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The New York Times
Shielding Seized Assets From Corruption’s Clutches
One would think that an iconic Michael Jackson “Bad Tour” glove, covered in Swarovski crystals and worn on his first solo tour, would rest in a place of honor, perhaps at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Hardly. The bejeweled glove is thousands of miles away in the oil-rich, deeply impoverished country of Equatorial Guinea. And the people of this West African nation, most of whom live on less than $2 a day, have paid dearly for it. The glove, and its odd stewardship, embody the profound difficulties surrounding the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, a six-year effort by the United States to seize assets owned by kleptocrats — government officials who use their countries’ wealth to enrich themselves...“The election of Donald Trump might impede the commitment of the United States to fight kleptocracy,” said Matthew C. Stephenson
, a professor who teaches anticorruption law at Harvard Law School. “The political consequences are that it reduces U.S. leverage because of the perceived hypocrisy. The moral case is drastically undermined.”
The Washington Post
A French court case against Google could threaten global speech rights
An op-ed by Nani Jansen Reventlow, Vivek Krishnamurthy and Christopher T. Bavitz
. Imagine going online to do some research. You want to look up the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre, read up on the recently deceased king of Thailand or learn about the Armenian genocide. You enter the search terms in your search engine of choice, and you get nothing. Zero results. This scenario might become reality if France’s highest court — the Council of State — rules against Google in a case that threatens to make anything on the Web that’s remotely controversial unsearchable. The case imperiling search as we know it stems from an order issued in 2014 by France’s data protection authority, CNIL. The order commands Google to remove 21 links from the results of a search on the name of a particular French citizen who asserted a “right to be forgotten.”
The New York Review of Books
The Captive Aliens Who Remain Our Shame
A book review by Annette Gordon-Reed
. It is a commonplace that being an American is a matter neither of blood nor of cultural connections forged over time. It is, instead, a commitment to a set of ideals famously laid down by the country’s founders, and refined over generations with a notion of progress as a guiding principle. The Declaration of Independence, with Thomas Jefferson’s soaring language about the equality of mankind and the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” is the most powerful statement of those ideals. It is sometimes called America’s “creed.” Of course, what it means to be an American is not—has never been—so simple a proposition. Seeing the men most typically described as the “founders” of the United States as sources of inspired ideals equally available to all conflicts with our knowledge of the way most of them saw and treated Native Americans and African-Americans during the founding period.
Behavioral science suggests that Obamacare may not change as much as Republicans claim
An op-ed by Christopher T. Robertson, Holly Fernandez Lynch, and I. Glenn Cohen.
In the waning days of his administration, President Obama encouraged Americans to take advantage of the opportunity to get health insurance in what may be the last open enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act. Given the incessant chatter about the incoming administration’s plans to “repeal,” “repeal and delay,” or “repeal and replace” the act, is this just a fool’s errand — wasted effort adding more people to the slate of millions who will lose coverage if the ACA gets dismantled as promised? Perhaps. Or perhaps Obama is seeking to capitalize on the well-studied phenomenon known as loss aversion. In a nutshell, loss aversion means that it feels worse to lose something than never to have had it in the first place. Consumers, including those signing up for health insurance, tend to make relative judgments about their own welfare, rather than absolute judgments, and losses loom larger than gains.
The Washington Post
107 former Justice officials think this case was handled unjustly. DOJ must act.
An op-ed by Philip Heyman
. Last week, President Obama granted clemency to 153 individuals who had been incarcerated under mandatory minimum drug-sentencing laws, bringing to more than 1,100 the number of clemency petitions the administration has granted. “You don’t just try to hammer everybody for as long as you can, because you can,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates told the New York Times. That is the right attitude for someone tasked with the fair administration of justice. Unfortunately, Yates and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch have, for the past year, rebuffed efforts by me and many other former senior Justice Department officials to even discuss another prosecution in which justice fell far short: the case of Sholom Rubashkin, a Brooklyn-born rabbi who was sentenced to 27 years for bank fraud.
