Texas fight could ripple across U.S. grid

The future of the U.S. power grid may ride in part on an obscure tussle over transmission in the Lone Star State. Front and center is a new law in Texas — enacted as S.B. 1938 — that gives incumbent utilities first dibs on building new transmission lines. Critics say the measure effectively cuts out new entrants, clashes with the state’s history of competition and could raise the costs of transmission projects that factor into consumers’ power bills. Proponents counter that the language preserves Texas’ approach to electricity and should help ensure reliability and affordability…”As competitive transmission expands, it’s certainly plausible that other utilities will go to their state legislatures and ask for this kind of protection,” said Ari Peskoe, director of Harvard Law School’s Electricity Law Initiative

T-Mobile Says That Getting Sued for Selling Users’ Location Data Violates Its Terms of Service

T-Mobile screwed over millions of customers when it collected their geolocation data and sold it to third parties without their consent. Now, two of these customers are trying to pursue a class-action lawsuit against the company for the shady practice, but the telecom giant is using another shady practice to force them to settle their dispute behind closed doors…T-Mobile, as well as other massive corporations, can lean on this mechanism to legally prevent individuals from both grouping together under a common mission as well as shield disputes from the public—just as Amazon has done with its terms of service, for example. “A lot of wrongdoing and harmful practices get protected or suppressed as a result of that,” Deepak Gupta, an attorney teaching a forced arbitration seminar at Harvard Law School, told Gizmodo in May.

Apollo 11: In the words of Archibald MacLeish LL.B. 1919

When Apollo 8 Commander Frank Borman returned from the first voyage that orbited the moon, he addressed Congress to talk about the feat. Except he didn’t have the words to describe it in the way he wished he could, calling himself an “unlikely poet, or no poet at all.” So the astronaut instead recited the words of a poet to express the awe he felt looking down upon the planet we all call home: “To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue and beautiful in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see ourselves as riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold—brothers who know now they are truly brothers.”  Those words were by Archibald MacLeish LL.B. 1919, a three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, playwright and lawyer who a half century ago served as a literary interpreter of events beyond the imagination of most observers…On the…[day after the Apollo 11 landing], the [New York] Times presented the biggest headline in its history on its front page, which included two bylines. One was of a science reporter who wrote the news story. The other: Archibald MacLeish. As former Times editor A. M. Rosenthal later revealed: “What the poet wrote would count most, but we also wanted to say to our readers, look, this paper does not know how to express how it feels this day and perhaps you don’t either, so here is a fellow, a poet, who will try for all of us.”

Mike Pompeo’s new panel on human rights is unnecessary and maybe dangerous

Champions of human rights around the world are reacting with understandable suspicion to Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo’s announcement that he is creating a “Commission on Unalienable Rights” that will “ground our discussion of human rights in America’s founding principles.” Pompeo said the commission — which will be headed by Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican during the George W. Bush administration — wouldn’t opine on policy.

Boston professors criticize Globe over Rollins

A letter to the editor by 19 Boston area faculty members, including Laurence Tribe, Dehlia Umunna, and David Harris.  WE ARE 19 FACULTY MEMBERS at universities across the Boston area, including Boston College, Boston University, Harvard University, and Northeastern University. We wish to respond to The Boston Globe’s recent article, “Stopping injustice or putting the public at risk? Suffolk DA Rachael Rollins’s tactics spur pushback,” which contained reporting that appears to us to be, at best, seriously misleading.

Going West: Palo Alto event showcases Harvard tech startup scene

“Bear with me,” Jonathan Zittrain urged the audience as his talk — up to this point, a romp through the early history of the internet — lurched into Kantian philosophy: “I’m about to get all ‘East Coast’ on you.” Zittrain, faculty director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, was in Palo Alto, Calif., delivering an energetic presentation on the ethical responsibilities of tech companies toward consumers in the era of artificial intelligence. About the shift of technology environments from unowned to owned and tightly controlled, he asked, “When is it that ‘can’ implies ‘ought’?” His provocative keynote was the culmination of a Harvard Tech Startup Night hosted by Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) and the law firm WilmerHale at its Palo Alto offices.

Pompeo Creates Commission on Human Rights

The State Department established a new group to examine and define human rights, drawing skepticism from critics who worried the Trump administration was furthering its conservative political agenda. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the Commission on Unalienable Rights will conduct “an informed review of the role of human rights in American foreign policy” and provide him with “advice on human rights grounded in our nation’s founding principles and the principles of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”…The new commission will be headed by human rights scholar Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. Ms. Glendon said the commission will begin its work at a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many, and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”

Trump administration reviews human rights’ role in US policy

The Trump administration said Monday that it will review the role of human rights in American foreign policy, appointing a commission expected to elevate concerns about religious freedom and abortion. Human rights groups accused the administration of politicizing foreign policy in a way that could undermine protections for marginalized populations, including the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Democratic senators have raised concerns about the panel’s intent and composition, fearing it would consist of members who “hold views hostile to women’s rights” and blow away existing standards and definitions…The commission will be chaired by Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, a former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. A conservative scholar and author, Glendon turned down an honor from Notre Dame the year President Barack Obama gave a commencement address there, protesting the school’s decision to recognize him in spite of his support for abortion rights…Glendon, who joined Pompeo at the State Department for the announcement, said she was honored to do the job at a time when “basic human rights are being misunderstood by many, manipulated by many and ignored by the world’s worst human rights violators.”

Index-Fund Firms Gain Power, but Fall Short in Stewardship, Research Shows

The three largest index-fund managers have grown so big that they ultimately could hamper the performance of public companies and the economy, according to research from corporate-governance scholars. The researchers—Lucian Bebchuk, professor of law, economics and finance at Harvard Law School, and Scott Hirst, a law professor at Boston University School of Law—recently published two papers that raise issues for investors…“We show and document that the Big Three have incentives to underinvest in stewardship and to be excessively deferential to the corporate managers of portfolio companies,” says Prof. Bebchuk. “Given this analysis and empirical evidence, we worry that the increased concentration of shares in the hands of institutional investors will not produce the improved oversight of public companies that would be beneficial for public companies and the economy,” he says.

Trump touts environmental record despite slashing climate regulations

Donald Trump is arguing he has made America an environmental leader, despite moving to gut dozens of rules meant to safeguard clean air and water and rescinding every major US effort to stem the climate crisis…Joe Goffman, a senior lawyer at the Environmental Protection Agency under Barack Obama, said Trump has been stalling environmental efforts since he signed an early executive order, in March 2017, to unwind Obama policies. “From his very first weeks in office the president has made it a priority to go backwards in terms of air quality and climate protections,” Goffman said.