September 22, 2005
Oxford Journals Website Relaunched
From the announcement: The redesigned site, provides improved accessibility, greater efficiency, and an extended wealth of information and services for our readers, authors, purchasers, and society partners. The project to launch a new website has been an extensive one. Its first steps involved consolidating our entire journal collection onto one platform - that of HighWire Press - and making sure all of our journals offered the same high levels of service, functionality, and consistent design features.
- American Law and Economics Review
- European Journal of International Law
- Human Rights Law Review
- Industrial Law Journal
- International and Comparative Law Quarterly
- International Journal of Constitutional Law
- International Journal of Law and Information Technology
- International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
- International Journal of Refugee Law
- Journal of Competition Law and Economics
- Journal of Conflict and Security Law
- Journal of Environmental Law
- Journal of Intellectual Property Law & Practice
- Journal of International Criminal Justice
- Journal of International Economic Law
- Medical Law Review
- Oxford Journal of Legal Studies
- Statute Law Review
And the Oxford Journal Law Archives will be available from 2006
NBER Report on Medicare
What Did Medicare Do (And Was It Worth It)?
by Amy Finkelstein, Robin McKnight - #11609
We study the impact of the introduction of one of the major pillars of the social insurance system in the United States: the introduction of Medicare in 1965. Our results suggest that, in its first 10 years, the establishment of universal health insurance for the elderly had no discernible impact on their mortality. However, we find that the introduction of Medicare was associated with a substantial reduction in the elderly's exposure to out of pocket medical expenditure risk. Specifically, we estimate that Medicare's introduction is associated with a forty percent decline in out of pocket spending for the top quartile of the out of pocket spending distribution. A stylized expected utility framework suggests that the welfare gains from such reductions in risk exposure alone may be sufficient to cover between half and three-quarters of the costs of the Medicare program. These findings underscore the importance of considering the direct insurance benefits from public health insurance programs, in addition to any indirect benefits from an effect on health.
September 21, 2005
KU Cuts Serials Subscriptions by $500,000
The Wichita Eagle is reporting that KU is cutting its serial subscriptions by $500,000. Ouch. The university needs $1.1 million beyond its current budget to maintain its current level. The school could only come up with $600,000 of that total.
Bush Signs $138 Billion Landscaping Bill
Read all about the Preservation Of Public Lands Of America Act and how it benefits Yellowstone National Park.
One Small Scan for Man, One Massive Copyright Infringement for Mankind, Google Sued by Authors Guide
Opera Web Browser Is Now Free
Mark Giangrande, DePaul Law Library
Looking For: Public Pledge of Self-Regulation Signatories and Text of Guide for Public E-Mail Service
I posted this information request on the law-lib and ChinaProf listservs. Although no one could help, several people also expressed interest in finding the below information.
Can anyone point me in the right direction for the following:
1. A List of US companies (or there Chinese subsidiaries) who are signatories to the "Public Pledge of Self-Regulation and Professional Ethics for China Internet Industry;" The membership list on the Internet Society of China appears to be incomplete. I'm fairly certain Microsoft and Google have signed the pledge but only Yahoo is listed. One listserv reader would also like to know which, if any, US universities have signed the pledge.
2. The text of the "Guide for Public E-Mail Service of the Internet Society of China" (in English). It is referenced in the Internet Society of China website but not published there.
If you have any leads, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks in advance,
Joseph A. Hodnicki
Associate Director for Library Operations
Director of Web Communications
Marx Law Library - Room 315
College of Law
University of Cincinnati
PO Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221
Shedding Light on Blackmun's Roe vs Wade
In Roe Ruling: More Than Its Author Intended, David Savage of the LA Times, write a very interesting history of Roe v Wade. The article relies in part on Justice Blackmun's recently released papers. About the Justice's papers, Savage writes
His thick files on the abortion cases tell the little-known story of how Roe vs. Wade came to be. It is the story of a rookie justice, unsure of himself and his abilities, who set out to write a narrow ruling that would reform abortion laws, not repeal them.
It is also the story of a sometimes rudderless court led by Chief Justice Warren Burger. On the day the ruling was announced, Burger said, "Plainly, the court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortion on demand."
Fascinating reading. The article includes a timeline of major U.S. Supreme Court decisions and other milestones related to Roe vs. Wade. Free registration required to access the LA Times article but it is worth taking the time to register in order to read this piece.
All this prompts the question, to what extent can or have the private papers of members of the bench been used as persuasive authority?
New Research Guides on GlobaLex
A Guide to MERCOSUR Legal Research: Sources and Documents by Edgardo Rotman
European Union Legal Materials: An Infrequent User’s Guide By Duncan E. Alford
Basic Guide to Researching Foreign Law by Mary Rumsey
Japanese Law via the Internet by Makoto Ibusuki
State and Federal e-Government Study
Brown University's sixth annual review of digital government in the 50 states and major federal agencies ranks Utah and Maine as leading states and the White House and State Department at the top among federal sites. At the state level Wyoming ranked last as did the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals at the federal level.
