Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Silence = Death; Huffington Post, 5/31/16

Bob Garfield, Huffington Post; Silence = Death:
"The usual false balance. The usual staged cable bickering. The usual dry contextual analysis. The usual intermittent truth-squading to garnish our careless daily servings of uncontested hate speech, incitement and manifest lies. The usual reluctance to “be part of the story” — which, in fact, we are inextricably part of because we in large measure created it by giving oxygen to his every incendiary outrage and being our soundbitten, compulsively enabling selves.
It is precisely this craven faux objectivity, after all, that fueled the historically ruinous Iraq war. It is just this fetishized impartiality that gave us a decade of stenography as the country’s political center moved to the far fringes of the right. (Alas, this is not my first call to vigilance.) When one side of a story is madness, medieval anti-intellectualism, scapegoating. demagoguery and lies, the neutral broker in the middle has in fact made a choice. The wrong choice.
The only right choice is for truth. And righteous condemnation, not ghettoized on opinion pages but front and center. Every day.
Are we not supposed to be the watchdogs, the speakers of truth to power, the guardians of democracy? It’s time for a gut check. Colleagues, stop gawking. Stop debating. Stop obsessing on the process. Stop being distracted by the daily Trumpruption. Stop analyzing his “policy” positions, his vp choice, his potential Supreme Court nominees, his unreleased tax returns."

Donald Trump and the Judge; New York Times, 5/31/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Donald Trump and the Judge:
"In a rambling, 11-minute stream of vitriol, Mr. Trump, who has attacked Judge Curiel before, called him “very hostile” and a “hater of Donald Trump,” and said he “should be ashamed of himself. I think it’s a disgrace that he’s doing this.”
One would think Mr. Trump, whose sister is a federal appellate judge, would know how self-destructive it is for any litigant anywhere to attack the judge hearing his or her case. But Mr. Trump is not any litigant; he is running to be president of the United States — a job that requires at least a glancing understanding of the American system of government, in particular a respect for the separation of powers. When Mr. Trump complains that he is “getting railroaded” by a “rigged” legal system, he is saying in effect that an entire branch of government is corrupt.
The special danger of comments like these — however off the cuff they may sound — is that they embolden Mr. Trump’s many followers to feel, and act, the same way.
For good measure, Mr. Trump added that Judge Curiel “happens to be, we believe, Mexican.” False; the judge is from Indiana. But facts are, as always, beside the point for Mr. Trump, who reassured his audience that “the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs.” (Presumably he was not referring to those he has promised to deport if he is elected.)
In a masterpiece of understatement, Judge Curiel, who is prevented by ethical rules from responding directly to comments like these, noted in his order that Mr. Trump “has placed the integrity of these court proceedings at issue.”"

Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious Retaliation; New York Times, 5/30/16

Andrew Higgins, New York Time; Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious Retaliation:
"This “information war,” said Rastislav Kacer, a veteran diplomat who served as Slovakia’s ambassador to Washington and at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, “is just part of a bigger struggle.” While not involving bloodshed, he added, it “is equally as dangerous as more conventional hostile action.”
For Ms. Aro, the abuse increased sharply last year when, following up on reports in the opposition Russian news media, she visited St. Petersburg to investigate the workings of a Russian “troll factory.” The big office churns out fake news and comment, particularly on Ukraine, and floods websites and social media with denunciations of Russia’s critics.
In response to her reporting, pro-Russian activists in Helsinki organized a protest outside the headquarters of Yle, accusing it of being a troll factory itself. Only a handful of people showed up.
At the same time, Ms. Aro has been peppered with abusive emails, vilified as a drug dealer on social media sites and mocked as a delusional bimbo in a music video posted on YouTube."

Judge exceeded authority by ordering ethics classes for possibly 3,000 DOJ lawyers, brief says; ABA Journal, 5/31/16

Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Judge exceeded authority by ordering ethics classes for possibly 3,000 DOJ lawyers, brief says:
"The U.S. Justice Department is asking a federal judge to stay his unusual order requiring department lawyers who appear in any court in 26 states to take ethics classes for alleged misrepresentations in a major immigration case.
The Justice Department brief filed on Tuesday argues that the sweeping sanctions imposed earlier this month by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Brownsville, Texas, “far exceed the bounds of appropriate remedies.”
The Justice Department brief argues that Hanen “has no inherent authority to superimpose additional ethics-training requirements” on more than 3,000 Justice Department attorneys who are unconnected to the immigration case before Hanen. In addition, the brief argues, Hanen’s order interferes with the Attorney General’s executive authority and violates the separation of powers.
Hanen had found Justice Department lawyers made misrepresentations concerning the implementation date of President Obama’s deferred deportation program. According to Hanen, Justice Department lawyers asserted the deferred deportation program would not be implemented until February 2015, even though the government had already expanded deportation deferrals from two to three years for more than 100,000 immigrants...
Hanen’s May 19 sanctions order required any Justice Department lawyers who want to appear in the 26 states challenging the deferred deportations to attend an annual ethics course for the next five years. Hanen also ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to develop a “comprehensive plan” to prevent future unethical conduct."

Hulk Hogan, media ethics and the battling Internet moguls; PBS NewsHour, 5/30/16

PBS NewsHour; Hulk Hogan, media ethics and the battling Internet moguls:
"When Hulk Hogan won $140 million in court from millionaire Nick Denton’s Gawker Media after it published video of him having sex, the verdict raised serious questions about journalistic ethics. Hogan’s suit was funded by Peter Thiel, the billionaire founder of PayPal who Gawker outed as gay a decade earlier. Hari Sreenivasan talks to Wired’s Jason Tanz for more on the case and its implications."

Monday, May 30, 2016

Universities seek united front in open access debate; University World News, 5/13/16

Munyaradzi Makoni, University World News; Universities seek united front in open access debate:
"The risk of re-colonisation
The motives behind the recent overtures of major publisher Elsevier to science councils and research organisations in Africa around the creation of a major open access science journal for the continent were questioned by Eve Gray, research associate with the Intellectual Property Unit at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.
Elsevier’s partners in this move include the African Academy of Sciences, African Centre for Technology Studies, South African Medical Research Council and IBM Research – Africa.
Gray, who also works for the Centre for Educational Technology at the University of Cape Town, said there was a danger that universities and research institutions would “give away” their knowledge to Elsevier and not be able to claim it back.
While an Elsevier Africa site was an attractive prospect, enabling researchers in the region to discuss ideas, download material and share information, it was also dangerous because there was no guarantee it would remain open access.
Gray said the Elsevier initiative had exploited a funding gap unfilled by governments and universities in the region. In addition, universities had been slow to strategise at leadership levels.
“What ought to be done by African governments, especially in Southern Africa, is now being done by Elsevier, but we are at risk of being colonised.”"

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Must stop bill to copyright public records; San Jose Mercury News, 6/28/16

Thomas Peele, San Jose Mercury News; Must stop bill to copyright public records:
"In a blog post EFF legislative counsel Ernesto Falcon made it clear the potential chilling effect on free speech and public participation Stone has proposed.
"Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain," Falcon wrote. "If a citizen infringed on a state owned copyright by making a copy of a government publication, or reading that publication out loud in a public setting, or uploading it to the Internet, they could be liable. ..."
Does Stone want to keep news organizations and others from freely posting public records that show wrongdoing, abuse, corruption, misuse of public funds?
Rather than working to make access to records more difficult, state lawmakers should working to make them more accessible."

