Thursday, March 31, 2016

GlaxoSmithKline to 'drop patents in poor countries for better drug access'; BBC News, 3/31/16

BBC News; GlaxoSmithKline to 'drop patents in poor countries for better drug access' :
"Pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline has said it wants to make it easier for manufacturers in the world's poorest countries to copy its medicines. The British company said it would not file patents in these countries.
Chief executive Sir Andrew Witty said he wanted to take a "graduated" approach to the company's "intellectual property" based on the wealth of nations around the globe.
Experts have described the plans as "brave and positive".
GSK hopes that by removing any fear of it filing for patent protection in poorer countries it will allow independent companies to make and sell versions of its drugs in those areas, thereby widening the public access to them."

Anchor Wendy Bell addresses WTAE firing over Facebook posts; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/30/16

Maria Sciullo, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Anchor Wendy Bell addresses WTAE firing over Facebook posts:
"Asked to weigh in on the firing, a journalism ethics expert said freedom of speech is a tricky thing when practiced by those who must adhere to the facts.
“Journalists always — and I don’t use ‘always’ all the time — must be careful about what they write or say because the audience, the readers and the viewers, are depending on them to provide information that they can trust, to be as fair and impartial as possible,” said Aly Colon, a professor of media ethics at Washington and Lee University in Virginia and a former director of standards and practices at NBC News.
Ms. Bell crossed a line when she stated opinion as fact regarding an ongoing news story, he said. Those who write and report the news “have a special responsibility to serve their audience in a way that helps them see what is true, what is accurate and, also very important, authentic.”"

Pittsburgh TV station ‘ends relationship’ with anchor after racially-tinged Facebook post; Washington Post, 3/31/16

Yanan Wang, Washington Post; Pittsburgh TV station ‘ends relationship’ with anchor after racially-tinged Facebook post:
"The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Hearst Television, the parent station of WTAE-TV, said in a statement Wednesday that it had “ended its relationship” with Emmy-winning anchor Wendy Bell because her “recent comments on a WTAE Facebook page were inconsistent with the company’s ethics and journalistic standards.”"

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Landmark study on the effects of copyright takedown abuse on online free expression;, 3/30/16

Cory Doctorow,; Landmark study on the effects of copyright takedown abuse on online free expression:
"Three of America's sharpest copyright scholars have released a landmark study of the impact of copyright takedowns on free expression in America: Notice and Takedown in Everyday Practice, by Jennifer Urban (UC Berkeley), Joe Karaganis (Columbia), and Brianna L. Schofiel (UC Berkeley) uses detailed surveys and interviews and a random sample from over 100,000,000 takedown notices to analyze the proportion of fraudulent, malformed or otherwise incorrect acts of censorship undertaken in copyright's name, using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's takedown procedure.
The DMCA is nearly 20 years old, and even before it was passed into law, virtually everyone who was paying attention said that creating a system that allows anything online to be censored through copyright infringement accusations, without due process or even penalties for getting it wrong, would get us into trouble. Now the evidence is in, and it couldn't be more damning."

Humans of New York Founder Takes On Donald Trump; New York Times, 3/26/16

Ruth La Ferla, New York Times; Humans of New York Founder Takes On Donald Trump:
"Brandon Stanton, the nimble shutterbug behind the immensely popular photo blog Humans of New York, has worked hard to filter politics and moral judgments out of his posts, intent on maintaining objectivity as he captures his subjects in words and on film, letting them speak for themselves.
That changed last week when Mr. Stanton, 32, shed his sedulously cultivated neutrality to take on Donald J. Trump, excoriating the Republican presidential candidate in a 300-word Facebook post presented as an open letter to Mr. Trump.
“I’ve watched you retweet racist images,” the post read in part. “I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on your behalf.”
The reaction was explosive...
Shortly afterward, he was summoned by Katie Couric, Yahoo’s global anchor, to appear as a guest on her web talk show, an occasion he welcomed, telling his host, “I want people to think of this as a moral question, not a political question.”...
“I’m not an activist,” he said. “But in keeping silent about a moral problem, I began to feel a lot of guilt.”"

When You Become The Person You Hate On The Internet; NPR, All Tech Considered, 3/29/16

[Podcast, 6 min. 27 sec.] Sarah Hepola, NPR, All Tech Considered; When You Become The Person You Hate On The Internet:
"For years, I've complained about the random hatred of the Internet. It was the worst part of writing online: Show up with your heart in your hand, and a bunch of strangers line up to throw rocks in your face. I was so freaked out by comments on my own stories that I had once considered not writing at all anymore. I badly wanted a thicker skin, but I also knew I had become a writer because I was thin-skinned. I took on other people's discomfort, and I flinched at the tiniest finger flick of rejection. I was a sensitive person — but I had just done a very insensitive thing.
I would never have said this to his face. But technology is such a bait and switch, giving you the feel of anonymity at the very moment your words have the farthest reach. And my comment was exactly the kind of random stone-throwing that had wounded me over the years".

80 Big-Name Business Leaders Just Took A Stand Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law; Huffington Post, 3/29/16

Elise Foley, Huffington Post; 80 Big-Name Business Leaders Just Took A Stand Against North Carolina’s Anti-LGBT Law:
"The fight against North Carolina’s new anti-LGBT law gained some high-profile support on Tuesday, when more than 80 prominent business leaders signed a letter calling for a full repeal.
“Discrimination is wrong, and we believe it has no place in North Carolina or anywhere in our country,” reads the letter to North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), released by LGBT civil rights groups Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC. “As companies that pride ourselves on being inclusive and welcoming to all, we strongly urge you and the leadership of North Carolina’s legislature to repeal this law in the upcoming legislative session.”
The legislation, which McCrory signed into law last week, prevents local governments from creating their own rules and ordinances to protect LGBT rights. The governor on Monday dismissed backlash against the legislation as “well-coordinated and more political theater than reality.”
Pressure from corporations has worked before in other states, and the letter made the same arguments that discrimination is bad for business.
Most of the signatories lead companies that aren’t headquartered in North Carolina, but it’s a high-profile list, including the heads of Apple, Facebook, Airbnb, Yahoo, Twitter, Salesforce, Marriott, Pfizer and Levi Strauss. Bank of America, the largest corporation in the state by revenue, was left out of the original letter, but announced later on Tuesday that it had signed the letter."

31st Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference; American Bar Association (ABA), Bethesda, Maryland, April 6-8, 2016

American Bar Association (ABA); 31st Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference:
"The 31st Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference from the American Bar Association Section of Intellectual Property Law is recognized as the world's premier IP conference.
These three packed days of learning enable you to earn a year's worth of CLE credit from expert sessions presented by the leaders in every area of the profession. We offer what you need to know along with multiple opportunities to mingle with those who should be part of your network."

Museum’s Plan to Include Cosby Material Draws Criticism From Accusers; New York Times, 3/27/16

Graham Bowley, New York Times; Museum’s Plan to Include Cosby Material Draws Criticism From Accusers:
"Several women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault say they are upset that the new National Museum of African American History and Culture plans not to mention their accusations in an exhibition that recognizes Mr. Cosby’s pioneering work in comedy and television.
“If they just speak about the contributions, there will be this enormous presence that is not talked about,” Patricia Leary Steuer, 59, who has accused Mr. Cosby of assaulting her decades ago, said on Saturday...
The Smithsonian Institution faced questions last year when its National Museum of African Art featured works on loan from the substantial art collection of Mr. Cosby and his wife, Camille.
The Smithsonian eventually put up a sign telling visitors that the museum did not condone the behavior of which Mr. Cosby is accused.
The situation at the new history and culture museum is different from that one, Smithsonian officials have said, noting that Mr. Cosby’s presence in it will be minimal and that he has not donated money or objects to it."

Monday, March 28, 2016

The ACLU Sues to Stop North Carolina’s Anti-LGBTQ Law;, 3/28/16

Mark Joseph Stern,; The ACLU Sues to Stop North Carolina’s Anti-LGBTQ Law:
"The complaint names three individual plaintiffs: a trans employee at the University of North Carolina; a trans University of North Carolina student; and a lesbian at North Carolina Central University School of Law. These are the perfect plaintiffs, because they allow the ACLU to challenge a key illegality in the North Carolina law (dubbed HB2): It explicitly discriminates against trans people by barring them from using the correct bathroom in any government facility, including public universities. Federal law prohibits discrimination against trans students in schools that receive federal funding—as UNC does. So the ACLU lawsuit effectively highlights the direct clash between HB2 and an existing federal mandate, forcing the state to choose between continued discrimination and continued education funding."

