July 16, 2019

Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Spotify Settles Copyright Suits Brought by Songwriters

In 2017, streaming giant Spotify was sued for copyright infringement. The suits were brought against Spotify separately by Bob Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Nashville-based publisher Bluewater Music Services Corporation. The suits claimed that Spotify had failed to obtain licenses to stream works from the plaintiffs' catalogs; Gaudio's suit alleged that the streaming service wrongfully used 106 of his songs. The case was settled recently for an undisclosed amount. The settlement came just as the House Judiciary Committee was preparing to hold a hearing on oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office and updates came as to the development of the formation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective before a July 8th deadline. Among the big topics is the true amount of money in unmatched royalties held by on-demand digital services, like Spotify and Apple Music.


Federal Prosecutors File New Charges Against R. Kelly

R. Kelly, already under indictment in Chicago on state charges of aggravated sexual assault and abuse, was arrested by federal agents on charges related to child pornography and other federal crimes. Kelly was taken into custody over a 13-count indictment that includes enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice, in addition to the child pornography charges, said Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn also unveiled a separate indictment charging
Kelly with one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.


R. Kelly Gave "Hush Money" to Teen in Sex Tape

A new indictment accuses R. Kelly of bribing the family of the girl at the center of a 2000 case so she would not testify. Kelly was under investigation in late 2000 for making a videotape that purported to show him having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl. To prevent her from testifying, Kelly and his associates allegedly gave the girl and her family gifts and money over more than a dozen years. The gifts ranged from payments of thousands of dollars, a car given to the girl, and ,a trip abroad to make them unavailable to law enforcement but were attached to instructions that they lie to investigators to protect him. Kelly was indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on 13 counts, among them conspiracy to obstruct justice and producing child pornography, including four videos that included the girl whose family he is accused of paying. A grand jury in Brooklyn also indicted Kelly on five counts, including racketeering and violations of the Mann Act. Kelly's lawyer, Steven Greenberg, characterized the federal charges as "decades old" and "piling on".


Judge May Dismiss Spacey's Sex Case

Judge Thomas S. Barrett of Nantucket District Court said that a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey could be dismissed after the young man who accused Spacey of fondling him invoked the Fifth Amendment during a hearing over his missing phone. The man was asked to testify regarding text messages he sent and received on the night in July 2016 that he encountered Spacey at a Nantucket restaurant. Spacey's lawyer, Alan Jackson, contends that the young man had deleted text messages that could back up Spacey's assertion that whatever happened that night was consensual flirtation. After Jackson told the man that he could be charged with a felony for deleting evidence, the man invoked his constitutional right to protect himself from self-incrimination. Judge Barrett then said that the case "may well be dismissed" if the accuser continues to refuse to testify.


No Prison for Friars Club Boss

Michael Gyure, a former executive director of the Friars Club, was sentenced to one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to having filed false tax returns in January. His guilty plea covered tax returns for four years ending in 2015. He was charged with failing to include hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplemental income, including personal expenses covered by the club.



Court Says Heirs of Holocaust Victim Can Keep Nazi-Looted Works

A New York appellate court has unanimously upheld a ruling that returned two prized Egon Schiele drawings to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, a Viennese cabaret singer, whose large art collection was confiscated before he was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp in 1941. The two works had been bought by a London art dealer, Richard Nagy, six years ago, but were returned to the heirs last year after a ruling by New York state court judge Charles J. Ramos. In upholding the ruling, Appellate Division judges for Manhattan and the Bronx wrote that their decision relied principally on the finding that the heirs had a better claim to the works because the evidence indicated that Grünbaum had clearly owned them before the war and had never voluntarily transferred title.


Art Dealer Charged with Theft of Artifacts

Subhash Kapoor, a former Manhattan art dealer, was charged last week with running a multinational ring that trafficked in thousands of stolen objects, valued at more than $145 million, for over 30 years. Kapoor is currently jailed in India, where he has been awaiting trial on similar charges for nearly eight years. Authorities say Kapoor is one of the world's largest smugglers of antiquities. So far, around 2,600 antiquities, valued at more than $107 million, have been seized from storage locations Kapoor controlled in Manhattan and Queens during a decade-long investigation. The smuggling ring harvested objects from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Thailand, and it created false paper trails that gave the items a patina of legitimacy, then sold them globally for large profits to collectors, art dealers, and museums.


Guggenheim Museum Added to World Heritage List

The Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum is now among eight buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that have been added to Unesco's World Heritage List, the first recognition by the United Nations cultural organization of American modern architecture. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an organization that works to preserve the nearly 400 remaining buildings Wright designed, embarked on the nomination process more than 15 years ago, after a suggestion from the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which advises Unesco. The designation of the Wright properties follows the United States' withdrawal from Unesco at the end of 2018. The move means that the United States can no longer be represented on the World Heritage Committee, which determines which sites are added to, or removed from, the World Heritage List.


Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder of African American Museum, Found Dead in Trunk

Activist and museum founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph was found dead in the trunk of a car. Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African American Museum. The museum features African art, exhibits on growing cotton and black inventors, as well as a 1953 bus from the period of civil rights boycotts in Baton Rouge. It also has prominent exhibits on President Barack Obama, whose presidency Roberts-Joseph cited as an inspiration to children.



Hello Kitty's Parent Company Fined $6.9 Million by E.U.

The European Commission has fined Sanrio, the Japanese company that licenses Hello Kitty and a range of other characters, 6.2 million euros, or around $6.9 million, for illegally restricting where manufacturers can sell the licensed toys, bags, and other products. The fine was announced after a two-year investigation by European antitrust regulators. The Commission said that Sanrio barred businesses that had purchased the right to make Hello Kitty merchandise from selling the items outside their home countries. Sanrio also restricted the languages used on the products. Sanrio's restrictions were in force for about 11 years through December. The company did not contest the penalty.



World Cup Title Worth Six Figures and Counting for the Women - Still Thousands Less Than the Men

A United States women's player will receive a guaranteed payday of about $250,000 for qualifying for the World Cup, making the final roster and then winning the tournament, based on enhanced bonuses included in the team's collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer and a payout schedule for the finishers published by FIFA earlier this year. However, those FIFA bonus figures continue to pale in comparison to the far larger payouts for teams who compete in the men's World Cup - for example, France's men split $38 million for winning the men's tournament in Russia last summer. Those payments, and comparisons to FIFA-fueled payouts to the United States men's team after its participation in recent World Cups, are part of a broader and perpetually contentious debate about pay equality for women's soccer.


Women's Soccer Team Wins World Cup, Aiding Their Fight for Equal Rights + Pay

The U.S. women's soccer team clinched their second consecutive World Cup trophy by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the tournament's final match. The victory, which gave the United States a record four titles over all, was secured with goals from Rose Lavelle and best player honoree Megan Rapinoe. Almost immediately after the final whistle, Nike, one of the team's sponsors, released a stirring advertisement portraying the players not merely as soccer champions, but as champions of equal rights. This win was crucial for the champs, as the team's players filed a lawsuit in federal court in March against the United States Soccer Federation, accusing it of engaging in illegal workplace discrimination -- in areas such as pay, medical treatment, and workplace conditions -- on the basis of their gender. The heart of their argument for better compensation was their stellar performance over the years - therefore winning in France would help them make their case.


The U.S. Women Won, the Men Lost, and the Equal Pay Fight Tied Them Together Again

On the day the American team won the Women's World Cup, the U.S. men lost in a regional final, and how to compensate the players has caused tension and division. The results further highlighted a contentious battle about pay equality featuring the men's teams and women's teams, the different media and financial ecosystems in which they compete, and the often unequal rewards for success for male and female athletes. All of it was brought to the fore again by the women's team's latest world championship, and by the chants of "Equal Pay!" that serenaded the players after they won.


Agent Bets on Female Athletes Increase After World Cup Win

Sports and talent agency Wasserman, which represents more than half the members of the United States women's national team, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, is creating the Collective, a unit whose goal is to connect major companies, consumers, and fans of every gender with some of the country's best-known female athletes. Wasserman is hoping that the Collective can help remedy the inequities between women's and men's pay and other gender inequalities.


Chess Player Caught Cheating with Phone During Tournament

The International Chess Federation has suspended Igors Rausis, a Latvian-Czech player who won the grandmaster title in 1992 and has over the years represented Latvia, Bangladesh, and the Czech Republic. Officials say he was "caught red-handed using his phone during a game" in France last week.



Judges Rule That Trump Can't Block Critics from His Twitter Account

A three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously held that because Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts -- and engaging in conversations in the replies to them -- because he does not like their views. The court further held that Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him. The ruling was one of the highest-profile court decisions yet in a growing constellation of cases addressing what the First Amendment means in a time when political expression increasingly takes place online.


AOC Also Sued for Blocking Twitter Critics

A federal appeals panel unanimously held that Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following him on Twitter because they criticized or mocked him. That ruling is now the basis of two lawsuits filed against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of blocking people because of their opposing political stances. The Twitter account in question is not her official congressional account - AOC has 4.7 million followers on her personal Twitter account, @AOC, and her official congressional account, @RepAOC, has 172,000 followers - but she frequently uses her personal account to discuss policy and advocate her proposals, such as the Green New Deal and her belief that the camps holding children and other undocumented immigrants seeking asylum at the Texas border are "concentration camps".


Expansion of Secrecy Law for Intelligence Operatives Alarms Free Press Advocates

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is pushing for Congress to significantly expand the scope of a 1982 law, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, that makes it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents who have served abroad in the past five years, raising alarms among advocates of press freedoms. Under the CIA's plan, the law would instead apply perpetually to people whose relationships with the intelligence community are classified -- even if they live and operate exclusively on domestic soil. The CIA wants the law to protect the identities of more covert officers and informants, citing its defunct torture program and groups like WikiLeaks.


Federal Trade Commission Approves Facebook Fines of $5 Billion

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users' personal information, in what may be a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country's most powerful technology companies. While the settlement still needs final approval in the coming weeks from the Justice Department, if approved, it would be the biggest fine by far levied by the federal government against a technology company.


Newsrooms Are Facing a Changing Climate Too

As temperatures continue to rise, many news organizations are devoting more resources to climate change as they cover the topic with more urgency. In Florida, for example, six newsrooms (The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, The South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel, and WLRN Public Media) have taken the unusual step of pooling their resources and sharing their reporting on the issue. They plan to examine how climate change will affect the state's enormous agriculture sector as well as "the future of coastal towns and cities -- which ones survive, which ones go under". Several other news outlets, including The Guardian and The New York Times, have established initiatives to bring more attention to the climate crisis.


New Scandals Rock Government's Foreign Broadcasting Service

The United States Agency for Global Media, the government's foreign broadcast service, is being rocked by two new scandals that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management. In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year. That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27th in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to stealing government property. Although the two incidents are unrelated, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, which was created to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack.


What Speech Goes Too Far on Twitter??

After a year of debate and criticism, an effort to add to a policy on banned speech led to a narrower restriction that applies only when religious groups are targeted. Last August, Twitter's top executives gathered at the company's headquarters to discuss how to make the site safer for its users. Two attendees proposed banning all speech that could be considered "dehumanizing". The company has now narrowed its policymaking to focus only on banning speech that is insulting and unacceptable if directed at religious groups.


Ex-Vanity Fair Writer Says Editor Stopped Her from Exposing Epstein in 2003

Journalist Vicky Ward appeared on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" just days after Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors and she revealed that she had wrote about Epstein in a March 2003 Vanity Fair issue, but the article was "toned down". As part of her reporting for the article, Ward said she had collected separate on-the-record accusations against Epstein from three women, two of whom said they were victims. Those accusations did not make it into the published version. The Vanity Fair profile was published five years before Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. He ended up serving 13 months of an 18-month sentence. The plea deal in that case is now under Justice Department scrutiny.


Press Group Urges Saudis to Release Jailed Journalists

Press advocate group Reporters Without Borders is urging Saudi Arabia to free 30 journalists currently detained in the country and to relax its heavy suppression of the news media and of dissenting voices.


Journalists in Australia Feel "Under Attack" After Journalist's Travel Records Are Leaked

Journalists in Australia are concerned about their privacy rights after the Australian federal police obtained the personal travel records of a journalist from Qantas Airways. A document obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald showed that the police approached the airline in March seeking travel records for a journalist who wrote a 2017 article alleging that the Australian military had committed possible war crimes against Afghan citizens. A Qantas officer then searched for details of two flights in 2016 at the request of the police, and "captured and printed" details of the trips. This has drawn sharp criticism from media groups and raised questions about press freedoms in the country.



House Votes to Extend 9/11 Fund

The House approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the September 11th attacks never runs out of money. The bill, which would authorize $10.2 billion for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will replenish a depleted federal fund to compensate emergency workers and others who became ill as a result of their work in the ruins of the World Trade Center, extending it for the lifetime of those who were at Ground Zero. The bipartisan 402-12 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call a vote before Congress goes on its August recess.


Federal Election Commission to Allow Security Company to Help 2020 Candidates Defend Campaigns

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has decided that a Silicon Valley security company could immediately start helping 2020 presidential candidates defend their campaigns from the kinds of malicious email attacks that Russian hackers exploited in the 2016 election. The FEC made its advisory opinion one month after lawyers for the commission advised it to block a request by the company, Area 1 Security, which had sought to provide services to 2020 presidential candidates at a discount.


Iran Announces Plan to Breach Nuclear Deal Limits

Iran announced that it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon. The move inches Iran closer to where it was before the accord, on the path to being able to produce an atomic bomb. This comes just a year after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the accord and just a few weeks after Trump implemented sanctions intended to cut off Iran's oil sales anywhere in the world.


Judge Blocks Trump's Drug Prices Disclosure Mandate

Judge Amit P. Mehta, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its regulatory authority by seeking to require all drug makers to include in their television commercials the list price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month. Drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson began disclosing its list price in TV ads, but three other drug manufacturers sued the government to avoid such disclosures. The rule was to take effect this week. In response, Trump said he would be issuing an executive order on drug pricing, but the breadth of the order remained unclear. His administration has proposed other moves, including allowing older adults to more directly benefit from drug rebates in Medicare, and tying the cost of some drugs to their prices in other countries. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have also put forward a range of legislation that would address the issue, from limiting out-of-pocket costs for people covered by Medicare to allowing the federal government to directly negotiate the price of drugs.


U.K. Ambassador to U.S. Calls Trump Administration 'Inept' and 'Clumsy' in Leaked Docs

In a series of leaked documents, Kim Darroch, Britain's ambassador to the United States, described Trump as "radiating insecurity" and his administration as diplomatically "clumsy and inept". The documents were intended as an update on the new Trump administration for a narrow audience of top British officials.


Leaked British Cables Critical of Trump Lead to Diplomatic Uproar

Following the leak of several confidential documents, Trump said that the White House would no longer deal with Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, after the cables described the Trump administration as "clumsy and inept". Trump also harshly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union. Trump tweeted his criticisms, which were a rude farewell to May and a British leadership that is likely to be replaced in the coming weeks by harder-line, pro-Brexit forces more to his liking. In his rebuke of the ambassador, Trump came close to declaring Darroch persona non grata -- an extraordinary breach between the United States and one of its closest allies.


Disdain for Trump Runs Among Ambassadors

Following the leak of the cables that Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador who resigned last week, wrote to London describing the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump administration, several other ambassadors were asked about the cables and their response is uniform: We wrote the same stuff. Gérard Araud, who retired this spring as the French ambassador, said of his own missives from Washington that everyone feels the same way, "but fortunately I knew that nothing would remain secret, so I sent them (documents) in a most confidential manner." It would have been stranger, his diplomatic colleagues said, if Darroch had been writing cables describing the Trump White House as a smooth-running machine.


Judge Rejects Request to Change Lawyers on Census Case

United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman has denied the Justice Department's request to switch its legal team in a case challenging the Trump administration's effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Last week, the Justice Department said it was replacing the legal team defending the citizenship question - but it offered no explanation for the change, which came in the middle of a prolonged clash. As a new team of lawyers began to notify the court of its appearance in the case, Judge Furman barred the old lawyers from leaving until they met a legal requirement to satisfactorily explain their departure and show that it would not impede the case.


Trump Says He Will Get Citizenship Data Anyway

After a court held that Trump could not include a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census, Trump instructed the government to compile citizenship data from existing federal records instead. "We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population," Trump said. Rather than carry on the fight over the census, he said that he was issuing an executive order instructing federal departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data from their "vast" databases immediately.



Immigration and Customs Enforcement Using Facial Recognition to Locate Undocumented Immigrants

In at least three states that offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, searching the photos for matches. Privacy experts, like Harrison Rudolph, an associate at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, have said that this practice should be shut down. Experts have also complained of the potential for "widespread abuse". Alvaro Bedoya, the center's director, said: "States asked undocumented people to come out of the shadows to get licenses. Then ICE turns around and uses that to find them."



Debate Ensues Over Racial Bias as Facial Recognition Spreads

Back in 2016, lawmakers in Detroit created "Project Green Light" - deploying surveillance cameras across the city that stream 24-hour videos from cameras stationed at gas stations, restaurants, mini-marts, apartment buildings, churches, and schools into the Police Department's downtown headquarters. The surveillance program, which was created to deter crime, is being scrutinized as studies of the facial recognition software that the program requires have shown that the software can return more false matches for African-Americans than for white people - a sign of what experts call "algorithmic bias". Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported in January that facial recognition software marketed by Amazon misidentified darker-skinned women as men 31% of the time. Others have shown that algorithms used in facial recognition return false matches at a higher rate for African-Americans than white people unless explicitly recalibrated for a black population -- in which case their failure rate at finding positive matches for white people climbs. That study, posted in May by computer scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology and the University of Notre Dame, suggests that a single algorithm cannot be applied to both groups with equal accuracy.


Trump Dismisses Reports of Poor Care of Detained Migrant Children

The Trump administration dismissed reports of migrant children crying and having diseases in the federal detention facilities in which they are being held as "unsubstantiated". Accounts of disease, hunger, and overcrowding have multiplied in recent days, but Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, maintained that the facilities were safe.


New Human Rights Panel Raises Fears of a Narrowing U.S. Advocacy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was installing a human rights advisory panel in the State Department, and named a conservative law professor as its chairwoman, to review and tighten the agency's definition of human rights and ensure that it is grounded in the "nation's founding principles" and a 1948 United Nations declaration. Although the State Department already houses an internal bureau that oversees human rights issues, the new panel will examine "the role of human rights in American foreign policy", will not be managed by the bureau, and was created without substantial input from its experts and officials. The panel raises concerns among human rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers that Pompeo is moving to curtail State Department advocacy for some rights, particularly ones related to women's health and reproduction and gay and transgender issues.


Justice Department Seeks to Halt Democrats' Suit Over Trump's Profits in Office

The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to issue an emergency order halting a lawsuit by congressional Democrats, which alleges that Trump has illegally profited from his family business while in office. the department's lawyers asserted that Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had committed a series of "clear and indisputable" legal errors in allowing the lawsuit to proceed, including holding that Congress had legal standing to sue. If the appeals court refuses to intervene, they argued, the case will proceed into the evidence-gathering phase, in which Trump will be forced to reveal details of his financial affairs.


Appeals Court Blocks 'Emoluments' Suit Against Trump

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (based in Virginia) has issued a set of decisions instructing a lower court judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Trump in June 2017 by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, holding that the attorneys general lacked standing to bring the suit. The court said that the District of Columbia and Maryland's interest "in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies."


Justice Department Urges Mueller Deputies Not to Testify

The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III's deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers' questions in private. The department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mueller's team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III. It is unclear what effect the Justice Department's intervention will have on the men's eventual appearances, but it raises the prospect that a deal lawmakers thought they had struck last month for testimony from Mueller, the former special counsel, and the two prosecutors, could still unravel.


Abortion Rates Show Steady Decline - But Not Among Poor Women

The overall abortion rate in the United States has declined by nearly 40% since the mid-1990s. However, the U.S. still has a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy than many other developed countries, and a growing share of women who respond by having an abortion are impoverished. There are a number of possible reasons for why this is happening. One is purely demographic: The population of women living below the federal poverty level -- around $25,750 for a family of four in 2019 -- has grown faster than it has among women living above it. Another is that women with higher incomes may have better access to highly effective contraception than before. Another possible reason is that there are more financial resources for low-income women to pay for abortion, particularly since Medicaid expanded in several states under the Affordable Care Act, increasing coverage for poor women, and in turn, coverage of abortion in states that allow their Medicaid programs to pay for it.


Epstein Indicted on Sex Charges as Trove of Nude Photos Is Discovered

Jeffrey Epstein, a well-known financier, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking after a trove of lewd photographs of girls was discovered in a safe inside of his Manhattan mansion. Back in 2008, Epstein avoided the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence, largely because of a secret agreement his lawyers struck with federal prosecutors in Miami, which shielded him from federal prosecution. The Manhattan charges deal an implicit rebuke to that plea agreement, which was overseen by Alexander Acosta, then the United States attorney in Miami and now Trump's labor secretary and has renewed accusations about whether the case was improperly handled in the first place.


Acosta Pressed to Quit Amidst Backlash Over Epstein Plea Deal

Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta faced calls to resign over his role in brokering a lenient plea deal over sex crimes for the New York financier Jeffrey Epstein during his time as a federal prosecutor in Miami more than a decade ago. Acosta said that the plea agreement, in which Epstein served 13 months in jail after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of young women and girls, was the toughest deal available in a complex and difficult case, and the prosecution would have stood a far better chance of succeeding in the state courts. He also wrote on Twitter that he is "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."


Acosta Defends Epstein Plea Deal

Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta held a news conference to defend his actions as a United States attorney in Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal a decade ago in a sex crimes case. While condemning Epstein's "horrific" crimes, Acosta offered no apologies; instead, he offered a clinical explanation of the 2008 plea deal, arguing that he overrode state authorities to ensure that Epstein would face jail time and that holding out for a stiffer sentence by going to trial would have been "a roll of the dice."


Acosta Resigns After Renewed Outrage Over Epstein Plea Deal

Trump announced Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta's resignation following continuing questions about his handling of a sex crimes case involving the financier Jeffrey Epstein when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida. Acosta's decision came only two days after he held a news conference to defend his handling of the 2008 sex crimes prosecution of Epstein. Trump named Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, to serve as acting secretary of labor when Acosta's resignation becomes effective on July 19th.


Manhattan District Attorney's Office Sought Reduced Sex-Offender Status for Epstein

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. claims that he was unaware of an assistant's attempt to reduce Epstein's sex offender status. During a hearing in 2011, a seasoned sex-crimes prosecutor from Vance's office argued forcefully in court that Epstein, who had been convicted in Florida of soliciting an underage prostitute, should not be registered as a top-level sex offender in New York. Instead, the prosecutor, Jennifer Gaffney, asked a judge to reduce Epstein's sex-offender status to the lowest possible classification, which would have limited the personal information available to the public, and would have kept him from being listed on a registry of sex offenders for life.


Prosecutors Say Epstein Tried to Bribe Possible Witnesses

The United States attorney's office in Manhattan alleges that Jeffrey Epstein wired $350,000 to two people close to him to try to buy the silence of possible witnesses against him after a newspaper exposé last November drew new attention to his predatory behavior toward young women. Prosecutors are now asking that Epstein be denied bail while he awaits trial, saying the payments were evidence that he might try to influence witnesses if he were not detained.


