May 31, 2008
How Ethanol Fuels the Food Crisis
Food prices are rising rapidly across the globe, threatening many of the world's poor with starvation. In this update to their May/June 2007 Foreign Affairs article, How Biofuels Could Starve the Poor, C. Ford Runge and Benjamin Senauer argue that the heavily subsidized ethanol industry is exacerbating the food crisis and harming the environment. [JH]
2007 Wiretap Report
New report from the U.S. Courts: "A total of 2,208 intercepts authorized by federal and state courts were completed in 2007, an increase of 20 percent compared to the number terminated in 2006. The number of applications for orders by federal authorities fell less than 1 percent to 457. The number of applications reported by state prosecuting officials grew 27 percent to 1,751, with 24 states providing reports, 1 more than in 2006. Installed wiretaps were in operation an average of 44 days per wiretap in 2007, compared to 40 days in 2006. The average number of persons whose communications were intercepted decreased from 122 per wiretap order in 2006 to 94 per wiretap order in 2007. The average percentage of intercepted communications that were incriminating was 30 percent in 2007, compared to 20 percent in 2006." [RJ]
May 30, 2008
New CRS Report Provides Overview of the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007
Reauthorization of the E-Government Act: A Brief Overview (May 14, 2008)(pdf). [Thomas Resources for S. 2321]. Excerpted from the Report's summary:
The occasion to consider reauthorization of the E-Government Act provides Congress the opportunity to assess the results of federal e-government initiatives since 2002, consider how they have affected the administration of government, and decide what changes, if any, are necessary. In considering whether to reauthorize any, some, or all of these provisions, Congress may also wish to consider a number of other issues related to the implementation and oversight. These issues include, but are not limited to: what actions may be needed to reconcile the fundamental disparity between the horizontal nature of government-wide e-government initiatives, and the vertical organization of government oversight and funding mechanisms; how e-government initiatives should be funded and the role of the E-Government Fund; and the continuity and future direction of e-government efforts with the upcoming transition of presidential administrations. On November 7, 2007, S. 2321, the E-Government Reauthorization Act of 2007 was introduced. The bill would amend and reauthorize appropriations for the E-Government Act. A comparable bill has not been introduced in the House.
Friday Fun: When the Judge says "Blow"
A judge considers holding a defense lawyer in contempt of court for being late (note his explanations and the judge's examination of them), orders a blood-alcohol test for for him because he was slurring his words, and then declares a mistrial after declaring him too tipsy to argue a kidnapping case. [JH]
Criminal Law Conversations Project
From the Cornell Law School press release:
Professor Stephen P. Garvey of Cornell Law School, along with Paul Robinson of Pennsylvania Law School and Kimberly Ferzan, professor and associate dean at Rutgers School of Law-Camden, are the guiding professors in a 10-month online effort to create a new method of processing scholarship. In this new project, called Criminal Law Conversations, authors of the top-rated essays can defend their ideas against criticism from the judges, who are other law professors. The essays that receive too few votes get kicked off the stage, which in reality is the University of Pennsylvania Law School Web site, which hosts the Criminal Law Conversations project.
National Archives Creates Plan for Online Access to Founding Fathers Papers
"Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein submitted a report, entitled The Founders Online, to the Committees on Appropriations of the U.S. Congress. This report is the National Archives response to concerns raised by the Committees that the complete papers of America’s Founding Fathers are not available online. The Founders Online is a plan for providing online access, within a reasonable timeframe, to researchers, students and the general public. The report is available electronically on the National Archives web site.
In announcing the completion of the report, Professor Weinstein said, “We feel this plan would provide scholars and the public access to the best available versions of the complete papers; it would also protect the longstanding interests of the publishers and host organizations which along with the Federal government have invested great resources in the past four decades. Most importantly, it would build a monument to the Founders of our nation in their own words.”
The National Archives received suggestions from the editors of the papers of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Washington, university publishers, and others in crafting a blueprint for providing access to the already completed print editions and the raw materials for the editions to come. If carried out, the plan ensures that interested readers worldwide can see the work in progress with the already complete editions accompanied by transcriptions of the papers yet to be published. To hasten the transition process, the National Historical Publications and Records Commission plans to invest $250,000 as a demonstration pilot project."