Georgia Governor Vetoes North Carolina-Style “Religious Liberty” Bill;, 3/28/16

Mark Joseph Stern,; Georgia Governor Vetoes North Carolina-Style “Religious Liberty” Bill:
"In his Monday address, Deal sent a very clear message to the legislature’s anti-LGBT agitators: Your prejudice does not belong in our state’s laws. “HB757 doesn't reflect the character of our state or the character of our people,” Deal declared, explaining that the law is also completely unnecessary: “We do not have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia.” Denouncing the hypocrisy of the bill’s advocates, Deal noted wryly, “I find it ironic that some in the religious community look to government to secure religious rights.” He also explained that “it’s difficult to legislate on something that’s best left to the First Amendment”—music to the ears of civil libertarians, who have long pointed out that the Free Exercise Clause already guarantees religious liberty for all.
“This is about the character of our state and our people,” Deal concluded. “Georgia is a welcoming state full of kind and generous people.” By vetoing HB757, Deal will help to maintain those values of tolerance."

Protecting Employees’ Health Data; New York Times, 3/26/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Protecting Employees’ Health Data:
"Many states prohibit employers from firing people because they smoke. Michigan and several cities ban discrimination based on weight. But federal law offers little recourse to workers fired because of data showing a pattern of unhealthy behavior.
To address this problem, a group of legal scholars has called for federal legislation that would bar companies from hiring or firing people based on health information gleaned through health data services. It would also ensure employees’ right to see the information these services collected about them and to have that information deleted.
As data analysis techniques evolve, such services will be able to draw ever more sophisticated conclusions about people based on their health care use. Americans need federal protections to make sure that those conclusions don’t cost them their jobs."

Saturday, March 26, 2016

My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump; New York Times, 3/26/16

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times; My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump:
"All politicians spin, of course. But all in all, I’ve never met a national politician in the U.S. who is so ill informed, evasive, puerile and deceptive as Trump.
When the fact-check website PolitiFact was ready to choose its “lie of the year” for 2015, it found that the only real contenders were falsehoods by Trump. So it lumped them together and awarded the title to “the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.”
That pattern of prevarication is what we in the media, especially television, didn’t adequately highlight, leaving many voters with the perception that Trump is actually a straight shooter."

Robert De Niro Pulls Anti-Vaccine Documentary From Tribeca Film Festival; New York Times, 3/26/16

Stephanie Goodman, New York Times; Robert De Niro Pulls Anti-Vaccine Documentary From Tribeca Film Festival:
"Facing a storm of criticism over its plan to show a documentary about the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday pulled the film from its schedule next month.
In a statement, Robert De Niro, a co-founder of the festival, wrote: “My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”
The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” was directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, the author of a study that was published in the British medical journal The Lancet and then retracted in 2010. Mr. Wakefield’s medical license was also revoked over his failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest and ethics violations."

Ethics court fines Former Justice Eakin $50K for lewd emails; Associated Press via, 3/24/16

Mark Scolforo, Associated Press via; Ethics court fines Former Justice Eakin $50K for lewd emails:
"Pennsylvania’s judicial ethics court is fining a former state Supreme Court justice $50,000 a week after he resigned for his role in a sweeping scandal over lewd and objectionable emails exchanged in the state’s law enforcement circles.
The court said Thursday that former Justice Michael Eakin jeopardized the judiciary’s reputation by trading emails containing “imagery of sexism, racism, and bigotry.”...
The court notes Eakin’s behavior wasn’t criminal and the punishment would have been more severe if he hadn’t resigned and accepted responsibility."

The Blue Wars: A Report from the Front; Harvard Law Record, 3/21/16

Carl Malamud, Harvard Law Record; The Blue Wars: A Report from the Front:
"The subject of this legal inquisition is a work you all know well: The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. A series of letters from Ropes & Gray LLP firmly asserted and repeatedly reminded me of the legal protections surrounding this work including trademark and copyright protections. THE BLUEBOOK A UNIFORM SYSTEM OF CITATION, Registration No. 3,886,986; THE BLUEBOOK, Registration No. 3,756,727; The Bluebook A Uniform System of Citation, 20th edition, Copyright Registration No. TX0008140199 (June 5, 2015).
The Blue Wars started in 2009 when Frank Bennett, a law professor at Nagoya University in Japan, was working on some open source software for legal citation. Professor Bennett wanted to build in a resolution mechanism for common abbreviations, for example mapping the court name “Temporary Emergency Court of Appeals” to the designated abbreviation (“Temp. Emer. Ct. App.”). The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation 234 tbl.T.1 (Columbia Law Review Ass’n et al. eds., 20th ed. 2015).
Professor Bennett applied to the Harv. L. Rev. Ass’n for permission to use the rudimentary Bluebook web site and grab the abbreviations. He was firmly rebuffed. Being an open source acolyte, Professor Bennett felt he was entitled to use those common and obvious abbreviations, so he wrote to his spiritual leader [Lawrence Lessig] for help...
These are the challenges in front of us all. What is at stake is not the future of a $36 book, it is the question of how we communicate the law so that we all understand each other; so that our system of justice can be transparent and clear; so that we all know what we’re talking about when we refer to a source. I hope we can do this together."

Obama Declassification Holds Promise of Uncovering New Evidence on Argentina's Dirty War; National Security Archive, 3/23/16

National Security Archive; Obama Declassification Holds Promise of Uncovering New Evidence on Argentina's Dirty War:
"Reinforcing the Obama administration’s planned “comprehensive effort to declassify” historical records on Argentina’s dirty war, the National Security Archive today posted examples of the kinds of materials in U.S. government files that would most likely enhance public understanding of that troubled period in Latin American history. The posted documents, relating not just to regional developments but to official U.S. policy and operations, were declassified either through similar government decrees -- thus setting a useful precedent for current administration officials -- or the U.S. Freedom of Information Act."

Chinese activist's family 'taken away' over letter calling for Xi Jinping to quit; Reuters via Guardian, 3/26/16

Reuters via Guardian; Chinese activist's family 'taken away' over letter calling for Xi Jinping to quit:
"A New York-based Chinese activist has said that China’s authorities have detained three members of his family in connection with an open letter calling for the resignation of president Xi Jinping.
Speaking from New York, Wen Yunchao said his parents and younger brother were “taken away” by the authorities on Tuesday and have disappeared, days after the government “harassed” his family over his suspected involvement in distributing the letter...
President Xi has embarked on an unprecedented effort to clamp down on the internet and censor opinions that do not reflect those of Communist Party leaders, including by imposing tougher penalties for what the Chinese government calls spreading rumours."

Tony Norman: Colleges, quit coddling hypersensitive students; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/25/16

Tony Norman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Tony Norman: Colleges, quit coddling hypersensitive students:
"My disdain is rooted in a belief in the power of vigorous debate, name calling and constant finger pointing at those institutions and individuals who would undermine freedom of thought and expression. This requires a willingness to engage in conflict, not run crying to mommy or school administrators. The protests against unpopular political expressions currently roiling many American campuses need to be taken seriously. If universities and colleges willingly capitulate to mobs of hothouse flowers yelling to be protected from every instance of intellectual discomfort, then the purpose of higher learning is nil. Higher education shouldn’t be about perpetuating a nation of sheep, scoundrels and ignoramuses who will probably end up voting for Donald Trump, anyway."

Staged picture from Brussels bombings prompts ethics debate; Guardian, 3/25/16

Amber Jamieson, Guardian; Staged picture from Brussels bombings prompts ethics debate:
"A young photojournalist caught on video posing a girl in mourning after the Brussels terror attacks has sparked a furious debate among internationally renowned news photographers about how often news photographs are staged.
In the footage, captured by Fox News during a live cross to Belgium on Wednesday morning, photographer Khaled Al Sabbah can be seen moving the arm of a young girl and directing her in front of the makeshift memorial, while he snaps away with his camera. Photojournalist ethics – outlined by media organizations, industry associations and major competitions – state that news photos cannot be posed.
“It’s one more example of a photographer doing something that destroys public trust in the media,” said Michael Kamber, a former staff photographer at the New York Times and founder of the Bronx Documentary Center, after viewing the video."

Robert De Niro Defends Screening of Anti-Vaccine Film at Tribeca Festival; New York Times, 3/25/16

Pam Belluck and Melena Ryzik, New York Times; Robert De Niro Defends Screening of Anti-Vaccine Film at Tribeca Festival:
"In a decision that has dredged up the widely debunked link between vaccines and autism, the Tribeca Film Festival plans to screen a film by a discredited former doctor whose research caused widespread alarm about the issue.
The film, “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe,” is directed and co-written by Andrew Wakefield, an anti-vaccination activist and an author of a study — published in the British medical journal The Lancet, in 1998 — that was retracted in 2010. In addition to the retraction of the study, which involved 12 children, Britain’s General Medical Council, citing ethical violations and a failure to disclose financial conflicts of interest, revoked Mr. Wakefield’s medical license.
On the festival’s website, the biographical material about Mr. Wakefield does not mention that he was stripped of his license or that his Lancet study was retracted. Rather, it says that the Lancet study “would catapult Wakefield into becoming one of the most controversial figures in the history of medicine.”...
The plan to show the film has unnerved and angered doctors, infectious disease experts and even other filmmakers.
“Unless the Tribeca Film Festival plans to definitively unmask Andrew Wakefield, it will be yet another disheartening chapter where a scientific fraud continues to occupy a spotlight and overshadows the damage he has left behind in the important story of vaccine safety and success,” Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said in an email.
The documentary filmmaker Penny Lane (“Our Nixon”) published on Thursday an open letter to the festival’s organizers in Filmmaker Magazine, suggesting that including “Vaxxed” in the documentary section “threatens the credibility of not just the other filmmakers in your doc slate, but the field in general.”"

