November 5, 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


No Touching!

We're not talking about rape, or even sexual blackmail here, but men (as well as grandmothers, cousins, and aunties), have to learn to keep their hands to themselves, and I guess this is a part of the lesson. Fourteen women over 20 years are accusing Cuba Gooding of "forcible touching" and "third-degree sexual abuse." Maximum of a year potential sentence.

Bite Me

Apple launched its new streaming TV service, Apple TV Plus, with a premier at Lincoln Center of its morning show hosted by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Oprah is coming to the new channel, as are Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan, among others. The service will cost $5 a month or is free with a new Apple device. Apple will air all new original programming, so there is no back-up "library" of shows like at those other places. Apple admits it knows nothing about television, but promises oral sex in "Dickinson" (Emily), and a lot of swearing from Rachel and Jill. I'm curious to see what the product placements will be.

Orchestra Cancels Tour

The Eastman School of Music Philharmonia had to cancel its planned tour of China because China would not issue visas to three South Korean members of the orchestra. Originally the tour was going to go anyway, but there was "outcry" from students and alums, who accused the school of "bowing" to China (the student body is apparently one quarter international), and the school cancelled the tour altogether. Some believe that China's position has to do with punishing the U.S. for selling missiles to South Korea. China denies it and claims that more than four million South Koreans visited China last year.

Netflix Must Self-Censor Overseas

Netflix has 1.5 million subscribers in Turkey, which is probably a nice bit of change. Previously, all streaming services in that country were allowed to operate outside of the government's censorship rules, which are of course so broad that they can be made to include anything the government desires. However, there has been a big crackdown on "dissent," and now the content on Netflix and other streaming services will have to comply if they want the markets. For example, no cigarette smoking and no same-sex kissing (or anything else) are allowed. In India there are also problems, with certain members of the populace insisting that streaming content be regulated in the same way as movie theaters. Some of the extremists claim that this is to protect children. In these countries, the interests of religious extremists frequently prevail politically. In Saudi Arabia, Netflix was made to censor criticism of the crown prince. Oh, but nothing like that could ever happen here . . .

Let Me Entertain You

The BBC paid Samira Ahmed, who had a much larger audience and did exactly the same type of show, well, really perhaps something a bit more difficult, one-sixth of what the man in the analogous job was paid. BBC claimed that the man's show is a household word and is entertainment, while her show is not and is a news show. Yet even in other BBC work, Ahmed was paid between a third to a half less than men doing the same work on the same projects. The BBC gave her some back pay. She is now suing for more, and is not the only one.


Cultural Affairs Commissioner Steps Down

The Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Tom Finkelpearl, who has served in the post since 2014, has resigned. This article suggests that it had something to do with which artist was going to be chosen to create a work to replace the monument of J. Marion Sims, a 19th century "doctor" who performed medical experiments on black women slaves without anesthesia, but that's just speculation. Under Finkelpearl's leadership, the Department launched "Create NYC," which allowed city residents to attend museums for less, although some artists claimed that the plan was really about helping developers. Prior to this position, Finkelpearl was the director of the Queens Museum, where he oversaw a large budget and encouraged diversity.

A Girl's Best Friend

This is about a 34.65 carat diamond, about the size of a Cerignola olive, cut from the Golconda mines in India, nicknamed "Princie." It first appeared in the 1700s and was bought by an Italian Senator, Signor Angiolillo, in 1960, from Van Cleef & Arpels. Then it starts getting into family law, which is always tedious. The Senator gave it to his wife, but what happened to it when she died? Maybe the step-brother, Signor Milella, knows something. The Italian police found a bunch of loot at his house; but not Princie. Apparently Milella sold it to a Swiss gem dealer named David Gol for nearly $20 million. Then Gol worked with Christie's to auction it off. Gol's lawyer says that there is no evidence Angiolillo ever owned the diamond. A member of the Qatari royal family, a sheikh, bought it for $39.3 million. The case is in New York Supreme, where it will be adjudicated pursuant to New York law, not Swiss, which would apparently be more helpful to Gol. Christie's said it only took in $1 million on the sale, and that the issue is primarily an inheritance dispute between family members. Nothing to look at here.

Fanny Hill

The author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed printed on September 5, 2018 will be turning her or his essay into a full length book with lots of juicy details. The New York Times claims to have vetted the deep throat before it ran the op-ed, so I guess this is legitimate and not just an agent provocateur misdirection. In fact, the writer sounds like a good Republican who is simply appalled by the behavior in the Oval Office.

No Bail-Out for Barneys

Barneys filed for bankruptcy in August. There was hope for another buyer, someone who would keep the family together, but Authentic Brands is buying the name (which is its raison d'etre, buying distressed intellectual property, licensing it, and taking royalties), which will be licensed to Saks, and B. Riley, a liquidation firm, will sell what's left of the merchandise in private sales to the store's former "most loyal" shoppers, and 660 Madison will be turned into a "pop-up" emporium. The first bankruptcy was in 1996. Some people think the store never recovered after that.

Full Employment for Divorce Lawyers

Harry Macklowe, worth about $2.5 billion, is 82, and his ex-wife, Linda, is a year younger. They managed to keep it together for 50 years, and their divorce was only finalized in 2018. Macklowe then married his 60-ish girlfriend, Patricia Landeau, and had their photographs plastered on the side of his building on Billionaire's Row, where, by the way, it is apparently a buyer's market, although Sting just bought a $65.7 million penthouse there. Anyway, now the former couple are fighting over the art, including a $50 million Warhol "Marilyn." Linda Macklowe got the apartment in the Plaza Hotel and $39 million of the art, but the Warhol, and the rest, will have to be separated and sold. Like Barneys. Let's not forget that in 1985, Macklowe tore down SROs on 44th Street in the middle of the night, without turning off the electricity, gas or water, or building scaffolding (although apparently the buildings were empty), to beat a demolition moratorium that was about to take effect. He paid $2 million to settle that suit and had to wait 4 years before he could build again, but it doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice now. Vendettas are expensive to maintain. When money is no object, the wars can go on forever.


Friday Night Lights Out

These stories are in the news every month now, about the cumulative dangers of playing football, especially for young kids, and specifically the danger of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma. It is often found posthumously in football players, and in fact can only be diagnosed posthumously. This particular subject played in high school and college, and then became an ob/gyn. When he was 35 he began losing his temper, memory (like in the middle of surgeries), and judgment. The diagnosis was neurodegenerative dementia. Now he's crusading to ban football for anyone younger than twelve.

Bears in the Woods

This has been going on for a while. Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) gave the Russians 3 weeks to explain the discrepancies between the data received from a whistle blower regarding athlete drug tests and the data received from Russian officials. Where were the failed tests? The Russians claimed that its dog (or maybe bear) ate it (more or less). As a result, the Russians were banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Now, Microsoft claims that the Russian state-run hacking group, "Fancy Bear," has attacked the computer networks of 16 national and international sports and antidoping organizations. Fancy Bear is one of 2 groups responsible for the 2016 U.S. election interference. Apparently exposés and indictments just make Fancy Bear more determined. The fact is that the Russians cheated, and now they are causing discord in an attempt what, to cover their tracks? To frighten everyone into letting them play anyway? To show they don't care? Russia has always produced great artists and athletes. It doesn't need to juice.

Want Beer!

Alma mater branded beer. It's really just the equivalent of Girl Scout cookies, right? Especially since education funding does not seem to be much of a priority in certain parts of these United States. To be fair, they're also doing it with hamburger buns, coffee, and wine. Maybe at Oxford and Cambridge it'll be tea. I guess one problem is that it's not exactly a great role model for preventing students from selling out to Nike. Some people call it simply good old Cajun ingenuity. Ragin' Cajun, they say, is a great beer that tastes like Southwest Louisiana.


You Can't Scare Me

NBC digital journalists think a union will protect them when/if they need to criticize management. Among other things, they also want equal pay for women and minorities, and a better idea of the long-term plans for the digital division. Mostly, they want the freedom to discuss publicly things in the company that are in the headlines elsewhere. This all came to a head with the publication of Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill and his interview about it on Rachel Maddow, where he explained that NBC "interfered" with his Harvey Weinstein investigation (by telling him to stop reporting it after 7 months), and "mishandled" the allegations against Matt Lauer. Nevertheless, it seems like NBC may try to fire those currently seeking the union and hire a bunch of other people. It's a rough climate for principles these days. Usually it's just the technical staff that is unionized. The writers circulated an anonymous spreadsheet disclosing salaries and job scheduling and security. It showed deep disparities with regard to women and people of color.

All Chiefs

Here's the backstory: Terry G. Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan) sued Gawker Media in an invasion of privacy lawsuit "secretly" funded by the billionaire Peter Theil. Gawker became subject to a $140 million judgment and had to file for bankruptcy. Deadspin was part of Gawker. Great Hill Partners bought Deadspin and a few other properties in the fire sale. Great Hill put the properties together under the name G/O Media and installed a Mr. Spanfeller, formerly a Forbes exec, as CEO. Then, in August, Deadspin posted a story critical of G/O and Spanfeller. Three weeks after that, Deadspin's editor, Megal Greenwell, resigned. Then, on Monday, 10/28, the G/O editorial director sent a memo saying, "stick to sports," more or less. For example, he wasn't perturbed about the reporting of the vocal disapprobation of President Trump at the World Series. Nevertheless, the staff felt that their autonomy and the quality of their product was at issue, and on Tuesday they published exclusively non-sports related material. The interim editor was then fired, and the rest of the staff eventually voluntarily followed. Spanfeller claims that it was not the intent to "quash" the "distinctive Deadspin voice." Lawyer much? Senator B. Sanders tweeted his support of the writers, while others decried the influx of private equity into media companies. Yet wasn't it always like that?

Anything Goes

The U.S. president's campaign circulated an ad on Facebook (FB) that made false claims about Joe Biden. When Biden asked for it to be removed, FB refused. So to see how far things would go, Elizabeth Warren's campaign ran an ad stating that Zuckerberg supported Trump for president (which he apparently doesn't). Claiming freedom of expression, Zuckerberg has decided that FB is not going to censor, and the ads will run whether they are lying or not, even paid political ads that include claims that have been debunked. See the problem? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did. She grilled him on it. Even 250 of FB's (admittedly 35,000 plus) employees have signed an open letter and posted it on FB's internal communication network asking Zuckerberg to change his mind. He's impervious. I guess he's decided that money is speech. However, contrary to the current law of this land, money is not speech. As a matter of fact, federal law prohibits networks from censoring political ads of candidates running for office. So I guess you have to take them as they are or not at all. I wasn't aware that FB has had relatively few employee "uprisings," compared to Google and Amazon, but the letter says: "This is still our company."

On the Other Hand

Twitter has decided to ban all political ads. That will include, for example, ads about climate change. But advertising is insidious. Are you sure you really know it when you see it? Anyway, Google is in between, with a review policy.


Tik-Tok began as an American company with a "short-form" video app for making videos and memes using an "endless scroll of clips." Then it was acquired by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which owns, a similar type of app. ByteDance said that it would not merge the two, but it did, and together the companies have become a "global cultural phenomenon," with over 750 million downloads in the past year, more than FB, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. However, the acquisition is being reviewed by the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). There have already been problems about Tik-Tok and the security of personal information about children. Now there's a claim that the app is sending data to China (although the app itself is not available in China). Certain Chinese tech firms are have been blocked from purchasing certain American products, and Singapore was prevented from purchasing Qualcomm. In addition, both apps apparently censor political material.

Propaganda Are Us

This was also in the news last month. Russia apparently has a huge disinformation industry, which it treats like any other industry, testing samples before rolling out the big production. The product consists of FB campaigns. FB says that it has recently removed 3 Russian-backed "influence networks" that were aimed at Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan, and Libya. These campaigns were apparently financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch indicted by the U.S. and accused of interfering in the 2016 elections, and his agency, Russia's Internet Research Agency. Some of the sites criticize French and American policies in Africa; some promote Russian policies. Some pages "masquerade" as news but just repost articles from Sputnik (!!) "News" Service. Apparently this latest effort is much bigger than anything that happened in 2016. How can this be stopped? Who can be relied upon to police this? In Tampa (I heard on FB), the local political board just cut library funding for New York Times digital subscriptions because, it claims, the newspaper is "fake news." Finally, one can't be certain that the claim to have nipped things in the bud is even itself accurate.

Imposter Local Sites that Promote Ideological Agendas Becoming More Common

The Russian Internet Research Agency (as discussed above) has apparently opened Twitter accounts that direct readers where it wants them to go. However, it's not just a foreign bogey that is doing this; the Kochs and their ilk fund this type of activity, too. It is cheaper and more effective than pouring money into candidates. (Read Dark Money.)

General News

A Day in Hollywood . . .

It was John A. Eisenberg (JAE), a lawyer for the National Security Council, who ordered that "The Transcript" of "The Call" be placed in the Council's "Intelligence Collaboration Environment," or NICE, system, that is, the really "secure" server, which made it extremely difficult to edit the document and fill in the blanks, like about the Bidens and Burisma. That was what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, a 20-year purple heart Iraq war veteran and "top" Ukraine expert, was supposed to do. However, upon reading "The Transcript" of "The Call," Lieutenant Colonel Vindman became concerned about a number of things, like the effect on national security of executive self-dealing. So then the National Security Council, in the person of JAE, confiscated the transcript away from the Lieutenant Colonel and stopped inviting him to meetings. The Lieutenant Colonel contends that he is not the actual whistle blower, but that he can corroborate and "flesh out" the whistle blower's report.

The entire statement is included.

Extra bonus: Fox News and its ilk are accusing the Lieutenant Colonel of espionage.

Impeachment Round Up

Why "bitterly" divided? It went along party lines, with a few moving from the Democrat side, specifically, Jeff Van Drew of N.J. and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. The Republicans stayed loyal.

Separation of Powers

This administration argues that the House can never take the Executive to court. However, there are prior rulings during Bush II and Obama that show that Congress can file lawsuits and that presidential aides must show up. This would include Donald F. McGahn II and Charles Kupperman, the latter of whom is suing Trump as well as Congress, and John Bolton, who will probably also file the same type of case.

All White Boys

The Democratic candidates were originally extremely racially diverse. Now it's 4 white people, although at least one is a woman.

I'm Sorry, Dave

I heard this story right from the beginning, that one of the companies manufactured a new super energy efficient engine, but it didn't quite fit in the 737s. So both hardware and software modifications had to be made, to make the engines fit. One part of the software modifications was a new automatic stability system to keep the nose of the plane from popping up, about which the company neglected to inform the pilots. Ultimately, this little communications glitch didn't really matter, because there was no manual override, so even if they had known, there was nothing the pilots could have done. The automated system overcorrected, and you know what happened next. Twice.

Google to Buy Fitbit

And they won't tell anyone anything they find out about you and your body, will they? You know, when we watched Star Trek it was never with the idea that our communicators would have a direct link to multi-national corporations and law enforcement. They say "you will always be in control of your data," they will never sell your info, yeah yeah, blah blah. Until it becomes convenient for them to do so. I guess it's the same for Apple Watch, and without Google, Fitbit won't be able to compete. However, some say that Google is just not that good at consumer products and should stop trying.

It Could Happen to You

383,000 gallons into rural wetlands. This happened just "hours" after an environmental assessment hearing regarding another pipeline to be built by the same company. This Keystone pipeline has a "history" of oil spills, nearly a dozen in its first year 2010, 16,800 galls in 2016, and 276,864 in 2017, both in South Dakota. Now they want to build a second one in Montana.

A Vote for Smog

Apparently these same companies (GM, Fiat, Chrysler, and Toyota) tried this same tactic in 2004 and lost. Of course the Supreme Court is very different now, but it will be interesting to see how far the state's rights arguments go in this regard. The list also includes Mazda, Nissan, Kia, and Subaru. Subaru? For shame. The Obama rules call for fuel efficiency of 46.7 mpg. Trump wants 37.

Paging Loretta Lynn

We're also rolling back on heavy metal pollution controls, like from arsenic, lead, and mercury into water supplies, and the ash of coal-fired power plants! All this to pretend to bring back the coal industry, which is just not going to happen.

Kurds Away

Apparently the Kurds were instrumental in helping to find Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi, risking their lives; and then the American president betrayed them by withdrawing support and also by pretending they had nothing to do with it.

Further, Trump claims to have heard the crying and screaming of al-Baghdadi in the final minutes before his death, but he's the only one. Neither the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the regional commander who oversaw the operation says they have any idea of what the president is talking about. Four other Defense Department officials spoke anonymously to say they had seen no "after-action" or situation reports to corroborate the president's claims. The surveillance drone everyone watched had no live audio. Even Peter Wehner, a former adviser to George W. called the President a "serial liar." He says, "without truth, a free society cannot operate."

No Vaccines for You

This Administration is shutting down a scientific program called "Predict," which funds scientists to study animal viruses that might potentially infect humans, like Asian bird flu, in order to possibly head off epidemics before they start. The scientists do laboratory as well as field work, collecting samples from wild rodents, catching bats, and collecting gorilla feces. The program was supported by Bush II and Obama. It discovered a new strain of Ebola. It also worked on things like transporting samples without refrigeration and using DNA testing to scan for whole viral families. It's cheaper to fight things in the beginning than after they've already taken hold. It's science.

Intergenerational Mobility

It turns out that the children of economically challenged immigrants have greater "intergenerational mobility" than the children of similarly situated native-born families, no matter their race. In fact, maybe Norwegians do less well than immigrants from Latin America. On the other hand, there may be a skew in the data because sometimes certain immigrants have artificially low incomes. For example, a doctor in Latin America may have to drive a cab here, but the family is better educated in general. Furthermore, the legacy of slavery may prevent
native-born African Americans from having higher mobility. The point is, stop scapegoating immigrants.

No Hiding in the Sunshine State

One of the rumors is that Trump wants to change his domicile because Florida allows bankrupts to keep their homestead up to any amount of money, but maybe that's a little cynical. Maybe it is just because of the income tax, and because New York in general is not a fax. However, New York conducts an average of 3,024 nonresidency audits a year, and if one has big business contacts, well, one might still have to file IT-203.

Google Worried about Protecting its Data

Ha! 48 States have signed on to the antitrust suit in Texas. Google is petitioning for protection of its "sensitive business documents." It's a normal strategic move for any company involved in litigation, but oh! the irony. The Texas Attorney General complains that he was caught "off-guard" by the petition, but that sounds a little disingenuous.

Don't You Dare Blame Both Sides

The Charlottesville rally, which ended in homicide, was organized, ostensibly, to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a public park. No problem. The groups who organized the rally discussed things like which weapons to bring, including not carrying long flag poles because they are not effective to bludgeon people with. Another question was whether it was legal to run over protesters blocking roadways? No, Mr. Fields, it isn't. Homicide is not protected by the First Amendment, and planning a homicide isn't either. The case is called Sines v. Kessler. The plaintiffs are a "cross-section" of Virginia residents who claim that the Charlottesville conspiracy denied them their civil rights. The defendants are 14 individuals and 10 organizations, including white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members (paging Blazing Saddles). The defendants are not always cooperating with their lawyers. The plaintiffs' attorneys are attempting to resurrect a thing called the Ku Klux Klan Act, which makes it illegal to re-enslave African Americans. The Act was an attempt to give private protections, not just the protections against government action in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.