ABA Announces 2008 Gavel Awards
The purpose of the Gavel Awards is to recognize annually eligible entries from communications media that have been exemplary in helping to foster the American public's understanding of the law and the legal system. This year's winners by category:
- Books: Jeffrey Toobin's "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court"
- Documentaries: "The Supreme Court," HiddenHill Production for Thirteen/WNET New York
- Newspaper Series: The Denver Post's "Lawless Lands: The Crisis in Indian Country"
- Television: "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," Nova/WGBH and Vulcan Productions, Inc. in association with Big Table Film Company
Details on the ABA site. [JH]
Best Sites for Identifying Search Engines
Opening: Reference Librarian, Southern Illinois University School of Law Library
The School of Law Library at Southern Illinois University is accepting applications for the position of Reference Librarian, a full time tenure-track library faculty position with the rank of Assistant Professor. The library staff includes six professional librarians and ten civil service support staff. The library is administratively independent and serves a law school faculty of about 35, a law student body of about 360, a university community of more than 20,000, and the legal community and general public of the entire southern Illinois region. The library holds more than 400,000 volumes and volume-equivalents, uses the OCLC and INNOPAC automated systems, and actively incorporates access to electronic materials into its information resources and technological solutions into its daily operations. Further information about the Library and the School is available at http://www.law.siu.edu.
POSITION. Reference Librarian, Southern Illinois University School of Law Library, Carbondale, Illinois
QUALIFICATIONS. Required: M.L.S., or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited program by date of hire; J.D. degree from ABA-accredited school by date of hire; knowledge of legal bibliography and legal research techniques, including the use of Westlaw, LexisNexis, and other electronic legal information resources; knowledge and experience in Web site construction, design, and management; excellent interpersonal skills and proficiency in oral and written communication; ability to work effectively both in a team setting and independently; and strong service orientation. Preferred: Professional reference experience, preferably in an academic law library; and teaching experience.
RESPONSIBILITIES. Responsible for providing reference, research, and instructional assistance to faculty, students, and staff of the School of Law, the University community, and the general public. The Reference Librarian teaches legal research in the law school’s first-year, two-semester Lawyering Skills Program and may assist in the Advanced Legal Research course as well as participate in other formal and informal legal research instruction to law students. The incumbent will also be responsible for developing and maintaining the School of Law Library’s Web site in collaboration with the law library faculty and staff. Complete job description available at http://www.law.siu.edu/employment .
AVAILABLE. Immediately. Review of applications begins June 13, 2008 and will continue until the position is filled.
SALARY. Competitive and commensurate with qualifications.
TO APPLY. Applications should be submitted electronically at http://www.law.siu.edu/employment. A complete application will require a letter of application, résumé, and the names of three references. The letter should be addressed to:
Law Library Director and Associate Professor of Law
School of Law Library, Mail Code 6803
Southern Illinois University
1150 Douglas Drive
Carbondale, Illinois 62901
SIUC is an affirmative action/equal opportunity employer that strives to enhance its ability to develop a diverse faculty and staff and to increase its potential to serve a diverse student population. All applications are welcomed and encouraged and will receive consideration.
May 29, 2008
Science Explains Why Women Make Mountains Out of Molehills!
Read more about it at Opposite sex drives you crazy -- the causes on CNN. OK, I've been bad. The story also reports that men like chic flicks (aka romantic movies) more than they publicly admit (but not me). [JH]
Amnesty International's Report 2008: State of the World's Human Rights
From the press release:
“Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today. Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance.” [Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, launching AI Report 2008: State of the World’s Human Rights.]
Amnesty International’s Report 2008, shows that sixty years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations, people are still tortured or ill-treated in at least 81 countries, face unfair trials in at least 54 countries and are not allowed to speak freely in at least 77 countries.
“2007 was characterised by the impotence of Western governments and the ambivalence or reluctance of emerging powers to tackle some of the world’s worst human rights crises, ranging from entrenched conflicts to growing inequalities which are leaving millions of people behind,” said Ms Khan.
Amnesty International cautioned that the biggest threat to the future of human rights is the absence of a shared vision and collective leadership.
