Monday, March 30, 2009

Visualizing Networks in Law - The New Computational Legal Studies Blog

In what is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating new blawgs to start up in a long while, Dan Katz and Michael Bommarito, two political science PhD students at Michigan, have launched the Computational Legal Studies Blog. Using massive data sets and computational software for analyzing and visualizing networks, the sites features articles, posts, and diagrams tapping into such matters as political contributions to Senators by industry, contributions to Senators from TARP institutions, the flow of judicial clerks within the federal judiciary, and the structure of academic disciplines (including law) based on web clicks on journals. Many of their findings are revealing and surprising. The trajectory of their work and the work of others featured on the site suggests that the theory of legal and political institutions will be tested and refined with these very powerful network analytic tools. Definitely worth a look. JBR

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Train wreck

Train wreck
Train wreck at Montparnasse Station, Paris, France, 1895.

From Daphne Merkin, If Looks Could Steal, N.Y. Times (March 22, 2009):
Madoff[T]o call Mr. Madoff a sociopath isn’t really to explain him so much as to explain our failure to pick up on his scam. “Everything that deceives,” decreed Plato, “can be said to enchant.” Enter the sorcerer, the ganef, the man without qualities but with steady returns — and, I might add, a family man to the end. . . .

Enter us, the believers, the ones who signed on for the ride until it went off the rails, leaving wreckage as far as the eye could see.
Let's repeat that Platonic formula: “Everything that deceives can be said to enchant.” These are words worth remembering. Et encore, cette fois en français:
Corbeau et renardLe Renard s'en saisit, et dit :"Mon bon Monsieur,
Apprenez que tout flatteur
Vit aux dépens de celui qui l'écoute:
Cette leçon vaut bien un fromage sans doute."


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Literary Warrant [41]

Municipal Waste, Richmond, VA, thrash metal band, live

Municipal Waste, Richmond, VA, thrash metal band, live

  • Bryson Bates et al., eds., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change and Water (2008)

    "This Technical Paper consists of eight sections. Following the introduction to the Paper (Section 1), Section 2 is based primarily on the assessments of Working Group I, and looks at the science of climate change, both observed and projected, as it relates to hydrological variables. Section 3 presents a general overview of observed and projected water-related impacts of climate change, and possible adaptation strategies, drawn principally from the Working Group II assessments. Section 4 then looks at systems and sectors in detail, and Section 5 takes a regional approach. Section 6, based on Working Group III assessments, covers water-related aspects of mitigation. Section 7 looks at the implications for policy and sustainable development, followed by the final section (Section 8) on gaps in knowledge and suggestions for future work. The Technical Paper uses the standard uncertainty language of the Fourth Assessment (see Box 1.1)."—Outline.

  • Robbie Berg, National Hurricane Center, Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Ike (Updated February 4, 2009)

    "Ike was a long-lived Cape Verde hurricane that caused extensive damage and many deaths across portions of the Caribbean and along the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. It reached its peak intensity as a Category 4 hurricane (on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale) over the open waters of the central Atlantic, directly impacting the Turks and Caicos Islands and Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas before affecting much of the island of Cuba. Ike, with its associated storm surge, then caused extensive damage across parts of the northwestern Gulf Coast when it made landfall along the upper Texas coast at the upper end of Category 2 intensity."

  • The Center for Public Integrity, The Climate Change Lobby (February 24, 2009)

    "While President Obama's team readies to take on the global warming challenge, the special interests that seek to derail, blunt, or tailor any new climate policy to their narrow agendas have already gathered in staggering numbers. A Center for Public Integrity analysis shows that more than 770 companies and interest groups hired an estimated 2,340 lobbyists to influence federal policy on climate change in the past year, as the issue gathered momentum and came to a vote on Capitol Hill. That's an increase of more than 300 percent in the number of lobbyists on climate change in just five years, and means that Washington can now boast more than four climate lobbyists for every member of Congress. Although some see the proliferation of voices engaged on the issue as a positive, the lobbying onslaught has caused growing alarm among some advocates of climate action."—The Climate Change Lobby Explosion.
Read the rest of this post . . .
  • Congressional Research Service, Recent/Recently Updated CRS Reports—Energy/Environment

    Topics include the Endangered Species Act, the carbon tax, global climate change policy, and several more.

