March 2021 Archives

Georgia Senate Bill 202

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"R. Hubbell" <rhubbell@outlook.com>

Today's Edition (Vol. 2, No. 50) Holding Georgia Republicans Accountable


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The text of the bill is here if you want to fact check me (or others): Senate Bill 202 (as passed). The text of the bill proved difficult to find--because it was passed with haste and stealth. For a bill that Governor Kemp is proclaiming as a major expansion of voter rights, it was sprung on Democrats as a surprise. A two-page Senate bill was amended to a 98-page bill one hour before the committee hearing on the bill. It is barely possible to read the bill in an hour, much less comment on it during a legislative hearing. See Georgia Public Broadcasting "Georgia House Committee Hears Newer, Bigger Voting Omnibus You Haven't Seen Yet." If the bill improves voter access and election integrity, why did Republicans keep it a secret until the last minute (literally)? Legislation by ambush suggests a nefarious purpose.

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Howard Greenwald, a trial attorney with Chopra & Nocerino, told Justice Lawrence Knipel, administrative judge for civil matters in Kings County, that he had begun to participate in proceedings wearing a face shield but was told he had to wear a mask, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

"I complied with that," Greenwald said. "I attempted to do this for a couple of minutes. I had particular difficulty. Just talking to Your Honor right now with the mask, my nose fills. I can't breathe."

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Election lawyer Marc Elias, in association with Democracy DocketBlack votes matter,  The New Georgia Project, and Rise, Inc. has filed a complaint to enjoin enforcement of the new legislation. The complaint is here: "New Georgia Project v Raffensperger."

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How to blur your background in a Zoom call - TechRepublic

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Let's say you have a Zoom meeting, but your normal work-from-home space is occupied, or worse, a mess. You have no time to clean it up, or find a neutral, privacy-maintaining space to set up, and panic sets in. Don't worry--you have options built right into Zoom to hide the space behind you: background blurring. 

This easily toggleable option can keep your space private, or render messy rooms indeterminably fuzzy, and it's available in Zoom right now.

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How Beeple Crashed the Art World | The New Yorker

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An N.F.T., or "non-fungible token," of the digital artist's work sold for sixty-nine million dollars in a Christie's auction. It's good news for crypto-optimists, but what about for art?

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The popularity of his Beeple Instagram account gave the digital artist Mike Winkelmann the idea that he could make a fortune with N.F.T.s

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What's an NFT? Behind the boom for digital collectibles--NBC NEWS

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By Ahiza GarcĂ­a-Hodges and Diana Dasrath

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Think of an NFT as a certificate of authenticity. But instead of a sheet of paper, it's a unique string of characters. For example, the NFT for this piece of digital artwork created by actress Lindsay Lohan is 0x60f80121c31a0d46b5279700f9df786054aa5ee5. 

That string is connected to a blockchain, the same concept that powers cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The main difference is that bitcoins are fungible, which means they are essentially the same. NFTs are non-fungible -- each one is unique. 

Blockchains work by using groups of computers to create a shared digital ledger that no one computer can change. Instead, they must agree by performing complex calculations -- a system that yields a secure and unchangeable document. 

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NOTICE OF CREDIT CARD SERVICE FEE: NYS Unified Court System

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Commencing April 1, 2021, and due to continuing budgetary concerns, the Unified Court System will no longer pay the service fee for credit card transactions initiated by court users. Consequently, a service fee of 2.99% of the payment amount will be assessed on all credit card payments. Payments may continue to be made by cash or by a cashier/certified check without imposition of a service fee.

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Virtual Proceedings - Appropriate Decorum

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Two top state court officials have issued a memorandum emphasizing appropriate decorum and etiquette for all virtual court proceedings.

 

The memorandum was sent to all administrative judges statewide by Hon. Vito C. Caruso, deputy chief administrative judge for the courts outside New York City, and Hon. George J. Silver, deputy chief administrative judge for the New York City Courts.