Governor Cuomo Signs a Bill to Allow Release of Trump's State Tax Returns

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an amendment to a tax law that will allow three congressional committees to access the president's state tax returns. The new law requires state tax officials to release the president's state returns for any "specified and legitimate legislative purpose" on the request of the chair of one of either the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation. It is effective immediately, however, and the Trump administration is predicted to challenge it.


Judge Receives Threats After Saying Teenager in Rape Case Was From 'Good Family'

New Jersey Judge James G. Troiano has faced death threats in recent days as fierce public backlash mounts against his comments and decision to be lenient with a 16-year old accused of rape. The decision concerned a 2017 case in which prosecutors said a visibly intoxicated 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by the drunken 16-year-old boy who recorded the act, and sent the video to his friends, along with a text that said: "When your first time is rape." Judge Troiano refused to prosecute the boy as an adult, despite prosecutors' requests, because he said that the boy "had good grades and potential to attend a good college" and came from a "good family". While family court proceedings are normally sealed, the transcript (and therefore some of the judge's comments) were revealed when an appeals court decision was made public. The judge's decision is emblematic, critics have said, of judicial inequity that time and again treats juveniles from privileged backgrounds, particularly white defendants, with leniency, while coming down hard on poor, minority offenders for similar crimes.


Alaska's University System Pleads for a Lifeline After Budget Cuts

After last month's budget cut saw Alaska lawmakers agreeing to cut $5 million in support for the state's universities, Governor Mike J. Dunleavy shocked the state by using a veto to cut $130 million more from the system. The governor's slashing of state funding left university leaders blindsided and in turmoil. The university's supporters have embarked on a desperate scramble to persuade lawmakers to override the governor's line-item veto, which would reduce the operating funds the university system gets from the state by 41%. University officials have announced restrictions on hiring, travel, and procurement, and have sent furlough notices to all employees, in case the legislature fails to override the governor's budget cuts.


Principal Who Tried to Stay 'Politically Neutral' About Holocaust Is Removed

Principal William Latson of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, has been removed from his position at the Boca Raton school to a district office job because of the outcry over his email to an unidentified parent who inquired last year whether the school's students study the Holocaust. The emails came to light last week in a story published by The Palm Beach Post. Latson faces backlash over his refusal to state that the Holocaust was a factual historical event, saying that he had to stay "politically neutral" about the World War II-era genocide of six million Jews. In an email exchange with the parent in April 2018, Latson wrote that: "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened". He also said that although the school offered an assembly and courses on the Holocaust, they were optional and could not be "forced upon" all students. Lawmakers had called for Latson to be fired.



Trump Administration Will Allow Some Companies to Sell to Huawei

The Trump administration is following through with plans to allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment giant, just weeks after placing the company on a Commerce Department blacklist. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the administration will issue licenses for American companies that want to do business with Huawei "where there is no threat to national security." This comes after Trump's surprise announcement last month, after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that the United States would relax restrictions on Huawei as part of an effort to restart stalled trade talks with China.


24 Governors Call for Halt to Emissions Rollback

24 governors, including three Republicans, urged Trump to abandon his plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles nationwide. The two dozen governors include the leaders of four states -- North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Montana -- that voted for Trump in 2016, helping propel him into the White House. The Trump administration's rule changes, which are expected to land later this year, would weaken Obama-era rules that would have doubled the fuel economy requirement for new passenger vehicles by 2025 as part of President Obama's signature effort to fight global warming.


Taliban and Afghan Representatives Agree to Peace Road Map but Negotiations Will Not Proceed Until U.S. Plans for Troop Withdrawal

After two days of unprecedented discussions in Doha, Qatar, Taliban and Afghan representatives agreed to a basic road map for negotiating the country's political future, a major step that could help propel peace efforts to end the 18-year-old war. However, the Taliban have said that direct negotiations with other Afghans would start only after the United States announces a timeline for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. Sher Mohammad Abas Stanekzai, the most senior member of the Taliban delegation and its chief negotiator said, "when we finalize our negotiations with the Americans and get a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, then we will enter direct negotiations with the Afghan side for the internal matters of our country".


"The Terminator" of Congo Is Convicted of War Crimes by the International Criminal Court

Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda - known as "the Terminator" - was convicted by a three-judge panel on 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, committed in the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict between Lendu and Hema in Congo's Ituri region. The charges include murder, rape, sexual slavery, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, and conscripting children into an armed group. Although he has not yet been sentenced, and has 30 days to appeal, he could face life in prison, which analysts say sends a strong warning to other abusive commanders.


Europe Puts Its Foot Down on Tech Taxes

Several countries are moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens' daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there. France moved to become the first country to impose a so-called digital tax of 3% on the revenue companies earn from providing digital services to French users. It would apply to large companies, numbering more than two dozen, with robust annual sales in France, including United States-based Facebook, Google, and Amazon. British leaders also detailed plans to impose a similar tax, of 2%, on tech giants, and the European Union has also been mulling a digital tax.


Hong Kong Leader Says That Extradition Bill is 'Dead'

Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, during a news conference in Hong Kong said that an unpopular bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China "is dead". Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks to oppose the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The bill, which was suspended by Lam, drew concerns that the government would revive it later. However, Lam told reporters "There is no such plan...the bill is dead."


China Annoyed as Taiwan Set to Receive $2 Billion in U.S. Arms

The United States has tentatively approved the sale of $2 billion in military hardware to Taiwan, demonstrating support for its unofficial ally in a move likely to exacerbate deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. The tentative approvals come as relations between the United States and China are already being tested by a trade war and the decoupling of technology supply chains. The armaments would provide Taiwan with greater deterrence capabilities against the growing military threat from China


U.S. Missiles Found in Libyan Rebel Camp Were First Sold to France

A cache of powerful American missiles ended up in the hands of rebel fighters - loyal to General Khalifa Hifter seeking to overthrow the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli - after being sold to France. The four Javelin anti-tank missiles, which cost more than $170,000 each and are usually sold only to close American allies, were recovered last month by Libyan government forces during a raid on a rebel camp in Gheryan, a town in the mountains south of Tripoli. Following the discovery, the State Department investigated the origins of the missiles, using their serial numbers and other information, and concluded that they had originally been sold to France, which has been a strong supporter of General Hifter. A French military adviser denied on Tuesday that the weapons were transferred to General Hifter, which would violate the sales agreement with the United States as well as a United Nations arms embargo.


U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah Officials

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on three senior Hezbollah officials - Wafiq Safa, Muhammad Hasan Ra'd, and Amin Sherri - after accusing them of having a "malign agenda" to support the Iranian government. The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though members of the group have embedded into legitimate parts of the Lebanese government. Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department's secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that "Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon's Parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group's financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran's malign activities."


German Chancellor Seen Shaking Again, Renewing Concerns for Her Health

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was seen trembling for the third time in less than a month, despite insistence that she was "well" and capable of fulfilling her job. Her aides attributed the initial shaking to dehydration, a problem that has plagued the chancellor in the past. Merkel said that the most recent incidence of shaking was part of the psychological trauma she suffered after experiencing uncontrolled trembling under similar circumstances on June 18th, the second incidence.


Australia Could Almost Eradicate H.I.V. Transmissions

Nearly four decades into the H.I.V. crisis, Australian researchers say that the country is on a path toward making transmissions of the virus vanishingly rare. In the past five years, the number of new infections with the virus has dropped by almost a quarter in Australia, with higher declines among gay and bisexual men, according to a report released last week by the Kirby Institute, an infectious disease research center in the state of New South Wales. The most recent advance in Australia's battle against the virus, which is seen as a model around the world, is the rapid adoption of a drug regimen known as PrEP. Under the regimen, patients typically take a daily pill, which -- even without the use of condoms -- is close to 100% effective at preventing contraction of H.I.V., experts say. "Provided we don't take our foot off the pedal, we stand a chance of eliminating H.I.V. by 2030" in Australia, said Andrew Grulich, an author of the Kirby Institute report and a professor of epidemiology at the University of New South Wales.


22 Countries Issue Plea to Beijing Regarding Xinjiang Repression

A group of 22 countries has issued a statement urging China to stop the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in its western Xinjiang region. In a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the states told China to uphold its own laws and international obligations, and stop arbitrary incarceration of Uighurs and other Muslim and minority communities, and permit freedom of religion.


China Gets Praise from Russia and Saudi Arabia

After 22 countries joined together and urged China to stop the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in its western Xinjiang region, ambassadors of 37 states from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America jointly signed a letter to the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council praising China's "contribution to the international human rights cause." The states, including prominent members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said China had faced terrorism, separatism and religious extremism in Xinjiang, the vast northwest region that is mainly Muslim. But through counterterrorism measures and vocational training, these states said, China had restored peace and security there.


Turkey Defies U.S. by Getting Shipment of Russian Missile System

Turkey began receiving the first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system against objections from the U.S. - a step certain to test the country's uneasy place in the NATO alliance. The system, called the S-400, includes advanced radar to detect aircraft and other targets and it puts Russian technology inside the territory of a key NATO ally -- one from which strikes into Syria have been staged. The Russian engineers who will be required to set up the system, American officials fear, will have an opportunity to learn much about the American-made fighter jets that are also part of Turkey's arsenal. In response, the Trump administration has already moved to block the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, one of the United States' most advanced aircraft, to Turkey, and has suspended the training of its pilots, who were learning how to fly it.


July 9, 2019

An Unsigned Contract May Still Be Binding On Both Parties

By Marc Jacobson

A New York court recently decided that even though the defendant employer didn't sign the plaintiff's employment contract, a claim against the employer for unpaid severance embodied in the agreement was validly presented. Lord v. Marilyn Model Management, Inc., 2019 Slip Op 05093 (App. Div. 1st Dept. June 25, 2019).

The plaintiff, an experienced model scout, was asked to leave his current job and join the defendant, with an annual salary of $190,000, plus discretionary bonuses and profit sharing. An agreement that provided for six months of severance pay if the plaintiff was terminated without cause, was negotiated, signed by the plaintiff, and sent by email to two members of the board of directors of the defendant. One of the board members replied by email, saying: "Welcome aboard. We'll countersign over the next few days."

The parties both began performing under the agreement, with the plaintiff relocating to Paris from New York, from September 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016, when the plaintiff was terminated without cause. The plaintiff filed suit to recover severance. The defendant rejected that, asserting the agreement was never signed and moved to dismiss the complaint, without even answering the complaint.

There was no recitation in the agreement that it would not be binding until signed by both parties. There was no statement that the parties may only assent to the contract by signing it. The agreement did state that it could be signed in counterparts.

The court held that severance may still be due. The claims for promissory estoppel and severance for unpaid wages under the Labor Law survived. A claim for unjust enrichment for the value of the severance was dismissed.

For film production companies, we frequently provide that the effectiveness of the agreement is subject to a condition precedent, which is the full execution and delivery of the agreement. For employers, we typically insert a clause in the "boilerplate" at the end of the agreement stating that the agreement is not binding until it is signed and returned by both parties. We usually provide for signature by counterparts as well.

If you are preparing agreements on your own without a lawyer, consider whether you want the agreement to be binding even if the agreement is not signed. Best practices would suggest that payment and performance not begin until the fully signed agreement is signed and returned to both parties.

July 8, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media:


Taylor Swift's Public Feud With Scooter Braun Spotlights Artists' Fight for Control Over Master Recordings

The issue of master recordings and the copyrights associated with them gained media attention this week after Swift responded to her former label, Big Machine, being sold to a company run by Scooter Braun. Big Machine had rights to her first six albums. The owner of a master - the original copy of an artist's work, controls all rights to exploit it, including selling albums or licensing songs. Artists like Janet Jackson and Jay-Z have insisted on deals that gave them ownership of their recordings.


Diversity in the Ranks: Minorities Make Up Nearly a Third of New Oscar Voters

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has increased its Oscar voting pool to nearly 9,000 people as part of an effort to make good on its 2016 pledge to double female and minority membership by the end of 2020. About 50% of the film industry professional invited this year are women; 20% are minorities.


Jussie Smollett Case: What Do We Know and What is Left to Investigate?

The New York Times provides a comprehensive summary of the Smollett case: the evidence, the main actors, why prosecutors dropped the charges, and what is expected next by the special prosecutor appointed to take a look at the allegations that the actor staged a hate crime.


Former Executive Director of Manhattan's Friars Club is Accused of Abusing his Position

In a sentencing memo related to his tax matter, federal prosecutors also described other, non-criminal misconduct that shows Michael Gyure took advantage of the club's lax financial oversight to enrich himself at the expense of the organization. He faces possible prison time for filing false tax returns for four years. The comedy club, known for hosting risqué celebrity roasts, lost its tax-exempt status as a fraternal organization in 2010.


French Michael Jackson Fans Sue "Leaving Neverland" Accusers in French Court

Two Michael Jackson fan clubs filed a lawsuit in Northern France, seeking symbolic damages of 1 euro each from two of the musician's alleged abuse victims for "sullying his image" in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland". French defamation laws extend libel protections beyond death. The court said a judgment would be delivered on October 4th.


"Wolf of Wall Street" Producer Faces Charges in Malaysia

Riza Aziz, whose Red Granite Pictures produced the film, pleaded not guilty to five counts of laundering money misappropriated from a Malaysian government investment fund. The stepson of Malaysia's former prime minister joins other members of his family in facing charges in the disappearance of as much as $4.5 billion from a government investment fund.


Hong Kong Celebrities Pay a Professional Price for Supporting Protesters

Entertainers who are publicly supporting Hong Kong's recent protests are finding themselves blacklisted from the mainland Chinese market, barred from performing and their music removed from streaming websites. Others are subjected to online attacks after showing support for the anti-extradition protests on social media. The story of the cost of social activism for Hong Kong celebrities.



Lockout Continues at Baltimore Symphony

Last month, the orchestra's management locked the musicians out after they refused to agree to a contract guaranteeing fewer weeks of work (from 52 weeks to 40). The orchestra, though, is both a reflection of the city's resilience and a product of its surroundings. Much of the area's philanthropy is directed to education, health, and economic issues in a city where residents face poverty and lack basic needs; and while the orchestra will not receive much support from the cash-strapped city, it has tried to connect with the community by offering music instruction and meals to more than 1,300 children. The players warn that the proposed cuts will lower their base pay and weaken their ties to the community.


Andy Warhol's Prince Series is Fair Use, Court Rules

At issue was whether Warhol made fair use of a 1981 photograph of Prince when he created 16 artworks that are known as the "Prince Series". The ruling said Warhol transcended photographer Lynn Goldsmith's copyright by transforming a vulnerable Prince in the original photo into an artwork that made the singer look iconic, larger-than-life. Goldsmith is appealing the decision.


Kim Kardashian West Drops Name from Shapewear Line, Kimono

Kardashian will change the name of her line after internet backlash led to the mayor of Kyoto, Japan writing an open letter asking her to reconsider the name and saying that kimonos are part of "a culture that has been cherished and passed down with care."


Non-profit Group Brings Children's Books to Barbershops and Laundromats

A movement supported by non-profit groups, libraries, and community fund-raising, is creating literary spaces by bringing children's books to places where children most often get bored - laundromats, salons, and barbershops. National programs that promote childhood literacy are among those contributing books.


Theatrical Productions for Seniors

Licensing company Music Theater International is partnering with community centers and nursing homes to tailor productions for older actors, the first of which is "Into the Woods Sr.". The initiative recognizes that there are both social and health benefits to performing, as a 2014 study found that seniors can experience an improvement to their physical and mental well-being from participating in productions.


Mad Magazine is Leaving Newsstands After 67-Year Run

After the next two issues, Mad Magazine will no longer include new materials, except in year-end specials. A creation of the 1950s, the publication hit a circulation peak of 2.8 million in 1973. Since then, however, it has steadily lost readers and relevance. The New York Times calls the baby boomer humor bible a "victim of its own success," as its "skeptical, smart-alecky sensibility" became dominant in American popular culture.


Suspect Linked to Mackenzie Lueck Case Wrote a Novel With Two Burning Deaths

Authorities investigating the murder of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck became aware of a book published under the suspect's name last year. The book included the burning deaths of two people. Police say charred remains were found in his backyard, where a neighbor recently observed him burning something with the use of gasoline.


Idris Elba Denies Plagiarism in Dispute with British Playwrights

Two playwrights who worked with Elba to create the theatrical production "Tree" say they are not being acknowledged as members of the creative team despite the play, as described on a festival website, having similarities to their script. The playwrights wrote a script outline for "Tree" and signed a "deal memo" with Elba's production company, but both voluntarily stepped back from the project after they were told that it needed to go in a different direction.


British Artists Call on National Portrait Gallery to Cut Ties with BP

Leading British artists and activists say that arts organizations should not be accepting oil and gas money. More specifically, they are calling on the National Portrait Gallery in London to cut ties with BP, whose role in furthering climate crisis they say makes it unacceptable to accept new sponsorship from the company. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House have also come under criticism lately for their ties to BP.


Germany City Rejects Claim for Mondrian Paintings by Artist's Heirs

Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian's heirs say that four of his works had been lent, not given, to the museum in the German city of Krefeld. Mondrian's heirs say that the artist lent several works to the museum 90 years ago for an exhibition that never took place and left them behind when he fled Europe during World War II. While neither side has definitive proof, the museum's position is that the works could have been acquired by one of the museum's benefactors and then given to the city.


Tutankhamen Head Sells for $6 Million, Despite Protests from Egypt

Egypt's government says that the stone head of pharaoh Tutankhamen was looted and should be returned to the country, while Christie's auction house maintains that the sale was legal. A former Egyptian minister of antiquities believes the sculpture was taken from the temple of Karnak and illegally exported in 1970, the year when Unesco instituted an international convention to prohibit and prevent the illicit trade in cultural property. The provenance published by Christie's states that the stone head was acquired in 1973 or 1974 by the director of a Vienna gallery from the collection of a German prince who acquired it by the 1960s.



Rays and Giants Sign Supreme Court Brief Supporting LGBTQ Rights

The Rays joined more than 200 major American corporations signing on to an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that calls for the court to rule that current federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Nike Pulls Patriotic Sneaker After Kaepernick Raises Concerns

The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, a design created during the American Revolution and commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag. Sources say that Nike pulled the shoe after Kaepernick reached out to company officials and identified the flag as an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.



Former U.S. Olympics Chief Executive Received $2.4 Million Severance Amid Scandal

Scott Blackmun resigned under pressure and was heavily criticized for failing to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse in the Larry Nassar case. The severance payment of $2.4 million was revealed in a financial report made public this week, and defended by the chairman of the board of directors, who cited Blackmun's serious health challenges and the fact that the separation agreement was provided for in his contract.


Former Rio Governor Describes Bribery in Bid for 2016 Olympics

A former governor of Rio de Janeiro state, already jailed for fraud and corruption, told a judge that he paid about $2 million for the votes of International Olympic Committee members to award Brazil the 2016 summer games. He implicates countless others, including the former head of the Brazil Olympic Committee, and the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations.


Israel Folau and Rugby Australia Fail to Reach Agreement in a Case That Has Sparked National Debate Over Religious Freedoms

Israel Folau is taking his unfair dismissal case to Federal Court after failing to reach an agreement with Rugby Australia. The evangelical Christian rugby star was removed from the national team for breaching his employment contract by posting homophobic messages online. He argues that he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds, is seeking $10 million in damages, and wants his contract reinstated.




Germany Fines Facebook $2.25 Million Under Hate Speech Law

German authorities imposed the fine under a law designed to combat hate speech after finding that Facebook had "failed to meet transparency requirements for its handling of hate speech complaints." More specifically, Facebook's report for the first half of 2018 did not reflect the actual number of complaints about suspected illegal content, which includes insults and material designed to incite hatred against persons based on their religion or ethnicity.


Government-Mandated Internet Blackout Plunges Myanmar into Darkness

There have already been instances of internet or social media shutdowns in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Sudan, a measure that is increasingly being used to silence and isolate local populations. Myanmar has now shot down the internet in conflict areas, prompting a UN expert to warn of potential human rights abuses during the suspension.


The Internet's Darkest Concerns Resist New Zealand's Efforts to Fight Online Hate

The level of disturbing online activity in New Zealand following the mosque shootings underlines the immensity of efforts on the part of both companies and governments to try to restrict the spread of hateful ideology.


General News

Court's Ruling on Gerrymandering Heats Up Bid for Control of Election Maps at the State Level

The Supreme Court's gerrymandering ruling has raised the stakes for state legislative races. The party that wins control of the state legislature will gain the power to draw once-a-decade maps setting district boundaries for state and congressional elections after a new census count. In states where Republicans are firmly in control of the legislature and seem unlikely to lose it, Democrats are pushing to remove mapping power from the politicians in favor of nonpartisan redistricting committees.


Armed Forces-Themed Ceremony Marks July 4th in Washington

President Trump used the Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for his tribute to the country's five branches of the military, avoiding giving an
overly political speech. Trump later blamed a teleprompter outage for his sometimes puzzling, historically non-linear speech that was marked by anachronistic references to airports in the context of the Revolutionary War. Critics said the celebrations turned the day into a Trump-branded rally for America, with the president using the troops and military gear as political props.




Trump Administration Drops Efforts to Put Citizenship Question Back into Census

In a series of mixed messages this week, the Trump administration initially abandoned its quest to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but the Justice Department then reversed course and said it was looking for a way to restore the question, on orders from the president. Officials now believe there could be a "legally available path" to restore the question.



House Democrats File Lawsuit to Obtain Trump Tax Returns

The House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury and the IRS for access to the president's tax returns. The Committee had previously requested and then subpoenaed the returns. The dispute now moves into the federal courts as the House argues that the administration's defiance of its request amounts to an "attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS and tax laws" and asks a judge to order the defendants to comply.


Inspector General Reports Squalid Conditions at Border Detention Centers

Inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in June, reporting severe overcrowding, standing-room-only cells, and children without showers and hot meals. The report corroborated some of the Democratic lawmakers' own findings after visiting migrant holding centers this week, where migrants spoke of limited or no access to showers, medications, and sometimes, drinking water. These disturbing accounts were exacerbated by reports of a secret Facebook group where current and former Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths and threats to members of Congress.



Inside the Migrant Detention Center in Clint, Texas

A group of reporters profile the border station in the desert outside of El Paso after lawyers reported seeing filthy, overcrowded conditions for migrant children.


President Trump Says Migrants Are "Living Far Better" in Border Facilities than in Home Countries

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump said that the migrants are living in far safer conditions than where they came from, despite government reporting of difficult conditions at border facilities and overcrowding that poses an immediate risk to both agents and migrants.


Migrants Who Have Been Ordered Deported and Stay Now Facing Fines from Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now issuing fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars to unauthorized immigrants who refuse to comply with deportation orders. One woman was sent a fine of nearly half a million dollars. ICE officials said that the agency has the right to impose civil fines of up to $799 day on those who are undocumented and who have been ordered removed or have failed to leave the country.


Federal Judge Blocks Attorney General Barr's Attempt to Deny Bail to Asylum Seekers

A federal judge in Seattle ruled that the order, which would have denied migrants a bail hearing and kept them detained indefinitely, was unconstitutional. Judge Pechman said that the plaintiffs had established a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process, and that they must be granted a bond hearing within seven days of a request or be released if they have not received a hearing in that time.


Opinion: The Immigration Crisis is Corrupting the Nation

The editorial board of The New York Times says the realities of the crackdown on migrants and asylum seekers have created conditions that Americans would condemn if they saw them happening in another country. Only a desensitized nation could continue to allow the separation of children from their parents, and their detention in squalid conditions, as a morally acceptable form of deterrence.


