• Administration’s decision to rescind 2015 water rule based on flawed analysis: Experts

    New evidence suggests that the Trump administration’s proposal to rescind the 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule that would limit the scope of the Clean Water Act inappropriately overlooks wetlands-related values. The differences between the two analyses led to an almost 90 percent drop in quantified benefits from the 2015 to the 2017 analysis.

  • Why a congressional ban on bump stocks is unlikely

    Even in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, it appeared that nothing could shake the immovable stalemate over gun rights in Congress – but a strange thing happened: Republicans started talking about tightening regulations on firearms. But until Congress can prove otherwise, and Republicans in particular move from rhetoric to legislation, it’s reasonable to expect this latest bipartisan opening to meet a similar fate to the bipartisan move, in the wake of Sandy Hook, to expand background checks: That attempt, led by Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), could not overcome a Senate filibuster.

  • Germany’s newly elected populist, far-right AfD: We will fight an “invasion of foreigners”

    Leaders of the populist, nationalist AfD party, which entered the Bundestag for the first time after Sunday federal election, have pledged to fight an “invasion of foreigners” with its new MPs. Alexander Gauland, speaking in Berlin the morning after the election results came in, said his party would “uncompromisingly address” immigration, an issue the party has campaigned on since late 2015. “One million people – foreigners – being brought into this country are taking away a piece of this country and we as AfD don’t want that,” Gauland told a press conference late Sunday. “We say we don’t want to lose Germany to an invasion of foreigners from a different culture. Very simple.”

  • Extreme weather, event-attribution science mean businesses, governments risk more litigation

    With Hurricane Harvey battering the southern United States, a new report warns that governments and business may be increasingly at risk of litigation for failing to prevent foreseeable climate-related harm to people and infrastructure. “Identifying the human influence in events once only understood as ‘acts of god’ will reshape the legal landscape, meaning governments and businesses could be sued if they don’t take action to protect people from floods, heatwaves and other foreseeable climate change risks.”

  • Arpaio pardon could encourage more civil rights violations

    President Donald Trump may pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Arizona sheriff who illegally used racial profiling to enforce immigration laws. It’s true, Trump has the legal power to pardon pretty much anyone. But pardoning Arpaio could send the message that state and local officials can aggressively enforce federal immigration law, even if it risks racial profiling and violating the due process rights of citizens and noncitizens.

  • Undocumented immigration does not worsen drug, alcohol problems in U.S.: Study

    Despite being saddled with many factors associated with drug and alcohol problems, undocumented immigrants are not increasing the prevalence of drug and alcohol crimes and deaths in the United States, according to a new study. According to the study, rather than increasing substance abuse problems, a 1 percent increase in the proportion of the population that is undocumented is associated with 22 fewer drug arrests, 42 fewer drunken driving arrests and 0.64 fewer drug overdoses — all per 100,000 people. The frequency of drunken driving fatalities was unaffected by unauthorized immigration rates.

  • Gun violence prevention groups adopt moderate, middle-ground positions to meet goals

    A new study found that American organizations identifying as gun violence prevention groups advocate for the right to bear arms and for some gun purchase and ownership conditions, which they argue will curb gun-related injuries and deaths. The finding contrasts with some depictions of gun violence prevention groups as “anti-gun.”

  • To curb hate speech on social media, we need to look beyond Facebook, Twitter: Experts

    Germany has passed a new controversial law which requires social media companies quickly to delete hate speech or face heavy fines. The debate over the new law has focused on the most common social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube. Experts say that placing Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube at the center of the debate over hate speech on social media websites is understandable, but it could undermine monitoring less widely known social media players. Some of these smaller players may present more problematic hate speech issues than their bigger rivals.

  • Tech firms urge Congress to enact surveillance reforms

    More than thirty leading internet companies have sent a letter to the chair of the House Judiciary Committee asking for reforms to the law used for carrying out mass surveillance. The letter concerns Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The act must be renewed by Congress before the end of the year. Over the years, the U.S. security agencies have creatively interpreted the law to allow them to store information on potentially millions of U.S. citizens – even though the law specifically requires the opposite.

  • U.S. border agents illegally turning away asylum seekers at U.S. border: Report

    Human Rights First on Wednesday released a new report documenting dozens of instances in which U.S. border agents illegally turned away asylum seekers from the U.S. southern border. “We’ve documented dozens of cases in which individuals seeking protection from violence and persecution have been unlawfully turned away. These actions by U.S. border agents not only violate U.S. laws and treaty commitments, but put individuals’ lives in danger by sending them into the hands of persecutors, traffickers, or cartels,” said the lead researcher on the report.

  • Online campaigning poses a risk to democracy: Experts

    A working group set up by the London School of Economics said that there is a need for an in-depth, independent, research driven, evidence-based review of the role of social media in political campaigning. “There is a real danger that public trust in the democratic process will be lost. There is real potential for foreign influence. We have now the ability to manipulate public opinion on a level we have never seen before. And the current framework is weak and helpless,” said the lead author of an LSE policy brief.

  • The loaded history of self-defense

    After the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012, Harvard historian Caroline Light felt compelled to explore the roots of the American right to self-defense, which has helped turned the United States into a country with more guns than people. In her new book, Stand Your Ground: A History of America’s Love Affair with Lethal Self-Defense, Light traces the development of the notion of self-defense from English common law to contemporary stand-your-ground gun laws.

  • Why farmers and ranchers think the EPA Clean Water Rule goes too far

    President Trump issued an executive order 28 February directing federal agencies to revise the Clean Water Rule, a major regulation published by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers in 2015. Framers and ranchers are particularly worried that the Clean Water Rule could expand federal regulations that impact their private property rights. However, regulatory agencies and the regulated community need to know the limits of the Clean Water Act’s reach so they can take appropriate measures to protect water resources. If the rule is scrapped, we still will need to know which water bodies require protection under the law. If the Trump administration withdraws or weakens the Clean Water Rule, it is likely to leave regulators interpreting case by case whether tributaries and adjacent waters are covered, as they have been doing since 2006, and land and water owners guessing about what they can do with their resources. So in the end, repealing the rule won’t answer the underlying question: how far upstream federal protection extends.

  • Why the time is right to set up an international terrorism court

    The global toll of terrorism is rising at an alarming rate. According to the Institute for Economics and Peace, terrorist incidents claimed 3,329 lives in 2000 but 32,685 in 2014, and the economic costs of terrorism skyrocketed at least tenfold during the same period. As a result, certain governments are proposing that the UN establish a new court with a specific remit to prosecute international terrorist crimes. The court, I sablished, would join the growing ranks of international courts and tribunals that have been rapidly proliferating since the end of the Cold War. Of the more than 37,000 legally binding judgements passed by these international courts, some 90 percent have come down since 1990.The problems and risks of creating such a court are all too apparent, and go some way to explaining why the court has never been set up.

  • Supreme Court considering case of Mexican boy killed by Border Patrol agent shooting across border

    The Supreme Court appears to be evenly divided about the question of whether the Mexican parents of a teenager who was shot dead by a Border Patrol officer could use American courts to sue the Border Patrol agent who fired across the U.S.-Mexican border and killed their son. Lower courts dismissed the parents’ lawsuit – but the Supreme Court has taken up the case in order to determine whether non-citizens who are injured or killed outside the United States — by actions of an American from inside the United States — can pursue their case in American courts.