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Dec 05, 2014 A Liability Risk for Airbnb Hosts

QUOTE: And now comes Airbnb with its free $1 million liability coverage that will cover the hosts for its tens of thousands of United States listings. How can it afford to provide this for nothing, to everybody? Well, it is “secondary” coverage, which means that it, too, wants hosts to push any claims for guests’ injuries and deaths through hosts’ own insurance companies first. So how might that work in practice, or would it at all? ...One thing came through loud and clear from the handful of companies that did not dodge my inquiries entirely: Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies do not cover regular commercial activity in the home.

International New York Times
Dec 03, 2014 Wave of Protests After Grand Jury Doesn’t Indict Officer in Eric Garner Chokehold Case

QUOTE: A Staten Island grand jury on Wednesday ended the criminal case against a white New York police officer whose chokehold on an unarmed black man led to the man’s death, a decision that drew condemnation from elected officials and touched off a wave of protests....The decision came barely a week after a grand jury found no criminality in the actions of another white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, Mo.

New York Times
Nov 30, 2014 Justice Is Swift as Petty Crimes Clog Courts: Cases Adjudicated in Minutes or Less, Often Without Lawyers

QUOTE: Years of aggressive policing tactics and tough-on-crime legislation have flooded the American court system with misdemeanor cases—relatively small-time crimes such as public drunkenness, loitering or petty theft. The state courts that handle such charges often resemble assembly lines where time is in short supply, according to judges and lawyers who work in the courts. Many poor defendants, despite their right to court-appointed legal counsel, don’t get lawyers, and those who do often receive scant help in the rush to resolve cases.

Wall Street Journal, The (WSJ)
Nov 19, 2014 A Rape on Campus: A Brutal Assault and Struggle for Justice at UVA

QUOTE: UVA's emphasis on honor is so pronounced that since 1998, 183 people have been expelled for honor-code violations such as cheating on exams. And yet paradoxically, not a single student at UVA has ever been expelled for sexual assault. "Think about it," says Susan Russell, whose UVA daughter's sexual-assault report helped trigger a previous federal investigation. "In what world do you get kicked out for cheating, but if you rape someone, you can stay?"

Rolling Stone
Sep 15, 2014 Medical costs: Hospital observation can be pricey

QUOTE: The distinction between inpatient and outpatient status matters: Seniors must have three consecutive days as admitted patients to qualify for Medicare coverage for follow-up nursing home care, and observation time doesn’t count for that three-day tally.

Charlotte Observer
Sep 03, 2014 How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty

QUOTE: Jackson County has just 19 municipalities, and just 15 municipal courts — less than a quarter of municipalities and courts in St. Louis County. Some of the towns in St. Louis County can derive 40 percent or more of their annual revenue from the petty fines and fees collected by their municipal courts....white people didn’t just flee St. Louis, they used whatever tools were at their disposal to prevent black people from joining them, including race-restrictive deeds and covenants until they were struck down in 1947, segregation until it was struck down in 1954, real estate pacts, and finally zoning laws.

Washington Post
Aug 27, 2014 Put More Resources Toward Regulation

QUOTE: the Department of Justice shifted gears in 2003 to leverage resources by offering cooperating companies non–prosecution deals. While corporate fines have skyrocketed, only a handful of financial institutions have pled guilty to criminal behavior.

New York Times
Aug 14, 2014 Founder Of One Laptop Per Child: Maybe Net Neutrality Isn’t Such A Good Idea After All

QUOTE: What we need, then, is some kind of middle ground, Negroponte suggests — but he also doesn’t quite suggest where that might be. Instead, he likens available bandwidth to a limited natural physical resource. If it’s immoral to use up all of the air, or water, or oil on frivolous things, is it perhaps also immoral to use up the internet?

