“The Global Abortion Policies Project (GAPP) has been designed to strengthen global efforts to eliminate unsafe abortion by producing a global, open-access repository of current abortion laws, policies, and national standards and guidelines. The purpose of the Project is to increase both the transparency of abortion laws and policies and to foster accountability among governments as they adopt and implement such policies. The Project has been structured to facilitate comparative analyses of countries’ abortion laws and policies by placing them in the context of the WHO guidance on safe abortion. Current laws and policies on abortion can be used as benchmarks to monitor and evaluate national progress in creating an enabling policy and regulatory environment for eliminating unsafe abortion. The Project Database is a collaborative effort by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations and the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of the World Health Organization.”
Here’s Why You Should Simply Give In to Google, Gavin Phillips, June 19, 2017: “Google powers internet search for just under two-thirds of U.S. adults. Google produces routers, installs fiber connections, and is working on driverless vehicles. Google’s Android is now the mobile operating system of choice for 86 percent of all smartphone users, and well over 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone market. There aren’t many areas where Google isn’t involved. But search and data remains the primary income source, and long shall it remain. Google has unfettered power over our internet search. Privacy advocates believe Google simply has too much power and too much responsibility for a single corporation to handle. Are those privacy concerns unfounded? Moreover, should we give in to Google for the best user experience? Let’s find out…” […And if you’re truly worried, you can always use a VPN to protect your data along with a Google search alternative – Yes to both!]
Engadget – ‘Sideways Dictionary’ simplifies tech jargon for the masses The Google/Washington Post venture uses analogies to explain “DDoS,” “cookie” and other terms. If you ever get confused about tech jargon (or want to clear up said confusion), a new tool from Google’s Jigsaw incubator and the Washington Post may help. The “Sideways Dictionary” uses analogies and metaphors to help regular, non-techy people understand terms like “zero-day,” “metadata,” “net neutrality” and other jargon. Users will be able to access analogies online like a regular dictionary or find them in the Post, where they’ll accompany articles that contain “technobabble.”
News release: “The White House Historical Association [a private, non-profit organization founded in 1961 by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy]…announced [on June 21, 2017] a new innovative and strategic use of Amazon Web Services (AWS), expanding the Association’s digital archive and making educational materials more accessible to the public through the power of the AWS Cloud. The White House Historical Association is leveraging the AWS Cloud to expand the digitization of White House artifacts and assets in the . The Library holds thousands of images of the White House covering its entire history, including exterior views, images of rooms and furnishings, and photos of events including inaugurations and holiday celebrations. In support of the Association’s educational mission, each image is accompanied by carefully documented historical information provided free to the public in an easy-to-use format. Using AWS will allow significant expansion of the Library through infrastructure development, advanced cloud computing technology, and other AWS Partner Network (APN) services…”
The Stanford Open Policing Project – “On a typical day in the United States, police officers make more than 50,000 traffic stops. Our team is gathering, analyzing, and releasing records from millions of traffic stops by law enforcement agencies across the country. Our goal is to help researchers, journalists, and policymakers investigate and improve interactions between police and the public.”
Caroline Scott’s article – “Data released by official agencies and government bodies provides transparency and insight, and can often highlight trends or anomalies that are in the public interest. However, some of these datasets are often difficult to access, while in other instances it is not clear whether they even exist, making it harder for journalists to find stories and collect information to provide the bigger picture. Enigma Public, a free tool built by data management and intelligence company Enigma, launched yesterday (20 June) with the aim of helping users find the data they need and learn how to improve their use of information. The 100,000 datasets from over 100 countries bring together information from international organisations and federal governments, and local and state governments in the USA, spanning subjects like building permits and fire inspection data, to things such as the contents of shipping containers, and financial contributions to political campaigns. Users get a description of the datasets, along with key use cases and related information
“We wanted to provide an interface that enabled that information to be searched, discovered, and related,” said Marc DaCosta, Enigma’s chairman and co-founder. “All the data in Engima Public will be updated regularly, from online and offline sources, and is really a work in progress to grow and keep adding to it.”
