Working outside the peace process

The peace process, at least for now, is over. Fatah and Hamas announced a reconciliation agreement, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority Prime Mahmoud Abbas of colluding with a terrorist organization and negotiations were cut off. Hamas reiterated its commitment to the tactics of terror, and nobody thinks official negotiations will restart anytime soon. Unofficial negotiations are all set to go ahead next month…The negotiations will be mediated by Harvard University’s Program on Negotiation chairman Prof. Robert H. Mnookin, an expert on negotiations and conflict resolution.

It’s Judgment Day for Killer Robots at the United Nations

Has the age of the Robocop and Terminator arrived? The U.N. thinks it might be around the corner. On Tuesday, the world body holds its first-ever multinational convention on “lethal autonomous weapons systems.”…Ahead of the UN meeting, Human Rights Watch on Monday released a report saying that in the not-too-distant future, fully autonomous weapons—killer robots—could be used by law enforcement agencies and thus trigger questions about international human rights law. The report, co-published by HRW and Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic, finds that “fully autonomous weapons threaten to violate the foundational rights to life and…undermine the underlying principle of human dignity.”

See some hilarious charts showing that correlation is not causation

The most powerful weapon that debaters wield against the unwary is causation: marijuana use leads to heroin addiction, pornography to rape, video games to mass murder, high consumption of margarine to divorces in Maine…Whoops. The first three of these are common juxtapositions of parallel trend lines, and the fourth is from the website Spurious Correlations, the work of a Harvard Law School student named Tyler Vigen [`16].

How divorce rates are linked to consumption of margarine

In the statistics field, it is said that correlation does not imply causation – just because two variables are related, it does not mean that one causes the other. To prove this, a new website – Spurious Correlations – is posting daily graphs showing the surprising relationships between pairs of random statistics. Some are extremely unusual – Nicolas Cage films v female Harvard Law Review editors – while others are altogether unexpected, such as the inverse relation between the divorce rate and number of lawyers in Virginia. The website was created by Tyler Vigen [`16], a student at Harvard Law School, using statistics from the US Census and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The site also has a generator so that users can create new spurious correlations by viewing two randomly related variables.

Obama administration limits on soot pollution upheld by appeals court

The Obama administration on Friday scored its third major legal victory on air pollution in less than month when a federal appeals court rejected an industry challenge to its latest health standards for fine particulate matter, or soot. The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was within its discretion in 2012 when it tightened limits on lung-damaging soot…“The three rulings together create quite the trifecta by significantly furthering the administration’s agenda on addressing climate change through the existing Clean Air Act,” said Richard Lazarus, an environmental law professor at Harvard Law School.

10 Things CEOs won’t tell you

… 4. I’ll cash out at the first opportunity. Since the accounting scandals of the early 2000s, corporate reformers have argued that CEOs should be required to own company stock and to keep it throughout their tenure — ensuring that the CEO’s financial interests are aligned with those of the company’s shareholders. But although 95% of the top 250 U.S. public firms have adopted these policies, they’ve been “extremely ineffectual” in requiring CEOs to hold onto their own firm’s stock, according to a paper accepted for publication in the Indiana Law Journal by Nitzan Shilon [SJD `14], a research fellow at Harvard Law School…
8. Activist shareholders pull my strings. CEOs at publicly traded companies are supposed to listen to their shareholders — but some investors speak louder than others. Recent years have brought a spike in “activist” investing by hedge-fund managers and other big-money players whose modus operandi is to buy a large share of a company, and then demand changes in strategy and management. “Acting in the shadow of shareholder activism, companies are also reviewing their boards and removing people who aren’t equipped to be there,” says Jesse Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School who studies executive compensation and corporate governance. In theory, this helps companies make better decisions, he adds.

Liberal groups urge Senate to block Obama judicial nominees

The Obama administration is facing a liberal revolt in the Senate over two high-priority judicial nominations, potentially jeopardizing its push to shape the federal judiciary in advance of the midterm congressional election…As that fight plays out, prominent senators from both parties, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, are trying to block, or at least delay, a planned vote on Harvard law professor David Barron, whom Obama has nominated to be a judge on the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears cases from New England. As a Justice Department lawyer, Barron wrote at least one memo that provided the legal justification for the targeted killing of Anwar Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who was slain by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011. The fight over Barron has made complicated alliances. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Democratic Sens. Mark Udall of Colorado and Ron Wyden of Oregon have joined the ACLU in saying all of Barron’s memos on drones must be made public or at least made available to senators before any vote.

Lawrence Lessig on his “Super PAC to End All Super PACs” (audio)

“This is the politics of resignation.” That’s how Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessigdescribes the American people’s attitude toward the influence of money in politics. They don’t like it. But they don’t think anything can be done to change it.
In his recent book, “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress — and a Plan to Stop It” Lessig outlined his plan for wrenching control of the political system out of the hands of wealthy interest groups. He called for overhauling government by putting a critical mass of reform-minded politicians in office. But the question is how to get those people elected.

Ban killer Robocops before it’s too late, rights groups say

…Governments must impose a preemptive ban on fully autonomous weapons before it’s too late, even though they don’t yet exist, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Harvard Law School said in a report released Monday…“We found these weapons could violate the most basic human rights—the right to life, the right to a remedy and the principle of dignity,” HRW researcher and Harvard Law School lecturer Bonnie Docherty wrote in an email. “These rights are the basis for all others.”