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February 2019
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Super Bowl LIII - The Numbers

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Kantar Media's preliminary estimate of in-game ad expenditures for Super Bowl LIII, subject to revision, is $382 million. This would be the third largest amount in history, trailing only the 2017 and 2018 games. There was a total of 49 minutes, 45 seconds of national commercial time from paying sponsors, the NFL and CBS-owned networks. […]The post Super Bowl LIII – The Numbers appeared first on Adotas.

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Federal Court Approves Reforms Targeting The Chicago Police Department

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It's not much but it's a start. Chicago's police force has spent several years vying for the title of "Worst PD in America." Between its routine deployment of excessive force to its off-the-books "black site" where arrestees are separated from their humanity and their Constitutional rights, the Chicago PD has been a horrific mess for several years.A federal judge has approved a consent decree that would enact reforms aimed at repairing the trust the PD has damaged for decades.

In a 16-page motion, U.S. District Judge Robert Dow stated that while it’s not perfect, the historic decree is “an important first step toward needed reforms of the Chicago Police Department and its policies.”“As noted above, the Court is under no illusion that this will be an easy process,” Dow wrote. “It took a long time to get to this place, and it may take a long time to get out of it. With that said, there are good reasons to think that the conditions and incentives may be in place to start making progress right away.
The consent decree contains a long list of reforms that cover everything from enhanced use of de-escalation techniques to breaking the PD's unofficial "code of silence." The numerous changes will be overseen by a federal monitor to ensure they're being followed.The consent decree was met with the expected resistance from the Chicago PD and its union. A bit more unexpectedly, the consent decree was met with very vocal opposition from the federal government. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions repeatedly claimed the decree would result in more dead bodies piling up in Chicago, pointing to a single study with questionable findings of increased violent crime following the imposition of consent decrees. Sessions termed this violent crime increase the "ACLU effect," attempting to portray greater respect for communities and their residents' Constitutional rights as the flash point of upticks in criminal activity.The City of Chicago disagreed with Sessions and stated it was uninterested in rolling back the proposed changes. It pointed out the DOJ agreed with the proposed consent decree all the way up until Sessions took office and didn't see any reason to back out of it just because the new AG was more enthralled with locking people up than respecting their rights.Opponents of the consent decree claim the city can't afford to have better cops. In his order [PDF], Judge Dow says this is nonsense.
Other commenters have focused on the financial burden of the decree going forward, as evidenced by the $2.85 million maximum annual budget for the monitoring team. This is a large expenditure of public money by any measure. Yet is is a tiny fraction of what the City has spent paying out judgments and settlements, not to mention lawyers (both outside and inside counsel), for civil rights litigation over the past few decades. See [158] at 9. Indeed, had a monitoring team been billing the City at the rate of $2.85 million per year since 1790, when Jean Baptiste Point du Sable first set up camp at the mouth of the Chicago River, the total bill of $652.65 million would not equal the City’s litigation-related payouts in civil rights actions since 2004.
Will these changes be sustained and result in better policing in Chicago? That's tough to say. The people it affects most (police officers) want it the least and, historically, PD brass has been slow to roll out changes and extremely reluctant to hold officers accountable for violating internal policies, much less federally-ordered consent decrees. This time around, the city will have zero support from the DOJ, which, as a matter of policy under this administration, will not act as an enforcer for federal consent decrees or open investigations of law enforcement agencies found to be perpetually violating the rights of the people they're supposed to be protecting.

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After Plan S, Here's Plan U: Funders Should Require All Research To Be Posted First As A Preprint

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Preprints are emerging as a way to get research out to everyone free of charge, without needing to pay page charges to appear in a traditional open access title. The growing popularity is in part because research shows that published versions of papers in costly academic titles add almost nothing to the freely-available preprints they are based on. Now people are starting to think about ways to put preprints at the heart of academic publishing and research. In the wake of the EU's "Plan S" to make more research available as open access, there is now a proposal for "Plan U":

If all research funders required their grantees to post their manuscripts first on preprint servers -- an approach we refer to as "Plan U" -- the widespread desire to provide immediate free access to the world's scientific output would be achieved with minimal effort and expense. As noted above, mathematicians, physicists and computer scientists have been relying on arXiv as their primary means of communication for decades. The biomedical sciences were slower to adopt preprinting, but bioRxiv is undergoing exponential growth and several million readers access articles on bioRxiv every month. Depositing preprints is thus increasingly common among scientists, and mandating it would simply accelerate adoption of a process many predict will become universal in the near future.There is a precedent for mandating preprint deposition: since 2017, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) has mandated that all grantees deposit preprints prior to or at submission for formal publication. This requirement has been accepted by CZI-funded investigators, many of whom were already routinely depositing manuscripts on bioRxiv.
The proposal goes on to consider some of the practical issues involved, such as how it would fit with peer review, and what the requirements for preprint servers might be, as well as deeper questions about guaranteed long-term preservation strategies -- a crucial issue that is often overlooked. The Plan U proposal concludes:
because it sidesteps the complexities and uncertainties of attempting to manipulate the economics of a $10B/year industry, Plan U could literally be mandated by funders tomorrow with minimal expense, achieving immediate free access to research and the significant benefits to the academic community and public this entails. Funders and other stakeholders could then focus their investment and innovation energies on the critical task of building and supporting robust and effective systems of peer review and research evaluation.
Those are all attractive features of the Plan U idea, although Egon Willighagen has rightly pointed out that using the right license for the preprints is an important issue. At the time of writing, the Plan U Web site is rather minimalist. It currently consists of just one page; there are no links to who wrote the proposal, what future plans might be, or how to get involved. I asked around on Twitter, and it seems that three well-known figures in the open science world -- Michael Eisen, John Inglis, and Richard Sever -- are the people behind this. Eisen has been one of the leading figures in the open access world since its earliest days, while Inglis and Sever are co-founders of the increasingly-popular bioRxiv preprint server, which serves the biology community. That augurs well for the idea, but it would still be good to have the details fleshed out on a more informative Web site -- something that Sever told Techdirt will be coming in due course.Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+

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