The New Yorker
Aleppo’s “Evacuation” Is a Crime Against Humanity
Last Thursday, as forces loyal to the Syrian government advanced through eastern Aleppo and despondent civilians there wondered whether they would be massacred, Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, stood in a sunlit courtyard in Damascus, dressed in a crisp blue suit, and compared his victory to the births of Jesus Christ and the prophet Muhammad...“If civilians are being told that they should leave or risk being deliberately targeted by military forces, that amounts to forcible transfer,” Alex Whiting
, a former prosecutions coördinator at the I.C.C., who now teaches at Harvard Law School, told me. “The ‘force’ in forcible transfer is not limited to physical force,” he added. “It also includes threats of force or coercion, or fear of violence or duress.”
The Washington Post
The public is being kept in the dark about Trump’s deal with Carrier
A month after President-elect Donald Trump announced a deal with air conditioning company Carrier to save hundreds of U.S. factory jobs that were slated for Mexico, officials say the agreement has yet to be finalized, and they have released few details about its terms...Jonathan Bruno
, a legal scholar at Harvard University, said the law does not stop the state from providing such records before a final deal, but it does give the option. “It’s hard to defend the continued secrecy of the deal,” Bruno wrote in an email. “Pence et al. are trying to have it both ways — they’re suggesting that the deal is ready for public consumption by taking credit for one aspect (some indeterminate number of jobs saved), while simultaneously asserting its confidentiality by withholding every other aspect of the terms.”
Special Report: Schools face surge in suicide attempts
Bay State educators struggling with a surge of student suicides and attempts are getting help this winter as a panel set up in response to the Sandy Hook massacre spells out how to assist teens suffering from panic attacks, substance abuse, neighborhood violence, eating disorders and self-harm. It’s being called the first such report of its kind nationwide that’s zeroing in on mental health fixes. “No other state in the country is doing this,” said Susan Cole
, director of the Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative, a joint program of Massachusetts Advocates for Children and Harvard Law School. “It puts us on the cutting edge.”
U.S. Mutual Fund Trustees Feel the Heat of Investor Lawsuits
Before New York's famed 21 Club steakhouse drew attention in November for hosting Donald Trump, the wealthy U.S. president-elect, it quietly fed other public representatives: trustees of Paris-based AXA SA investment funds...The trustees' dining experiences emerged in a federal case decided in August. Investors including a teacher and a retired police officer accused the firm of collecting excessive fees, a charge the firm denied...A common concern is that the boards are more focused on following technical rules than looking out for shareholder interests, said Stephen Davis
, a senior fellow at the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance.
On Trump’s Populism, Learn from Sweden’s Mistakes
An op-ed by Simon Hedlin `19
. I was walking home from an election watch party in Stockholm, the Swedish capital. It was September 19, 2010. At the time, I was working as an adviser to the Swedish Minister for European Affairs, and people were celebrating the reelection of the government. But many also felt gutted, because Sweden had for the first time elected the Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in neo-Nazism, to the Parliament. The electoral success of the Sweden Democrats made many Swedes feel as if a part of their country had been lost. Fast-forward six years, and the feelings were reminiscent as I was walking the streets of the liberal stronghold Cambridge, Mass., after the presidential election on November 8...A study that I have co-authored with Cass Sunstein
of Harvard Law School suggests that people may, due to resentment, even begin opposing a policy that they actually support if they think that the governing class paternalistically pushes people to adopt said policy.
The New York Times
Addressing the Trump Conflict Issues
A letter by Laurence Tribe and Mark Green
...All the moves discussed by the Trumps to resolve their potential conflicts of interest add up to sacrificing pawns to protect the king(dom) — the Trump Organization. The Constitution’s Emoluments Clause is unambiguous. It forbids an American president from accepting anything of value from a foreign entity, without congressional consent, because that would open the door to bribery or extortion. The only way for President-elect Donald Trump to cure this problem would be an arms-length sale by a public trustee, not piecemeal judgments after Jan. 20 about the thousands of possible winks and nods between foreign leaders and the new administration.
The Boston Globe
Does Aaron Hernandez’s body ink mean he did it?