Moral Blindness at Baylor; New York Times, 5/27/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; Moral Blindness at Baylor:
"Among the most intriguing — and to some people, satisfying — aspects of the sex-abuse scandal at Baylor University was the ouster of Kenneth Starr as university president. Mr. Starr was the special prosecutor who pursued President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions and moral shortcomings with almost preternatural zeal back in 1998. Now here he is, bounced from his job as president for what appears to have been his failure to pay close enough attention to serious moral problems in Baylor’s football program...
The larger point here, however, involves the special status, approaching immunity, that football was accorded at Baylor. The same scathing report by outside investigators that led to Mr. Starr’s demotion asserted that football was treated by administrators as “above the rules” of federal law when it came to the cover-up of sexual abuses and assaults by players.
The investigators described a secretive football culture built around a lucrative, nationally ranked program in which officials concealed charges of sexual abuse against players while female accusers were discouraged “in conduct that could be perceived as victim blaming.”"

The Observer view on Donald Trump; The Observer, 5/28/16

The Observer Editorial; The Observer view on Donald Trump:
"A line must be drawn. Illusions must be discarded. The truth must be told. Trump, with his innate, rich man’s hostility to social justice and equal rights, with his greedy love of big business and corporate tax cuts, with his scornful disdain for green policies and climate change science, with his alarming ignorance of strategic realities in the Middle East and east Asia, with his cruel and ruthless contempt for the weak, the less privileged and the vulnerable of this world, with his foolhardy isolationism and protectionism, with his loathsome self-adoration, and with his hateful fear-peddling is a menacing problem, not a passing phenomenon.
Something not dissimilar to the rise of Trump is happening across Europe, where xenophobic and racist parties of the right are advancing, most recently in Austria last week. Trump-ism, for want of a better word, is not something with which tidy, reasonable compromises can be made. It must not be appeased, bought off or left to fester. The only thing to do with Trump-ism, wherever it appears, is to oppose it, fight it, and defeat it. As Elizabeth Warren says, that critical fight must start now."

Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person; New York Times, 5/28/16

Alain de Botton, New York Times; Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person:
"The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true marker of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.
Romanticism has been unhelpful to us; it is a harsh philosophy. It has made a lot of what we go through in marriage seem exceptional and appalling. We end up lonely and convinced that our union, with its imperfections, is not “normal.” We should learn to accommodate ourselves to “wrongness,” striving always to adopt a more forgiving, humorous and kindly perspective on its multiple examples in ourselves and in our partners."

The Slippery Business of Plagiarism; Inside Higher Ed, 5/24/16

Elena Denisova-Schmidt, Inside Higher Ed; The Slippery Business of Plagiarism:
"Plagiarism is a widespread problem around the world. It can take various forms — copying and pasting text without acknowledging its source, “recycling” or self-plagiarism (presenting the same paper several times as original), purchasing papers from an agency or a ghostwriter and submitting them as one’s own. With the benefit of new technologies, cheating is booming, such that some countries are describing a ‘plagiarism epidemic’.[1] In the United Kingdom, for example, almost 50,000 university students were caught cheating from 2012 to 2015. This is only the reported cases — how many more cases remain undetected?
Students, especially those who come from corrupt environments where plagiarism is prevalent but ignored or seen as a trivial offense, need better guidance about the consequences of violating the rules of academic integrity...
Some famous politicians have been implicated in plagiarism scandals."

Was a Va. firefighter humiliated by co-workers online before she killed herself?; Washington Post, 4/25/16

Petula Dvorak, Washington Post; Was a Va. firefighter humiliated by co-workers online before she killed herself? :
"The trolls were horrid to her while she was alive. And they continued to be awful after her death.
Fairfax County firefighter Nicole Mittendorff, 31, killed herself in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park, the state medical examiner concluded. But even after the search for her was over, her body was identified and memorial candles began to burn, the cyberbullies — who claimed they were her fellow firefighters — kept scorching away at Mittendorff online.
If these trolls are actually members of her firehouse family, then Mittendorff becomes another example of a new form of workplace harassment. Instead of happening in the office, it happens publicly online.
There is an investigation at Mittendorff’s firehouse to find out who posted the vicious online attacks and whether they played a role in her suicide."

Friday, May 27, 2016

What Silicon Valley's billionaires don't understand about the first amendment; Guardian, 5/27/16

Nellie Bowles, Guardian; What Silicon Valley's billionaires don't understand about the first amendment:
"No major American cultural force is more opposed to examination and more active in suppressing it today than Silicon Valley. So when it was revealed this week that Facebook board member Peter Thiel had been secretly bankrolling a lawsuit to inflict financial ruin on the news and gossip site Gawker, Silicon Valley cheered...
Each of these investors – and many of those writing in a wave of local support for Thiel – add caveats that they’re happy to see “clickbait” or “gossip” journalists suffer but that they fully support “real” journalists. As Khosla made clear by putting the New York Times on the side of clickbait, many Silicon Valley investors see most press as suspect.
After six years as a reporter in Silicon Valley, I’ve found that a tech mogul will generally call anything unflattering I write “clickbait” and anything flattering “finally some real journalism”."

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Baylor Fires Football Coach Art Briles and Demotes President Ken Starr; New York Times, 5/26/16

Marc Tracy, New York Times; Baylor Fires Football Coach Art Briles and Demotes President Ken Starr:
"Kenneth W. Starr, the independent counsel who delivered a report that served as the basis for President Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998, was removed as president of Baylor University on Thursday after an investigation found “fundamental failure” by the university in its handling of accusations of sexual assault against football players.
The university also fired the football coach, Art Briles, whose ascendant program in recent years brought in millions of dollars in revenue but was troubled by accusations of sexual assault against athletes.
Critics claimed that Baylor had sacrificed moral considerations — and the safety of other students — for the sake of its winning football team. The report confirmed as much, describing a culture that flouted federal statutes, including Title IX and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.
“Actions by University administrators directly discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one instance constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault,” the report said.
Starr was stripped of his title as university president but will remain Baylor’s chancellor."

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Hillary Clinton Is Criticized for Private Emails in State Dept. Review; New York Times, 5/25/16

Steven Lee Myers, New York Times; Hillary Clinton Is Criticized for Private Emails in State Dept. Review:
"The State Department’s inspector general sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had.
In a report delivered to members of Congress on Wednesday, the inspector general said that Mrs. Clinton “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business” with officials responsible for handling records and security but that inspectors found “no evidence” that she had."

Do Airlines Need to Be Re-Regulated?; New York Times, 5/25/16

New York Times; Do Airlines Need to Be Re-Regulated? :
"The summer travel season that begins this weekend will see the effects of the deregulation of the airline industry almost 40 years ago. It transformed travel, increasing competition and passengers, and drastically reducing fares. But only a few big companies have survived that competition. Service has become a sore point with travelers, and fees for things like checked luggage and even where you sit have added to the price of tickets. Meanwhile, company profits soar as fuel prices drop. Does the industry need to be re-regulated?"

Unaffordable Medicines Now Global Issue; System Needs Change, Panellists Say; Intellectual Property Watch, 5/25/16

Catherine Saez, Intellectual Property Watch; Unaffordable Medicines Now Global Issue; System Needs Change, Panellists Say:
"At a side event to this week’s annual World Health Assembly, a member of the Netherlands Ministry of Health delivered an unexpected speech on access to medicines, calling for more clarity in the setting of medicine prices, looking inside and outside of the patent system for solutions, and praising de-linkage. Other panellists viewed partnerships as a key ingredient to fill research and development gaps. And a representative from the Gates Foundation advised against a hasty switch to new system."