Jun 15, 2014 The True Cost of Hidden Money A Piketty Protégé’s Theory on Tax Havens (Op-Ed)

QUOTE: ...$7.6 trillion — 8 percent of the world’s personal financial wealth — is stashed in tax havens. If all of this illegally hidden money were properly recorded and taxed, global tax revenues would grow by more than $200 billion a year, he believes. And these numbers do not include much larger corporate tax avoidance, which usually follows the letter but hardly the spirit of the law. According to Mr. Zucman’s calculations, 20 percent of all corporate profits in the United States are shifted offshore

New York Times
Jun 07, 2014 Book wars: A monopolist vs. the cartel

QUOTE: The publishers are more than a little disingenuous in conflating their own interests with those of authors, readers and booksellers. And Amazon might want to consider that its admirable campaign to lower book prices may have reached a point of diminishing return, with the risk that further cuts really will have an adverse effect on consumer choice and the quality of what is published. Rather than using readers and writers as hostages in their ongoing battle over discounts, commissions and co-op fees, both sides might better use their ingenuity to come up with a simpler and more rational structure for the industry’s economics that is better able to adapt to changing technology and market realities.

Washington Post
Jun 06, 2014 Is Softball Sexist?

QUOTE: women have been playing baseball since long before they had the right to vote. As the national pastime went professional, women were forced out of it — and into softball. Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, also protects equal access to and funding of sports for boys and girls at the school level, and girls have been fighting to play baseball — with lawsuits, if necessary — since the 1970s.

New York Times
Jun 05, 2014 G.M. Inquiry Cites Years of Neglect Over Fatal Defect

QUOTE: A sweeping internal investigation of General Motors released on Thursday condemned the company for its decade-long failure to fix a deadly safety defect, one that led to “devastating consequences,” including at least 13 deaths....The report offered an extraordinary window into a company where employees avoided responsibility...

New York Times
Jun 02, 2014 Supreme Court Rejects Appeal From Times Reporter Over Refusal to Identify Source

QUOTE: The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from James Risen, a reporter for The New York Times facing jail for refusing to identify a confidential source....The case arose from a subpoena to Mr. Risen seeking information about his source for a chapter of his 2006 book, “State of War.” Prosecutors say they need Mr. Risen’s testimony to prove that the source was Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. official.

New York Times
May 31, 2014 The True Meaning of the Second Amendment

QUOTE: For 218 years, judges overwhelmingly concluded that the amendment authorized states to form militias, what we now call the National Guard. Then, in 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court upended two centuries of precedent. In the [Heller case], an opinion written by Justice Antonin Scalia declared that the Constitution confers a right to own a gun for self-defense in the home.”

The Daily Beast
May 30, 2014 Bloomberg: Universities becoming bastions of intolerance

QUOTE: Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, delivering Thursday's commencement speech at Harvard University, criticized what he described as a disturbing trend of liberals silencing voices "deemed politically objectionable."

CNN (Cable News Network)
May 30, 2014 Is There Such a Thing as an Affordable Lawyer? For many Americans, legal services are out of reach. But that's beginning to change.

QUOTE: The implication that you might need multiple degrees to represent yourself in a basic civil dispute seems unfair in and of itself. But a lack of access to affordable legal representation—coupled with the obstacles facing anyone who wants to self-represent—imposes knock-on costs that ripple throughout society....Lack of access to legal help, in other words, serves as a shield for neglectful landlords and all sorts of other bad actors—abusive husbands, predatory lenders, corrupt employers. Because it took someone with Ned’s advantages to hold her accountable, his landlord was free to fleece tenants for years.

Atlantic Online, The (Atlantic Monthly)
May 29, 2014 Why US companies can earn $51 billion in the Cayman Islands even though its GDP is only $3 billion

QUOTE: The foreign subsidiaries of US corporations made $94 billion in Bermuda in 2010, the latest year we have data for. That’s incredible work, since only $6 billion of goods and services were produced on the island that year. What does that tell us? It tells us that something fishy is going on.

May 28, 2014 Chilling Effect: How the attacks on a University of Virginia law professor are bad for academia, and all of us.

QUOTE: The effort to intimidate or—more charitably—“educate” professor Laycock is misdirected toward an academic career that has been protective of gay rights and gay marriage and only, in the two instances cited, collides with them through a larger vision of religious liberty. The groups who don’t like that anti-LGBT movements get intellectual cover from Laycock’s legal arguments are free to say so, loudly, passionately, and publicly. But using a FOIA request to try to get dirt on him, to imply that he is doing something unsavory with those groups, is simply a smear tactic...