  • Defenders of Wildlife, Your Lands, Your Wildlife: Restoring Balance to the Management of our Public Lands (2008)

    "As the squeeze of development proceeds and the ecological realities of global warming unfold, we are increasingly realizing the linkages between healthy lands, healthy wildlife populations and the quality of our own lives. We are recognizing that the diminishment of our public lands threatens our wildlife heritage, which in turn threatens hunting, fishing, hiking and other outdoor pursuits and affects the overall quality of life we enjoy as Americans."—Introduction.

  • Jane Earley & Alice McKeown, Sierra Club & Worldwatch Institute, Smart Choices for Biofuels (January 2009)

    "Over the next decade and beyond, U.S. national, state, and local policy must focus on developing sustainable biofuels—rather than just more biofuels—that can play a role in the emerging new energy economy. These fuels should be seen as part of an expanded renewable energy portfolio that emphasizes greater fuel efficiency and reduced demand as well as the development of new sustainable energy technologies that may one day go beyond biofuels. But this can only succeed if we avoid the mistakes of the past."—Introduction.

  • Julie Ekstrom, The Online Digital Library of West Coast Ocean Law (beta)

    "This digital library contains national and state level laws that apply to the ocean and coast within the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem.

    "In order to move forward in solving problems caused by fragmented ocean management, we need to evaluate extant management practices comprehensively. This site provides statutes and regulations, which include important information about how the oceans and coasts are managed. The collection available through this website provides a publicly accessible collection to search laws and regulations within and across states and nations."—Purpose.

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), The National Exercise Simulation Center (NESC) (January 12, 2009)

    "The National Exercise Simulation Center (NESC) is a Congressionally-mandated state-of-the-art training and exercise facility within FEMA Headquarters, and serves as a key element within the Federal Coordination Center (FCC). The FCC draws on the specialized capabilities of its FEMA elements, including the Disaster Operations Directorate, the National Preparedness Directorate, the Office of National Capital Region Coordination, and others as needed, to collaborate with and support deliberate planning, training, exercises and response operations coordination in the National Capital Region."—Press release.

  • Bracken Hendricks, Center for American Progress, Wired for Progress: Building a National Clean-Energy Smart Grid (Version 1.0) February 2009)

    "A truly national clean-energy smart grid must consist of two distinct
    components: an interstate transmission 'sustainable transmission grid'
    that will transport clean utility-scale renewable energy long distances to
    market, and a digital 'smart distribution grid' to deliver this electricity efficiently to local consumers. The absence of a national grid that seamlessly
    integrates these two components is one of the biggest impediments to
    large-scale deployment of low-carbon electricity.

    "In this paper we outline a plan to develop such a secure, reliable, interoperable,
    national, and clean electricity grid to power America’s coming
    clean energy economy. Our particular policy recommendations focus on
    the principle bottle necks for building grid projects."—Action Plan.

  • Francis X. McCarthy, Analyst in Emergency Policy, Congressional Research Service (CRS), FEMA's Disaster Declaration Process: A Primer (RL34146) (January 23, 2009)

    "The end result of a presidential disaster declaration is well known, if not entirely understood. Various forms of assistance are provided, including aid to families and individuals for uninsured needs and assistance to state and local governments and certain non-profits in rebuilding or replacing damaged infrastructure.

    "The amount of assistance provided through Presidential disaster declarations has exceeded $100 billion. Often, in recent years, Congress has enacted supplemental appropriations legislation to cover unanticipated costs. While the amounts spent by the federal government on different programs may be reported, and the progress of the recovery can be observed, much less is known about the process that initiates all of this activity. Yet, it is a process that has resulted in an average of more than one disaster declaration a week over the last decade."—Summary.

