World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF’s) “Living Planet Report 2014″

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has recently released its Living Planet Report 2014 — for the full report, please see here.

Unfortunately, biodiversity on earth seems to be in worse shape than ever and is declining in both temperate and tropical regions of the earth, although the decline is reportedly greater in the tropics.

Per U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov Is No Longer in Beta Phase

Per the U.S. Library of Congress, Congress.gov — the successor to THOMAS — is no longer in its beta phase — please see the following news release:

Congress.gov Officially Out of Beta

From the news release, here are some new features/enhancements:

  1. New Feature: Congress.gov Resources
    – A new resources section providing an A to Z list of hundreds of links related to Congress
    – An expanded list of “most viewed” bills each day, archived to July 20, 2014
  2. New Feature: House Committee Hearing Videos
    – Live streams of House Committee hearings and meetings, and an accompanying archive to January, 2012
  3. Improvement: Advanced Search
    – Support for 30 new fields, including nominations, Congressional Record and name of member
  4. Improvement: Browse
    – Days in session calendar view
    – Roll Call votes
    – Bill by sponsor/co-sponsor

New American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU): “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) earlier this summer published a report “to corroborate” what it calls “a trend … nationwide: American policing has become unnecessarily and dangerously militarized” — please see:

War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing

U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)”

The U.S. Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) issued its “Report on the Surveillance Program Operated Pursuant to Section 702″ [50 U.S. Code § 1881a - Procedures for targeting certain persons outside the United States other than United States persons] of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on July 2, 2014.

The accompanying PCLOB press release is here.

For some explanation of and materials about FISA please see here and here and here.

CRS Report on Tax Issues Regarding Corporate Expatriation, Inversions and Mergers

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently published a new report:

Corporate Expatriation, Inversions, and Mergers: Tax Issues (R43568 – May 27, 2014)
Donald J. Marples, Specialist in Public Finance
&
Jane G. Gravelle, Senior Specialist in Economic Policy

Here is the table of contents:

Contents
Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 1
U.S. International Tax System…………………………………………………………………………………… 2
Anatomy of an Inversion………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
Substantial Business Presence ……………………………………………………………………………….. 2
U.S. Corporation Acquired by a Larger Foreign Corporation ………………………………………. 3
A Smaller Foreign Corporation Acquired by a U.S. Corporation ………………………………….. 3
Response to Initial Inversions: The American Jobs Creation Act ………………………………….. 4
Post-2004 Inversions and Treasury Regulations ………………………………………………………… 5
Policy Options ……………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
U.S. Corporate Tax Reform …………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
Lower the Corporate Tax Rate  ……………………………………………………………………………….. 8
Adopt a Territorial Tax System   ………………………………………………………………………………. 9
Tax Reform Proposals  …………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Targeted Approaches ………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10
Concluding Thoughts …………………………………………………………………………………………… 11

Amnesty International (AI): “Torture is Flourishing”

Amnesty International (AI) earlier this month posted the sad report

Torture in 2014: 30 Years of Broken Promises

For the accompanying AI press release, please see here.

Are we teaching what they will use?

Here at Stanford we haven’t shown our students Shepard’s in print in at least a decade.  And we have long since stopped using the digests in print as well.  So it was good to see these decisions validated in an article from the latest issue of Mississippi College Law Review, “Are We Teaching What They Will Use? Surveying Alumni to Assess Whether Skills Teaching Aligns with Alumni Practice,” by Sheila F. Miller.

The article wasn’t surprising to me, except the evident reluctance by law school alumni to use low-cost tools made available to them, namely Casemaker and Fastcase.

As can be seen from the frequency of usage chart, Lexis and Westlaw continue to be the most popular choices for online research. This finding is not significantly different depending on the size of firm, or year of graduation. This data is similar to a 2007 survey of Chicago lawyers in which 87% of attorneys surveyed who had practiced for zero to five years did “most” of their research in Lexis or Westlaw.   Casemaker provides free research for members of both the Ohio and Indiana Bar Associations. 43 Yet, only 16.9% of respondents used Casemaker often, very often, or always, and only 13.5% used it at least sometimes. This was a surprising number given the number of the respondents in small offices. In the follow-up interviews there was some criticism of Casemaker. For example, attorneys stated Casemaker is “too slow” and Casemaker is “not as easy as Westlaw, and I have an unlimited subscription for Ohio law.”

From Footnote #43:

Fastcase provides basically the same service for some other states, and we asked in the survey about Fastcase as well. The numbers were so low on Fastcase use that I did not include them in the tables of results.

Scribed Brings E-Readers Wiley’s “For Dummies” Reference Series Via E-Book Subscription Service

E-book subscription service Scribd and “For Dummies” reference series publisher Wiley have partnered to make available 1,000 of Wiley’s books within Scribd’s e-book subscription service.

Please see the following press release:

And see a number of the Wiley “For Dummies” titles here.

Hat tip to ResourceShelf.com.

Open Educational Resources (OERs)

The European Parliamentary Resource Service has this month posted a valuable briefing on open educational resources (OERs) — something related, of course, to Open Access (OA), which has been frequently referenced earlier on this blog in various places, including but not limited to here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here; please see (for a PDF):

New technologies and open education resources: Transforming education requires pedagogical, organisational and technological innovation. Increasing use of the Internet brought in a new era in course design and delivery to the mainstream model of traditional education. That is particularly so for open educational resources

 

First Birthday of Digital Public Library of America (DPLA)

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) — referenced earlier on this blog here — has just this month celebrated its first birthday; please see the following announcement:

Digital Public Library of America Celebrates Its First Birthday with the Arrival of Six New Partners, Over 7 Million Items, and a Growing Community (April 17, 2014)