Apr 29
4:42 PM

The Free Law Reporter

Earlier this week, CALI's latest project, the Free Law ReporterTM, went live. According to the announcement, "[t]he goal of FLR is to develop a freely available, unencumbered law reporter that is capable of serving as a resource for education, research, and practice."

It's still experimental, and very much a work-in-progress. As the CALI announcement says, "[t]he next steps will depend upon community involvement."

Current functionality is limited to basic keyword searching, but the underlying technology allows for more sophisticated search functionality down the line — facet searching and “more like this” functionality reportedly coming soon.

The cases are also being compiled as downloadable eBooks (.epub). Each state and federal jurisdiction is gathered into a volume each week. An example file can be found here, although links to all available .epub files haven't yet been posted.

FLR's current contents are posted here. To read more about the project and the technology behind it, click here. To get updates on the project and hear how you can get involved, click here. [JML]

Apr 26
8:14 PM

The Phat Price of Oil

According to a 2009 study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the world currently consumes 89 million barrels of oil a day, and by 2030, world consumption would likely be over 100 million barrels. The United States now produces 9.7 million barrels of oil a day, according to the EIA. That's the most oil this country has pumped in 20 years, and puts it just behind Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world's top producer. Since 2005, US oil production has been steadily rising. The United States now produces about a million and a half more barrels today than it did 6 years ago. From 2005 to 2011, at one point, oil hit a record $147 a barrel.  

Oil Minister Wilson Pastor told Reuters in an interview that OPEC did not want prices "shooting up" because that could slow global economic growth. "For OPEC, a normal price range that would not affect the economy and would let oil producers have profits in the long term is between $80 and $90 a barrel," Pastor said, adding that he saw prices stabilizing in the next few months. OPEC Secretary General Abdullah al-Badri said in Iran, however, on April 19 that he did not expect crude prices to fall below $100 this year, even though there was no shortage in the market.  

In a strange catch-22, it is largely due to high oil prices that new oil production is possible in the US. The deepwater drilling, shale rock extraction and other techniques used to increase production are pricey endeavors. It's been a bounty for those that work in the oil and gas industry. In the last ten years the industry has added 2 million jobs, said Rayola Dougher, senior economic advisor for the American Petroleum Institute. The industry now employs over 9 million Americans. These are well-paying jobs. People can earn $15 to $20 an hour right out of high school. With a just a few years experience, $60,000 a year is possible. Petroleum engineers and others with advanced degrees easily clear six figures. It's also been good for oil companies. Thanks to lower taxes, companies generally make much more money on a barrel of oil produced in the United States than they do from North Sea or Middle East crude. [Full Article]  

With oil prices rapidly becoming the hot political topic, the EIA's 2011 EIA Energy Conference, held on April 26 and 27, promises to garner extra attention. The conference topics include a discussion on potential energy source "Game Changers" presented by Dr. Ernest Moniz, Professor of Physics and Engineering Systems at MIT. He stresses that mobility and energy security have the greatest role in implementing the new technologies of photovoltaic cells, batteries for electric vehicles, gas-to-liquids technology, and adding flexibility to fuels. [AR]

Apr 26
1:16 PM

No More “Exploding Offers” from 16 High-Profile Law Journals

A number of student-edited law reviews and journals have recently signed a joint letter announcing that they will no longer make "exploding offers" to authors. They explain that the practice of requiring authors to accept an offer of publication within days, hours, or even minutes, has had a "corrosive effect" on the article selection process and has "inevitably favored established authors, popular topics, and broad claims at the expense of originality and merit."

The signers of the joint letter commit to giving authors at least seven days to consider an offer of publication. They expect the seven-day offer window to reduce the stress of the article selection process for authors.They also believe the seven-day offer window will allow article selection committees to engage in a more deliberative process before extending offers of publication: 

Student editors… will be able to engage more deeply with the articles we review. We will have the time to consult scholars regularly regarding an article’s significance and novelty. As a result, all of us will be able to publish more of the stellar pieces that, under the current system, slip through the cracks.

