The truth about expired food: how best-before dates create a waste mountain

Would you eat a six-month-old yoghurt? This is a question you may have asked if you read the recent story about a US grocer and his year-long experiment eating expired food. …Clearly, this lack of clarity has implications for both the health of the environment and the health of the nation. What you don’t eat, you’ll end up binning, even if you could have safely eaten it; and what you don’t know not to eat could make you sick. A joint report from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School in 2013 said that 40% of American food goes uneaten each year, and the disorienting effect of the US date labelling system is in large part to blame. At the same time, said the report, that system fails to convey important food safety information, “despite the appearance of doing so”.

Boy Scouts Are Just Scouts Now, and That’s Making Girl Scouts Mad

… A week earlier, the Boy Scouts of America—the national organization that oversees various outdoors programs for about 2 million children, including Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venturing—had changed the name of its original, 109-year-old program to Scouts BSA. That made Amalie one of its first girl scouts. Not to be confused, of course, with the Girl Scouts—though Amalie said she’s one of those, too. …And since 1938, when the U.S. Supreme Court told Nabisco and Kellogg Co. that they could both call their cereals “shredded wheat,” U.S. courts have been fairly consistent in allowing competing businesses to share a generic term. And yet, the term Girl Scouts is trademarked. “It’s a complex case,” says Rebecca Tushnet, a Harvard Law School professor who specializes in trademark law. “My prediction is that they’ll probably be able to change to ‘Scouts,’ but the issue will be over whether they have taken reasonable measures to avoid confusion.”

Michelle Melton on Climate Change as a National Security Threat

Since November, Lawfare Contributor Michelle Melton ’19 has run a series on our website about Climate Change and National Security, examining the implication of the threat as well as U.S. and international responses to climate change. Melton is a student a Harvard Law school. Prior to that she was an associate fellow in the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, where she focused on climate policy. She and Benjamin Wittes sat down last week to discuss the series. They talked about why we should think about climate change as a national security threat, the challenges of viewing climate change through this paradigm, the long-standing relationship between climate change and the U.S. national security apparatus, and how climate change may affect global migration.

Is America’s media divide destroying democracy?

Sometimes it seems as if the deepest divide in American politics is not so much between Republicans and Democrats as between voters who watch Fox News, and those who don’t.  …What do the courses run by these stories say about the structure of American media today? What they illustrate is that there is not one media ecosystem, but two separate spheres that respond to different incentives and operate in very different manners, says Yochai Benkler, a professor at Harvard Law School and co-author of “Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization of American Politics.” One of these spheres is comprised of right-leaning media, from Fox News to Breitbart and talk radio hosts such as Mr. Limbaugh. The other is a center-left composite of everything else, from the legacy newscasts of the old broadcast networks to most daily newspapers and new liberal internet sites. To find out how news moves through these spheres, Professor Benkler and his co-authors used data analysis tools to study hyperlink connections, Facebook shares, and other marking aspects of some 4 million stories from the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the first year of the Trump presidency. Their study showed that right-leaning audiences concentrated to a large extent on right-leaning outlets insulated from the rest of the media. Center and left-leaning audiences spread their attention more broadly and focused in particular on what is often labeled the MSM.

New York and Religious Law Agree on Vaccinations

An op-ed by Noah FeldmanA group of parents filed suit Monday against the New York City Department of Health to block an emergency order requiring measles vaccinations for everyone in four ZIP codes in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn. The threat of measles — and the opposition to vaccination — isn’t coming from the hipsters who populate some parts of the neighborhood. The target is a community of mostly Hasidic, haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, who have refused vaccination for quasi-religious reasons and who are now caught in the middle of a measles outbreak that city health officials fear could spread fast and dangerously. One yeshiva’s preschool program has already been closed as a health hazard. Forced vaccination is a classic instance of a situation where the courts have to balance individual liberties against the public interest. The U.S. Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on the topic goes all the way back to 1904. Under existing law, there is strong reason to think the city will win and will be able to fine refusers $1,000 in an effort to compel vaccination.

The fight’s not over yet on state nuclear credits

The Supreme Court yesterday rejected challenges that aimed to dismantle nuclear subsidies in Illinois and New York. By declining a pair of challenges filed by the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA), the justices preserved two appellate court rulings upholding the states’ zero-emission credit (ZEC) policies. Other states with an interest in developing their own incentive programs now have a legally tested blueprint for doing so, legal experts said yesterday. “EPSA asked the Court to expand preemption under the Federal Power Act, a move that might have threatened state renewable energy programs and could have jumpstarted a wave of litigation,” Ari Peskoe, director of Harvard Law School’s Electricity Law Initiative, wrote after the Supreme Court’s order denying review. “Today’s denials underscore that states have broad legal authority to enact programs that pay clean energy generators for their production of zero-emission energy.”

Ted Cruz Could Use a Refresher Class on the First Amendment

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein: Has Yale Law School violated the U.S. Constitution? Has it offended the First Amendment? To respond to those questions, you don’t even need to know what Yale is accused of doing. The answers are No and No. Yet, in a highly publicized letter to Dean Heather Gerken, Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas accused the law school of adopting a new policy that discriminates against Christian organizations on the basis of religion – and is therefore unconstitutional. Cruz means business. He announced that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, which he chairs, is initiating a formal investigation, and warned that as a result of the inquiry, the case might be referred to the Justice Department. He directed Gerken to preserve and maintain all relevant records, with a view toward the investigation and future litigation.

Trump’s lawyers tease possibility of legal action if accounting firm gives up financials to Congress

President Donald Trump’s attorneys have reportedly warned an accounting firm not to consent to a subpoena directing it to turn over the president’s financial information to the House Oversight Committee. …”It appears that Donald Trump made a practice of wildly exaggerating his wealth and the supposed business acumen that enabled him to amass it,” Laurence H. Tribe, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard, told Salon last month. He added, “Although there are no legal and especially criminal consequences to that kind of exaggeration on reality television or in talking to journalists at places like Forbes in order to cheat one’s way onto various lists of the wealthiest people around, there are very serious criminal consequences indeed when such lies, in the form of fraudulent financial statements, are used either to extract loans from banks or to obtain insurance on favorable terms from various insurance companies.”

Pete Buttigieg draws Barack Obama comparison and support of President’s former adviser amid 2020 surge

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg officially launched his 2020 presidential campaign on Sunday and immediately drew comparisons to a young Barack Obama. “The announcement of Pete Buttigieg was the most inspiring I’ve seen since Barack Obama’s,” wrote Laurence Tribe, a Harvard Law professor and judicial adviser to Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. “His is a campaign not just for an office but for an era.”

Patient advocates and scientists launch push to lift ban on ‘three-parent IVF’

Last week, a Greek woman with a history of multiple in-vitro fertilization failures gave birth to a healthy baby with DNA from three biological parents. It was the first successful birth in a clinical trial of a controversial fertility treatment known as mitochondrial replacement therapy, which combines genetic material from the intended mother and father plus a female donor. In the U.S., the procedure is effectively banned because of a congressional amendment passed in 2015 that’s been renewed every year since. But now, a group of scientists, patient advocates, and bioethicists want to see the prohibition lifted. The technique, they say, could help certain women who are carriers of serious genetic diseases have healthy, biologically related children. In the first of a series of meetings meant to draft policy recommendations to Congress, stakeholders will meet Wednesday at Harvard Law School to discuss how to move forward in the U.S. I. Glenn Cohen, one of the organizers of the event and faculty director of the school’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology and Bioethics, said a public discussion is needed in the wake of revelations late last year that a scientist in China used the gene editing tool CRISPR to modify twin girls as embryos.