Right Back at You

Unbelievably, a North Carolina State court rejected the state's congressional district map, saying that it represented "unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering in favor of the Republicans." The judges were serious, saying that they were willing to postpone primary elections if necessary to further litigate. The Republican map "all but guaranteed" the party's control of 10 of the state's 13 house districts, even though, apparently, voters' political preferences are evenly split. That situation had been going on for nearly a decade. This was the case the Supremes refused to adjudicate.

Abortion Still Legal for the Moment

Justice Myron H. Thompson, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, ruled that the attempted abortion ban (even in cases of rape or incest and giving 99-year prison sentences to doctors who perform abortions, among other things) violates "Supreme Court precedent," and "defies" the Constitution. He joins judges in 6 other states who have blocked the laws and in 2 other states who temporarily blocked the laws. However, this was what all those "legislatures" wanted, a chance to go to the Supremes. Republican lawmakers from Alabama call the ruling "judicial activism." The governor claims "every life is precious," but Alabama has the highest rate of prison suicide in the country.

October 30, 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


Rose McGowan Sues Weinstein and Lawyers Claiming Intimidation

Actress Rose McGowan filed suit against Harvey Weinstein and two lawyers, David Boies and Lisa Bloom, in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, accusing them of directing a campaign of covert and illegal measures meant to discredit her and prevent her from going public with her rape accusation against Weinstein. The lawsuit includes McGowan's account of attempts to interfere with her plan to publish a memoir, Brave, including sending an undercover agent to befriend her and then steal a copy of the manuscript. It also describes efforts to derail the reporting by The New York Times and The New Yorker that ultimately exposed decades of accusations against
Weinstein and helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

Lizzo Sues Over 'Truth Hurts' Songwriting Credits

Last week, two songwriting brothers, Justin and Jeremiah Raisen, accused Lizzo of denying them credit for her hit song, "Truth Hurts". The Raisen brothers said that they had contributed to an early songwriting session that yielded the track's signature line. A lawyer for Lizzo denied their claim at the time, and now the singer has sued the Raisens, as well as another writer, Yves Rothman, who made his own claim about "Truth Hurts." Lizzo's suit seeks a declaratory judgment that Rothman and the Raisens had no part in creating "Truth Hurts," and asks for other unspecified damages.

Lizzo Extends Writing Credits for 'Truth Hurts'

Lizzo is sharing writing credit on her hit song "Truth Hurts" with the creator behind the song's signature line, but not with two other writers who claim they also contributed to the track. "Truth Hurts" features the popular line, "I just took a DNA test, turns out I'm 100 percent that bitch," which originated from a 2017 tweet by singer Mina Lioness and was turned into a popular meme. The line was also used in Lizzo's song "Healthy," created in 2017 with songwriting brothers Justin and Jeremiah Raisen. The Raisens feel they deserve writing credit on "Truth Hurts" as a result, though Lizzo wrote they "had nothing to do with the line or how I chose to sing it.... The men who now claim a piece of 'Truth Hurts' did not help me write any part of the song. There was no one in the room when I wrote 'Truth Hurts' except me, Ricky Reed, and my tears." Lizzo further wrote that Lioness "is the person I am sharing my success with."

Prosecutors Bring New Charges in Admissions Scandal

As Felicity Huffman, the actress and parent who pleaded guilty in the sprawling college admissions scandal, neared the end of a two-week prison camp sentence, prosecutors pressed new charges against other parents, including the actress Lori Loughlin, who have fought the cases against them. Marking an aggressive new posture in the case, prosecutors filed bribery charges against Loughlin and 10 other parents who had pleaded not guilty to earlier fraud and money laundering counts. The prosecutors also brought new fraud charges against several parents, and an array of new charges against coaches and others charged in the scheme. Lawyers involved in the case said prosecutors were motivated in part by frustration with the lenient sentences already given out to those who plead guilty.

Netflix Brings Silver Screen to Broadway

With the 2020 Academy Awards campaign underway, Netflix has gone to unusual lengths to please the auteurs and their fans, engineering splashy theatrical plans for a pair of Oscar contenders, Martin Scorsese's "The Irishman" and Noah Baumbach's "Marriage Story". At the same time, the company is trying to acquire a historic repertory theater in Los Angeles. Starting on November 1st, Scorsese's $159 million crime epic, which received strong reviews after its premiere at the New York Film Festival last month, will be shown at the Belasco Theater, a 1,015-seat Broadway theater on West 44th Street. The release will have the trappings of a bona fide Broadway production: eight shows a week, dark on Mondays -- and the film's title in lights outside the theater. The ticket price is un-Broadway-like at $15.

Celeb Exhibit Puts a Spotlight on Domestic Abuse in Maine

Patrisha McLean has accused her singer-songwriter ex-husband, Don McLean, most famous for the 1971 folk-rock ballad "American Pie", of domestic abuse. She is now organizing Maine women to tell their own stories as well. The public meltdown of the McLeans' marriage began in January 2016, when Ms. McLean made a 911 call to the police, and Mr. McLean was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Don McLean denies assaulting his wife at any time in the marriage. However, the case has had a ripple effect in Maine, a state where domestic abuse accounts for around half of all murders and assaults.


The Army is Looking for Art Experts

Several of the war-ravaged nations where American soldiers have been enmeshed in conflict for nearly two decades are home to many of civilization's oldest and most prized antiquities and cultural treasures. However, troops often don't know whether they are taking their positions behind mounds of insignificant rubble or inside the precious remains of a 3,000-year-old temple complex. The Pentagon's solution to this problem is to take a page from one of World War II's most storied military units, the teams of art experts known as the Monuments Men, who recovered millions of European treasures looted by the Nazis. The Army is training a new group with a similar mandate to be composed of commissioned officers of the Army Reserves who are museum directors or curators, archivists, conservators, and archaeologists, in addition to new recruits with those qualifications. Corine Wegener and Col. Scott DeJesse will work with the new reserve unit and advise the Pentagon on preserving cultural treasures in war zones. The unit will be based at the Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command at Fort Bragg, NC.

New York's Race to Build Monuments Runs into Friction

Under Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, New York is aiming to build monuments at an unusually rapid rate to honor women, people of color, and others previously overlooked. The city's plan, however, is leading to fights over who should be honored and how. A vote this month over one of New York City's new, more inclusive monuments became so combative -- with audience members shouting "How dare you!" -- that the acclaimed artist who won the commission walked away from the job.

Museums to Take Steps to Acknowledge the Role of Slavery

Museums are working to incorporate the impact of slavery in exhibitions and permanent collections in a way not commonly done even a decade ago. They're grappling with how they can rework or revise their collections, even in small ways, to acknowledge the role of slavery in the art itself or people represented by the art. "People have been doing research about these issues of slavery for a long time, in deep, critical ways in art and art history," said La Tanya S. Autry, a Ph.D. candidate in art history at the University of Delaware and a fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland. "The knowledge has been out there, but there's been more resistance to incorporating it into the museum field," she added. "It's interesting to see in the last several years, there's been more effort or more openness to actually start questioning things, such as wall labels and thinking about how we show objects." For Autry, the fact that museum administrators outside of African-American museums are talking about this, she said, is a sign of change and so are programs that teach and train future museum curators. "A lot of institutions are incorporating this other approach to history and trying to focus on things that have been obscured and excluded in the past -- and ways that people have challenged that."


Major League Baseball to Investigate Astros' Manager's Outburst

Major League Baseball (MLB) said that it would investigate an incident in which a Houston Astros executive - Brandon Taubman, the Astros' assistant general manager - was said to have shouted at three female reporters in an "offensive and frightening" manner as he praised the team's closer, Roberto Osuna, who was suspended for domestic violence last year. Following the Astros' win against the Yankees, Taubman reportedly turned to the female reporters and yelled repeatedly, "Thank God we got Osuna! I'm so glad we got Osuna!," punctuating the second sentence with an expletive, according to a Sports Illustrated column. The Astros have been criticized heavily for acquiring Osuna last season while he was serving a 75-game suspension for domestic violence.

Astros Fire Taubman After Outburst

The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager, Brandon Taubman, for inappropriate comments he directed at female reporters during a clubhouse celebration. This decision has put a renewed spotlight on domestic violence in baseball. The "outburst" occurred during the Astros' clubhouse celebration after winning the American League pennant against the Yankees. Sports Illustrated reported that Taubman repeatedly yelled toward a group of female reporters about closer Roberto Osuna, who was suspended for 75 games last year for violating MLB's domestic violence policy and then was traded from Toronto to Houston. Taubman's behavior was corroborated by reporters for The Houston Chronicle and Yahoo. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has since apologized for the team's initial response, which accused the Sports Illustrated reporter of making up the story.

MLB to Investigate Umpire's Tweet About Trump Impeachment

MLB announced that it will look into a tweet posted by Rob Drake, an umpire, that mentioned the possible impeachment of President Trump, firearms, and the specter of an American civil war. Drake tweeted: "I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020." The tweet, which was first reported by ESPN, has since been deleted and the account was deactivated. Drake has since apologized for the tweet in a statement issued to ESPN, saying, "I want to personally apologize to everyone that my words made feel less safe."

Some Colleges Are Trying to Police Sports Betting

Purdue, St. Joseph's, and Villanova (among others) have introduced a school policy that prevents students, employees, and contractors from betting on the universities' games. The rapid spread of legalized sports betting, made possible by a Supreme Court ruling last year, is prompting colleges and universities to grapple quickly with whether they can, or should, control a lawful activity so explicitly linked to the performances of their students. Even as more states have allowed bets and as wagers have soared -- there were more than $730 million in sports bets in August, more than double the amount from a year earlier -- there is no consensus among universities about how they should respond.

Russia Doping Decision Faces Delay After the World Anti-Doping Agency Cancels Meeting

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the global anti-doping regulator, and Russia's top anti-doping official, Yuri Ganus, contend that Russia manipulated a database of doping test results before turning it over to WADA as a condition for the lifting of an earlier doping ban. Ganus said that "thousands" of drug test results were changed before the data was submitted to WADA for review. WADA, which had compared the Russian results that were submitted to investigators with a separate data set supplied by a whistle-blower, had seemingly reached the same conclusion. The meeting scheduled between the WADA investigators and Russian officials was to have been one of the last opportunities for Russia to explain the discrepancies. If it could not, the investigators and a WADA compliance panel were expected to recommend to WADA's board next month that Russia face penalties that would be even harsher than the ones that barred Russian teams -- though not all Russian athletes -- from the 2018 Winter Olympics and the past two world track and field championships.

FIFA Avoids Discussing China's Record

FIFA, the international body governing global soccer, has come under heavy criticism in recent years for awarding two World Cups in a row to authoritarian countries, Russia in 2018 and Qatar in 2022. Stung by criticism and scandal related to those decisions, the organization responded by requiring human rights reviews to be part of the bidding process for its events. It conducted such reviews of Morocco and North America before awarding the 2026 World Cup last year to the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and faulted the United States and Canada then for a lack of specific commitments to human rights. FIFA, however, carefully avoided talking about China's record when asked about human rights after awarding an ambitious new world club championship tournament in 2021 to it.


Congress Thinks Social Media Users Should Be Able to Take Their Data With Them

Three senators active in tech issues - Republican Josh Hawley and Democrats Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal - introduced a bill that would require social networks like Facebook to allow users to pack up their data and go elsewhere. The senators offered the bill at a time when there is growing concern that Facebook, along with Alphabet's Google, have become so powerful that smaller rivals are unable to lure away their users. The bill would require communications platforms with more than 100 million monthly active members - Facebook has more than two billion - to allow its users to easily move, or port, their data to another network, which means that a user who is unhappy with Facebook, for example, would be able to pull postings, comments and photos off Facebook and move them to another site.

Lawmakers Propose Requiring Cable Companies to Offer Local News

In an effort to combat the decline of local news/journalism, two New York legislators are proposing a first-in-the-nation bill to force cable companies to offer independent local news. The bill is proposing a requirement that any cable company operating in New York offer a local news channel with "news, weather and public affairs programming," the programming would have to be independently produced, and companies could not simply rebroadcast others' existing news shows. Policymakers elsewhere have considered other forms of intervention to save local news, but if passed, New York's bill would be perhaps the most aggressive attempt by government officials to sustain local news in the long term.

Facebook Finds New Disinformation Campaigns and Braces for 2020 Torrent

Facebook said that it had found and taken down four state-backed disinformation campaigns, the latest of dozens that it has identified and removed this year and a sign of how foreign interference online is increasing ahead of the 2020 presidential election. Three of the disinformation campaigns originated in Iran and one in Russia, Facebook said, with state-backed actors disguised as genuine users. The campaigns were aimed at people in North Africa, Latin America, and the United States. The posts crossed categories and ideological lines, seemingly with no specific intent other than to foment discord. Some of the posts touched on conflict in the Middle East, while others pointed to racial strife, and some invoked Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic congresswoman from New York. Others were focused more on the 2020 election. In that campaign, 50 accounts linked to Russia's Internet Research Agency -- a Kremlin-backed professional troll farm -- targeted candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, including Joseph R. Biden Jr., Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren.

Facebook Calls Truce with Publishers as It Unveils Facebook News

Facebook and the publishing industry have long been frenemies: Occasionally they teamed up, but mostly they competed. Now the two sides have formed an uneasy truce, as Facebook recently unveiled Facebook News, its latest foray into digital publishing. The product is a new section of the social network's mobile app that is dedicated entirely to news content, which the company is betting will bring users back to the site regularly to consume news on sports, entertainment, politics, and tech. Campbell Brown, who reported on politics for NBC and CNN before joining Facebook, is leading the new Facebook News effort. Facebook News will offer stories from a mix of publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, as well as digital-only outlets, like BuzzFeed and Business Insider. Some stories will be chosen by a team of professional journalists, while others will be tailored to readers' interests over time using Facebook's machine-learning technology.

Harvard Newspaper Under Fire from Student Activists

The Harvard Crimson, a 146-year-old daily student newspaper at the Ivy League university, published an article on September 13th detailing a campus rally protesting United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the federal agency that has stepped up deportation raids under the Trump administration. With the headline "Harvard Affiliates Rally for Abolish ICE Movement," the article drew the ire of campus activists because of a sentence stating that the reporters had contacted the agency for comment: "ICE did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night." In response, student activists "Act on a Dream" started an online petition urging the newspaper to cease contacting the federal immigration agency for comment in coverage and to apologize for the "harm it has inflicted."

China Sharpens Hacking to Hound Its Minorities

China's state-sponsored hackers have drastically changed how they operate over the last three years, substituting selectivity for what had been a scattershot approach to their targets and showing a new determination by Beijing to push its surveillance state beyond its borders. China's hackers have built up a new arsenal of techniques, such as elaborate hacks of iPhone and Android software, pushing them beyond email attacks and the other, more basic tactics that they had previously employed. The primary targets for these more sophisticated attacks are China's ethnic minorities and their diaspora in other countries.

Russia Unleashes Sweeping Crackdown

Svetlana Prokopyeva, a freelance journalist in Pskov, Russia, is facing up to seven years in jail after being accused of "publicly inciting terrorism" with her commentary on a weekly radio program. After a teenager blew himself up inside a branch of Russia's secret police near the Arctic Circle late last year, Svetlana expressed that relentless repression by Russia's security forces is radicalizing Russian youth. The Kremlin's own Human Rights Council protested that Prokopyeva had been merely trying to explain the forces that push people toward extreme acts, not to encourage them. In the aftermath of the protests, which were broken up with often brutal force by the authorities, law enforcement agencies last week conducted nationwide raids on news outlets critical of the Kremlin and on the homes and offices of people affiliated with the opposition leader, Aleksei A. Navalny. However, as Prokopyeva noted, cracking down so hard has often fueled anger and further unrest.

Australian Media Protest a Rise in Secrecy Laws

Australian print, online, and on-air news outlets joined together in a concerted campaign to pressure the Australian government to soften its restrictive secrecy laws. Newspapers ran redacted articles on their front pages in a show of solidarity, and online and on the air, prominent journalists called for change. The campaign is intended to pressure the federal government to change laws that threaten jail time to certain whistle-blowers and journalists, and which allow the authorities to withhold information that is often unrelated to matters of national security. The laws fall under an umbrella of secrecy that consecutive Australian governments have created over nearly two decades. No other developed democracy has as strong a stranglehold on its secrets as Australia.


Impeachment Inquiry Faces Critical Test

House impeachment investigators are speeding toward new White House barriers meant to block crucial testimony and evidence from the people who are closest to Trump -- obstacles that could soon test the limits of Democrats' fact finding a month into their inquiry. What has been a rapidly moving investigation securing damning testimony from witnesses who have defied White House orders may soon become a more arduous effort. Investigators are now trying to secure cooperation from higher-ranking advisers who can offer more direct accounts of Trump's actions but are also more easily shielded from Congress.

Trump Linked Military Aid to Investigations

In closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators, William B. Taylor Jr., the top American diplomat in Ukraine, implicated Trump personally in an effort to withhold security aid until Ukraine's leader agreed to publicly announce investigations of his rivals. In his testimony to impeachment investigators delivered in defiance of State Department orders, Taylor sketched out in remarkable detail a quid pro quo pressure campaign on Ukraine that Trump and his allies have long denied. He said that Trump sought to condition the entire United States relationship with Ukraine -- including a $391 million aid package whose delay put Ukrainian lives in danger -- on a promise that the country would publicly investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Judge Rules That Democrats Can View Mueller's Grand Jury Evidence

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the Federal District Court in Washington granted a request by the House Judiciary Committee, led by Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, to see secret grand jury evidence from the Mueller investigation. In a 75-page opinion, Judge Howell ruled that the House Judiciary Committee was entitled to view secret grand jury evidence gathered by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Typically, Congress has no right to view such evidence. However in 1974, the courts permitted lawmakers to see such materials as they weighed whether to impeach President Richard M. Nixon. The House is now immersed in the same process focused on Trump, Judge Howell ruled, and that easily outweighs any need to keep the information secret from lawmakers.

Republicans Grind Impeachment Inquiry to Halt as Evidence Mounts Against Trump

House Republicans staged a protest on Capitol Hill where the impeachment inquiry is proceeding, seeking to shift the focus away from damaging revelations about Trump. The protest halted the inquiry proceedings for hours, delaying a crucial deposition. About two dozen Republican members of the House pushed past Capitol Police officers chanting "Let us in! Let us in!" to enter the secure rooms of the House Intelligence Committee, where impeachment investigators have been conducting private interviews that have painted a damaging picture of Trump's behavior.

