Here’s a good mnemonic device, brought to you by RadioLab, for remembering all of our current US Supreme Court Justices — Kagan, Kennedy, Thomas, Ginsburg, Breyer, Roberts, Alito, Sotomayor, and maybe Garland! But before you listen to the snappy song, listen to this episode from RadioLab (one of my favorite podcasts!) and their new venture called “More Perfect” about the US Supreme Court. You’ll learn a ton about the history of the SCOTUS and get a mnemonic song stuck in your head to boot!
We tend to think of the Supreme Court justices as all-powerful guardians of the constitution, issuing momentous rulings from on high. They seem at once powerful, and unknowable; all lacy collars and black robes.
But they haven’t always been so, you know, supreme. On this episode of More Perfect, we go all the way back to the case that, in a lot of ways, is the beginning of the court we know today.
The U.S. Congress on Friday released the previously classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report on potential Saudi government ties to the 2001 terrorist attack. The pages were posted (pdf) on the House Intelligence Committee’s website. Hopefully, GPO will add these 28 pages to the original 9/11 report that they host on FDsys (officially titled “Joint inquiry into intelligence community activities before and after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 : report of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence together with additional views.”)
It details contacts between Saudi officials and some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, checks from Saudi royals to operatives in contact with the hijackers and the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda militant’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing an Aspen, Colo., home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
The document, 28 pages of a congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, is also an unflattering portrayal of the kingdom’s efforts to thwart American attempts to combat Al Qaeda in the years before the attacks.
But it is also a frustrating time capsule, completed in late 2002 and kept secret for nearly 14 years out of concern that it might fray diplomatic relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Subsequent investigations into the terror attacks pursued the leads described in the document and found that many had no basis in fact. But the mythology surrounding the document grew with each year it remained classified.
File this under “not quite getting the concept.” President Obama just published an article in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled “United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps.”. But strangely, according to TechDirt, the AMA is claiming copyright on the article despite Section 105 of US copyright law clearly stating that works by the US government being in the public domain. Good on Professor Michael Eisen, from UC Berkeley and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, who sent a letter to the President asking him to ask JAMA to correct this error!
Whatever you might think of the Presidents health care policy, you should absolutely appreciate the willingness to publish data and details like this — and to make it freely available online. But theres something thats still problematic here. And it has a lot more to do with the American Medical Association than the President. And its that — in typically idiotic closed access medical journal fashion — JAMA is claiming the copyright on the article. Theres a copyright permissions link in the righthand column, and if you click on it, you get taken to a page on Copyright.com, a site run by the Copyright Clearance Center, claiming that the copyright for this document is held by the American Medical Association
Finally, after 7 years of investigation, the British government has released the Chilcot Report, the UK’s official inquiry into its participation in the Iraq War (coverage at the Guardian, NY Times, and the Intercept). We’ve purchased a copy, and are also in the process of storing a digital copy in the Stanford Digital Repository.
Now there’s word that the 12 volumes and 2.6 million words will be tweeted by the Chilcot Bot 140 characters at a time. I’m not sure how exactly 140 characters every 4.5 minutes is “more digestible,” but it does bring about an interesting thought experiment: how does one collect a document published as a year’s worth of tweets?!
The Chilcot report is long—2.6 million words long. It takes the form of 12 hefty volumes that occupy a table measuring several meters in length, in print form.
Now, you can savor the document, which took 7 years to produce and find that the United Kingdom joined the invasion of Iraq under dubious circumstances, in tweet-sized bursts.
The bot issues a new tweet every 4.5 minutes or so, according to a calculation by Motherboard. It was created by BuzzFeed to reproduce the text in a more “digestible” form, according to Chris Applegate, a U.K.-based developer who worked on it.
According to my pal Kris Kasianovitz over at Free State Government Information, California Assembly Bill AB 2880, which would have granted state agencies sweeping powers to copyright their materials — a horrendously bad idea to say the least! — has been amended to remove ALL language about copyright! Please see these posts by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) (big thanks to their coalition advocacy effort on this) and Courthouse News.
EFF summed up the problem thusly:
“Such a broad grant of copyright authority to state and local governments will chill speech, stifle open government, and harm the public domain. It is our hope that the state legislature will scuttle this approach and refrain from covering all taxpayer funded works under a government copyright.”
Thank you to any and all who sent opposition letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The amended version is swiftly making it’s way through the Senate.