The site can be used in two main ways: to search for a specific topic, company or person and see the datasets related, or to browse through the collection and see what stands out to you individually. There are curated collections of datasets to help journalists, such as energy, health and sanctions, or they can simply work through the categorised public collections of data to find what they are looking for, and bookmark the sets they want to come back to later. Datasets can be filtered by keyword to help reporters find what they are looking for within the bulk of information, and they can be exported to save to a user’s computer…”
Great Barrier Reef Foundation – “A new Deloitte Access Economics report has calculated the total asset value of the Great Barrier Reef to be $56 billion, assessing the World Heritage site’s economic, social and iconic brand value together in one study for the first time. In the report commissioned by the Great Barrier Reef Foundation with support from National Australia Bank and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Deloitte Access Economics analysed the Reef’s:
- Economic, social, and iconic value;
- Contribution to the economy through industry value added and employment;
- Brand value to Australia and the international community; and
- Significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Owners.
Great Barrier Reef Foundation Director Steve Sargent said: “Like the Great Barrier Reef itself, the numbers revealed in the report are big and highlight just how significant the Reef’s contribution to Australia’s economy is:
- $56 billion value as an economic, social, and iconic natural asset;
- $6.4 billion economic value added to the Australian economy in 2015-16;
- $3.9 billion in economic value added to Queensland’s economy in 2015-16;
- $2.9 billion economic value added to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) region in 2015-16; and
- 64,000 jobs nationally linked to the Reef, including 33,000 in Queensland.”
“At $29 billion, tourism is the biggest contributor to the Reef’s $56 billion value, followed by $23.8 billion from indirect or non-use value, i.e. those who haven’t yet visited the Reef but value knowing it exists, and its value to recreational users ($3.2 billion) makes up the balance,” Mr Sargent said. “As the largest living structure on Earth and one of the world’s most complex and diverse natural ecosystems, the Great Barrier Reef is justifiably considered priceless and irreplaceable.”
Benton Foundation – Andrew Jay Schwartzman, June 21, 2017: “On June 19, 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States used an unlikely vehicle to expand the scope of First Amendment protection for Internet users. In Peckingham v. North Carolina, speaking for five members of the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy started with the general principle that the Court has always recognized the “fundamental principle of the First Amendment … that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more.” Then, using soaring language that will surely be widely quoted in future cases, he said While in the past there may have been difficulty in identifying the most important places (in a spatial sense) for the exchange of views, today the answer is clear. It is cyberspace–the “vast democratic forums of the Internet” in general, and social media in particular. (citation omitted) The case arose as a challenge to a North Carolina statute that prohibits registered sex offenders from accessing social media sites. In 2002, Lester Peckingham, who was 21 years years-old at the time, pleaded guilty to taking indecent liberties with a 13 year-old girl. He received a suspended jail sentence and completed a term of probation. Eight years later, Peckingham was convicted of violating the social media statute after a police officer saw Peckingham’s Facebook post joyfully announcing dismissal of a speeding ticket Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismissed the ticket before court even started? No fine, no court cost, no nothing spent. . . . . . Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS! The Court unanimously found North Carolina’s law to be unconstitutional. This is the second important Supreme Court opinion addressing the role of the Internet in American life. The first, Reno v. ACLU, was issued in 1997, during the Internet’s dial-up era. Its depiction of the Internet as a medium deserving the same high degree of First Amendment protection as traditional print media played an essential role in the legal framework for the Internet’s evolution over the last two decades.”
ABA Law Practice Division – “Cloud Ethics Opinions – There’s a compelling business case for cloud computing, but can lawyers use it ethically? We’ve compiled these comparison charts to help you make the right decision for your practice.
Broadly defined, cloud computing (or “Software as a Service”) refers to a category of software that’s delivered over the Internet via a Web browser (like Internet Explorer) rather than installed directly onto the user’s computer. The cloud offers certain advantages in terms of minimal upfront costs, flexibility and mobility, and ease of use. Because cloud computing places data–including client data–on remote servers outside of the lawyer’s direct control, it has given rise to some concerns regarding its acceptability under applicable ethics rules.