Hodor on Hodor: Kristian Nairn Discusses His ‘Game of Thrones’ Fate; New York Times, 5/24/16

Jeremy Egner, New York Times; Hodor on Hodor: Kristian Nairn Discusses His ‘Game of Thrones’ Fate:
"The twist, which recast a figure of fun into a tragic hero, sparked an emotional online outpouring that has continued unabated, at times crossing creatively into the real world. Even David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the show, called it one of the most shocking revelations they ever received from George R.R. Martin, who writes the books the series is based on and conceived the details of Hodor’s origin.
“There’s a very nice thing going around the Internet that says, ‘Not all heroes hold weapons, some hold doors,’ ” Kristian Nairn, the 6-foot-11 Irish actor who played him, said on Tuesday. “He is a hero now, but I think he always was, in his own way.”"

Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him; New York Times, 5/24/16

Amy Chozick, New York Times; Kenneth Starr, Who Tried to Bury Bill Clinton, Now Only Praises Him:
"Mr. Starr now is contending with criticism of his own leadership over Baylor’s handling of sexual assault charges leveled against several of its football players.
In the panel discussion last week, he reached back to an earlier presidency — that of Lyndon B. Johnson. Saying today’s divisiveness “deeply concerns me,” he recalled Johnson’s appealing for comity before a joint session of Congress.
“I remember this so vividly — he said, ‘Come, let us reason together.’ Can we talk with one another?” Mr. Starr said. “The utter decline and erosion of civility and discourse has, I think, very troubling implications.”
He quoted E. Gordon Gee, the president of West Virginia University, saying, “The world has become a shouting match.”
“There are always places for shouts and strong feelings, but the genius of American democracy and of presidential leadership,” Mr. Starr continued, “is to bring unity out of our diversity. E pluribus unum — out of many, one. And we don’t seem to hear too many voices saying, ‘Let us find common ground.’”"

Stop normalizing Trump: He’s conditioned reporters to treat crazy nonsense as routine; Salon, 5/25/16

Simon Maloy, Salon; Stop normalizing Trump: He’s conditioned reporters to treat crazy nonsense as routine:
"Again, we’re talking about one candidate backhandedly making the allegation that his opponent was an accessory to murder, and the press reaction is “boy, that Trump sure can drive headlines – better watch out, Hillary!”
This is precisely what I was talking about I wrote earlier this month about the danger in normalizing Trump. He wants all the craziness to be taken in stride, and he’s succeeding. He’s being abetted in this by a Republican Party establishment that is happy to bite its tongue so long as they get their tax cuts and conservative judicial nominations. But that’s no reason for the press to buy into Trump’s game and treat his crazy mudslinging as a mere campaign tactic rather than a disqualifying character flaw."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Major-league homophobia: San Diego Padres’ “national embarrassment” highlights a persistent problem in pro sports; Salon, 5/24/16

Nico Lang, Salon; Major-league homophobia: San Diego Padres’ “national embarrassment” highlights a persistent problem in pro sports:
"Saturday should have been a celebratory evening for San Diego’s queer community. As part of the team’s recent push for greater LGBT inclusion, the Padres invited the local gay men’s chorus to sing the national anthem during its evening game. Last year, the team became one of the few in professional sports to host an official LGBT night for fans—although the Padres have held an “unofficial” version since 2001. Fifteen years ago, they were one of the first sports teams to do so.
The Saturday game, however, was marred by a controversy as shameful as it is unnecessary: As OutSports reports, “the control room… played a track of a woman singing the National Anthem as a few dozen gay men stood speechless on the field.” It was a national disgrace.
Following the incident, critics have pointed the finger at homophobia to explain how such a thing could have occurred. Jason Collins, the first openly gay man to play in the NBA, alleged that it was yet another case of “deliberate” anti-gay bigotry in baseball. Cyd Zeigler, the editor of OutSports, however, claims that it’s unlikely that the occurrence was a product of a “homophobic conspiracy.” His investigation concluded that it was merely a “disastrous, yet unintentional, mistake.”...
But despite Major League Baseball’s efforts, the league continues to send the gay community a mixed message when it comes to inclusion. As The Atlantic pointed out, the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on marriage equality was a brand holiday on Twitter—with businesses across the country proving their LGBT-friendliness by tweeting their support for the community. One industry that was notably silent? Professional sports. Not a single sports team outside of the notably liberal haven of California posted about the groundbreaking decision. (And that’s in either the MLB, NFL, NBA, or the NHL.)"

This Silicon Valley Billionaire Has Been Secretly Funding Hulk Hogan's Lawsuits Against Gawker; Forbes, 5/24/16

Ryan Mac, Forbes; This Silicon Valley Billionaire Has Been Secretly Funding Hulk Hogan's Lawsuits Against Gawker:
"The involvement of Thiel, an eccentric figure in Silicon Valley who has advocated for teenagers to skip college and openly supported Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, adds another wrinkle to a case that has garnered widespread attention for its implications over celebrity privacy and a publication’s First Amendment rights. During court proceedings, which ended in late March with a $140 million victory for Hogan, there had been rumors that a wealthy individual had funded Hogan’s case though there was never any hard evidence that surfaced to prove that was true.
On Tuesday, in an interview with The New York Times, Gawker founder Nick Denton said he had a “personal hunch” that the financial aid could be linked to someone in Silicon Valley. “If you’re a billionaire and you don’t like the coverage of you, and you don’t particularly want to embroil yourself any further in a public scandal, it’s a pretty smart, rational thing to fund other legal cases,” he told the Times.
It is not illegal for an outside entity to help fund another party’s lawsuit, and the practice, known as “third-party litigation funding” has become increasingly common in the U.S. Typically, the outside party negotiates for a defined share of any proceeds from the suit."

China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works; Washington Post, 5/23/16

Simon Denyer, Washington Post; China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works:
"BEHIND THE FIREWALL: How China tamed the Internet | This is part of a series examining the impact of China’s Great Firewall, a mechanism of Internet censorship and surveillance that affects nearly 700 million users.
BEIJING — First there was the Berlin Wall. Now there is the Great Firewall of China, not a physical barrier preventing people from leaving, but a virtual one, preventing information harmful to the Communist Party from entering the country.
Just as one fell, so will the other be eventually dismantled, because information, like people, cannot be held back forever.
Or so the argument goes.
But try telling that to Beijing. Far from knocking down the world’s largest system of censorship, China in fact is moving ever more confidently in the opposite direction, strengthening the wall’s legal foundations, closing breaches and reinforcing its control of the Web behind the wall.
Defensive no more about its censorship record, China is trumpeting its vision of “Internet sovereignty” as a model for the world and is moving to make it a legal reality at home. At the same time — confounding Western skeptics — the Internet is nonetheless thriving in China, with nearly 700 million users, putting almost 1 in 4 of the world’s online population behind the Great Firewall."

Stephen King, Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, more writers sign petition against Donald Trump; Entertainment Weekly, 5/24/16

Derek Lawrence, Entertainment Weekly; Stephen King, Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, more writers sign petition against Donald Trump:
"Hundreds of authors have signed a petition, Writers on Trump, to stand up against the businessman. The petition has already been signed by over 450 writers, including Stephen King, Jennifer Egan, Amy Tan, Dave Eggers, Cheryl Strayed, and Michael Chabon.
“As writers, we are particularly aware of the many ways that language can be abused in the name of power,” says the beginning of a letter posted on the petition’s page. The note continues on with specifics of their opposition to Trump, “The rise of a political candidate who deliberately appeals to the basest and most violent elements in society, who encourages aggression among his followers, shouts down opponents, intimidates dissenters, and denigrates women and minorities, demands, from each of us, an immediate and forceful response.”"