Read the whole letter here. Hat tip to The Chronicle. [JML]

Apr 21
8:05 PM

Solicitor General to Supreme Court: Review GPS Tracking Cases

"The Solicitor General filed a petition with the Supreme Court about the growing dispute in the federal courts over warrantless locational tracking. There is a split among the appellate court about GPS tracking by police agencies. The petition appeals a decision from the DC Circuit which held that the warrantless tracking of a motor vehicle violates the Constitutional right against unlawful searches. Earlier, EPIC filed an amicus brief in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court case that also held that a warrant is required for the use of a GPS tracking device. For more information, see EPIC – Commonwealth v. Connolly and EPIC – Locational Privacy," according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center's (EPIC) April 18 post.  The 9th Circuit apparently is on the side that says warrantless location tracking is ok.  In US v. Pineda Moreno, 591 F.3d 1212 (9th Cir. 2010) DEA agents attached three different mobile tracking devices to the underside of Peneda's car on seven different occasions.  The court held, "The only information the agents obtained from the tracking devices was a log of the locations where Pineda-Moreno's car traveled, information the agents could have obtained by following the car." [BB]

Apr 20
8:57 PM

There’s more than one reason why the forecast looks bleak for 2012

Images While some predict doom and gloom in 2012 because of Mayan calendar calculations, others look to Standard & Poor's negative credit outlook for the United States. According to Reuters:

Of the four AAA-rated countries that S&P has placed on negative outlook between 1989 and this March, three were downgraded within 15 months on average. That would put July 26, 2012, as the date to watch for whether the United States loses the star credit status it has held since 1941. Such a move would likely make it much more expensive for the country to service its massive debt burden.

The budget wrangling over the past six months has not inspired confidence at S&P, the credit ratings agency that is a division of McGraw-Hill. Ratings from S&P and Moody's are used by investors as a guide to the riskiness of holding an issuer's debt. Many insurance firms and pension and mutual funds rely on ratings to decide where to invest. [AR]

Apr 19
5:59 PM

UN Security Council to Consider Special Courts for Somali Pirates

On April 11th, 2011, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 1976 (2011) to urgently consider the establishment of specialized Somali courts to try suspected pirates both in Somalia and in the region.  The Council, expressing its intention to take further decisions on the matter, requested the Secretary-General to propose modalities for such specialized courts within two months and to describe the role of international personnel and other international support, taking into account the work of the Contact Group on Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia and in consultation with regional States. [MF]

Apr 18
9:06 PM

From the White House: National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace

Executive Summary:

The Strategy’s vision is: Individuals and organizations utilize secure, efficient, easy-to-use, and interoperable identity solutions to access online services in a manner that promotes confidence, privacy, choice, and innovation.

The realization of this vision is the user-centric “Identity Ecosystem” described in this Strategy It is an online environment where individuals and organizations will be able to trust each other because they follow agreed upon standards to obtain and authenticate their digital identities—and the digital identities of devices The Identity Ecosystem is designed to securely support transactions that range from anonymous to fully-authenticated and from low- to high-value The Identity Ecosystem, as envisioned here, will increase the following:
• Privacy protections for individuals, who will be able trust that their personal data is handled fairly and transparently;
• Convenience for individuals, who may choose to manage fewer passwords or accounts than they do today;
• Efficiency for organizations, which will benefit from a reduction in paper-based and account
management processes;
• Ease-of-use, by automating identity solutions whenever possible and basing them on technology that is simple to operate;
• Security, by making it more difficult for criminals to compromise online transactions;
• Confidence that digital identities are adequately protected, thereby promoting the use of online services;
• Innovation, by lowering the risk associated with sensitive services and by enabling service providers to develop or expand their online presence;
• Choice, as service providers offer individuals different—yet interoperable—identity credentials and media

Read the full document here. [JML]

Apr 13
8:42 PM

NFL Labor Dispute – Fans may come out the winners

NFL March 11, the NFL players association decertified itself. The next day, the NFL officially announced a lockout of players by team owners. A lockout effectively closes down the league's activities and will halt any trade activities and any other dealings between players and clubs; it also puts the 2011 season at risk. At least 10 players, including leading quarterbacks, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees, filed antitrust lawsuits against the NFL to attempt to halt a lockout.

One month later, on April 12, in a federal district court ordered mediation, the league began a series of negotiations with representatives for the players in order to resolve the labor dispute. After the first day of mediation, the likelihood of going back on the practice field may not be until June. Lawyers for the players argued the lockout is not valid because they no longer are a union. The NFL attorney countered that the players union's decertification is a sham.

Federal Judge Susan Nelson said she will need a couple of weeks to make a decision, but all might not be lost for the fans. In the NFL labor dispute storm whipping up, an early trend may be emerging with regard to ticket sales for next season: The lack of price increases. Stay Tuned!    [AR] 

Apr 12
6:04 PM
Apr 11
5:42 PM

Celebrate National Library Week, April 10-16, 2011

Celebrate National Library Week at the LRC this week!

First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

Celebrating National Library Week from CNN, Librarians: Masters of the Universe [MF]