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Category Archives: Congress

Amazon blocks 10 billion—yes, billion—listings in massive counterfeit crackdown

AP via Fortune“Amazon, which has been under pressure from shoppers, brands and lawmakers to crack down on counterfeits on its site, said [in its 2020 Brand Protection Report] Monday that it blocked more than 10 billion suspected phony listings last year before any of their offerings could be sold. The numbers were released in Amazon’s first report on its anti-counterfeiting efforts since it announced new tools and technologies in 2019. The number of blocked phony listings last year was up about 67% from the year before. The Seattle-based e-commerce behemoth said the number of counterfeiters attempting to sell on the site rose as scammers tried to take advantage of shoppers who were buying more online during the pandemic. Amazon has been wrestling with counterfeits for years. But since 2019, it has warned investors in government filings that the sale of phony goods poses a risk to the company and its image. Brands may not want to sell their items on the site if they know there are fake versions being offered. And knock-offs could cause shoppers to lose their trust in Amazon. Counterfeiters try to get their products on Amazon through its third-party marketplace, where sellers can list their items directly on the site. The company destroyed 2 million counterfeit products sent to its warehouses last year before they could be sold. And it said fewer than 0.01% of all items bought on the site received counterfeit complaints from shoppers…”

Deep Fakes and National Security

CRS In Focus – Updated May 7, 2021 Deep Fakesand National Security – “Deep fakes”—a term that first emerged in 2017 to describe realistic photo, audio, video, and other forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) technologies—could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come. As these technologies continue to mature, they… Continue Reading

Science and Technology Issues in the 117th Congress

CRS Report – Science and Technology Issues in the 117th Congress. May 5, 2021: “The federal government supports scientific and technological advancement directly by funding and performing research and development, and indirectly by creating and maintaining policies that encourage private sector efforts. Additionally, the federal government regulates many aspects of S&T activities. This report briefly… Continue Reading

Assessing the social and emotional costs of mass shootings with Twitter data

Brookings Blog – Assessing the social and emotional costs of mass shootings with Twitter data, Mary Blankenship and Carol Graham. May 5, 2021. “Mass shootings that result in mass casualties are almost a weekly occasion in the United States, which—not coincidentally—also has the most guns per capita in the world. Viewed from outside the U.S.,… Continue Reading

AI.gov, home of the National AI Initiative

“Welcome to AI.gov, home of the National AI Initiative and connection point to ongoing activities to advance U.S. leadership in AI. The National AI Initiative Act of 2020 became law on January 1, 2021, providing for a coordinated program across the entire Federal government to accelerate AI research and application for the Nation’s economic prosperity… Continue Reading

New citation tool for Congress.gov users

In Custodia Legis – “Last month, Robert publicized the addition of historic materials to Congress.gov, including the bound Congressional Record going back to 1951 and the Statutes at Large back to 1973. This month, we are very happy to be introducing a citation tool for Congress.gov users. Over the years, many of our patrons have… Continue Reading

Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy: In Brief

CRS – Afghanistan: Background and U.S. Policy:In Brief Updated March 25, 2021: “Afghanistan emerged as a significant U.S. foreign policy concern in 2001, when the United States, in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, led a military campaign against Al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban government that harbored and supported it. In… Continue Reading

Two Memos With Enormous Constitutional Consequences

The Atlantic – “What’s astonishing is that presidential criminal immunity has no grounding in actual law. It’s not in the Constitution or any federal statute, regulation, or judicial decision. It is not law at all.” “One conclusion is apparent following Donald Trump’s four years in office: A sitting president is perhaps the only American who… Continue Reading

What’s Breaking Through? Congressional Reactions, Prioritization, and Digital Amplification

Precision: Ever wonder whether bipartisan agreement is gone forever? Or, whether it’s possible for progressives, conservatives, and those in the middle to find common ground on critical issues? Us too. That’s why we’re diving deep to look at what’s breaking through among three core groups of Senators and Representatives that carry weight across both chambers… Continue Reading

Report – Biden staffing makes history

Axios: “President Biden put his Cabinet in place faster than any other administration since President Reagan, the White House Office of Presidential Personnel says in a report provided first to Axios. By the numbers: Biden has announced his intent to nominate 233 people for Senate-confirmed jobs — more nominees than any past administration at the… Continue Reading

Tax Evasion at the Top of the Income Distribution – Theory and Evidence

NBER Paper – “This paper studies tax evasion at the top of the U.S. income distribution using IRS micro-data from (i) random audits, (ii) targeted enforcement activities, and (iii) operational audits. Drawing on this unique combination of data, we demonstrate empirically that random audits underestimate tax evasion at the top of the income distribution. Specifically,… Continue Reading