Aaron Hernandez walked into a California tattoo shop in the spring of 2013 and allegedly asked a tattoo artist to add three new symbols onto his heavily inked physique. Two were pictures of handguns, and a third said, “God forgives” — written backward so it could be read in a mirror. Together, prosecutors say, those new tattoos tell a story that links the former New England Patriots star to the fatal shootings of two men in Boston’s South End in 2012 and then, in 2013, to the shooting of a one-time friend alleged to have seen him commit the murders...“That people get tattoos with a gun on them does not mean that the Commonwealth is allowed to file inference on top of inference on top of inference and get to the point that this is an admission,” attorney Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.
Scalia’s Legacy on the Court Looks Surprisingly Secure
An op-ed by Noah Feldman
. If there were to be a legal man of the year for 2016, it would have to be Antonin Scalia. The justice died in February and has cast a long shadow over the whole year. His seat remains unfilled. His jurisprudence seems likely to be the touchstone for Donald Trump’s nominee. Indeed, if Trump gets two or more Supreme Court picks, Scalia’s judicial legacy stands a chance of being vindicated rather than forgotten -- which seemed almost unthinkable when he died. Scalia’s legacy is therefore poised to set the tone for future constitutional battles in a way not seen since the 1935 death of Oliver Wendell Holmes, another great dissenter.
The Best Films of 2016 (for Behavioral Economists)
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein.
As everyone knows, the most coveted of the year-end movie awards are the Becons -- the Behavioral Economics Oscars. It’s no surprise that winning the Becon has catapulted previously unknown talents -- including Jessica Chastain, Tom Cruise, Taylor Swift and Daniel Day-Lewis -- to sensationally successful careers. Here are this year’s winners.
Diverse Issues in Higher Education
Colleges Debate Taking On ‘Sanctuary Campus’ Designation
Student and faculty activists argue that colleges and universities should call themselves “sanctuary campuses,” a label that they say would help underscore institutional commitment to supporting undocumented students in a time when the future of immigration in the U.S. seems all the more uncertain...“I think many college leaders are probably concerned about what a new administration might do in terms of federal funding, which can get really tricky and complicated,” said Phillip Torrey
, lecturer on law with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and the Supervising Attorney for the Harvard Immigration Project. “There are also concerns that by labeling their university a sanctuary campus there will be a bullseye on the university for targeted enforcement.”
U.S. News & World Report
Make a Strong Argument in a Law School Application
...2. Discuss your career goals: Cameron Dare Clark
, a second-year student at Harvard Law School, says the central theme of his law school application was his dream to become a civil rights attorney. Clark says his experience as an African-American man from a low-income family inspires his hope that law can be used as a tool to fight for social justice. He says conveying a compelling vision of your future strengthens your law school application. "The most effective way to create a clear and coherent application is to start with the vision and work backwards," Clark said in an email.
The Washington Post
The attorney general could have ordered FBI Director James Comey not to send his bombshell letter on Clinton emails. Here’s why she didn’t.
Twelve days before the presidential election, FBI Director James B. Comey dispatched a senior aide to deliver a startling message to the Justice Department. Comey wanted to send a letter to Congress alerting them that his agents had discovered more emails potentially relevant to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server...Jack Goldsmith
, a Harvard Law School professor and senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, said that the controversy shines a light on Lynch’s compromised position and failed leadership as attorney general. “If she thought [the letter] violated department policy or was otherwise a bad idea, she could have ordered him not to send the letter,” said Goldsmith, who noted that soon after the letter was released, Justice officials proceeded to criticize Comey when Lynch had the power all along to stop him. “It was an astonishing failure of leadership and eschewal of responsibility, especially if Lynch really thought what Comey did was wrong.”
The Final Fight: PIX11 series spurs Harvard professor to draft petition to clear boxer Jack Johnson’s name
A surviving family member of Jack Johnson and a prominent Harvard Law School professor said that a series of reports on PIX11 News about the boxing legend inspired them to join our campaign to officially get the name of the boxing legend cleared...The reports of PIX11 News reporters Jay Dow, Mario Diaz and James Ford resulted in Ronald Sullivan
, a professor at Harvard Law School and the director of the criminal justice institute there to join the campaign to win Johnson's posthumous pardon...It's a "very direct and personal appeal, saying, 'Mr. President, I'm a family member,'" said Sullivan in an interview with PIX11 News at Harvard earlier this week. "'Here are ways in which my family was impacted.'"