Trump Abandons Plan to Hold G7 Summit at Florida Resort Amidst Criticism from Republicans

When Trump announced his plans to use his own luxury golf club in Miami for the site of a gathering of world leaders at the Group of 7 (G7) summit in June, he was prepared for the inevitable attack from Democrats. Yet what Trump was not prepared for was the reaction of fellow Republicans, who said his choice of the club, the Trump National Doral, had crossed a line, and they couldn't defend it. Two days after the announcement, Trump announced his reversal on Twitter: "I thought I was doing something very good for our country by using Trump National Doral, in Miami, for hosting the G-7 leaders," Trump wrote on Twitter before again promoting the resort's amenities, "But, as usual, the Hostile Media & their Democrat Partners went CRAZY!" "Therefore, based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility, we will no longer consider Trump National Doral, Miami, as the Host Site for the G-7 in 2020."

Trumps Put Washington Hotel on the Market

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, five blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, has been put on the market, just three years after the Trump family spent $200 million to open it in the historic, federally owned Old Post Office building, and at a time when Trump is facing impeachment and a tough 2020 re-election campaign. The Trump Organization's announcement that it is listing the hotel with a real estate agent and wants to listen to offers came less than a week after Trump's two roles intersected in a politically and ethically awkward way: He disclosed his intention to host the 2020 G7 summit at the Trump National Doral resort near Miami, then had to abandon the plan after hearing from fellow Republicans that it was a bad idea. This announcement is far from unexpected, as Trump has been repeatedly accused of violating the Constitution's emoluments clause by accepting payments at his 263-room hotel in Washington from foreign governments.

Key Witness in Impeachment Inquiry Asks Federal Court to Decide if He Should Testify

A key witness in the impeachment investigation filed a lawsuit asking a federal judge to rule on whether he can testify, a move that raises new doubts about whether President Trump's closest aides, like the former national security adviser, John R. Bolton, will be able to cooperate with the inquiry. House Democrats had subpoenaed the witness, Charles M. Kupperman, who served as Trump's deputy national security adviser, to testify last week. However, in an effort to stop Kupperman from doing so, the White House said that Trump had invoked "constitutional immunity," leaving Kupperman uncertain about what to do. The implications of the suit, filed in federal court in Washington, extend beyond Kupperman. His lawyer, Charles J. Cooper, also represents Bolton and is likely to address congressional requests for Bolton's testimony in a similar fashion. House Democrats have had discussions with Cooper in recent days about Bolton testifying, but have not subpoenaed him.

Mulvaney Struggles to Explain Comments on Ukraine

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, tried to back off assertions he made to reporters last week that the Trump administration had held up an aid package to Ukraine because Trump wanted the country to investigate Democrats. Mulvaney acknowledged that he did not have a "perfect press conference," saying, "I recognize that I didn't speak clearly, maybe, on Thursday." Mulvaney's comments last week set off alarm at the White House and among its Republican allies in Congress, as a Democratic impeachment inquiry over Ukraine gathers steam.

Ukraine Knew of Aid Freeze Undermining Trump Defense

Top officials in Ukraine were told in early August about the delay of $391 million in security assistance, undercutting a chief argument Trump has used to deny any quid pro quo. This means that Ukraine was aware the White House was holding up the funds weeks earlier than acknowledged. It also means that the Ukrainian government was aware of the freeze during most of the period in August when Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and two American diplomats were pressing President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to make a public commitment to the investigations. The communications did not explicitly link the assistance freeze to the push by Trump and Giuliani for the investigations. However, in the communications, officials from the United States and Ukraine discuss the need to bring in the same senior aide to Zelensky who had been dealing with Giuliani about Trump's demands for the investigations, signaling a possible link between the matters.

Ukraine Army Really Felt the Blow of Aid Freeze

Ukraine, politically disorganized and militarily weak, has relied heavily on the United States in its struggle with Russian-backed separatists. Yet the White House abruptly suspended nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine in July and only restored it last month after a bipartisan uproar in Congress. In closed-door testimony, William B. Taylor Jr., said Trump halted the aid to Ukraine and refused to meet the country's leader until he agreed to investigate Biden and his son. Taylor called the decision "crazy" because it undermined a vital ally, strengthened Russia's hand and put Ukrainian lives in jeopardy -- all for the sake of a political campaign in the United States.

Justice Department Distances Itself from Giuliani

The Justice Department issued an unusual statement distancing itself from Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump's personal lawyers, declaring that department officials would not have met with Giuliani to discuss one of his clients had they known that federal prosecutors in New York were investigating two of his associates. The meeting took place a few weeks ago, when Brian A. Benczkowski, the head of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, and lawyers from the division's Fraud Section met with Giuliani to discuss a bribery case in which he and other attorneys were representing the defendants. "When Mr. Benczkowski and fraud section lawyers met with Mr. Giuliani, they were not aware of any investigation of Mr. Giuliani's associates in the Southern District of New York and would not have met with him had they known," said Peter Carr, a department spokesman.

Giuliani Associate Links Trump to Campaign Finance Investigation

One of the two associates of Trump's personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, have plead not guilty to federal charges that they had made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in the United States in exchange for potential influence. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman have become unexpected figures in the events at the heart of the House Democrats' impeachment inquiry, having played a role in helping Giuliani's efforts on behalf of Trump to dig up information in Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger. Giuliani has denied wrongdoing, but has acknowledged that he and the two men worked with officials in Ukraine to collect damaging information about the American ambassador to Ukraine and other targets of Trump and his allies, including Biden and his younger son, Hunter.

RBG Wins $1 Million Berggruen Prize

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been named the recipient of the 2019 Berggruen Prize, which is given annually to a thinker whose ideas "have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world." The previous winners of the prize, which was first awarded in 2016, have all been philosophers. Justice Ginsburg was chosen from a pool of more than 500 nominees. She was hailed by the prize committee as "a lifelong trailblazer for human rights and gender equality," and "a constant voice in favor of equality, the rights of workers and the separation of church and state."

Microsoft Wins Pentagon Contract Over Amazon

The Department of Defense on Friday awarded a $10 billion technology contract to Microsoft over Amazon in a contest that was closely watched after Trump ramped up his criticism of Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, and said he might intervene. The 10-year contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, known as JEDI, had set off a showdown among Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, and Google for the right to transform the military's cloud computing systems. The contract has an outsize importance because it is central to the Pentagon's efforts to modernize its technology. Much of the military operates on 1980s and 1990s computer systems, and the Defense Department has spent billions of dollars trying to make them talk to one another. The decision was a surprise, because Amazon had been considered the front-runner, in part because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency."

Facebook to Offer Aid for Housing

After decades of extraordinary growth by tech companies, real estate prices in the California Bay Area (among others) have skyrocketed, fueling a shortage of affordable housing. Facebook has pledged to give $1 billion in a package of grants, loans, and land toward easing California's severe crunch by building an estimated 20,000 housing units for middle- and lower-income households. The move is the latest in a series of efforts by technology companies to put their vast financial resources toward addressing the dire housing affordability problems that have afflicted tech centers around the country. In June, Google pledged $1 billion for a similar effort in California, while Microsoft pledged $500 million toward affordable housing in Seattle in January.

Zuckerberg Admits That Facebook Has "Trust Issues"

Mark Zuckerberg testified at a House committee hearing about his company's cryptocurrency project, Libra. Zuckerberg hopes that one day, in the not too distant future, billions of people will use a cryptocurrency created by Facebook to send money to friends and family around the world. Zuckerberg also recognized that his company is a major impediment to that vision. He described Libra as a democratizing financial system that will mostly benefit the poor, as well as the estimated 14 million people in the United States who do not have access to bank accounts and who cannot afford banking fees. The Libra proposal, however, was given a "Congressional cold shoulder," as Zuckerberg endured over five hours of questioning about issues, like political ads, disinformation and child pornography, that underscored how little trust lawmakers have in Facebook. Still, Zuckerberg conceded that he and the company "certainly have work to do to build trust," and he offered concessions about how Libra could be tweaked to appease regulators.

U.S. Senators Call for Intelligence Probe into TikTok App

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton asked intelligence officials to investigate whether the popular Chinese-owned app, TikTok, poses national security risks. In a letter to Joseph Macguire, acting director of national intelligence, the senators raised concerns about the video-sharing platform's collection of user data and whether China censors content seen by U.S. users. The letter also suggested that TikTok could be targeted by foreign influence campaigns.

Emmett Till Memorial Gets New Bulletproof Sign

The family of Emmett Till visited the new historical marker at Graball Landing, just outside of Glendora, Miss., where it is believed that Emmett Till's body was found in 1955 after he had been kidnapped, tortured, beaten, and killed. For decades, the spot was unmarked, but in 2008, signs detailing Emmett's harrowing journey were installed around the region, and for the first time there was a memorial to the African-American teenager whose death galvanized the civil rights movement. The original sign at the Tallahatchie River location was stolen and thrown into the river. The next two replacements were soon marred with bullet holes. This sign, however, which is the fourth to replace others that were vandalized, is made of steel and weighs 500 pounds, making it bulletproof.

Critics Say That Trump is Squandering U.S. "Clout"

The Taliban have wanted the United States to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Turkey has wanted the Americans out of northern Syria, and North Korea has wanted the U.S. to at least stop military exercises with South Korea. Trump has finally done all of those, but without getting much in return. The Trump administration has consistently sought to scale back America's military presence around the world without waiting to negotiate concessions from foes like the Taliban or North Korea. For example, peace talks fell apart in Afghanistan, but the Trump administration is drawing down troops there anyway. Veteran diplomats, foreign policy experts, and key lawmakers fear that Trump is squandering American power and influence in the world with little to show for it. By pulling troops out unilaterally, they argue, Trump has emboldened America's enemies and distressed its allies. Friends like Israel, they note, worry about American staying power. Foes like North Korea and the Taliban learn that they can achieve their goals without having to pay a price.

Last Minute Settlement Reached in Opioid Trial

Judge Dan A. Polster of the Northern District of Ohio announced that a deal had been reached to avert the landmark first federal opioid trial that was set to begin this week. The $260 million deal, which is a combination of cash payouts and donations of addiction treatments, could become a model for settlement of thousands of similar cases brought in an attempt to hold the pharmaceutical industry accountable for an epidemic of addiction that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans. In the settlement, the drug distributors -- McKesson, Cardinal Health, and AmerisourceBergen, which distribute about 90% of all the medicines to pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics in the United States -- agreed to pay $215 million to the two Ohio counties that brought the lawsuit. Teva, the Israel-based manufacturer of generic drugs, agreed to pay $20 million in cash over three years and donate $25 million worth of addiction treatment drugs, such as a generic Suboxone, which blunts cravings for opioids. Even as the settlement was being announced, the drug distributors and other corporate defendants in the trial were pursuing a global deal, worth $48 billion in cash and donated addiction treatments, to resolve all opioid lawsuits against them.

Boeing Ousts Top Executive

Kevin McAllister, the head of Boeing's commercial airplanes division, has been fired in Boeing's most direct effort to hold someone in senior leadership accountable for the bungled handling of the 737 Max crisis, which continues to spiral out of control. McAllister had been at the center of the company's response to the crashes and its troubled efforts to return the 737 Max to service after regulators grounded it. The decision to remove McAllister was made while the Boeing board met in San Antonio. While the meeting was happening, Boeing's stock took a beating. Two analysts issued downgrades and shares plummeted to their lowest level in more than three months. The company's board stopped short of removing Boeing's chief executive, Dennis A. Muilenburg, though it stripped him of his title of chairman just over a week ago.

Number of Uninsured Children Rises to Over 400,000

Nationwide, more than one million children disappeared from the rolls of the two main state-federal health programs for lower-income children, Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program, between December 2017 and June 2019. Some state and federal officials have portrayed the drop -- 3% of enrolled children -- as a success story, arguing that more Americans are getting coverage from employers in an improving economy. Yet there is growing evidence that administrative changes aimed at fighting fraud and waste -- and rising fears of deportation in immigrant communities -- are pushing large numbers of children out of the programs, and that many of them are now going without coverage. An analysis of new census data by The New York Times shows that the number of children in the United States without any kind of insurance rose by more than 400,000 in a two-year period, between 2016 and 2018, after decades of progress toward universal coverage for children.

Trump Belittles Obama's Efforts for Black People

Trump, speaking to a handpicked audience of supporters at a historically black college, belittled the Obama administration's record on racial equity and claimed that his own administration had helped African-Americans beyond anything "in the history of our country." Trump continued by promoting the bipartisan criminal justice overhaul he signed last year and inviting to the stage several people who were released from prison as a result of the new law or his own commutation decisions. He also talked about Abraham Lincoln, saying, "Lincoln was a Republican, people forget that, we need to start bringing that up" because "the Democratic policies have let African-Americans down and taken them for granted." Further, he recalled the 2016 speech in which he urged black voters to support him because, "what the hell do you have to lose," repeating the line multiple times and saying that his administration had kept its promise to those voters.

Trump Is Still Trying to Block a Subpoena for His Tax Returns

The judges on a three-member panel in Manhattan peppered a lawyer for Trump with questions, expressing skepticism about the president's argument that he was immune from criminal investigation. A lower court judge earlier this month rejected Trump's claim, which has not previously been tested in the courts. The panel did not immediately indicate when it would issue a ruling, but Judge Robert A. Katzmann, the appeals court's chief judge, signaled that he and the other judges understood both the gravity of the matter and that they were unlikely to have the final word. "This case seems bound for the Supreme Court," Judge Katzmann said early in the arguments, adding later, as the hearing wrapped up, "We have the feeling that you may be seeing each other again in Washington."

The Food and Drug Administration Says That Women Should Be Warned of Breast Implant Hazards

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials are urging manufacturers to print a boxed warning on the packaging of breast implants, and to provide a checklist spelling out the risk of serious complications, including fatigue, joint pain, and the possibility of a rare type of cancer. While the measures are not mandatory, they reflect a growing acknowledgment at the FDA that implants may cause more harm in women than previously known. In recent years it has linked implants to a rare form of immune system cancer called anaplastic large cell lymphoma, and thousands of women with implants have reported developing debilitating illnesses, such as severe muscle and joint pain, weakness, cognitive difficulties, and fatigue -- a constellation of symptoms some experts call "breast implant illness." Further, in July, at the request of the FDA one manufacturer, Allergan, recalled textured breast implants linked to the cancer. Additionally, recent studies have reported higher rates of autoimmune disease among women with breast implants.

Trump Administration Moves to Lift Protections for Fish and Divert Water to Farms

The Trump administration moved to weaken protections for a threatened California fish, a change that would allow large amounts of water to be diverted from the San Francisco Bay Delta to irrigate arid farmland and could harm the region's fragile ecosystem. The plan, which administration officials expect to be finalized in January, is a major victory for a wealthy group of California farmers that had lobbied to weaken protections on the fish, the delta smelt. It also might intensify ethics questions about Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, who was the lobbyist for those farmers until just months before he joined the Trump administration.

Supreme Court Lets Climate Change Lawsuit Proceed

The Supreme Court rejected a request from more than two dozen multinational energy companies to block a state court lawsuit brought by the city of Baltimore seeking to hold the companies accountable for their role in changing the earth's climate. The companies sought to move the suit to federal court, and they had asked the justices to halt proceedings in state court while the question of which court should hear the case was resolved. The Supreme Court's brief order gave no reasons for its decisions. It did, however, note that Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. had disqualified himself from the case, presumably because of a financial conflict. The case, BP P.L.C. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, No. 19A368, is one of more than a dozen filed by state and local governments around the nation seeking compensation for what they claim are injuries caused by the energy companies' conduct.

As Student Voter Turnouts Increase, So Do Efforts to Suppress

Energized by issues like climate change and the Trump presidency, students have suddenly emerged as a potentially crucial voting bloc in the 2020 general election. Almost as suddenly, Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths. In implementing what legislators call "anti-fraud measures," legislators have introduced increasingly restrictive rules and barriers. Overall though, evidence of widespread fraud is nonexistent, and the restrictions fit an increasingly unabashed pattern of Republican politicians' efforts to discourage voters likely to oppose them.

Justice Department to Open Criminal Inquiry Into its Own Russia Investigation

For more than two years, Trump has repeatedly attacked the Russia investigation, portraying it as a hoax and illegal even months after the special counsel closed it. Now, Trump's own Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation into how it all began. The opening of a criminal investigation is likely to raise alarms that Trump is using the Justice Department to go after his perceived enemies. Trump fired James B. Comey, the FBI director under whose watch agents opened the Russia inquiry, and has long assailed other top former law enforcement and intelligence officials as partisans who sought to block his election.

More Parents Plead Guilty in College Admissions Scandal

Four parents, including the former head of one of the world's biggest asset managers and an heir to a fortune created by microwaveable snacks, pleaded guilty in the nation's largest college admissions prosecution. With trials drawing closer and prosecutors warning of new charges, the four were part of a new wave of parents pleading guilty to using lies and bribery to secure their children's admission to elite colleges. The new group of guilty pleas reflected what lawyers involved in the case said was an intense campaign by the United States attorney's office to press the remaining parents to reverse course. According to several of the lawyers involved in the case, prosecutors gave some parents deadlines to either agree to plead guilty, or risk facing a new charge that had the potential to bring longer sentences. These lawyers said they now expected prosecutors to bring that new charge -- known as federal programs bribery -- against most, if not all, of the parents who stick to their not-guilty pleas. The lawyers also said it was possible that additional parents would also be charged in the scandal.

General Motors Strike Ends

After almost six weeks, the longest nationwide strike against General Motors in half a century ended after a solid majority of the company's union members delivered their support for the four-year contract hammered out by their leaders. The United Auto Workers union emerged from negotiations with substantial wage increases and succeeded in ending a two-tier wage structure that had been a particular irritant in its ranks. It also won commitments to new General Motors investments in United States factories, while accepting the permanent shutdown of three plants already idled.

Federal Budget Deficit Swelled to Nearly $1 Trillion in 2019

The Treasury Department has announced that the United States federal budget deficit, which came in at $984 billion, will top $1 trillion in 2020. The budget deficit jumped 26% in the 2019 fiscal year, reaching its highest level in seven years as the government was forced to borrow more money to pay for Trump's tax and spending policies. Annual budget deficits have now increased for four consecutive years, the first such run since the early 1980s. That is a sharp rebuke to Trump, who promised as a presidential candidate to eliminate deficits within eight years by cutting spending and expanding the economy.

Secret Deal Helped Housing Industry Stop Tougher Rules on Climate Change

A secret agreement has allowed the nation's homebuilders to make it much easier to block changes to building codes that would require new houses to better address climate change. The written arrangement, in place for years and not previously disclosed, guarantees industry representatives four of the 11 voting seats on two powerful committees that approve building codes that are widely adopted nationwide. The pact has helped enable the trade group that controls the seats, the National Association of Home Builders, to prevent changes that would have made new houses in much of the country more energy-efficient or more resilient to floods, hurricanes and other disasters. While four seats is a minority on the two committees, which focus on residential building codes, the bloc of votes makes it tougher to pass revisions that the industry opposes.