  • Jason Morrison et al., The Pacific Institute, Water Scarcity and Climate Change: Growing Risks for Business and Investors (A Ceres Report) (February 2009)

    "The report highlights the intensifying conflict between energy use and water availability. With increasing frequency, choosing one of these resources means undermining the other – the other, usually being water. For example, the billions of dollars spent to expand oil sands development in Canada and corn-based ethanol production in the U.S. has incrementally increased fuel supplies, but at the expense of significant water impacts and greenhouse gas emissions that could ultimately limit these ventures in the future.

    "Despite these looming challenges, the report concludes that businesses and investors are largely unaware of water-related risks or how climate change will likely exacerbate them."—Executive Summary.

    If the PDF link at the Pacific Institute site does not produce the document, try this Ceres page.

  • National Research Council of the National Academies, Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change (Prepublication version) (2009)

    "Climate change is one of the most important global environmental problems facing the world today. Policy decisions are already being made to limit or adapt to climate change and its impacts, but there is a need for greater integration between science and decision making. This book proposes six priorities for restructuring the United States' climate change research program to develop a more robust knowledge base and support informed responses:

    • Reorganize the Program Around Integrated Scientific-Societal Issues

    • Establish a U.S. Climate Observing System

    • Support a New Generation of Coupled Earth System Models

    • Strengthen Research on Adaptation, Mitigation, and Vulnerability

    • Initiate a National Assessment of the Risks and Costs of Climate Change Impacts and Options to Respond

    • Coordinate Federal Efforts to Provide Climate Information, Tools, and Forecasts Routinely to Decision Makers"—Description.

  • New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), Climate Risk Information (Release version) (February 17, 2009)

    Climate change poses a range of hazards to New York City and its infrastructure. These changes suggest a need for the City to rethink the way it operates and adapts to its evolving environment. To respond to these changes and accomplish the goals outlined in PlaNYC, the City’s comprehensive sustainability plan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) in August 2008. The NPCC, which consists of leading climate change and impact scientists, academics, and private sector practitioners, was charged with advising the Mayor and the New York City Climate Change Adaptation Task Force (the 'Task Force') on issues related to climate change and adaptation as it relates to infrastructure. This document, one of three in a series of workbooks to be produced for the Task Force, provides climate change projections for New York City and identifi es some of the potential risks to the City’s critical infrastructure posed by climate change."—Executive Summary.

  • Ocean Conservancy, A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris and What We Can Do About It (2009 Report)

    "Litter can travel to the ocean from many miles inland, blown on the wind or carried along by rivers and streams. We are all responsible, from beachgoers to oil-rig workers and fishermen, for cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottles, and bags in the water. Overflowing sewage systems and storm drains add to the burden by ferrying trash from rural roads and city streets to the sea. And, despite national and international regulations against dumping, some people on boats still drop trash directly into the ocean. In recent years, organic materials that were once the most prevalent component of marine debris have been supplanted by synthetics. Not only do items like packing straps, tarps, nets, and containers last for years, but also they are often highly buoyant, traveling thousands of miles on ocean currents."—Executive Summary.

  • Sheila R. Ronis, Robert B. Polk & Daniel R. Langberg, Project on National Security Reform, Concept Paper: The National Security Planning & Execution Management System (NSPEMS) (January 2009)

    "The PNSR submits that management of national security at its very essence should be about the entire end-to-end process of both 'thinking' (assessments, policy, strategy, planning, feedback, etc...) and 'doing' (operations/implementation) equally with often interchangeable and collaborative parts and processes in order for the hand-off back and forth between them to be seamless. Leaders of today and tomorrow at all levels should manage these two basic halves of a whole together. This is why the system proposed here is entitled the National Security Planning & Execution Management System (NSPEMS)."—System Overview.

  • Susan-Marie Stedman & Thomas E. Dahl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service & United States Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Status and Trends of Wetlands in the Coastal Watersheds of the Eastern United States: 1998-2004 (2008)

    "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, analyzed the status and recent trends of wetland acreage in the coastal watersheds of the United States adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes. Sample plots were analyzed using digital high-resolution imagery to identify wetlands and land use changes observed between 1998 and 2004. Results indicate that there were an estimated 39.8 million acres (16.1 million ha) of wetlands in these coastal watersheds in 2004. This represented 38 percent of the estimated total wetland acreage of 107.7 million acres (43.6 million ha) found in the conterminous United States."—Executive Summary.

