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.”

Are you more likely to die in your sleep if you eat cheese? Graph website shows incredible coincidences

Unusual patterns have been revealed by a science website that compares graphs – and its figures will confuse and amaze you. The site was created by Tyler Vigen [`16], a scientist who is studying at Harvard Law School in the US. He brought together graphs from around the world and compiled the ones with similar trends together, sparking some worrying conclusions. One graph suggests the amount of films Nicolas Cage appears in, has a direct correlation with the number of people who drowned by falling into a swimming pool. Both figures dipped in 2003 before spiking in 2007, falling again and then rising from 2009. Another strange trend is the Age of Miss America appears to correlate with the amount of murders by steam, hot vapours and hot objects.

Where Majority Doesn’t Rule

At some companies, shareholders lose even when they win. Vornado Realty Trustis a case in point. At every annual meeting since 2007, investors have approved a resolution asking the company to require that the board win a majority of the vote to get re-elected. For the past four years, shareholders in the U.S. real-estate investment trust also have backed a measure asking that each board member be required to stand for election every year. Vornado has refused to implement either proposal…Majority-vote requirements are now common, and the Shareholder Rights Project run by Harvard law professor Lucian Bebchuk has helped get 121 companies to commit to annual elections since 2011.

The Lawyer Behind the Drone Policy

When the White House nominated David Barron to be a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, based in Boston, it expected the usual Republican opposition. Mr. Barron, a Harvard law professor, is known as a liberal who was pointedly critical of President George W. Bush’s national security policy. What it didn’t expect — but should have — was that Democrats would have some problems with the nominee, too. Mr. Barron served as a top official in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Obama, and he wrote several memos justifying the use of drones to kill an American citizen affiliated with Al Qaeda. The citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, died in a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Reinventing the internet: A political protocol to protect the internet, and where to find it

When Turkey’s dictator blocked Twitter and YouTube earlier this year, many citizens quickly found other ways to access the sites, proving further support for the adage that “the net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it.” The saying, and the tools that make such rerouting possible, are a testament to the flexible technical protocols that make the internet so accessible to so many people. Yet the ability of Turkish citizens to see blocked websites is also a triumph for the internet’s political protocols, which time and again lead unaffiliated people to unite in an effort to overcome censorship…The most level-headed response to the outcry came from Jonathan Zittrain, a computer science and law professor at Harvard, who pointed out that it would be hard for the U.N. or anyone else to exert control over the internet for the simple reason that it’s not really something that can be owned in the first place.

Carmen Ortiz in the Spotlight, Under Fire

As Massachusetts’ first female and first Hispanic U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz was widely considered a potential rising star in Democratic Party politics. But over the past three years she has had her hands full with controversial cases that have left whatever political plans she may have had in a state of uncertainty…That same year — 2011 — Ortiz’s office pursued federal charges on behalf of MIT against a talented computer programmer named Aaron Swartz…“If Aaron had been Goldman Sachs than it would have been handled in a much different way,” said Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, Swartz’s friend and mentor.