Cummings Is Remembered as a "Master of the House"

Representative Elijah E. Cummings became the first African-American elected official to lie in state in the United States Capitol. Cummings, who died recently after a series of health challenges, was memorialized by congressional leaders in both parties as a man of faith and dignity, and a dedicated public servant, and also as a friend. Political luminaries and lawmakers -- including Cummings's fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, many wearing African kente cloth scarves -- poured into the Capitol to witness his coffin draped with an American flag ascend its marble steps, carried by a military honor guard. The Reverend Al Sharpton expressed his mixed emotions, saying he felt "saddened, but at the same time uplifted, that Elijah Cummings got an honor that he deserved."

'Junk Bond King' in Line to Profit from Trump Tax Break for Poor Areas

Michael Milken, known as the "Junk Bond King", went to prison in the early 1990s for violating securities and tax laws. Back then, Milken embodied "Wall Street greed," as he played a central role in a vast insider-trading scheme. He has spent the past few decades trying to rebuild his reputation through the Milken Institute, a nonprofit devoted to initiatives "that advance prosperity." The Milken Institute is a leading proponent of a new federal tax break that was intended to coax wealthy investors to plow money into distressed communities known as "opportunity zones." The institute's leaders have helped push senior officials in the Trump administration to make the tax incentive more generous, even though it is under fire for being slanted toward the wealthy. Milken is in a position to personally gain from some of the changes that his institute has urged the Trump administration to enact, as the former "junk bond king" has investments in at least two major real estate projects inside federally designated opportunity zones in Nevada, near Milken's Lake Tahoe vacation home, according to public records.

The Sexist Joke That Cost $2 Billion

Kenneth Fisher, a billionaire money manager, has lost control of his media narrative, as he gets skewered over sexist and lewd remarks he made this month at a financial services industry conference in San Francisco. Fisher was slow to acknowledge that he had said anything wrong when he crudely compared the wooing of wealthy clients to trying to pick up a woman at a bar. The firestorm has renewed attention on some of his past inappropriate comments, as well as his criticism of President Abraham Lincoln for fighting the South over slavery. The damage has been quick and costly. In the past two weeks, public pensions and institutional investors like Fidelity have pulled nearly $2 billion from his privately held firm, Fisher Investments, which is based near Portland, Ore., and has 3,500 employees and other public pensions are putting
Fisher's firm on a watch list for potential action.

Four Inmates Shipped to Albany for Punishment Get $980,000 Settlement

Four inmates who were transferred off Rikers Island to an Albany jail for punishment have reached a $980,000 legal settlement with the city after their lawsuit described brutal beatings at the Albany jail. All four of the inmates were young and their suit alleged that city correction officials had sent them to the Albany County Correctional Facility knowing they would be beaten and thrown into solitary confinement for months. They claimed that the transfers were intended to circumvent the city's ban on using isolation as a punishment for youths. As part of the settlement, Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration reversed its earlier position and agreed to stop transferring young inmates from the city's jails to the Albany County jail.

Manhattan D.A. Facing Renewed Criticism Over Handling of Doctor's Case

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is under fire again after reaching a plea deal with a New York doctor who sexually abused over a dozen of his patients. Robert A. Hadden, a gynecologist in Manhattan, struck a deal with Vance's office back in 2016, which allowed him to avoid prison time. The office then went against the recommendation of a state panel and sought the lowest sex offender status for the doctor, which a judge granted. Now some of Hadden's accusers are renewing calls for an investigation into how the Manhattan district attorney's office handles sex crimes. They are citing the handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case as evidence of what they contend might be a systemic problem at the office.

N.Y. Climate Lawsuit Against Exxon Begins

After four years, oil-industry giant Exxon Mobil went to court in New York City to face charges that the company lied to shareholders and to the public about the costs and consequences of climate change. The case turns on the claim that Exxon kept a secret set of financial books that seriously underestimated the costs of potential climate change regulation while claiming publicly that it was taking such factors into account. It follows a sprawling investigation that included millions of pages of documents and allegations of a chief executive's secret email account.

Massachusetts Sues Exxon

A Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, filed suit against Exxon Mobil Corp. accusing the oil giant of misleading investors and consumers for decades about the role fossil fuels play in climate change. The lawsuit was filed just two hours after a judge rejected a last-minute bid by Exxon to force Healey to hold off from moving forward with her plans to sue it until after it is done defending itself in a trial that began over similar allegations brought by the state of New York. The lawsuit is the culmination of a three-year investigation. In court papers, Exxon called the decision by Healey to sue now "gamesmanship" to distract its lawyers amid the New York trial and part of a "partisan" campaign against it.

U.S. Sues California to Stop Climate Initiative

In a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of California, the Justice Department is seeking to block part of the state's greenhouse gas reduction program and limit its ability to take international leadership in curbing planet warming emissions. The Justice Department said that a regional system created by California's air resources board, which caps planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions but lets corporations trade emissions credits within that cap, was unlawful because it included Quebec, Canada. The Justice Department cited the constitutional prohibition on states making their own treaties or agreements with foreign governments.

Pittsburgh Synagogue Ponders Most Fitting Memorial One Year After Massacre

Last month, James Young, an international expert in public memorials, came to speak to the local Jewish community. It had been nearly a year since 11 worshipers were shot to death by an anti-Semitic gunman at Shabbat service. Professor Young had some thoughts about the process of commemoration, mostly urging them not to feel rushed about it. He also had ideas about the nature of a memorial itself: how there needed to be a balance of the intimate and personal with the larger communal and civic context, mass killings now having entwined Pittsburgh with places like Charleston, Parkland, Columbine, and Las Vegas.

New Jersey Seminary Pledges $27 Million in Reparations for Slavery Ties

The Princeton Theological Seminary has pledged to spend $27 million on scholarships and other initiatives to address its historical ties to slavery, in what appears to be the biggest effort of its kind. The announcement came about a year after an internal report detailed the findings of a two-year investigation that showed slavery's deep roots in the school's past. The move put the seminary at the heart of a national discussion about what those who reaped the benefits of slavery -- and the United States as a whole -- owe to the descendants of slaves.

Residents Say Fort Worth Police Have More Violence to Address

Following the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson, a 28-year-old black woman who was killed in her bedroom this month by a white police officer who was standing outside her window, Fort Worth residents are speaking out about a long-standing history of violence, discrimination, and mistreatment at the hands of the police. In the largely black and Hispanic neighborhood in southeast Fort Worth where Jefferson lived, and in others nearby, many residents recalled times when they had tried calling the police -- and ended up sorry that they did. Jefferson became the sixth person to be killed by the Fort Worth police since June. Four of the six were black.

Kurdish Commander Warns of Ethnic Cleansing in Syria After U.S. Troop Withdrawal

Mazlum Kobani, the Kurdish leader of the Syrian force that once helped America battle the Islamic State, and that has now been abandoned by the Trump administration, has warned that an "ethnic cleansing" may be looming if the U.S. completely withdraws its support from its allies against ISIS. "There will be ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish people from Syria, and the American administration will be responsible for it."

Johnson Loses Key Brexit Vote

Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a damaging setback in his quest to remove Britain from the European Union, losing a critical vote in Parliament and putting his plans for Brexit on hold as Britain's three-year struggle to resolve the issue continued to defy any solution. Lawmakers granted preliminary approval to the withdrawal deal he struck with the European Union last week, a major step toward achieving the prime minister's goal of Brexit and one that broke a string of defeats for him. However, the lawmakers refused in a crucial follow-up vote to put legislation enacting Britain's departure on a fast track to passage, which could have enabled Johnson to meet his deadline of leaving the European Union by October 31st.

Putin and Turks' Leader Announce Plan for Syria, Bolstering Russian Influence

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia met in Russia after a U.S.-brokered cease-fire with Kurdish forces came to an end for more than six hours of talks on how they and other regional players will divide control of Syria, devastated by eight years of civil war. Under terms of the agreement, Syrian Kurdish forces have six days to retreat more than 20 miles from the border, abandoning land that they had controlled uncontested until earlier this month -- when their protector, the American military, suddenly began to withdraw from the region. The negotiations cemented Putin's strategic advantage: Russian and Turkish troops will take joint control over a vast swath of formerly Kurdish-held territory in northern Syria. The change strengthens the rapid expansion of Russian influence in Syria at the expense of the United States and its Kurdish former allies.

ISIS Rejoices as U.S. Pulls Out from Syria

U.S. armed forces and their Kurdish-led partners, the Syrian Democratic Forces, had been conducting as many as a dozen counterterrorism missions a day against Islamic State militants. They had also been quietly releasing some Islamic State prisoners and incorporating them into their ranks, in part as a way to keep them under watch. All of that, however, has stopped as the U.S. began to withdraw troops out of Syria. Trump announced earlier this month that he would pull American troops out of northern Syria and make way for a Turkish attack on the Kurds, Washington's onetime allies. Many have warned that he was removing the spearhead of the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

Desperate Pleas to Rescue Syrian Kids in ISIS Camp

The fate of tens of thousands of women and children in Kurdish-run detainee camps in Syria has posed a challenge for governments around the world since the Islamic State lost its last territory there earlier this year. Yet the chaos and violence that have followed the American pullback have intensified questions about what duty nations have to citizens detained abroad, even those affiliated with a brutal terrorist group. Family members of the women and children at Al-Hol detention camp in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria worry that Syrian government forces could take over the camp and are pleading for their release.

Hungary's Orban Had Trump's Ear on Ukraine Before Meeting

Just 10 days before a key meeting on Ukraine, Trump met with one of the former Soviet republic's most virulent critics, Prime Minister Viktor Orban of Hungary, and heard a sharp assessment that bolstered his hostility toward the country. The discussion at the White House between Trump and Orban was held over objections from Trump's national security advisers.

China Says That Pence Speech Was "Sheer Arrogance"

After a speech in which Mike Pence criticized American companies for making compromises with China that conflict with Western values, China responded to Pence with an epic counterblast, accusing him of using China as a prop to distract from the United States' failings. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that Pence's speech "exuded sheer arrogance and hypocrisy, and was packed with political prejudice and lies," and that "China expresses its strong indignation and adamant disapproval."

October 29, 2019

Hall and Butler v. Swift et al. - Ninth Circuit Memorandum

By Claudia Ray

Attached is brief Ninth Circuit decision issued yesterday, reversing the dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of copyright infringement claims brought by two songwriters against Taylor Swift and others. Plaintiffs Sean Hall and Nathan Butler had alleged that the defendants' 2014 song Shake It Off copied a six-word phrase and a four-part lyrical sequence from the plaintiffs' 2001 song Playas Gon' Play. The district court found that the plaintiffs' work was not sufficiently original, but the Ninth Circuit concluded that the Complaint sufficiently alleged originality and the judicially noticed materials were not sufficient to show a lack of originality.

As stated in the Memorandum: "By concluding that, 'for such short phrases to be protected under the Copyright Act, they must be more creative than the lyrics at issues here,' the district court constituted itself as the final judge of the worth of an expressive work. Because the absence of originality is not established either on the face of the complaint or through the judicially noticed matters, we reverse the district court's dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6)."

Swift 9th Circuit.pdf

October 22, 2019

Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


The Truth? This Could Hurt Lizzo

Chart-topping recording artist Lizzo is currently facing plagiarism accusations, as a producer comes forward demanding credit for her hit song "Truth Hurts". Justin Raisen and his brother Jeremiah are demanding partial credit for the most celebrated verse on the track. He claims that they were working with Lizzo on another song and this lyric was subsequently used in the song in question, without their being contacted about being credited for the use of the parts of "Healthy" (melody, lyrics, and chords). He claims that they tried to sort the issue out quietly for the last two years and were asking for 5% each, but were shut down. He also states that the lyric in question was actually inspired by another singer, Mina Lioness, in her tweet from February 2017, using the same line.

Law Firm Sues Netflix Over 'The Laundromat'

A Panama-based law firm that was the source of the Panama Papers has sued Netflix over its depiction in Steven Soderbergh's new film "The Laundromat". In 2016, a German newspaper journalist obtained 11.5 million documents from the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, exposing how some of the world's most prominent leaders and celebrities used offshore bank accounts and shell companies to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, in which the law firm and its partners objected to their portrayal in the film as "ruthless, uncaring and unethical lawyers" who engaged in money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal activities to benefit the wealthy. Netflix has since filed a motion to dismiss.

Actor Faces a New Case, and a Dozen Other claims of Unwanted Advances

Cuba Gooding Jr pleaded not guilty to groping two women as prosecutors revealed that a dozen others had accused the Oscar winner of sexual misconduct. He is currently charged with one count of forcible touching and one count of sexual abuse, which are misdemeanors. Prosecutors said at a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court that they hope to establish a pattern of behavior at Gooding's trial using testimony from 12 additional women who have said they were subjected to unwanted touching and advances by the actor in bars and clubs. No criminal charges have been brought in connection with those women. Gooding had been scheduled to go to trial on the original charges last Thursday, but the additional charges mean the trial will be delayed. No new trial date has been set.

Five Rappers Have Been Pulled From New York Music Festival Lineup

At the request of police, five rappers (22Gz, Casanova, Pop Smoke, Sheff G, and Don Q) have been dropped from the Rolling Loud Music Festival (RLMF) lineup. A traveling festival with a stop in Queens and featuring the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Meek Mill, RLMF dropped the artists after receiving a letter from police citing safety concerns as the the rappers were "affiliated with recent acts of violence." The rapper Don Q said in an Instagram post that this was all "misinformation."

A Weinstein is Returning to Hollywood

Bob Weinstein, the former Weinstein Co. co-chairman, has formed a new production company, Watch This, that will focus on family films, comedies, and upscale adult thrillers. Embarking on the endeavor without his brother, this new company will not be a distributor like he Weinstein Company, but will instead focus on producing up to three movies annually. This will be the first time that Bob Weinstein will be in business without his brother, Harvey, and it will be in a new role as seller instead of a buyer. As a full producer, Bob Weinstein has prior credits on 2000's "Reindeer Games", 1986's "Playing For Keeps", and 1997's "Mimic".

Push for Gender Inclusiveness in Awards

Actor Asia Kate Dillion (of "Billions") and others in the industry are calling for the Television Academy to eliminate gendered categories in the Academy Awards show, but the organization and others have no plans to change them anytime soon. The Grammys did away with separate male and female awards in 2012 and the MTV Video Music Awards and its Movies & TV Awards did the same in 2017. Other awards, like the Nobel and Pulitzer, are not allocated separately by gender. Yet all the major acting awards still are, and there are no signs of changing even though there are greater numbers of artists identifying as nonbinary.


Thief Strolls into Gallery and Walks Out with Etching by Dali Listed for $20,000

A man in a blue t-shirt and cap walked into a San Francisco art gallery and walked out with a $20,000 etching by Salvador Dali. It only took 32 seconds and was captured on surveillance cameras. The "Burning Giraffe" etching was on an easel at the front of the store at the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery. The piece, part of a larger collection of the Spanish surrealist's work, was created between 1966 and 67 and is a very well-known piece inspired by Picasso. According to the video, the suspect had a female accomplice. Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Francisco police.


Sexual Abuse Cases Call U.S.A. Swimming's Oversight Into Question

There is a trial starting in California, involving a California girl who was abused by her club coach, that is expected to focus on U.S.A. Swimming's handling of sexual abuse cases. Tim Hinchney III took over as chief executive of the national governing body in 2017 and said that he is unfamiliar with the details of the case and the young lady involved. He also said that he was not aware of any way of verifying that coaches, parents or children had been trained to deal with sexual abuse issues, even though his organization certifies coaches and oversees the sport at nearly every level. The lawsuit will subject U.S.A. Swimming's governance to intense and possibly discomfiting scrutiny at a time when numerous sexual abuse lawsuits involving Olympic sports -- such as gymnastics, figure skating, and taekwondo -- are winding through the courts. The governing bodies can no longer afford to be indifferent to leaving children vulnerable to predators.

Hardball Wins as U.S. Titans Bend to China

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the latest entertainment giant to incite nationalist anger in China. Today, China poses a more formidable yet lucrative challenge for some of the most famous icons of American culture, like Apple, Disney, and the NBA. Selling the best of American creativity and talent increasingly demands submissions to the views of the Communist Party as the price of admission. The most recent fervor began with a single tweet in support of the Hong Kong protest that was posted by an NBA executive. The incident has underscored the consequences of China's willingness to use its vast economic clout to police any political values that threaten the party's legitimacy or its policies. U.S. cultural companies have had to increasingly bend to China's political will under its leader Xi Jinping. To continue to have access to Chinese customers, there is an issue as to whether American credibility as a beacon of free speech has to be eroded.

Robot Judges That See Everything Provide a New Twist

The gymnastics world championships in Germany, the biggest gymnastics meet outside the Olympics, for the first time used an artificial intelligence (AI) system to evaluate athletes' performance by measuring and analyzing skeletal positions, speed, and angles via three-dimensional laser sensors. At the championships, the AI system was in place to help human judges confirm scores when gymnasts formally contested them or when judges scores deviated significantly. The use of the AI systems brings in the question privacy concerns, but officials say all data will be disposed of at a predetermined expiration date.

Biles Set Record With 25th Medal at Worlds

Twenty-two-year-old American gymnast Simone Biles has set the all-time record for medals at the world championships by winning her 24th and 25th medals on the balance beam and floor exercise this past Sunday. Eighteen of the 24 medals in world championship competition have been golds. Biles also won five gold medals during the world championships in Stuttgart. The feat was made all the more remarkable considering the gymnast took a hiatus in 2017 and didn't compete after winning 4 Olympic golds in Rio in 2016.

Nike Puts a Spring in Runners' Steps. Is it Too Much?

Superfast Nike running shoes are creating a problem for people who oversee track and field and are making them give serious thought to how much running-shoe technology is too much. Last weekend's extraordinary marathon performances have focused attention on whether or not the International Association of Athletics Federations needs (IAAF) a more stringent rule to define legal running shoes. The current running-shoe debate could affect everything from stock prices of global footwear companies to who wins the Olympic marathon in Japan next summer. Current IAAF rules state only that shoes may not confer an 'unfair advantage' and must be 'reasonably available' to all. The rule doesn't explain how to measure these two factors.

Russia Altered Thousands of Tests, Drug Chief Admits

The head of Russia's own antidoping agency has confirmed suspicions of global officials who are considering severe penalties against Russian sports programs. The drug chief admitted that Russia made thousands of changes to the drug-test results of an unspecified number of its athletes. Yuri Ganus suggested in an interview that the data had been concealed or altered to protect the reputations and positions of former star athletes who now have roles in government or who function as senior sports administrators in Russia. His comments could complicate the country's efforts to avoid new punishments from global antidoping officials. The Russians were already barred from international sporting events, including the 2018 Winter Olympics, after discovery of a broad, state-sponsored doping program in 2015.

