation, which is rife with potential conflicts of interest and legal pitfalls, perhaps even more so than President Donald Trump’s." (Bloomberg)
  • Vacancies on Merit Systems Protection Board worry whistleblowers and advocates. "The persistence of two vacancies on the three-member Merit Systems Protection Board worries whistleblowers and their advocates who are concerned that statutory protections are not being enforced." (Government Executive)

 

states and cities
 
  • Open data is here, now it's time to focus on making is useable. "Open data policies are now common at every level of government. We've moved beyond the need to celebrate it as special. Rather, we should regard it as a minimum and core requirement of government." (Data-Smart City Solutions)
  • Vermont Governor launches digital services agency and appoints CIO to push modernization. "On April 17, IT in Vermont officially shifted, when a new Agency of Digital Services (ADS) took the place of the Department of Information and Innovation. The goal? To refresh that state’s efforts in modernization. This move is part of Gov. Phil Scott's strategy to manage the state’s IT infrastructure more effectively." (Government Technology)
  • Massachusetts Governor, supervisor of public records spar over access to records. Advocates "for greater government transparency are applauding the state supervisor of public records for questioning Gov. Charlie Baker’s assertion that his office is not subject to the Public Records Law." The governor's office has long relied on a court decision from the 1990's to withhold records. (CommonWealth Magazine)
around the world
  • Building a tool to track EU subsidy data was easier said than done. "Subsidystories.eu is a tool that enables the user to visualize, analyze and compare subsidy data across the European Union thereby enhancing transparency and accountability in Europe. To make this happen we first had to collect the datasets from each EU member state and scrape, clean, map and then upload the data. Collecting the data was an incredible frustrating process, since EU member states publish the beneficiary data in their own country (and regional) specific portals which had to be located and often translated." (Open Knowledge)
  • Russian protest movement plans to continue, despite attack by Attorney General. "Despite being outlawed today by the Attorney General, opposition movement 'Open Russia' says it’s continuing all operations, including plans for nationwide anti-Putin protests this Saturday. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the movement’s founder, wrote on Twitter that he’s “proud” to see his brainchild in the government’s crosshairs." (Global Voices)
save the dates
 
  • #TCampAZ is coming up on May 22 in Phoenix. Learn more on Facebook and get your tickets hereThis one-day unconference will bring together the government representatives, developers and journalists to solve problems relating to civic data access. TCamp participants design the agenda, present their ideas and dive into the challenges, success stories and new possibilities during morning and afternoon breakout sessions. It is being hosted by the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting with key partners including Sunlight, Galvanize, and the Institute for Digital Progress.
  • April 28th, 11:00 AM: Digital Inclusion Asset Mapping, Connect Chicago Meetup in Chicago, Illinois. "At the next Connect Chicago Meetup we will break into working groups to co-build a better shared inventory of public digital inclusion resources and assets." Learn more here
  • May 6th: Sustainable Development Goals Data Archive-a-thon in Washington, DC. The SDG Data Archive-a-thon is an opportunity for programmers, archivists, scientists and volunteers of all kinds to help preserve publicly accessible federal data resources in the public interest. The goal of this event is to archive the datasets used to report on the SDG indicators and to ensure they remain accessible to the public online. This event is hosted by the Center for Open Data Enterprise. Learn more and register to participate here
  • May 17th and 18th: Reboot Congress 2017 and the Kemp Forum in Washington, DC. "Held in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, Reboot Congress 2017, is an invite-only conversation that will bring together a dynamic mix of problem solvers – civic tech innovators, engineers and designers, elected officials, senior staffers, policy experts, and other stakeholders working to modernize Congress." Learn more here.
  • May 17th: The 2017 Door Stop Awards in Washington, DC. "Lincoln Network and The OpenGov Foundation are joining forces to present the 2017 Door Stop Awards for Congressional Innovation and Transparency. Awards will be presented on May 17, 2017 in Washington, D.C. at an evening party as part of Reboot Congress." Learn more here.
  • May 19th and 20th: Global Legislative Openness Conference in Kyiv, Ukraine. "This 2-day event is hosted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, organized by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership and Open Parliament Initiative in Ukraine. The event will convene leading legislators, government officials, and civil society representatives to consider how legislative openness can strengthen public trust in representative institutions and build a responsive, 21st century legislature. In addition, the conference will explore how parliaments can best leverage the Open Government Partnership's new legislative engagement policy to develop and implement legislative openness plans and commitments." Learn more here. 
  • June 8th and 9th: Personal Democracy Forum 2017 in New York City. "The annual flagship conference brings together close to 1,000 top technologists, campaigners, hackers, opinion-makers, government officials, journalists, and academics for two days of game-changing talks, workshops, and networking opportunities to celebrate the power and potential of tech to make real change happen." Learn more about #PDF17 and get your tickets here.
  • September 11th and 12th: TicTec@Taipei in Taipei. "TICTeC@Taipei is the first ever conference about the influence of civic tech to be held in Asia. We’ve invited members of academia, business, politics, NGOs, education to participate, and discuss their research. We hope through this event, we can build a global network of civic tech enthusiasts." The event is being held during #CivicTechFest 2017. Learn more, submit a session proposal, and register to attend here
Are you hosting an event that you'd like to see highlighted in this newsletter? Please let us know by sending a quick email to todayinopengov@sunlightfoundation.com with a brief description and a link to the event page.

