Month of September, 2012
Thanks Washington Monthly for the preview of the Supreme Court's 2012-13 docket, which starts October 1, 2012. "With half the term’s cases scheduled, here are some of the big cases that are already on the docket, and a few the Court court take up later." Cornell's Legal Information Institute (LII) also has a good preview of the upcoming term. and the incomparable @scotusblog pointed us to a good WaPo review of the court's upcoming docket, "Supreme Court faces another high-profile term." The cases can be searched in the Supreme Court's docket database as well as on their monthly calendar.
October 10, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin
Revisiting affirmative action in higher education, a decade after Sandra Day O’Connor’s fifth vote upheld it in Grutter v. Bollinger. The conventional wisdom says that the Court, with Alito sitting in O’Connor’s seat, rules the practice unconstitutional.
October 3, Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum
Fascinating case in which Royal Dutch and its Shell subidiaries (the American companies) are accused of helping the Nigerian government torture a dozen and kill Nigerians protesting against the companies’ oil exploration. What’s being decided is whether a US court can effectively rule on human rights violations a domestic company has committed abroad.
October 9, Tibbals v. Carter; Ryan v. Gonzalez
Both of these cases deal with a state’s responsibility to halt the appellate review of capital punishment cases while a defendant is mentally ill. For now, this is the only case on the court’s docket that deals with the death penalty.
October 29, Clapper v. Amnesty International
The Court reviews the United State’s ability to wiretap Americans when they’re abroad. In 2008, Congress expanded the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which previously regulated only domestic surveillance. Since then, we’ve been able to spy on our own wherever they go.
October 31, Florida v. Jardines; Florida v. Harris
The Court decides whether it violates the Fourth Amendment provision against illegal searches for a trained narcotics dog to sniff around a house or car for drugs without a warrant. Dogs in question are Franky and Aldo, respectively.
Potential SCOTUS cases (Should the Court take them up)
Several Defense of Marriage Act cases are working there way through the courts, most notably the May Massachusetts federal court decision that struck down the law. A lower court in California has also struck down Prop 8, the state’s ban on gay marriage, so that case could get heard too.
Voting Rights Act
Several states (Texas, South Carolina, Florida) have recently had voting laws struck down by the Department of Justice, thanks to the provision of the Voting Rights Act that mandates many of the ex-Confederate states have their voting laws “pre-cleared” by the federal government. If the Court decides to take up any of the resulting state challenges to the VRA, it could rule pre-clearance unconstitutional. Sidenote: I’d argue that pre-clearance isn’t broad enough. Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and other northern states that don’t require pre-clearance have passed Voter ID laws no problem. Welcome to the era of Jim Crow North.
The past two weeks have seen significant activity at the State Agency Databases Across the Fifty States project at http://wikis.ala.org/godort/index.php/State_Agency_Databases, mostly as a result of our quarterly link check and search for new databases.
For a full list of changes for the past two weeks, please visit http://tinyurl.com/statedbs14d. Here are some highlights:
APP VERSIONS OF STATE DATABASES
We've started to notice mobile apps being connected to databases produced by state agencies. We will be posting these to our project pages as we discover them. We're not looking to create a directory of ALL state mobile apps, just the ones that are connected to state databases.
For now, most of the apps we've found were discovered by Susanne Caro and live on the Utah project page. Here are the ones she's found so far:
UDOT Traffic App -"The UDOT Traffic app provides commuters and travelers with mobile access to information for Utah roadways from the Utah Department of Transportation's Intelligent Transportation System (ITS)..."
Salt Lake County Map Book - "The Salt Lake County Map Book App was created as a GIS/Mapping tool to help emergency responders navigate the County. The Map Book breaks down the county into a grid of 287 maps design at a scale of 1:10,000, with every street name and corresponding coordinate labeled. We have also identified fire stations, schools, fire hydrants"
Utah County Maps - "Utah Co Maps enables users to search property records by address or by panning and zooming around a topographic map of Utah County. Once a parcel is selected, users can access detailed property information including ownership history, property values, improvement information, and more."
Utah Professional License Lookup - Utah Professional License Lookup app for the iPhone for checking on the professional license status of professionals offering services that require state licensure.
HEALTHCARE PRACTITIONERS (Lynn McClelland)
Idaho Board of Nursing Primary Source Verification - Search for nurses by license type, license number, and/ or name. Users can filter on this page for disciplinary actions.
NEW HAMPSHIRE (Linda Johnson)
Banking Enforcement Orders - Searchable site for Enforcement Orders from 2006-. Can search by docket number or party name as well as browse alphabetically by entity name.
NORTH CAROLINA (Jennifer Davison)
North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners -Search for licensed physical therapists.