Unemployed Detroit Residents Are Trapped by a Digital Divide; New York Times, 5/22/16

Cecilia Kang, New York Times; Unemployed Detroit Residents Are Trapped by a Digital Divide:
"“Once I leave, I worry that I’m missing an email, an opportunity,” Mr. Hill, 42, said while using a library computer for a free one-hour session online. He cannot afford broadband, he added; his money goes to rent, food and transportation.
As one of the country’s most troubled cities tries to get back on its feet, a lack of Internet connectivity is keeping large segments of its population from even getting a fighting chance.
Detroit has the worst rate of Internet access of any big American city, with four in 10 of its 689,000 residents lacking broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
While difficulties in connecting to the Internet in rural areas are well known, Detroit is becoming a case study in how the digital divide in an urban setting can make or break a recovery.
The deficiency of Internet access in Detroit is particularly glaring given that broadband is now considered as basic as electricity and water. Last year, the F.C.C. defined high-speed Internet as a public utility and made connecting all American homes to the web a priority. Yet many Detroit residents cannot pay for the service or a computer to go online, or for mobile data plans, which enable 24-hour Internet access anywhere over smartphones."

Global code of ethics planned for chemists; Chemistry World, 5/23/16

Emma Stoye, Chemistry World; Global code of ethics planned for chemists:
"Developed in 2015, The Hague guidelines feature nine key elements that require consideration including safety, conduct, security and sustainability. In early April the ACS International Activities Office organised a workshop to discuss the possibility of producing a globally accessible document for chemists that addressed similar principles. Thirty chemists representing 18 countries met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and drafted the Global Chemists' Code of Ethics (GCCE).
‘To help determine categories to cover in the code, inputs from chemistry professionals in five countries were gathered about everyday situations they face where an ethical dilemma might arise,’ says Kabrena Rodda, technology and policy integration specialist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in the US, who co-organised the initiative with the ACS and the US State Department’s Chemical Security Program.
The questions that were asked include: ‘How do you restrict access to dual-use chemicals?’; ‘If you discover a chemical spill caused by someone else, what action should you take?’; and ‘How should you handle a situation where someone senior asks you to do something you feel is not appropriate or ethical?’"

Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet; Guardian, 5/23/16

Alex Hern, Guardian; Revealed: How copyright law is being misused to remove material from the internet:
"Censorship by copyright
The motivation of Ashraf can only be guessed at, but censorship using the DMCA is common online. The act allows web hosts a certain amount of immunity from claims of copyright infringement through what is known as the “safe harbour” rules: in essence, a host isn’t responsible for hosting infringing material provided they didn’t know about it when it went up, and took it down as soon as they were told about it.
In practice, however, this means that web hosts (and the term is broadly interpreted, meaning sites like YouTube, Twitter and Google count) are forced to develop a hair-trigger over claims of copyright infringement, assuming guilt and asking the accused to prove their innocence.
As such, a very easy way to remove something from the internet is to accuse its creator of infringing copyright. Worse, the potential downside of such a false claim is minimal: the accused would have to first file a counterclaim, proving they own the copyright; then file a private lawsuit, and prove material damage; and then track down the offending party to actually recover any monies granted by the court.
That doesn’t happen all that often.
But in recent years, big web companies have started funding lawsuits themselves, to fill the gap in the law and tilt the scales a bit further in favour of content creators wrongly accused."

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Craziest Black Market in Russia: It’s not for oil or guns. It’s for plagiarized dissertations. And every self-respecting doctor, lawyer, and politician in the country wants one; Slate, 5/22/16

Leon Neyfakh, Slate; The Craziest Black Market in Russia: It’s not for oil or guns. It’s for plagiarized dissertations. And every self-respecting doctor, lawyer, and politician in the country wants one.:
"Many of the alleged fraudsters are politicians. Some are judges. Others are prosecutors, police officials, and heads of universities; one was a bureaucrat in charge of overseeing Russia’s circus industry. In the past few years alone, there have been credible allegations of dissertation plagiarism made against Russia’s minister of culture, the governor of St. Petersburg, and the head of the country’s top federal investigating authority. Just in the past month, copy-and-pasting has been discovered in the dissertations of the deputy finance minister of the Russian republic of Mordovia and a government adviser on justice who is the putative author of a thesis comparing legal principles in Russia and the West.
In all these cases, the alleged fraud was exposed by members of a volunteer organization that calls itself “Dissernet”—the “website” Naryshkin referred to so dismissively. Started in early 2013 by a handful of scientists and journalists, the group has undertaken the task of identifying and publicly shaming government functionaries, academic administrators, and members of Russia’s so-called elite who allegedly hold advanced degrees they did not earn through legitimate means. Using software that looks for sections of text that resemble previously published work, Dissernet has, to date, identified roughly 5,600 suspected plagiarists and published damning reports on about 1,300 of them. In an exposé posted earlier this year, Dissernet showed that 1 in 9 members of the Russian State Duma—the parliamentary body that Naryshkin presides over—had received their diplomas using dissertations that contained large portions of other people’s work and that had, most likely, been purchased from ghostwriters...
While academic fraud exists all over the world, the pervasiveness of the deception in Russia is unparalleled, as is the extent to which it is tolerated. As MIT historian Loren Graham points out, even Vladimir Putin has been accused, in a 2006 investigation by the Brookings Institution, of plagiarizing parts of his Ph.D. thesis in economics."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

US colleges cut ties with scholarships that ban HIV-positive applicants; Guardian, 5/21/16

John Power, Guardian; US colleges cut ties with scholarships that ban HIV-positive applicants:
"Wagner expressed concern that HIV-positive applicants unaware of their status could be subject to harassment and discrimination if outed in the country, where the virus is heavily stigmatized.
“The nightmare scenario that I want to see avoided is what I saw happen to a student I represented in 2009 who was outed as HIV positive in an extremely hostile manner,” he said. “He was threatened with expulsion from the university, told his status would be disclosed to faculty and pressured to leave the country.
In South Korea, HIV/Aids is often associated with prostitution, homosexuality and drug use, all of which are widely seen as morally degenerate. The country tests certain foreigners for the virus, despite the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ruling the policy to be discriminatory last year. South Korea has defended its policy as necessary to protect public health.
Apart from American colleges, the scholarships are also being advertised by universities in Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Greece and Poland, and on the official website of the government of Canada."

An Openly Gay Man Runs the Army; New York Times, 5/21/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; An Openly Gay Man Runs the Army:
"Last week an openly gay man, Eric Fanning, became secretary of the Army. Read that sentence again and contemplate what it reveals about how much and how quickly American society has changed. Only five years ago, openly gay people were barred from serving in its armed forces. During Mr. Fanning’s lengthy confirmation process, his sexual orientation was simply not an issue. That is a tribute to those who fought so hard to repeal the ban, and a measure of the nation’s at times uncertain, but as yet unfailing, march toward equality.
In retrospect the fight that convulsed this country over whether gay Americans should serve in uniform seems senseless, almost absurd. Yet it is instructive, if only because a Pentagon plan to allow transgender Americans to serve openly in uniform remains stalled by a similar, albeit quieter, debate.
There is broad agreement that prohibiting openly gay people from serving was a cruel policy that abetted bigotry. It legitimized the notion that being gay was shameful and incompatible with the valorous profession of arms. It cut short the careers of talented people who had been performing vital work in wartime, which weakened the military."

