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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

GAO Reports – Army Patriot Modernization, SEC Conflict Minerals Rule

  • Patriot Modernization: Oversight Mechanism Needed to Track Progress and Provide Accountability, GAO-16-488: Published: Aug 25, 2016. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 2016: “While the currently fielded version of the Army’s Patriot surface-to-air missile system is an improvement over prior versions, the Army currently plans to spend about $2.9 billion between fiscal years 2013 and 2021 on an upgrade strategy to address a variety of capability needs. These efforts are intended to improve the system’s performance, reliability, and communications as well as address obsolescence and sustainment issues. The figure below shows planned costs for ongoing efforts, near-term upgrades which begin fielding prior to fiscal year 2017, mid-term upgrades which begin fielding between fiscal years 2017 and 2021, and long-term upgrades—including a long-term radar solution. Key among the mid-term efforts are major software upgrades called Post Deployment Build-8 (PDB-8) and PDB-8.1, which are intended to improve communications and system capabilities against threats. The Army plans to begin operational testing for PDB-8 and PDB-8.1 in fiscal years 2016 and 2019, respectively. These testing results will reveal the extent to which the near and mid-term upgrades work as intended.”
  • SEC Conflict Minerals Rule: Companies Face Continuing Challenges in Determining Whether Their Conflict Minerals Benefit Armed Groups, GAO-16-805: Published: Aug 25, 2016. Publicly Released: Aug 25, 2016: ” Armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continue to profit from the exploitation of minerals, according to the United Nations. Congress included a provision in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that, among other things, required SEC to promulgate regulations regarding the use of conflict minerals from the DRC and adjoining countries. The act also required Commerce to develop a list of worldwide processing facilities and to assess IPSAs filed in conjunction with SEC disclosures, and included provisions for GAO to assess the SEC regulations’ effectiveness in promoting peace and security and report on the rate of sexual violence in the DRC and adjoining countries. This report examines (1) company disclosures filed in 2015 in response to the SEC conflict minerals regulations, (2) challenges to companies’ due diligence efforts related to the processing facilities in conflict minerals supply chains and efforts to mitigate those challenges, and (3) Commerce’s actions regarding its conflict minerals-related requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act. The report also provides information on sexual violence in the DRC and three adjoining countries. GAO analyzed a generalizable random sample of SEC filings and interviewed relevant officials.”

Bloomberg – Secret Cameras Record Baltimore’s Every Move from Above

Since January, police have been testing an aerial surveillance system adapted from the surge in Iraq. And they neglected to tell the public. By Monte Reel, August 23, 2016 – “The sky over the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on June 23 was the color of a dull nickel, and a broad deck of lowering… Continue Reading

Tokyo War Crimes Trial Scrapbook

Floyd J. Mattice: Tokyo War Crimes Trial Scrapbook. [catalog record] “A digitized archival collection of personal and professional papers documenting Floyd Mattice’s time in Japan as the defense attorney for two of the accused Japanese war criminals. It is believed that the collection has been compiled by the secretary of Floyd Mattice. It eventually became… Continue Reading

GAO Report – Sexual Violence Data

Sexual Violence Data: Actions Needed to Improve Clarity and Address Differences Across Federal Data Collection Efforts, GAO-16-546: Published: Jul 19, 2016. Publicly Released: Aug 18, 2016. “Four federal agencies—the Departments of Defense, Education, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Justice (DOJ)—manage at least 10 efforts to collect data on sexual violence, which differ in target… Continue Reading

NASA Analysis Finds July 2016 is Warmest on Record

“July 2016 was the warmest July in 136 years of modern record-keeping, according to a monthly analysis of global temperatures by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. Because the seasonal temperature cycle peaks in July, it means July 2016 also was warmer than any other month on record. July… Continue Reading

Federal Prisoner Petitions to Vacate Sentences Soar in 2016

“The latest available data from the federal courts show that during July 2016 the government reported 1,432 new federal prisoner petitions to vacate sentences were filed. This is the fourth month in a row that civil filings for these matters have been above a thousand, far above the typical number of less than 600 each… Continue Reading

2016 Online Journalism Awards finalists announced

“Finalists for the 2016 Online Journalism Awards, representing a wide range of nonprofit, public, academic, major media and emerging technology organizations from around the globe, were announced today by the Online News Association. Twelve of the awards now come with $53,500 in prize money, courtesy of Knight Foundation, the Gannett Foundation and the University of… Continue Reading

Pew – Social Media Conversations About Race

How social media users see, share and discuss race and the rise of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter – “How social media users see, share and discuss race and the rise of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter – “Americans are increasingly turning to social media for news and political information and to encourage others to get involved with a… Continue Reading

How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – And Changed the History of Free Speech in America

Cameron, Jamie, The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – And Changed the History of Free Speech in America, by Thomas Healy (August 10, 2016). Osgoode Legal Studies Research Paper No. 65/2016. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2821109 “Thomas Healy’s The Great Dissent re-treads the familiar story of US Supreme Court Justice… Continue Reading

New ABA model rule – discrimination and harassment will be legal ethics violations

ABA Journal, Lorelei Laird – “The ABA’s Resolution 109 has attracted a lot of controversy outside the organization. The measure makes it a violation of professional responsibility to discriminate or harass in conduct related to the practice of law. It attracted coverage from the New York Times DealBook blog and condemnation from politically conservative attorneys,… Continue Reading

Explore ongoing history of human civilization through research and data visualization

“OurWorldInData is an online publication that shows how living conditions around the world are changing. It communicates this empirical knowledge through interactive data visualisations (charts and maps) and by presenting the research findings on global development that explain what drives the changes that we see and what the consequences of these changes are. The publication… Continue Reading

Social and Economic Rights and Gender in Constitutions

Goldblatt, Beth, Social and Economic Rights and Gender in Constitutions (August 8, 2016). Draft Chapter in ‘Gender and Constitutions Handbook’ edited by Helen Irving, Published by Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017 Forthcoming. Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2819905 “Social and economic rights that offer to address poverty have special significance for women who, as a group,… Continue Reading