Friday, March 25, 2016

Woman convicted of working for decade as unlicensed attorney claimed she obtained law degree from Duquesne University; Associated Press via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/25/16

Associated Press via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Woman convicted of working for decade as unlicensed attorney claimed she obtained law degree from Duquesne University:
"A former president of a county bar association has been convicted of using forged documents to pose as an estate lawyer for a decade even though she didn’t have a law license.
Kimberly Kitchen was convicted Thursday on charges of forgery, unauthorized practice of law and felony records tampering in Huntingdon County.
Ms. Kitchen, 45, fooled BMZ Law, a Huntingdon firm, by forging a law license, bar exam results, an email showing she attended Duquesne University law school and a check for a state attorney registration fee, prosecutors said.
The James Creek resident handled estate planning for more than 30 clients despite never attending law school, and she even served as president of the county bar association for a time. She made partner at BMZ before the fraud was discovered."

Education Data, Student Privacy Take Spotlight at Capitol Hill Hearing; Education Week, 3/22/16

Andrew Ujifusa, Education Week; Education Data, Student Privacy Take Spotlight at Capitol Hill Hearing:
"Members of Congress weighed the concerns of parents, researchers, and educators about the sensitive intersection of education data and student privacy at a House education committee hearing Tuesday.
Among the topics: parents' desire for transparency and more control over what data is collected and how it's used; the need for researchers to have comprehensive and varied data; and the work states have done to try to safeguard the data they collect, while ensuring its usefulness to schools.
The hearing didn't take place in a vacuum. Over the past year, several lawmakers have taken a crack at revamping federal rules for how states and districts have to handle sensitive student information. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, passed in 1974, is widely seen as outdated because of its limited definition of a "student record" in a world where states, educational service vendors, and others are gathering new and diverse types of data about students."

Congress seeks to update student data privacy law; FedScoop, 3/22/16

Yizhu Wang, FedScoop; Congress seeks to update student data privacy law:
"Federal lawmakers are intent on updating an education privacy law that hasn't been overhauled in more than 40 years – but they are unsure about how to go about it.
The House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing Tuesday with state technology leaders, education researchers, parent groups and advocates, to gather information about how schools are protecting student data and the vulnerabilities that still exist. Legislators specifically addressed the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which was established in 1974 and revised in 2012 to protect kids' emails and other means of online identification."

Microsoft scrambles to limit PR damage over abusive AI bot Tay; Guardian, 3/24/16

Alex Hern, Guardian; Microsoft scrambles to limit PR damage over abusive AI bot Tay:
"Microsoft is battling to control the public relations damage done by its “millennial” chatbot, which turned into a genocide-supporting Nazi less than 24 hours after it was let loose on the internet.
The chatbot, named “Tay” (and, as is often the case, gendered female), was designed to have conversations with Twitter users, and learn how to mimic a human by copying their speech patterns. It was supposed to mimic people aged 18–24 but a brush with the dark side of the net, led by emigrants from the notorious 4chan forum, instead taught her to tweet phrases such as “I fucking hate feminists and they should all die and burn in hell” and “HITLER DID NOTHING WRONG”."

Hollywood Actors Join Georgia Boycott Threats Over Gay Bill; Reuters via Huffington Post, 3/24/16

Reuters via Huffington Post; Hollywood Actors Join Georgia Boycott Threats Over Gay Bill:
"Anne Hathaway, Julianne Moore and some 30 other Hollywood actors and directors added their voice on Thursday to entertainment industry threats to boycott Georgia if the U.S. state’s governor signs a new law seen as discriminating against gay people.
Movie and TV studios 21st Century Fox, NBC Universal and Time Warner joined Walt Disney , AMC, Viacom and Marvel Entertainment in either opposing the bill, or saying they would take their productions elsewhere...
The entertainment industry is the latest group to come out in force against the Georgia law. More than 300 companies, including Google, Coca-Cola, and Delta Air Lines have urged that it be dropped. The NFL said last week that if the bill is signed, Atlanta could lose the opportunity to host any future Super Bowls."

N.F.L. Issues Statement About Article and The Times Responds; New York Times, 3/24/16

New York Times; N.F.L. Issues Statement About Article and The Times Responds:
"Hours after The New York Times published an article on Thursday that examined deep flaws in the N.F.L.’s early concussion research and the league’s ties to the tobacco industry, the league responded with a statement disputing various aspects of the article.
The statement said the article was “contradicted by clear facts” and that The Times “published pages of innuendo and speculation.”
Data obtained by The Times revealed that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were not included in the studies that formed the backbone of the league’s early stance on the issue. The research was held up by the league as evidence that brain injuries did not cause long-term problems for players."

How North Carolina Just Passed a Blood-Curdling Anti-LGBT Law Right Before Our Eyes; Huffington Post, 3/24/16

Michelangelo Signorile, Huffington Post; How North Carolina Just Passed a Blood-Curdling Anti-LGBT Law Right Before Our Eyes:
"For over a year, long before the Obergefell marriage equality ruling, many warned that the backlash to LGBT equality would be ugly and intense, and that too many LGBT leaders and much of the media weren’t paying attention, caught up in the wins — what I’ve dubbed victory blindness.
The cost, it was noted, would be the stripping of LGBT rights under the radar, with little focus on our issues. Lo and behold, while LGBT rights were front and center for several years and at the forefront of the 2012 presidential election, there’s been hardly any discussion of the issues in the current election campaign, even as anti-LGBT forces in the states, in the GOP leadership, and in Congress have been in overdrive...
The speed with which a horrifically anti-LGBT bill passed the North Carolina legislature was sickening. Within hours of of being introduced in the legislature and getting overwhelming support, a sweeping bill which overturned existing ordinances protecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in cities and counties across the state — and which banned transgender people from using restrooms that correspond with their gender identity — was signed by the GOP governor, Pat McCrory.
HB2 is the most heinous, homophobic, transphobic law we have ever seen — just read it."

Obama Declassifies Documents Related to Argentina’s Dirty War; Wall Street Journal, 3/24/16

Ryan Dube and Taos Turner, Wall Street Journal; Obama Declassifies Documents Related to Argentina’s Dirty War:
""Democracies have to have the courage to acknowledge when we don’t live up to the ideals that we stand for, when we’ve been slow to speak up for human rights, and that was the case here,” Mr. Obama added.
Mr. Macri, who had asked the U.S. to declassify the documents, said Mr. Obama’s visit on the coup anniversary was an opportunity for Argentines to say “never again in Argentina to political violence, never again to institutional violence.”
“Today we need to reaffirm our commitment to democracy and human rights,” he added.
The State Department has declassified over 4,000 documents from the Dirty War period. The documents underscore the divide among some U.S. officials about how to respond to the military regime, which ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.
At the center of the controversy is former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who met with top officials from Argentina’s military regime shortly after the coup on March 24, 1976."

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In N.F.L., Deeply Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Big Tobacco; New York Times, 3/24/16

Alan Schwarz, Walt Bogdanich, Jacqueline Williams, New York Times; In N.F.L., Deeply Flawed Concussion Research and Ties to Big Tobacco:
"With several of its marquee players retiring early after a cascade of frightening concussions, the league formed a committee in 1994 that would ultimately issue a succession of research papers playing down the danger of head injuries. Amid criticism of the committee’s work, physicians brought in later to continue the research said the papers had relied on faulty analysis.
Now, an investigation by The New York Times has found that the N.F.L.’s concussion research was far more flawed than previously known.
For the last 13 years, the N.F.L. has stood by the research, which, the papers stated, was based on a full accounting of all concussions diagnosed by team physicians from 1996 through 2001. But confidential data obtained by The Times shows that more than 100 diagnosed concussions were omitted from the studies — including some severe injuries to stars like quarterbacks Steve Young and Troy Aikman. The committee then calculated the rates of concussions using the incomplete data, making them appear less frequent than they actually were.
After The Times asked the league about the missing diagnosed cases — more than 10 percent of the total — officials acknowledged that “the clubs were not required to submit their data and not every club did.” That should have been made clearer, the league said in a statement, adding that the missing cases were not part of an attempt “to alter or suppress the rate of concussions.”
One member of the concussion committee, Dr. Joseph Waeckerle, said he was unaware of the omissions. But he added: “If somebody made a human error or somebody assumed the data was absolutely correct and didn’t question it, well, we screwed up. If we found it wasn’t accurate and still used it, that’s not a screw-up; that’s a lie.”
These discoveries raise new questions about the validity of the committee’s findings, published in 13 peer-reviewed articles and held up by the league as scientific evidence that brain injuries did not cause long-term harm to its players. It is also unclear why the omissions went unchallenged by league officials, by the epidemiologist whose job it was to ensure accurate data collection and by the editor of the medical journal that published the studies."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

