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The New York Times
As Atrocities Mount in Syria, Justice Seems Out of Reach
The evidence is staggering. Three tons of captured Syrian government documents, providing a chilling and extensive catalog of the state’s war crimes, are held by a single organization in Europe. A Syrian police photographer fled with pictures of more than 6,000 dead at the hands of the state, many of them tortured. The smartphone alone has broken war’s barriers: Records of crimes are now so graphic, so immediate, so overwhelming...Alex Whiting
, a Harvard law professor, said accountability is a matter of politics and so far Syria has not been high in the world’s priorities. But he has been surprised, tenuously, since the latest chemical attack.
Candidates who won’t disclose taxes shouldn’t be on the ballot
An op-ed by Laurence Tribe, Richard W. Painter, and Norman L. Eisen
. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump broke with decades of tradition and declined to release to the public his federal tax returns, as every president since Richard Nixon had done. Trump's decision highlighted the fact, previously unknown to many, that prior candidates had released their tax return not due to a legal obligation, but because they believed -- correctly -- that the information was important to voters.
The New York Times
Donald Trump’s Multi-Pronged Attack on the Internet
An op-ed by Susan Crawford
. If there’s one thing that brings Americans together, it’s our hatred of the giant companies that sell us high-speed data services. Consumers routinely give Comcast, Charter (now Spectrum), Verizon, CenturyLink and AT&T basement-level scores for customer satisfaction. This collective resentment is fueled by the sense that we don’t have a choice when we sign up for their services. By and large, we don’t: These five companies account for over 80 percent of wired subscriptions and have almost total power in their territories. According to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 75 percent of Americans have at most one choice for high-speed data.
The Boston Globe
Jury acquits Aaron Hernandez of murder charges
A jury on Friday cleared Aaron Hernandez of committing a double murder in 2012, handing the former New England Patriots star his first significant legal victory since his shocking arrest for a third slaying in 2013...When the verdict came down, Jenkins-Hernandez, his fiancee, cried, holding the hands of two friends and nodding furiously with her eyes shut. She later told reporters she was “very happy.” It was a sentiment echoed by Ronald Sullivan
, one of Hernandez’s lawyers, who said the “actual perpetrator of this crime was given immunity by the Commonwealth. He [Hernandez] was charged with something that someone else did."
Elliott’s BHP Billiton hit shows activist hedge funds target Australia (subscription)
The repeated censures BHP Billiton copped from aggressive New York hedge fund Elliott Management last week signalled the wave of shareholder activism that has engulfed the United States has descended to Australia with brute force....Yet the most comprehensive academic research led by Harvard University law professor and corporate governance expert Lucian Bebchuk
debunks claims that activist hedge funds cause long-term underperformance and losses to other shareholders. Bebchuk and two academic colleagues reviewed all of about 2000 interventions by activist hedge funds from 1994 through 2007, finding no evidence that target companies' performance or share prices suffered in the five years after an activist fund announced a campaign. "During the third, fourth, and fifth year following the start of an activist intervention, operating performance tends to be better, not worse, than during the pre-intervention period," the academics conclude. The study found no evidence of "pump-and-dump" patterns where stock prices collapsed after activists sold out.
Europe could have the secret to saving America’s unions
Labor unions in America are in crisis. In the mid-1950s, a third of Americans belonged to a labor union. Today, only 10.7 percent do, including a minuscule 6.4 percent of private sector workers. The decline of union membership explains as much as a third of the increase in inequality in the US, caused voter turnout among low-income workers to crater, and weakened labor’s ability to check corporate influence in DC and state capitals...But the recent victorious fight for a $15 minimum wage in New York offers a path to sectoral bargaining at the state level...“Sectoral bargaining is certainly getting more attention in legal academic and labor law policy debates,” Benjamin Sachs
, a professor at Harvard law school and former practicing labor lawyer, says.
Trump Should Play The Long Game In China Trade Talks
As President Donald Trump prepares to put his own stamp on the all-important U.S.-China trade alliance, experts are urging the White House to avoid being distracted by potential quick market access victories and instead prioritize a comprehensive approach to resolving the partners' deep-seated problems. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping emerged from their bilateral summit in Florida last week with a 100-day plan to create a new framework for trade talks. The U.S. has been holding bilateral economic talks with China in some form or another for several years, but each new administration has been eager to reset that conversation on its own terms...Those are the kinds of things that can pay dividends for U.S. companies in the near term, which has been a key priority for the Trump administration, but Harvard law professor and former U.S. trade negotiator Mark Wu
said that such steps are ultimately a bandage on the deeper issues facing the two trade behemoths.
Turkey’s New Playbook for the Semi-Authoritarian
An op-ed by Noah Feldman
. The votes from Turkey’s constitutional referendum are in, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory for his side, even as the result remains disputed. What’s clear is who the winner is not: constitutional democracy. On the surface, the amendments turn Turkey into a presidential system instead of a parliamentary one. Underneath, they strengthen the personal authority of Erdogan, who in the last decade and a half has gone from prime minister to president to quasi-authoritarian leader.
Sweeping change at DOJ under Sessions
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought sweeping change to the Department of Justice. In just two months as the nation’s top cop, Sessions has moved quickly to overhaul the policies and priorities set by the Obama administration...Alex Whiting
, faculty co-director of the Criminal Justice Policy Program at Harvard Law School, said it appears Sessions is resurrecting the tough on crime policies last seen during the George W. Bush administration. “Obama moved away from that approach, and I think in the criminal justice world there seemed to be a consensus between the right and left that those policies, those rigid policies of the war on drugs and trying to get the highest sentence all the time, had failed,” he said.
Harris, elephants & camels
A letter by Delcianna Winders
. Just because Syria Shrine Circus handlers didn't abuse the animals while a Pittsburgh councilwoman was riding on their backs doesn't mean they're well-treated ( “Pittsburgh councilwoman takes circus test ride”). To the contrary, abundant evidence leaves no question that these animals suffer routine abuse. Carson & Barnes Circus, the company that supplies the elephant act for the circus, has an extensive rap sheet of Animal Welfare Act violations. It has repeatedly paid penalties for these violations, including after its head trainer was caught on video hitting elephants with a bullhook, which resembles a fireplace poker, and shocking them with an electric prod.
The Wall Street Journal
The Rise of the Smart City
Cities have a way to go before they can be considered geniuses. But they’re getting smart pretty fast. In just the past few years, mayors and other officials in cities across the country have begun to draw on the reams of data at their disposal—about income, burglaries, traffic, fires, illnesses, parking citations and more—to tackle many of the problems of urban life...Widespread use of sensors and video can also present privacy risks unless precautions are taken. The technology “is forcing cities to confront questions of privacy that they haven’t had to confront before,” says Ben Green
, a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and lead author of a recent report on open-data privacy.