It may be that the focus on creating and fulfilling a “bucket list” of experiences meant to make your life more meaningful has another significant facet: “People seek extraordinary experiences—from drinking rare wines and taking exotic vacations to jumping from airplanes and shaking hands with celebrities. But are such experiences worth having? We found that participants thoroughly enjoyed having experiences that were superior to those had by their peers, but that having had such experiences spoiled their subsequent social interactions and ultimately left them feeling worse than they would have felt if they had had an ordinary experience instead. Participants were able to predict the benefits of having an extraordinary experience but were unable to predict the costs. These studies suggest that people may pay a surprising price for the experiences they covet most.” Many our most extraordinary experiences are not planned but rather occur if we are aware and open to both giving to, sharing with and appreciating one another and the natural world.
- Cooney G, Gilbert DT, Wilson TD. The unforeseen costs of extraordinary experience. Psychological Science. 2014;25 :2259-2265. [updated 7/30/2015]
- See also Why chasing happiness could actually have the opposite effect, The World Economic Forum, June 16, 2017.
“Pets make life better in many ways. Bringing them with us out into the world means companionship, a social ice-breaker and not having to worry that we’ve left them home alone. At work, they can boost morale, build a sense of community and get us up for regular walking breaks – all things that are good for our health. That’s why more and more employers are exploring pet-friendly workplace programs. The research is in and not only do people want pets at work, pets work at work.TOOLS TO HELP YOU GET STARTED
“The nation’s population has a distinctly older age profile than it did 16 years ago, according to new U.S. Census Bureau population estimates released today. New detailed estimates show the nation’s median age — the age where half of the population is younger and the other half older — rose from 35.3 years on April 1, 2000, to 37.9 years on July 1, 2016. “The baby-boom generation is largely responsible for this trend,” said Peter Borsella, a demographer in the Population Division. “Baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011 and will continue to do so for many years to come.” Residents age 65 and over grew from 35.0 million in 2000, to 49.2 million in 2016, accounting for 12.4 percent and 15.2 percent of the total population, respectively. These latest estimates present changes among groups by age, sex, race and Hispanic origin at the national, state and county levels between April 1, 2010, and July 1, 2016. The estimates also present changes over the same period among groups by age and sex for Puerto Rico and its municipios. The median age is increasing in most areas of the country. Every state experienced either an increase or had the same median age as a year earlier. At 44.6 years, the median age in Maine is the highest in the nation. New Hampshire’s median age of 43.0 years is the next highest, followed by Vermont at 42.7 years. Utah had the lowest median age (30.8 years), followed by Alaska (33.9 years) and the District of Columbia (33.9 years). Two-thirds (66.7 percent) of the nation’s counties experienced an increase in median age last year. In 2016, two counties had median ages over 60: Sumter, Fla. (67.1 years), and Catron, N.M. (60.5 years). Between 2000 and 2016, 95.2 percent of all counties experienced increases in median age, which can be seen in the . Sumter, Fla., home to a large retirement community, was the county with the highest median age, and it also showed the highest median age increase. Sumter’s median age jumped from 49.2 years in 2000 to 67.1 years in 2016, an increase of 17.9 years. Noble, Ohio, is a small county in the southeastern part of the state. It has experienced net outmigration and deaths nearly equal births. Noble’s 2016 median age of 51.5 years is 16 years higher than what it was in 2000 (35.5 years). Since 2000, 56 counties showed a median age increase of 10 years or more…”
“This year’s report reveals new insights about digital news consumption based on a YouGov survey of over 70,000 online news consumers in 36 countries including the US and UK. The report focuses on the issues of trust in the era of fake news, changing business models and the role of platforms. This year’s report comes amid intense soul-searching in the news industry about fake news, failing business models, and the power of platforms. And yet our research casts new and surprising light on some of the prevailing narratives around these issues.
- The internet and social media may have exacerbated low trust and ‘fake news’, but we find that in many countries the underlying drivers of mistrust are as much to do with deep-rooted political polarisation and perceived mainstream media bias.