Ex-Champion, 27, Dies After Brain Injury

Boxer Patrick Day died after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a bout in Chicago. He was 27 years old. He was hospitalized and in "extremely critical condition" after he was knocked out by Charles Conwell in the 10th round of the USBA super welterweight title fight. He lapsed into a coma and never regained consciousness. A native of Freeport, New York, Day was 17-4-1 with six knockouts. The news left the Long Island boxing community in shock.

Fearing Heat, Tokyo Games Move Marathons

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) panel is currently consulting with sports governing bodies about concerns over heat. The fears mean that the Tokyo Olympic marathons might move to 'significantly' cooler Sapporo, 500 miles north to avoid the searing heat in the city. The Olympic Games and IOC want to ensure that the athletes have to conditions to give their best. An Olympic panel overseeing games preparation will discuss heat measures at its Oct. 30th - Nov. 1st meeting in Tokyo.

Racism of Bulgaria Fans presents Global Problem

Racism in Bulgaria's stands is not a new problem, as Bulgarian football has been plagued with the issue for years. The club has been fined numerous times over the years for racial abuse of players and a number of incidents involving fans displaying Nazi imagery or salutes. Although this is not an issue specific to only Bulgaria, it seems to be the worst offender. There are wider societal issues over why racism is still such a big issue with Bulgarian fans. Some believe that the behavior is not only driven by racist attitudes but also financial interests. Bulgaria has faced criticism for its efforts, or lack thereof, at combating racism in the stands. Many are now urging European football's governing body UEFA to "wage a war on the racists," but this is an issue that extends beyond the stands.


Fictitious Video of President Shooting Critics and Media Shown At His Resort

A video depicting Trump shooting, stabbing, and setting on fire critics and the media was shown during a 3-day pro-Trump group, American Priority, conference at his National Doral Miami resort. In the parody video, there are logos of various news organizations (CNN, The Washington Post, Politico and NPR) as well several political critics. White House Press Secretary said that Trump hadn't seen the video but condemns and detests it based on reports. The White House Correspondents' Association has called on Trump to denounce the video. American Priority said in a statement that the video was not approved or sanctioned by the group.

NBC News Blasts Farrow for Account in New Book

NBC News Chief Noah Oppenheim blasted Ronan Farrow's "efforts to defame" the network in a fiery email to the network's staff in response to Farrow's allegations that NBC shut down his reporting on disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 as part of a "corporate cover-up." Oppenheim said that Farrow is not motivated by a pursuit of truth but, rather, has an ax to grind. He also took aim at Farrow's new book Catch and Kill, in which the author claims Weinstein knew about the sexual misconduct allegations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer and used the knowledge as a pressure point to keep the network from investigating his own misdeeds. Oppenheim wrote that "the book is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines, and outright inaccuracies."

Zuckerberg Says that Facebook Won't Police Political Speech

In a speech at Georgetown University, Zuckerberg recently gave a defense of Facebook as a champion of free expression, refuting the idea that the social network needs to be an arbiter of speech as it has faced blowback for leaving up false political ads going into the 2020 presidential election. Zuckerberg contrasted Facebook's position with that of China, where Beijing controls and censors speech. He added that free speech is messy. The address was seen as an unusually public doubling down on free expression online as debate has ramped up. Last month, the company unveiled a sweeping policy that said it would not moderate politicians' speech or fact-check their political ads because such activity is newsworthy and in the public's interest.

Warren Pokes Facebook with Deliberately False Ad

Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren is upping her fight about big tech and Facebook in particular after trying to prove a point by running Facebook ads that purposefully included a lie about Mark Zuckerberg endorsing Trump's re-election for 2020. Warren did so in order to highlight what she considers negligence on the part of the company's handling of misinformation in political advertising. Later in the ad, it is noted that Zuckerberg had not really endorsed him. This comes as Warren's attacks against Facebook have escalated in recent weeks over what she claims is the platform's "illegal anticompetitive practices," fumbling the "responsibility to protect our democracy" and giving "Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform." A Facebook spokesperson said that the company believes political speech should be protected. "If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech," the spokesperson said. In the fall of 2018, Facebook stated that political ads and politicians would not be subject to the third-party fact-checking the company is using to combat misinformation. The policy has received much pushback, especially from Democrats, after the events and allegations of the 2016 election.

Twitter Keeps Trump's Account Open as His Tweets Draw Fire

Twitter grants "world leaders" special exemptions from its "code of conduct". However, Twitter has come under fire from critics for failing to take enforcement action against Trump, who has a history of making personal attacks on the platform. Twitter defended its decision by saying that these posts are in the "public interest," even if they violate the regular rules. Twitter announced that these tweets that would normally have been deleted will come with a warning message that users must click through in order to view the tweet. However, it has since clarified that certain tweets of Trump could be blocked. In a blog post, Twitter (without citing Trump by name) outlined specific areas that could lead to political figures having their tweets or accounts deleted. Those include promoting terrorism; making "clear and direct threats of violence" against an individual; posting someone's private info; or engaging in activities related to child porn. Critics believe that Trump's account should be deleted due to a matter of safety and corporate responsibility. There are now 6 areas that will result in enforcement action against any account now.

General News

When a Steady Paycheck is Good Medicine

There is a new initiative within the American medical industry to broaden the idea of how to keep a community healthy. A coalition of 41 nonprofit medical systems across the U.S. and 4 government providers have formed Healthcare Anchor Network, which is investing in the notion that ample paychecks, stable housing, and nutritious food are no less critical to well-being than doctors, medical equipment, and pharmacies. Its mission is to do more business with local companies in the communities it serves, mostly major American cities, like Chicago and Los Angeles. The Network is also directing its reserve funds towards so-called impact investments: loans to nonprofits that buy homes to spare low-income people from eviction; capital for minority-owned businesses; and child care for the working poor. Over the last 2 years, members have pledged more than $300 million towards local investments. These improved communities help health care companies' bottom lines, because more people can afford medical plans, which spreads health care costs across larger populations.

From the President's Gut Comes a Gut Punch

President Trump's reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State. Trump's acquiescing to Turkey's move to send troops inside Syrian territory has turned into a bloody carnage in less than a week. This was the forced abandonment of a successful 5-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border and it has given an unanticipated victory to 4 American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, and the Islamic State. Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests.

Trump Imposes Sanctions on Turkey for Syria Attack

The U.S. has sanctioned 3 Turkish ministers, along with their department of defense and ministry of energy, after the country's incursion into northern Syria. President Trump has called for an immediate ceasefire as Turkish troops move further into Syria. Trump signed an executive order authorizing the sanctions and directed Vice President Pence to lead a delegation to Turkey to begin negotiating a resolution between the Turks and Kurds. Trump has also ordered a hike on steel tariffs and immediately canceled negotiations over a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey. The executive order authorizes the treasury secretary to sanction Turkish officials for "actions or policies that further threaten the peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of Syria." The move represents the administration's first concrete effort to punish Turkey, a NATO ally, for its incursion into areas held by Kurdish allies of the U.S. after a hasty removal of U.S. troops last week.

As U.S. Troops Depart, Kurds Forge an Alliance with Syrian Authorities

To deal with the intensifying Turkish assault in northern Syria, Kurdish forces have struck a deal with Assad's army. In this deal, the Syrian army would deploy troops along the Syrian-Turkish border in order to assist Kurdish forces and help liberate areas held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups. The Turkish assault comes just days after President Trump announced he would be pulling out US troops still stationed in the area.

Moscow Picks Up Reins as the U.S. Departs Syria

President Trumps removal of U.S. forces from Syria has created an opening for Moscow to expand its influence in the region. Analysts said it was clear that Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin were emerging as the winners of the geopolitical puzzle, and the Kurds and the U.S. as the losers. It also looks like ISIS will benefit and may be able to re-surge as stability eludes the region. Russia is now the undisputed power broker in the region, with Iran also benefiting. America's leverage and influence have disappeared and there are risks of a wider confrontation among Turkey, Syria, and perhaps even Russia.

Justices Are Asked: Can Electors Go Rogue?

Colorado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower federal court ruling that allows members of its Electoral College to vote for whomever they want in presidential elections without consequence. These electors could help swing a close race in 2020. Most states require electors to vote for the candidate who wins that state's popular vote. Colorado mandated that as well until a recent lower court ruling. The ruling stems from the 2016 election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 5%, but Colorado had a "faithless elector" who tried to vote for Gov. John Kasich, violating a state law. The so-called "Hamilton Electors" later sued the state for violating what they said were their rights to vote their consciences. The ruling has broader implications for the state's efforts to elect presidents based on a national popular vote.

Court Considers Limits for Juvenile Offenders in Case of D.C. Sniper

The Supreme Court is wrestling with whether one of the killers who terrorized the Washington, D.C. region more than 15 years ago should be re-sentenced in light of recent decisions barring life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Lee Boyd Malvo has spent roughly half his life behind bars for his role in the killing spree, but he is now asking the Supreme Court to rule that the court's prior ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana require him to receive new sentencing hearings because he was a minor at he time of his crimes. The justices seemed split on re-sentencing. In 2005, the high court prohibited the death penalty for juveniles and in 2010 barred life without parole for minors who commit non-homicidal crimes. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Malvo and says that he should be re-sentenced, it is still unlikely he will ever walk free, because he was also sentenced for 6 killings in Maryland in addition to the 4 life sentences he received in Virginia.

Plan to Cut School Lunch for One Million Children Reopens to Public Comment

Under the Trump administration proposal, nearly one million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches. The proposal would also reduce the number of people who get food stamps. Around 40,000 of the 982,000 children affected would need to pay the full price for lunch and breakfast under the new plan. 445,000 would have to apply to qualify for the free meals. Advocacy groups are saying that the application to qualify could be a barrier for some families. Many school districts are dealing with the prevalence of school lunch debt, which shows that even small amounts of money can add up over time and become a burden to struggling families. The USDA said that its proposal could cut $90 million a year from the cost of its school lunch and breakfast programs.

Settlement of $117 Million for Pelvic Mesh

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay about $117 million to settle U.S. states' mesh probe to resolve allegations that it deceptively marketed transvaginal surgical mesh devices. The settlement resolves a multistate investigation and found that Johnson & Johnson violated consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of its devices and failed to disclose risks. The settlement resolves claims with 41 states and the District of Columbia.

Epstein's Estate Takes Up Fight Against His Accusers

The federal criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein ended 2 months ago with his death, but the legal battles by his estate are expected to go on for months. A half-dozen lawsuits have been filed by some of the financier's alleged victims. Epstein's assets were estimated at more than $577 million and it is not unusual for legal maneuvering when wealthy estates are involved. Epstein's other enterprises are still up and running. He signed his will 2 days before committing suicide and put his estate into a trust, which would most likely cloak the eventual disbursements in secrecy.

Pioneers in Easing Poverty Receive Nobel Honors

MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee will share the prize with Michael Kremer of Harvard University for their breakthrough antipoverty work that has helped transform relief efforts. Their work has been highly innovative in the area of development economics, emphasizing the use of field experiments in research in order to realize the benefits of laboratory-style randomized, controlled trials. They have applied these new precisions while studying a wide range of topics implicated in global poverty, including health care, education, agriculture, and gender issues, while developing new antipoverty programs based on their research. The pair also co-founded MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2003, which is a global network of antipoverty researchers who conduct field experiments and has become a major center of research, facilitating work across the world. Duflo, 46, is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel in economic sciences.

Plan to Shield Tech Draws Ire of Congress

There is currently a legal provision that grants tech companies broad immunity for content people post on its platforms. Now lawmakers are getting more ammunition in their fight to overhaul Silicon Valley's prized legal shield. In the latest, fair-housing advocates are accusing Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms of abusing the legal provision. They now want Congress to ensure that online rental services cannot ignore and profit from listings that violate state and local housing laws. They claim that these companies are knowingly facilitating and profiting from illegal listings while driving up cost and access to housing. The provision in question is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is focused on social media companies. There is a political divide on the law.

Air Pollution Linked to Risk of Miscarriages, Study Says

A new Chinese study has found a link between air pollution and miscarriage. Researchers followed a quarter of a million pregnant women between 2009 and 2017. The scientists concluded that the presence of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of sulfur dioxide in the air increased the risk of miscarriage by 41%. The findings of this research "uncovered potential opportunities to prevent or reduce harmful pregnancy outcomes by proactive measures before pregnancy."

Perry Says That He Will Resign as Secretary of Energy

President Trump has confirmed that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry plans to leave his post at the end of the year. Trump went on to say that Perry's resignation didn't come as a surprise and that Perry has considered leaving for 6 months. One of Trump's original Cabinet members, who has recently emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry, Perry was one of the 3 charged with managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship after the White House removed the core of its Ukraine policy team last spring. Trump says that he already has a replacement for Perry.

Forth Defendant is Arrested in Giuliani Associates Case

A fourth man, a self-described former pro golfer from South Florida, was indicted on campaign finance charges and arrested by federal authorities. David Correia worked with Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan federal court. He is one of 4 people who allegedly conspired to circumvent federal campaign finance laws to buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates' governments.

Joe Biden's Son Leaving Board of Chinese Company, Preempting Conflict of Interest Concerns

Hunter Biden will step down as board director for a Chinese language funding firm and has promised not to do any work for international corporations if his father is elected president. Hunter Biden's international work has turned into a serious subject within the presidential marketing campaign after the Ukraine incident. His lawyer said that Biden "intends to resign" from the firm's board by October 31st. The issue highlights the need for the U.S. to make disclosures by adult children of officials more transparent.

Fed Up with Poor Care, Tribes Seek to Control Their Hospitals

Indian Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs 24 hospitals nationwide, but these hospitals have numerous pitfalls. So far, 5 government investigations "have found that patients have died...from inadequate care, are often given wrong diagnoses and are treated by staff members who have not been screened for hepatitis and tuberculosis." One solution to the problem that is being suggested is that the American Indian Nations assume direct control of their healthcare, but a major challenge is cost. The change in management has allowed the tribal authority to develop a plan to reopen the inpatient hospital and the emergency room, recruit more qualified doctors and health care workers, and upgrade equipment. A key reason why the Indian Health Service often provides substandard care is because it is grossly underfunded. Changing ownership does not fix this. Despite resource challenges, American Indian nations who take control of their own health care systems have often seen improvements.

California Blackouts

Electric companies throughout California have been inducing blackouts throughout the week to prevent fires. This is the second phase of their safety plan to limit wildfires caused by weather conditions, such as extreme winds. Customers could be without power for several days. More than 600,000 people have been affected by the blackouts, in which many residents said they were unaware of the impending shut offs with an uncertain timeline. These blackouts have left residents without hot water, internet connections, and cell service in certain areas and could cost the state between $65 million and $2.5 billion.

Judge Blocks Florida Law on Felons' Voting Rights

A federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked a law that set conditions on a voter-approved constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions. The dispute centers on whether Florida lawmakers were justified in requiring felons to pay off all their legal debts before they could become re-enfranchised. On Friday, those felons received a boost when a federal judge ruled that the state can't prevent felons from voting, even if they can't afford to pay court-ordered fines and fees.

Fighter Revered by Democrats as a "North Star"

Longtime Congressman from Baltimore, Elijah Cummings, died Thursday after a series of health issues in recent years. Cummings was seen as a force within Congress and politics at large and he represented his Baltimore community in the House of Representatives for more than 20 years. Cummings built a powerful political legacy as a defender of civil and voting rights. Politicians on both sides of the aisle issued statements of remembrance and condolences.

Justice Dept. Indicts Turkish Bank for Aiding Iran

The Department of Justice announced that TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S., aka "Halkbank," was charged in a 6-count indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank's participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States's sanctions on dealing with Iran by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. The bank's audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.

Global Firms Face Hostile Hong Kong

Sales in stores have plummeted 90% in recent months, thanks in large part to the evaporation of tourists from mainland China who have been staying away since anti-government protests began in June. Hoteliers, salesclerks, restaurateurs, and tour guides across Hong Kong have all taken a hit since footage of the clashes between riot police officers and protesters have been broadcast around the world, scaring off potential visitors. An unmistakable sense of alarm is spreading among both small business owners and corporate executives who see no way out of the impasse. The tourism industry is a major driver of Hong Kong's economy, but the overall number of tourists arriving in this semiautonomous territory has plummeted, falling nearly 40% since the same time last year. For now, international finance and real estate, other pillars of the Hong Kong economy, have been largely unscathed.

Favors and Largess Eased Deutsche Bank into China

Confidential documents have shown that the German lender, Deutsche Bank, used gifts and political maneuvers for over 15 years to become a major player in China. Millions of dollars were paid to Chinese consultants with access to politicians and more than 100 relatives of high-level Communist Party members were hired for jobs at the bank without meeting qualifications. Deutsche Bank's effort to win favor in China have worked, because by 2011, the German company would be ranked by Bloomberg as the top bank for managing initial public offerings in China and elsewhere in Asia, outside Japan. The bank's top leadership was warned about the activity, but did nothing to stop it. The bank paid $16 million in August to settle accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission of misconduct in China and Russia.

Thai Judge Rebukes Pressure to Punish Muslims, Then Shoots Himself

A Thai judge shot himself in a courtroom after delivering a rare speech railing against the country's justice system. Kanakorn Pianchana acquitted 5 Muslim men of murder on Friday before calling for a fairer judiciary. He then recited a legal oath, pulled out a pistol, and shot himself in the chest. Luckily, the judge survived and is recovering from his injuries. A statement believed to have been written by the judge before giving his ruling suggests that his suicide attempt could have been related to alleged interference in the case, claiming he was pressured to find the men guilty despite a lack of evidence. In his speech, Pianchana said, "the judicial process needs to be transparent and credible... punishing the wrong people makes them scapegoats." Suriyan Hongvilai, the spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, told the AFP news agency he shot himself due to "personal stress."

Kashmiris Rush to Phones as India Restores Service

Two months ago, the Indian government imposed a complete communications blackout in the Kashmir Valley; last week, they partially restored cellphone service in the region, home to about 8 million people. The region's cell service was shut off in the hours before the Hindu nationalist government of India's prime minister Narendra Modi announced the revocation of a constitutional provision that gave partial autonomy to Kashmir on August 5th. The region has been caught in a longstanding and often brutal territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and the elimination of cell service was part of India's continuing crackdown in the region. As soon as service was restored, people made the calls they had been yearning to place for months.

Spain Punishes Leaders of Catalan Independence Bid

Spain's Supreme Court has handed down sentences for 9, including former Catalonian vice president Oriol Junqueras, over a bid for independence. The sentencing of 9 of the 12 accused Catalan separatist leaders has led to protests in north-eastern Spain. The accused separatists were sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for sedition over their roles in the region's 2017 failed independence bid. The 3 other defendants were found guilty only of disobedience and not sentenced to prison. All defendants were acquitted of the most severe charge, rebellion. The separatist leaders' failed attempt to secede from the European nation had sparked the worst political crisis in decades.