Among the more important findings of the research are the following:
- 44 percent of federal sites and 40 percent of state sites meet the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) disability guideline, up slightly from last year.
- A growing number of websites offer online services. Seventy-three percent of state and federal sites have services that are fully executable online, compared to 56 percent last year.
- One percent of government sites are accessible through personal digital assistants, pagers, or mobile phones, the same as last year.
- federal government websites have a number of quality control issues, such as broken links, missing titles, missing keywords, and warnings and redirects to new pages.
- 18 percent of sites offered some type of foreign language translation, compared to 21 percent last year.
- 67 percent of government websites are written at the 12th grade reading level, which is much higher than that of the average American.
Library-related (including major information provider) sites took hits
- The Library of Congress dropped from 19th to 28th
- Firstgov dropped to 9th from 1st
- The GPO dropped from 19th to 36th
- The GAO dropped from 20th to 44th
Other significant declines included:
- The House of Representatives dropped from 10th to 35th
- The Postal Service dropped from 9th to 30th
- Veteran Affairs dropped from 23rd to 50th
- The Department of Defense from 11th to 35th
While huge strides were made by some:
- The White House rose from 30th to 1st
- The Department of Labor rose from 46th to 12th
- The EPA rose from 33rd to 5th
- The Deparment of Justice rose from 39th to 15th
- The Commerce Department rose from 37th to 14th
Global e-Government Report
Asian countries take four of the five top spots in a new study of global e-government by Brown University. For the second year in a row, the countries of Taiwan and Singapore lead the United States in overall e-government performance. Hong Kong and China rounded out the top five. The study also shows that 19 percent of government agencies around the world are offering online services, compared to 21 percent in 2004.
Among the significant findings of the research are:
- 19 percent of government websites offer services that are fully executable online.
- 89 percent of websites this year provide access to publications and 53 percent have links to databases.
- 18 percent (up from 14 percent in 2004) show privacy policies, while 10 percent have security policies (up from 8 percent in 2004).
- 19 percent of government websites have some form of disability access, meaning access for persons with disabilities, up from 14 percent in 2004.
- Countries vary enormously in their overall e-government performance based on our analysis. The most highly ranked nations include Taiwan, Singapore, United States, Hong Kong, China, Canada, Germany, Australia, and Ireland.
- There are major differences in e-government performance based on region of the world. In general, countries in North America score the highest, followed by Asia, Western Europe, Pacific Ocean Islands, Middle East, Eastern Europe, South America, Russia and Central Asia, Central America, and Africa.
2005-2006 Congressional Directory
Ron Jones, University of Cincinnati Law Library
September 20, 2005
Symantec Survey Shows Dramatic Rise in Online Crime
For the Washington Post, Brian Krebs is reporting that Symantec's latest survey shows that online criminal activity of nearly every variety surged in the first half of 2005. The survey repoorted a record 1,862 new software vulnerabilities were discovered.
Hurricane Katrina and the New Bankrupcy Rules: Status Quo, Postpone or Exempt?
The press has caught wind of the impact Hurricane Katrina may have on its victims who will be forced into bankruptcy. Two issues are presented. First, many victims may not be able to file for bankruptcy before the October 17, 2005 effective date of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. This is important because under the new law, fewer individuals will qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which erases debt obligations. Many more will have to file under Chapter 13, which will require filers to pay back some debts. Some Members of Congress argue the case for delaying the law while others maintain that the new bankruptcy rules still allow for judicial discretion. The division falls along party lines as did the wildly partisan vote for passage of the Act.
A second issue deals with exemption. There's certainly a constitutional issue if the exemption only applies to Hurricane Katrina but there is an argument to be made that victims of catastrophic natural disasters, like victims of catastrophic illness, should be exempt from the Act's repayment requirements since they were forced into bankruptcy due to no fault of their own. There's no doubt that bankruptcy filings substantial increase in the years immediately following catastrophic natural disasters For example, research by UNLV Law Prof Robert Lawless indicates that bankruptcy filings in states hit by hurricanes and tropical storms increased 1 1/2 times those in states not affected by the same storms.
4-Person Family Median Income
These issue revolve around the Act's conception of "needs-based bankruptcy" as reflected in the income test for determining Chapter 7 eligibility: whether the income of Hurricane Katrina victims is above or below the state median income.
Some evidence indicates that many Alabama, Mississippi and New Orleans victims may be eligible for Chapter 7. See the Center for American Progress report, Who Are Katrina’s Victims? (September 6, 2005) which compares the median income of families in affected regions with that state's median income. In each case the average median income in affected regions was lower the the state median income.