Ivanka Trump's Role as Unofficial Diplomat

Ivanka Trump tried to assert herself at a few diplomatic events in recent weeks, including the G20 Summit and President Trump's visit to the Demilitarized Zone to meet with the North Korean leader. Critics say that her presence undermines the professional look of the Trump delegation, both to other countries and to national security professionals who serve in the administration.


Department of Housing and Urban Development Hires Trump Aide Who Resigned Over Racist Blog

Senate Democrats are criticizing the hiring of Eric Blankenstein, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official, who resigned after blog posts he wrote in 2004 surfaced in which he repeatedly used a racial slur. In a more recent exchange, he also defended the birther movement as "not racist". In their letter to the housing department, the senators question what the department knew of the previous investigation into his blog posts, and ask whether anyone in the executive office of the president pushed for the hire.


Prominent Republicans File Brief to Support LGBT Rights in Legal Case

A group of prominent Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to declare that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT persons. They argue that their view about how the law should be interpreted represents "a common sense, textualist approach." They do concede that Congress and the American public may not have anticipated the law would apply to LGBT persons, but they argue that the text of the law is clear when it explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.


Judge Says Teenager Accused of Rape Deserves Leniency Because He's From a "Good Family"

A Monmouth Country judge earned a sharp rebuke from an appeals court for saying that the 16-year-old teenager accused of rape came from a good family and had good grades. He had also questioned the charge and defined rape as something reserved for an attack at gunpoint by strangers, and said that prosecutors should have explained to the complainant that pressing charges would destroy the accused's life.



The Supreme Court Agreed to Hear an Appeal of the Defendants in the "Bridgegate" Scandal - Here's Why It Could Backfire on Prosecutors

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the corruption convictions in the "Bridgegate" scandal. Both defendants were top aides to Governor Christie and were found to have blocked access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to "punish" a mayor who refused to offer a campaign endorsement.

A number of Supreme Court cases have recently limited prosecutorial discretion and authority in corruption cases. Legal experts think this latest appeal has the potential of continuing that trend by testing another aspect of federal corruption law - what happens when the alleged conduct was not about personal gain, in a strict monetary sense? The defense in this case argues that even if the defendants hatched a scheme (which they still deny), it was nothing more than political gamesmanship and does not constitute a crime because there was no personal financial or material gain.


Family of Las Vegas Shooting Victim Sues Gunmakers of AR-15

The lawsuit targets gun manufacturers for the ease with which their products can be converted into fully automatic weapons, which are heavily restricted under state and federal laws. It argues that the AR-15 rifles are illegal because they are one modification away from becoming a fully automatic rifle, and are often designed for customization. The lawsuit comes at interesting time. The vast immunity offered by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability began to give way earlier this year, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families victimized in the Sandy Hook shooting could sue gun companies over their marketing practices.


Trump Administration Says the Prospective Threat of Chinese Spying Justifies Huawei Ban

The government's court filing in the federal case involving Huawei suggest that the Trump administration believes that it may not have to produce conclusive evidence of past wrongdoing by Huawei to uphold the law that was passed last year restricting federal agencies' business with the company. Instead, the government takes the position that the mere potential for Beijing to influence the Chinese technology giant is enough to justify last year's spending bill, whose purpose was not to punish Huawei, but to protect American networks from Chinese cyberattacks.


Opinion: Police Body Cam Company, Axon, Bans Use of Facial Recognition On Its Devices

Axon supplies 47 out of the 69 largest police agencies in the United States with body cameras and software. The company's ethics board now says that facial recognition technology is not reliable enough to justify its use and is especially prone to inaccuracy when used with police body cameras, which often operate in low-light conditions and produce shaky footage. At the state level, California lawmakers recently announced that they are considering a statewide ban on facial recognition in police body cameras.


Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion

Hispanic women have emerged as the biggest job market winners in an economy that has reached its longest expansion on record - 121 straight months. Employment rates for Hispanic workers between 25 and 54 increased by 2.2 percentage points since 2007, while black women came in second, adding 1.6 percentage points.


Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Sex Trafficking

Billionaire New York financier Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking after years of accusations that he had molested dozens of young girls. Epstein avoided criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 after pleading guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution.


Boeing Pledges $100 Million to Those Affected by 737 Max Crashes

Boeing said the investment would be made over multiple years to "support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities." The two 737 Max crashes killed 346 people over the past year.


Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling as Long as It Isn't Too Costly

The beverage industry lends its support to many recycling programs, except for one approach that has been proved to work - container deposit laws, known as "bottle bills". In the 10 states where consumers can collect a few cents when they return plastic containers, recycling rates are significantly higher, sometimes twice as high as in other states. However, beverage companies and retailers have lobbied against these measures, saying that they function like a tax and allow governments to collect millions in unclaimed deposits. Critics say the industry's true rationale for opposing these laws is that they cost money, but one of the industry's other criticisms of bottle bills is that they deprive municipal recycling programs of valuable scrap materials that they can sell to offset the cost of processing other items.


What Should Cities Do If Hit by Ransomware?

The column runs through the options available to cities that are victims of cyberhacking. The FBI-endorsed approach is to take a principled stand, refuse to pay, and then repair the damage. This was Baltimore's preferred approach following the ransomware attack of May 2019. The "post-Baltimore mind-set", however, is to pay to recover the system, which could be cheaper and faster, but encourages more attacks. This leads to the ideal option: cities are encouraged to be proactive, improve security, have contingency plans in place, and take out cyber insurance.


Iran Will Accelerate Uranium Enrichment Barred by Nuclear Accord

Iran has announced that it will be enriching uranium beyond the limit allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The foreign minister said that the Europeans have failed to fulfill their promise of protecting Iran's interests by compensating for billions of dollars in losses to the economy caused by American sanctions.


Iran Breaches Critical Limit on Nuclear Fuel Set by 2015 Deal

International inspectors confirmed Iran had exceeded the limit set by the 2015 agreement on how much nuclear fuel it can possess. Since the move does not give Iran enough material to produce a single nuclear weapon, many see it as a strategy to gain a diplomatic advantage for future negotiations.


Afghan Peace Negotiations Show Signs of Progress

The Afghan government plans to meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar. The discussions are expected to lead to direct negotiations for a peace deal. The U.S. is currently in the seventh round of its peace negotiations with the Taliban, which do not include any Afghan government representatives.


Christine Lagarde is Nominated to Be President of European Central Bank

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is the first woman to be chosen for the post at European Central Bank. She will have a leading role in steering the world's second-largest economy.


Germany's Defense Minister is Next President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen will hold the top job in the 28-nation bloc if confirmed by the European Parliament later this month. Building expertise in national security, she served 14 years alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel and is described as someone with a unique mix of conservative and liberal values.


A Heat Wave Tests Europe's Defenses

A growing field of research called "attribution science" lets experts assess the role of global warming in the occurrence of any given weather event. A rapid analysis of the most recent heat wave in France found that human-induced climate change made it at least 5 times more likely and 4 degrees Celsius hotter than it would have otherwise been.


China Has Been Installing Spyware on Tourists Phones in Xinjiang Region

Visitors entering the Xinjiang region of China are being forced to install a piece of malware known as BXAQ or Fengcai on their phones that gathers personal data from phones and scans for material considered objectionable. It is one of several high-tech surveillance measures employed by the Chinese government to monitor and subdue the area's predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, but the first of its kind to target tourists and other visitors.


Alitalia Pulls Video with Actor in Blackface as Barack Obama

The Italian airline has now removed an ad it released on social media that featured an actor wearing blackface playing former President Barack Obama. The ad was one of four Italian-language videos made to promote non-stop flights from Rome to Washington. Alitalia is just the latest in a line of international brands whose ads and products were recently criticized as racist, including Gucci, Prada, and H&M.


Indonesian Woman is Jailed for Recording and then Sharing Her Boss's Lewd Phone Calls

Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a woman who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording and sharing a phone conversation she had with her boss to prove that he was sexually harassing her. The court ruled she was guilty of spreading "indecent" material.


July 6, 2019

Center for Art Law Case Law Updates

The following case selection first appeared in this week's Center for Art Law newsletter:

Silver v. Gagosian Gallery, Inc., No. 652090/2018 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Apr. 12, 2019). In April 2018, Hollywood Producer Joel Silver sued Gagosian, alleging that the gallery failed to deliver a Jeff Koons sculpture, Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels, which Silver purchased for $8 million in 2014 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/gagosian-sued-over-koons-sculpture-1276028?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). He sought the return of the $3.2 million he had paid to date, plus interest and fees. In June, the producer dropped his lawsuit after it was revealed that billionaire art collector Ron Perelman - who had previously sued the gallery in 2014 over artwork transactions valued at $45 million - was secretly paying Silver's legal fees (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/joel-silver-drops-gagosian-jeff-koons-lawsuit-1566214?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Gagosian and Silver reportedly reached a settlement in which Silver agreed to move forward with the purchase.

Ciccone v. Gotta Have It! Collectibles, Inc., 2019 Slip Op. 04333 (N.Y. App. Div. June 4, 2019). Last year, Madonna filed for an injunction to prevent Gotta Have It! Collectibles from holding a sale of her personal belongings, which were consigned to the auction house by Madonna's ex-art advisor, Darlene Lutz. While a temporary injunction was granted in July 2017 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/judge-halts-planned-madonna-auction-1027277?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), the Manhattan Supreme Court reversed in April 2018 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/madonna-personal-items-auction-1272692?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), lifting the injunction and dismissing the case after finding that Madonna's claims were time-barred due to the passing of the three-year statute of limitations. On June 4th (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/madonna-loses-appeal-art-advisor-1565125?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), the Appellate Division affirmed the decision (http://nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2019/2019_04333.htm?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The sale of the contested items is scheduled to begin on July 17, 2019.

Shope v. Frida Kahlo Corporation, No. 1:19-cv-01614 (D. Colo. filed June 5, 2019). On May 27th, a third controversy arose surrounding the Frida Kahlo Corporation's (FKC) assertion of its trademark rights to the artist's name and likeness. FKC submitted a "notice of intellectual property infringement" to online arts and crafts retailer Etsy, against the work of folk artist Nina Shope, who creates dolls using the likeness and name of Kahlo. The artwork listings reported by FKC were removed by Etsy, though many more of Shope's Frida Kahlo dolls remain available for purchase. In response, Shope filed suit in the District of Colorado against FKC on June 5th seeking a declaratory injunction of non-infringement (https://artlawandmore.com/2019/06/10/artist-takes-on-frida-kahlo-corporation-in-copyright-spat/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Shope maintains that use of Kahlo's name and likeness for creation of dolls is not an infringing use.

Lam v. Mamacha LLC et al, Index No. 653320/2019 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed June 6, 2019). On June 6th, Dallas-based artist Dan Lam sued New York gallery The Hole and Mamacha Cafe for allegedly failing to pay the artist for her artworks following a 2018 exhibition. Lam claims that she has been paid only $6,000 out of a total of nearly $36,000 owed for 21 artworks. Eight of the artworks were sold, while the others were lost or damaged. The Hole claims that Mamacha is the only party in a fiscal relationship with Lam, but Lam maintains that her works were consigned with both parties and thus both are properly named as defendants in the suit (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/artist-sues-the-hole-mamacha-1567618?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Lehmann Maupin LLC v. Yoo, 1:18-cv-11126-AJN (S.D.N.Y. June 10, 2019). Last fall, Lehmann Maupin Gallery filed suit against former employee Bona Yoo for the latter's allegedly stealing trade secrets (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/lehmann-maupin-accuses-former-employee-of-data-theft-in-lawsuit-1443886?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The gallery accused Yoo of taking confidential client information when she left to become a Sales Director at Lévy Gorvy. In response, Yoo countersued on the basis that the gallery's suit was filed out of spite and it did not have exclusive rights to the data. On June 10, 2019, the District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case with prejudice (http://www.artnews.com/2019/06/12/lehmann-maupin-bona-yoo-lawsuit-dismissed/?mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). No comment has been made as to whether the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Germany, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18188 (D.C. Cir. filed June 18, 2019). Last year, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the heirs of the art dealers who sold the Guelph Treasure may pursue their claims against the Federal Republic of Germany and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in U.S. Federal Court (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/17-7064/17-7064-2018-07-10.html?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). On June 18th, the court denied the defendants' petition for rehearing en banc (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/17-7064/17-7064-2019-06-18.html?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). The claims against Germany and the SPK were filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, on the basis that the forced sales were in violation of international law. This decision confirms last year's ruling that claimants do not have to exhaust all remedies abroad before pursuing their claims against sovereign defendants in U.S. courts (https://blog.sullivanlaw.com/artlawreport/guelph-treasure-claims-to-go-forward?utm_campaign=Art&utm_content=94435043&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lis-cbH6xaIu5y&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Moi v. Chihuly Studio, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103576 (W.D. Wash. June 20, 2019). In May 2017, Michael Moi brought suit against Dale Chihuly, claiming that Moi co-authored certain artworks and was thus owed over $20 million dollars from the sales. On June 20th, Chihuly's motion for summary judgment was granted, thereby dismissing all claims brought by Moi (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/dale-chihuly-lawsuit-dismissed-1582921?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The District Court for the Western District of Washington held that Moi could not prove joint authorship, independent copyrightable interest, nor did he have a claim under promissory estoppel, and, finally, Moi's claims were time barred by the three-year statute of limitations for copyright claims.

Accent Delight Int'l Ltd. v. Sotheby's, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105864 (S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2019). In October 2018, Russian billionaire and art collector Dmitry Rybolovlev brought suit against Sotheby's, alleging that the auction house materially assisted art advisor Yves Bouvier in defrauding Rybolovlev of approximately $1 billion by overcharging the collector on 38 works of art (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/russian-billionaire-rybolovlev-sues-sotheby-s-for-usd380m-in-fraud-damages?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Sotheby's was involved in the sales of 14 of the artworks in question, for which Rybolovlev seeks $380 million in damages. Sotheby's filed a motion to dismiss the New York lawsuit and to keep certain records sealed. On June 25th, the district court for the Southern District of New York largely denied the motion to dismiss and denied in part and granted in part the motion to seal, meaning that this suit can proceed despite the fact that the parties also have ongoing litigations internationally (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/sotheby-s-denied-dismissal-of-rybolovlev-s-usd380m-lawsuit-by-new-york-judge?utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=943935b930-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_06_26_02_56&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-943935b930-61254873&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Zuckerman v. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19057 (2d Cir. June 26, 2019). The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) has prevailed against the heirs of German Jewish businessman Paul Leffman in its claim to the painting The Actor by Pablo Picasso. Leffman sold the painting in 1938 for $12,000, in order to fund the family's escape from fascist Italy to Switzerland after they had fled Nazi Germany the prior year. The painting was donated to the Met in 1952, but the family did not bring a claim to the painting until 2010. Previously, the District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the family failed to demonstrate that the painting was sold under duress (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2016cv07665/463416/36/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). On appeal, the Second Circuit again dismissed the case, this time on the basis that the plaintiff's claim was time barred under the equitable defense of laches (https://www.timesofisrael.com/picasso-painting-sold-by-family-escaping-the-nazis-can-remain-at-the-met/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

The Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al, No.1:17-cv-02532 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2019). The District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan ruled on July 1st that Andy Warhol's use of Lynn Goldsmith's 1981 photograph of iconic pop singer Prince was fair use, based on a finding that Warhol's series was "transformative." The Andy Warhol Foundation's motion for declaratory judgment was granted and Goldsmith's countersuit was denied, concluding the litigation that began in 2017. The case is being appealed. Read our Case Review (https://itsartlaw.org/2018/12/05/case-review-warhol-v-goldsmith/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8https://itsartlaw.org/2018/12/05/case-review-warhol-v-goldsmith/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Morgan Art Found. Ltd. v. McKenzie, No. 1:18-cv-04438-AT (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2019). Heated legal action has surrounded the estate of Robert Indiana since the day before his death last May. As we reported, the suit was initiated by the Morgan Art Foundation, Indiana's agent for the past 20 years, against American Image Art, its founder Michael McKenzie, and Indiana's employee Jamie Thomas, alleging copyright and trademark infringement among other claims (https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=88512bac9d&u=78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801&id=1828a75f39&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). American Image Art and McKenzie filed counterclaims, alleging that the Morgan failed to fully pay Indiana royalties and that it fabricated unauthorized reproductions of his famous sculptures. On July 1, 2019 the District Court for the Southern District of New York largely dismissed the counterclaims against the Morgan. Then, on July 2nd, attorneys for American Image Art and McKenzie filed to withdraw as counsel (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/robert-indiana-latest?fbclid=IwAR1fUZQHl_EtgBTi7bRd1nqIOMnaZJ8e7uob1Gfp34RvWJa5cT3ECEqVaKk&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

The Center for Art Law strives to create a coherent community for all those interested in law and the arts. Positioned as a centralized resource for art and cultural heritage law, it serves as a portal to connect artists and students, academics and legal practitioners, collectors and dealers, government officials and others in the field. In addition to the weekly newsletter (http://cardozo.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801&id=022731d685), the Center for Art Law subscribers receive updates about art and law-related topics through its popular art law blog (http://itsartlaw.com/blog/)and calendar of events (http://itsartlaw.com/events/). The Center for Art Law welcomes inquiries and announcements from firms, universities and student organizations about recent publications, pending cases, upcoming events, current research and job and externship opportunities. To contact the Center for Art Law, visit our website at: www.itsartlaw.com or write to itsartlaw@gmail.com.

July 1, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media:


Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Barring Vulgar Trademarks

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that barred the registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" trademarks on the basis that the law violated the First Amendment. The case involved the trademark of a brand name "FUCT", which was argued by the government's attorneys to be the "equivalent of the past participle form of the paradigmatic profane word in our culture," but Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, found that the law was unconstitutional because it "disfavors certain ideas."


Supreme Court Set to Rule Whether Congress Appropriately Abrogated State Sovereignty Immunity for Copyright Claims

On June 3rd, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Allen v. Cooper, which asks whether Congress appropriately acted when it relied "upon its powers under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to abrogate state sovereign immunity against federal copyright claims by passing the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act." The action emanates from the State of North Carolina using video footage that Allen had recorded, prompting him to bring an infringement action against the state's governor, cultural resources department, and six officials. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity, which the district court denied finding that the Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity was validly abrogated by Congress through its enacting of the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act.


Opinion: No One Owns the Law, and No One Should Be Able to Copyright It

Before the Supreme Court will soon come a case that will be the first in over 100 hundred years to make it to the high Court on the issue of whether a state may assert a copyright claim over its laws. The case involves a nonprofit organization, Public.Resource.Org, which uploaded all 186 volumes of the annotated code to its website, prompting Georgia to sue to have it removed. The website has faced lawsuits over its publication of "fire and electrical safety standards, air duct leakage standards, nonprofit tax returns, and European Union baby pacifier regulations," and many have viewed the website as not only "an act of roguery" but an important demonstration of the "principle of self-governance."


William Morris Endeavor Hits Back in Fight With Hollywood Writers

The legal fight between 7,000 television and movie writers and their talent agents at William Morris Endeavor has escalated after Endeavor filed an action in federal court in California arguing that the unions representing the writers had engaged "in an unprecedented abuse of union authority" that brought the writers to commit an act of "unlawful group boycott" when they cut off their representatives at the talent agency. Last week, the two sides had been negotiating a resolution to the dispute, but when the writers rejected a proposal from Endeavor, the filing of the action became inevitable.



Target Pulls New Thread in Bikini Yarn

The big-box retailer Target has found itself ensnarled in a dispute involving a bikini with a long history of litigation. The bikini was originally designed over 20 years ago and was sold for about $2.50, but the creator of it now charges $75 for a handmade original, and other companies have begun to sell similar bikinis, which has raised questions about whether any one person can own a design. A case involving the bikini has not brought in companies such as Victoria's Secret and Neiman Marcus and has become even more complicated as the original designer of the bikini obtained a copyright earlier this year.


San Francisco to Cover Controversial George Washington Murals

The San Francisco Board of Education approved covering a series of murals about George Washington High School, including those depicting dead Native Americans and slaves working. While the 13 Works Progess Administration murals from the 1930s have been debated for over 50 years, the board's decision came after the debate intensified in the past several years. Some have favored keeping the murals by Victor Arnautoff, a "social realist and Communist who was critical of the country's first president," but those in favor of covering the murals won out given the offensiveness of the murals.


What Happens After Amazon's Domination is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues

With Amazon taking over half of the book market in the United States, it has permitted itself to be a third-party seller of publishers that have put into the marketplace low quality counterfeits and reproductions. One egregious example is the sale of a medical handbook that recommends dosage amounts for treating ailments related to bacterial pneumonia as a poorly printed counterfeit made unclear whether there was a "1" or "7" in the dosage amount; a discrepancy that could endanger the lives of patients. Given that Amazon has taken a "hands off" approach to the business, it is not expected that the company will remove the counterfeits or attempt to mitigate the damage that the counterfeits may do to purchasers.


Two Big Book and Magazine Printers Face Suit to Block Their Merger

LSC Communications and Quad/Graphics are two of the largest companies in the printing and distribution business and have sought to merge in the coming months, but the Justice Department filed an action in federal court in Chicago asking to stop the merger from proceeding, as it "would decrease competition and drive up prices." The Authors Guild and PEN America allied with the Justice Department and noted that the "lack of competition among book printers has already caused a bottleneck and increased publishing costs" and the merger "could exacerbate this situation by creating a monopoly."


IMDb Lists Transgender Stars' Birth Names; Hollywood Coalition Protests

The website IMDb has come under fire from Hollywood workers and gay rights advocates for publishing the birth names of transgender performers without those performers' consents (in a practice that is called "deadnaming") which those advocates say "perpetuates discrimination," invades privacy, and even places individuals at risk of violence. Earlier this year, it was reported that after months of effort, other individuals had been unable to remove the transgender people's birth names from the site.


Patriotic Movie Apparently Falls Afoul of China's Censors

While it is common for China's censors to take out parts of foreign films, such as those in "Bohemian Rhapsody" that depict Freddie Mercury's homosexuality, it is less common for a Chinese film to be censored. A new movie, "The Eight Hundred", has had its opening canceled according to a statement on the film's official social media account. While no reason was given, it coincides with a broader crackdown by China's leader, Xi Jinping, on cultural works that do not resonate with the government's cultural spirit.



Italy Is Chosen to Host 2026 Winter Olympics

The city of Milan and the ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo have been announced as the hosts of the 2026 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee chose the duo as opposed to the other option, Stockholm, Sweden and the ski resort of Are, Sweden, in an effort to "curb waning interest, spiraling costs, and white-elephant competition venues associated with the Games." Although some critics of the Winter Olympics have viewed it as an event that has wasted resources to build facilities that will not be used beyond the Games, some have suggested (such as Rome's Mayor Virginia Raggi) that local sports facilities be renovated to accommodate them.


U.S. Gives Advanced Class in Cool in Advancing in World Cup

In its performance on Friday, the United States women's soccer team showed a calmness in bringing down the host, France. The confidence has been oozing for weeks and has been evident not only in the actions of the team but also the words, including those of Ali Krieger, who said after the team's 3-0 victory over Chile that the country could field not only the best team in the world but also the second best team. In the semi-final, the Americans will face England. All of this while being involved in a lawsuit for equal pay.