White House tech office to co-host open data roundtables; FedScoop, 3/22/16

Wyatt Kash, FedScoop; White House tech office to co-host open data roundtables:
"The White House Office of Science Technology Policy has unveiled plans to co-host four open data roundtables, with the first to get underway Thursday, as part of a continuing push to advance the use of federal data.
The sessions are expected to bring together a limited number of technical, policy and legal experts from federal agencies, academia and the private sector — and collect input from the public — as part of an effort to accelerate the use of government open data sets, according to an OSTP briefing.
The roundtables, which will be co-hosted and conducted by the Center for Open Data Enterprise, which conducted similar roundtables last year, will focus on four challenges confronting the open data community...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

As governments open access to data, law lags far behind; ABA Journal, 3/17/16

Lorelai Laird, ABA Journal; As governments open access to data, law lags far behind:
"From municipalities to the White House, governments are launching open data projects—but the judicial branch is falling behind.
Such was the opening, frustrated message of “Public Service Legal Technology in the Data.Gov Era,” a Thursday-morning panel at ABA Techshow.
Adam Ziegler of Harvard Law School’s Library Innovation Lab hammered home the message with a quick tour of government data projects. The federal government has, a website that offers publicly available data on many topics related to executive branch agencies; 18F: a series of projects from the General Services Administration; and the U.S. Digital Service, a White House project seeking to streamline government services. The White House even has a page on GitHub, a website that allows programmers to post and collaborate on their work.
“We are in an era of amazing progress in access to government data,” said Ziegler, a programmer and former attorney. But “where are we with the law? Almost nowhere, unfortunately.” The nonprofit U.S. Open Data assessed publicly accessible legal information in every state—and found poor accessibility almost everywhere.
Ziegler’s lab is doing its best to change that with its ambitious “Free the Law” project with Ravel Law, which will scan Harvard’s entire 40,000-volume collection of U.S. case law."

A toddler got meningitis. His anti-vac parents gave him an herbal remedy. The toddler died. Now his parents are on trial. Washington Post, 3/18/16

Michael E. Miller, Washington Post; A toddler got meningitis. His anti-vac parents gave him an herbal remedy. The toddler died. Now his parents are on trial. :
"Ezekiel died from bacterial meningitis and empyema, two conditions routinely cured with antibiotics, a medical examiner told the court last week, according to the Lethbridge Herald.
If convicted, the parents could spend up to five years in prison.
The case has stirred outrage across Canada and the United States. It comes at a time when belief in natural and homeopathic remedies is on the rise in North America. More controversially, anti-vaccine sentiment is also surging, leading to a resurgence of once vanquished diseases like measles and whooping cough.
The toddler’s tragic death raises questions of whether and when parents have a duty to take their children to the hospital, despite their personal or religious beliefs.
Ezekiel Stephan wasn’t old enough to speak for himself when he died. Nonetheless, he has become a lightning rod for a raging debate."

Crosswords and copyright; Washington Post, 3/15/16

David Post, Washington Post; Crosswords and copyright:
"What’s interesting, to me, in all this, aside from the light it sheds on puzzle construction, is that it illustrates how “plagiarism,” though it is often conflated with copyright infringement, actually covers very different territory and involves very different interests. A crossword’s “theme” is probably one element of the puzzle-creator’s work that is not protected by copyright; copyright law doesn’t protect “ideas,” only the expression of ideas, and a puzzle’s theme is, in my opinion, just such an unprotectable “idea,” free for the taking (as far as copyright law is concerned). But it’s precisely this kind of taking — theme theft — that gets the angriest response from those in the puzzle-writing business.
This has a direct parallel in academic writing. There, too, the plagiarism norms focus on a kind of borrowing that the law of copyright deems permissible: taking another’s ideas or expression without attribution. Nobody in the academic world will complain if you use their ideas or quote their work — in fact, that’s very much the whole point of the enterprise. But to do so without citation — that will get you into the hottest of hot water. [Just ask Doris Kearns Goodwin, or Stephen Ambrose or Joseph Ellis]. Yet copyright law gives an author no enforceable right to have his/her work properly attributed to him/her — a fact that surprised the hell out of many of my law prof colleagues when they first learned of it (insofar as proper attribution was really the only thing they cared about)."

Asia On The Heels Of US And Europe In Patent Applications At WIPO; Developing Countries Lagging; Intellectual Property Watch, 3/16/16

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; Asia On The Heels Of US And Europe In Patent Applications At WIPO; Developing Countries Lagging:
"China, Japan and South Korea are among the top five countries filing international patent applications at the World Intellectual Property Organization, while the United States continues to lead in patent and trademark applications. Far behind, developing countries seem to be having a hard time catching up...
The top 10 countries filing under the PCT in 2015 were the US (57,385), Japan (44,235), and China (29,846), followed by Germany, South Korea, France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Sweden.
According to a WIPO press release, the US has filed the largest annual number of international patent applications for 38 years running. Patent-filing activity by China-based innovators accounted for much of the overall growth in applications, according to the release.
Computer technology and digital communication saw the largest numbers of filing in 2015, each exceeding 16,000, according to the release."

Status of gene patents in Canada unresolved, despite successful challenge; The Canadian Press via CTV News, 3/20/16

The Canadian Press via CTV News; Status of gene patents in Canada unresolved, despite successful challenge:
"One of the most contentious issues in genetics is whether researchers should be allowed to patent human genes found to cause disease and to commercialize diagnostic tests based on those mutated snippets of DNA.
Courts in the U.S. and Australia, for example, have banned the practice, but in Canada no law prohibits scientists from taking out patents on bits of the human genome and their associated products for use in patients.
But an out-of-court settlement earlier this month between an Ottawa hospital and a global company that holds patents on genes and a related test for a potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder may have vastly altered the Canadian gene-patenting landscape.
In what could be characterized as a David and Goliath contest, the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) launched a court challenge in late 2014 against U.S.-based Transgenomic Inc., which holds patents on five of the flawed genes underpinning long QT syndrome and the diagnostic test for the inherited disorder...

Open Data: Why We Should Care; Huffington Post, 3/17/16

Apolitical, Huffington Post; Open Data: Why We Should Care:
"Excited by the connectivity revolution, governments all over the world are trying to find clever uses for the enormous amounts of digital information they now possess. One of the Big Data movements with the most momentum is Open Data — making this information available to the public. But what good does this actually do? Apolitical spoke to three pioneers in the field in Burkina Faso, Brazil and India, who told us about fighting corruption, ensuring free elections and preventing crime. These real, substantive issues go beyond the inevitably vague buzzwords of transparency and accountability. Here we discover what Open Data can really do about them."

How The Trump Campaign Could Evolve Into Organized Violence, In 6 Steps; Huffington Post, 3/17/16

Daniel Marans and Ryan Grim, Huffington Post; How The Trump Campaign Could Evolve Into Organized Violence, In 6 Steps:
"UPDATE: 3/19 — On March 15, some anonymous Trump supporters started the Lion Guard, which calls itself an “informal civilian group dedicated to the safety and security of #Trump supporters by exposing Far-Left rioters,” in person and on social media.
“The Lion Guard is a call to put the words ‘Make America Great Again’ into action and aid Trump’s security and show our adversaries we are disciplined, perceptive, and watching,” the group’s “Call to Action” states.
Republican front-runner Donald Trump on Sunday floated the idea of paying the legal fees of a white supporter who sucker-punched a black man leaving a rally. Later that day, he claimed “no responsibility” for political violence, suggesting instead that protesters are dangerous and that his supporters are right to “hit back.” He even blamed Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) for sending protesters to disrupt his rallies, and threatened to sic his supporters on Sanders in retaliation.
Extreme political movements like Trump’s often go hand-in-hand with street violence. But organized militias like Adolf Hitler’s brown shirts and Benito Mussolini’s black shirts don’t spring up overnight. They evolve. Here’s how the process works."

No, Not Trump, Not Ever; New York Times, 3/18/16

David Brooks, New York Times; No, Not Trump, Not Ever:
"Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.
As the founders would have understood, he is a threat to the long and glorious experiment of American self-government. He is precisely the kind of scapegoating, promise-making, fear-driving and deceiving demagogue they feared.
Trump’s supporters deserve respect. They are left out of this economy. But Trump himself? No, not Trump, not ever."