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All court proceeding participants shall recognize that this is a formal appearance and should ensure the following:

Dress in appropriate attire, as if you were appearing in-person in court Display an appropriate and professional background
No consumption offood or drink during the proceeding
Remain professional and dignified

As in ln-Person proceedings, only one person should be speaking at time

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First law firm owned entirely by nonlawyers opens in Utah--ABA Journal

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BY DEBRA CASSENS WEISS

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Law on Call--touted as the first entirely nonlawyer owned law firm in the United States--is open for business in Utah.

Law on Call is operating as a result of legal reforms approved by the Utah Supreme Court in August 2020, according to a March 15 press release.

The two-year pilot project allows law firms with nonlawyer owners and nontraditional legal service providers to operate in a "regulatory sandbox" in the state.

Law.com and Reuters Legal have coverage.

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By Tia Sewell

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On Mar. 17, 2021, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) released the U.S. intelligence community's unclassified assessment of domestic violent extremism in the United States. The four-page document states that "domestic violent extremists (DVEs) who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat" to homeland security this year. It cites unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 election, the Jan. 6 Capitol breach, pandemic-related conditions and conspiracy theories as sociopolitical developments that could embolden or spur violence in 2021. 

The report details that "lone offenders or small cells of DVEs adhering to a diverse set of violent extremist ideologies are more likely to carry out violent attacks in the Homeland than organizations that allegedly advocate a DVE ideology" as such attackers are often radicalized online and mobilize without direction--a dynamic that makes it more difficult for U.S. officials to detect and thwart the planned violence, according to the document. 

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You can read the threat assessment here.

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By Kevin LiptakKatie LoboscoJeanne Sahadi and Tami Luhby, CNN

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(CNN)The Internal Revenue Service plans to delay this year's tax filing deadline by roughly a month, to mid-May, according to an official familiar with the plans.

The official said the decision was made in order to allow filers more time to navigate tax situations complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

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Apple Maps now displays COVID-19 vaccination locations - Apple

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Ask Siri or search within Apple Maps to find nearby COVID-19 vaccine providers throughout the US, with operating hours and links to important information

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Deciding When to Reopen Your Law Office - Blumberg Blog

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BY MICHAEL L. GOLDBLATT

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Several large firms recently announced plans to reopen their offices due to increasing vaccinations and decreasing infection rates. A widespread return to offices probably will not occur until September 2021 when enough people have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Meantime, the following are things to consider when selecting a date for reopening your office....
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The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct permit virtual practice, which is technologically enabled law practice beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar law firm.When practicing virtually, lawyers must particularly consider ethical duties regarding competence, diligence, and communication, especially when using technology. In compliance with the duty of confidentiality, lawyers must make reasonable efforts to prevent inadvertent or unauthorized disclosures of information relating to the representation and take reasonable precautions when transmitting such information. Additionally, the duty of supervision requires that lawyers make reasonable efforts to ensure compliance by subordinate lawyers and nonlawyer assistants with the Rules of Professional Conduct, specifically regarding virtual practice policies.

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The ABA Model Rules of Professional Conduct permit lawyers to conduct practice virtually, but those doing so must fully consider and comply with their applicable ethical responsibilities, including technological competence, diligence, communication, confidentiality, and supervision.

Chinese Hacking Spree Hit an 'Astronomical' Number of Victims | WIRED

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A single group appears to have infiltrated tens of thousands of Microsoft Exchange servers in an ongoing onslaught.

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WHEN NEWS HIT earlier this week that Chinese hackers were  actively targeting Microsoft Exchange servers, the cybersecurity community warned that the zero-day vulnerabilities they were exploiting might have allowed them to hit countless organizations around the world. Now it's becoming clear just many email servers they hacked. By all appearances, the group known as Hafnium breached as many victims they could find across the global internet, leaving behind backdoors to return to later.