Across the world, the rule of law is losing out to rule by the mob; Guardian, 5/21/16

Natalie Nougayrède, Guardian; Across the world, the rule of law is losing out to rule by the mob:
"Both in Europe and Asia alliances are being put to the test, with many asking if they will hold. The result of much of this is that global governance appears weakened, if not powerless. Passions and frustrations, often with strong nationalistic undertones, have become a major driving force of events, both domestically and internationally. Increasingly we see the rule of force – even rule of the mob – prevailing over the rule of law and over diplomatic mechanisms designed to defuse tensions.
To a large extent that’s because the very legitimacy of institutions, and the way we have known them, has eroded. Many citizens feel their voices are not being heard. The influence of the internet means representative democracy is losing ground to grassroots mobilisation – spontaneous or orchestrated – that often exists outside a recognised framework. And on a global stage tensions between powers fester because the forums meant to settle them aren’t working. Accepted rules and limits are increasingly set aside. Broadly speaking, what we are seeing is a growing cacophony in which it is unclear who, or what, will ultimately act as an arbiter."


"The American Republic stands threatened by the first overtly anti-democratic leader of a large party in its modern history—an authoritarian with no grasp of history, no impulse control, and no apparent barriers on his will to power. The right thing to do, for everyone who believes in liberal democracy, is to gather around and work to defeat him on Election Day. Instead, we seem to be either engaged in parochial feuding or caught by habits of tribal hatred so ingrained that they have become impossible to escape even at moments of maximum danger. Bernie Sanders wouldn’t mind bringing down the Democratic Party to prevent it from surrendering to corporate forces—and yet he may be increasing the possibility of rule-by-billionaire...
If Trump came to power, there is a decent chance that the American experiment would be over. This is not a hyperbolic prediction; it is not a hysterical prediction; it is simply a candid reading of what history tells us happens in countries with leaders like Trump. Countries don’t really recover from being taken over by unstable authoritarian nationalists of any political bent, left or right—not by Peróns or Castros or Putins or Francos or Lenins or fill in the blanks. The nation may survive, but the wound to hope and order will never fully heal. Ask Argentinians or Chileans or Venezuelans or Russians or Italians—or Germans. The national psyche never gets over learning that its institutions are that fragile and their ability to resist a dictator that weak. If he can rout the Republican Party in a week by having effectively secured the nomination, ask yourself what Trump could do with the American government if he had a mandate. Before those famous schoolroom lines, Pope made another observation, which was that even as you recognize that the world is a mixed-up place, you still can’t fool yourself about the difference between the acceptable and the unacceptable: “Fools! who from hence into the notion fall / That vice or virtue there is none at all,” he wrote. “Is there no black or white? / Ask your own heart, and nothing is so plain; / ’Tis to mistake them, costs the time and pain.” The pain of not seeing that black is black soon enough will be ours, and the time to recognize this is now."

Friday, May 20, 2016

Privacy Fears: Panel Has Advice for Drone Operators; Associated Press via New York Times, 5/20/16

Associated Press via New York Times; Privacy Fears: Panel Has Advice for Drone Operators:
"A panel of privacy experts and technology companies organized by the Obama administration has issued guidelines for using drones without being overly intrusive.
The suggestions are voluntary, but some business interests involved in the debate hope the guidelines head off tougher regulations that they fear could smother the drone industry in its infancy. News organizations are exempt from the guidelines on free-press grounds.
Supporters say drones could provide huge benefits, from inspecting power lines to delivering medicine to remote areas. Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. want to use them for deliveries. Falling prices have made drones popular among hobbyists, too.
However, their small size and ability to go just about anywhere — while carrying cameras and sensors — have raised privacy concerns.
The Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration on Thursday released the "best practices," which were supported by drone makers, Amazon and other technology companies and retailers, and privacy advocates. The suggestions are aimed at both commercial and private drone users."

Federal Judge in Texas Demands Justice Dept. Lawyers Take Ethics Class; New York Times, 5/19/16

Michael D. Shear, New York Times; Federal Judge in Texas Demands Justice Dept. Lawyers Take Ethics Class:
"A federal judge in Texas on Thursday excoriated the Justice Department, demanding ethics classes for the department’s lawyers and ordering other sanctions for those who argued the case involving President Obama’s immigration executive actions...
In a blistering order, Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville accused the Justice Department lawyers of lying to him during arguments in the case, and he barred them from appearing in his courtroom.
He also demanded that Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch provide a “comprehensive plan” within 60 days describing how she will prevent unethical conduct in the future, as well as making sure the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility effectively prevents misconduct among its lawyers.
He also said that any Justice Department lawyer who wants to appear in a state or federal court in any of the 26 states who filed suit to block Mr. Obama’s executive actions should be required to take an annual three-hour ethics course for the next five years.
“Clearly, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about or adherence to the duties of professional responsibility in the halls of the Justice Department,” Judge Hanen wrote in the 28-page order."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science; Wired, 5/14/16

Michael Zimmer, Wired; OkCupid Study Reveals the Perils of Big-Data Science:
"The OkCupid data release reminds us that the ethical, research, and regulatory communities must work together to find consensus and minimize harm. We must address the conceptual muddles present in big data research. We must reframe the inherent ethical dilemmas in these projects. We must expand educational and outreach efforts. And we must continue to develop policy guidance focused on the unique challenges of big data studies. That is the only way can ensure innovative research—like the kind Kirkegaard hopes to pursue—can take place while protecting the rights of people an the ethical integrity of research broadly."

Ethics Trainings Are Even Dumber Than You Think; Slate, 5/19/16

L.V. Anderson, Slate; Ethics Trainings Are Even Dumber Than You Think:
"Research shows that the only thing that actually prevents wrongdoing is a strong company culture that discourages wrongdoing. That 1999 study found that the best approach was “a values-based cultural approach” comprising “leaders’ commitment to ethics, fair treatment of employees, rewards for ethical conduct, concern for external stakeholders, and consistency between policies and actions.” In other words, there’s no quick fix for corporate ethics: “[C]oncerns for ethics and legal compliance must be baked into the culture of the organization.” If executives focused on culture—and if regulators gave it more weight than box-checking when considering corporate malfeasance—we would reduce corporate malfeasance and waste a lot less time on the simplistic ethical dilemmas of fictional characters."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Know-Nothing Tide; New York Times, 5/16/16

Roger Cohen, New York Times; The Know-Nothing Tide:
"A know-nothing tide is upon us. Tribal politics, anchored in tribal media, has made knowing nothing a badge of honor. Ignorance, loudly declaimed, is an attribute, especially if allied to celebrity. Facts are dispensable baggage. To display knowledge, the acquisition of which takes time, is tantamount to showing too much respect for the opposition tribe, who know nothing anyway."

J.K. Rowling Defends Donald Trump’s Right To Be ‘Offensive And Bigoted’; Huffington Post, 5/17/16

Lee Moran, Huffington Post; J.K. Rowling Defends Donald Trump’s Right To Be ‘Offensive And Bigoted’ :
"“Now, I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted,” Rowling said, after accepting a Literary Service Award for her commitment to free speech and social justice.
“But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there,” she continued. “His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot.”
Rowling added Trump’s freedom of speech guarantees her own and warned that “unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot upon a road with only one destination.”"