Privacy versus speech in the Hulk Hogan sex tape trial; Los Angeles Times, 3/14/16

Erwin Chemerinsky, Los Angeles Times; Privacy versus speech in the Hulk Hogan sex tape trial:
"Indeed, this case reflects how the changing notions of privacy in society make it much harder to decide what would be offensive to the reasonable person and what isn't of public concern.
But juries, it's said, make decisions based on emotion, on the gut. Accordingly, St. Petersburg jurors may ultimately find it hard to accept that Gawker's speech rights reach into Bollea's bedroom, notwithstanding the plaintiff's lewd persona. There is a difference, after all, between talking about sex and watching it.
If the jury sides with Bollea, 1st Amendment absolutists will worry about the “chilling effect” the verdict may have on speech, and will claim it's impossible to draw a line between permissible and impermissible expression. Speech is speech.
But I can imagine a clear rule: No videos of people having sex should be made public unless all of the participants consent. I think the media will survive the restriction."

What The Hulk Hogan Verdict Means For Freedom Of The Press; Huffington Post, 3/19/16

Chris D'Angelo, Huffington Post; What The Hulk Hogan Verdict Means For Freedom Of The Press:
"Mary-Rose Papandrea, a law professor at the University of North Carolina, agreed it likely won’t have a larger effect, because “most journalists and most publishers are careful, and err on the side of protecting privacy.”
Even so, there is currently an “anything goes“ mentality when it comes to publishing information about celebrities, Eric Goldman, co-director of Santa Clara University’s High Tech Law Institute, told Fusion. Indeed, Gawker had argued in court that by repeatedly discussing his own sex life in public, Hogan made the subject fair game. Their loss, Goldman said, might result in “some rethinking of that mentality.”
Since the verdict, Nick Denton, Gawker’s founder, made clear Gawker plans to appeal.
Until then, one can only assume the $115 million verdict will result in other outlets thinking long and hard before publishing the next sex tape that surfaces."

Jury Awards Hulk Hogan $115 Million In Gawker Sex Tape Lawsuit; Huffington Post, 3/18/16

Chris D'Angelo, Huffington Post; Jury Awards Hulk Hogan $115 Million In Gawker Sex Tape Lawsuit:
"A Florida jury has sided with Hulk Hogan in the lawsuit the former professional wrestler filed against Gawker Media, awarding him $115 million in damages — $15 million more than he sought.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, sued Gawker in 2012 after the online media outlet published an excerpt of a video showing Bollea having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, Bubba The Love Sponge Clem. Hogan and his attorneys alleged publishing the video was an invasion of his privacy. Gawker argued the clip was newsworthy and protected by the First Amendment."

When Dignity Costs Too Much; Inside Higher Ed via Slate, March 2016

Colleen Flaherty, Inside Higher Ed via Slate; When Dignity Costs Too Much:
"Even if the adjunct movement for better working conditions succeeds, most adjuncts will lose. That’s one bold claim of a recent paper on the costs associated with a number of the movement’s goals, such as better pay and benefits. While activists and scholars have been quick to criticize what they call the paper’s inherently flawed logic, the study’s authors say it is a first step in a more critical dialogue on the adjunct “dilemma.”"

Making Museums Moral Again; New York Times, 3/17/16

Holland Cotter, New York Times; Making Museums Moral Again:
"“From the first moment of contact with Europe,” she writes, “exploitation of its wealth ushered in foreign intervention on a massive scale that has continued unabated into the present.”
I’ve rarely read a text so forthrightly polemical in an exhibition organized by the Met. I don’t remember ever reading anything like it in any of the permanent galleries. But it is a model for the kind of truth-telling approach that museums could, and should, be taking to art: factual, incisive, politically astute, connecting the past to the present and inviting argument.
My sense is that such a tactic could encourage viewer “engagement,” to invoke a term that buzzes around the fraught subject of audience-building. It could wake people up; compel them to stop, look and read when they might have passed by; and prompt them to see that art isn’t just about objects — it’s about ideas, histories and ethical philosophies that they may have a stake in, and an opinion about. It seems to me that one point of museum programming is to get people to think, as opposed to endlessly snapping selfies.
Of course, the “truth” brings risks. There are truths we don’t want to know, and so-called truths can be applied damagingly to one person or culture, but not another. What about beauty? Will magnificent objects suffer if they are found to have unbeautiful back stories? Many objects in museums fall into this category.
If museum officials begin to sense that visitors are becoming more involved in what the curators are saying and thinking, not just what they’re showing, maybe they will come to feel a more immediate stake in the preoccupations of audiences."

The Man the Founders Feared; New York Times, 3/19/16

Peter Wehner, New York Times; The Man the Founders Feared:
"In 1838, as a 28-year-old state legislator, Abraham Lincoln delivered an address at the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Ill. The speech was given in the aftermath of the lynching of a mixed-race boatman and the burning of a black abolitionist newspaper editor. Lincoln warned that a “mobocratic spirit” and “wild and furious passions” posed a threat to republican institutions. He also alerted people to the danger of individuals — “an Alexander, a Caesar or a Napoleon?” — who, in their search for glory and power, might pose a threat to American self-government.
“Is it unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us?” Lincoln asked.
The antidote to this threat, Lincoln argued, was to cultivate a “political religion” that emphasized “reverence for the laws.” Passion was our enemy, he warned; it had to be contained. “Reason — cold, calculating, unimpassioned reason — must furnish all the materials for our future support and defense.”"

Yes, he tried: what will Barack Obama's legacy be?; Guardian, 3/19/16

Gary Younge, Guardian; Yes, he tried: what will Barack Obama's legacy be? :
"When the political tone is set this low, when so little is expected of the candidates and the choices are this poor, the fact that Obama tried – and the way that he tried – starts to eclipse the fact that he so often failed. Like a dutiful doctor, he performed triage on a reluctant patient and didn’t give up even when the prospects looked bleak. He did his job.
As his term comes to an end and the fractured, volatile nature of the country’s electoral politics is once again laid bare, Americans may be coming to realise that, in Obama, it had an adult in the room. As violence erupts at election rallies and spills over into the streets, they may come to appreciate the absence of scandal and drama from the White House. As their wages stagnated, industries collapsed, insecurities grew and hopes faded, he tried to get something done. Not much, not enough – but something. It is possible to have serious, moral criticisms of Obama and his legacy, and still appreciate his value, given the alternatives.
In Obama, Americans are losing someone who took both public service and the public seriously; someone who stood for something bigger and more important than himself. This is the end of the line for a leader who believed that facts mattered; that Americans were not fools; that their democracy meant something and that government had a role: that America could be better than this."

It’s not just Trump University; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3/20/16

Jonathan Zimmerman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; It’s not just Trump University:
"So it turns out that some teachers at Trump University pressed students to inflate scores on course evaluations, so the teachers would be rehired. But the same kind of thing has been happening for a long time at real American universities, not just at Donald Trump’s fake one.
That’s the real scandal here. We’ve turned our colleges into consumer-driven businesses, where student “satisfaction” is what matters most. And that makes the rest of us a lot more like Trump University than we’d care to admit.
Consider that over three-quarters of faculty in the United States are now “adjuncts,” meaning they work on short-term contracts (like Trump instructors) instead of on the tenure track. In 2014, a congressional study showed that a majority of adjunct faculty live below the poverty line. They drive from campus to campus, teaching multiple courses and sometimes even sleep in their cars.
And in most cases, they’re evaluated solely on student evaluations. Who can blame them for trying to gin up their scores? After all, their livelihoods are at stake."

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Divers Shocked To Find Animals Trapped In Cages Underwater;, 3/15/16

Stephen Messenger,; Divers Shocked To Find Animals Trapped In Cages Underwater:
"Not wanting the animals to continue suffering in that sad state, the divers tried to convince their captor to set them free, informing him that dugongs are a protected species vulnerable to extinction.
"When we left the island, the fisherman agreed to release them," Lim said. "But since we were not so convinced he would, I posted the video to social media." The other divers did as well.
And it's a good thing that they did. Within hours, Lim was contacted by wildlife authorities requesting the location of the cages. The next day, officials descended on the spot and found the animals still trapped.
That's when they were finally set free."

The latest news on 'To Kill a Mockingbird' shows how big corporations control copyright law; Los Angeles Times, 3/14/16

Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times; The latest news on 'To Kill a Mockingbird' shows how big corporations control copyright law:
"According to a March 4 notice issued by Hachette to booksellers and reported by the New Republic, permission for the mass-market edition has been withdrawn by the novel's publisher, HarperCollins. (HarperCollins also brought out "Go Set a Watchman.") Hachette can sell off its remaining copies, which it's doing at a further discount, but henceforth "Mockingbird" will be available chiefly in a HarperCollins trade paperback edition, which lists for $14.99.
The burden will fall on school districts that traditionally laid in a large volume of mass-market books for their pupils. Hachette says that more than two-thirds of the 30 million copies sold worldwide since publication have been its low-priced edition. Hachette told bookstores, according to the New Republic: "The disappearance of the iconic mass-market edition is very disappointing to us, especially as we understand this could force a difficult situation for schools and teachers with tight budgets who cannot afford the larger, higher priced paperback edition that will remain in the market."
The real problem this development points to is with copyright law, which has been getting consistently rewritten in the United States and other countries to extend the length of authors' rights to the point where their heirs, and heirs of heirs, are the chief beneficiaries of the copyright. But that's only superficially. The real beneficiaries are corporations, which continue to profit from successful works of art for decades after their creators have passed on. Corporations such as HarperCollins...
Yet as we can see from the extinction of the mass-market paperback of "Mockingbird," such extensions stifle the dissemination of creative works rather than encourage it. The squabble over the copyright to Anne Frank's diaries, which we reported on here, also illustrates how the grip of copyright law leaves the control of creative works in the hands of people who may not share the desires of the works' creators. Harper Lee has passed on, Anne Frank is long gone, and Walt Disney is represented in the marketplace by a corporation that is hopelessly far removed from his artistic and even his business creation."