U.S. Soccer, Amid Outcry, Announces New System for Employee Complaints

U.S. Soccer has announced that it is creating an anonymous, third-party reporting system that will handle complaints from employees. This move comes after more than a dozen employees complained about the environment of the Chicago headquarters being "toxic". The head of the organization, Carlos Cordeiro, notified employees that the changes were being implemented and that more details would be revealed as to the mechanics of the system in the coming weeks.


The Knicks Receive $50,000 Fine for Barring The Daily News

After the New York Knicks did not permit a New York Daily News reporter to attend a news conference, the National Basketball Association (NBA) fined the Knicks $50,000 for violating its rules about "equal access for the news media." The NBA reported that the Knicks pledged to abide by the rules going forward, but the feud between the Knicks and the newspaper has existed for years as the coverage from The Daily News has been known to be "gratuitously negative." The Daily News has simply asserted that its coverage is reflective of the team's poor record.


Why So Many Horses Have Died at Santa Anita

The past six months at Santa Anita have been dramatic: 30 horses have had to be euthanized after suffering fractures, and there has been clear evidence that on race day, at least one horse was receiving a performance-enhancing drug. Despite the fact that advances in veterinary care should mean a lower rate of horses dying, many have blamed the Canada-based Stronach Group, which has owned the track for over 20 years, for the deaths as they have put in place policies that maximize profits rather than value the horses' lives.


Girl Hit by Foul Ball in Houston Had Serious Head Injuries

A foul ball on May 29th struck a 2-year-old girl in the crowd in Houston, and the lawyer for the girl's family has announced that she "sustained a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and seizures." Players and safety advocates, following the incident, had urged Major League Baseball (MLB) to do more to protect fans, particularly as pitchers continue to up their pitch speeds and batters continue to hit the ball harder every year. Previously, the MLB had deferred to individual teams to develop their own safety plans, and it is unclear whether this latest incident will change its policy.


Move Over Nevada: New Jersey Is Sports Betting Capital of the Country

In May, bettors wagered more in New Jersey than any state in the country, including Nevada. It saw $318.9 million in bets, while Nevada took in $317.4 million. This is the culmination of steps that former Governor Chris Christie took to legalize sports betting, which was approved in the Supreme Court's approval of the practice.



Facebook to Help French Police Identify Hate Speech Suspects

The social media giant Facebook has announced that it will help French police to identify hate speech suspects by providing authorities with the IP addresses of those who publish hateful content. Facebook released a statement vowing to "push back if (the request) is overbroad, inconsistent with human rights, or legally defective."


Twitter to Label Abusive Tweets From Political Leaders

Twitter announced that it would be hiding tweets from "major political figures who break the company's rules for harassment or abuse behind a warning label." The labels are intended to warn users as to which tweets break the rules against harassment without entirely barring the messages. This step illustrates the difficulty that tech companies have had in balancing free speech with their own ideas and policies as to what content to permit.


General News

Supreme Court Limits Agency Power, a Goal of the Right

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that has the effect of cutting back the power of administrative agencies; a goal for which the conservative legal movement has long been calling. However, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court's four-member liberal wing in maintaining two key precedents that preserve the deference that judges must give agency officials (which came from Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. in 1945 and Auer v. Robbins in 1997). The Court was unanimous in its decision to send the case back down to the lower court to be heard again.


Supreme Court Bars Challenges to Partisan Gerrymandering

On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that "federal courts are powerless to hear challenges to partisan gerrymandering" in a 5-4 vote that showed the conservative wing of the Court's power. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the drafters of the Constitution knew that politics would play a part in drawing districts and judges cannot "second-guess lawmakers' judgments" as to drawing those districts.


Supreme Court to Resolve the Fate of the Dreamers

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. While Trump attempted to end the program, lawmakers have grappled with how to deal with the approximately 800,000 individuals who DACA protects as people who came into the country illegally as children. In multiple appeals courts, Trump's attempt at ending the program was struck down as unconstitutional despite the fact that presidents have broad powers to shape their policies.


Bid to Revive Alabama Abortion Ban Fails

The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal asking for review of the Alabama law that would have banned abortion "in the vast majority of second-trimester abortions." The law had been blocked in the lower courts, and it would have affected 99% of abortions performed in the state after 15 weeks.


Democrats Diverge on Issues in Debates

Over two nights, 20 Democratic candidates debated various issues on the stage and reinforced a dynamic regularly observed in studies: "male candidates are free to interrupt, while female candidates face a double bind: stay silent and fail to be heard, or speak up and get judged as too aggressive." Several notable moments emerged during the debates, including Senator Kamala Harris calling former Vice President Joe Biden's comments about segregationist senators as "hurtful" and calling into question his votes regarding busing in decades past.



Donald Trump Jr. Shares, Then Deletes, Tweet Questioning Kamala Harris' Race

Donald Trump Jr. shared a tweet from Ali Alexander, a right-wing media personality, which stated: "Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves. She's not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That's fine. She's not an American Black. Period." He posted the tweet and asked whether it was true, but by the end of the night, he had deleted the tweet. His spokesman announced to the media that "it had all been a misunderstanding" and that "Don's tweet was simply him asking if it was true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it's not something he had ever heard before and once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet, he quickly deleted it."


Trump's Iran Reversal Raises Allies' Doubts Over Tactics and U.S. Power, and Iran Greets Sanctions With Mockery

Following Iran's downing of an American drone and a dispute as to whether that drone was in fact in Iran's territory, Trump had vowed retaliatory action and apparently was prepared to launch missiles to take out several targets in Iran, only to call off the launch moments before it was to occur. Instead, he opted to use a more familiar weapon against the country: impose additional sanctions on Iran, which were greeted by Iran's leaders with mockery. Allies of the United States, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, questioned the tactics of the administration.




Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Speaking New Furor

In the first meeting between the two leaders since Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a report showing a "sweeping and systematic" operation to sway the results of the 2016 presidential election, President Trump laughed with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the interference and instead "warmly shook hands, smiled, and chatted amiably." A reporter asked whether Trump would tell Russia not to meddle in the elections, and both men smiled as Trump turned to Putin and told him, "Don't meddle in the election, President. Don't meddle in the election," as he playfully pointed at Putin and another official. This took place after Trump previously responded to a similar media question with, basically, "it's none of your business."


Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia as UN Expert Calls for International Investigation

Instead of critiquing the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for his role in the killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump noted that he has done a "really spectacular job" and congratulated him. Trump ignored questions from reporters as to the role of the crown prince in the death of Khashoggi and made no mention of "the Saudi government's crackdown on dissent, including the prosecution of women's activists and the recent arrest of intellectuals and journalists." Meanwhile, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings has called for an international investigation into the killing of Khashoggi and excoriated the United Nations and Saudi Arabia for the handling of the case.




Trump Names Stephanie Grisham, Aide to First Lady, as Press Secretary

Melania Trump's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, has been selected to replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as the White House press secretary. She will also work as the communications director, and with her elevation to press secretary comes confirmation that President Trump has chosen to ensure a loyalist remains "the public face of an administration that has been defined by its pugilistic relationship with journalists."


'She's Not My Type': Accused Again of Sexual Assault, Trump Resorts to Old Insult

This week in New York magazine, E. Jean Carroll, who had written for years at Elle magazine, accused President Trump of throwing her against a wall and forcing himself on her in the mid-1990s. His counter to her accusation was that he would not have assaulted her because "she's not my type." At a campaign event in 2016, in response to a woman's accusation that while on an airplane she put his hand on her skirt, he said, "That would not be my first choice. Check out her Facebook, you'll understand." While President Trump claimed that he has never met Carroll, the most recent accuser, there is a photograph of them together at a party in 1987 to which he responded, "Standing with my coat on in a line? Give me a break, with my back to the camera? I have no idea who she is."


Trump Wants to Cut Regulations That Block New Housing

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order that creates a commission "that will recommend ways to cut regulations that stymie new housing construction, embracing an idea shared by affordable housing advocates on the left, and even by Barack Obama." However, the method that the commission is likely to use is to attack local and state restrictions, such as zoning and rent control or energy efficiency mandates, and recommend eliminating or circumventing them. The new White House commission will be led by Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and some analysts have expressed hope that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree to trim some of the more intrusive regulations.


Attacks Against the Chairman of the Fed Intensify: "I Made Him"

One day after the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell asserted that he is independent from the White House, Trump said, "Here's a guy, nobody ever heard of him before, and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is? O.K. Let him show how tough he is. He's not doing a good job." Powell has been a Fed governor since 2012 and had worked at the Carlyle Group as a partner prior. The source of the tension is the Fed's maintaining and slightly raising interest rates, which Trump has seen as an impediment to growing the economy at the sizzling pace he has been seeking.


U.S. Tech Companies Sidestep a Trump Ban and Keep Selling to Huawei

Despite the Trump administration issuing a ban on the sale of American technology to Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company, American chip makers such as Intel and Micron continue to sell "millions of dollars of products to Huawei." The companies have "found ways to avoid labeling goods as American-made," and thus have been able to sell directly to Huawei within the past three weeks. This development illustrates the difficulty an administration can have in stopping companies from doing business with each other, as well as "the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world's electronics industry and global commerce."


Google and the University of Chicago Sued Over Data Sharing

On Wednesday, a class-action suit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois suing the University of Chicago and Google. The University of Chicago and Google entered into a partnership in 2017 to share patient data in an effort "to unlock information trapped in electronic health records and improve predictive analysis in medicine." The action alleges that the hospital shared hundreds of thousands of patients' records without removing date stamps or doctor's notes, invading those patients' privacy. The disclosure of this information violates the federal regulation, HIPAA, which does not permit any identifying information of a patient including admission and discharge dates.


Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to New York Charges Designed to Thwart Trump Pardon

Paul Manafort entered a New York courtroom to face state fraud charges that, if they stick, would guarantee that he faces prison time even if pardoned of the federal crimes with which he has been convicted. The 16-count indictment includes charges of falsifying business records and engaging in a conspiracy "to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans for several residential properties." Manafort has begun serving his 7.5-year sentence for federal crimes, including tax and bank fraud, which stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.


Democrats Strike Deal With an Obstruction Witness, but a Court Fight Looms While Mueller's Testimony Before Congress Sets Up a Political Spectacle

July will bring Robert Mueller before Congress to testify as to his investigation and report in what is sure to be a political spectacle on the Hill. The House Judiciary Committee has reached a deal with a key source of information in Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice and will allow a delay in public testimony to obtain answers to written questions. It is expected that the White House will attempt to block the source, Annie Donaldson, from testifying, as she is a former White House lawyer and provided significant detail in the Mueller report as to what happened during meetings between White House counsel Don McGahn and President Trump.



White House Directs Kellyanne Conway Not to Testify Before House Panel; Subpoena Issued

The House Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to subpoena Kellyanne Conway for testimony after she failed to appear for a hearing. At the hearing, a special counsel advised the committee that she should be fired for "egregious, repeated, and very public violations" of federal ethics laws. The White House blocked her from testifying "about allegations of repeated violations of a federal ethics law that prohibits government officials from engaging in political activities at work," and a clash is sure to occur between the White House and Congress as to her appearing for testimony.



National Security Agency Gathered Domestic Calling Records It Had No Authority to Collect

Newly revealed documents show that the National Security Agency (NSA) discovered in October 2018 that it was collecting information about domestic calls and messages and had no legal authority to do so. This revelation only further illustrates the "troubles the agency has had with using Americans' phone records to hunt for hidden terrorist cells." While the NSA blamed this particular incident on a telecommunications provider, the identity of which was not exposed, the incident may be a factor when Congress considers whether the renew the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which expires at the end of the year and sets the rules for how the NSA is to handle the large volume of Americans' phone records.


Rex Tillerson Says Kushner Bypassed Him and Mattis to Make Foreign Policy

In a closed-door meeting before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disclosed that White House aide Jared Kushner had circumvented the State Department, Rex Tillerson, and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis in several instances to advance Kushner's own agenda. In 2017, he talked with Saudi and Emirati leaders regarding a plan to impose a blockade on Qatar, and on a separate occasion, he had a dinner with the foreign minister of Mexico in a Washington restaurant. Tillerson shared with lawmakers that he had raised the issue of Kushner circumventing him with others in the administration but that it did not change Kushner's behavior.


Guantanamo Case to Test Whether Torture Can Be Put on the Docket

An Army judge is set to hear arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys starting on July 9th about whether a prisoner who endured torture and mistreatment while in CIA custody may have time taken off his prison term as a result of the CIA's actions. While he remains in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, he has yet to be sentenced for his pleading guilty in 2012 to delivering $50,000 of al-Qaeda money that financed terrorist activity, as he has agreed to be a government witness in return for leniency. However, given the extent of the torture he experienced while he was in CIA custody, including hallucinations, prolonged isolation in wretched conditions, and harshly being forced to accept nutrition, advocates are hopeful that his test will show "whether the military commission will grapple seriously and fairly with the United States' legacy of torture."


Hundreds of Migrant Children Are Moved Out of an Overcrowded Border Station as Three Bodies Found Near Border

The issues of securing the border and holding intending immigrants in safe conditions continues to grow more complicated: the federal government found itself arguing in court that migrants should not be provided with basic hygienic equipment, such as toothbrushes and soap, while detention centers continue to grow more crowded. Then, a photograph of a father and his 23-month-old daughter drowned in murky water near the border emerged illustrating the humanitarian aspect of the crisis as well as the photograph of a three-year-old Syrian boy drowned in the Mediterranean Sea illustrated that crisis. Leaders in both political parties continue to struggle with how to deal in a bipartisan fashion with these issues.






House Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi

In a rare capitulation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought the Senate bill for a $4.6 billion humanitarian package through to President Trump's desk for signature. In doing so, she dropped "her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters," and when she put the bill through, she noted that it was to "get resources to the children fastest." While the passage of the bill raised tensions between the liberal and centrist wings of the Democratic Party, the Senate being in Republican hands ensured that a more liberal bill would not have passed through both chambers.


Treasury's Watchdog to Look Into Tubman Bill Delay

The Office of the Inspector General is set to investigate why the redesign of the $20 bill to replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson with that of Harriet Tubman has been delayed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. While Mnuchin publicly claimed that the delay was due to first redesigning the $10 bill and $50 bill to enhance the security features of those bills, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the investigation, as it "has not been credibly explained, and the inspector general's review must get to the bottom of this."


Senate Rejects Curb on Trump's Authority to Strike Iran

The Senate rejected on Friday a measure that "would have required President Trump to get Congress' permission before striking Iran, after Republicans balked at infringing on the president's war-making powers." In doing so, the Senate confirmed President Trump's statement that he had the power to launch a military strike on Iran without having the permission of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added that the president "made it absolutely clear that he is not interested in starting a war with Iran," but there has been growing unease about Congress ceding its war powers to the presidency.


Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Shift $2.5 Billion to Pay for Border Wall

In Northern California, a federal judge has permanently blocked the Trump administration from shifting $2.5 billion in funding "to build barriers along the United States' southwestern border, dealing a blow to the White House's efforts to fund a border wall without congressional approval." The judge, Judge Haywood Gilliam, called the shift of Defense Department funds "unlawful" and did not "square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic."


Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Question Throws Case Into Chaos

The Census Bureau, in order to conduct the 2020 census on time, must begin printing its questionnaires and forms today, and the federal government has informed an appeals court that it might be unable to meet the deadline just as the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on whether a question regarding citizenship may be included in the 2020 census questionnaire. Last month, the case took a turn as a deceased Republican strategist's documents "revealed new details about the genesis of the question" and cast "additional doubt on the Trump administration's rationale for asking 2020 census respondents whether they are citizens."


Lone Missouri Abortion Clinic Can Stay Open in Dispute with State

A state commission in Missouri gave the only abortion clinic in the state more time "to resolve its licensing dispute with the state health department." If the conflict is not resolved, the state will be the first in about 45 years to not have an abortion clinic. Throughout the country, abortion restrictions have become popular for conservative-leaning state legislatures as 58 new abortion restrictions were signed into law this year, including seven states passing laws that ban the procedure during the early stages of pregnancy, a time "when women often do not yet know they are pregnant."


National Rifle Association Shuts Down Production of NRATV, and Its Number Two Official Resigns

The National Rifle Association's (NRA) second-in-command, Christopher Cox, has joined the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen in severing ties with the organization, and the NRA has shut down its live production media company NRATV. The NRA had implicated Cox in a scheme to oust the chief executive Wayne LaPierre, but these developments further complicate the tumultuous year that the NRA has had as it has struggled to stay financially afloat and faced investigations around the country into its activities.


Gender Gap Closes When Everyone is on the Ballot, Study Shows

The Reflective Democracy Campaign has released a report, after analyzing data from nearly 45,000 elected officeholders around the country, that showed that when women and people of color are on the ballot, they are as likely to win the election as white men. While white men continue to dominate politics disproportionately to their population, the director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign hopes that the report shows that white men's "electability advantage is a myth."


San Francisco Bans Sale of Juul and E-Cigarettes

San Francisco, never shy to use "ordinances to push progress causes," has previously banned plastic straws, the sale of fur, and facial recognition technologies, and now, the city has banned the use of Juul and other electronic cigarettes. The city is the first in the United States to ban electronic cigarettes and comes as experts warn that there is a nicotine epidemic in teenagers which is now wiping out decades of progress in decreasing tobacco usage among that age group. One doctor and professor of health opined that the move by the city is "really smart politics but dubious public health."


DeVos Repeals Obama-Era Rule Cracking Down on For-Profit Colleges

The Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has repealed a regulation that cracked down on for-profit colleges given their producing "graduates with no meaningful job prospects and mountains of student debt they could not hope to repay." DeVos has sided with the for-profit colleges, which had argued that "the Obama administration unfairly targeted" them and has promised to expand the College Scorecard, which provides information about 2,100 certificate-granting programs throughout the country. One of the keys of the regulation has been repealed, however--withholding federal aid from schools that promise to provide students with career skills but do not prepare them for the job market (and therefore leaving taxpayers to pay back the loans)--and the full extent of the consequences of this repeal are unknown.


2,495 Reports of Police Bias. Not One Was Deemed Valid by the NYPD

In the past four years, there have been about 2,500 formal complaints against police officers that have allegedly acted with bias. The NYPD has not found a single allegation of those to be substantiated, according to a report issued by a city watchdog agency. While some investigations had officers misclassifying complaints or failing to interview people that were involved in the incidents, the commission of the Department of Investigation announced that there must be an "effective and fair" process for investigating allegations as it is "a fundamental component of the Police Department's relationship with the public" and helps "to build trust and confidence."


Crisis Hits Dominican Republic Over Deaths of U.S. Tourists

A growing number of Americans vacationing in the Dominican Republic have died under mysterious circumstances and with autopsies showing heart attacks, septic shock, and pneumonia. The tourism minister of the country has insisted that there is no mystery about the deaths and that authorities have nothing to hide, but at least 10 American tourists have died in the past year, and there have been an alarming number of reports of Americans being assaulted at resorts. Nonetheless, Dominican officials have maintained that the number of deaths "is no greater than would be expected statistically in a country visited by more than 2 million Americans each year."


France Records Hottest Day on Record at Nearly 115 Degrees

A heat wave passed through France last week and brought temperatures in one southern village to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest the country has seen on record. The heat wave brought wildfires to Spain and Germany, killing at least two people. The rise in temperatures fits into the global trend of higher temperatures and heat waves that "are hotter and last longer."


Council of Europe Restores Russia's Voting Rights

The parliament of the Council of Europe voted to end Russia's suspension, which began after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The vote of 118 to 62, with 10 abstentions, was contentious and faced opposition from most former Soviet-bloc countries, as it effectively ratified the "illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia's support for separatist warfare in eastern Ukraine." While Russia will now resume paying its contribution to the Council, it will be reinstated in time to vote for a new secretary general.


UK Appeals Court Overturns Order for Mentally Disabled Woman to Have Abortion

A British appeals court overturned a decision from a lower court that required a developmentally disabled woman in her 20s who was 22 weeks pregnant to have an abortion despite the woman and her mother's wishes to have a child. While the circumstances of the pregnancy were unclear (and a police investigation is pending), the woman has the mental capacity of a six- to nine-year-old, and the appeals court found the case to be "heartbreaking" but had to act in the woman's "best interests, not on society's view of termination."


Macron Calls Climate Change a 'Red Line' Issue at G20, Rebuking Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he will not sign any joint statement at the G20 summit in Japan unless the joint statement deals with the issue of climate change. He reiterated his support for the Paris climate agreement, from which President Trump has vowed to withdraw the United States, and said, "We cannot, at home, be under pressure from our youth, and rightly so. That some won't sign, that's their business. But we shouldn't collectively lose our ambitions."


Dutch Railway to Pay Millions to Holocaust Survivors

The Dutch railway, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, is set to pay tens of millions of euros to Holocaust survivors and their direct descendents as restitution for the railway's running "special trains to transit camps where Jews and other minorities awaited deportation to Nazi death camps." In a statement released Wednesday, the railway vowed to pay between $5,700 and $17,000 to the families of those in the Jewish, Roma, and Sinti communities. These payouts are the most recent "compensation offer by companies in Germany and other countries occupied by the Nazis for their roles in the Holocaust."


June 24, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Few Hollywood Productions Are Using Inclusion Riders

More than a year after Francis McDormand mentioned inclusion riders in her Oscar acceptance speech, only a handful of Hollywood productions have adopted the contractual stipulation that actors and filmmakers can use to assemble a more diverse cast and crew.


Jussie Smollett Case Will Be Investigated by Special Prosecutor

A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate how authorities handled the decision to drop charges against Jussie Smollett, who was accused of staging an attack on himself and formally charged earlier this year. The Cook County judge who appointed the special prosecutor also said that the state's attorney, Kim Foxx, did not have legal authority to turn the case over to another prosecutor after recusing herself.


Carrie Underwood, NBC, and NFL Sued Over "Sunday Night Football" Theme Song

Singer Heidi Merrill alleges that she pitched the song to Underwood's producer in 2016 and that Underwood's version of the song "is substantially similar, if not identical" to hers.


Lawyers Representing Harvey Weinstein Are Slowing Leaving His Defense Team

Harvey Weinstein's legal team shrunk after several high-profile departures. With less than three months until his trial begins, attorney Jose Baez filed papers asking the court to let him withdraw from the case, citing fundamental disagreements with his client. Weinstein had reportedly grown frustrated with Baez and recently stopped paying him.


Soundgarden, Estates of Tom Petty and Tupac, Sue Universal Music Over Recordings Destroyed in 2018 Fire

A class action lawsuit seeking at least $100 million in damages was filed in Los Angeles following recent news that a fire decimated a storage facility where Universal Music stored master recordings. The suit states that Universal Music owes the musicians half of a confidential settlement negotiated with it, and half of an additional insurance settlement that Universal Music received for losses sustained in the fire.


Missing Phone Central to Kevin Spacey Case

A phone that Spacey's lawyers argue contains messages that would help their client disprove the sexual assault allegations against him is missing. The Nantucket judge who ordered the phone be turned over to Spacey's defense team has now ordered the father of the accuser to appear in court to explain what he knows about the phone's whereabouts after police returned it to him.



The Baltimore Symphony Has Locked Out its Musicians as Labor Talks Stall

The cash-strapped Baltimore Symphony locked out its musicians after failed labor talks. Management wants the players to agree to a shorter season and fewer weeks of work, changes that it says are necessary to reduce fiscal losses and keep the orchestra afloat. According to the musicians, a cut in performing weeks will impact the quality of the orchestra by making it more difficult to attract talent and compete with some of the top tier orchestras that offer year-round contracts.