Even basic phone logs can reveal deeply personal information, researchers find; Guardian, 5/16/16

Ian Sample, Guardian; Even basic phone logs can reveal deeply personal information, researchers find:
"The results highlight the extraordinary power of telephone metadata – the number called, when, and for how long – particularly when it is paired with public information available from services such as Google, Yelp and Facebook. The value of the data, which is not subject to the same legal protections as the content of people’s communications, has long been recognised by the security services. As Stewart Baker, the former general counsel at the US National Security Agency put it in the aftermath of Edward Snowden’s revelations: “Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life.”
Patrick Mutchler, a computer security researcher at Stanford, said that while the power of metadata was understood by those gathering the information, the public was largely in the dark because so few published studies have revealed how rich the data are. “That makes it difficult for people with strong opinions about these programs to fight them. Now we have hard evidence we can point to that didn’t exist in the past,” he said...
“All of this should be taken as an indication of what is possible with two graduate students and limited resources,” said Mutchler, who argues that the findings should make policymakers think twice before authorising mass surveillance programs. “Large-scale metadata surveillance programs, like the NSA’s, will necessarily expose highly confidential information about ordinary citizens,” the scientists write, adding: “To strike an appropriate balance between national security and civil liberties, future policymaking must be informed by input from relevant sciences.”"

Monday, May 16, 2016

Obama Blasts Trump at Rutgers University: “Ignorance Is Not a Virtue”; Slate, 5/15/16

Daniel Politi, Slate; Obama Blasts Trump at Rutgers University: “Ignorance Is Not a Virtue” :
"Obama also told graduates that “when you hear someone longing for the good old days, take it with a grain of salt” in what sounded like a meticulous takedown of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign motto. "I guess it's part of human nature—especially in times of change and uncertainty—to want to look backward and long for some imaginary past when everything worked, and the economy hummed and all politicians were wise and every child was well-mannered and America pretty much did whatever it wanted around the world," Obama said. "Guess what? It ain't so. The good old days weren't all that good.”"

Bullies Have a Trump Card; Slate, 5/15/16

Roxanne, Khamsi, Slate; Bullies Have a Trump Card:
"The new 296-page National Academies’ report laments the lack of consistency among definitions of bullying, but the most common way to define the behavior seems to be as repeated intentional and aggressive actions in which the perpetrator has greater power—regardless of whether that power imbalance is real or simply perceived. Ultimately, bullying might not only be a symptom of a power imbalance but also a contributing factor. According to the report, even though some individuals who bully are “maladjusted,” others, it says, “are motivated by establishing their status within their peer group.” It’s worth noting that studies have found that bullies tend to be more popular than their peers...
There’s evidence that aggression—a component of bullying—is linked to a student’s perceived popularity. Further research has suggested that bullies are calculating and often target peers who are less likely to be defended by significant others. Additionally, unpublished research from the group of sociologist René Veenstra, who is based at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, suggests that popular bullies will switch from targeting one victim to another as a way to maintain their status. “Popular bullies are very, very strategic and they seek new targets all the time,” he says.
So what stops a popular bully? That’s something researchers, educators, parents, and probably one particular presumed Democratic nominee would like to know. The answer is still being determined, and data from Finland suggest it might not be easy."

Yellowstone bison calf euthanized after park visitors picked up animal on road; Guardian, 5/16/16

Oliver Milman, Guardian; Yellowstone bison calf euthanized after park visitors picked up animal on road:
"“These actions endanger people and have now resulted in the death of a newborn bison calf,” said the NPS. “Approaching wild animals can drastically affect their wellbeing and, in this case, their survival.”
The four million people a year who visit Yellowstone are required to stay at least 25 yards (23m) away from all wildlife and at least 100 yards (91m) from bears and wolves.
“Disregarding these regulations can result in fines, injury, and even death,” said the NPS.
“The safety of these animals, as well as human safety, depends on everyone using good judgment and following these simple rules.”"

Trump’s Asymmetric Warfare; New York Times, 5/16/16

Charles M. Blow, New York Times; Trump’s Asymmetric Warfare:
"As MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said in December, this is asymmetric warfare. Conventional forms of political fighting won’t work on this man. Truth holds little power, and the media is still enthralled by the monster it made.
He is hollow, inconsistent, dishonest and shifty… and those who support him either love him in spite of it, or even more disturbingly, because of it...
“Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”"

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Talk to Us, Mr. President; New York Times, 5/13/16

Brian Goedde, New York Times; Talk to Us, Mr. President:
"So here’s that one last, great thing Mr. Obama can do for us: Speak at a community college graduation. The foundation of community college school spirit will certainly be one of his legacies, and the president should have a crowd robed in bright, bold colors to thank him in return."

A World Without Patents; Forbes, 5/12/16

David Pridham, Forbes; A World Without Patents:
"On the surface, Cuozzo Speed Technologies v. Lee is about whether the Patent Office (PTO) can use a different standard in hearing challenges to a patent’s validity after it’s been granted than the standard used by the federal courts. It’s also about whether the taking of a legal property right (a patent) ought to happen via an administrative hearing, without judicial review.
During oral arguments, Chief Justice John Roberts seemed shocked by the PTO’s system for challenging patents, known as Inter Partes Reviews (IPRs), calling it a “bizarre way … to decide a legal question” and a “very extraordinary animal in legal culture to have two different proceedings addressing the same question that lead to different results.” He was referring to the fact that a patent upheld as valid and infringed by the federal courts can then be taken by the infringing defendant to the PTO’s Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) and declared invalid!...
Even if you stipulate that there are bad patents that shouldn’t have been issued, is it really believable that 90% of all patents granted are invalid — despite being issued only after careful review by PTO examiners in a process that takes over two years and results in the rejection of half of all patent applications?
If we really believe that 90% of Patent Office output is garbage, then we should just shut the agency down and save everyone all the trouble.
There would be consequences, of course. Without patents and the competitive protections they afford, individuals and companies will not invest the money it takes to develop new cures for disease or create new technological wonders. That’s because they know others will simply copy their inventions with impunity and then sell them at a much lower cost, since it didn’t cost them a dime to develop these in the first place. This is a terrific way to drive the innovators out of any industry."

California's Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works; Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), 5/13/16

Ernesto Falcon, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); California's Legislature Wants to Copyright All Government Works:
"AB 2880 will give state and local governments dramatic powers to chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain.
The California Assembly Committee on Judiciary recently approved a bill (AB 2880) to grant local and state governments' copyright authority along with other intellectual property rights. At its core, the bill grants state and local government the authority to create, hold, and exert copyrights, including in materials created by the government. For background, the federal Copyright Act prohibits the federal government from claiming copyright in the materials it creates, but is silent on state governments. As a result, states have taken various approaches to copyright law with some granting themselves vast powers and others (such as California) forgoing virtually all copyright authority at least until now.
EFF strongly opposes the bill. Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Germany Says It Will Rescind Convictions for Homosexuality; New York Times, 5/11/16

Sewell Chan, New York Times; Germany Says It Will Rescind Convictions for Homosexuality:
"From 1949 to 1969, under a law inherited from the Nazi regime, about 50,000 men in West Germany were convicted of homosexuality. Many served time in prison.
Although the law — known as Paragraph 175 for the section it was part of in the country’s Criminal Code — was eased in 1969, it stayed on the books. As a result, another 3,500 men were convicted before the law was finally rescinded in 1994, four years after the reunification of Germany. Even then, the convictions stayed on the men’s criminal records. (Communist East Germany decriminalized homosexuality in 1968.)
The German government on Wednesday announced that it would finally correct what it called a longstanding injustice.
The justice minister, Heiko Maas, said the government would put forward legislation that would overturn the convictions and allow for financial compensation to the men who suffered under the legislation."