TEXAS (Ann Ellis)
Foreign Companies with Operations in Texas - This database provides a representative sample of significant non-U.S. companies doing business in Texas. It is updated by Business Research staff, and allows searches by city, country, industry, and keyword.
UTAH (Susanne Caro)
InciWed-Utah (Fire) Incidents - Hosted by InciWeb an inter-agency management system), this site has a searchable database of current fires including prescribed burns. Search includes age, type and status limiters.
The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the large social-sciences data archive at the University of Michigan, is hosting a series of webcasts on October 1 through 3 that feature election data held in ICPSR's archives. The webcasts will show how to use them for analysis and teaching.
- Welcome to the 2012 ICPSR Data Fair!, ICPSR.
The event is designed for the social sciences data community at large including researchers, librarians, teaching faculty, students, and policymakers from around the world who are interested in the use of social science data.
The first day will provide an orientation to ICPSR's services, including a tutorial on navigating our newly redesigned Web site. Other topics will include the American National Election Studies, minority voting behavior, and using election data in classroom instruction.
The event is open to everyone, and will be conducted using GoToWebinar technology; you can watch each presentation from your computer without the need to download any software.
A schedule of sessions is available, including links to the sessions themselves.
We've been tracking this story since this spring when the Depository Services Program of Canada (DSP) announced that, by 2014, it would, “no longer be producing, printing, or warehousing hard copies of publications.” Well it's much more than no longer printing govt publications. As BoingBoing notes:
Canada's national archives are in trouble: they've undergone a $9.6M cut, with more to come. The collections are being sold off to private collectors, many outside of the country. Now the Documentary Organization of Canada has weighed in: "Lisa Fitzgibbons, Executive Director of the Documentary Organization of Canada (DOC), succinctly states a case for continuance of sustainable funding of Library and Archives Canada."
Please go to Save Library & Archives Canada (hosted by the Canadian Association of University Teachers!) to learn more about the issues and take action to save the Library & Archives.
Here are some really useful tools and projects that make data more useful and understandable. They are winners of the Knight Foundation "data challenge."
"The winning projects go well beyond collecting data to unlocking its value in simple and powerful ways, so journalists can analyze numbers and trends, and communities can make decisions on issues important to them."
- Six ventures bring data to the public as winners of Knight News Challenge, Press Release, The Knight Foundation (Sep 20, 2012).
The six winners are:
- Safecast: Creating a community of citizen and professional scientists to measure and share data on air quality in Los Angeles and other U.S. cities. The air quality effort is inspired by Safecast's success in providing radiation data following Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster.
- LocalData: Providing a set of tools that communities can use to collect data on paper or via a smartphone app, then export or visualize the data via an easy-to-use dashboard. The city of Detroit has used the tools, created by Code for America fellows, to track urban blight.
- Open Elections: Creating the first freely available, comprehensive source of U.S. election results, allowing journalists and researchers to analyze trends that account for campaign spending, demographic changes, legislative track records and more. Senior developers from The Washington Post and The New York Times lead the project.
- New Tools for OpenStreetMap: Launching tools that make it easier for communities to contribute to OpenStreetMap, the community-mapping project used by millions via foursquare and Wikimedia and becoming a leading source for open, street-level data. DevelopmentSeed will create the tools.
- Pop Up Archive: Taking multimedia content - including audio, pictures and more - from the shelf to the Web, so that it can be searchable, reusable and shareable. Founded by University of California grad students and SoundCloud Fellows, the project beta tested by helping archive the collection of the independent, Peabody-winning production team the Kitchen Sisters.
- Census.IRE.org: Providing journalists and the public with a simpler way to access Census data, so they can spend less time managing the information and more time analyzing it and finding trends. The project is led by a senior developer from the Chicago Tribune in partnership with Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE).
Big Hat Tip to Kevin Taglang!
The annual meeting of the Association of Public Data Users was held recently in Washington and it produced interesting discussions and insights into the current state of and future directions for official statistics. Here are links to presentations from the conference and an excellent overview of the conference by Peggy Garvin.
- Association of Public Data Users 2012 Annual Conference, The Future of the Federal Statistical System in an Era of Open Government Data, Agenda and papers. (September 12-13, 2012).
- APDU 2012 Conference Explores the Future of Federal Survey Data, by Peggy Garvin, InfoToday (September 20, 2012).
Here is a useful and informative article about copyright by Peter Hirtle, Senior Policy Advisor at Cornell University Library. It includes a section on "The confusing case of government works."
- When Is 1923 Going to Arrive and Other Complications of the U.S. Public Domain by Peter B. Hirtle,Searcher 20.6 (2012): Searcher 20.6 (2012).