Another Restoration Project Gone Bad - This Time, a 16th-Century Statue of St. George

A 16th-century wooden statue has been unrestored in Spain after a botched paint job replaced the original statue's muted shades with bright, loud colors that had St. George resembling the cartoon character Tintin. Working with photos of the original statue and $34,000 later, specialists in Navarra stripped back layers of paint to restore the statue's original colors.


Serpentine Galleries Chief Quits After Spyware Firm Controversy

The Serpentine Galleries is one of London's most popular art museums. Its chief executive, Yana Peel, has resigned after a newspaper revealed that she had connections to a cybersecurity firm whose technology has been used to track journalists and human rights activists. Peel's husband is co-founder of a private equity firm that recently bought a controlling stake in NSO Group, an Israeli company offering technology that can hack phones to gain access to encrypted communications.


Bamiyan Buddhas Are Being Resurrected as Holograms in Afghanistan

The Buddhas of Bamiyan, two 6th-century statues that were definitively destroyed by the Taliban in 2001, were "resurrected" in 2015 using holograms that beamed images of the Buddhas onto the sites where they originally stood. Since most archaeologists oppose reconstruction because the extent of the damage is too great, the goal going forward is to guard against continued degradation of the Bamiyan complex and conserve the remains as they are.



U.S. Soccer and Women's Team Agree to Mediate Gender Discrimination Lawsuit

The mediation is set to begin soon after the Women's World Cup is over. The players' lawsuit accuses the federation of gender discrimination and seeks equitable pay. It also alleges discrimination related to the players' medical treatment, their working conditions, and the surface on which they play during matches.


The Real Reason Why the U.S. Women's Soccer Team Isn't Getting Equal Pay: Men Still Dominate the Governing Bodies

The article addresses the systemic repercussions of the gender imbalance observed in the sport governing bodies, with a specific focus on U.S. women's soccer, where women remain largely outnumbered in the organization.


Are Women Athletes Forced to Choose Between Sponsorship and Motherhood?

This ESPN feature chronicles the experiences of several female athletes balancing motherhood and sporting careers, with a focus on their sponsorship contracts.


Major League Baseball and Players' Union Set to Begin Early Labor Talks

League and union officials met earlier this week "to discuss logistics for negotiations" in a meeting that comes two years before the current labor agreement expires. The union is hoping to bring about substantive changes to the agreement after a slow-moving free agent market during the last two off-seasons. Some of the pressing issues for the union include restoring meaningful free agency and establishing a system that rewards younger players who have limited earning power. Though the current deal runs through 2021, both sides have reopened it in recent years to address performance-enhancing drug testing and penalties for domestic violence.


Prime Sports Marketing Files Its Own Lawsuit Against Zion Williamson Ahead of National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft

Prime Sports Marketing filed a lawsuit in Florida accusing the number one draft pick and Creative Artists Agency (CAA) of breach of contract. It is seeking $100 million in punitive damages. Zion Williamson signed with Prime Sports Marketing in April before hiring an agent, but filed a lawsuit last week to terminate the five-year contract, arguing that the contract was in violation of the state's agent laws.



David Ortiz Shooting in the Dominican Republic Was a Case of Mistaken Identity

Local officials say the shooting was ordered by a man associated with a Mexican drug cartel. The intended target of the shooting was the man's cousin, who was also a friend of Ortiz, and had been with Ortiz that evening.



United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Changes Its Name to U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC)

The change makes the U.S. the fourth nation to merge its Olympic and Paralympic teams. Last year, the board voted to increase monetary awards for U.S. Paralympic medalists to match those earned by Olympic athletes.


USA Gymnastics Overhauls its Safe Sport Policy

The new regulations cover male and female athletes across all USA Gymnastics disciplines and are designed to clear up "gray areas." For example, the updates address what the boundaries are for one-to-one contact between a coach/trainer and an athlete, and also outline the types of behaviors that dictate mandatory reporting.


Adidas' Black Workers Describe a Workplace Culture that Contradicts the Brand's Image

Black employees at the company's North American headquarters describe a workplace culture that leaves them feeling marginalized and sometimes discriminated against. Fewer than 4.5% of the workers there identify as black, a number that some see as staggeringly low for a company that has built much of its name in the U.S. through its association with black superstars, who are often its most influential customers.


30th Horse Dies at Santa Anita After Sustaining Injuries on the Training Track

Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer was banned by the Stronach Group after a fourth horse from his stable died at the Southern California track. It was the 30th death since the racing season began. The horse was euthanized after sustaining an injury on the training track, which is not used for racing.


Serbian Point Guard Withdraws from BIG3 After the International Basketball Federation Threatens His Olympic Eligibility

Dusan Bulut has withdrawn from the BIG3 after the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) threatened sanctions that could have resulted in him not being able to participate in the 2020 Olympics. Bulut is ranked as the best 3-on-3 player internationally and was recently drafted in the BIG3, which is the biggest professional 3-on-3 league that features former NBA players. Reports say that FIBA had previously informed athletes involved in 3-on-3 competitions that participation in any other league would not impact on player eligibility for the Olympics.


Officials Are on Alert for Match-Fixing at Women's World Cup

World Cup matches are drawing millions of dollars worth of bets, prompting the governing body to turn its attention to integrity matters in women's soccer. FIFA has rolled out the most extensive program to date to detect attempts at match-fixing, briefed the players, and requested that each team assign one official to act as a liaison with FIFA on integrity matters. It has also set up a monitoring hub in Paris for the duration of the Women's World Cup. More generally, there are still concerns that chronic underfunding in women's soccer could make the players an appealing target for match fixers.


Former UEFA President Michel Platini is Detained as Part of Qatar World Cup Probe

Platini was detained as part of an investigation into alleged corruption in the 2022 World Cup bidding process that saw the event awarded to Qatar. At the time of the vote in 2010, Platini publicly backed the Qatar bid and had a direct vote in the elections as a member of the FIFA executive committee that was then electing World Cup hosts.


Adidas' Three-Stripe Trademark Ruled Invalid by European Court

Adidas has failed in its attempt to broaden trademark protection for its symbol in the European Union. The European Union's second highest court upheld a 2016 decision of the European Intellectual Property Office, ruling that Adidas' three-stripe branding "was invalid as a trademark as it lacked a distinctive character." Adidas registered the trademark in 2014 but has been in a decade-long dispute with Belgian company Shoe Branding Europe, whose products feature two stripes sloping in the opposite direction.



Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Investigating YouTube Over Child Privacy Concerns

The FTC is reportedly looking into YouTube's handling of videos aimed at children after complaints by parents and consumer groups that the company had collected data of young users and allowed harmful and adult content to appear in searches for children's content.


Five NY1 Anchorwomen Sue Cable Channel for Age and Gender Discrimination

The plaintiffs, who age in range from 40 to 61, are suing the network over age and gender discrimination and are alleging a systematic effort by managers to force them off the air in favor of younger, less experienced hosts.


Digital Newsrooms Are Unionizing

BuzzFeed News staff members staged a four-hour walkout at the company's offices to pressure their employer to come to the bargaining table.
This was the latest in a wave of unionizations that has seen reporters and editors who work for online publications following in the footsteps of their print predecessors.


Alex Jones Sent Lawyers of Sandy Hook Families an Image of Child Pornography

Lawyers for the families said that they had received an image that appeared to be child pornography in a trove of discovery materials produced by Jones' legal team. The families have filed a defamation suit against Jones, who has repeatedly claimed that the shooting was a hoax.


Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theorist Loses to Father of Sandy Hook Victim

A Wisconsin judge has ruled that the editors of a book claiming the Sandy Hook shooting was a hoax defamed one of the murdered children's fathers by alleging that he had faked his son's death certificate to promote the conspiracy. The case will go to a jury to determine damages. The book's publisher also agreed to stop selling the book in a separate agreement.


U.N. Report Reveals Chilling Details Behind Journalist Khashoggi's Murder

The U.N. report calls for a full investigation into the Saudi crown prince's role in Khashoggi's murder after finding that the Saudi investigation into the killing was not conducted in good faith and could even count as obstruction of justice. The special rapporteur concluded that Khashoggi was the victim of a deliberate, premeditated execution for which Saudi Arabia is responsible under international human rights law.


New Zealand Man Gets 21 Months Sentence for Sharing Video of Attacks

A 44-year-old businessman pleaded guilty to charges of distributing objectionable material and was sentenced to 21 months in jail after sharing a video of the mosque shootings and asking that crosshairs and a "kill count" be added to the footage.



Supreme Court Upholds the Ability of Congress to Delegate to the Executive in Sex Offender Registration Case

The Court upheld a federal law that allows the attorney general to decide whether to require registration by sex offenders who were convicted before the law was passed. Justice Kagan wrote that the law satisfied the test of whether a delegation of authority was proper because it provided an "intelligible principle" to guide the attorney general's actions. According to the law, the attorney general has to require registration to the maximum extent possible, while considering the difficulty of notifying offenders convicted before the law took effect.


Supreme Court Affirms Exception to Double Jeopardy

By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court has ruled that criminal defendants may be prosecuted for the same offenses in both federal and state court. While the Constitution's double jeopardy clause forbids subsequent prosecutions, the Supreme Court upheld an exception to the double jeopardy clause, saying that the federal government and the states are independent sovereigns and could each prosecute the same conduct. The ruling also has implications for associates of President Trump, who could be subject to state prosecutions should the president decide to pardon them.


Supreme Court Allows 40-Foot Peace Cross on State Property

The Supreme Court has ruled that a 40-foot cross honoring soldiers who died in World War I did not violate the First Amendment's ban on government establishment of religion and could remain on state property. Justice Alito, writing for five justices, said the monument did not primarily convey a religious message and the cross has taken on an added secular meaning when used in World War I memorials. There were also vehement dissents.


Supreme Court Finds That Racial Bias Tainted Mississippi Murder Conviction

By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court threw out the conviction of Curtis Flowers, an African-American man who stood trial six times and was convicted of murder by a Mississippi court. Over the course of those six trials, the prosecutor dismissed 41 of the 42 prospective black jurors.

Writing for the majority, Justice Kavanaugh said that the Court was merely applying settled legal principles and that "equal justice under the law requires a criminal trial free of racial discrimination in the jury selection process." The Court's decision turned on the scope of Batson v Kentucky, in which the Court ruled that peremptory challenges during jury selection may not be used to exclude jurors based solely on their race.


Supreme Court Dismisses House of Delegates' Appeal in Virginia Racial Gerrymandering Case

The case that gave rise to this decision concerned 11 voting districts in Virginia, each with at least a 55% population of black residents of voting age. A lower court had struck down parts of the voting map on race-discrimination grounds after Democratic voters sued, saying that lawmakers had violated the Constitution by packing too many black voters into the district, thus diminishing their voting power. Virginia's House of Delegates appealed the ruling that struck down the voting maps after the state's attorney general decided not to appeal. In a 5 to 4 vote, the Supreme Court said that Virginia's House of Delegates was not authorized to pursue the appeal on behalf of the state and had not suffered the type of direct injury that would give it standing.


Supreme Court Upholds Virginia's Decades-Old Ban on Uranium Mining

Virginia imposed a moratorium on uranium mining 37 years ago. The question in this case was whether the federal Atomic Energy Act (AEA) pre-empts the state law, which on its face regulates an activity within its jurisdiction (uranium mining) but has the purpose and effect of regulating radiological safety hazards of activities that are under federal responsibility. The majority wrote that the AEA did not affect the longstanding power of states to regulate mining, and that the federal government's authority to regulate radiation safety standards arises only after uranium is mined.


Supreme Court Won't Rule on Clash Between Bakery and Gay Couple

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from the owners of an Oregon bakery who were ordered to pay $135,000 in damages after refusing to create a wedding cake for a gay couple. As a result, the question of whether businesses may discriminate against same-sex couples on religious grounds remains unresolved.


New Judge in the 9/11 Trial at Guantanamo Inherits a Complex History

Air Force Colonel Shane Cohen is the third judge to be assigned to the military trial of the five defendants charged in the September 11th attacks. Cohen is expected to guide the case into its trial phase and inherits 23,039 pages of transcripts, following 36 pretrial sessions and about 500 substantive motions, some still awaiting rulings.


Visa Delays at Backlogged Immigration Service Strand International Students

Citizenship and Immigration Services is projecting a lag of up to five months this year due to a surge in employment authorization requests. Longer processing times for student visas are impacting schools' abilities to recruit and retain foreign talent, and international students are finding it increasingly difficult to start their jobs or complete their degrees.


President Trump Postpones Raids That Aimed to Deport Undocumented Families

President Trump announced a two-week delay to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids that would have targeted families who have received deportation orders. The president's reversal comes as the House of Representatives is considering a measure to send $4.5 billion in humanitarian aid to the border, money which Democrats do not want to see going toward the raids.


Landlords Oppose the President's Plan to Evict Undocumented Immigrants

Landlords across the country are opposing a proposed plan to evict undocumented immigrants from federally subsidized housing. Public housing administrators say that the plan would add immigration enforcement to their responsibilities and it will be the housing authority that will bear the brunt of the expense of having to evict these families.


Lawmakers Join Forces to Fight Shared Nuisance of Robocalls

If passed, the bipartisan bill will require phone carriers to offer screening technology to their customers, at no extra costs, to identify and block automated/spam calls.


House Panel Explores Reparations at Historic Hearing on Slavery

Discussions at the historic hearing on Capitol Hill focused on bill H.R. 40, proposed legislation that would create a commission to address the effects of slavery and consider a national apology for the harm it has caused, if not the enactment of a more comprehensive reparations program.


House Speaker Pelosi Dismisses Calls to Censure President Trump

Censuring President Trump would require a vote on the House floor to reprimand him, but Speaker Pelosi is of the view that the move would have little effect and that if Democrats conclude he should be charged for misconduct, impeachment is the only option.


Senate Votes to Block Arms Sales to Gulf Nations

The Senate voted to block the sale of billions of dollars of munitions to Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. The White House tried to circumvent Congress by declaring an emergency over Iran and then invoking an emergency provision in the Arms Export Control Act to allow American companies to sell munitions to the gulf nations. The House is also expected to block the sales, but President Trump has pledged to veto the legislation.



President Trump Approved Strikes on Iran But Later Delayed the Attack

President Trump approved military strikes on several Iranian targets after Iran shot down an American navy drone. Shortly thereafter, he pulled back from launching the attacks, announcing instead potential new sanctions aimed at Iran's top political and military leaders.


Trump Nominates Mark Esper as Next Defense Secretary After Shanahan Withdraws as Nominee

President Trump has nominated Mark Esper as the next defense secretary after acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan withdrew his name from consideration. The FBI was reportedly still conducting a background investigation into incidents of family violence that Shanahan had not disclosed during his confirmation as deputy secretary. The new nominee, Mark Esper, is a West Point graduate who served in the gulf war. He has worked for the Heritage Foundation and was a lobbyist for Raytheon, a major military contractor.




The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Finalizes Its Plan to Replace Obama-Era Climate Plan

A new regulation, known as the Affordable Clean Energy rule, gives states the authority to decide how far to scale back carbon emissions. The move is a departure from the Obama administration's plan, which would have set national emissions limits and required the reconstruction of power grids to move utilities away from coal.


Schumer Requests Investigation into Mnuchin's Handling of the $20 Bill Redesign

Senator Schumer has asked the Treasury Department's inspector general to open an investigation into delayed design concepts of the $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman. Secretary Mnuchin has said the delay was due to the complexity of new anti-counterfeiting measures.


President Trump Accuses Europe of Bolstering Its Economy at America's Expense

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump accused the European Central Bank (ECB) of trying to prop up Europe's economy and weaken its currency to gain a competitive edge over the U.S. The tweets followed an announcement from ECB President Draghi that he was open to boosting monetary stimulus if economic conditions in Europe did not improve.


President Trump's Tariff Threat Has Retailers Sounding the Alarm

The Trump administration's threat to impose new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports resulted in retailers and analysts saying that the move could be disastrous, especially for traditional retailers, since the next round of tariffs is aimed at consumer goods like footwear, toys, and apparel.


Trump Campaign Fires Pollsters After Leak of Unflattering Numbers

President Trump's re-election campaign is cutting ties with some of its pollsters after leaked internal polling showed the president trailing Joe Biden in critical 2020 battleground states.


President Trump Emphatically Denies Sexual Assault Allegation by Advice Columnist

E. Jean Carroll, a former advice columnist for Elle magazine, is accusing President Trump of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in 1995 or 1996. The president denied the accusation, saying that he had never met and did not know Carroll.


Former White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks, Declines to Answer Lawmakers' Questions

Transcripts of a closed hearing before the House Judiciary Committee show that Hicks declined to answer nearly every question about her time working in the administration, citing instructions from the president that she was "immune" from answering. She did, however, answer questions about her work on the campaign, which is not subject to executive privilege, as lawmakers pressed her on her recollections of contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.


Paul Manafort and Sean Hannity Traded Messages for Months

Fox News host and Trump ally Sean Hannity exchanged hundreds of text messages with Paul Manafort, discussing, among other things, the special counsel's investigation and Manafort's defense strategy.


Manafort Will Not Be Serving His Sentence at Rikers After Justice Department Intervenes

Like many federal inmates facing state charges, Manafort was expected to start serving his seven-and-a-half-year sentence at Rikers Island. Manafort will now remain in federal custody after deputy attorney general Jeffrey Rosen passed along a letter from Manafort's attorney to the Bureau of Prisons asking that Manafort remain at the low-security Loretto prison facility in Pennsylvania due to health and other concerns.


Amidst a Profound Democratic Shift in New York, the State Approves One of the World's Most Ambitious Climate Plans

Voting 104-35, New York's lawmakers have agreed to one of the nation's most aggressive plans to combat climate change, including a pledge to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It is the second U.S. state (after California) to pledge the creation of a carbon-neutral economy. Lawmakers also passed the strongest tenant protections in decades and gave farm workers collective bargaining rights.



Sexual Harassment Laws Toughened in New York State

The new legislation eliminates the state's "severe or pervasive" standard for proving harassment. The measure also restricts an employer's ability to avoid liability for the behavior of its employees and expands the time frame to file complaints of workplace harassment with a state agency. A separate bill extended the statute of limitations for second- and third-degree rape.


Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants Are Approved in New York State

New York will become the 13th state to permit undocumented immigrants to apply for drivers' licenses. The bill passed with just one more vote than the minimum needed, and Governor Cuomo signed it soon after, reversing a nearly 20-year-old ban.


New York State Legislature Bans "Gay Panic" Defenses in Murder Cases

New York became the seventh state to ban "gay panic" or "transgender panic" defenses that have allowed those accused of murdering LGBTQ people to claim that they did so in a state of temporary insanity caused and justified by their victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.


Marijuana Decriminalization Expanded in New York State

The new measure treats possession of up to two ounces of marijuana as a violation instead of a crime, with fines dropping to $50. The state will also automatically expunge many low-level marijuana convictions.


Trump Will Not Apologize for Comments About Central Park Five

When asked about the wrongly convicted defendants in the 1989 rape case, President Trump said that he would not apologize for his harsh comments or for his actions in taking out a newspaper advertisement shortly after the attack, in which he called for New York State to adopt the death penalty.


Wisconsin Supreme Court Upholds Last-Minute Laws that Limited the Incoming Democratic Governor's Powers

Last November, Wisconsin's legislature pushed through a series of measures limiting the incoming Democratic governor's rule-making authority and his ability to withdraw the state from lawsuits that had already been filed. The state supreme court has now upheld those measures, saying the Republicans carried out a legal exercise of legislative power.


72 Philadelphia Officers Benched After Offensive Social Media Posts

Dozens of police officers were taken off regular duty for posting racist and hateful comments on social media. The posts were exposed by Plain View Project, a database of officers' social media activity that released a compilation of posts from accounts belonging to current or former officers. Departments across the country have taken the position that these posts undermine the integrity of policing as well as their efforts to improve interactions between police and the communities they serve.


Deutsche Bank Faces Criminal Investigation for Potential Money-Laundering

Federal authorities, including the U.S. attorney's offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, are investigating Deutsche Bank's anti-money laundering operations. Authorities are also following up with a former anti-money-laundering compliance officer at the bank, who says she flagged transactions involving Jared Kushner's company, but that her superiors declined to file suspicious activity reports.


Google Pledges to Invest $1 Billion to Ease Housing Crisis in the Bay Area

The company plans to repurpose commercially zoned land and work with local governments to allow developers to lease the land and build homes.


He Won a Landmark Case for Privacy Rights. He's Going to Prison Anyway.

As part of a month-long project exploring privacy rights and technology, the New York Times discusses the case of Timothy Carpenter, the plaintiff in the landmark Carpenter v United States case. The case set a new benchmark for privacy by requiring that police obtain a warrant before obtaining cellphone location history from a phone company. As with similar Fourth Amendment rulings, however, the plaintiff's civil liberties win did not spare him from prison time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that the cellphone tracking data that was obtained without a warrant in his case could still be used under the good-faith exception.

The ACLU is now challenging the adoption of a good-faith exception in other jurisdictions, saying that "it leaves the public and police without clear guidance about what the Fourth Amendment means and how it should apply to novel but important digital-age intrusions."


Boeing CEO Says Handling of 737 Max Warning Light Was a Mistake

Boeing's chief executive says the company made a mistake in how it handled a cockpit warning light on the now-grounded 737 Max. The warning
light was a necessary safety feature that would notify pilots of a potential malfunction, but it only worked if customers had bought a separate, optional indicator. What Boeing thought was a standard safety feature was actually a premium add-on that neither the Lion Air nor the Ethiopian Airlines plane were equipped with.


Nxivm's Keith Raniere Convicted in Sex Trafficking Case

Following a six-week trial, the leader of the cult-like group Nxivm was found guilty of racketeering and sex-trafficking for his role in setting up a supposed self-help organization that recruited women as slaves and coerced them into sexual acts.


Russian Millionaire Sues Over Trump Inauguration Tickets

A Ukrainian-Russian developer is suing Republican fundraiser Yuri Vanetik for a refund of the $200,000 payment he made in exchange for access to a package of events organized by Trump's inaugural committee. The case may be of interest to federal prosecutors who are investigating whether foreigners illegally gave money to the committee.


Walmart Agrees to Pay $282 Million in Fines to Settle a Global Corruption Investigation

The agreement resolves a seven year investigation into Walmart's violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which makes it illegal for American corporations to bribe overseas officials.


Mexico Ratifies Trade Deal with the U.S. and Canada

Mexico is the first country to ratify the trade agreement that was signed late last year. The trade agreement will not go into effect until it has been approved by the legislatures of all three countries. Earlier this year, Mexico surpassed Canada to become the United States' largest trading partner and the largest market for American goods.


Hong Kong Protesters Return to the Streets While China Continues to Back Their Leader and Censor News of Civil Unrest

Nearly two million people flooded the streets of Hong Kong, demanding that their leader resign and calling for her to withdraw the extradition
bill that she recently suspended. The bill would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be extradited and prosecuted in mainland China. Protesters are also calling for an investigation into police use of force and officials' characterization of the protests as "illegal rioting."