USA Today drops crossword compiler accused of plagiarism; Guardian, 5/11/16

Roy Greenslade, Guardian; USA Today drops crossword compiler accused of plagiarism:
"Crossword puzzles compiled by a man accused of plagiarism will no longer be published in the American daily newspaper USA Today.
According to a statement issued by his syndication agent, Universal Uclick, Timothy Parker will not return to USA Today as its crosswords editor. Nor will his work appear in any publication owned by USA Today’s parent company, Gannett."

How Trump Made Bigotry Fashionable; Huffington Post, 5/10/16

Evelyn Leopold, Huffington Post; How Trump Made Bigotry Fashionable:
"Many Trump followers are looking for jobs and perhaps a strong authoritarian leader. They have a, fear of change and a fear of jihadist threats since September 11, 2001 and the bombings in France and Belgium. The easy answer is to find scapegoats and Trump has given them a list to justify nativism.
More disturbing than propagating propaganda (phony figures, for example, showing most whites are killed by blacks) is his denial that words have consequences. He insists he is not responsible for chaos and physical violence at his rallies.
As author Jodi Picoult wrote in Salem Falls:
“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”"

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Interim President Rawlings Highlights Anonymous Ethics Hotline; Cornell Daily Sun, 5/9/16

Yun Soo Kim, Cornell Daily Sun; Interim President Rawlings Highlights Anonymous Ethics Hotline:
"Interim President Hunter Rawlings highlighted a confidential ethics hotline and urged the Cornell community to report any concerns of integrity in an email to the campus today.
The ethics system — operated by an independent company, EthicsPoint — will provide an anonymous platform for members of the Cornell community “as well as those outside it” to report “improper conduct or violations of Cornell University’s policies” using either the telephone line or the website, the email explained.
“Underlying everything we do — teaching, research, creative activity, public engagement, and day-to-day operations — this foundation is only as strong as our shared understanding of what constitutes ethical conduct.” Rawlings wrote in the email."

Dozens Testify in Support of Monument to Gay Rights Near Stonewall Inn; New York Times, 5/9/16

Noah Remnick, New York Times; Dozens Testify in Support of Monument to Gay Rights Near Stonewall Inn:
"The meeting on Monday, attended by a host of local politicians and led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of Manhattan; Sally Jewell, the United States secretary of the interior; and Jonathan B. Jarvis, the National Park Service director, was the latest step in a growing effort to recognize the area as a national monument. Mr. Nadler and Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, both Democrats of New York, introduced legislation to have Congress designate the area as a unit of the national park system, and President Obama is considering executive action. Although the White House would not confirm its support, several officials last night expressed confidence that the president would follow through, and some even thanked him prematurely for his support.
“We are long overdue for recognition of the struggle for L.G.B.T. civil rights in our national park system, and there is no better way to begin telling those stories than at Stonewall,” Mr. Nadler said, to applause from the audience.
Ms. Jewell said, “The National Park Service is America’s storytelling, and we know there are stories yet to be told.”...
Two-thirds of America’s national park sites are dedicated to issues of cultural and historic significance, according to the National Parks Conservation Association. Still, there are no sites within the National Park Service dedicated solely to the gay rights movement."

Wyoming Judge Facing Ouster Over Stance on Same-Sex Marriage; Associated Press via New York Times, 5/9/16

Associated Press via New York Times; Wyoming Judge Facing Ouster Over Stance on Same-Sex Marriage:
"Neely is fighting removal, arguing she has a constitutional right to voice her opinion. Her lawyers have said no same-sex couples have asked her to preside over their weddings...
In a response to the removal petition, Neely's lawyers stated in a court filing last month that removing her would violate her rights. They quoted a provision of the Wyoming Constitution which prohibits the state from finding a person incompetent to hold public office, "because of his opinion on any matter of religious belief whatever."...
"For me, it's a free speech issue," said Rep. Kendell Kroeker, R-Evansville, one of the lawmakers supporting Neely and a member of the House Judiciary Committee in the Wyoming Legislature. "A judge shouldn't be removed for something that she said outside of her duties as a judge."...
"You can't have a piecemeal government, or government by checkbox for the personal beliefs and bias of people who for a time hold a public office," [Jason] Marsden [executive director of the Denver-based Matthew Shepard Foundation] said. "If you want to hold a public office, you have to serve the public under the law, and if you can't do that, you need to find another line of work.""

Hacker Who Stole IDs and Scripts From Celebrities Pleads Guilty; New York Times, 5/9/16

Benjamin Weiser, New York Times; Hacker Who Stole IDs and Scripts From Celebrities Pleads Guilty:
"Mr. Knowles said that it was difficult to go after “a high profile celebrity,” so he would begin by going after friends found in photographs with them. He would then hack the friends’ accounts to find the celebrities’ telephone numbers and other personal information.
“It boils down to the weakest link in the chain,” a former official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Austin P. Berglas, told The New York Times in December, after the charges were announced.
At one point, the complaint said, Mr. Knowles showed the undercover agent a list of names, with phone numbers or email addresses of about 130 celebrities.
Mr. Knowles, in court, apologized to the judge, Paul A. Engelmayer, and acknowledged that he knew his actions had been wrong and illegal.
He pleaded guilty to both of the counts charged in a federal indictment against him: criminal copyright infringement and identity theft.
He could face a total of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 25. The federal sentencing guidelines, which are only advisory, suggested a sentence of 27 to 33 months, according to the plea agreement in the case."

Roy Moore, Alabama Judge, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Stance; New York Times, 5/6/16

Campbell Robertson, New York Times; Roy Moore, Alabama Judge, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Stance:
"An Alabama judicial oversight body on Friday filed a formal complaint against Roy S. Moore, the chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, charging that he had “flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority” in ordering the state’s probate judges to refuse applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.
As a result of the charges, Chief Justice Moore, 69, has been immediately suspended from the bench and is facing a potential hearing before the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a panel of judges, lawyers and other appointees. Among possible outcomes at such a hearing would be his removal from office."

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Truth and Trumpism; New York Times, 5/6/16

Paul Krugman, New York Times; Truth and Trumpism:
"In the end, bad reporting probably won’t change the election’s outcome, because the truth is that those angry white men are right about their declining role. America is increasingly becoming a racially diverse, socially tolerant society, not at all like the Republican base, let alone the plurality of that base that chose Donald Trump.
Still, the public has a right to be properly informed. The news media should do all it can to resist false equivalence and centrification, and report what’s really going on."

White Student Sues Diversity Internship For ‘Discrimination’; Daily Beast, 5/4/16

Kelly Weill, Daily Beast; White Student Sues Diversity Internship For ‘Discrimination’ :
"The Getty Foundation’s Multicultural Internship for arts studies had strict guidelines. Only undergraduate students of African-American, Asian, Latino, Native American, and Pacific Islander descent—groups frequently underrepresented in the arts—were eligible.
But one white applicant missed the memo.
Samantha Niemann, an undergraduate at Southern Utah University, is suing the Getty Foundation for discrimination, claiming the group wrongfully barred her from its program aimed at increasing diversity in the arts. In a lawsuit filed last Friday in Los Angeles’ Superior Court, Niemann accused Getty of “harassment, discrimination, and retaliation” for failing to hire or consider her for an internship...
...[H]artwig added that Getty had decided to open the internship to white applicants in recent months."