October 13, 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, Media, and General News


Tina Tchen, Ex-Obama Aide, Will Take Over Time's Up

The advocacy organization Time's Up announced this week that Tina Tchen, former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, is going to lead the organization as its new chief executive. She has had an active role in the organization and operated "a legal-defense fund for women in all industries who experienced sexual harassment at work." She will be leading Time's Up's new project, which is focused on researching sexual harassment policies and forms of workplace discrimination.

Lil Peep's Mother Sues Managers Over His Death

Nearly two years after the emo-rapper Lil Peep died from an overdose in Arizona, his mother has sued First Access Entertainment, the talent agency and label that oversaw his career. The action alleges that the team around them should have obtained help for the rapper, rather than pushing him "onto stage after stage in city after city, plying and propping" him up with drugs and substances that led to his death. The complaint has sought unspecified damages "for negligence, breach of contract, and wrongful death."

Porn Producers Accused of Fooling Women Charged With Sex Trafficking

According to a criminal complaint, owners and employees of two pornographic websites "used deception and false promises" to lure women to modeling auditions, "telling them that their identities would be shielded and that the videos would not be posted online." There have been 22 women that have come forward and said that they were "tricked into performing in internet pornography."


Prince's Estate to Trump Campaign: Don't Play 'Purple Rain'

Prince's estate has pushed back against President Trump's campaign using the song "Purple Rain" after the campaign played the song during his rally in Minneapolis, the singer's hometown. The estate wrote on Twitter that the law firm representing Trump in election law matters, Jones Day, had agreed last year "that the campaign would not use Prince's songs at rallies and other events."

Filming the Show: Pardon the Intrusion? Or Punish It?

When a person in an audience uses his/her/their phone (and especially to record or photograph a performance), that is more than just a distraction to the performers and other patrons; it "can constitute a form of intellectual property theft." However, there is a growing debate about whether that etiquette should be changing, with younger audiences seeing the restrictions as a "form of off-putting elitism." For example, the Philadelphia Orchestra has allowed audiences to keep their phones during concerts and even offered an app that guides the patrons through the evening's music.

Robert Indiana's Island Home Still Grapples With His Legacy

Following the artist Robert Indiana's death last year, the community of Vinalhaven, Maine has been grappling with what to do with the Victorian home that he owned. Many in the community are hoping to honor his will and turn the building into a museum "that would honor his legacy," but there are concerns about how it would stay operational and how many visitors would be coming to the secluded island every year to visit the museum. While the administration of Indiana's estate continues, it remains unclear what will become of the home, but there remains "no official memorial service to mark his passing."

Fashion's Latest Trend: Eco Bragging Rights

In the fashion industry, from Milan to Paris to New York, the hottest looks have come from sustainable fashion. On September 10, in New York, Gabriela Hearst led the way with what she called "the first carbon-neutral fashion show," and that has been followed by brands, such as Gucci and Missoni, touting themselves as leading the way "in sustainable fashion" with carbon neutral lines and "solar powered sun lights" being given out during the shows. In Paris, brands vowed to address climate change in their conducting of business. In short, having sustainability in their lines has become a metric in the highly competitive industry.

MoMA Reboots With 'Modernism Plus'

The Museum of Modern Art is set to reopen on October 21st after a $450 million renovation. The museum has made an effort to shed its reputation as being a monument to "white, male, and nationalist" art and has acquired works from "Africa, Asia, South America, and African America, and a significant amount of work by women."

Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke Awarded Nobel Prizes in Literature

The Nobel Committee has faced intense criticism for its past awards, and it "waded into fresh controversy" by awarding the prize to Peter Handke, "who delivered a eulogy at the funeral of Slobodan Milosevic, the former leader of Yugoslavia who was tried for war crimes." The other prize awarded this year, to novelist Olga Tokarczuk, was less controversial even though she is outspoken and has expressed "polarizing political views." However, the prize to Handke prompted "a rare rebuke from another literary organization, PEN America."


Colliding With China, the National Basketball Association Retreats With a Bruised Spine

There is an ongoing feud between the Chinese government and parts of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as China is threatening to cancel two exhibition games over a tweet from an executive of the Houston Rockets expressing support for the Hong Kong protests. Everyone from Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr to San Antonio Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich to President Trump have weighed in on the issue, and it is the latest example of the Chinese government imposing its will on American companies for stances those companies may take in opposition to the Chinese government.

National Football League Players Association Files Grievances on Behalf of Antonio Brown

The National Football League (NFL) Players Association has filed several grievances on behalf of wide receiver Antonio Brown in an effort to win him back the approximately $40 million that he lost when the Oakland Raiders and New England Patriots released him last month. He has publicly complained about the power that the teams and their owners have over players, basing that complaint on a provision of his contract that should have guaranteed him a $9 million signing bonus, which he did not receive from the New England Patriots.

Players With Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Doubled Risk With Every 5.3 Years in Football

Researchers at Boston University, in the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) Center, have announced that former tackle football players double the risk of developing "the worst forms" of CTE for each 5.3 years of the sport they play. Scientists have known of the existence of a connection between playing tackle football and the condition, but the extent of the risk to players was not known. The researchers stated their findings in another way: "the risk of developing CTE rose by 30 percent each year played when surveying all the players."

NFL Upholds Suspension of Vontaze Burfict

The NFL has upheld its season-long suspension of Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the hit he inflicted on an Indianapolis Colts player in the fourth week of the season. Given Burfict's history of violent hits, and this latest one being an "unnecessary, flagrant" helmet-to-helmet hit on tight end Jack Doyle, the NFL ruled that Burfict has "continued to flagrantly abuse rules designated to protect yourself and your opponents from unnecessary risk."

Tokyo Braces for the Hottest Olympics Ever

The Olympics in Tokyo are set to open on July 24, 2020 and conclude on August 9th, and officials are expecting it to be the hottest Olympics on record. When the Olympics were previously held in Tokyo in 1964, they began on October 10 because of the heat conditions. This past summer alone, more than 1,000 people died and tens of thousands were hospitalized for heat-related illnesses. Nonetheless, officials have chosen the dates for the Olympics largely based on the American television market, as "three-quarters of [International Olympic Committee] IOC revenue comes from broadcast rights, and about half of those rights are paid by the American broadcaster NBC."

Braves Pivot from Tomahawk Chop Chant After a Cardinal's Criticism

The Atlanta Braves announced that they will not be distributing red foam tomahawks, which have long been "a fixture at Braves games" and that "the thumping backup music to the team's chant would not be played over the park's sound system if" the St. Louis Cardinals' pitcher Ryan Helsley, a member of the Cherokee Nation, was in the game. The Braves released a statement: "We look forward to continued dialogue with those in the Native American community after this postseason concludes."

In Tennis, Men and Women are United in Looming Prize-Money Fight

Professional tennis players are seeking to "push the four Grand Slam tournaments to commit a greater percentage of their revenue to the players." The group, which does not include Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, is seeking more accountability as to how the tournaments calculate the prize money, and the group is hoping to obtain a seat at the table to negotiate for higher prize amounts. Thus far, the Grand Slam tournaments have not engaged with the group.

Blizzard Sets Off Backlash for Penalizing Hearthstone Gamer in Hong Kong and Apple Removes App That Helps Hong Kong Protesters

Activision Blizzard is only the latest company to face scrutiny for its actions as related to Hong Kong and China. The company suspended an e-sports player who had publicly supported the Hong Kong protests while broadcasting the video game Hearthstone. Additionally, the company forced him to forfeit $10,000 in prize money, prompting outrage from gamers and politicians alike. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon said on Twitter that the company showed "it is willing to humiliate itself to please the Chinese Communist Party. No American company should censor calls for freedom to make a quick buck." On Wednesday, Apple removed an app that enabled protesters in Hong Kong to track the police, plunging the tech giant "deeper into the complicated politics of a country that is fundamental to its business."


Facebook Fights Back, and U.S. Trade Deals Serve as Shield

Even with the Trump administration inserting legal protections into trade agreements "that shield online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from lawsuits," which helps "lock in America's tech-friendly regulations around the world even as they are being newly questioned at home," Facebook is gearing up for a fight if presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren wins the election next year. She has called for breaking up the large tech companies, such as Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg, in an internal question-and-answer session with Facebook, said, "At the end of the day, if someone's going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight."

Matt Lauer Accuser Speaks Out in Ronan Farrow's New Book

Investigative journalist Ronan Farrow's new book contains details about Matt Lauer's downfall on NBC's "Today" as well as the aftermath of his termination. One accuser, Brooke Nevils, reported to Farrow that Lauer raped her while they were in Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Lauer has denied the allegation of rape but instead released a statement that it was an "extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter." Farrow's book also details NBC and its subsidiary NBC News and their handling of reports of sexual misconduct, such as its blocking Farrow's investigation into Harvey Weinstein.

Shepard Smith, Fox News Anchor, Abruptly Departs From Network

Shepard Smith, a longtime Fox News anchor, stepped down after Friday's broadcast noting, "Recently, I asked the company to allow me to leave. After requesting that I stay, they obliged." He had become increasingly open about his skepticism of the Trump administration, even asking in 2017 during a newscast, "Why is it lie after lie after lie?" He informed viewers that he was not likely to be in broadcasting in the near term, and his contract, which he breached by resigning, had a non-compete clause.

Assailant Live-Streamed Attempted Attack on German Synagogue

In eastern Germany, a gunman attempted to storm a synagogue on Wednesday "as congregants observed the holiest day in Judaism." Unable to break through a locked door, he killed two people and wounded two others in an attack that resembled those attacks by far-right extremists in mosques in New Zealand over six months ago. Police have announced that they arrested a suspect in the city of Halle, but they have not confirmed whether the suspect is the gunman or whether there were any accomplices to the crime.

Poland's State Media Is Government's Biggest Booster Before Election

The state media within Poland has been one of the most powerful tools that the governing Law and Justice party has for convincing the electorate that they are worthy of re-election. The party has "reshaped the media landscape, imposing complete governmental control" over the state television station TVP and has cracked down on other media sources. Recently, a fake photo circulated on state media showing the climate change activist Greta Thunberg purportedly meeting billionaire progressive political donor George Soros, but the photo had been doctored from her actual meeting with former vice president Al Gore.

General News

Supreme Court Returns to Work, and There Are Five Big Cases to Watch

With the Supreme Court returning to work, there are several upcoming cases to watch, including resolutions to the questions of whether a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender people, whether the Trump administration may strip protection from "Dreamers," whether the Court will restrict abortion rights, whether the Court will expand Second Amendment rights, and whether states may bar aid from religious schools. In its first argument heard, the Supreme Court considered whether states may abolish the insanity defense, raising questions of "history, moral philosophy, constitutional law, and the brutal crimes at the heart of the case."

Second Whistle-Blower Emerges as Ukraine Probe Widens

The House of Representatives' inquiry into impeaching President Trump has continued to widen, and the extent of the administration's involvement in obtaining damaging information or documents about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden appear to be growing by the day. It has come to light that the State Department received instructions to play down that funding approved by Congress for Ukraine had been held and then released after the Administration approved it. A second whistleblower has been revealed as well: while the identity of the individual is not yet known, there is speculation that the person was also on the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky. The former envoy to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, met with lawmakers this week and "was told Trump wanted her out over lack of trust."

Giuliani Faces Increasing Scrutiny, and Potentially Investigation, for His Role

Rudy Giuliani's role in the Ukraine probe continues to widen as two of his associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested this week. The extent of his involvement in the administration is also being increasingly revealed as it came to light that in 2017 Giuliani pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to release a jailed client, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader. Tillerson argued that it was "highly inappropriate to interfere in an open criminal case."

GOP-Led Senate Panel Affirms That Russia Attacked Election and Urges Action

The Senate Intelligence Committee reaffirmed this week "that Russian operatives engaged in a widespread social media campaign to improve" now-President Trump's chances in the 2016 election. The committee authored a report supporting the conclusions in the intelligence community, and it concluded that the Kremlin directed the effort. The panel recommended that Congress should consider new requirements for online political ads similar to those existing for television or radio, which require disclosure as to who paid for the advertising. The report states: "Issues such as privacy rules, identity validation, transparency in how data is collected and used, and monitoring for inauthentic or malign content, among others, deserve continued examination."

President Ordered to Turn Over Tax Returns to Manhattan District Attorney and Congress Handed a Win at Appeals Court for Seeking Financial Records

On Monday, a federal judge rejected President Trump's "effort to shield his tax returns from Manhattan state prosecutors." In the ruling, Judge Victor Marrero called President Trump's argument that he was immune from criminal investigation "repugnant to the nation's governmental structure and constitutional values." His lawyers have appealed to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which has agreed to "temporarily delay enforcement of the subpoena while it considers arguments in the case." Congress received approval from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for pursuing the financial records of President Trump, but the case is virtually guaranteed to be appealed. Meanwhile, this week, Deutsche Bank confirmed to a federal appeals court that it does not have the personal tax returns of President Trump.

FBI Practices for Intercepted Emails Violated Fourth Amendment, Judge Ruled

Declassified files from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rulings show that a federal judge ruled last year that the FBI's procedures "for searching for Americans' emails within a repository of intercepted messages that were gathered without a warrant violated Fourth Amendment privacy rights." These files show that the bureau "resisted a congressional mandate that required it to keep closer track of when it searched for Americans' information," which then led to a secret court fight.

Pentagon Analyst Is Charged in Leaks of Classified Reports

A counterterrorism analyst at the Pentagon shared classified information with journalists for over a year, according to an indictment that was unsealed this week. He was arrested at the Defense Intelligence Agency, and his arrest comes as the Justice Department begins more aggressive efforts to stop "illegal leaks of classified information," particularly leaks to journalists. Prosecutors have refused to say whether they have monitored the two journalists who received the information from the analyst.

Kevin McAleenan Resigns as Acting Homeland Security Secretary

On Twitter, President Trump announced that the acting secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, was stepping down to "spend more time with his family and go to the private sector." He has been in his position for approximately six months and had difficulty "managing a turbulent relationship with a president intent on restricting immigration." His departure comes one week after he complained during an interview with The Washington Post about the "tone, the message, the public face and approach" to the administration's immigration policy.

Judges Strike Several Blows to Trump Immigration Policies

On Friday, judges in four states barred the Trump administration "from trying to withhold green cards from people who use public benefits and rejected his plan to divert funds to erect a border wall." The rulings came from New York, California, and Washington State and enjoined the administration from denying green cards to those who have used benefits, "such as Medicaid or those deemed likely to use them in the future." In Texas, a judge ruled that President Trump had acted unlawfully when he announced that the Pentagon would shift $3.6 billion from military construction funds to build a barrier along the nation's southern border.

State Birds May Be Forced Out of Their States as the World Warms

A new study has found that as the planet warms, birds across the country will have to relocate to escape the heat, and that will lead to at least eight states seeing "their state birds largely or entirely disappear from within their borders during the summer." The National Audubon Society released the research, and the migrations are expected to change assuming the global temperature rises "a plausible three degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels this century."

Juul Is Sued by School Districts That Say Vaping Is a Dangerous Drain on Resources

School districts throughout the country have sued the e-cigarette manufacturer Juul, alleging that the company is "endangering students and forcing educators to divert time and money to fight an epidemic of nicotine addiction." The districts have also alleged that the company marketed its goods to adolescents, which has burdened schools with "the costs of stopping students from vaping, disciplining them when they break school rules, and providing support services when they become addicted."

Fed Votes to Lighten Regulations for All but the Largest Banks

The Federal Reserve Board voted this week to "adjust key bank regulations put in place after the financial crisis" that one board governor noted "could weaken 'core safeguards.'" The regulations will reduce the amount of cash and bonds that banks must keep in their stockpiles and has allowed banks to submit less frequently their "living wills," which are documents detailing how a business would wind down its business.

Judge Orders Pause in Opioid Litigation Against Purdue Pharma and Sacklers

A bankruptcy judge has called for a pause in the legal action that states have brought against Purdue Pharma and its owners, the Sacklers. The judge, Judge Robert Drain of the United States Bankruptcy Court in White Plains, called for the halt, "citing mounting costs of litigation that are siphoning funds that could otherwise go to abate the opioid crisis." His ruling came after a seven-hour hearing during which he pushed the "parties to a compromise to address the opposing states' key concerns."

Rep. Nita Lowey Is Retiring. Could Chelsea Clinton Seek the Seat?

Thursday, Representative Nita Lowey announced that she would not seek re-election in 2020, opening the way for a potential run by Chelsea Clinton. Lowey has been in Congress since 1988 and has been a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and has led the House Appropriations Committee. Last year, Chelsea Clinton told a newspaper that covers the Hudson Valley that, "if someone were to step down or retire," she would "have to think if it's the right choice for me," but her parents' home is located within the district.

PG&E Outage Darkens Northern California Amid Wildfire Threat

On Wednesday, the lights went out in Northern California from near the Oregon border to the hillside communities near San Francisco. Pacific Gas and Electric has shut off the electricity as a precaution against wildfires, and with residents unaware of how long the outage may last, "residents hurried to gas stations and supermarkets, stocking up on essentials as if a hurricane were bearing down." It is estimated that by the end of the week, over 2.5 million people would be without power in California.

California Man Is Convicted of Cyberstalking Parkland Victims' Families

Brandon Michael Fleury has been "found guilty of three counts of cyberstalking and one count of transmitting a kidnapping threat" after using 13 different Instagram accounts to target survivors and loved ones of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Many of the accounts and messages were threatening in nature as he pretended to be the shooter. He admitted to police that he targeted family members who were "activists" and that he had developed a "'fascination' with mass shooters and serial killers."

An Admissions Scandal Parent Got Probation. His Argument? Not Rich or Famous

One of the lesser known individuals involved in the college admissions scandal involves a founder of a natural food company who claimed from the beginning that he was not rich or famous but had paid $15,000 for his daughter's ACT exam to be cheated. His attorney has said that he pleaded guilty because "he doesn't have a public image to maintain, and he was sentenced this week to a year of probation, a fine of $9,500, and 250 hours of community service.

Trump Orders Troops and Weapons to Saudi Arabia in Message of Deterrence to Iran

The Pentagon has announced that the U.S. will be sending approximately 3,000 additional troops to Saudi Arabia to deter Iran from any further attacks on the Saudi oil facilities that were struck last month. The announcement came shortly after President Trump said he wanted to end the "endless wars" that America has been involved in, which came with his pulling troops out of the way for the Turkish military to advance into Syria.

Trump Reaches 'Phase 1' Deal With China and Delays Planned Tariffs

President Trump announced that the U.S. and China had reached an "interim deal" that would put a temporary stop to the "prolonged and economically painful trade war." Speaking from the Oval Office, he announced that the agreement "would take several weeks to write and that both sides could officially sign by November." The agreement would involve China buying $40 billion to $50 billion in American agricultural products as well as provide guidelines for how China manages its currency.