Saudi Youth Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison, Avoids Death Penalty

Saudi prosecutors had initially sought a death sentence for a teenager who faced charges related to his attendance at antigovernment protests, some that took place when he was 10 years old. A human rights group that has been monitoring his case is reporting that the 18-year-old will now receive 12 years in prison, four of which he has already served.


U.N. Reports That Number of People Fleeing Conflict is the Highest Since World War II

The global population of people displaced by conflict reached nearly 71 million last year. Most of those uprooted by conflict in 2018 remained displaced in their own countries. 80% of those who fled their own countries are taking shelter in neighboring nations, a figure that pushes back at the narrative that most refugees are heading to the U.S., Europe or Australia. More than half of the 2018 refugees were children.


Rising Temperatures Are Ravaging the Himalayas

Considered the water towers of Asia and an insurance policy against drought, the glaciers of the Himalayas are shrinking at an alarming rate due to rising global temperature, according to a study based on 40 years of satellite data.


Vatican Will Start Ordaining Married Men as Priests

In an exception to the celibacy requirement for priests, the Vatican will start ordaining married, elderly men to the priesthood to address a shortage of priests in remote areas of the Amazon.


June 18, 2019

Week In Review

By Lisa Ornest
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Debtor/Creditor Law

It gets kind of depressing that most of what we get in entertainment and sports news is bad behavior, but this time the bad behavior is on the other foot. Director Bryan Singer paid $150,000 to his accuser, who apparently forgot to mention the lawsuit as an asset when he filed his bankruptcy petition. After taxes and distribution to creditors, he may not be left with much.


Bankruptcy as a Business Plan, and The Daily Hero

The theory seems to be, bankrupt everything, let life get much worse, and this will further inflame the scapegoating vengeance mindset of the President's supporters, who have no reality testing and no idea that their hero and his ilk are the ones responsible for their misery, and they will support him even more fervently. This is just one item in an iceberg of neglect; but at least someone stood up, and at least someone listened. Who can we get to speak up for the kids at the immigration pound?



Suicide is Not Painless

It seems to be going around in the city this week that certain people accused of bad behavior have lost their curiosity to see what happens next. Maybe Mrs. Max was on the wrong anti-depressants. She looked anorexic. Was the son persecuting her? It's often impossible to know what really goes on behind closed doors, Alexa notwithstanding. I had the opportunity to buy about a dozen signed Peter Max lithographs a few years ago (not on a cruise ship), but didn't. I kicked myself afterward, but now it turns out they might have been issued under false pretenses. Not sure it would have made a monetary difference; notoriety is also attractive. The May article gives the back story.



Fashion is Really Not Painless

On the one hand, why isn't it a good thing to bring lesser known art and craft to the world? On the other hand, in an age where everything can be monetized, at what point does it become exploitation Back in 1986, when Paul Simon released Graceland, he received flack about "appropriating" indigenous music and musicians. His response was, "You think it's so easy to make a hit record?" His point was that his alleged "exploitation" gave that music an enormous audience it would not have had on its own, and everyone made money they would not have made on their own.


Neither is War

Penguin recently re-issued a novel to which it did not own the copyright. Someone didn't do his or her homework. It's also an issue about certain people believing in something, like the supporters of this book who kept it in print for so long. Is there is a moral claim? Penguin can do something to make it right, and it should.


Humboldt Fog

You need a score card for this one: The Humboldt Forum Museum is built on the site of the Palast der Republik, the former East German Parliament, which was torn down after reuinification. The building is a facsimile of the Berliner Schloss, a palace (although with fewer turrets than some of the really cool ones built into the sides of mountains), built by the Hohenzollern dynasty (think Hapsburgs or Plantagenets), which was demolished by the East German government. No one seems to take note that the pendulum always swings. Ever lost control of your car? The harder you try to correct, the more extreme the reaction. This is the truth of life. Why don't people know this? Meanwhile, there are ventilation issues, so some of the exhibits that were promised to be loaned for the opening, like an exhibit of ivory objects, will not be given. There's a good example. Should we just destroy all the ivory artifacts? At any rate, the opening has been pushed to 2020.



Bargain Days

Six perps, $7,500. You do the math. As Rumpole says, the ones with any real genius rarely come our way. Especially at those prices. Not only did they get caught, but the guy is still alive. I don't mean to be flip. Ortiz was seriously injured. He lost his gall bladder and part of his intestine and suffered damage to his liver. What a mess.


The Rocking Horse Winner

It's a story by D.H. Lawrence. The house whispers, "there must be more money." The little boy realizes that if he rides his rocking horse long and hard enough the name of one of the winners at the next day's races will come to him. The family starts raking in the dough, but instead of being sated, the voices just want more and more. The mother buys fresh flowers and Paris gowns. The voices get even stronger. The little boy rides himself into exhaustion trying to appease the voices and please his mother, but he never can. It kills him. Same thing here.



Pomp and Circumstance

The Stanford sailing coach did not personally benefit. Rather, through the auspices of a college "consultant", the sailing team received $770,000 in donations, from the grateful families of non-sailors (and probably non-students). Apparently the "consultant" got $6.5 million just from one couple from China to get their daughter admitted and the sailing program received $500,000. For $7 million, the family could have built its own college. Who has this kind of money? Why didn't they spend it on tutors back when it would have counted? Make the kid put down the iphone and read a book; and learn how to do dishes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/12/ us/stanford-coach-college-admissions-scandal.html

Weinstein's Ilk

FIFA has banned Keramuddin Keram, an Afghani warlord, from soccer, for life, and an arrest warrant has been issued in regard to charges of sexual abuse -- rape -- of female soccer players. He trapped them in a locked office, and they couldn't get out. If they said anything he would accuse them of being lesbians, which is illegal in Afghanistan, and it would get them thrown off the team and their families would be in trouble, etc. Apparently he's not the only one, and it's taking place elsewhere than just Afghanistan.


Kellen Winslow Jr. Convicted of Rape

This guy raped a 58-year old homeless woman, among others. A 77-year old woman said he exposed himself to her. Anger and control issues, you think? It's a pathology. He needs to be off the streets and learn to do simple things.



Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Comcast Case

Comcast claimed that it did not have sufficient bandwidth to run programming from Entertainment Studios Network, owned by African-American Byron Allen, even though it apparently had enough bandwidth to run programs from white-owned networks. Comcast said that since the decision was based on other factors, the case should have been dismissed, but the Ninth Circuit upheld, saying that the discrimination claims should survive dismissal even if discrimination wasn't the sole reason the programming was rejected. This seems new.


Bakery for Sale

This is an insane story. What happened? Was there ergot in the rye bread? The kids were not in Starbucks minding their own business. No dispute that they shoplifted. Why is that irrelevant? Eventually they were arrested. Maybe that wasn't necessary. Maybe the clerk (and member of the plaintiff/owner family) shouldn't have chased them. Businesses in college towns suffer a lot of that kind of behavior, and maybe this was just the last straw. There were never any previous discrimination complaints about this place. The college behaved like a pre-adolescent trying to win a popularity contest. $33 million plus $11 million is too much (and it will probably be reduced). But IMHO this was not the right battle. The article doesn't say what happened to the perps. IMHO, no jail time, no record, but maybe some community service, and they need to apologize. Then the entire Oberlin administration needs to resign.


You Want Lies With That?

The fact that the White House abolished the daily briefing is appalling. The fact that it will be used as simply another propagandist avenue is unfortunate, but at least let's have everything on the record. Plus, I favor full employment for journalists.



Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) believes that AI will have a chilling effect on culture. You think? It has already happened, but gradually, and under the guise of consumer toys, so no one really notices. There's really no need for bloodshed. If you want to take over the universe, just give everyone iphones. Tip of the day: Resist surveillance culture. Just because a product exists, and the manufacturer's advertising makes you feel like you would be a target for scapegoating without it, doesn't mean you should purchase it. Cameras change things. Remember that the end game is for-profit prisons; and remember Justice Brandeis - don't wait until you become a victim of "anomaly detection". Special points if you identify the epigram.


Big Brother Gets Even Bigger

There are a number of issues here. First, Congress is pretending to investigate how the advertising power of Big Tech is affecting the dissemination of news. All the advertising dollars from sponsors go to Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple, and not, e.g., CNN. The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, which have split the task between them, may annoy the big companies, but they won't really get anywhere, even though they are asking the hard questions, like has Facebook "harmed consumers" with its handling of data, and whether Amazon has "hurt smaller retailers"? Duh. Of course the giants will win in the long run. In the meantime, the news agencies want to be able to band together to give themselves a stronger negotiating position for ad dollars. They want an antitrust exemption. I don't know if that is really the solution. Don't we already have enough McNews?




We Got a Good Thing Going

After their undeniable success in the U.S. (the fact that they were caught doesn't seem to make a difference), the Russians are apparently extending their election interference tactics to the EU. I don't know what to do about this. Luckily, no one has asked me. Censorship is a slippery slope. Has Facebook become the equivalent of the National Enquirer? Possibly. The problem is that, like the National Enquirer, for all those who ignore it, there are exponentially greater amounts of those who believe.


Journalist Prevented From Working

Thomas Erdbrink, a New York Times reporter living in Tehran, had his press credentials revoked in February, but it is apparently only now being made public. He is a citizen of the Netherlands, but his photographer wife is Iranian. She is also being prevented from working. This is not the first time that this has happened (elsewhere as well as in Iran). In fact, Erdbrink's successor at the Washington Post, his previous job, was arrested and held for over a year in Iran. Supposedly there is an intention to resolve this issue, but now that Iran is taking potshots at U.S. tankers, I think they should get them out of there.


Two Cans and a Very Long String?

Chinese mainland computers hacked the "Telegram" app, used to organize protests. The hack found names, and some people were arrested. These particular protests were about Hong Kong wanting to extradite certain people, dissidents, to the mainland, where, protesters fear, they will never be heard from again. I wasn't just a cyber attack; it also occurred in real time and space. There was tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray. No one said world domination was going to be pretty. It's part of a general hardline approach.



Lock Her Up!

Marine Le Pen is the leader of the far-right "National Rally" party in France, whose right-wing nationalist and populist motives include what you might expect, for example, that there must be zero tolerance for crime, and there must be more prisons to house all the immigrants that are committing the crimes. When her father was running the party, it was anti-Muslim and anti-Jew. Now, Le Pen has been accused of tweets that "seriously harm human dignity", by showing photos of alleged Islamic nationals doing things like burning prisoners alive in cages. She's probably just upset they beat her to it. There will be a trial, with a potential for prison and a hefty fine. She sounds like she deserves it, but I just don't think we can jail people for their political beliefs, no matter how insane.


Nowhere to Run

Rohingya Muslims who escaped persecution in their homeland are surprised and a bit alarmed to find just as much vitriol in the rest of the world, all nicely concentrated in Facebook, the psychic garbage heap of the universe.


General News


At first Trump said he would take campaign help, like allegedly incriminating evidence about an opponent, from anyone who offered it, like the Russians. Then, after Nancy Pelosi said he didn't know right from wrong and that he was involved in a a criminal cover-up, he backtracked. Yet why is he worried about this when he doesn't appear to care about any other treasonous thing he says? Just because Nancy Pelosi said something? She says lots of things, and he never really paid attention before.


If You Have to Ask How Much It Costs, You Can't Afford It

Congress wants drug companies to put their prices on their advertising. The drug companies claim that it's a First Amendment issue. They have the right to say what they want about their product. I guess like putting petroleum in canned milk and not telling anyone. If the price is prohibitive, isn't that a kind of defect? But I understand. It's a downer. We have this great new medication. It will cure what ails you. It costs ten thousand dollars per dose! There is the suggestion that they simply lower their prices. If the prices were lower the drugs would be prescribed more often; the insurance companies would pay; and quantity would make up for quality. Raising the price of insulin is just pure greed.


Forty-Five Days

Trump is pretending that in fear of his threatened tariffs, Mexico agreed to certain immigration policies, but it didn't. Trump waved around a letter and said it was the agreement. What Mexico agreed to was a 45-day period to see what it could do and to give it time to prepare for further negotiations.


For Profit Education Back on the Table

...And let's accredit crazy religious schools that teach Biblical "science", while we're at it. Diane Auer Jones sees herself as an example of what alternative educational opportunities can do. Agreed.


Deja Vu all Over Again

Gregory L. Johnson burned an America flag outside the Republican National Convention in 2016. He was arrested, and he sued the city. However, pursuant to the 1989 Supreme Case of Texas v. Johnson, there is no prohibition on flag desecration. Johnson was awarded $225,000, and it turns out the two Johnsons are one and the same.


Not Just a Flag

Holden Matthews, who set fire to three churches in Louisiana, has been charged with hate crimes because it was found that his actions were motivated by the religious beliefs of the church goers, but not because the churches were primarily black. He bought the gas cans at Walmart and used his dad's truck.


Fire This

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC), not related to Robert Mueller, whose duty it is to enforce the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their offices to further political goals, has recommended that Kelleyanne Conway be removed. Her response? "Blah, blah, blah." The White House released an 11-page rejection of the OSC report. Here is an extra article about the Hatch Act.


Thomas Homan to be Border Czar?

Former Immigration and Customs Director Thomas Homan will report directly to Trump on "task" of keeping potential immigrants from crossing the border.


Already Gone

Hope Hicks, former White House communications director, has agreed to participate in an "interview" with the Judiciary Committee. However, there will be a court reporter, and she will be under oath, so it will be more like a deposition. Among other things, they will ask her about the firing of James Comey and the attempt to make Jeff Sessions take over the Russia investigation. It's possible that she will claim executive privilege. The White House already told her not to comply with the document requests.


House of Representatives to Seek Judicial Enforcement of Subpoenas

The House has authorized the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce the subpoenas against William Barr and Donald McGahn regarding the president's tax returns.



It's All About Me, Me, Me

The Justice Department is investigating the CIA and the CIA's own Russian investigation. The CIA feels a little sniffy about this, but it will cooperate. Barr supposedly wants to find out why the FBI opened a counter-intelligence campaign into the Trump campaign, or so he says. It would have been based on information from the CIA. I guess he's hoping to prove that it was primarily a smear campaign with no real basis in fact. Trump has also given Barr power to de-classify.


And Here's What I Want to Know About You

The House Oversight and Reform Committee voted to hold Barr and Wilbur Ross in contempt for refusing to release documents regarding the decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. One Republican agreed, Justin Amash. Everything the president does is in tweets. The article says there are few precedents about the line between Congressional oversight and the president's authority to be opaque. This is just one more in a series of these skirmishes. Many are worried that people like Kris Kobach, whose specialty is voter suppression, had something to do with this.


Every Breath You Take

Somebody hacked and obtained all those pictures of you driving through the tunnel when you were supposed to be at a work meeting. The subcontractor hired by Homeland Security, a Tennessee company called Perceptics, transferred the data on to its own servers, which were hacked The ACLU believes that the government is collecting too much data without fully considering the consequences. The danger is not just to private citizens, but also to the nation, like when we "lost" the designs for the F-35 fighter jet to China through hacking. This is just old fashioned advertising technique. Companies manufacture stuff, like surveillance equipment, and make you (i.e., the government, or law enforcement) think you can't live without it. It's too late... They will never pull back now.



The U.S. is inserting its own malware into the Russian electricity grid in hopes of being able to cripple Russia's infrastructure and maybe even its military. It's been urged as necessary, since Russia does it to the U.S. However, we don't know how well it will work - it could become just like nuclear bombs, a weapon too destructive to deploy.


But Ma, They Started It

It sounds like we started it, with a drone flying over the Gulf. Then the drone was attacked, then the two tankers, one Japanese and one Norwegian. Trump says that Iran did it, but both Germany and Japan say that it's not clear what happened; maybe it wasn't even a missile, and the EU is urging caution. The Japanese say that it looked like a flying object, which I guess could have been a drone (although the article doesn't say that).



Science Cannot be Blind

Too many panels of scientists are all boys. There needs to be a commitment to gender diversity. Some male scientists have pledged not to participate in panels that are not diverse. The article doesn't discuss race.


Institutional Sexism

Speaking of which, Jean Purdy was the female nurse who was an "equal partner" in the breakthrough of in vitro fertilization, but she was not given credit on the plaque, despite the lobbying of her two male counterparts. This is just one of a long line of similar behavior, including Rosalind Franklin and DNA, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and pulsars, and Lisa Meitner and nuclear fission. Meitner was not named for the 1944 Nobel although her collaborator, a man, was.


The Meaning of the Word "Emergency"

The State Department justified declaring an emergency in order to sell arms to Saudi Arabia on the basis that if we hadn't done it China or Russia would have, and it was imperative for the Saudis and UAE to kill children in Yemen. It was so important, the Executive branch bypassed Congress. The fact that Jared Kushner is a friend of the Crown Prince (the one who had Jamal Khashoggi killed) probably had nothing to do with it. Why isn't this a criminal conspiracy?


Harriet Tubman Underground

Mnuchin says the delays are "technical" and that all parties, including the Secret Service (?) is working as fast as they can. Oh come on. It's about the only transparent thing in this government, that it was done on purpose. Trump called the plan to replace Jackson "political correctness," and the overhaul of the Treasury Department's website after Trump came in removed any trace of the Harriet Tubman plan.


NDAs in Sexual Harassment Suits

Twelve states have passed laws restricting their use, but only New Jersey has gone so far as to make them unenforceable if broken by the victims.


Malpractice Claims in Pelvic Mesh Cases

The plaintiffs got about $8 billion, but the lawyers charged 40%, sometimes missed filing deadlines, which reduced the entire award, and may have been involved in schemes with doctors to have the mesh removed surgically to increase the damage claims, but to the women's detriment, it is alleged. Each plaintiff ended up with about $60,000 before legal fees and costs. The main defendant, a New Jersey firm, says the suit is a vendetta by his former partner.


New York to Fund Abortions for Alabama Refugees

...Or anyone from out of state. The fund is for women who can't afford abortions and are not covered by insurance or Medicaid. In Maine, nurses and physician's assistants can now perform abortions, and New York also allows "medical professionals" to do the procedure. It's probably enough for about 500 abortion procedures.


Get Your Shots

Cuomo has ended the religious exemption for vaccination. A Long Island Republican says it's a violation of First Amendment rights, but that's just pandering. As we know, there is no right to cry fire in a crowded theater, and I would argue there is no right to subject others to potential life-threatening illness.


The Pendulum Swings

The rent laws began as tenant protection, in the days when landlords were filling buildings with illegal do-ers to drive out the tenants. In the past 10 or so years, landlords have been getting things their own ways a little more often, especially outside Manhattan. Now, things are moving back towards tenant protection. It's partly a bid to avoid more homelessness, I would guess, but I wonder if it isn't too late. Very little of the new construction is rent regulated, and it's all extremely expensive. We'll have to see how it plays out in a practical way.


You Talkin' to Me?

First tenants, now taxis. The city seems to want to take responsibility for the fact that it made taxi drivers pay a million dollars for a medallion and then let Uber etc. render those medallions practically worthless while the taxi drivers fell victim to predatory lending and sank farther and farther into debt. There is a moratorium on Uber-type drivers now.


Justice is (Should Be) Blind

There is much racism involved in criminal charging by prosecutors, which is borne out by the numbers. So San Francisco is going to try "blind charging." Prosecutors will not have access to a suspect's name, address, race or hair or eye color, or that of any victims. They won't be permitted to know these things until they make a preliminary decision about charging. If they change the charge when they find out, they will be questioned. It's an experiment that is worth a try.


Gynecological Terrorism

Missouri already has a 72-hour waiting period, and it requires pelvic exams for "medication" abortions, which are non-invasive. So the clinic stopped doing medication abortions, but then the state required pelvic exams on the day of consent to the abortion as well as the day of the abortion. All this is just torture. The abortion itself takes about three minutes. Now the state wants to interview the doctors who are employed by Planned Parenthood. It's so medieval.


Forum Shopping

The survivors and relatives of victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in London are forum shopping, trying to sue in an American court, where they can get punitive damages, which Britain doesn't allow. It is true that the "cladding" (insulation covering) maker, Arconic, has its headquarters in Pennsylvania, but the cladding itself was made in France; the insulation was made in the UK; and the exploding refrigerator that started the whole thing was made in Europe. Still, plaintiffs think they can show that design decisions made in Pennsylvania were responsible for the disaster.


Accused New Zealand Shooter Pleads Not Guilty

As a result, it will be over the usual year before the trial starts for the person who killed 51 people and wounded dozens of others in a New Zealand mosque in March and streamed it in real time on Facebook. The survivors are upset at the delay, but the court is worried about the logistics of security and seating spectators.


Homosexuality Decriminalized

At long last, Botswana has decriminalized homosexuality. Yay! Next step, gay marriage.


June 11, 2019

Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are stories from Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Hollywood Big Shot to Raise Money for Battle Against Anti-Abortion Laws

Hollywood producer Peter Chernin has launched a campaign to contribute to the $15 million that is needed to fund the American Civil Liberties Union's (ACLU) legal efforts to battle the national anti-abortion effort. Chernin wrote in an email to other entertainment titans that "we have a moral responsibility to act immediately" to fight Georgia's anti-abortion law. Recipients of the email included senior executives at all of the major movie studios, as well as entertainment power players like Jeff Bezos, Ari Emanuel, Ted Sarandos, Tim Cook, and Shonda Rhimes, with July 1st being the deadline for donating.


Apple Bids Farewell to iTunes After Just 18 Years

iTunes, Apple's "digital jukebox", has been cancelled after 18 years. Apple executives announced at their annual developer conference that iTunes would be dismantled, and its features would be split among three apps: Apple Music, Apple Podcasts, and Apple TV.



Central Park Five Presented With Courage Award

Actor Michael B. Jordan presented the men known as the "Central Park Five" with an award for their perseverance and courage during a luncheon in which the ACLU of Southern California honored Netflix's series about their case. "When They See Us", the Ava DuVernay produced mini-series - although not the first attempt to recount the story - renewed interest in the details of the case that changed five boys' lives forever. In the infamous 1989 case, a white woman was savagely raped and beaten in Central Park, where she had been out for a jog. Five black and Latino teenagers -- Korey Wise, Raymond Santana, Kevin Richardson, Antron McCray, and Yusef Salaam, who became known as the "Central Park Five" -- were convicted based on confessions that were full of contradictions and lacking in crucial information, and which the boys said were coerced. No forensic evidence connected them to the crime, and DNA evidence that was collected did not match any of them. The series has re-ignited outcry about how the case was handled. Linda Fairstein, the Manhattan sex crimes prosecutor who observed the teenagers' interrogation, has faced backlash for her role in their conviction.


Once a Celebrated Prosecutor, Now Disgraced and Dropped by Publishing Company

Linda Fairstein, a former sex-crimes prosecutor who became a successful crime novelist, was dropped by her publisher, Penguin Random House, after the Netflix mini-series "When They See Us" renewed focus on her role in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers, known as the "Central Park Five", for a brutal rape. Since the series premiered last week, Fairstein has been the target of tremendous public outrage, including online petitions and a #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag. As a result, she resigned from a number of prominent boards, including that of Vassar College, her alma mater. The Netflix series is a dramatized account of the 1989 rape case, and shows Fairstein as determined to see the boys convicted, regardless of inconsistencies and evidence that suggested their innocence. Fairstein has called her portrayal "grossly and maliciously inaccurate" and threatened legal action. Ava DuVernay, who directed the series and was one of its writers, has not commented on Fairstein's assertions.