Photo Copyright: Oscar Wilde, Richard Prince, and Your Instagram Content; Huffington Post, 3/15/16

Kim Farbota, Huffington Post; Photo Copyright: Oscar Wilde, Richard Prince, and Your Instagram Content:
"Richard Prince, an "appropriation artist" well-known in creative spheres, is showing blown-up screen shots from his Instagram feed in renowned Manhattan galleries. The contemporary counterparts of Wilde's Gilded Age fan base buy the inkjet-on-canvas prints for upwards of $100,000. The original snappers hear through the proverbial grapevine that their filtered selfies are featured in high-end art shows.
Copyright law has evolved markedly in the century separating Richard Prince from Napoleon Sarony. On the shoulders of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons, Prince has made a decades-long career selling slightly altered versions of other people's images. He evades copyright infringement liability through legal principles that allow certain "transformative works" to make use of copyright-protected materials without the owner's consent. Broadly, a transformative "fair use" alters or recontextualizes the original work for the purpose of commentary, criticism, or parody. All of the pieces in the Instagram-based New Portraits series include Prince's own original "comment" within the captured frame, submitted via his Instagram handle, "richardprince1234". He also enlarges the images and moves them from digital to print media. The original photos, which cover most of the space on the printed canvases, remain otherwise untouched.
Donald Graham, a career photographer whose portrait of a Rastafarian man was involuntarily featured in New Portraits, is not impressed. In a complaint filed in federal court this January, Graham calls Prince's work a "blatant disregard of copyright law". Graham's suit challenges whether Prince's transformations are sufficient to trigger "fair use" protection...
At the intersection of copyright and social media, balancing the benefits of exposure with the risks of theft and appropriation is an evolving challenge."

Donald Trump's 500 businesses would pose 'unprecedented ethical dilemma';, 3/16/16

David Goldman,; Donald Trump's 500 businesses would pose 'unprecedented ethical dilemma' :
"CNNMoney interviewed ethics lawyers who worked for President George W. Bush, presidential candidates Bob Dole, John Kerry, John McCain and Mitt Romney, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. They all said that Trump would have more potential business conflicts than any former president.
Trump has not committed to selling his businesses, and instead he has said many times that his children and executives would manage them.
"This is certainly going to present an unprecedented ethical dilemma if Trump wins," said Kenneth Gross, a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, who provided legal assistance to several presidential candidates during their campaigns. "He can't just get amnesia. He's stuck with the knowledge of what he owns."
As president, Trump would not be required to sell any of his investments or businesses. The U.S. Financial Conflict of Interest Statute prohibits unelected officials of the executive branch from holding stakes in assets that would conflict with their ability to properly do their jobs...
But Congress decided not to apply those restrictions to the president or vice president. They have to disclose their holdings, but they don't have to disown them.
So Donald Trump could be president without selling his businesses."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

State Trooper Comes To The Rescue Of Stranded Superheroes; Huffington Post, 3/15/16

Lee Moran, Huffington Post; State Trooper Comes To The Rescue Of Stranded Superheroes:
"A New Hampshire state trooper came to the rescue of "Wonder Woman" and "Captain America" after their car became disabled on Interstate 93 on Sunday morning.
The costumed duo were on their way to a child’s birthday party in Hooksett when the vehicle broke down. Unfortunately, their abilities didn't extend to fixing the problem...
Sgt. Tom Lencki told the New Hampshire Union Leader that state police were "always happy to assist any other members of the Avengers or Justice League should they find themselves in need of a super colleague.""

The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World; Harvard Business Review, 3/15/16

Sunnie Giles, Harvard Business Review; The Most Important Leadership Competencies, According to Leaders Around the World:
"What makes an effective leader? This question is a focus of my research as an organizational scientist, executive coach, and leadership development consultant. Looking for answers, I recently completed the first round of a study of 195 leaders in 15 countries over 30 global organizations. Participants were asked to choose the 15 most important leadership competencies from a list of 74. I’ve grouped the top ones into five major themes that suggest a set of priorities for leaders and leadership development programs. While some may not surprise you, they’re all difficult to master, in part because improving them requires acting against our nature."

Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet; New York Times, 3/15/16

Amy Harmon, New York Times; Handful of Biologists Went Rogue and Published Directly to Internet:
"On Feb. 29, Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University became the third Nobel Prize laureate biologist in a month to do something long considered taboo among biomedical researchers: She posted a report of her recent discoveries to a publicly accessible website, bioRxiv, before submitting it to a scholarly journal to review for “official’’ publication.
It was a small act of information age defiance, and perhaps also a bit of a throwback, somewhat analogous to Stephen King’s 2000 self-publishing an e-book or Radiohead’s 2007 release of a download-only record without a label. To commemorate it, she tweeted the website’s confirmation under the hashtag #ASAPbio, a newly coined rallying cry of a cadre of biologists who say they want to speed science by making a key change in the way it is published...
The delays prevent scientists from showing off their most recent work to prospective employers or benefactors. They have also, some researchers say, begun to look faintly absurd against the general expectations for speed and openness in the not-so-new digital age. With the rapid spread of the Zika virus, for instance, several journals signed a statement promising that scientists would not be penalized for immediately releasing their findings, given the potential benefit for public health, in turn prompting some scientists to ask, why draw the line at Zika?"

Monday, March 14, 2016

He told me he’d “cut out my kids’ tongues”: The experience with online harassment I can’t forget;, 3/13/16

Darlena Cunha,; He told me he’d “cut out my kids’ tongues”: The experience with online harassment I can’t forget:
"According to the Pew Research Center, 26 percent of young women on the Internet have been stalked, and 23 percent have been physically threatened. Of all people who have experienced online harassment (40 percent of all Internet users), 26 percent did not know the real identity of the perpetrator. While there are currently cyberstalking laws, they are hard to enforce, and victims must know their harasser’s identity to take him to court. And in 2010, those laws didn’t yet exist at all. The police told me there was nothing they could do. With no other recourse, I started checking on my children two or three times a night, waiting for an attack that never happened."

San Jose library amnesty weighed as unpaid fines near $7 million; San Jose Mercury News, 3/7/16

Ramona Giwargis, San Jose Mercury News; San Jose library amnesty weighed as unpaid fines near $7 million:
"Library cards in San Jose are blocked after patrons amass $10 or more in fines. Nearly half of all youth and teen accounts have some unpaid fines, Bourne wrote in a recent report to city leaders.
Oliverio says it's critical to "welcome back" cardholders who've been shut out because of fines, especially children who rely on the resources. He proposes a library amnesty program to forgive penalties for two weeks -- but only if people return the outstanding materials...
Other solutions proposed by Bourne include reducing or waiving fines for youths or allowing people to bring in a brand-new book to replace a lost item. People can also volunteer their time or read to pay off fines, she suggested.
But one longtime library patron thinks it's unfair to forgive other people's fines and fees.
"People have to learn the hard way," said Eddie Acevedo, 60, while browsing Spanish books at Joyce Ellington Branch Library on Thursday."

Should All Research Papers Be Free?; New York Times, 3/12/16

Kate Murphy, New York Times; Should All Research Papers Be Free? :
"Possibly the biggest barrier to open access is that scientists are judged by where they have published when they compete for jobs, promotions, tenure and grant money. And the most prestigious journals, such as Cell, Nature and The Lancet, also tend to be the most protective of their content.
“The real people to blame are the leaders of the scientific community — Nobel scientists, heads of institutions, the presidents of universities — who are in a position to change things but have never faced up to this problem in part because they are beneficiaries of the system,” said Dr. Eisen. “University presidents love to tout how important their scientists are because they publish in these journals.”
Until the system changes, Ms. Elbakyan said she would continue to distribute journal articles to whoever wants them. Paraphrasing part of the United Nations Charter, she said, “Everyone has the right to freely share in scientific advancement and its benefits.”"