Status Quo, Postpone or Exempt?
The issue appears to be falling along party lines but one would hope that once the Republicans realize that exemption would benefit the middle class, legislative would be passed. By passage of the Act, the consumer credit industry got what it wanted for the long-term. Legislation with a human face is needed for victims of catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina.
A (Very) Basic Legislative History of
the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
- P.L. 109-8, 119 STAT. 23 (pdf)
- House Report 109-031 Part 1
- Congressional Record
- Signing Statement of President Bush (with video)
On the $150 Textbook
Yale Law Prof Ian Aryes has a very interesting New York Times op-ed piece about the rising price of textbooks, law professors, and potential conflicts of interest. NB: Aryes is giving every student of his who buys his textbook $11. That's a loss of 70 cents per book. That fair exceeds the usual "at the end of the semester, I'll buy the class pizzas" (to overcome the guilt/greed/whatever I feel for making you buy my text).
In his piece, Aryes refers to the GAO's report titled College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases (GAO-05-806, July 29, 2005). The report calls attention to the fact that at an average of 6 percent per year, textbook prices nearly tripled from December 1986 to December 2004. That increase is twice the rate of inflation for the last 20 years.
See also the CM Bulletin Special: GAO Report Shines Light on College Textbook Industry for Policymakers from the National Association of College Stores.
Thanks to The Conglomerate for the tip about Aryes' op-ed piece.
September 19, 2005
NBER Report on CAP Laws
The Effect of Child Access Prevention Laws on Non-Fatal Gun Injuries by Jeff DeSimone, Sara Markowitz - #11613
Many states have passed child access prevention (CAP) laws, which hold the gun owner responsible if a child gains access to a gun that is not securely stored. Previous CAP law research has focused exclusively on gun-related deaths even though most gun injuries are not fatal. We use annual hospital discharge data from 1988-2001 to investigate whether CAP laws decrease non-fatal gun injuries. Results from Poisson regressions that control for various hospital, county and state characteristics, including state-specific fixed effects and time trends, indicate that CAP laws substantially reduce non-fatal gun injuries among both children and adults. Our interpretation of the estimates as causal impacts is supported by the absence of effects on self-inflicted gun injuries among adults, non-gun self-inflicted injuries, and knife assaults, the failure of violent crime levels and law leads to attain significance or alter estimated law coefficients, and larger coefficient magnitudes in states where the law covers older children.
Colleges Turn to New Promoters, Student Bloggers
The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a new college promotional scheme, having students blog about their experiences at their college.
"Compared with conventional, glossy brochures and campus visits, the blogs are a more dynamic attempt to reach students where they spend much of their time--online--in a more personal forum."
"The main goal is to provide prospective students with what a real student goes through [on] a daily or weekly basis," says Glenna Ryan, director of enrollment services at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y."
"These blogs are actually hosted on the colleges' websites, typically on their admissions pages or homepages. Several schools--from Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., which features nine student blogs entitled "Real Life at L&C," to Simmons College of Boston--have added the diaries within the past academic year or two."
"Though initially concerned that the blogs might become a bit too personal, many university officials say they ultimately gave student-scribes free rein, but were sure to remind them their families would likely be their biggest fans."
Desperate Librarians Calendar On Sale!
Six Waupaca-area (Wisconsin) library administrators have produced "Desperate Librarians," a sexy but tasteful calendar they're selling to raise money for their libraries. Each librarian paid $200 toward production costs and posed provocatively. The women appear to be naked in many of the photos, but all were at least partly clothed during the shoot which shows the ladies with one or more oversized book covers in strategic positions. Read all about it.
And help their cause!
Send a check to: Desperate Librarians, E6282 Slough Road, Weyauwega, WI 54983. Cost is $20, plus $2.50 shipping for one calendar; for each additional calendar, add $1 shipping. Proceeds benefit the public libraries in Weyauwega, Clintonville, Waupaca, Marion, Seymour and Manawa.
Strange but True Employee Handbooks
When I worked for a major labor law firm years ago (Seyfarth, Shaw in Chicago) one of my jobs was to obtain sample employee handbooks, this during the dark days of at-will employment when theories such as implied contract or covenant of good faith were argued to take handbooks somewhere they never were meant to go, to the land of offer and acceptance of terms and conditions of employment. Handbooks I found, plenty of them but none like these:
One can only imagine the client meetings that lead to the drafting and revising of these handbooks.
Status of Military Commissions
Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog reports on a constitutional challenge to the military commissions for terrorist suspects that is pending at the Supreme Court. He believes that the challenge is likely to be acted upon by the Justices in late September or at the opening of the new Term on Oct. 3. However, even before the Court reaches the case, the status of the commissions remains in doubt because of lingering issues in the D.C. Circuit.