Turkey Launches Offensive Against Kurds After U.S. Pulls Out

Following President Trump's agreement with Turkey to permit it to launch an assault against a Syrian militia, the Kurds, the Turkish military advanced on the militia, which had been one of America's crucial allies in the region. Although President Trump acquiesced to the Turkish government and agreed to move American troops out of Turkey's way, he called the operation "a bad idea." While Trump has claimed that "in no way have we abandoned the Kurds," many Republicans including those in the Senate have said that his move is an abandonment of the alliance and a move that "ensures the re-emergence of ISIS."

In Kashmir, a Race Against Death, With No Way to Call a Doctor

Basic infrastructure in the Kashmir Valley has gone by the wayside in the two months since the Indian government revoked Kashmir's autonomy. With government-imposed communication blackouts, including the internet being down, and security checkpoints, disconnected phones, and difficulty finding medical attention, many have had their lives put into jeopardy for things as simple as a snakebite for want of finding the antidote.

Facing 'Cash-Flow Crisis,' the UN Cuts Hiring, Heating, Escalators and the AC

The United Nations' budget officials announced that they are facing an "acute cash shortage" and that it is necessary to curtail heating and air-conditioning, suspend hiring, eliminate optional travel, not replace furniture or computers unless absolutely necessary, and reduce the quality of services. The Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the austerity measures, which begin on October 14th, "will affect working conditions and operations until further notice."

European Parliament, Flexing Muscle, Rejects France's Commission Nominee

The European Parliament rejected French President Emmanuel Macron's pick for a top European Union job. Macron had selected Sylvie Goulard to lead the "internal market and industrial policy at the European Commission," but her finances and past actions came under scrutiny as two years ago she resigned as defense minister of France after having been accused "of providing a no-show job to an assistant at her office."

Why Amazon Fires Keep Raging Ten Years After a Deal to End Them

This August, there were 26,000 recorded forest fires in the Amazon rainforest, and that is the highest number in a decade. Ten years ago, an agreement with Greenpeace and Brazilian meatpacking companies that should have stopped the fires from being so common and should have reduced clearing of the rainforest. Yet prosecutors, academics, and environmentalists have noted that those meatpacking companies have not kept up their end of the bargain and have been responsible for deforestation and forest fires, which prompted Greenpeace to pull out of the agreement in 2017.

U.S. Blacklists 28 Chinese Entities Over Abuses in Xinjiang

The Trump administration has added 28 Chinese organizations to a blacklist "over concerns about their role in human rights violations, effectively blocking those entities from buying American products." The companies are said to be involved in the Chinese government's targeting of the Muslim Uighur minority in the Xinjiang province of China, according to a filing with the Department of Commerce. The companies conduct business in the realms of artificial intelligence, voice recognition, and video surveillance, all of which have been widely used in that region to monitor the Uighurs.

Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded for Studies of Earth's Place in the Universe

The Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded to James Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz. Peebles has developed theories to explain the 13.8 billion years of cosmological history, and Mayor and Queloz have shown "that other stars similar to the sun also possess planets." The committee announced that these two areas of research have taught humans "about our place in the universe."

Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopian Prime Minister

The prime minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed, has received the Nobel Peace Prize "for his work in restarting peace talks with neighboring Eritrea and beginning to restore freedoms in his country after decades of political and economic repression." The two countries have had a conflict that despite the "deep ethnic and cultural ties" between them has led to over 80,000 deaths over the last few years. The Nobel Committee cited Abiy's accomplishments during his first 100 days as prime minister as well: "lifting the country's state of emergency, granting amnesty to thousands of political prisoners, discontinuing media censorship, legalizing outlawed opposition groups, dismissing military and civilian leaders suspected of corruption, and increasing the influence of women in political and community life."

October 7, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below for your convenience are topics from Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News


Copyright Suit Against Jerry Seinfeld is Dismissed

U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan ruled that the lawsuit against Jerry Seinfeld was barred under the 3-year statute of limitations for copyright infringement claims. Christian Charles, a writer and director on the pilot of "Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee," claimed that he had come up with the idea for the Netflix series.

James Franco is Sued Over Sexual Exploitation Allegations at His Acting School

Two former students of an acting school that Franco helped found say the school operated as a way of providing Franco and his male collaborators with a pool of young female performers who were pressured into sexually exploitative auditions and promised roles in his projects, which never materialized.

Placido Domingo Resigns as General Director of Los Angeles Opera

The announcement comes after Domingo already withdrew from a run of performances at the Metropolitan Opera amid allegation of sexual harassment by multiple women.

The "Joker" Movie, a Calculated Risk by Warner Brothers

Though it has proven to be a financial and critical success, the movie is reigniting the debate over Hollywood accountability given the empathetic depiction of the lead character in a violent, hyper-realistic movie.

Tekashi69's Testimony Leads to Convictions

Two members of the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods were convicted of racketeering conspiracy and other offenses based on the rapper's testimony about the gang's structure, operations, and violence against other gangs in Brooklyn and Manhattan.


Annie Leibovitz Sues Univision for Copyright Infringement

Photographer Annie Leibovitz has filed a complaint against Univision, alleging that it used her photos of Caitlyn Jenner without permission.
The photos in dispute are those shown in a 2015 issue of Vanity Fair and depict Jenner in her first magazine photo spread after coming out as a transgender woman.

The Same Wealth That Galvanizes Artists' Protests Also Keeps Museums Alive

The article looks at several recent high-profile departures at museum boards and examines the impact of ousting board members on the financial well-being of cultural institutions.

Jeff Koons (Finally) Unveils Tulip Sculpture in Paris

The sculpture, titled "Bouquet of Tulips," was unveiled in the gardens of the Champs Élysées. The artist dedicated the sculpture to friendship between France and the United States, and as a tribute to the victims of the 2015 terrorist attacks in France.

Looted Ethiopian Crown Resurfaces in the Netherlands

A Dutch civil servant kept an Ethiopian crown hidden in his home for over 20 years after he noticed it in the suitcase of a guest who was staying in his home. He "confiscated" it but did not alert Ethiopian authorities, suspecting that they may have enabled the theft and that it would be stolen again. He also did not alert Dutch authorities, fearing that it would be kept in a museum rather than returned home. He waited for a change in government to report it and now says that he would like to see the liturgical crown given to the National Museum of Ethiopia.


California Governor Signs Fair Pay Bill

The NCAA urged California to hold off on the bill to give a working group formed earlier this year more time to examine "the name, image and likeness issue." The bill will allow college athletes in the state to profit off their names, images, and likenesses.

National Basketball Association Rules Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie is Not Permitted to Sell Shares in His Contract

The Brooklyn Nets guard wanted to enable investors to essentially buy into his 3-year, $34.4 million contract, allowing them to bet on whether he would be able to play well enough to earn a more lucrative contract after the second year of his deal. He planned to guarantee investors a few percentage points in interest over the 3 years. The National Basketball Association took the position that the arrangement is prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement.

Major League Baseball and Players Association Considering Adding Opioid Testing and Easing Marijuana Restrictions

On the issue of easing marijuana penalties, the 2 sides are reportedly considering it as part of the annual review of the drug policy and
expected to solicit input from the medical community on the effects and effectiveness of marijuana.

Washington's Capital One Arena to Offer Sports Betting

It will be the first major team sports facility in the U.S. (home to the Wizards and Capitals) to have a betting parlor. William Hill will run the facility, though it isn't clear when it will start operating or whether it will shut down for collegiate games.

Coach of Nike Oregon Project Gets 4-Year Doping Ban

The United States Anti-Doping Agency announced a 4 year ban for Salazar, 61. He was found to have administered banned substances and tampered with antidrug controls. Track and field's world governing body revoked Salazar's coaching authorization and banned him from being trackside or communicating with his athletes at the Nike-sponsored Oregon project.

Prosecutors in Robert Kraft Case Appeal Lower Court's Decision to Exclude Video Evidence

Florida prosecutors have appealed the lower court's decision to exclude video evidence in the case, arguing that police followed established procedures for obtaining a warrant to install the cameras at the day spa.

USA Swimming Under Federal Investigation

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating USA Swimming, including allegations that the governing body stifled athlete sexual abuse claims. They are also probing its business practices, including possible misstatements in tax filings and whether its relationship with the in-house insurance company was a potential avenue for self-dealing.

Another Horse Dies on Opening Weekend at Santa Anita Park

Despite a number of personnel changes and new safety measures, another horse has died at the Santa Anita racetrack, this time a 3-year-old colt that collapsed with both of his front legs broken. Thirty horses died at the racetrack in a 6-month stretch that ended in June. A review is underway to determine what factors contributed to the colt's injury. The horse had a history of physical problems, was placed on a list for observation by state veterinarians, and recently passed the required workout and was removed from that list.

AdvoCare Agrees to $150 Million Settlement with Federal Trade Commission

The nutritional supplement provider forged ties with professional athletes and major sports leagues. However, the Federal Trade Commission has found that AdvoCare's multilevel marketing business operated like a pyramid scheme that deceived customers into thinking they could earn significant income as distributors of its products. In reality, participants were pushed to recruit distributors rather than sell products, and 72% of its distributors did not earn any compensation.


Lawsuit Against Bloomberg Dismissed

A federal judge in the District of Columbia dismissed a suit for copyright infringement against Bloomberg L.P. The suit claimed that Bloomberg LP was "free riding" on a D.C. public policy newsletter's "hot news" by republishing those summaries on its own subscription news services. DBW Partners claimed that republishing those summaries, often using direct quotations, weakened the value of its reports and drove away subscribers. The order issued in the case dismissed the suit, with reasons to follow.

Disney Bars Netflix TV Ads from Almost All of Its TV Channels

Disney is banning advertising from Netflix across its entertainment TV networks, except for ESPN. The company is expected to launch its own streaming service, Disney Plus, in November, and says it has updated its policy on accepting ads from rival streaming services.

CNN Rejects Two Trump Campaign Ads

CNN declined the 30-second spot criticizing the impeachment inquiry due to what it said were inaccuracies and unfair attacks on the network's journalists. Though unusual for television networks to reject political advertisements, especially in the very early stages of a campaign, the move is not unprecedented.

Massive Layoffs Hit Sports Illustrated

The publishing company behind Sports Illustrated laid off 35 to 40% of the magazine's editorial staff. It is reported that about 30 former employees on the print side will receive severance protection guaranteed through Sports Illustrated's collective bargaining agreement with the NewsGuild of New York.

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Sue British Newspapers

Markle's lawsuit was reportedly filed over The Mail's publication of a private letter Markle wrote to her estranged father. Prince Harry publicly accused the publishers of purposely misleading readers "by strategically omitting select paragraphs, specific sentences, and even singular words." He also filed claims against two British newspapers for intercepting voicemail messages.

BBC Reverses Reprimand Ruling for News Anchor Who Criticized Trump

Naga Munchetty was found to have breached editorial standards after saying that President Trump's remarks about 4 female lawmakers, telling them to return to the places they came from, were embedded in racism. The BBC is now reversing the sanction, saying that her statements breached its impartiality guidelines in a very limited way and were not enough to uphold the decision.

Former Italian Prime Minister is Suing Trump Aide for Slander

Matteo Renzi is suing 2016 campaign aide to President Trump, George Papadopoulos, for slander. The former prime minister alleges that Papadopoulos told an Italian right-wing newspaper that Renzi had tried to derail Trump's candidacy under the orders of President Obama by planning a spy in a university in Rome.

Moroccan Journalist Sentenced to Prison for Abortion and Premarital Sex

The journalist and her fiancé were sentenced to one year in jail for having an illegal abortion and premarital sex. The journalist says the charges were fabricated because the abortion never took place. Trial observers say that the arrest and conviction were a state-led effort to intimidate the press and suppress criticism.

China's Social Media Propaganda

The article describes how China has made displays of patriotism ever more common on social media by relying on popular artists and some of the country's most experienced media companies.

U.S. Sanctions 7 Russians Over Election Meddling

The U.S. issued economic sanctions against 7 Russians as a warning to foreigners who interfere in American elections. The Russians were linked to an "internet troll factory," financing or working at an agency that launched disinformation campaigns on social media in 2016.

Microsoft Reports that Iranian Hackers Are Targeting 2020 Campaigns

Microsoft says that government-backed Iranian hackers have made more than 2,700 attempts to identify emails accounts of current and former U.S. government officials, as well as journalists and others associated with presidential campaigns. Though Microsoft's report did not identify the targets, it said there was evidence they had successfully infiltrated email inboxes in four cases, none of which belonged to a presidential campaign.

Egyptian Government Relying on Cyberattacks to Track Activists

A recent report of Cybersecurity company Check Point says that cyberattacks targeting Egyptian journalists, lawyers, opposition politicians, and activists have been traced to Egyptian government offices. Software was installed on targets' phones that enabled government officials to read files and emails, track their locations, and identify with whom they were in contact.

General News

Supreme Court to Hear Louisiana Abortion Case

The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Louisiana law that, if upheld, would likely "leave the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions." The law requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. So far, only one doctor in the state meets that requirement. It will be the first abortion case for the Supreme Court since President Trump's appointment of 2 Justices. The ruling is expected in June 2020.

Agriculture Department Announced More Cuts to the Food Stamp Program

Proposed changes would cut $4.5 billion from the program over 5 years. The cut is expected to lower monthly benefits by as much as $75 for 1 in 5 families on nutrition assistance, and almost 8,000 households would lose benefits entirely. The public comment period for this rule change will end on December 2nd.

Federal Government Plans to Collect DNA from Detained Immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security announced it will begin collecting DNA samples from immigrants in federal detention facilities and entering those results into a national criminal database. In 2005, Congress passed a law authorizing a broad collection of DNA data, but an exemption was put in place to protect immigrants. The ACLU criticized the proposed practice, noting that "mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation" to "population surveillance," adding that because genetic material carries family connections, the practice will have implications not only for those in custody but also their family members who may be U.S. citizens or legal residents.

Visa Applicants Must Prove They Have Financial Means to Pay for Medical Costs

President Trump is expected to sign a proclamation that will require immigrants applying for visas to prove they have insurance or the financial resources to afford medical care. It will apply to those who already have family members in the U.S. and will not apply to refugees or those granted asylum.

Homeland Security Acknowledges That White Supremacist Terrorism is a Primary Security Threat

The Department of Homeland Security is acknowledging domestic terrorism both in recent appearances by the acting secretary and in a strategy document published last month to guide law enforcement on emerging threats. The Department's mission report also highlights recent attacks committed by white supremacists, including mass shootings. It remains to be seen how it will translate its recognition of the threat into action.

President Trump Denies Reports of His Latest Border Proposals

The New York Times reported on a number of President Trump's proposals on how to address the border crisis. They included a suggestion to create a moat filled with snakes and alligators, U.S. forces could open fire on migrants, or that they carry bayonets at the border.

House Democrats Announce Plans to Subpoena the White House

The move will try to compel the White House to cooperate in the impeachment inquiry, especially if the White House does not comply with requests for documents related to President Trump's interactions with Ukraine. Vice-president Pence has until October 15th to comply with the request for documents related to Trump's efforts to press Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden's son. The House has also subpoenaed the president's private lawyer, Rudy Giuliani's files, over the Ukraine call.

Correspondence Suggests Special Envoy to Ukraine Knew U.S. Aid Was Contingent on Ukraine Investigating Biden

The New York Times reports that messages exchanged among senior diplomats posted in Ukraine suggest that they suspected that unfreezing $391 million in American aid was contingent on Ukraine investigating the president's political opponents.

Second Potential Whistleblower on Ukraine

The official is a member of the intelligence community and has reportedly been interviewed by the inspector general to corroborate the original whistleblower's account, though sources say he is considering filing his own complaint.

Trump Publicly Urges China to Investigate the Bidens

The public request echoed what President Trump had asked of Ukraine in a private call that prompted the impeachment inquiry. Some see it as an effort to reaffirm Trump's position that there is nothing wrong with seeking foreign help to fight corruption, in response to critics who see these requests as an outrageous violation of norms by asking a foreign country to discredit one's political opponents.

Trump's First Homeland Security Adviser Says President Was Told There Was No Truth to Ukraine Conspiracy Theory

Thomas Bossert said he told the president that there was no basis to the theory that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 elections, and that it did so on behalf of Democrats. He says the president was told of this long before he pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his political rivals.

Trump Pressed Australian Leader to Help Barr Investigate Origins of Mueller's Inquiry

The New York Times is reporting on another call where the president allegedly pushed the Australian prime minister to help Attorney General Barr gather information on a Justice Department inquiry that the president hoped will discredit the Mueller investigation.

Whistleblower Alleges That Treasury Officials Pressured IRS on Trump Tax Audit; Inspector General to Investigate

The whistleblower's complaint alleges that political appointees in the Treasury Department have improperly influenced the mandatory audit program that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) undertakes to examine presidential returns. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has refused congressional requests to release the president's tax returns, arguing that the request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose. The Treasury's Inspector General will now open an investigation into how the department handled the Congressional request for Trump's tax returns.

Justice Department Asks Judge to Block Subpoena of President's Tax Returns

The Manhattan district attorney's office subpoenaed President Trump's personal and corporate tax returns as part of its investigation into payments made to Stormy Daniels during the presidential campaign. While the Justice Department is not part of the case, its lawyers said they wanted to weigh in on the issue because of the constitutional questions that the subpoena raises. They argue that the president would suffer irreparable harm if he had to comply with the demand to turn over his tax returns and other financial information. Meanwhile, the Manhattan D.A.'s office says that the federal lawsuit challenging its subpoena is a delay tactic that could drag out the case until the statute of limitations expires on any possible crimes.

Judges Urges Federal Prosecutors to Decide on Potential Prosecution of Andrew McCabe

The judge presiding over a lawsuit about FBI documents related to Andrew McCabe's firing said he will start ordering the release of information if prosecutors do not announce whether they intend to bring charges against McCabe. The Justice Department has wanted to keep those documents confidential as it investigates whether McCabe lied to internal investigators about dealings with the news media.

Bernie Sanders Treated for Heart Attack

The Democratic nominee's campaign said he will participate in the October 15th debate and that he is recovering well after undergoing surgery. The candidate's health is likely to raise questions over age, given that the top Democratic primary candidates are all in their 70s.

Prosecutors Are Adopting Troubling Strategies in Wrongful Conviction Cases

In order to bring a civil rights claim following an overturned conviction, defendants must have a "favorable termination of their criminal case." This means that each one needs an affirmative finding of innocence - which can be obtained when he/she/they is/are granted a new trial and found not guilty, or when the prosecutor drops the case and that serves as a de facto acknowledgement that the defendant probably did not commit the crime. There is now an emerging strategy in wrongful conviction cases, especially in jurisdictions that cannot afford to pay exoneree compensation. In some recent cases, prosecutors are offering deals requiring defendants to forgo seeking civil damages. The alternative is incarceration.