France to End Disposal of Unsold Goods

France plans to outlaw the destruction of unsold consumer products, a practice that currently results in the disposal of new goods worth 800 million euros, or more than $900 million, in the country each year. Prime Minister, Édouard Philippe, said that by 2023, manufacturers and retailers will have to either donate, reuse or recycle the goods. This particularly affects the fashion industry.



#MeToo Hits Global Soccer

Coaches and administrators in at least five countries on four continents have been accused by players and colleagues of sexual misconduct, inappropriate behavior, and even rape. The harassment allegations against Ahmad Ahmad, the president of Africa's soccer confederation, are the first to be made against a leader of one of soccer's six regional governing bodies, or against a senior FIFA official. An internal investigation has begun into Ahmad, alleging that among other transgressions, he dismissed an employee in 2017 after she rejected his romantic advances. Ahmad has denied the accusation and separate claims that he sexually harassed several other women. Ahmad also has been accused of misusing confederation funds and entering into questionable contracts, potential offenses that led to his being detained by the French authorities in Paris last Thursday. He was later released without being charged.


FIFA Bans Soccer Chief for Life After Sexual Abuse Allegations

FIFA has banned Keramuddin Keram, the president of the Afghanistan Football Federation, from the sport for life, months after reports emerged that he had sexually assaulted players and had threatened them when they went public with their accusations. FIFA first suspended Keram after the accusations became public in December. That suspension was extended this spring while investigators for the FIFA ethics committee pursued the case. Other claims of abuse or inappropriate conduct have emerged in Canada, Colombia, and Ecuador, as well as in FIFA's top leadership.


Rape Accusation Against Neymar Captivates News Media and Spooks His Sponsors

Brazilian soccer star Neymar has been accused of raping Brazilian model Najila Trindade. Neymar has denied the allegations and his marketing company released a lengthy statement to announce that for now, there had not been any breach of contract. It repeated Neymar's denials that he had raped his accuser, although it conceded that some campaigns involving the player had been delayed. Nike, which has been with Neymar for 13 years -- more than half his life -- said in the past week that the company is "very concerned" by the allegations.



Amazon + Google at The Center of Big Tech Storm

Amazon and Google are two of the largest tech companies, and as such, they yield tremendous power. The tech giants' actions have gone largely unregulated but now, the two federal agencies that handle antitrust matters, the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), have split up oversight of the two companies, with the Justice Department taking Google and the FTC taking Amazon, signaling a shift in the United States' attitudes towards the companies.


YouTube Ban Addresses Extremism

YouTube announced plans to remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate neo-Nazism, white supremacy, and other bigoted ideologies in an attempt to clean up extremism and hate speech on its popular service. The new policy will ban videos claiming that Jews secretly control the world, women are intellectually inferior to men and therefore should be denied certain rights, or suggesting that the white race is superior to another race, among other things. Channels that post some hateful content without violating YouTube's rules with the majority of their videos may receive strikes under YouTube's three-strike enforcement system, but will not be immediately banned.


Apple Backs Off Crackdown on Parental-Control Apps

As news broke that federal officials were stepping up antitrust scrutiny of Apple and its peers, Apple abruptly disclosed that screen-time apps were allowed to return to the App Store. After the company's Worldwide Developers Conference, it announced in a short blog post on a section of its website for developers that said parental-control apps could now use two technologies - mobile device management (M.D.M.), which enables parents to take control of a child's phone, and virtual private network (V.P.N.), which parents can use to block certain apps on a child's phone - that Apple had recently cited as grounds for their removal from iPhones.


Australian Police Raids Target News Media Over Leaked Documents

The Australian Federal Police raided the Sydney offices of Australia's public broadcaster in connection with an article published in 2017 about Australian special forces being investigated over possible war crimes in Afghanistan. This raid happened a day after the same agency searched the home, computer, and cellphone of a journalist who reported on secret correspondence between government ministries over a plan to expand intelligence agencies' surveillance powers, but the police said the two raids were not related.


Raids on Journalists Show Australia's Secretiveness

One journalist is being investigated for reporting that several boats filled with asylum seekers recently tried to reach Australia from Sri Lanka. Another reporter had her home raided by the authorities after reporting on a government plan to expand surveillance powers. The Australian Federal Police raided the main office of Australia's public broadcaster with a warrant for notes, story pitches, emails, and even the diaries for entire teams of journalists and senior editors -- all in connection with a 2017 article about Australian special forces being investigated over possible war crimes in Afghanistan. These extremes are not uncommon - among its peers, Australia stands out as one of the most secretive nations in the world; experts say that no other developed democracy holds as tightly to its secrets, and these raids are just the latest example of how far the country's conservative government will go to scare officials and reporters into submission.


China Tightening Censorship After 30th Tienanmen Anniversary

The 30th anniversary of the crackdown of a democracy movement in Tienanmen Square was tense, with China detaining activists, tightening censorship, and denouncing calls for a full accounting of the bloodshed. The looming trade war with the United States heightened the strain as China denounced Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's statement a day earlier honoring the protesters and criticizing continuing human rights abuses. The Chinese Embassy in Washington said that Pompeo's statement was made "out of prejudice and arrogance" and "grossly intervenes in China's internal affairs, attacks its system, and smears its domestic and foreign policies".


China's Leading Investigative Reporter Quits Journalism

Liu Wanyong spent over a decade at the China Youth Daily, a newspaper run by the Communist Party, but has now quit journalism altogether. Many are calling his resignation the "end" of investigative journalism in China. Reporters claim that "the most important figure in investigative journalism has disappeared" and investigative journalism would never be the same.


Reporter's Arrest Sets Off Widespread Protests in Russia

Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption, was detained on drug charges last week in Moscow, sparking a series of protests from supporters. In an extraordinary move, three important newspapers printed the same large front-page headline: "I/We are Ivan Golunov". Golunov, who works for the Meduza online news service, is well-known for exposing corruption in Moscow's City Hall. In addition to the headline, the three newspapers -- Vedomosti, Kommersant and RBC -- published similar statements suggesting that Golunov was detained because of his work and demanding a transparent investigation into the police actions that led to his arrest. Golunov's attorney has filed a complaint that accuses the police of using violence against the him. Golunov, who has denied using or possessing drugs, was examined in a hospital and found to have abrasions on his back and a bruise around one eye. A court later released him into house arrest.




NASA to Allow Tourists in Space For $35K

NASA has announced plans to open the International Space Station to commercial business, including tourism. For the first time, NASA is allowing private citizens to fly, if not to the moon, then at least to the International Space Station, the only place where people currently live off the planet. For roughly $35,000 a night, up to two private citizens could visit the space station each year.



Trump Administration Curbs Fetal Tissue Research

The Trump administration announced that the federal government would sharply curtail federal spending on medical research that uses tissue from aborted fetuses, mainly by ending fetal-tissue research within the National Institutes of Health, in a move that helps fulfill a top goal of anti-abortion groups. The announcement is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves to appease opponents of abortion, which include barring Planned Parenthood and other organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money, and expanding protections for health care providers who refuse to take part in abortions on moral or religious grounds. Since fetal tissue is used to test drugs, develop vaccines, and study cancer, AIDS, Parkinson's disease, birth defects, blindness, and other disorders, scientists say there is no substitute for the tissue and as such, "the ban on fetal tissue research is akin to a ban on hope for millions of Americans suffering from life-threatening and debilitating diseases".


Trump Calls Off Plan to Impose Tariffs on Mexico

Trump backed off his plan to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods and announced via Twitter that the United States had reached an agreement with Mexico to reduce the flow of migrants to the southwestern border. Trump's threat to impose potentially crippling tariffs on Mexico to leverage the immigration changes he demanded was met with sharp criticism from all sides and brought both countries to the brink of an economic and diplomatic crisis. The threat had rattled companies across North America, including automakers and agricultural firms, which have built supply chains across Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Republican senators had threatened to try to block the tariffs if Trump moved ahead with them. According to a United States-Mexico Joint Declaration distributed by the State Department, Mexico agreed to "take unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration," including the deployment of its national guard throughout the country to stop migrants from reaching the United States. Most of these terms had been agreed to in December.


Judges Skeptically Hear Arguments from Both Sides in Youth Climate Case Against the Government

Three federal judges heard arguments about whether young people have a constitutional right to be protected from climate change. The case, Juliana v. United States, was scheduled to begin last October, but the court granted the Trump administration an unusual pretrial appeal, which could have important implications for this and other attempts to use the courts to pursue climate action across the United States.


U.S. Vows to More Aggressively Deport Migrant Families

Mark Morgan, the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), announced that the Trump administration will ramp up its efforts to deport families of undocumented migrants in the United States. In a statement, he said that deporting migrants "was necessary to deter a record-high number of Central American migrants from approaching the border". The new focus will apply to any migrant who has missed a court hearing or otherwise received deportation orders. Despite Trump's threat to place tariffs on Mexican imports, Mexican officials said they would reject the "safe third country" agreement proposal, which would require migrants from Central America to apply for asylum in Mexico, rather than in the United States.


House Intelligence Committee Says That Russia is Likely to Try to Influence 2020 Presidential Election

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement that the Russian government is likely to try to influence the 2020 presidential election, not through the release of stolen emails and other documents, but through faked videos. During the 2016 presidential campaign, emails and documents were stolen by Russian hackers from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign and then released publicly, influencing the presidential race. Schiff said he was particularly worried about the effect of falsified videos, known as deep fakes, which could be easily introduced into social media, spread rapidly, and be "hugely disruptive and hugely influential."


Judge Says That Flynn Call Transcript Can Stay Private

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that prosecutors no longer have to publicly file a transcript of the call between former adviser Michael Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States, reversing course from an order last month.



Trump Administration's Potentially Unethical 'Bridge' to China

Trump's transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, has raised ethical flags. Chao's office had made a series of unorthodox requests related to her first scheduled visit to China as a Trump cabinet member back in October 2017. The trip was abruptly canceled by Chao after the ethics question was referred to officials in the State and Transportation Departments and, separately, after The New York Times and others made inquiries about her itinerary and companions. Chao oversees the American maritime industry and her family's shipping company, Foremost Group, has deep ties to the economic and political elite in China where most of the company's business is centered. Officials have questioned the ethics of Chao's position and her family's business and have described the requests made as "alarmingly inappropriate".


Fifty Years Later, Police Finally Apologize for Stonewall Riot

Police commissioner James P. O'Neill said that he was sorry on behalf of the New York Police Department for officers' actions during the violent 1969 police raid at the Stonewall Inn - which signifies a seminal event in the gay rights movement. "The actions taken by the N.Y.P.D. were wrong -- plain and simple. . . .the actions and the laws were discriminatory and oppressive, and for that, I apologize", said O'Neill, during an event at Police Headquarters. It was an admission that gay rights leaders said was momentous and unexpected, if overdue. Corey Johnson, an openly gay City Council speaker, said: "To have the N.Y.P.D. commissioner make these very explicit remarks apologizing, it's really moving".



JPMorgan Chase Seeks to Prohibit Card Customers from Suing

JPMorgan Chase is trying to require its credit card customers to go into private arbitration to settle disputes -- even if they involve an older account -- by restoring arbitration provisions it dropped a decade ago. The change, which will affect around 47 million accounts, is a part of a broader effort by Wall Street firms to prevent customers and employees from engaging in class-action lawsuits that can result in large settlements and bad publicity. To prevent the new individual arbitration agreement from taking effect, customers must object to it in writing by mail by August 7th.


Texas Couple vs. 573 Tribes - A Custody Battle That Calls Indian Child Welfare Act into Question

In 1978, Congress passed the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to protect "the best interests of Indian children" and to promote the stability of tribes and Indian families. At the time, studies showed that 25% to 35% of American Indian children were being placed in foster homes, with 85% of those outside their tribal communities. Some studies have shown that social workers removed many Indian children not for neglect or abuse, but because of the household's perceived poverty. Now, 40 years later, the Brackeen family of Fort Worth (among several other families) argue that the law is unconstitutional because it is based on race. The case, Texas v. Zinke, includes the States of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana as plaintiffs claiming that the ICWA interferes with state sovereign authority over domestic issues within state borders.


Oral arguments are available here: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/OralArgRecordings/18/18-11479_3-13-2019.mp3

Shelters Housing Migrant Children May Lose School, Sports, and Legal Aid

The Trump administration said that it would begin restricting or canceling education, legal aid, and playground recreation for migrant children housed in government shelters as a result of financial constraints created by the "crisis at the border". Around 13,200 migrant children - some who arrived at the border alone, others who were separated from their families at the border - are currently housed in more than 100 shelters across the country where they receive English, math, civics, and other classes. Most facilities have a sports field and allow children to go outside at least once a day. Civil rights and child welfare advocates rebuked this announcement, saying that any move by the government to eliminate education and recreation would constitute a violation of the Flores settlement, which in 1997 established the standards for treating migrant children held in government facilities, and would prompt them to sue for reinstatement of the activities.



Opioid Drug Maker to Pay $225 Million to Settle Fraud Charges

Insys Therapeutics has agreed to pay $225 million to settle federal criminal and civil charges that it illegally marketed a highly addictive fentanyl painkiller to doctors. As part of the deal, a subsidiary of Insys will plead guilty to five counts of mail fraud and the company will pay a $2 million fine and $28 million in forfeiture. The company will also pay $195 million to settle allegations that it violated the federal False Claims Act, which involves defrauding the federal government through drug sales to health care programs like Medicare.


Carmakers Warn Trump That His Pollution Rules Could Mean 'Untenable' Instability and Lower Profits

In a letter signed by 17 companies, including Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volvo, the automakers asked Trump to go back to the negotiating table on the planned rollback of one of President Barack Obama's signature policies to fight climate change, warning that Trump's plan to weaken tailpipe pollution standards threatens to cut their profits and produce "untenable" instability in a crucial manufacturing sector.


Deceased Strategist's Files Detail Republican Gerrymandering in North Carolina

The Supreme Court is considering cases regarding alleged gerrymandering in Maryland and North Carolina after the hard drives of a deceased Republican strategist revealed new evidence last week about the Trump administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. The late strategist, Thomas Hofeller, was the mastermind behind the G.O.P.'s gerrymandering strategy, and left behind four hard drives and 18 thumb drives containing more than 75,000 files that were found by his estranged daughter after his death in August. Advocacy group Common Cause said in court documents that the Hofeller files include new evidence showing how North Carolina Republicans misled a federal court to prolong the life of their map of state legislative districts, which had been ruled unconstitutional.


Columbine High School Could Be Torn Down to Deter Copycats

In the 20 years since the massacre at Columbine High School, the building has become a tourist attraction for the curious and the obsessed. in an effort to stop the escalating threats against the school and lessen Columbine's perverse appeal to copycats and so-called Columbiners, school officials are proposing a radical idea: Tear it down. The idea has divided a tight-knit community of current Columbine students, survivors of the 1999 attack, and victims' families, who share a fierce love for the school. It has also stirred a debate about whether schools, churches, and other places devastated by mass shootings can ever exorcise their legacy by demolishing the buildings where the violence unfolded.


Hate Crimes Spike in N.Y.

There has been a sharp increase in reported hate crimes in New York, even as crime has fallen overall. As of June 2nd, there were 184 hate crimes reported in the city, a 64% increase over the same period in 2018. The increase is being propelled largely by anti-Semitic incidents, which were up 90%. City officials have vowed to increase their efforts to reverse the trend, including by opening a new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes within the mayor's office this summer.


Lawyers By Day, Uber Drivers and Bartenders By Night

At least one-third of Legal Aid Society attorneys are forced to take on second and even third jobs in order to make ends meet. The Legal Aid Society, the nation's oldest nonprofit legal services organization, offers law school graduates starting salaries of $53,582, which increase to $62,730 upon admittance to the bar - this pales in comparison to the median salary of first year associates at private firms, which is $135,000. Legal Aid officials are asking New York City Council leaders for help in closing the pay gap.


Judge Comes Forward with Sexual Abuse Story

Former Acting New York State Supreme Court Justice Charles Apotheker published a personal letter that detailed the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Apotheker's abuser, Dr. Reginald Archibald, a pediatric endocrinologist at the Rockefeller University Hospital, has allegedly spent decades abusing young boys, with many of his actions just recently coming to light.


Paris Climate Goals Could Save Many Lives

Under the Paris climate agreement, 195 countries pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to hold global warming to two degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels. They also promised efforts to limit the temperature increase even further, to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The half-degree difference between 1.5 and 2 degrees may not seem like much, but, according to research published in the journal Science Advances, it could mean saving or losing thousands of lives each year in the United States alone.


Deal Might Put Bomb Secrets in Saudi's Hands

The Trump administration declared an emergency last month and fast-tracked the sale of more American arms to Saudi Arabia. The move has raised concerns that the Saudis could gain access to technology that would let them produce their own versions of American precision-guided bombs -- weapons they have used in strikes on civilians since they began fighting a war in Yemen four years ago. The emergency authorization allows Raytheon Company, a top American defense firm, to team with the Saudis to build high-tech bomb parts in Saudi Arabia. That provision, which had not been previously reported, is part of a broad package of information the administration released this week to Congress.


Antibiotics Push is Breeding Drug Resistant Germs

Facing a surge in drug-resistant infections, the World Health Organization issued a plea to farmers two years ago: "Stop using antibiotics in healthy animals." A "Pig Zero" brochure by Elanco, one of the largest manufacturers of drugs for animals, urged farmers to give antibiotics to every pig in their herds, even as it told the public and policymakers that it was aware of the hazards that the overuse of antibiotics poses to human health. The brochures encouraged farmers to give antibiotics to every pig in their herds rather than waiting to treat a disease outbreak caused by an unknown "Patient Zero". It was an appealing pitch for industrial farms, where crowded, germ-prone conditions have led to increasing reliance on drug interventions.


New Rules on American Travel to Cuba Include Cruise Ban

The Trump administration imposed new restrictions on Americans going to Cuba, banning the most common way Americans travel to the island - via cruises. The United States will no longer permit group educational and cultural trips known as "people to people" trips to the island unless they were booked before June 5th, nor will it allow cruises, private yachts or fishing vessels to stop in Cuba. Group people-to-people trips have been used by thousands of American visitors. Cruises have become the most popular way for Americans to travel to Cuba since 2016, when President Obama reopened relations with the island.


Kim Jong-un Suspends "Mass Games"

North Korea will temporarily suspend its epic mass gymnastics show, after the propaganda-filled festival was panned by Kim Jong-un. The mass games performances, which North Korea has staged on and off for years under different names, typically feature thousands of schoolchildren and other youthful performers making synchronized moves in what is widely regarded as the biggest and most spectacular entertainment for North Korean elites. The shows aimed at instilling North Koreans with national pride and loyalty to Kim's family, which has ruled the country from its beginning in 1945, and the regime has invited foreign tourists to the show, charging as much as $900 per person. However, Koryo Tours, a travel agency based in Beijing that takes foreign tourists to the show, said it had been told that the 2019 mass games would be "temporarily suspended from June 10 for a yet-to-be-confirmed amount of time to allow changes to be made to the performance." It said the suspension could last "several days through to potentially a few weeks."



June 10, 2019

Wobble Up (feat. © infringement?) (Kate Spade Remix)

By Joshua Lahijani

"Wobble Up" by Chris Brown never broke into the Billboard Hot 100, despite featuring popular artists Nicki Minaj and G-Easy. (https://www.billboard.com/music/Chris-Brown/chart-history) Released on April 18th, it is a hip-hop single that is to feature on Brown's upcoming album "Indigo". Despite the lukewarm response to the song, the music video, directed by Arrad Rahgoshay (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm5742174/) and Chris Brown (https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2093097/), has been targeted by multiple artists for copyright infringement.

The video contains four controversial images/scenes (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=odgvsMFSIo8):

1. A visual pun of beach bums (the artists) on a beach that is a bum;
2. a colorfully painted breast with a temperature knob displacing the nipple;
3. two lemons on a blue backdrop with a distinctive piercing on the right sitting flat on a surface;
4. an eggplant made from a lavender colored balloon on a grapefruit/peach colored backdrop; and
5. two grapefruits nested in a lace bra.

The video frames contain images that are similar to "concept" works by three artists:

1. A visual pun of beach bums (stick figures) on a beach that is a bum - concept work by Marius Sperlich (https://www.instagram.com/p/BmZG3dvn59T/);
2. a nude breast with a temperature knob displacing the nipple - concept work by Marius Sperlich (https://www.instagram.com/p/BpC3Z0snFSC/);
3. two lemons on a pink backdrop with a distinctive piercing on the right pointed upright on the surface - work by Tony Futura (https://www.instagram.com/p/BI3MkO2gR1E/);
4. an eggplant made from a lavender colored balloon on a pastel blue backdrop - work by Vanessa Mckeown (https://www.instagram.com/p/BxxbpplARU2/); and
5. two eggs nested in a lace bra - work by Vanessa Mckeown (https://www.instagram.com/p/BhCPvpyAZKV/).

In an Instagram post on May 21st, Sperlich stated:

Apparently my work got copied by the director who made the new . . . music video "Wobble Up" - without permission, without credit - along with works of other famous artists like @tonyfutura and @vanessamckeown #changeindustry For reference: A concept of @tonyfutura got copied, too. . . . Intellectual Property has to be protected at any cost! Now that the internet and social media proliferate content instantly. We need to make sure that the creative source is present from first launch. This unfortunately happens offers in the creative industry. Nowadays its very easy to copy things. For many the internet is just an open source of concepts, ideas and free content. Nobody cares about creation, originals and credit anymore. Especially if you are a young and an emerging artist....most cant afford a lawyer for a lawsuit. So most of them remain silent - We won't stay silent.

An Instagram post on May 21st by Futura stated:

So, apparently my work got copied by the director who made the new @chrisbrownofficial @nickiminaj @g_eazy music video "Wobble Up" - without permission, without credit - along with works of other famous artists like @mariussperlich and @vanessamckeown #changeindustry please tag, comment, repost and help us artists to get press on this. because credit is the only thing that lets people know about our work. credit saves creativity. please help us to spread awareness to all creative fields and the creative industry. #changeindustry

Turning away from the discussion of direct copying, this issue invokes a copyright concept that has been discussed over and over (and over) again, the idea-expression dichotomy. Copyrights protect the expression of an idea, and not the idea itself (see Mazer v. Stein). This scenario is reminiscent of another case, Bill Diodato Photogrpahy, LLC v. Kate Spade, LLC (2005). In Kate Spade, the plaintiff's photo was "of the bottom of a bathroom stall . . . [from] the opening underneath the door, one can see a woman's feet, astride a toilet, in stylish, colorful shoes, her underwear hanging above her ankles, and a handbag resting on the floor."

Diodato submitted the photograph to Kate Spade in January 2003 in promoting his "portfolio". Kate Spade denied seeing the photograph, but included in its November 2003 advertising campaign a photograph "of a woman's feet, astride a toilet, in stylish, colorful shoes, with a handbag on the floor." The court, after considering issues of evidence of actual copying and the doctrine of scenes a faire, dismissed the case, stating that the "significant elements of the [Plaintiff's photograph that] are similar to the Kate Spade Photograph are not protectable -- and that elements that are protectable are . . . de minimis."

Did the Rahgoshay and Brown video misappropriate the protected works of the artists beyond the de minimis or did they simply express their expression of an idea? If the artists file suit, a court may decide.