 

Tired of your boss/friend/intern/uncle forwarding you this email every morning? You can sign up here and have it delivered direct to your inbox! Please send questions, comments, tips, and concerns to todayinopengov@sunlightfoundation.com. We would love your feedback!

 
Categories: Research

Thursday round-up

SCOTUS Blog - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 07:20

Yesterday the court heard oral argument in Maslenjak v. United States, which asks whether a naturalized U.S. citizen can be stripped of her citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on an immaterial false statement. Amy Howe analyzes the argument for this blog. In The New York Times, Adam Liptak reports that several of the “justices seemed taken aback” by the idea “that the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings.” Additional coverage of the argument comes from Jess Bravin in The Wall Street Journal, who reports that “[s]kepticism over the Trump administration’s broad view of government power didn’t translate into sympathy for Divna Maslenjak, the Bosnian Serb immigrant who filed the appeal.” 

On Tuesday, the court heard argument in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, a civil procedure case involving a court’s specific jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants sued by out-of-state plaintiffs. Ronald Mann analyzes the argument for this blog. [Disclosure: Goldstein & Russell, P.C., whose attorneys contribute to this blog in various capacities, is among the counsel to the respondents in this case.]

Briefly:

  • At the ACS blog, Brian Stull weighs in on Davila v. Davis, a case that was argued on Monday in which the justices will decide whether ineffective assistance of counsel in a state habeas proceeding excuses a defendant’s failure to raise an underlying claim of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel; he draws on statistics and analysis to argue that a ruling for the inmate would not open the floodgates to additional litigation.
  • In a column for The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse discusses Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, a high-profile religion case, arguing that “the controversy in the case longer exists, because the state now agrees with Trinity Lutheran’s position,” and that “the court’s next move” will “tell us something important about the newly reconstituted Roberts court, specifically whether its commitment lies with consensus or with the regained power of five votes.”

Remember, we rely exclusively on our readers to send us links for our round-up.  If you have or know of a recent (published in the last two or three days) article, post, or op-ed relating to the Court that you’d like us to consider for inclusion in the round-up, please send it to roundup [at] scotusblog.com.

The post Thursday round-up appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

NASA Inspector Says Agency Wasted $80 Million On An Inferior Spacesuit

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Thu, 04/27/2017 - 05:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: When NASA began developing a rocket and spacecraft to return humans to the Moon a decade ago as part of the Constellation Program, the space agency started to think about the kinds of spacesuits astronauts would need in deep space and on the lunar surface. After this consideration, NASA awarded a $148 million contract to Oceaneering International, Inc. in 2009 to develop and produce such a spacesuit. However, President Obama canceled the Constellation program just a year later, in early 2010. Later that year, senior officials at the Johnson Space Center recommended canceling the Constellation spacesuit contract because the agency had its own engineers working on a new spacesuit and, well, NASA no longer had a clear need for deep-space spacesuits. However, the Houston officials were overruled by agency leaders at NASA's headquarters in Washington, DC. A new report released Wednesday by NASA Inspector General Paul Martin sharply criticizes this decision. "The continuation of this contract did not serve the best interests of the agency's spacesuit technology development efforts," the report states. In fact, the report found that NASA essentially squandered $80.6 million on the Oceaneering contract before it was finally ended last year.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Petition of the day

SCOTUS Blog - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 23:23

The petition of the day is:

Silva v. Connecticut 16-1012

Issue: Whether, once a suspect has been taken into custody and given the Miranda v. Arizona warning, the suspect’s “selective silence” – that is, the refusal to answer some but not other questions – may be used by the state to establish the suspect’s guilt at trial.