Raised-Fist Photo by Black Women at West Point Spurs Inquiry; New York Times, 5/6/16

Dave Philipps, New York Times; Raised-Fist Photo by Black Women at West Point Spurs Inquiry:
"The academy, while seeking to foster a diverse student body that reflects the nation, also aims to educate future officers in the regimented ways of the military, in which the only differences that matter are the ranks displayed on soldiers’ shoulders.
At the heart of the controversy is the gesture the women chose: Did it represent a divisive political statement, a matter of free speech, or just a case of students showing their sense of accomplishment as graduation, set for May 21, drew near?"

Friday, May 6, 2016

Proposed revision of ABA model ethics rule to ban broad range of discrimination sparks controversy; ABA Journal, 5/5/16

Martha Neil, ABA Journal; Proposed revision of ABA model ethics rule to ban broad range of discrimination sparks controversy:
"A proposed revision to one of the ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct that would expressly bar lawyers from discriminating in practice-related matters against a broad range of protected classes has sparked controversy.
While some members of the profession welcome the draft revision, others are concerned that it may go too far in restricting attorneys on matters of personal preference, conscience and religious belief, reports the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)."

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Ethical conflicts and new heroes power 'Captain America: Civil War'; [Austin] American-Statesman, 5/5/16

Joe Gross, [Austin] American-Statesman; Ethical conflicts and new heroes power 'Captain America: Civil War' :
"“When we last saw our heroes …” is the way any discussion of “Captain America: Civil War” should start, as this often intensely enjoyable film doesn’t even present any pretext of standing on its own. Which doesn’t mean it’s not a funny, thoughtful blast.
On one level, it is a 147-minute hunk of episodic filmmaking, yet another chapter of an old-school serial, as much the next Avengers movie as it is a Captain America picture.
And yet, directed by sibling filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo, it is often joyous, raucous and action-packed while asking a serious question: With all the ungodly destruction in each of the previous 13 movies (reaching back to 2008’s “Iron Man”), shouldn’t the Avengers, Earth’s mightiest heroes, be accountable to someone, somewhere?"

Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks; New York Times, 5/4/16

Room for Debate, New York Times; Redskins, and Other Troubling Trademarks:
"The Supreme Court may soon take up two cases in which the government does not want to register trademarks it considers disparaging — for the Washington Redskins football team and an Asian-American band called The Slants. The major federal law on trademarks lets the government deny registration to trademarks that are “immoral, deceptive, or scandalous” or that “disparage.”
Is it a denial of free speech for the government to prohibit registration for such trademarks?"

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

World Press Freedom Day Is A Terrifying Reminder Of What Reporters Could Face If Trump Is Elected; Huffington Post, 5/3/16

Alana Horowitz Satlin, Huffington Post; World Press Freedom Day Is A Terrifying Reminder Of What Reporters Could Face If Trump Is Elected:
"f the way Donald Trump and his supporters have treated journalists during the campaign is any indication, the media will be anything but free if he wins the presidency.
World Press Freedom Day, commemorated on Tuesday, comes just days after a GQ writer was hit with a barrage of antisemitic attacks following the publication of an article that criticized Melania Trump’s skincare line."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Future Of Open Access: Why Has Academia Not Embraced The Internet Revolution?; Forbes, 4/29/16

Kalev Leetaru, Forbes; The Future Of Open Access: Why Has Academia Not Embraced The Internet Revolution? :
"One of the most remarkable aspects of the story of the web’s evolution is that the collective output of the world’s universities has remained largely absent from the open online world, even as most other forms of information have shifted to some form of open online access. In the case of encyclopedias, entirely new forms of collaborative knowledge documentation like Wikipedia have emerged, while journalism has shifted to free advertising-supported distribution and even music and videos are increasingly legally available through ad-supported streaming services or affordable licensed download services.
Academic papers, the lifeblood of the scholarly world of academia, have resisted this transition. To those outside academia it might be surprising that most universities don’t publish all of their books, papers, presentations and course materials on their websites for the world to access...
Yesterday Science published a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Sci-Hub, one of the most infamous academic pirating sites, which provides free access to more than 50 million illegally acquired papers. One of the most fascinating findings is that its download traffic comes not exclusively from the developing world for which journal subscriptions are often claimed to be inaccessible, but also extensively from major Western universities which likely have legal subscriptions to the journals already. One of the reasons for this, the article claims, is the cumbersome and difficult-to-use web portals that university libraries provide to their holdings, making it incredibly difficult to locate a paper even if the university has a legal subscription to the journal. Having spent more than a decade and a half in academia at multiple institutions from public to private, I can personally attest to just how difficult it can be to navigate library portal systems to locate a particular paper...
As the drumbeat of open access continues to grow, the fierce debate over the future of how academic research is published and distributed will only rage louder. In parallel, as the trend towards open access expands to data sharing and replication, the pressure to change how academia does business will reach a breaking point where change will become inevitable. In the end, it is a fascinating commentary that the world of academia, from which the modern web sprung, has been among the most resistant to change and one of the last to embrace the internet revolution."

Monday, May 2, 2016

The House Votes Unanimously to Strengthen Email Privacy; New York Times, 4/29/16

Editorial Board, New York Times; The House Votes Unanimously to Strengthen Email Privacy:
"In a rare and remarkable display of bipartisanship, the House voted unanimously this week to strengthen a 30-year-old privacy law that governs how and when law enforcement agencies can obtain access to emails, photographs and other documents that people store online. If enacted, the changes will ensure that the law protects digital information as well as it does physical documents.
The bill will require law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants from judges to gain access to personal messages and files stored on the servers of companies like Google, Yahoo and Dropbox. The legislation would substantially revise a 1986 law, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, that allows agencies to get emails older than 180 days and other digital files by issuing subpoenas to technology companies without going to a judge.
This sensible update reflects how people store information today."

Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny.; New York Magazine, 5/1/16

Andrew Sullivan, New York Magazine; Democracies end when they are too democratic. And right now, America is a breeding ground for tyranny. :
"These GOP elites have every right to deploy whatever rules or procedural roadblocks they can muster, and they should refuse to be intimidated.
And if they fail in Indiana or Cleveland, as they likely will, they need, quite simply, to disown their party’s candidate. They should resist any temptation to loyally back the nominee or to sit this election out. They must take the fight to Trump at every opportunity, unite with Democrats and Independents against him, and be prepared to sacrifice one election in order to save their party and their country.
For Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such."

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Corporate Ethics Can’t Be Reduced to Compliance; Harvard Business Review, 4/29/16

Peter Rea, Alan Kolp, Wendy Ritz, Michelle D. Steward, Harvard Business Review; Corporate Ethics Can’t Be Reduced to Compliance:
"So what can a company do to excel ethically? Instead of focusing on the poor choices you want employees to avoid, focus on the positive virtues you want them to exhibit.
Plato emphasized a virtue-based system of ethics 2,400 years ago in his Academy. The philosopher believed that virtues were best encouraged through questions and discussions rather than through statements and proclamations. In other words, we learn ethics in conversation with others.
So rather than getting together with senior managers to craft a “values statement,” corporate leaders should instead foster a series of structured conversations between leaders at all levels and their teams. The goal of these conversations should be to develop a common language to help frame examples of how people live out the organization’s values or classical virtues. This is inherently a social process — virtue is learned, not inherited. Leaders are already teachers of their culture, whether they are aware of it or not, so they should ask themselves how they can teach it better.
Here are questions for each of the seven classical virtues that companies can use to shape these conversations and shift their focus from complying with the rules to excelling ethically."