Think 1923 is the magic year? Think again! "Probably the oldest work still protected by copyright in the U.S. is a letter from John Adams to Nathan Webb written on Sept. 1, 1755."
The Library of Congress unveiled a new Web search tool for bills and other Congressional records Wednesday that will eventually replace the 17-year-old Thomas.gov website.
- Congress.gov. Also see: About page.
Congress.gov makes federal United States legislative information freely available to the public. Launched Sept. 19, 2012, this version of the site is an initial beta release of Congress.gov, created as a successor to THOMAS.gov, the current public site for legislative information. The Congress.gov beta site contains legislation from the 107th Congress (2001) to the present, member of Congress profiles from the 93rd Congress (1973) to the present, and selected member profiles from the 80th through the 92nd Congresses (1947 to 1972). Over the next two years, Congress.gov will be adding information and features, eventually incorporating all of the information currently available on THOMAS.gov.
- Smartphone friendly, congressional search site unveiled, By Joseph Marks, NextGov (Sep 19, 2012).
- Congress launches THOMAS successor Congress.gov, by Daniel Schuman, Sunlight Foundation (Sept. 19, 2012)
What's noticeable about this evolving beta website, besides the major improvements in how people can search and understand legislative developments, is what's still missing: public comment on the design process and computer-friendly bulk access to the underlying data.
Here is another story:
- What Congress.gov Means for a Congressional API, by Nick Judd and Miranda Neubauer TechPresident (September 19 2012)
"I'm impressed," said Josh Tauberer, whose GovTrack scrapes data from THOMAS to provide it in a machine-readable form for other websites like OpenCongress, in an email. "From its new faceted search to its mobile-friendly HTML, they really hit the technology on the nail. And there's more explanation for people who aren't legislative pros. They may be slowly catching up to GovTrack.
"This new site shows that the LOC actually has the technical chops to implement raw data properly, which was a serious concern of mine before," Tauberer also wrote.
That said, Tauberer pointed out that the new site offers "no new actual information." House leadership has promised to offer access to the underlying data that fuels THOMAS and has repeatedly expressed a commitment to doing it. They just haven't committed to doing it during this Congress. And the lack of action on something that seems to them to be eminently doable has advocates kind of frustrated.
Gayle Osterberg, Director of Communications for the Library of Congress, seemed to indicate in an email that the Library of Congress is ready to cooperate. They just need Congress — meaning the House and Senate both — to give them the go-ahead.
- Congress.gov Beta: An Early Look at a New THOMAS, by Peggy Garvin, InfoToday, (September 27, 2012).
The Congress.gov beta is still in the early stages of incorporating existing THOMAS content and implementing the improved search functions that THOMAS users have been waiting for. The Law Library of Congress, which is managing the transition, is anxious to get your feedback and suggestions via its form at http://beta.congress.gov/survey.
Here's another benefit to being Federal Depository Library: GPO and the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) have just announced a collaborative effort to get better online access to Public Health Reports -- the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Service at http://www.publichealthreports.org/ -- for FDLP libraries. Depositories will now have the option of selecting IP access or the use of a username and password. For more information, please visit the FDLP Desktop.
A little bit of background: PHR has been published since 1878. The first volume, published under the title "Bulletins of the Public Health," was issued by the Supervising Surgeon-General under the National Quarantine Act of April 29, 1878. It became partially privatized and published for U.S. Public Health Service by Oxford University Press (2001-2003), then by Elsevier, in collaboration with the Association of Schools of Public Health (2004) and then by ASPH, 2005 - present.
Congratulations to the Internet Archive for launching TV News Search & Borrow service. This is truly an amazing endeavor with a growing collection of "every morsel of news produced in the last three years by 20 different channels, encompassing more than 1,000 news series that have generated more than 350,000 separate programs devoted to news." Search results will be in 30 second clips, and if someone wants a copy of the entire program, a DVD will be sent on loan. NY Times has more. I'm sending it in to be cataloged right now!!
Today the Internet Archive launches TV News Search & Borrow. This service is designed to help engaged citizens better understand the issues and candidates in the 2012 U.S. elections by allowing them to search closed captioning transcripts to borrow relevant television news programs.
The Internet Archive works to preserve the published works of humankind. Inspired by Vanderbilt University’s Television News Archive project, the Internet Archive collects and preserves television news. Like library collections of books and newspapers, this accessible archive of TV news enables anyone to reference and compare statements from this influential medium.
The collection now contains 350,000 news programs collected over 3 years from national U.S. networks and stations in San Francisco and Washington D.C. The archive is updated with new broadcasts 24 hours after they are aired. Older materials are also being added.