Report 08 mini-documentary for a snapshot of the state of the world's human rights in 2007:
Launch page for AI YouTube Channel
Case Western's D.R. Jones to Head Univ. of Memphis Law Library
In August 2008, D.R. Jones will become the Associate Dean for Information Resources, Law Library Director and Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. She is currently the Deputy Director of the Judge Ben C. Green Law Library, Case Western Reserve School of Law in Cleveland, Ohio.
New Study Ranks State High Courts
Stephen Choi (NYU), G. Mitu Gulati (Duke) and Eric Posner (Chicago) have posted Which States Have the Best (and Worst) High Courts? in SSRN. Here's the abstract:
This paper ranks the high courts of the fifty states, based on their performance during the years 1998-2000, along three dimensions: opinion quality (or influence as measured by out-of-state citations), independence (or non-partisanship), and productivity (opinions written). We also discuss ways of aggregating these measures. California and Delaware had the most influential courts; Georgia and Mississippi had the most productive courts; and Rhode Island and New York had the most independent courts. If equal weight is given to each measure, then the top five states were: California, Arkansas, North Dakota, Montana, and Ohio. We compare our approach and results with those of other scholars and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, whose influential rankings are based on surveys of lawyers at big corporations.
Hat tip to Dave Hoffman, Concurring Opinions. [JH]
Cornell Law Library's InSITE Website Reviews
Reviews published in the May 19th, 2008 issue of InSITE:
- Copyright Renewal Database
- Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
- Liberty & Justice for All: a Campaign of the Rights Working Group
- World Privacy Forum
Copyright Renewal Database
The Copyright Renewal Database is a specialized resource maintained by Stanford University to assist those seeking confirmation of a work's copyright status. The database maintains a list of all Class A works (i.e., books) published in the United States between 1923 and 1963. This period is of particular relevance because works published prior to 1923 are generally in the public domain, whereas works published after 1963 had their copyright automatically renewed en masse by an act of Congress. Works between 1923 and 1963 could be renewed by request of the copyright holder, but until now, renewal requests were only partially accessible, with an online database for requests received after 1977 and a semi-annual publication for requests received between 1950 and 1977. Not even the Copyright Office itself maintains an automated system for searching for the renewal status of these works. Stanford's Copyright Renewal Database is thus a unique and invaluable resource. The database offers both basic and advanced searches with author name, title, and either registration or renewal dates. [JPC]
Freedom of Information Clearinghouse
The Freedom of Information Clearinghouse is a component of Ralph Nader's Public Citizen organization. The Clearinghouse provides "technical and legal assistance to individuals, public interest groups, and the media who seek access to information held by government agencies." The Clearinghouse both undertakes its own litigation at the federal level and also provides information and education about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the process of obtaining information from the government. To this end, the website of the Clearinghouse offers a number of guides to filing FOIA requests, the history of the law and its implications, and conditions under which FOIA requests may be denied. Under "Public Citizen's Open Government Litigation" the Clearinghouse also provides an annotated listing of all cases undertaken, their success or failure and a discussion of the ruling. Original documents such as the complaint, original FOIA request and motions are also provided. The site provides a search engine with options for searching all Public Citizen sites or just a specific sub-group, although it does not include the Clearinghouse in this list but only the overall Litigation Group. [JPC]
Liberty & Justice for All: a Campaign of the Rights Working Group
The Rights Working Group (RWG) is a coalition of advocates for civil rights, civil liberties, human rights and immigrant rights who seek to develop a coordinated response to policies and attitudes leading to the deterioration of civil and human rights in the aftermath of 9/11. In addition to promoting the organization and its affiliates through press releases, events listings, and an advocacy group locator map, the RWG website provides a variety of informational materials on issues such as the “Civil Liberties Restoration Act,” “Secret Hearings,” “Detention Without Charges,” “Inaccurate Criminal Databases,” and “Targets of Surveillance.” The types of documents and materials offered under these topics include links to articles and reports from member organizations, U.S. governmental reports, and news agencies. The site also utilizes a news feed page to track reports on the Civil Liberties Restoration Act and related issues, but updates in the "Articles" and "Press Releases" sections are sometimes sparse and poorly updated. The site is searchable, but since most of the content is pointed to but not on-site, this feature is of limited usefulness. [BWK, JPC]