  • United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNDP Climate Change Campaign (March 3, 2009)

    "UN Development Programme (UNDP) has started an advertising campaign to help reduce greenhouse gases. The campaing encourages people around the world to follow 12 simple things to reduce their carbon footprint."

  • United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Report of the Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting (E/CN.3/2009/7) (December 15, 2008)

    "In accordance with a request of the Statistical Commission at its thirty-ninth session (E/2008/24), the Secretary-General has the honour to transmit the report of the Committee of Experts on Environmental-Economic Accounting. The report elaborates on the mandate and governance of the Committee of Experts, describes the progress of its work, including progress on the revision of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting and advances in energy and material flow accounts, reports on the results of the Global Assessment of Water Statistics and Accounts and the Global Assessment of Energy Accounts and Air Emission Statistics and Accounts and presents an update of the implementation strategy for the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting for Water, including an update on the drafting of the international recommendations for water statistics. Points for discussion are set out at the end of the report."—Note by the Secretary-General.

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UNEP Website Redesign (March 10, 2009)

    "The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has redesigned its website. The new site is organized by priority themes:
    • Climate Change,

    • Disasters and conflicts,

    • Ecosystem management,

    • Environmental governance,

    • Harmful substances,

    • Resource efficiency, and

    • Other thematic areas."

  • United States Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Recommendations for a National Mass Patient and Evacuee Movement, Regulating, and Tracking System (AHRQ Publication No. 09-0039-EF)(January 2009)

    "An ideal National System would update location and health status information of patients and evacuees at any location where they are treated, housed, sheltered, or transported, including overnight facilities, locations where patients and evacuees board or get off vehicles, or other temporary gathering points. This information would be made available to authorized persons with responsibility for housing, transporting, or treating patients and evacuees, both at the person-level (e.g., to determine where a specific person is or has been and to alert health care professionals and emergency responders at reception centers to the medical condition of patients and evacuees who will be arriving shortly) and at the aggregate-level (e.g., to determine the number of patients or evacuees, by health status, at various locations within a county, a multi-county region, a State, a multi-State area, or nationwide)."—Executive Summary | National System Goals and Objectives.

  • United States Department of Education (DOE), Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Action Guide for Emergency Management At Institutions of Higher Education (January 2009)

    "There are over 4,000 two-and four-year public and private institutions of higher education (IHEs) in the United States totaling over 15 million students and several million staff, faculty, and visitors (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2006). Each of these institutions has a commitment to ensure the safety and general welfare of those on their campuses and to provide appropriate policies, procedures, and strategies to maintain a safe campus. Because of recent violent crimes, natural disasters, and other emergencies or crises, colleges and universities are convening committees and task forces to reexamine or conduct a comprehensive review of policies, procedures, and systems related to campus safety and security. As with many critical areas on the agendas of administrators, campus safety requires building support and conducting a thorough and systematic process to produce a quality plan to prepare for and manage emergencies on campus."—Introduction | The Need for Emergency Management on College Campuses.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Infrastructure Protection Plan: Partnering to Enhance Protection and Resiliency (2009)

    "Protecting and ensuring the resiliency of the critical infrastructure and key resources (CIKR) of the United States is essential to the Nation’s security, public health and safety, economic vitality, and way of life. Attacks on CIKR could significantly disrupt the functioning of government and business alike and produce cascading effects far beyond the targeted sector and physical location of the incident. Direct ter-rorist attacks and natural, manmade, or technological hazards could produce catastrophic losses in terms of human casualties, property destruction, and economic effects, as well as profound damage to public morale and confidence. Attacks using components of the Nation’s CIKR as weapons of mass destruction could have even more devastating physical and psychological consequences."—Executive Summary.