The post Petition of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Cybersecurity: Critical Infrastructure Authoritative Reports and Resources

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 22:24

CRS – Cybersecurity: Critical Infrastructure Authoritative Reports and Resources, Rita Tehan, Information Research Specialist, April 21, 2017.
“Cybersecurity: Critical Infrastructure Authoritative Reports and Resources Congressional Research Service Summary Critical infrastructure is defined in the USA PATRIOT Act (P.L. 107-56, §1016(e)) as“ systems and assets, physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health and safety, or any combination of those matters.” Presidential Decision Directive 63, or PDD-63,identified activities whose critical infrastructures should be protected: information and communications; banking and finance; water supply; aviation, highways, mass transit, pipelines, rail, and waterborne commerce; emergency and law enforcement services; emergency, fire, and continuity of government services; public health services; electric power, oil and gas production;and storage. In addition, the PDD identified four activities in which the federal government controls the critical infrastructure: (1) internal security and federal law enforcement; (2) foreign intelligence; (3) foreign affairs; and (4) national defense.In February 2013, the Obama Administration issued PPD-21, Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience, which superseded HSPD-7 issued during the George W.Bush Administration.PPD-21 made no major changes in policy, roles and responsibilities, or programs, but did order an evaluation of the existing public-private partnership model, the identification of baseline data and system requirements for efficient information exchange, and the development of a situational awareness capability. PPD-21 also called for an update of the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, and a new Research and Development Plan for Critical Infrastructure,to be updated every four years.This report serves as a starting point for congressional staff assigned to cover cybersecurity issues as they relate to critical infrastructure. Much is written about protecting U.S. critical infrastructure, and this CRS report directs the reader to authoritative sources that address many of the most prominent issues. The annotated descriptions of these sources are listed in reverse chronological order with an emphasis on material published in the past several years. The report includes resources and studies from government agencies (federal, state, local, and international), think tanks, academic institutions, news organizations, and other sources.”

Categories: Research

WaPo – Tracking how many key positions Trump has filled so far

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 22:03

“The Post and Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, are tracking more than 500 key executive branch nominations through the confirmation process. These positions include Cabinet secretaries, deputy and assistant secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsel, heads of agencies, ambassadors and other critical leadership positions. These are a portion of the roughly 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation. The Senate can only act on nominations that have been formally submitted by the Trump administration. Those marked “awaiting nomination” above have been announced but not yet submitted, while those marked “formally nominated” are awaiting action by the Senate.”

Categories: Research

Argument analysis: Concerns about prosecutorial discretion likely to lead to ruling for Bosnian Serb in immigration case

SCOTUS Blog - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 21:24

At oral argument today in the U.S. Supreme Court, the justices were not especially sympathetic to the plight of Divna Maslenjak. The 53-year-old came to the United States as a refugee in 2000, fleeing ethnic strife in the former Yugoslavia. Maslenjak became a U.S. citizen seven years later, but last fall she was deported to Serbia. U.S. immigration officials stripped her of her citizenship after she admitted that she had lied about her husband’s service in the Bosnian Serb military, but the justices seem likely to give her another shot at keeping it. Although they may not have been fans of Maslenjak personally, though, the justices were even less enthusiastic about the prospect of ruling for the government, expressing concern that such a ruling would give U.S. officials boundless discretion to take away citizenship based on even very minor lies.

During the first part of the argument, things didn’t necessarily look good for Maslenjak. The government had charged her with violating a federal law that authorizes both a fine and a prison sentence for anyone who “knowingly procures or attempts to procure, contrary to any law, the naturalization of any person.” The government argued that, when Maslenjak applied to become a citizen, she knew that she had lied to immigration officials when seeking to come to the U.S. as a refugee. Maslenjak countered that the government couldn’t take away her citizenship just because she lied; the lie had to be a “material” one – that is, one that would have affected the immigration officials’ decision.

But some justices didn’t regard the distinction between a material and immaterial lie as an easy line to draw. Justice Anthony Kennedy told Christopher Landau, who was representing Maslenjak, that whether a false statement influenced the government’s decision to grant citizenship is sometimes “known only after the fact.” “You can have a statement that everyone thinks is immaterial, it’s subjectively immaterial, but it might have a causal connection at the end of the day.”

Christopher Landau for petitioner (Art Lien)

Justice Samuel Alito echoed this sentiment. He told Landau that requiring the government to show that it would have rejected Maslenjak’s citizenship application if it had known the truth would be an “awfully hard” burden for the government to bear, because “even if somebody says something that has a real potential to affect the naturalization decision, you would still have to go back and show that in this case it actually did make a difference.”