Many researchers are aware that various UN bodies produce statistical information and searchable data sets. However, each database lived in a separate silo, requiring users to traverse multiple websites and conduct multiple searches before feeling secure that they had found all relevant information. The UN Statistics Division (UNSD) and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) have solved this problem by creating UNdata, a new web portal that unites UN statistical sources in a single interface. The mission of this project is to "provide free access to global statistics, to educate users about the importance of statistics for evidence-based policy and decision-making and to assist National Statistical Offices of Member Countries to strengthen their data dissemination capabilities." Users may browse data sets through the fourteen currently available topical databases (Agriculture, Education, Employment, Energy, etc.), or conduct a keyword search. Six glossaries provide definitions of terms used within the databases. UNdata should be a solid resource for researchers needing reliable international and comparative data. [JJ]
World Privacy Forum
As a non-partisan, non-profit public interest group, the World Privacy Forum focuses on "conducting in-depth research, analysis, and consumer education in the area of privacy." The Forum conducts longitudinal research, nationally and internationally, in health care, technology, and in finance. Of note, the Forum has done ground-breaking work in "medical identity theft," coining the term in a report. The website highlights the group’s research projects. The site provides an index to the Forum’s reports, analysis, testimony, agency comments, and issue briefs, all of which are available in full text. Subjects in the index include cookies, data breaches, DNA, and resume privacy. The index also provides access to the various landing pages that address the main topics addressed by the Forum. These include genetic privacy, medical privacy, and workplace privacy. There is a separate page for public comments submitted by the Forum, and these are categorized by specific federal agency. As well, an extensive list of links to related organizations is offered in the Resources section. [MM]
Opening: Associate Dean, Library and Information Services, USD Law Library
The University of San Diego School of Law invites applications and nominations for the position of Associate Dean, Library and Information Services. This is a faculty tenure / tenure track position reporting directly to the law school dean.
Responsibilities: Duties include full administrative responsibility for the Pardee Legal Research Center, a 533,000 volume library serving a faculty of 60 and 1,100 law students. The library has a staff of 22 and a budget of $3 million. Information services responsibilities include supervision of two law school technology staff, coordination of information services to the law school, and overseeing the school technology plan, in consultation with the University's Chief Information Officer.
Required: Candidates must have a JD degree from an ABA-accredited law school; an MLS or equivalent degree from an ALA-accredited institution; significant experience in law library administration and information technology; and highly developed leadership and interpersonal skills.
Preferred: Demonstrated experience in an academic law library supporting significant scholarly research; a record of professional engagement and scholarship.
Salary and Benefits: Salary is commensurate with experience; USD provides a full range of employment benefits.
Other: USD is a highly-ranked private Roman Catholic university offering a full range of academic programs. Located on the Pacific Rim and minutes from Mexico, the campus occupies a mesa overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is an oasis of fountains, tropical landscaping, and Spanish Renaissance architecture. The law school is nationally recognized for the distinction of its faculty. For more information, visit http://www.sandiego.edu
To Apply: Send materials to: Chair, LRC Director Search Committee, c/o Kay Manansala, University of San Diego School of Law, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110; or submit materials by e-mail to email@example.com. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
May 28, 2008
Want to Make Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Your New Facebook Friend?
Mark Your Calendar for AALL's Continuing Education Programs
Don’t miss out on the following programs offered through Webinars and on AALLNET.
- Create Comprehensive Online Tutorials the Easy Way Webinar, June 4, 12-1 p.m. EDT, will highlight a comparison of several e-learning software packages.
- Perfect Program Proposals: A Webinar for Annual Meeting Program Planning, June 17, 1 p.m. EDT, will teach the best tips for making an exciting and successful AALL Annual Meeting program proposal.
- Spotlight on Your Career 2008: Travel Tips for the Road to Success, a free video program in the Members Only Section of AALLNET, will only be available through July 21.
- Think Risk! Assessing and Navigating Legal Risk in Law Libraries, a free video program in the Members Only Section of AALLNET, will only be available through September 2.
