March 5, 2016

A Harvard Law School committee recommended Friday the institution ditch its official seal, which, as The Harvard Crimson reports, includes the crest of a former slave-owning family.

"There are better ways to engage the past and its legacy in the present than by retaining a symbol that so many members of the community reject," the committee's report reads. "We believe that if the Law School is to have an official symbol, it must more closely represent the values of the Law School, which the current shield does not."

In the fall, the seal contributed to a larger discussion about diversity at the school, which also included activists raising awareness of how minorities are treated. Julie Kliegman

10:41 a.m. ET
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In 1944, with the end of World War II looming, Jewish prisoners in the Lithuanian extermination camp, Ponar, devised a plan. The prisoners were being forced to dig up and burn the bodies of murdered Jews as the Nazis scrambled to hide evidence from the approaching Soviet army. The prisoners knew that once their work was done, they too would be killed. So, using spoons found among the corpses, the prisoners dug a tunnel from their holding pen to the outside. On the last night of Passover, the prisoners slipped into the tunnel to attempt escape.

Of the 80 prisoners in the holding pen, only 12 managed to get away and 11 survived until the end of the war to tell the tale. Since then, their 100-foot tunnel has been lost to history — at least, until now. A team of archaeologists and cartographers believe they have finally found the Ponar tunnel thanks to the use of radio waves at the site, The New York Times reports. The team has also discovered burial pits, including one containing the ashes of an estimated 7,000 people and another containing an estimated 10,000 bodies, using the technology.

"If we had never discovered the tunnel, people would have thought in another 20 years it was a myth, and they would have questioned — What do we really know happened? This is a great story about the way that people overcame the worst possible condition, and still had this hope that they could get out," team leader Richard Freund said.

Read more about the tunnel escape and the history of Ponar in The New York Times. Jeva Lange

10:39 a.m. ET
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Spain just made Scotland's battle to remain in the European Union that much harder. On Wednesday, as Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met with European Parliament chiefs to negotiate her country's membership in the trade bloc, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed to block Scotland's attempts to remain after Britain's vote to exit.

During the second day of an emergency EU summit in Brussels, Rajoy announced that he is "extremely against" the EU accepting Scotland independent of the rest of the U.K., and said that "if the U.K. goes, Scotland goes too." "I want to be very clear," Rajoy said. "Scotland does not have the competence to negotiate with the European Union. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the government of the United Kingdom." Rajoy's sentiments have been echoed by other EU officials who say that Scotland must declare its independence from the U.K. before it can apply to or join the EU.

However, Sturgeon has already said that a declaration of independence from the U.K. is not out of the question. Although Britain elected to exit the EU, Scotland overwhelmingly voted to remain, 62 percent to 38 percent. Becca Stanek

9:55 a.m. ET
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A white-nationalist neo-Nazi group, the Traditionalist Worker Party, has vowed to make an appearance at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland next month to "make sure that the Donald Trump supporters are defended from the leftist thugs," according to spokesman Matt Parrott.

The Traditionalist Worker Party made headlines over the weekend when the group organized a pro-Trump rally in Sacramento, California, that ended in multiple stabbings.

Leftist groups have indeed vowed to protest against Trump at the Cleveland convention, but organizers say they will be peaceful. Furthermore, spokespeople for both the Coalition to Stop Trump and March on the RNC and the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression said the two groups are not concerned about the neo-Nazi presence.

"I'm not surprised they'll be there defending their candidate," Alli McCracken of the anti-war group Code Pink told The Daily Beast. Jeva Lange

9:54 a.m. ET
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Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, accepted two donations totaling $200,000 from Suffolk Construction, a Boston-based firm.

This would be a non-story — except that when it made those contributions, Suffolk was an active federal contractor, with multiple Department of Defense contracts valued at nearly $1 million. It has been illegal for federal contractors to make this sort of political donation for seven decades. "Federal government contractors may not make contributions to influence Federal elections," the Federal Election Commission explains, listing contractor gifts among its prohibited contributions.

The money also violates Priorities USA's own organizational rules, which echo the FEC's regulation.

Research by The Hill indicates that active federal contractors also gave money to PACs supporting the now-defunct presidential campaigns of Republicans Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Bonnie Kristian

9:33 a.m. ET
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Before our robot overlords enslave us, they are at least going to save us some cash on parking tickets. Or, at least, one is.

DoNotPay is a chatbot created by a 19-year-old Stanford University student named Joshua Browder, who calls his creation the "world's first robot lawyer." The artificial intelligence program, which is a free service, talks with users who want to contest parking tickets to determine whether their case stands a chance for appeal. If the facts are right, the robot lawyer guides them through the appeals process. So far, it has helped users appeal some 250,000 tickets, winning the case for 160,000, or almost two-thirds of the time.

Currently, DoNotPay is only available in New York City and London, but it will soon expand to Seattle, and perhaps to other legal services that can be delivered via app. "I think the people getting parking tickets are the most vulnerable in society," Browder said. "These people aren't looking to break the law. I think they're being exploited as a revenue source by the local government." Bonnie Kristian

9:33 a.m. ET
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Writing for The New York Times, Bernie Sanders continued to nudge Hillary Clinton while warning Democrats that a Brexit-like situation would not be impossible in the United States. The Vermont senator weaved in his usual lines about the global 1 percent while leveling colloquially with his readers: "Could this rejection of the current form of the global economy happen in the United States? You bet it could."

Just as opponents claimed that the Brexit was fueled by racist xenophobia, Sanders urged, "We do not need change based on the demagogy, bigotry, and anti-immigrant sentiment that punctuated so much of the Leave campaign's rhetoric — and is central to Donald J. Trump's message."

The notion that Donald Trump could benefit from the same forces that gave the Leave proponents a majority in Britain should sound an alarm for the Democratic Party in the United States. Millions of American voters, like the Leave supporters, are understandably angry and frustrated by the economic forces that are destroying the middle class.

In this pivotal moment, the Democratic Party and a new Democratic president need to make clear that we stand with those who are struggling and who have been left behind. [The New York Times]

Without naming names, Sanders laid out his vision for the future president of the United States: "We need a president who will vigorously support international cooperation that brings the people of the world closer together, reduces hypernationalism, and decreases the possibility of war," he wrote. Read the entire op-ed here. Jeva Lange

9:25 a.m. ET

Hillary Clinton may have a safe lead over Donald Trump across all seven battleground states, but that's certainly not the case with all of her potential Republican competitors. Ballotpedia's battleground poll out Wednesday reveals that Clinton polls a bit behind Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) across all seven states, averaging 40 percent to Kasich's 44 percent. Clinton polls even against House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), with both averaging 42 percent.

However, if the Republican Party does hand Trump the nomination, Ballotpedia indicates that Clinton can likely expect success across the battleground states of Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. On average, Clinton leads Trump 48 percent to 37 percent.

Each battleground poll surveyed about 600 voters in each of the states between June 10-22, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Becca Stanek

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