April 21, 2007
NRA Attorney Proposes Changes to Gun Control Law
Time Magazine is reporting that Stephen P. Halbrook, a constitutional lawyer who recently was involved in the appeals court victory for gun rights advocates challenging the Washington, D.C. handgun prohibition law, thinks the time may have come for a reconsideration of some gun control laws, specifically, the rule that prohibited anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution from buying firearms. That prohibition, the first significant federal gun control law, was passed in 1968 in reaction to the Kennedy assassination five years earlier. At the time involuntary commitment was the norm, unlike today where voluntary commitment is much more common. No word on what Halbrook's one time (still?) client, the National Rifle Association, has to say about this.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence believes that Cho Seung-Hui was prohibited from purchasing firearms under existing federal law because he should not have passed his Brady background checks. [JH]
Check out Scribd!
From the site: "What is Scribd? Scribd lets you publish and discover documents online. It is like a big online library where anyone can upload. We make use of a custom Flash document viewer that lets you display documents right in your Web browser. There are all sorts of other features that make it easy and fun to publish, convert, embed, analyze, and read documents." [RJ]
Interior Department's 2005 Hurricane Relief Expenditures
"This report presents the results of our audit of the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) expenditures for response and recovery efforts related to the 2005 hurricane season. Our objective was to determine whether DOI and its bureaus ensured that expenditures for hurricane relief efforts were reasonable, necessary, and properly recorded. This is the first in a series of audits. This audit reviewed expenditures incurred during the initial disaster response. The next audit will review the expenditures for the major reconstruction efforts." [RJ]
1967 Hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"Declassified transcripts of dozens of closed hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1967 have now been published.
The hearings feature testimony by Director of Central Intelligence Richard Helms and other Johnson Administration officials on Soviet nuclear weapons policy, anti-ballistic missiles, Vietnam, the Middle East, and other topics of contemporary concern."
Alliance Second Life Library Program receives 2007 Library of the Future Award
"The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce that Kitty Pope, executive director of the Alliance Library System, and the international collaborative group of librarians working on Alliance Second Life Library, are the 2007 recipients of the ALA/Information Today Library of the Future Award.
This annual award consists of $1,500 and a 24k gold-framed citation of achievement to honor an individual library, library consortium, group of librarians, or support organization for innovative planning for, application of, or development of patron training programs about information technology in a library setting.
Pope and the Alliance Second Life Library librarians are recognized for their ground breaking work in the development of a 3D virtual world library, for forging new partnerships within the virtual world, and for providing programs, services, and materials to the more than 1.3 million residents who inhabit Second Life." [RJ]
April 20, 2007
Department of Justice Files Motion to Dismiss the Guantanamo Bay detainee habeas corpus cases pending before it.
"Today the Department of Justice asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to dismiss the Guantanamo Bay detainee habeas corpus cases pending before it. This action is in accordance with both the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upholding the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act (MCA) and directing that such cases be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction and the recent decision of the Supreme Court to deny certiorari in those cases. The Court of Appeals decision reaffirmed the validity of the framework that Congress established in the MCA permitting Guantanamo detainees to bring suit in the D.C. Circuit. That decision and the Supreme Court’s denial of certiorari make clear that the locus of litigation should now be the D.C. Circuit. All detainees, regardless of the status of any district court habeas case that might have been filed on their behalf, may file an action in the D.C. Circuit and avail themselves of the judicial review afforded by Congress in the MCA. As detainees choose to take advantage of this avenue of review, we will respond to such challenges in the D.C. Circuit." [RJ]
"In recognition of the appropriateness of continued access to detainees by counsel for purposes of the D.C. Circuit litigation, the request for dismissal of the habeas cases does not mean that counsel visits with detainees will come to an end. The Department of Defense will continue to permit previously scheduled counsel visits to occur during a reasonable transition period, and the Department has already proposed a protective order under which counsel visits are allowed as to claims filed in the D.C. Circuit under the MCA. Moving forward, priority will be given to counsel for detainees pursuing litigation in the Court of Appeals.
The judicial review afforded to Guantanamo detainees under the MCA and the counsel access allowed by the Department of Defense is unprecedented in its breadth. No other captured enemy combatants in the history of this country, or any other, have enjoyed such privileges in wartime. The Department will continue to give effect to the judicial review procedures established by Congress to permit detainees to challenge their wartime detentions in the manner intended by Congress."
Professional Reading: Designing and Evaluating Web Communities
Five heuristics for designing and evaluating Web-based communities by Linda M. Gallant, Gloria M. Boone, and Austin Heap.