The Trump Campaign Gives License to Violence; New York Times, 3/14/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; The Trump Campaign Gives License to Violence:
"Here’s a medley of Mr. Trump’s comments condoning violence over the past few weeks:
“I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you.”
“In the good old days this doesn’t happen, because they used to treat them very, very rough.”
“I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would ya? Seriously. Just knock the hell out of them...”
Protesting in front of the Boca Raton rally on Sunday, Kate Newton and Elizabeth Versalie, both in their 50s, said they had to speak out. They turned up at the amphitheater two hours before the rally and were denied entry when security guards saw their signs, which said “Stop the Hate.”
“It’s all about standing up for freedom of speech for us,” Ms. Versalie said. “Nobody should be running a campaign on fear and bigotry.”"

Trump’s History of Encouraging Violence; New York Times, 3/14/16

[Video] Ainara Tiefenthaler, New York Times; Trump’s History of Encouraging Violence:
"Donald J. Trump has appealed to the raw anger of voters and encouraged crowds at rallies to use force against protesters who are disruptive."

Sunday, March 13, 2016

MSF Challenges Pfizer Patent Application For Pneumonia Vaccine In India; Intellectual Property Watch, 3/11/16

Intellectual Property Watch; MSF Challenges Pfizer Patent Application For Pneumonia Vaccine In India:
"Today, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) filed a patent opposition against Pfizer’s vaccine for pneumonia in India.
According to an MSF press release, the humanitarian association hopes to prevent United States company Pfizer from getting a patent on the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PVC13) so competition can bring cheaper versions to the market...
Pneumonia kills almost one million children each year, according to MSF. Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are the only two companies manufacturing the vaccine.
According to the release, “it is now 68 times more expensive to vaccinate a child than in 2001. It refers to a 2015 MSF report, The Right Shot: Bringing down Barriers to Affordable and Adapted Vaccines."

Putting Lincoln Online Is No Easy Political Task; New York Times, 3/12/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Putting Lincoln Online Is No Easy Political Task:
"One of the most ambitious research projects on Abraham Lincoln ever attempted — giving scholars, history buffs and students online access to every document Lincoln ever wrote or read — is being threatened by an absurd and intractable political and budget morass in the Illinois statehouse.
Someone — Gov. Bruce Rauner, perhaps — had better cut through the mess soon to guarantee the continued operation of the long-running, nationally respected project before Illinois becomes the Land of Lost Lincolniana. Managers of the project, the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, warn that it is being starved of money, with five of its 12 staff scholars already cut and its future in considerable doubt.
The digitization project, eagerly supported by Lincoln specialists and private donors, has so far found, annotated and published scores of thousands of freshly uncovered documents, adding to the universe of Lincoln materials. It began in the 1980s researching Lincoln’s legal career, then grew far bigger in scope as the Internet arrived. It will be “the Grand Central of all things Lincoln,” says Harold Holzer, a Lincoln scholar and writer concerned about its future."

Ellen Page at SXSW: 'Being in the closet hurt my career more than coming out'; Guardian, 3/12/16

Nigel M. Smith, Guardian; Ellen Page at SXSW: 'Being in the closet hurt my career more than coming out' :
"The Oscar-nominated actor, who came out in 2014 during a speech at a Las Vegas conference for counselors of young LGBT people, was on hand to discuss her new TV show Gaycation, alongside co-creator Ian Daniel. In the series, the pair travel the world to shed a light on the struggles of LGBT communities face abroad...
“We can’t just be telling stories about one group of people,” Page added. “People need to have opportunity, and that’s what’s going to make the whole industry grow and blossom... “There can be such loneliness and isolation when you’re living in a society that has this view of you’re different, or something’s wrong, or you’re sinful.”...
She added that she thinks often of “those who are much more vulnerable than me all around the world and in the United States.
“And here’s an opportunity to go make something that allows voices to be heard that you sometimes never hear, and hopefully reflect struggles that a lot of people go through and I think a lot of people simply don’t know about.”
Gaycation airs Wednesdays at 10pm ET on Viceland."

On the Fight Against HIV and AIDS -- and on the People Who Really Started the Conversation; Huffington Post, 3/13/16

Hillary Clinton, Huffington Post; On the Fight Against HIV and AIDS -- and on the People Who Really Started the Conversation:
"This week, at Nancy Reagan's funeral, I said something inaccurate when speaking about the Reagans' record on HIV and AIDS. Since then, I've heard from countless people who were devastated by the loss of friends and loved ones, and hurt and disappointed by what I said. As someone who has also lost friends and loved ones to AIDS, I understand why. I made a mistake, plain and simple.
I want to use this opportunity to talk not only about where we've come from, but where we must go in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
To be clear, the Reagans did not start a national conversation about HIV and AIDS. That distinction belongs to generations of brave lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, along with straight allies, who started not just a conversation but a movement that continues to this day...
I believe there's even more we can -- and must -- do together. For starters, let's continue to increase HIV and AIDS research and invest in the promising innovations that research is producing. Medications like PrEP are proving effective in preventing HIV infection; we should expand access to that drug for everyone, including at-risk populations. We should call on Republican governors to put people's health and well-being ahead of politics and extend Medicaid, which would provide health care to those with HIV and AIDS.
We should call on states to reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws. We should increase global funding for HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment. And we should cap out-of-pocket expenses and drug costs -- and hold companies like Turing and Valeant accountable when they attempt to gouge patients by jacking up the price of lifesaving medications.
We're still surrounded by memories of loved ones lost and lives cut short. But we're also surrounded by survivors who are fighting harder than ever. We owe it to them and to future generations to continue that fight together. For the first time, an AIDS-free generation is in sight. As president, I promise you that I will not let up until we reach that goal. We will not leave anyone behind."

Girls Keep Out: Female Video Gamers Face Vile Abuse, Threats; Associated Press via New York Times, 3/12/16

Associated Press via New York Times; Girls Keep Out: Female Video Gamers Face Vile Abuse, Threats:
"IGDA's Edwards acknowledges that dealing with harassment is a difficult challenge. "You're dealing with minors versus adults," she says. "You're dealing with free speech issues. It's a struggle for companies to figure out exactly how to approach it."
And while Riot-style moderation might limit harassment, it's unlikely to solve the problem on its own. "This is a social and cultural problem, not a technological one," says Dmitri Williams, CEO of game analytics firm Ninja Metrics."

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Protecting the Privacy of Internet Users; New York Times, 3/11/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Protecting the Privacy of Internet Users:
"The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission proposed common-sense privacy rules this week that would limit what broadband companies are allowed to do with the Internet browsing history and other personal information of consumers...
Under the proposal by the chairman, Tom Wheeler, cable and phone companies would be allowed to use personal data for things like billing and pitching more expensive versions of services that customers are already using. Customers could opt out of marketing for other services provided by their broadband companies. And the companies would have to get permission from their customers before they could do more with the data, like selling it to advertisers. Another rule would require companies to protect the data and notify customers, the commission and law enforcement agencies if the information was stolen."

Sneak peek: Captain America goes rogue in 'Civil War'; USA Today, 3/8/16

Brian Truitt, USA Today; Sneak peek: Captain America goes rogue in 'Civil War' :
"Over the course of several Marvel movies, Cap and the Avengers have saved the world multiple times, from thwarting an alien invasion of New York City (in The Avengers) to staving off an evil organization’s destructive plans in the skies of Washington (Winter Soldier) to keeping a killer robot from destroying the planet after taking over the fictitious Eastern European nation of Sokovia (Avengers: Age of Ultron).
“It’s boring when a good guy knows how to be a good guy,” Evans says, during a filming break at the Porsche building outside downtown Atlanta that serves as Avengers headquarters. “It’s much more dynamic when a good guy isn’t sure what the good guy move is and has to debate another point of view from someone who may be very close to him.”
Avengers are forced to choose which way to go, and Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie), who befriended Cap as the flying Falcon in Winter Soldier, stands by his man, Mackie says."

When Gene Tests for Breast Cancer Reveal Grim Data but No Guidance; New York Times, 3/11/16

Gina Kolata, New York Times; When Gene Tests for Breast Cancer Reveal Grim Data but No Guidance:
"Ms. Watts’s experience highlights an unsettling side to the growing use of genetics in medicine, particularly breast cancer care. Doctors have long been tantalized by a future in which powerful methods of genetic testing would allow treatments to be tailored to a patient’s genetic makeup. Today, in breast cancer treatment, testing of tumors and healthy cells to look for mutations has become standard.
But as Ms. Watts found out, “our ability to sequence genes has gotten ahead of our ability to know what it means,” said Eric P. Winer, the director of the breast oncology program at Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The ambiguities and disappointments play out in two areas: There is genetic testing of patients to see if they inherited mutations that predisposed them to cancer, and there is genetic testing of cells from the cancer to look for mutations that drive the tumor’s growth — but if found often cannot be targeted by any drug on the market.
The ability to understand and interpret genetic tests will surely improve. But for now, what sounds like a simple test can leave patients with frightening information but no clear options or guidance for treatment decisions.
“The stakes are very high,” said Dr. Evans, the geneticist who counseled Ms. Watts. “You have inherently nuanced and confusing tests and widespread ordering and interpretation by doctors who aren’t really equipped to do so,” he said. “The situation is ripe for overinterpretation and misinterpretation.”"