May 27, 2014 New Curbs Sought on the Personal Data Industry

QUOTE: The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday called on Congress to protect consumers against the unchecked collection and sharing of their digital data — from websites visited to their marital status — by providing people with tools to view, suppress and fix their information. The agency also said the little-known companies, called data brokers, that analyze and sell huge amounts of the consumer information for marketing purposes, needed to be reined in and more transparent to the public.

New York Times
May 27, 2014 Will ‘Evidence’ Show Google Stole Money From Publishers?

QUOTE: There are a lot of claims by AdSense publishers who say Google has not paid them what they’re owed. Recently, a person claiming to be an ex-Google employee described (at length) a plot by the company to keep from having to pay publishers, and shutting down their accounts ahead of payment dates. Since then, a lot of people have said this happened to them, and a class action suit has been launched against the company.

May 27, 2014 Court Extends Curbs on the Death Penalty in a Florida Ruling

QUOTE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday continued a trend to limit capital punishment, ruling that Florida’s I.Q. score cutoff was too rigid to decide which mentally disabled individuals must be spared the death penalty.

New York Times
May 24, 2014 Amazon's Tactics Confirm Its Critics' Worst Suspicions

QUOTE: This week, as part of a contract dispute with the publisher Hachette, we're seeing Amazon behaving at its worst. The company's willingness to nakedly flex its anticompetitive muscle gives new cause for concern to anyone who cares about books...

New York Times
May 22, 2014 Outcry as businessman gets work-release after 7 DUIs, car crash

QUOTE: local uproar over how Goodman, 42, avoided hard jail time -- despite facing his seventh drunk-driving offense and with his blood alcohol measuring 0.16, twice Washington state's threshold for DUI..."It seems like Shaun Goodman and other people that are wealthy are playing by a different set of rules,"

CNN (Cable News Network)
May 22, 2014 Why colleges fail at investigating and punishing sex crimes (Op-Ed)

QUOTE: the demise of in loco parentis left colleges in an uncertain and awkward position. If they now had little or no control over student conduct, what role should they play — if any — when students misbehaved? And what if students acted in ways that would be criminal in broader society?...The disciplinary systems of colleges, designed to deal with plagiarism and roommate spats, have proved utterly inadequate to deal with the more serious issue of sexual assault.

Los Angeles Times
May 17, 2014 Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA

QUOTE: A web of deception has finally been untangled: the Justice Department got the US supreme court to dismiss a case that could have curtailed the NSA's dragnet.

Guardian Unlimited
May 15, 2014 What preschoolers can teach Silicon Valley about “sharing”

QUOTE: At its most benign, calling things “sharing” that are actually no different from traditional commerce is just empty marketing....more perniciously, this semantic sleight of hand has been used to justify tax evasion and other kinds of law-skirting. Of course you shouldn’t have to pay hotel taxes if you’re just “sharing” your home!

Washington Post
Mar 09, 2014 After Big Bet, Hedge Fund Pulls the Levers of Power: Staking $1 Billion That Herbalife Will Fail, Then Lobbying to Bring It Down

QUOTE: a small hint of Mr. Ackman’s extraordinary attempt to leverage the corridors of power — in Washington, state capitols and city halls — for his hedge fund’s profit after taking a $1 billion financial position called a short, a bet that will pay off only if Herbalife’s stock drops. Corporate money is forever finding new ways to influence government. But Mr. Ackman’s campaign to take this fight “to the end of the earth,” using every weapon in the arsenal that Washington offers in an attempt to bring ruin to one company, is a novel one, fusing the financial markets with the political system.

New York Times
Mar 06, 2014 Pitfalls Seen in a Turn to Privately Run Long-Term Care

QUOTE: a closer look at Tennessee, widely cited as a model, reveals hidden pitfalls as the system of caring for the frail comes under the twin pressures of cost containment and profit motive. In many cases, care was denied after needs grew costlier — including care that people would have received under the old system. “The notion of prevention saving money in the long run only works if you actually provide care in the long run,” 

New York Times
Feb 01, 2014 Law Doesn’t End Revolving Door on Capitol Hill

QUOTE: Federal ethics rules are intended to limit lobbying by former senior officials within one year after they leave the government. Yet even after the ethics rules were revised in 2007 following a lobbying scandal, more than 1,650 congressional aides have registered to lobby within a year of leaving Capitol Hill...