And other justices were skeptical that, even if the court were to adopt the rule that Maslenjak herself urged and require the lies to be material, Maslenjak could prevail. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Landau, “Why isn’t this obviously material?” Maslenjak, Ginsburg observed, lied to U.S. government officials about her husband’s activities in Bosnia. “She said he was trying to avoid military conscription when, in fact, he was in the service and in the unit that was committing atrocities. Under what circumstances,” Ginsburg went on, “would that be immaterial?”

Alito seemed to agree. He asked Landau whether the jury in Maslenjak’s case could also hear evidence about her husband’s military service in Srebrenica, the town where Bosnian Serb soldiers killed over 8,000 Muslim men and boys in 1995. If so, Alito suggested, “I don’t know how well you are going to do” in front of the jury. Landau agreed with Alito that Maslenjak would have a “tough row to hoe” on remand, but he argued that his client at least deserved a chance to have the jury decide whether her lies were material.

Chief Justice John Roberts had been largely silent during Landau’s argument. Robert Parker, the assistant to the U.S. solicitor general who argued on behalf of the federal government, quickly learned why. Roberts is generally no friend of criminal defendants, but he has often expressed concern about federal laws that give too much leeway to prosecutors, thereby creating the potential for abuse and uneven enforcement. Today was one of those days.

Roberts noted that one question on the naturalization application form asks whether the applicant has “ever committed, assisted in committing, or attempted to commit a crime or offense for which you were not arrested.” “Some time ago,” Roberts confessed, “outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone. I was not arrested.” “Now you say that if I answered that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen,” he declared incredulously, “you can knock on my door and say, guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all.”

Chief Justice Roberts questions Assistant to the Solicitor General Robert A. Parker (Art Lien)

Parker tried to offer Roberts some assurances that the hypothetical naturalized scofflaw would have little to fear, but he didn’t make much headway. “So you really are looking for the listing of every time somebody drove over the speed limit,” Roberts concluded.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor piled on, asking Parker whether failure to disclose a childhood nickname – another question on the naturalization application form – could constitute cause to take away someone’s citizenship.

Parker pushed back, reassuring Sotomayor that the government was not interested in childhood nicknames. However, Justice Stephen Breyer retorted that, even if Sotomayor’s example could be distinguished, “that isn’t the point.” The point, Breyer emphasized, is that the questions on naturalization application form are “unbelievably broad.” “To me,” Breyer said, “it’s rather surprising that the government of the United States thinks that Congress is interpreting this statute and wanted it interpreted in a way that would throw into doubt the citizenship of vast percentages of naturalized citizens.”

Perhaps thinking of the difficulties that might follow from requiring a lie to be “material,” Breyer suggested some alternative standards, potentially less onerous for the government, that would still call for a connection between the lie and the naturalization decision. What about requiring that the lie “had a tendency to affect a reasonable immigration officer in his judgment” or “influence the decision”? All those are wrong? he queried.

Breyer later admonished Parker that the government’s interpretation “would raise a pretty serious constitutional question” when it could take away someone’s citizenship “because 40 years before, he did not deliberately put on paper what his nickname was, what his speeding record was 30 years before that, which was, in fact, totally immaterial.”

Roberts added that it might not be a constitutional problem, but “it is certainly a problem of prosecutorial abuse.” Given the wide range of questions on the naturalization form, he observed,  the government’s position would mean that government officials would have “the opportunity to denaturalize anyone they want, because everybody is going to have a situation where they didn’t put in something like that.” “And then the government can decide,” Roberts warned, “we are going to denaturalize you for reasons other than what might appear on your naturalization form, or we’re not.” For Roberts, giving that “extraordinary power, which essentially is unlimited power,” to the government would be “troublesome.”

Kennedy was also clearly uneasy about the government’s interpretation. Your argument, he admonished Parker, is “demeaning” to the “priceless value of citizenship.” Kennedy added, “you are arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.”

Landau tried to capitalize on this unease in his rebuttal, telling the justices that “the questioning today makes it chillingly clear that the government’s position in this case would subject all naturalized Americans to potential denaturalization at the hands of an aggressive prosecutor.” And that, Landau concluded, “is not what Congress intended” and “not what is in the language of the statute.” Even if the justices agree, Maslenjak may not be home free, because the government would almost certainly try to show that her lies would have influenced immigration officials’ decision to grant her citizenship – which, the justices seemed to suggest today, might not be a particularly difficult task. But she does seem likely to at least get what Landau asked for today: “an opportunity to debate” that issue in front of a jury.