  • United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Office of Inspector General (OIG), FEMA: In or Out? (OIG-09-25) (February 2009)

    "Just over 5 years ago, the approach to and structure for homeland security were completely revamped. Have things gone perfectly since? Clearly, the answer is no, but that is not enough justification to undertake a major reorganization that would have far-reaching effects, particularly before a careful study of the potential consequences can be carried out. In addition to the arguments made above, there are two key arguments for not removing FEMA from DHS, at least not in the short term."—Conclusion.

  • United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases (Proposed rule) (March 10, 2009)

    "EPA is proposing a regulation to require reporting of greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors of the economy. The rule would apply to fossil fuel suppliers and industrial gas suppliers, as well as to direct greenhouse gas emitters. The proposed rule does not require control of greenhouse gases, rather it requires only that sources above certain threshold levels monitor and report emissions."—Summary.

  • United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Clean Coal: DOE’s Decision to Restructure FutureGen Should Be Based on a Comprehensive Analysis of Costs, Benefits, and Risks (Report to Congressional Requesters, GAO-09-248) (February 2009)

    "Coal-fired power plants generate about one-half of the nation’s electricity and about one-third of its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which contribute to climate change. In 2003, the Department of Energy (DOE) initiated FutureGen—a commercial-scale, coal-fired power plant to incorporate integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), an advanced generating technology, with carbon capture and storage (CCS). The plant was to capture and store underground about 90 percent of its CO2 emissions. DOE’s cost share was 74 percent, and industry partners agreed to fund the rest. Concerned about escalating costs, DOE restructured FutureGen. GAO was asked to examine (1) the original and restructured programs’ goals, (2) similarities and differences between the new FutureGen and other DOE CCS programs, and (3) if the restructuring decision was based on sufficient information.

    "GAO reviewed best practices for making programmatic decisions, FutureGen plans and budgets, and documents on the restructuring of FutureGen. GAO contacted DOE, industry partners, and experts."—Why GAO Did This Study.

  • United States House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, The Role of Offsets in Climate Legislation (Hearing) (March 5, 2009)

    "In heading toward a carbon cap-and-trade several of the witnesses offered their words of caution. John Stephenson of the GAO cautioned that the 'challenges in the voluntary offset market and the use of offsets for compliance—even in a rigorous, standardized process like the Clean Development Mechanism—may compromise the environmental integrity of mandatory programs to limit emissions and should be carefully evaluated.' His concerns were echoed by Dr. Michael Wara of the Stanford Law School. who concluded that 'carbon offsets, and international carbon offsets in particular, pose substantial risks to the environmental integrity not to mention the public reputation of a US emissions trading system.'"—Environmental Law & Climate Change Law Blog.

  • United States Senate, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Disaster Recovery, Far From Home: Deficiencies in Federal Disaster Housing Assistance after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and Recommendations for Improvement (Special report) (S. Prt. 111-7) (February 2009)

    "This Subcommittee Report focuses exclusively on housing, specifically the Federal response to housing needs in major disaster declarations. This investigation has resulted in review of over 100,000 pages of documents, over 70 meetings with individuals involved in housing response, interviews of 18 current and former Executive Branch Agency officials responsible for housing, and three hearings...

    "The Subcommittee spoke with mayors, State emergency managers and governors' offices, private sector representatives, nonprofit organizations, and individual residents in the affected region. The Subcommittee also met with legal and policy authorities in this field. In addition, the Subcommittee reviewed prior Congressional hearings and governmental and non-governmental reports on housing response."—Executive Summary.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

ἀποθανεῖν θέλω

JarNam Sibyllam quidem Cumis ego ipse oculis meis vidi in ampulla pendere et cum illi pueri dicerent: Σίβυλλα τί θέλεις; respondebat illa: ἀποθανεῖν θέλω.

—  T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)
Cumaean Sibyl

The Race to the Bottom and Ward Churchill

The Race to the Bottom, a blog that Jurisdynamics and MoneyLaw follow with interest, will cover the Ward Churchill trial.
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