Abstract: From a three-step analysis of online communities, a set of five heuristics emerged: interactive creativity; selection hierarchy; identity construction; rewards and costs; and, artistic forms. These heuristics were generated from concepts appearing in past research, and then tested by a content analysis with focus groups using the case examples of two well-developed Web-based communities, Facebook and MySpace. The users saw this type of social technology as a flexible form of their own expression to create their own identities, social relationships, and meanings. Overall, MySpace was seen as offering greater creativity and artistic form than Facebook. The users in this study used online communities for gaining social rewards; e.g., forming and maintaining friendships, with little concern for social costs such as time expended or privacy concerns. This study contributes to a set of heuristics that can be used to evaluate other Web-based online communities in a number of social contexts. [JH]
"No one can seriously dispute that an independent judiciary is critical to our system of government and to our way of life. Sadly, we do not now compensate our judges adequately. At the spring meeting of the Board of Regents they approved a white paper on the "Judicial Compensation: Our Federal Judges Must Be Fairly Paid" authored by the College's Ad Hoc Committee on Judicial Compensation." [RJ]
Federal Courts to Distribute Trial Tapes Online
The federal judiciary has approved a pilot program to make free audio recordings of court proceedings available online. Although a court's participation in the program is voluntary, U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, the executive committee chairman of the policy-making Judicial Conference, said he ultimately expects the system to be widely used. Read more about it. [JH]
Bankruptcy Filings Plunge in Calendar Year 2006
"Bankruptcy filings in the federal courts dropped 70 percent in calendar year 2006, according to data released today by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts. However, bankruptcies filed for the last three months of calendar year 2006 were the highest of any quarter in the calendar year. The statistics cover the first full 12-month period in which the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 (BAPCPA) has been in effect." [RJ]
How Blogging Can Help You Get a New Job
Interesting article from the WSJ (sub req): "Corporate recruiters have long surfed the Web to vet potential hires, but now they are also surfing blogs to unearth job candidates, expanding their talent pool and gaining insights they say they can't get from résumés and interviews." [RJ]
Library of Congress and Bibliotheca Alexandrina To Cooperate in Developing World Digital Library
From the press release: "Librarian of Congress James H. Billington and Director of the Bibliotheca Alexandrina Ismail Serageldin signed an agreement today at the Library of Congress outlining four areas in which the two institutions will cooperate in building a World Digital Library." [RJ]
Professional Reading: Metadata for All
Check out Mary W. Elings and Günter Waibel's Metadata for All: Descriptive Standards and Metadata Sharing across Libraries, Archives and Museums
Abstract: Integrating digital content from libraries, archives and museums represents a persistent challenge. While the history of standards development is rife with examples of cross-community experimentation, in the end, libraries, archives and museums have developed parallel descriptive strategies for cataloguing the materials in their custody. Applying in particular data content standards by material type, and not by community affiliation, could lead to greater data interoperability within the cultural heritage community. [JH]
CRS Report on the Economy
WHY HAS THE ECONOMY BECOME LESS VOLATILE?
CRS Publication Date: 04/11/2007
Document No.: RL33959
Author(s): Marc Labonte, Government and Finance Division
Abstract: Congress is concerned with the health of the U.S. economy, which affects the living standards of all Americans. The 2001 recession was unusually mild and brief by historical standards. At 120 months, the expansion that preceded it had been the longest in U.S. history. Is this a coincidence? A body of research, beginning with the studies of Kim and Nelson and McConnell and Perez-Quiros, concludes that it is not.
Opening: Access Services Librarian, Mercer
Access Services Librarian
Furman Smith Law Library, Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University
Responsibilities: This librarian teaches a one-credit, first-year legal research course in collaboration with a team of librarians. This librarian provides leadership and is responsible for overall management of Access Services (circulation, course reserves, interlibrary loan and document delivery), which is staffed by two full time staff members and a number of student workers. Additionally, the person in this position participates in a rotating reference schedule including evenings and weekends and participates in the faculty liaison program. Librarians serve on law library, law school and university committees and participate in professional development opportunities.
Required qualifications: MLS (ALA) and JD (ABA); excellent legal research skills; aptitude and experience conducting research in a variety of print and electronic resources; effective interpersonal, oral and written communication skills; strong organizational abilities; strong service orientation and the ability to establish and maintain good working relationships with coworkers, faculty, students, and the bar; ability to work both independently and as a member of a motivated team of professional librarians. Preferred: Law library experience, supervisory experience, demonstrated teaching experience, knowledge of OCLC and Innovative Interfaces.