- Echo chambers and filter bubbles are undoubtedly real for some, but we also find that – on average – users of social media, aggregators, and search engines experience more diversity than non-users.
With data covering more than 30 countries and five continents, this research is a reminder that the digital revolution is full of contradictions and exceptions. Countries started in different places, and are not moving at the same pace. These differences are captured in individual country pages that can be found towards the end of this report. They contain critical industry context written by experts – as well as key charts and data points…”
Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget – Build a Responsible Federal Budget With Our New Debt Fixer Tool – “Now that President Trump has unveiled his full budget proposal and Congress is working on its own budget resolution, CRFB is launching a new tool that makes it easy to create your own budget and see if you can do better than lawmakers at putting the country on a sustainable fiscal path. The Debt Fixer lets you make the types of budget choices that lawmakers face and see how the decisions affect the national debt in the near and long term…Federal debt held by the public is currently 77 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), nearly twice the 40 percent averaged over the last 50 years. The growing gap between federal spending and revenue will continue to push debt upward, with debt projected to reach 89 percent of GDP by 2027 and an all-time high of 107 percent by 2035. Changing course will require halting the rise of the debt as a share of the economy in the medium term and bringing the debt down to its historical levels in the longer term. Stabilizing debt at 70 percent of GDP by 2027 will require more than $4.3 trillion in savings over 10 years, while bringing debt in 2050 down to its historical average will require savings equal to 118 percent of GDP. Meeting these goals and improving our fiscal outlook will require reductions in spending, increases in revenue, or some combination of the two. The Debt Fixer lets you make changes to health care, reform taxes, improve Social Security, decide the future of the military, and much more. And you can see how policies like repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) or some of the options in the president’s budget will affect the debt…”
Millsap, Adam A and Gonzalez, Olivia, State and Local Tax Policy (January 12, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990527
“This paper provides an overview of economically efficient tax policy for state and local policy makers and contains a short literature review of papers that analyze the economic effects of state and local taxes.”
“VisibleThread’s Web Clarity Index is a methodology for measuring the clarity of web content. In 2016, Visible Thread published an Index as a follow-up comparison to a 2011 review of 29 federal agency websites based on clarity of written content. We measured up to 100 pages on each website, across these four dimensions:
- Readability – How readable is the content?
- Passive Language – Active Language communicates clearly. What proportion of sentences is passive?
- Long Sentences – What proportion of all sentences are too long?
- Word Complexity Density – Complex words make web pages hard to understand.
The 2017 analysis is a follow-up and comparison of federal agency websites that were indexed in 2016. Changes in the White House administration, particularly between political parties, frequently bring change to agencies. As policy changes, content must reflect new priorities and changes to programs and the law. VisibleThread was interested if these changes would impact website clarity…”
“The EU Justice Scoreboard is an information tool aiming to assist the EU and Member States to achieve more effective justice by providing objective, reliable and comparable data on the quality, independence and efficiency of justice systems in all Member States. Such data is essential to support reforms in national justice systems required to render justice systems more effective for citizens and businesses. Well-functioning justice systems are an important structural condition on which Member States base their sustainable growth and social stability policies. Whatever the model of the national justice system or the legal tradition in which it is anchored, quality, independence and efficiency are some of the essential parameters of an ‘effective justice system’.
- The 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard – On 10 April 2017 the European Commission published the 2017 EU Justice Scoreboard which gives a comparative overview of the quality, independence and efficiency of justice systems in the European Union. It aims at assisting Member States to improve the effectiveness of their justice systems. Compared to previous editions, the 2017 Scoreboard looks into new aspects of the functioning of justice systems, for example, how easily consumers can access justice and which channels they use to submit complaints against companies. For the first time, it also shows the length of criminal court proceedings relating to money laundering offences.”