New York Times
Jan 17, 2014 Pennsylvania Voter ID Law Struck Down as Judge Cites Burden on Citizens

QUOTE: ruled that the law hampered the ability of hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians to cast their ballots, with the burden falling most heavily on elderly, disabled and low-income residents, and that the state’s reason for the law — that it was needed to combat voter fraud — was not supported by the facts....In addition, Judge McGinley ruled, the state’s $5 million campaign to explain the law had been full of misinformation that has never been corrected.

New York Times
Jan 17, 2014 Obama Outlines Calibrated Curbs on Phone Spying

QUOTE: in a speech at the Justice Department that seemed more calculated to reassure audiences at home and abroad than to force radical change, Mr. Obama defended the need for the broad surveillance net assembled by the N.S.A. And he turned to Congress and the intelligence agencies themselves to work out the details of any changes.

New York Times
Jan 12, 2014 Court Orders Yelp To Identify Anonymous Reviewers

QUOTE: The Court of Appeals of Virginia ruled on Tuesday that Yelp has to reveal the names of seven reviewers who left anonymous, negative reviews of a business, which maintains that the names are critical in pursuing a defamation case against the reviewers over what it claims were false reviews from non-customers....from a Yelp spokesperson: “We are disappointed that the Virginia Court of Appeals has issued a ruling that fails to adequately protect free speech rights on the internet, and which allows businesses to seek personal details about website users — without any evidence of wrongdoing — in efforts to silence online critics,”

Jan 10, 2014 Death threats and denial for woman who showed college athletes struggle to read

QUOTE: when CNN asked UNC for comment on Willingham's research, officials initially denied knowing about it, and said: "Such analysis is not part of her job duties at the university." Then, after being shown the e-mails, a spokesperson admitted that Willingham did share her findings and did have permission from the university to do the research...

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 27, 2013 How Worried Should We Be About the Alleged RSA-NSA Scheming?

QUOTE: If the NSA sabotaged a secure random number generator in a widely used commercial library, it used an extremely blunt instrument....There’s far more at stake here than NSA’s reputation or RSA’s and other U.S. business interests, however. We urgently need NSA and RSA to come clean with the public so we can begin to unravel the damage that’s been done to the basic mechanisms of trust in our online world.

Dec 27, 2013 Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward

QUOTE: major players on Wall Street and elsewhere have been aggressive in underwriting and promoting academic work. The efforts by the financial players, the interviews show, are part of a sweeping campaign to beat back regulation and shape policies that affect the prices that people around the world pay for essentials like food, fuel and cotton.

New York Times
Dec 21, 2013 When the Right to Bear Arms Includes the Mentally Ill

QUOTE: a central, unresolved issue in the debate over balancing public safety and the Second Amendment right to bear arms: just how powerless law enforcement can be when it comes to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who are mentally ill. Connecticut’s law giving the police broad leeway to seize and hold guns for up to a year is actually relatively strict. Most states simply adhere to the federal standard, banning gun possession only after someone is involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility or designated as mentally ill or incompetent after a court proceeding or other formal legal process....A systematic review of these cases — from cities and counties in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee — underscores how easy it is for people with serious mental health problems to have guns.

New York Times
Dec 18, 2013 Military retirees 'screwed' in budget deal

QUOTE: Military retirees stand to lose a full percentage point from their cost-of-living raises when they retire after a minimum of 20 years of service....House budget chief Rep. Paul Ryan's website states that military retirement "provides an exceptionally generous benefit, often providing 40 years of pension payments in return for 20 years of service," in an explainer on why benefits should be trimmed.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 17, 2013 Accidental Tax Break Saves Wealthiest Americans $100 Billion

QUOTE: The popularity of the shelter, known as the Walton grantor retained annuity trust, or GRAT, shows how easy it is for the wealthy to bypass estate and gift taxes. Even Covey says the practice, which involves rapidly churning assets into and out of trusts, makes a mockery of the tax code.

Bloomberg News
Dec 16, 2013 Judge Questions Legality of N.S.A. Phone Records

QUOTE: A federal district judge ruled on Monday that the National Security Agency program that is systematically keeping records of all Americans’ phone calls most likely violates the Constitution, describing its technology as “almost Orwellian” and suggesting that James Madison would be “aghast” to learn that the government was encroaching on liberty in such a way.