Salary: Commensurate with experience and qualifications. Mercer offers a competitive benefits package including 22 days of vacation plus University holidays.
The Furman Smith Law Library serves approximately 420 law students and 30 law faculty. The Law School is part of a dynamic university with degree programs in medicine, pharmacy, engineering, business, education and theology. The University has over 7000 students on its Macon and Atlanta campuses. Mercer Law School is located in a beautifully restored historic district in downtown Macon, which is a city of 150,000 known for its antebellum mansions, cottages, churches, and interesting museums. Macon's moderate climate and moderate cost of living, as well as its proximity to Atlanta, make it a desirable place to live. For more information about Mercer University Law School and the Macon community, visit us at www.law.mercer.edu.
Mercer University is an EOE/AA/ADA Employer. Applications from women and minorities are encouraged. Interested candidates should complete the brief online application at www.mercerjobs.com (vacancy number P08-003), and attach (1) a letter of application, (2) a current resume, and (3) the names and contact information for at least three professional references. The position is available July 1, 2007. Applications will be reviewed as they are received, and review will continue until the position is filled.
April 19, 2007
Leadership vs. Stewardship: Advice for the New UN Ambassador
"As Zalmay Khalilzad prepares to head to New York as the top U.S. representative to the United Nations, a collective sigh of relief can be heard from Turtle Bay, and not just from our adversaries. The U.S. image is in need of serious repair at the United Nations and sending an ambassador who has the formal backing of the U.S. Senate and the confidence of the White House is the right formula to begin putting U.S.-UN relations back on track. Having just returned from two of the toughest overseas posts — Afghanistan and Iraq — New York might seem to the ambassador like a picnic in comparison. However, there is hard work to do at the United Nations, and Khalilzad must get his footing early to be able to restore the view that the world’s only superpower really does respect world opinion and intends to step up to its role as both leader and steward of the international organization." [RJ]
Reed and Cochran Introduce Legislation to Recruit and Retain Librarians
"In an effort to address the shortage of librarians in low-income areas across the country, U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI) and Thad Cochran (R-MS) today introduced the Librarian Incentive to Boost Recruitment and Retention in Areas of Need (LIBRARIAN) Act to mark National Library Workers Day.
The bipartisan LIBRARIAN Act would amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to cancel Perkins student loans for full-time librarians with a master's degree in library science. Librarians working full-time in low-income areas would qualify for up to 100 percent Perkins student loan forgiveness depending on their number of years of experience." [RJ]
"Librarians play an essential role in our schools and public libraries and help to foster a lifelong love of reading in our young people," stated Reed. "With a shortage of librarians across the country and with many more set to retire, we must urgently encourage more people to enter the library science field and work to retain valuable librarians who are already serving our communities."
Cochran stated, "Access to educational resources is critical to ensuring that young people in America, regardless of income level, have every opportunity to succeed. Our nation's libraries encourage literacy and foster a love of learning in our communities. I am pleased to join Senator Reed in introducing The LIBRARIAN Act, which would support those who choose to invest in their communities by serving as librarians."
According to the American Library Association (ALA), approximately 25 percent of America's school libraries do not have a state certified library media specialist on staff with a large number of librarians reaching the age of retirement.
The bill's introduction marks National Library Workers Day, celebrated each year on Tuesday during National Library Week.
Since 1958, the week-long celebration has commemorated the contributions of libraries, librarians, and library workers in schools, campuses, and communities nationwide. During the week, communities encourage residents to visit their local library.
Language from Reed and Cochran's bill was included in S. 1614, the Higher Education Amendments of 2005, which was approved by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the 109th Congress but saw no further action. Reed is a member of the Committee and will push for its inclusion in similar legislation which will soon be considered.
Software's Benefits On Tests In Doubt
Interesting story from the Washington Post: "Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education. The long-awaited report amounts to a rebuke of educational technology, a business whose growth has been spurred by schools desperate for ways to meet the testing mandates of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law."
Pirating the American Dream
"In a hearing before the Subcommittee on Security and International Trade and Finance, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, discussed intellectual property theft’s impact on America’s place in the global economy and strategies for improving enforcement."
Women in Congress
"This Web site, based on the book Women in Congress, 1917–2006, contains biographical profiles of former women Members of Congress, links to information about current women Members, essays on the institutional and national events that shaped successive generations of Congresswomen, and images of each woman Member, including rare photos." [RJ]