Jammed: The Cliff and the Slope

An article by Susan Crawford. Devan Dewey, the Chief Technology Officer of midsize investment consultancy NEPC, has an orderly office and a highly organized mind. So naturally, when some at-home employees near Boston complained they could barely work because their connections to the company data center had slowed to a crawl, Dewey and his team determined to find out why. His team’s research led him to suspect something astonishing and dark: that NEPC, and probably many other businesses and consumers, were caught in the crossfire of an ongoing battle between “eyeball networks” run by Internet access providers, such as Comcast and Verizon; and “transit networks” used by competing video services, such as Netflix. He came to wonder whether, in their attempts to charge Netflix for access to their subscribers, Comcast and some other networks were recklessly affecting Internet connectivity for businesses like NEPC. Could that possibly be true? The answer is yes.

Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

America’s slow and expensive Internet is more than just an annoyance for people trying to watch “Happy Gilmore” on Netflix. Largely a consequence of monopoly providers, the sluggish service could have long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness….The big Internet providers have little reason to upgrade their entire networks to fiber because there has so far been little pressure from competitors or regulators to do so, said Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and author of “Captive Audience: Telecom Monopolies in the New Gilded Age.”

Can CEO Pay Ever Be Reeled In?

The compensation of American executives—CEOs and their “C-suite” colleagues—has long been a matter of controversy, especially recently, as the wages of average workers have stagnated and economic inequality has moved to the center of the national debate. Just about every spring, the season of corporate proxy votes, we see the rankings of the highest-paid CEOs, topped by men like David Cote of Honeywell, who in 2013 took home $16 million in salary and bonus, and another $9 million in stock options…But Lucian Bebchuk and Jesse Fried, in their 2004 book Pay Without Performance, argued that this procedure is a comforting fiction. They wrote that skyrocketing executive pay is the blatant result of CEOs’ power over decisions within U.S. firms, including compensation…Bebchuk and Fried showed that CEOs typically have considerable influence over the nominating process and can exert their power to block or put forward nominations, so directors have a sense that they were brought in by the CEO.

Historical Society Exhibition to Commemorate Selma-to-Montgomery March

Dozens of photographs capturing a pivotal event in the civil rights movement — the 1965 march from Selma, Ala., to the state capital in Montgomery — will be exhibited at the New-York Historical Society early next year. In time to mark the 50th anniversary of the march, “Freedom Journey 1965: Photographs of the Selma to Montgomery March by Stephen Somerstein,” will be on view from January 16 through April 19…In a program related to the exhibition on Feb. 11, Randall Kennedy, a Harvard Law School professor, will discuss the ramifications of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Sex-Equality Backers Seek Impetus in Oregon Measure

More than 100 years ago, Oregon was one of several states that gave women the right to vote, paving the way for federal ratification of women’s suffrage in 1920. This fall, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo is spearheading a campaign here she hopes will spur a further step toward gender equality nationwide….Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a constitutional law professor at Harvard Law School, said making an ERA part of the federal constitution would be a challenge because of the “deeply contested social and legal issues” at play, such as reproductive rights, child care and education. “The meaning of sex equality is still up for grabs,” Ms. Brown-Nagin said. “The passage of a few decades and dynamics in Oregon have not changed that stubborn fact.”

Using a ‘foreign language shield’ to improve investment decision making

Introducing a “foreign language shield” into a decision-making process is a proven way of making better decisions, according to Cass Sunstein…at Harvard Law School. Sunstein, a former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), told the Fiduciary Investors Symposium (FIS) at Harvard University that the Obama administration had introduced a rigorous cost/benefit analysis of any and all proposed regulatory changes, and this had acted as an effective “foreign-language shield” that improved the impact of new regulations. “If you’re an adviser, get the cost/benefit figures, the risk/return figures, the algorithms, up and running. It’s a great safeguard,” he said.

If the Clean Air Act’s on the docket, Keisler’s on the case

Peter Keisler might be the only lawyer who’s argued five cases before the Supreme Court and has appeared in a TV soap commercial….Harvard Law School professor Richard Lazarus said Keisler is successful because of his ability to read the mood of the court both in his briefs and during oral arguments. Keisler, he said, delivers the argument that the justices will find most attractive. “He knows how to go for a win,” Lazarus said. “He has an instinct for the pragmatic, not the jugular. He pitches things to make them look reasonable. “He’s not a true believer. He’s not a flamethrower. He wants to win the case.”