New York Times
Dec 16, 2013 Boycott by Academic Group Is a Symbolic Sting to Israel

QUOTE: An American organization of professors on Monday announced a boycott of Israeli academic institutions to protest Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, signaling that a movement to isolate and pressure Israel that is gaining ground in Europe has begun to make strides in the United States.

New York Times
Dec 16, 2013 Customers Out in the Cold Balk at Uber Surge Pricing

QUOTE: On New Year’s Eve 2011, Uber, a company that connects passengers and drivers of luxury vehicles, had a bit of a falling-out with its customers.....Uber had put “surge pricing” into effect, which increases the price of rides as more people request them.

New York Times
Dec 14, 2013 Judge strikes down part of Utah polygamy law in 'Sister Wives' case

QUOTE: A federal judge in Utah has struck down part of that state's law banning polygamy...

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 14, 2013 The Selling of Attention Deficit Disorder: The Number of Diagnoses Soared Amid a 20-Year Drug Marketing Campaign

QUOTE: “The numbers make it look like an epidemic. Well, it’s not. It’s preposterous,”....The rise of A.D.H.D. diagnoses and prescriptions for stimulants over the years coincided with a remarkably successful two-decade campaign by pharmaceutical companies to publicize the syndrome and promote the pills to doctors, educators and parents. With the children’s market booming, the industry is now employing similar marketing techniques as it focuses on adult A.D.H.D., which could become even more profitable.

New York Times
Dec 07, 2013 Playing Pension Games (Fair Game)

QUOTE: Securities laws require issuers of municipal debt to provide the information investors need to make informed decisions when buying or selling these instruments. But lax disclosure practices remain, making it hard to spot signs of problems...

New York Times
Dec 04, 2013 Innocent man: How inmate Michael Morton lost 25 years of his life

QUOTE: a group of attorneys, working pro bono on Morton's behalf, managed to bring the truth to light. Not only was Morton innocent, but the prosecutor, Ken Anderson, was accused of withholding crucial evidence...."an extremely rare instance, and perhaps the first time, that a prosecutor has been criminally punished for failing to turn over exculpatory evidence," the Innocence Project said.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 03, 2013 A judge’s decision in Michigan is resonating all the way to California.

QUOTE: The ruling by Judge Steven W. Rhodes, who is presiding in Detroit’s bankruptcy case, that public pensions are not protected from cuts could alter the course of bankrupt cities like Stockton and San Bernardino, Calif., that had been operating under the assumption that pensions were untouchable.

New York Times
Dec 03, 2013 The Wedding Fix Is In

QUOTE: Wedding vendors seemed to be trying to size me up to figure out how much I’m willing to pay; consumer advocates say this is a common practice, as is charging more for a given service for a wedding than for a “family function” or “corporate event.”...forms of what economists call price discrimination; it sounds unfair, but it’s perfectly legal, and it’s easier to get away with in markets where there’s little price transparency and consumers are relatively uninformed.

New York Times
Dec 02, 2013 Couple fined for negative online review

QUOTE: A Utah couple is facing a $3,500 fine and a damaged credit score for doing what many people do after a bad purchasing experience: posting an online review.

CNN (Cable News Network)
Dec 02, 2013 As Hospital Prices Soar, a Stitch Tops $500

QUOTE: A day spent as an inpatient at an American hospital costs on average more than $4,000, five times the charge in many other developed countries...Rising costs of drugs, medical equipment and other services, and fees from layers of middlemen, play a significant role in escalating hospital bills, of course. But just as important is that mergers and consolidation have resulted in a couple of hospital chains — like Partners in Boston, or Banner in Phoenix — dominating many parts of the country...

New York Times
Nov 23, 2013 Accord Reached With Iran to Halt Nuclear Program

QUOTE: The United States and five other world powers announced a landmark accord Sunday morning that would temporarily freeze Iran’s nuclear program and lay the foundation for a more sweeping agreement....aim of the accord, which is to last six months, is to give international negotiators time to pursue a more comprehensive pact that would ratchet back much of Iran’s nuclear program and ensure that it could be used only for peaceful purposes.

New York Times

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