- AALLNET’s Members Only Section includes nearly 50 free continuing education programs in the CPE Audio/Video Broadcasts section. Login.
On the Role of Research Libraries in the Internet Age
In The Library in the New Age (New York Review of Books, June 12, 2008) Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library at Harvard, argues that book digitization projects make university research libraries more important than ever. [JH]
Overview of State Legislation Related to Immigrants and Immigration
New report from the National Conference of State Legislatures: "This report provides a first look at introduced legislation in 2008 and presents selected examples of enacted laws relating to immigrants and refugees. This process of legislative tracking and reporting is based on a comprehensive and inclusive methodology and captures all state legislation in which immigrants – whether authorized or unauthorized, temporary migrants, aliens and refugees – are affected." [RJ]
On the Real-World Effects of the Web: O'Hara and Shadbolt's The Spy in the Coffee Machine
"Kieron O'Hara and Nigel Shadbolt have offered an engaging and thought provoking roadmap for the emerging field of Web Science. They crisply survey what lies ahead as the Web becomes ubiquitous, and they invite everyone -- not just academics and experts -- to think about how to preserve the Web's magic while avoiding its most unsettling prospects." Jonathan Zittrain,Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation, Oxford University
The Spy in the Coffee Machine
The End of Privacy as We Know It
Kieron O'Hara and Nigel Shadbolt
List Price: $16.95
Paperback: 294 pages
Publisher: Oneworld Publications (March 3, 2008)
Sample Chapter (pdf)
Description: The relationship between society and technology is complex, particularly as each has unpredicatable effects on the other.. We, as technologists, can talk until we are blue in the face about what is possible, or will be possible in the next few years. That’s our favourite subject. But what will people want to use? What technologies will ‘fit into’ particular social niches? What technologies will remould society in their own images? These are tricky questions, and the correct answers can make you very rich. Wrong guesses, in a dynamic industry, can kill a firm or a reputation stone dead. Potential is huge, but not all nifty gizmos can define the future.
The need to understand these looping influences between society and technology has led to what is in effect a new discipline: Web Science. The Web is, in effect, a series of protocols defining how different computers talk to each other, but those protocols have massive real-world effects, which in turn create demands for new protocols and technologies. The aim of the recently-created Web Science Research Initiative, a joint venture between the University of Southampton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is to hone the intellectual tools to study these developmental cycles. This book is part of the Web Science programme.
There are two things that technologists can be reasonably confident about. First, given enough history (and the electronic computer now does have a decent history behind it – one of us has recently been privileged to serve as the President of the British Computer Society in its 50th year), we can identify general trends. And second, understanding what is possible will tell us what social norms and attitudes are under threat. If a technology is sufficiently widespread, and becoming more so, then it may be that a particular set of cultural or political assumptions are no longer tenable.
It is our contention that privacy, since the Enlightenment a key pillar of the liberal ideal, is one of these somewhat obsolete norms in the face of the rapid spread of information technology. Information about one can be stored, found and passed around with almost trivial ease, and it is getting increasingly hard for the subject to retain control.
This means a political rethink, for sure. But it is not our contention that we are about to descend into a Nineteen Eighty-Four-style nightmare. It is cultural determinism of the worst sort to assume that society, politics and philosophy cannot adapt to the technology, and outright pessimism to suggest that the technology cannot be brought to heel by a sufficiently vigilant, engaged and educated society.
What is true is that the twentieth-century ideal of the private space will need to evolve, and that, if we truly value our privacy, we will have to play a much more active role in keeping it in place. The technologies that threaten can also be used to protect, and awareness is an important factor in their advantageous deployment. Education is vital; so is a public spirit (some of the gains from privacy accrue more to the community as a whole than to the individual, and therefore sometimes preserving privacy is a matter of altruism or social responsibility). Fatuous claims of the ‘if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear’ sort need to be resisted just as much as the puerile conspiracy theories that plague our political discourse.
We need debate, but for that debate to be worth having we need a much greater level of awareness of the technology to be diffused throughout society. This book is a small contribution to that task.
About the Authors: Kieron O’Hara is Senior Research Fellow in Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and is currently involved in the Office of Science and Technology’s Cybertrust and Crime Prevention initiative.
Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK, and is President of the British Computer Society.