May 27, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are stories from Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Aretha Franklin's Handwritten Wills Are Discovered at Her Home

Aretha Franklin was believed to have died without a will, but three handwritten documents were recently discovered at her home. Her estate considers them to be three separate wills, laying out her intentions about distributing her assets after her death, including music royalties and real estate. If the wills are ruled invalid, then her assets would be divided equally among her four sons, in accordance with Michigan



Harvey Weinstein Reaches Tentative $44 Million Deal to Settle Lawsuits

The amount is less than half of what was discussed as a victims' fund last year during conversations between an investor group that would buy assets of the Weinstein Company and the New York attorney general's office. This new deal would see about $30 million go to a pool of plaintiffs that includes alleged victims, creditors of his former studio, and former employees. The deal hinges on all of the plaintiffs agreeing to it and at least two women have rejected the proposal so far.



Singer Rae Solomon Sues Live Nation Over All-Female Country Music Festival Concept

Solomon is suing Live Nation for $25 million, alleging that it stole her idea of an all-female music festival. Solomon alleges that in conversation with Live Nation's Women Nation fund, she was asked to provide a list of acts she was pursuing for her festival. However, the artists she mentioned, who are now headlining Live Nation's Chicago concert, say they never agreed to perform at her Zenitheve festival.


Actors and Directors Call for Boycott if Georgia's Abortion Law Goes into Effect

Two film projects have pulled production from Georgia after a highly restrictive abortion law was passed. However, the film and television industry's response has been far from unified. Top studios have stayed silent, as has much of corporate America, a stark contrast with the widespread boycotts in 2017 following a slew of laws that restricted gay and transgender rights in various states.


Whitney Houston's Estate Plans a Hologram Tour and New Album

Houston's estate says that it will be releasing a new album supported by a hologram tour. The estate has signed on with Primary Wave Music Publishing in a deal estimated at $14 million. The partnership gives Primary Wave 50% of the singer's royalties from music, film, and merchandising, and the right to use her name and likeness.


A New Generation of Rap Artists Emerges in Russia

Streaming and social networks have allowed a new generation of artists to emerge in Russia, a country where Kremlin loyalists act as cultural gatekeepers.



Ghanaian Authorities to Sue "Black Panther" Producers Over Use of Kente Fabric

According to online reports, authorities in Ghana are planning to sue the producers of "Black Panther" over alleged patent and copyright breaches. The Ghana National Folklore Board is reportedly planning a sit-down with Marvel Studios to discuss rules around using the country's traditional fabric, Kente, which the Board alleges the studio used without its permission.


Germany Relinquishing Thousands of Kafka Confidant's Papers to Israel

German authorities handed over to Israel nearly 5,000 documents kept by Max Brod, Kafka's friend and literary executor. Prague-born Brod fled Nazi Germany for Tel Aviv in 1939, carrying with him personal documents and works that Kafka had insisted be destroyed after his death. Brod left his personal secretary in charge of his literary estate and directed her to transfer the Kafka papers to an academic institution. Following a recent court ruling, it was decided that the papers would be delivered to the National Library of Israel.



University of Southern California Records Reveal Dire Warnings About 'Psychopath' Gynecologist

Following decades of complaints, officials at the University of Southern California were told by medical experts that Dr. George Tyndall was preying on vulnerable Asian students and had signs of "psychopathy." According to the report, language skills and lack of familiarity with American gynecology made international students ripe for victimization and unlikely to complain. Following the 2016 report, the university neither fired Tyndall nor notified the state medical board, arranging instead for him to leave his post with a financial payout and a clean professional record. More than 650 lawsuits have been filed alleging sexual misconduct by Tyndall.


Former USA Diving Coach Pleads Guilty to Sexual Battery of Teen Diver

William Bohonyi, former USA Diving and Ohio State University diving coach, pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery stemming from allegations that he repeatedly pressured a 16-year-old diver into sex. Bohonyi could spend up to 10 years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender in Ohio.


Former Partner of Deceased Skater John Coughlin Says She Was Sexually Abused

Figure skater Bridget Namiotka has come forward with allegations that her former pairs partner sexually abused her for two years. Coughlin was 33 when he died by suicide earlier this year, one day after he received an interim suspension from the U.S. Center for SafeSport. SafeSport received three reports of sexual misconduct against Coughlin. This past February, it announced it would close its investigation given Coughlin's death.


Nike Says That It Will End Financial Penalties for Pregnant Athletes

Nike announced that it will waive performance pay reductions for 12 months for athletes who decide to have a baby, promising to add terms to reinforce this policy into its contracts with sponsored athletes. A number of recently published opinion pieces by Nike-sponsored runners criticized the company's endorsement contracts, which have specific performance thresholds for compensation and provide no exceptions for maternity leave.


Robert Kraft Looking Likely to Avoid National Football League Discipline

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated writes that attitudes surrounding Kraft's situation have shifted - "most owners and team executives seem to have cooled on the idea that discipline under the NFL's personal conduct policy is a necessary step." The video evidence related to Kraft's charges of soliciting prostitution was thrown out because the warrant did not instruct police on how to minimize surveillance to avoid capturing non-criminal activity. Kraft's trial has been postponed indefinitely while prosecutors appeal the video evidence ruling.

The prevailing view is that if Kraft wins in court, he'll likely escape National Football League (NFL) discipline. If the case is dismissed, he would have a misdemeanor charge without a conviction in a non-violent case, something for which no player has been punished. It seems that the union has also not pushed for discipline, since sanctions here could create a precedent that the players might not want.


The NFL and NFL Players Association Cooperating on Study of Marijuana Benefits for Players

The NFL and NFL Players Association will form two new joint medical committees: one for pain management and one for comprehensive mental health and wellness. The first of the two will study the potential use of marijuana as a pain management tool for players and review teams' policies and practices for the use of prescription medication by players. Any major policy change will still have to be made through the traditional channels of the collective bargaining agreement, or via changes to the jointly administered drug policies. Marijuana remains on the NFL's list of banned substances.


Former NFL Start Kellen Winslow Jr. on Trial for Rape

Winslow has pleaded not guilty to raping three women, including a 17-year old girl from when he was in college. The other two incidents are recent and include 54-year-old and 59-year-old accusers. Defense lawyers contended the women were trying to prey on Winslow and that the sex was consensual. Winslow was suspended in 2013 for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.


Boxer Daniel Franco Sues Jay-Z and Roc Nation Sports After Suffering Brain Injury

Franco is accusing his promoters of encouraging him to go ahead with a 2017 fight even after he attempted to postpone the fight after a bout of flu that left him unfit to compete. Franco went on to fight twice more that year, but was forced into retirement later that year after suffering a near-fatal brain injury. His lawsuit alleges that he had suffered two skull fractures in one of the earlier fights of 2017, and that had those been identified at the time, the final fight would have been cancelled.


Women's Hockey Players Form Players Association

More than 200 of the world's top women's hockey players have filed paperwork to form a union with the goal of helping to establish a sustainable professional league in North America. As per the press release, "the formation of the PWHPA follows a decision by more than 200 of the world's top female hockey players to sit out the upcoming professional hockey season." The group has made it clear they want a league that provides health insurance, financial and infrastructure resources to players, and support for training programs.


Women's Hockey Sees WNBA As a Model for NHL-Backed League

Since the Canadian Women's Hockey League ceased operations earlier this month, the National Women's Hockey League is the only professional women's hockey league left in North America and top stars are refusing to play in it. Players would like to see a formal relationship with the men's league, similar to what is in place between the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the Women's NBA (WNBA), though query how the WNBA's recent struggles might bear on the future of an National Hockey League-backed women's league.


Houston Rockets' Twitter Account Suspended Over Use of Copyrighted Music

The Rockets' official Twitter account was suspended earlier this week due to social media posts containing unlicensed copyrighted music. Several college football programs also saw their respective accounts temporarily disabled in the face of Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaints.


NBA's Kings and Mavericks Announce They Are Disbanding Their Dance Teams

The Sacramento Kings is disbanding its dance time in order to form a "gender-inclusive hip-hop dance troupe." The new squad will have even numbers of men and women. The Dallas Mavericks (Mavs) will also be making changes, disbanding the dance team and replacing it with a new "entertainment squad." The Mavs have recently had to address a spate of sexual harassment complaints and is said to be aiming for a more "family-friendly" type of entertainment.



Maryland and Florida Not Going Along with Stronach Group's New Horse Racing Regulations; Preakness Stakes' Future in Maryland is Still Undecided

The Stronach Group instituted a series of changes at Santa Anita Park in California following 23 horse deaths in the span of 4 months. The measures include a reduction in race-day Lasix and use of riding crops only for safety. However, the changes have been met with resistance from Maryland horsemen and regulators, with the Maryland Racing Commission saying they are in violation of state regulation. Meanwhile, the City of Baltimore is standing behind its lawsuit to block the Stronach Group from moving the Preakness Stakes from its current home at Pimlico Race Course to Laurel Park. The lawsuit claims that under Maryland law, the race must stay at Pimlico unless a disaster or emergency arises that would force it to move to another track in the state.



Canadian Football League and Players Ratify New 3-year Collective Bargaining Agreement

The Canadian Football League (CFL) and CFL Players Association (CFLPA) have ratified a three-year "bridge deal" running through the 2021 season. Media outlets reported that talks hit a snag when the CFL decided to delay bargaining for two weeks earlier this month, after which the CFLPA urged a training camp boycott. The two sides ultimately signed a memorandum of agreement one day before the start of training camps.


Land Developer, Montreal Baseball Investors Reach Deal on Potential Major League Baseball Stadium

Stephen Bronfman heads a group of investors interested in bringing baseball back to Montreal. His firm has reached a deal with real estate development firm Devimco to purchase and develop a plot of land known as the Peel Basin. The announcement came on the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Montreal Expos' first season. The Expos relocated to Washington, D.C., following the 2004 season.


Qatari Executive Charged with Corruption in Scandal Implicating Track and Field's Governing Body

The French case against Yousef al-Obaidly relates to his time as a senior official of a company created by Qatar to bid for the track and field world championships. Authorities say that his company paid $3.5 million to another company controlled by a man with ties to the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), in an apparent bribe. Though Qatar was unsuccessful in landing the 2011 championships, it did host the event in 2017. The charges are the result of a long-running inquiry that has already revealed that high-ranking officials at the IAAF tried to extort athletes who had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.



Julian Assange is Indicted Under the Espionage Act

The Justice Department has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for revealing government secrets under the Espionage Act, marking the first time a publisher has been charged under this law. The indictment charges Assange with 16 counts of receiving or disclosing material leaked by then-Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. The act has no exception for reporters or publishers. Previous administrations have only prosecuted government employees who provided materials to journalists and have not invoked the law against journalists for fear of colliding with the First Amendment. Journalists and press freedom groups reacted with alarm following the announcement, saying that the move opens a new front in the government's campaign against illegal leaks and risks criminalizing journalistic practices.



Google Changes Abortion Ad Policy

Starting in June, abortion ads on Google will include disclosures that state whether or not the advertiser provides abortions. Google will require advertisers to apply to get certified as abortion-providers or non-providers. This move comes following criticism that the company was enabling organizations that oppose abortions to present themselves as facilities that provided the service, in an effort to get women to contact them and to then dissuade them from seeking the procedure.


Facebook Targets Hate Content for Removal

In response to global pressure to improve how it polices content, Facebook states in one of its biannual reports that the company's automated detection software is improving, removing more than half of the hate speech on the platform. It also says that it is beginning to use artificial intelligence to detect and remove the sale of guns and drugs on its platform.


San Francisco Police Chief Apologizes for Raid of Journalists Home-Office

San Francisco police raided freelance journalist Bryan Carmody's home in an effort to discover his confidential sources after he referred to
information he got from a police report dealing with the death of a local public defender. When Carmody refused to identify who had given him the report, the police obtained a search warrant, raided his apartment, and detained him for six hours. Following a hearing earlier this week, his seized property was returned. The Chief of Police apologized for the raid, saying that it raised questions about whether California shield law was violated. The shield law protects journalists if they refuse to disclose sources or refuse to disclose unpublished information.



Geoffrey Rush Awarded $2 Million in Defamation Case

Actor Geoffrey Rush was awarded a record $2 million payout in his defamation case against Rupert Murdoch's Nationwide News. Rush accused a tabloid newspaper of wrongly portraying him as having behaved inappropriately toward a female co-star in two front-page articles published in 2017. The case was closely watched in Australia, where advocates argue that celebrities can fend off #MeToo accusations through a defamation claim.



Federal Judge Upholds Subpoena for Trump's Financial Records

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled against a request from President Trump to block Deutsche Bank from complying with congressional subpoenas seeking his detailed financial records. Trump is expected to appeal the ruling, and the committees have already agreed to let the appeals play out before enforcing the subpoenas.



IRS Memo Says Trump Tax Returns Must Be Turned Over to Congress

Secretary Mnuchin declined to comply with a House Ways and Means Committee subpoena last week asking for six years of Donald Trump's tax returns. The draft IRS memo that has now surfaced says that tax returns must be given to Congress unless the president asserts executive privilege over them. It also states that the law does not allow the Treasury Secretary to exercise discretion in disclosing the information. The memo was reportedly never forwarded to the Treasury Department.


Albany Closes a Loophole for Presidential Pardons

The New York State Assembly passed a bill that would allow President Trump's state tax returns to be released to congressional committees that have been barred from seeing his federal filings. The new law also exempts the state's double-jeopardy law from cases involving presidential pardons, meaning that state prosecutors can pursue charges against any individual granted a presidential pardon for similar federal crimes.



Federal Judge Blocks Part of Trump's Plan to Direct Funds to Border Wall

A federal judge in California granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the administration from redirecting funds from a national emergency declaration to build a border wall. The temporary injunction is part of a larger legal challenge claiming that President Trump overstepped his constitutional authority by using money allocated to other agencies to fund a border wall without congressional approval.


Trump Circumvents Congress to Sell Weapons to Middle East Allies

President Trump is moving forward with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, a move that was blocked by Congress last year, by declaring an emergency over Iran. The decision drew criticism from lawmakers, who are furious over the civilian death toll from the Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen.


Potential Clash Looming Between Justice Department and the CIA Over Declassification Order

President Trump has delegated his power to declassify documents to Attorney General Barr. More specifically, he has instructed Barr to declassify any intelligence that led to the Russia investigation in an effort to find out what the intelligence agencies knew about the investigation into his campaign. Critics say the move could endanger the CIA's ability to keep the identities of their sources secret, and puts the agency on a collision course with the Justice Department.


Stolen National Security Agency Hacking Tool Being Used Against U.S. Cities

A hacking tool developed by the NSA is now being used to attack the site of the agency's own headquarters. The City of Baltimore went offline after a cyberattack that was followed by a ransom demand that the city refused to pay. Cybercriminals are reportedly focusing on vulnerable American towns and cities with aging digital infrastructure, paralyzing their local governments, hospitals, and airports, and driving up costs.


Pelosi-Trump Battle Escalates as They Question Each Other's Mental Fitness

The public exchange came after President Trump walked out of an infrastructure meeting and called an unexpected press conference, declaring that he will not work with House Democrats until they stop investigating him. Pelosi had previously told reporters that Trump is engaged in a "cover-up" after House Democrats held a meeting to discuss possible impeachment proceedings against the president.


Democratic Calls for Impeachment Inquiry Grow as House Pursues Tougher Tactics Against Trump

Prominent liberal Democrats have now declared that they see no choice but to initiate an impeachment inquiry based on concerns that President Trump may be permanently weakening Congress's powers. Calls for impeachment are growing louder out of a fear that Trump is not only evading accountability himself but is also rewriting the rules of engagement between the legislative and executive branches, as shown by him successfully calling on former White House counsel Don McGahn to skip a scheduled hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.


Transcripts of Michael Cohen's Interviews with Lawmakers Released

Newly released transcripts provide additional details of Michael Cohen's discussions with the president's legal team and with lawmakers, including those on the House Intelligence Committee. They include claims about possible pardons and Trump's relationship with Russia, among others.


Environmental Protection Agency Will Adopt New Method for Projecting Health Risks of Air Pollution

The New York Times reports that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to adopt a method that has not been peer-reviewed and is not scientifically sound. The change would drastically lower an earlier Trump administration estimate that as many as 1,400 more people could die prematurely each year under the proposed Affordable Clean Energy rule governing emissions from coal plants.


$16 Billion in Aid for U.S. Farmers Hurt by Trade Wars

President Trump unveiled a $16 billion "bailout" for farmers earlier this week, signaling a protracted trade war with Beijing. Widely seen as a political move, the aid is meant to appease an important constituency for Trump in 2020, especially as China's tariffs against products like soybeans, beef and pork have hit swing states the hardest.


Trump Administration Seeks Rollback of Transgender Health Rules

The Department of Health and Human Services plans to redefine the terms of an Obama-era policy that kept health care providers from discriminating against transgender patients. The agency is rewriting an Affordable Care Act regulation that prohibits health care discrimination on the basis of sex, citing a need to ensure consistency in the interpretation of 'sex discrimination' across federal departments.


Advertising Firm Files $50 Million Countersuit Against the National Rifle Association

Ackerman McQueen, the advertising firm that has worked with the National Rifle Association (NRA) for nearly four decades, is seeking $50 million, claiming that it was defamed by the gun rights group. The NRA accused the firm of refusing to fully cooperate with an audit, defaming chief executive Wayne LaPierre, and breaching confidentiality agreements. It effectively accused the firm of orchestrating the failed leadership coup as part of an attempt to tarnish and destroy the public image of the NRA.


15 States Are Trying to Make the Electoral College Obsolete

Nevada became the latest state to pass a bill that would grant its electoral votes to whomever wins the popular vote across the country, not just in Nevada. It is joined by 14 other states promising to adopt this new system. The interstate pact would take effect once enough states have joined to guarantee the national winner 270 electoral votes; the 14 states that have currently "signed on" have a total of 195 electoral votes.


Vermont Moves to Amend State Constitution to Protect Abortion Rights

While the bill would not change the status quo in Vermont, where there are no legal limits on abortion, it is meant to send a message by formally prohibiting the government from interfering in any way with the right to have an abortion.


Missouri Governor Signs Bill Banning Abortion After 8 Weeks

The law bans abortions at 8 weeks of pregnancy and makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. Doctors who perform abortions could be charged with felonies and sentenced to prison terms of up to 15 years. Women who seek abortions would not face prosecution. At least 4 other states have passed so-called fetal heartbeat bills this year, as conservatives see an opening to press their case to the Supreme Court.


Federal Judge Blocks Mississippi's Abortion Law

In issuing the preliminary injunction, Judge Carlton Reeves noted that the state's "heartbeat" abortion ban would force clinics to stop providing most abortion care. He added that "by banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat, the law prevents a woman's free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy."


The Language Wars of the Abortion Debate

The article traces the way language has shaped the abortion debate, beginning with the "pro-life" and "pro-choice" phrases of the 1960s, continuing with the more recent references to "heartbeat" legislation and "forced pregnancy bills."


Federal Judge Rules That Qualcomm Violated Antitrust Laws

Qualcomm is the largest maker of modem chips for connecting smartphones to wireless networks. Its customers complain that the company uses unfair practices to force companies to agree to excessive licensing fees. The Federal Trade Commission sued Qualcomm in 2017, arguing that the latter used its monopoly position to compel handset makers to pay onerous fees for the use of its patents. In her ruling earlier this week, Judge Koh wrote that "Qualcomm's licensing practices have strangled competition" and the company must abandon its practice of not selling chips to phone makers unless they first agree to license its patents (whether or not they end up using the chips).



MeToo's Legal Forces Take on Harassment at McDonald's

Twenty-five McDonald's employees filed sexual harassment complaints against the company, announcing three civil rights lawsuits as well and two other lawsuits in coordination with the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund. The accusations involve a wide range of inappropriate behavior by supervisors, gender-based discrimination, and retaliation for speaking up.


Under a State Department Policy, Daughter of American Same-Sex Parents Does Not Qualify for Citizenship

A decades-old State Department policy requires a child born abroad to have a biological connection to an American parent in order to receive citizenship at birth. The articles traces a number of court cases challenging the policy for discriminating against same-sex couples and for its treatment of births from assisted reproductive technology.


United Nations Report Finds Siri and Alexa Promote Sexist Attitudes Towards Women

A report by UNESCO finds that the default use of female-sounding voice assistants on smartphones and other gadgets reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment. A USC sociology professor cited in the report found that "virtual assistants produce a rise of command-based speech directed at women's voices" and affect the way people behave towards women in real life.


Watchdog Group Files Complaint Over Canadian Billionaire's Donation to Trump Super PAC

The watchdog group Campaign Legal Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Canadian billionaire Barry
Zekelman violated a federal ban on contributions by foreigners when his U.S.-based company donated $1.75 million to a Trump-affiliated PAC. Zekelman has said that he left it to members of his corporate board, who are either U.S. citizens or legal residents, to decide on the donations.


Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Will Be Delayed Until Trump Leaves Office

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that the redesign of the $20 bill featuring Tubman will no longer be unveiled in 2020, citing a need to redesign the currency for counterfeiting issues. The unveiling was scheduled to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote.


Michael Avenatti is Charged with Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

Avenatti is accused of stealing nearly $300,000 from his client, Stormy Daniel, and using the money on personal expenses. He allegedly forged a letter to her literary agent, demanding that the agent wire an advance to a client trust account that he controlled.


Amazon Shareholders Reject Facial Recognition Sale Ban to Governments

At their annual meeting this week, Amazon shareholders rejected two proposals that would have requested the company not to sell its facial recognition technology to police, law enforcement, and federal agencies, i.e. government customers. In light of accusations that the technology has bias and inaccuracies that can be used to racially discriminate against minorities, one of the now rejected resolutions would have demanded an independent human and civil rights review into the use of the software.



Morehouse College Official Cheers 'Transformational' Gift

Morehouse College's vice president for external relations and alumni engagement reflects on hearing Robert F. Smith's announcement of his student-loan-eliminating gift. Calling it a "transformational moment," he hopes the gift will lead to a greater recognition of the work of historically black colleges, whose graduates carry a federal debt load that is about one-third higher than graduates of other public and non-profit four-year institutions.


Is a Technological Cold War Between the U.S. and China Inevitable?

The United States' aggressive new stance restricting Huawei's access to American technology can be seen as the beginnings of a digital Iron Curtain. Google has already limited the software services it provides to Huawei, a move that will likely impact Huawei's status as a rising company in the European smartphone market. It remains to be seen how China, and its most successful tech companies, will retaliate.


China Uses High-Tech Surveillance to Subdue Minorities in the West

The article looks into technologies produced by China's state-run defense manufacturer that could be deployed to monitor and subdue certain groups. One of the systems unveiled at an industry fair is able to tap into networks of neighborhood informants, track individuals and analyze their behavior, anticipate potential crime, and then recommend which security forces to deploy.


Kenya's Highest Court Upholds Ban on Gay Sex

The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of Kenya's High Court upheld a set of colonial-era laws that criminalize same-sex relations. Only Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, and India have struck down similar laws that were put in place by 19th century British colonial rules.


India Election Gives Prime Minister Narendra Modi a Second Term

In the biggest election to date, 900 million people were eligible to take part in seven rounds of voting. Though Modi is largely seen as a modernizer, there are concerns that he will continue sending India farther down the path of becoming a religious Hindu state, which could pose dangers for minorities.



UK Prime Minister Theresa Announces Resignation

Theresa May will step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7th and will stay on as Prime Minister until a new leader is chosen. May failed to secure domestic support for an exit deal she struck with the European Union.