Clinton's comments on the Reagans and Aids demand more than apology; Guardian, 3/11/16

Steven W. Thrasher, Guardian; Clinton's comments on the Reagans and Aids demand more than apology:
"Aids historians, LGBT activists and anyone who cares about little things like the truth were immediately enraged at Clinton’s false claims. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were no more leaders discussing Aids in the 1980s than Republicans are at championing abortion access today.
“It may be hard for your viewers to remember,” Clinton said, “how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/Aids back in the 1980s.”
She didn’t lie there. Indeed, it was difficult to talk about Aids throughout the 1980s – largely because of the silence from the White House. In April 1987, activists unveiled a poster that said “Silence = Death” – a month before Reagan would finally devote a speech to the years-long epidemic. That slogan would become the motto of the group Aids Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT-UP), and according to their website, the slogan was asking “Why is Reagan silent about Aids? What is really going on at the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Vatican?”...
But for those of us who care about Aids and LGBT people, it is much harder and important to criticize the frontrunner of the Democratic party, who takes the support of gay voters for granted. Why, in 2016, did the Democratic frontrunner engage so blithely in the erasure of the people who actually did start the “national conversation” about Aids? Was it because they were gay men of the in-your-face variety of activism – many of whom died of the virus?
When Clinton said the Reagans led the way on Aids when “nobody wanted to do anything about it”, she is erasing these people from history in an ugly and dismissive fashion. People initially got HIV in this country through IV drug use, blood transfusions and sex. But while the Reagans looked the other way – even when a friend asked for help – it was was queer activists who were loud as hell in New York and San Francisco who forced the nation to face the plague...
I have been frightened for some time that the crisis of AIDS is not over, especially for black America, and yet it has again largely been erased from our national political consciousness. Aids, which is projected to infect one in two black gay American men, is almost invisible from the presidential race. And now even the Democratic frontrunner has diminished Aids history herself."

Hillary Clinton Praises Reagans for Starting “A National Conversation” About AIDS. That’s Insane.;, 3/11/16

Michele Goldberg,; Hillary Clinton Praises Reagans for Starting “A National Conversation” About AIDS. That’s Insane. :
"On MSBNC, [Hillary Clinton] offered the following baffling encomium for the late Nancy Reagan: “It may be hard for your viewers to remember how difficult it was for people to talk about HIV/AIDS back in the 1980s. And because of both President and Mrs. Reagan—in particular Mrs. Reagan—we started a national conversation.” Clinton credited Nancy with “very effective low-key advocacy” that “penetrated the public conscience.”
It’s hard to imagine where Clinton got this ludicrous idea. One of the most shameful things about Reagan’s presidency was his determined refusal to acknowledge an epidemic that was killing Americans by the tens of thousands. The first reports of AIDS surfaced in 1981, but Reagan didn’t speak about it until 1987, at which point more than 20,000 people were dead. When his press secretary Larry Speakes was asked about it, he made sniggering jokes. In 1987, when Reagan finally gave a speech about AIDS, he called for mandatory testing of immigrants. “Mr. Reagan issued no call for legislation or state action to protect AIDS victims against discrimination,” the New York Times reported."

Analytics key to agencies in big data explosion; FedScoop, 3/10/16

Billy Mitchell, FedScoop; Analytics key to agencies in big data explosion:
Lots of leading edge info and thought-provoking commentary from an impressive array of speakers at FedScoop and Hitachi's 3/10/16 Social Innovation Summit I attended at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. Good overview of Summit by FedScoop's Billy Mitchell:
"The federal government has seen an explosion of data at its disposal and has needed powerful analytics tools to put it to use, federal IT officials and industry executives said.
A single statistic drove the bulk of the conversation at Thursday’s Hitachi Data Systems Social Innovation Summit, produced by FedScoop: By 2020, analysts predict there will be more than 30 billion network-connected digital devices globally, all producing unprecedented volumes of data in a concept called the Internet of Things.
“Those devices, whether it be the phones we use, the cars we drive in, the medical devices used to keep us healthy, the buildings we work in, the ships and airplanes that protect our country, they’re all generating data, and it’s a question of how do we take that data and really put it to use?” said Mike Tanner, president and CEO of federal for Hitachi Data Systems...
While that data brings with it endless opportunities, it also complicates things, particularly because humans alone are unable to do much with such massive data sets."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The case of the missing Whole Foods yogurt;, 3/5/16

William Bender,; The case of the missing Whole Foods yogurt:
"The lawsuit, which was consolidated in Austin, hit a snag last month when the judge ruled against the plaintiffs because they had not conducted FDA-compliant testing, which requires samples from 12 cases of yogurt. Whole Foods could face legal ramifications if it destroyed all of the yogurt, making the stringent FDA test impossible.
"We can't do the test because they destroyed the stuff we needed to do the test," Osefchen. "My hope is, they can't get away with that."
Friday's motion accuses Whole Foods of "intentional destruction" of evidence and "knowingly concealing" it for 16 months.
"They knew they had a big mountain of yogurt," the attorney said. "It took hundreds of people to pull it off the shelves. They had to send it somewhere.""

China bans depictions of gay people on television; Guardian, 3/4/16

Hannah Ellis-Petersen, Guardian; China bans depictions of gay people on television:
"The Chinese government has banned all depictions of gay people on television, as part of a cultural crackdown on “vulgar, immoral and unhealthy content”.
Chinese censors have released new regulations for content that “exaggerates the dark side of society” and now deem homosexuality, extramarital affairs, one night stands and underage relationships as illegal on screen...
The government said the show contravened the new guidelines, which state that “No television drama shall show abnormal sexual relationships and behaviours, such as incest, same-sex relationships, sexual perversion, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual violence, and so on.”
The ban also extends to smoking, drinking, adultery, sexually suggestive clothing, even reincarnation. China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told television producers it would constantly monitor TV channels to ensure the new rules were strictly adhered to.
The clampdown follows an increase in cultural censorship in China since Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012."

The Beast Is Us; New York Times, 3/4/16

Timothy Egan, New York Times; The Beast Is Us:
"With media complicity, Trump has unleashed the beast that has long resided not far from the American hearth, from those who started a Civil War to preserve the right to enslave a fellow human to the Know-Nothing mobs who burned Irish-Catholic churches out of fear of immigrants...
Granted, a huge portion of the population is woefully ignorant; nearly a third of Americans didn’t know who Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was in a Gallup poll last year. But ignorance is not the problem with Trump’s people. They’re sick and tired of tolerance...
The German magazine Der Spiegel called Trump “the world’s most dangerous man.” The Germans know a thing or two about the topic.
I would like to think our better angels always prevail. But there are also dark episodes, when the beast is loose, and what stares back at us from the mirror is something ugly and frightful. Now is one of those times."

Friday, March 4, 2016

A Science Journal Invokes ‘the Creator,’ and Science Pushes Back;, 3/3/16

Madison Kotack,; A Science Journal Invokes ‘the Creator,’ and Science Pushes Back:
"After a couple days of getting batted around in social media and comments sections, the journal retracted the whole paper. No editors from PLoS ONE responded to requests for comment.
Since PLoS ONE is open-source, it’s tempting to wonder if this kind of mistake calls into question the quality of all open-access scientific journals? PLoS ONE‘s website describes its editorial and peer-review practices, but also says that it can publish faster than old-school journals because it leaves out “subjective assessments of significance or scope to focus on technical, ethical and scientific rigor.”
Yet somehow Creationism got past peer review.
On the other hand, the old big-dog journals have their problems, too—plagiarism, errors, and so on. “I don’t think this will mean anything for open access journals, and it shouldn’t, because it happens at top journals, too,” says Jonathan Eisen, chair of PLoS Biology‘s advisory board and a big-time advocate for open-access (though unaffiliated with PLoS ONE)."

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Apple Is Rolling Up Supporters in Privacy Fight Against F.B.I.; New York Times, 3/3/16

Nick Wingfield and Katie Benner, New York Times; Apple Is Rolling Up Supporters in Privacy Fight Against F.B.I. :
"Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and a parade of other technology companies filed a barrage of court briefs on Thursday, aiming to puncture the United States government’s legal arguments against Apple in a case that will test the limits of the authorities’ access to personal data.
The extraordinary show of support for Apple from the tech companies, including many rivals, underscores how high the stakes are for the industry with the case, in which the authorities are demanding Apple’s help to break into an iPhone used by a gunman in a terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif., last year.
In all, around 40 companies and organizations, along with several dozen individuals, submitted more than a dozen briefs this week to the Federal District Court for the District of Central California, challenging every legal facet of the government’s case, like its free speech implications, the importance of encryption and concerns about government overreach."