The post Argument analysis: Concerns about prosecutorial discretion likely to lead to ruling for Bosnian Serb in immigration case appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Categories: Research

Daunting concept of species triage for countless endangered animals

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 20:03

Outside – “Professor Leah Gerber is one of the country’s leading proponents of what’s called species triage, a practice where conservationists use data and models to figure out how to spend our limited endangered species dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible. The practice has been used by governments in Australia and New Zealand, but it’s never made it to the United States. The goal is to save as many species as possible—even if it means calling it quits for creatures like the monk seal. “There’s a level of discomfort with this, but we have to face hard choices,” she says.”

Categories: Research

CA Top Three Spots in Employment Growth Among Large Counties

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 19:32

“San Francisco, Riverside and San Bernardino led the nation in annual employment growth among the top 50 U.S. counties with the most employees, according to new U.S. Census Bureau economic statistics released today. Overall, these 50 counties accounted for 34.6 percent of employment of all establishments defined by the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). San Francisco County, first for the second year in a row, saw its employment grow 6.6 percent from 2014 to 2015, up 37,843 employees to 611,140 employees. The information sector (NAICS 51), up 13.3 percent to 64,223 employees, led growth in that county. San Francisco also led the top 10 largest counties in annual payroll increase, climbing 12.1 percent to $59.3 billion. Riverside County saw its employment grow 4.9 percent, up 25,284 employees to 540,169 employees in 2015. San Bernardino County’s employment grew 4.4 percent, up 24,396 employees to 578,755 employees in 2015. Santa Clara County’s employment grew 3.8 percent, up 36,807 employees to 999,906 employees in 2015.”

Categories: Research

Estimates of U.S. Population by Age and Sex

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 19:30

“A downloadable file containing estimates of the resident U.S. population by single year of age and sex is available on the Population and Housing Unit Estimates webpage at <www.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest.html>. In the coming months, the U.S. Census Bureau will release 2016 population estimates for cities and towns, as well as national, state and county population estimates by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin.”

Categories: Research

DATA Act: OIG Reports Help Identify Agencies’ Implementation Challenges

beSpacific - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 19:26

DATA Act: Office of Inspector General Reports Help Identify Agencies’ Implementation Challenges, GAO-17-460: Published: Apr 26, 2017. Publicly Released: Apr 26, 2017: “As of January 31, 2017, 30 Offices of Inspector General (OIG) had completed Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014 (DATA Act) readiness reviews for their respective agencies, most of which were completed from June 2016 through November 2016. GAO noted variations across the type of reviews conducted, standards used, and scope of work. For example, 16 OIG reviews focused on agencies’ implementation actions to organize and design changes as recommended in the Department of the Treasury’s (Treasury) DATA Act Implementation Playbook, while others included additional implementation steps. The OIGs reported varying expectations for agencies’ readiness to meet DATA Act requirements. For 26 of the 30 agencies, the OIGs reported challenges similar to those previously reported in agencies’ implementation plans and by GAO, such as systems integration issues and lack of resources. Agencies have continued their implementation efforts since the OIG reviews.”

Categories: Research

British Cops Will Scan Every Fan's Face At the Champions League Final

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 18:40
Using a new facial recognition surveillance system, British police will scan every fan's face at the UEFA Champions League on June 3rd and compare them to a police database of some 500,000 "persons of interest." "According to a government tender issued by South Wales Police, the system will be deployed during the day of the game in Cardiff's main train station, as well as in and around the Principality Stadium situated in the heart of Cardiff's central retail district." From the report: Cameras will potentially be scanning the faces of an estimated 170,000 visitors plus the many more thousands of people in the vicinity of the bustling Saturday evening city center on match day, June 3. Captured images will then be compared in real time to 500,000 custody images stored in the police information and records management system alerting police to any "persons of interest," according to the tender. The security operation will build on previous police use of Automated Facial Recognition, or AFR technology by London's Metropolitan Police during 2016's Notting Hill Carnival.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

Pirate Site Blockades Violate Free Speech, Mexico's Supreme Court Rules

Slashdot: Your Rights Online - Wed, 04/26/2017 - 18:00
New submitter happyfeet2000 quotes a report from TorrentFreak: Broad pirate sites blockades are disproportional, Mexico's Supreme Court of Justice has ruled. The government can't order ISPs to block websites that link to copyright-infringing material because that would also restrict access to legitimate content and violate the public's freedom of expression. The ruling is a win for local ISP Alestra, which successfully protested the government's blocking efforts. Alestra was ordered to block access to the website mymusiic.com by the government's Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI). The website targeted a Mexican audience and offered music downloads, some of which were shared without permission. "The ISP was not pleased with the order and appealed it in court," reports TorrentFreak. "Among other things, the defense argued that the order was too broad, as it also restricted access to music that might not be infringing." The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation heard the case and ruled that the government's order is indeed disproportional.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Research

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