Ontanu, Elena Alina and Velicogna, Marco and Contini, Francesco, How Many Cases? Assessing the Comparability of EU Judicial Datasets (June 17, 2017). Presented at the Conference Ius Dicere in a Globalized World XXIV Bi-Annual Colloquium of the Italian Association of Comparative Law (AIDC), Naples, 15-17 June 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2990558
“Efficiency is often considered a key component of any effective justice system, and a crucial drive for economic growth. A growing body of comparative studies explores how judicial reforms leading to a greater efficiency or effectiveness are positively correlated with economic growth (e.g. Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, Doing Business Report of the World Bank, Judicial Reforms in Europe Report of the ENCJ, The Economics of Civil Justice of the OECD). At EU level, the European Commission has launched tools like the EU Justice Scoreboard to help the Member States to improve the effectiveness of their justice systems. This instrument, in particular, has been created to help EU Member Stares upholding more effective justice and, in particular, to measure and compare the efficiency of EU justice systems. The belief is that more effective and efficient justice systems will drive stronger economic growth, since “effective justice systems are a prerequisite for an investment and business friendly environment” (EU Justice Scoreboard 2016, p. 1). Efficiency and effectiveness are just two, out of several, basic features of justice systems. An efficient (or effective) justice system could potentially suffer from a lack of an independent judiciary and/or miss fairness of procedures and quality of judicial service. This paper, though, does not want to challenge the efficiency approach on these grounds. The researchers aim to check to what extent the data on efficiency used in academic and political discourses that are provided by the Scoreboard is sound enough to make empirically grounded statements in a valid comparative format among the Member States. In a simplified (but not simplistic) way, efficiency can be defined as the ratio between inputs (resources) and outputs (decisions) of the system. While formally aiming to measure and compare efficiency of Member States’ justice systems, the EU-Justice Scoreboard does not link inputs and outputs indicators to for this purpose. Furthermore, we argue that any attempt to make cross-country comparisons is affected by the comparability of the data sets used for the purpose. Another scholar presenting his proposal at this conference, Marco Fabri, explores the question of the comparability of human resources data (judges) that in labour intensive organisation like courts can be considered as the key production factor (“Too few judges” paper). This paper explores a different area, complementing Fabri’s work. The researchers choose to explore the case-flow indicators presented by the Scoreboard which bases its analysis on the number of incoming, pending and resolved cases. The number of cases a court system manages to handle in a year is often considered emblematic for its efficiency. In Europe, the Commission for the Efficiency of Justice of the Council of Europe is the primary collector of such data, which is published in the “CEPEJ Evaluation of European Judicial Systems Report”. The same data is also used by the EU Justice Scoreboard and by many other academic and policy documents. The analysis will deal with the comparability of these data and show that such comparability cannot be taken for granted. It will assess if the definition of “case”, of the different “case types” and of their status (incoming, pending and resolved) is consistent across the different Member States. It will check if national peculiarities make the comparison between apparently identical groups of cases unreliable or inconsistent. Previous analysis suggests that the comparability of such data is critical in many areas, such as the consistency of the answers across time (at state level), and between countries within the same period. The paper will show how the data provided by the Member States to fill apparently simple categories of cases like small claim, and litigious or non-litigious cases vary, making a comparison at least problematic. This finding, together with similar problems associated with measuring the number of judges, suggest caution should be exercised in the use of such indicators for comparative purpose among justice systems in the academic and political debate.”
The 142 page discussion draft (bill), titled the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 was released at 11am on April 22, 2017 to the entire Senate who with the exception of 13 Senators, had not been engaged in its creation nor had prior access to its content. The goal of the bill is to replace both the proposed House bill, the American Health Care Act of 2017 and the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The new Senate bill can be passed by majority vote, but along with Democratic opposition, Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Ted Cruz (Texas) jointly announced their unwillingness to support it at this time: “Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs.”
Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration – The Number of Employment-Related Identity Theft Victims Is Significantly Greater Than Identified, June 20, 2017, Reference Number: 2017-40-031.”Employment-related identity theft (hereafter referred to as employment identity theft) occurs when an identity thief uses another person’s identity to gain employment. Taxpayers may first realize they are a victim when they receive an IRS notice of a discrepancy in the income they reported on their tax return. Each year, the IRS receives about 2.4 million tax returns filed using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) with reported wages, an indicator of potential identity theft.”