Hafnium has now exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in Microsoft's Exchange servers' Outlook Web Access to indiscriminately compromise no fewer than tens of thousands of email servers, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation into the hacking campaign who spoke to WIRED. The intrusions, first spotted by security firm Volexity, began as early as January 6, with a noticeable uptick starting last Friday and spiking early this week. The hackers appear to have responded to Microsoft's patch, released Tuesday, by ramping up and automating their hacking campaign. One security researcher involved in the investigation who spoke to WIRED on the condition of anonymity put the number of hacked Exchange servers at more than 30,000 in the US alone, and hundreds of thousands worldwide, all apparently by the same group. Independent cybersecurity journalist Brian Krebs first reported that 30,000 figure Friday, citing sources who had briefed national security officials.


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New York (CNN Business)A Des Moines Register reporter whose trial was the subject of outrage among press freedom advocates was acquitted Wednesday on all charges stemming from her arrest while covering a Black Lives Matter protest last summer. 

After a three-day trial, a jury took only two hours to find the reporter, Andrea May Sahouri, was not guilty on charges of failure to disperse and interference with official acts. Spenser Robnett, Sahouri's then-boyfriend, was also acquitted on the same charges. 
Police claimed that Sahouri ignored orders and failed to leave the site of a Black Lives Matter protests in Des Moines on May 31, 2020. 
    Shortly after the verdict, Sahouri tweeted the word "Acquitted" with two photos taken of her during the arrest.
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    By Kevin Collier

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    A week after Microsoft announced that its widely used email server program had been hacked, experts are not encouraged by what they have found.

    "In short, it's gotten really messy," said Katie Nickels, the director of intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Red Canary. "We are seeing no signs of this slowing down."

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    CISA urges ALL organizations across ALL sectors to follow guidance to address the widespread domestic and international exploitation of Microsoft Exchange Server product vulnerabilities; see CISA's newly released web page for details. go.usa.gov/xsmzH. #Cyber #InfoSec

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    Prosecutors in Iowa began their case Monday against a Des Moines Register reporter arrested during racial justice protests last summer, in a rare trial of a U.S. journalist charged with a crime while reporting.

    Andrea Sahouri, a public safety reporter for the Register, had been covering protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd on May 31 last year, when police pepper-sprayed and arrested her and her then-boyfriend, Spenser Robnett. They were charged with failure to disperse and interference with official acts, misdemeanors that could lead to 30 days in jail.

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    Recovery Rebate Credit | Internal Revenue Service

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    Do you have clients who did not receive an Economic Impact Payment or received less than the full amount? If so, they may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit. Individuals who were eligible but did not receive the first or second Economic Impact Payment, or received less than the full amounts, may be eligible to claim the Recovery Rebate Credit and must file a 2020 federal tax return, even if they do not usually file a tax return.

    For more information about the Recovery Rebate Credit, see Frequently Asked Questions at IRS.gov.


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    Disciplinary records for more than 83,000 active and retired cops were posted online by the Civilian Complaint Review Board Thursday -- with thousands more set to be made public soon by the NYPD.

    The records, going back to Jan. 1, 2000, have long been shrouded in of secrecy, which critics say provided cover for misbehaving cops and department brass who too often looked the other way or let them off with a slap on the wrist.

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    https://www1.nyc.gov/site/ccrb/policy/MOS-records.page


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    Smoke Tests Protect Courtroom Air From COVID-19 | United States Courts

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    A new U.S. Courts video highlights a simple technique used to protect court users: a smoke test, which makes air currents inside buildings visible. The tests have helped federal courts in New York, the District of Columbia, and Maryland to ensure that employees and the public do not inadvertently inhale air exhaled by someone nearby.

    Dr. Rainald Lohner, a professor of fluid dynamics at George Mason University, demonstrates the technique in the video, saying the smoke trails make clear how to keep court users appropriately separated. In-court proceedings were scaled back dramatically because of the pandemic, but courts are beginning to expand courthouse activity, such as jury trials.

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    https://youtu.be/xLhyA9vRC0U

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