Federal Judge Rules in Harvard's Favor in Asian-American Discrimination Case

An advocacy group opposed to affirmative action accused Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants by forcing them to meet a higher standard to gain entry. It also alleged that the school used race as a predominant factor in admissions decisions, that it racially balanced its classes, and that it had considered race before exhausting all other race-neutral alternatives to create diversity. A Federal District Court judge rejected the arguments, and in her discussion of her benefits of diversity, said it is not yet time to look beyond race in college admissions.

Justice Department Loses Challenge to Supervised Injection Sites

A federal ruling in response to a lawsuit challenging the legality of supervised injection sites has sided with a Philadelphia non-profit, stating that the goal of safe injection sites is to reduce drug use, not facilitate it. Therefore, it found no violation of the Controlled Substance Act, a federal law intended on crack down on "drug-involved premises."

Bipartisan Discussions Continue on a National Privacy Law

Lawmakers continue to disagree on parts of a bill to regulate consumer data, making it unlikely for Congress to pass a national privacy law this year. There is disagreement about how to enforce the law, whether to give the Federal Trade Commission more authority to make rules on privacy, and whether consumers should have a right of action against companies that violate the law if regulatory agencies fail to take action.

Attorney General Barr Pushes Facebook for Access to Encrypted Messages

The Justice Department continues to argue that access to encrypted communications is a vital crime-fighting tool. In a recent letter to Facebook, Attorney General Barr pressed the company to allow lawful access to encrypted messages to fight terrorism, organized crime, and child pornography.

Facebook Falls Short on Plan to Share Data on Disinformation

In 2018, Facebook committed to sharing posts and other user data with researchers in an effort to study and identify disinformation on the site. It is being reported that much of the data remains unavailable and what will become available is expected to be less comprehensive. Meanwhile, researchers continue to find that Facebook remains the number 1 platform for political disinformation campaigns.

Parents in Admissions Scandal Are Hiring Experts for Their Sentencing Hearings

Parents convicted in the college admissions scandal are turning to experts to shorten their sentences or avoid prison time altogether. One father submitted an expert report from a criminologist detailing how his difficult childhood made him susceptible to being manipulated into joining the scheme. Another parent submitted a proposal for a community service project, and yet another recounted his past charitable work. Anticipating that other parents might follow suit, the sentencing judge was clear that she did not require expert reports to rule.

Boeing Executives Reportedly Rejected a Safety System for the 737 Max

In an internal ethics complaint filed this year, a Boeing engineer says the company rejected a safety system during the development of the 737 Max jet, equipment that he believes could have reduced risks that contributed to two fatal crashes.

Jeffrey Epstein's Start-Up Made $200 Million After Guilty Plea

Previously unreported filings show that Epstein's "DNA data-mining service" Southern Trust, started in the Virgin Islands a few years after his 2008 guilty plea, brought in over $200 million from 2012-2017.

NASA Says That First All-Female Spacewalk is Scheduled for Late October

Astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir will pair up for a spacewalk to plug in new, upgraded batteries for the solar power system at the International Space Station. The spacewalk was cancelled in the spring as there was not enough time to get a second women's medium-size spacesuit ready.

Federal Judge in Kansas City is Reprimanded for Sexual Harassment

Judge Carlos Murguia was reprimanded for sexually harassing female employees, having an affair with a felon that made him "susceptible to extortion," and for being habitually late for court meetings. Earlier this year, the federal judiciary revised its code of conduct for judges and judicial employees to more clearly define inappropriate workplace behavior and to emphasize judicial responsibility to report misconduct.

Cap on Deductions for State and Local Taxes is Upheld

Four states, including New York, sued the federal government over changes introduced in the 2017 federal tax law. A Federal District Court judge in Manhattan has now ruled that the cap on state and local taxes deductions, known as SALT, was within the federal government's broad taxation powers.

Questions Over Hospital Donations to New York Democrats and the Subsequent Increase in Medicaid Payments to Hospitals

The article reports that the Greater New York Hospital Association donated over $1 million to the state Democratic Party in 2018. It questions whether a subsequent increase in Medicaid reimbursement rates to state hospitals and nursing homes could be attributed to the donation. The across-the-board increase, the first since 2008, will cost New York about $140 million a year.

Former New York Congressman Chris Collins Pleads Guilty to Insider Trading

Representative Chris Collins resigned his seat and a day later pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit securities fraud and lying to federal investigators, after admitting passing private information about Australian drug company Innate to his son to help the latter avoid financial losses. As shareholder and member of its board, Collins became aware that Innate had failed a critical trial for a multiple sclerosis drug and encouraged his son to sell his shares before the test results became public.

New York State Says End of AIDS Epidemic is Near

Governor Cuomo declared that New York is on track to meet its goal to end the AIDS epidemic in the state by 2020. In 2018, the state had 2,481 new diagnoses, 11% fewer than the previous year. One of the state's latest initiatives is the rapid initiation of antiretroviral drugs, with clinical guidelines saying that patients should be started on treatment on the same day of a confirmed HIV diagnosis.

Atlanta Officials Looking into Google's Practices

Following a report by the New York Daily News, city officials are inquiring about whether Google sent contractors to various cities to scan the faces of black homeless individuals to improve their facial recognition technology. Former employees say homeless people were targeted because they were less likely to speak to the media and would be attracted to the $5 gift cards received in exchange for their facial scans.

Johnson & Johnson Reaches $20.4 Million Settlement with Ohio Counties in Opioids Case

The agreement settled opioid claims brought by two Ohio counties against Johnson & Johnson, whose division, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, made a fentanyl patch and an opioid tablet. It is being reported that drug manufacturers are more inclined to settlement negotiations than other groups of defendants, like drug distributors and retail pharmacy chains, in the 2,300 cases that have been filed by cities and counties nationwide and were consolidated in federal court.

Former Police Chief in New Jersey on Trial on a Federal Hate-Crime Charge

Franc Nucera Jr. is charged with a hate crime, depriving a suspect's rights and making false statements to the FBI, all stemming from an incident in which he allegedly slammed a black teenager's head into a doorjamb. Prosecutors are arguing that Nucera's actions were motivated by intense racial animus, and played a recording in court in which Nucera is heard describing Trump as the last hope for white people.

Texas Stays Execution of Jewish Man After Judge is Accused of Anti-Semitism

Lawyers for Randy Halprin pointed to comments made by the judge who oversaw their client's murder trial, and were successful in staying his execution. The judge was quoted as saying that he would "reward his children if they married a white, Christian person of the opposite sex." A trial court will decide if the judge's language warrants a new trial for Halprin, who has served over 15 years on death row.

Former Dallas Police Officer Sentenced to 10 Years for Neighbor's Murder

A former Dallas police officer convicted of murdering her black neighbor, Botham Jean, after confusing his apartment for her own, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

New Yorkers Preyed on Chicago Cab Drivers

The article traces how New York taxi industry leaders seized control of Chicago's medallion market.

Las Vegas Massacre Survivors, Families Reach $735 Million Settlement

The settlement will resolve claims that MGM was negligent in allowing the mass shooter to stockpile weapons and ammunition at his room in the Mandalay Bay hotel, killing 58 and wounding hundreds of others.

European Union's Top Court Rules That Facebook Can Be Forced to Delete Content Worldwide

The European Court of Justice's decision means that individual countries can now order Facebook to take down posts globally if the content is defamatory or otherwise illegal. The case originated from a request of the leader of Austria's Green Party to have disparaging remarks about her removed from the site.

U.S. to Impose Tariffs on European Aircraft and Agricultural Goods

The World Trade Organization's ruling granted the United States permission to impose tariffs on as much as $7.5 billion of European exports annually after previously ruling that Europe illegally subsidized several Airbus models.

Protests Erupt in Indonesia Over Proposed Criminal Reform

Hundreds were arrested in Indonesia following protests against proposed amendments to the penal code, including proposals to ban extramarital and gay sex and reforms that weaken the powers of anti-corruption officials.

Gandhi's Memorial Was Defaced on His 150th Birthday

Gandhi's portrait was defaced with the word "traitor" and an urn containing some of his ashes was allegedly stolen from the site.

Mass Arrests in Egypt Following Anti-Government Protests

Following a brief period of protests against President el-Sisi, the government has cracked down on protesters by arresting nearly 2,000 people, including many who had no apparent link to the demonstrations. Others are well-known dissidents. In his recent trip to the U.N. General Assembly, the Egyptian leader blamed "political Islam" for the protests, suggesting that the banned Muslim Brotherhood group was behind the unrest.

Taliban Destroys Cell Towers to Delay Afghan Election Results

The Taliban first suppressed turnout (20%, according to preliminary counts). It is now being reported that militants also attacked communication towers to take down mobile phone networks. The attacks cut off about 1,000 polling stations from their headquarters in Kabul, preventing voting officials from communicating with election workers in the country, thereby delaying vote counts and election results.

Antarctica Sheds Massive Iceberg

A 610-square-mile iceberg has separated from an ice shelf in Eastern Antarctica. Experts say there will be no impact on sea level, as the ice has been afloat for decades.

October 5, 2019

You Don't Need Permission to Sample Music?! Hip-hop, Copyright, and Transformative Use

By Naomi Owolabi
Naomi us a JD exchange student at Cornell, studying an LLB at King's College London (set to graduate in 2021). She can be reached at

Transformative art (often defensed under fair use), is the newest court-created exception to the use of copyrighted works. Transformation allows someone to use someone else's work without authorization. The concept is based on the idea that if the 'purpose and character' is transformed by the use, then it can be fair.

Earlier this year, the Second Circuit affirmed that Rita Ora and Christopher Wallace (Biggie or The Notorious B.I.G) had transformed a 1960s poet's phrase and as such, fairly used it.

"Party and Bull****" - a Lyrical History of Oyewole v Ora

Abiodun Oyewole (born Charles Davis) is a poet and founding member of the spoken word group the Last Poets, which grew out of the civil rights era. The last Poets was formed on May 19, 1968 (Malcom X's Birthday) in Harlem, New York, and is credited for paving the way for modern hip hop culture.

Oyewole's song "When the Revolution Comes" served to spread Pan-Africanist ideology. The final lines of the song repeats the lines "party and bull****" four times. The lyrics, according to Oyewole, served to "raise consciousness" of the impending revolution and encourage African Americans not to 'party and bull***'. Oyewole claimed to have registered copyrights for a CD recording and book containing the lyrics of "When the Revolution Comes."

Fast forward to the 1990s, Biggie released his song "Party and Bull****," and used the refrain in a more informal sense. Notably, he performed the song at a concert with Tupac, and released a remixed version of the track. In 2012, British singer Rita Ora released her solo single "How we Do (Party)," which sampled Biggie's "Party and Bull****" phrase, and used it over fifteen times, in a similar style to his. The song was originally planned to be titled identically to Biggie's track, however for radio edit purposes, it was instead called "How We Do (Party)."

In 2016, in a complaint before the SDNY, Oyewole alleged that Rita Ora, The Notorious B.I.G (LLC), and others had infringed his copyright through unlicensed use of the phrase "party and bull****" in Biggie's and Ora's songs.

Sampling, Copyright Infringement and Transformative Use

Sampling is commonly defined as the use and reproduction of pre-existing musical material. In Grand Upright Music v Warner Bros, Biz Markie Productions Inc, the court held that sampling is copyright infringement unless licensed from the record company or through a transformative use of the recording. Ora sampled the "party and bull****" phrase from Biggie by obtaining a license.

Oyewole claimed that he gave neither Bigger nor Ora permission to use the words "party and bull****," and that given the fact they intended to change the purpose of the original work, he would not have licensed the phrase. He claimed that they had "wrongfully appropriated and exploited the punch line, performance, lyrics [and] poem..." He argued that Biggie's track samples "When the Revolution Comes" and remixes the "party and bull****" phrase without a license, and that Ora "borrow[s] the refrain, punchline, crescendo, and text hook." He claimed copyright infringement and sought an injunction against the defendants from using the line. The Notorious B.I.G (LLC), Ora, and other defendants filed a motion to dismiss his claim.

Judge Nathan assumed that Oyewole had an ownership interest in his song and that the "party and bull****" phrase was protectible. As the defendants raised the fair use defense, in deciding whether the copyright was infringed, the court assessed the four factors under §107 Copyright Act 1976.

As part of the fair use analysis, the court examined whether the purpose of Biggie and Ora's respective uses of "party and bull****" was transformative. Blanch v Koons tells us that transformative use is at "the heart of the fair use inquiry." The Supreme Court in Campbell v Acuff-Rose Music held that "the goal of copyright, to promote science and the arts, is generally furthered by the creation of transformative works."

Here, the court accepted that both Biggie and Ora changed the purpose of "party and bull****" in their songs, from one of radical condemnation to glorification. Judge Nathan, in reaching his decision, contextualized the lyrics in the respective songs. In "When the Revolution Comes," the Last Poets are supposedly warning of an approaching violent revolution, criticizing those who "party and bull****." Conversely, Biggie is embracing a lavish "party and bull****" lifestyle. His lyrics portray partying as a desired, celebrated activity. Similarly, Ora in "How We Do (Party)" is glorifying "party and bull****" in a lighthearted way, rather than condemning it. As such, the court held tat the songs were transformative.

The case was appealed to the Second Circuit, which affirmed Judge Nathan's decision and granted a motion to dismiss.

What Precedent Does This Set for Poets and Artists?

SDNY decided that the use of Last Sitting, photograph of Marilyn Monroe, as part of a bejeweled 3-D statue, was transformative.

The fair use doctrine protects secondary works that "add value" to original pieces. Although Oyewole may not have anticipated that Biggie or Ora would have used his revolutionary piece in modern day Hip Hop and Pop music, the very transformation of his phrase encapsulates the progression from the 1960s civil rights era to modern day.

Handed down 20 years and 363 days after Biggie's death, Oyewole v Ora has an important impact. The "party and bull****" hook used 1960s revolutionary poetry, 1990s Hip Hop, and 2010s British Pop, and highlights the importance of transformative use in music today.

For more information on this case:

October 3, 2019

Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section Fall Meeting

Thursday, October 17, 2019

2:00 - 5:00 p.m. - Program (3.5 hours of CLE credit, professional practice)

5:00 - 6:00 p.m. - Networking Reception

co-sponsored by and to take place at UBS, 200 Park Avenue (Met Life Building at Grand Central), 18th floor

To Register:


Money In, Money Out
Deal Terms and Waterfalls

Top business and legal experts will discuss and share practical insights into how today's deals are evaluated, structured and financed across multiple sectors of entertainment and media.

Learn how lenders, investors, and advisors make investment decisions and negotiate key deal terms using various combinations of public and private equity and debt, among other means, to finance creative talent and their projects in film, tv, theatre, music, video games, and more.

Corporate and commercial considerations, including securities regulation and compliance, will also be addressed. Networking reception to follow program.

Program and Reception Fee: EASL Members $50 | NYSBA Members $75 | Non-members $100

*Law Students may join NYSBA/EASL for free & attend this event for $40

Topics and Speakers:

Welcome, UBS Capabilities and Securities Based Lending

William Farrell, First VP, UBS Wealth Management

Austin Hunter, UBS Business Development Group

Adam Guralinck, Associate Director, UBS Banking

General Corporate and Securities Law Considerations

Barry Skidelsky, Esq., Law Offices of Barry Skidelsky

Ruth Jin, Esq., Jin & Koppell, PLLC

Motion Pictures and Interactive Entertainment

Ezra Doner, Esq., Law Office of Ezra Doner

Roger Gregory, Director Strategic Planning & Finance, FilmNation

Daniel Emerson, Esq., EVP & General Counsel, Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.


Joseph Serling, Esq., Serling Rooks Hunter McKoy Worob & Averill LLP

Robert Faulstich, Esq., Director, Business and Legal Affairs, Epic Records


Jason Baruch, Esq., Sendroff & Baruch, LLP

Steven Baruch, President, Scorpio Entertainment

October 1, 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


Is There a Bustle in Your Hedgerow?

This case was filed in 2014, but an en banc retrial was set to go before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco for September 30th. It is of course quite rare that an appeals court will hear testimony. It's also not clear why plaintiff waited 40 years to bring this case, but it's even more of a puzzle as why he was allowed. The allegedly infringed author, Randy Wolfe, who performed as Randy California in the group "Spirit," died. After his death, his song rights were placed in a trust. The trustees weren't sure of what Randy's intentions were, but also, up until 2014, they had a laches/statute of limitations problem. The Raging Bull case, brought before the Supremes in 2014 (RBG), after rejection on the basis of timeliness in this same jurisdiction fixed that, permitting damages for 3 years prior to the suit (link below). So we're not talking about 50 years of profits, only from 2011 through 2014, and apparently the Page and Plant factory has been settling cases right from the beginning. However, they are probably not the only ones. Does that necessarily make them infringers? We shall see.,has%20gripped%20the%20music%20industry

Martha's No Snitch

Apparently, after being named in testimony, Snoop Dogg released a Facebook meme talking about how his girl Martha never ratted on anyone. Snoop stated: "'As we watch Tekashi 69 (or whatever his name is) snitch on EVERYBODY, I invite you all to remember Martha Stewart snitched on NOT ONE soul during her trial,' he wrote. 'Baby girl kept it 10 toes down and ate that prison sentence by herself, like the true baddie she is.'" Daniel Hernandez, on the other hand, is reeling off names of the Nine Trey gang and others like no tomorrow. Of course, the feds probably weren't thinking of sending Hernandez to minimum secutiry at Danbury with crochet buddies for the 47-year minimum sentence that he's facing. It might not be safe for him outside, either. I guess gang members can rap too.§ion=Arts

When You Wish . . .

French Chef Marc Veyrat is suing Michelin for loss of his one of his 3 stars (3 stars is the highest honor). He claims to have been "dishonored." He further claims they never even came to the restaurant. He also says that one inspector mistook saffron for cheddar (which seems like a problem but also a contradiction -- if the inspector wasn't there as Veyrat claimed, how could he or she mistake saffron for cheddar?). Veyrat alleges that a lack of transparency in the judging procedure prevents him from knowing what he did wrong and thereby improving. He says he feels like his parents died all over again; and you thought Yelp was bad.


Do the Math

After the Baltimore Symphony locked out its orchestra over a budget dispute, an agreement was reached. The musicians' weekly salaries will go up 2.4%. However, they will work fewer weeks, so their annual salary will actually come to about $1,300 less annually. In addition, they may not end up being full-time employees, which would probably affect benefits, but the article doesn't address that point.

A Good Day

The annual 26 MacArthur Foundation grants of $625,000 have been awarded. The winners range in age from 30 to 67 and include scientists, historians, legal advocates(!), activists, writers, and musical and visual artists. For example, the Foundation granted one to Kelly Lytle Hernández, an historian and professor at UCLA whose work focuses on the U.S. history of mass incarceration and immigrant detention. She recently wrote a book called City of Inmates: Conquest, Rebellion and the Rise of Human Caging in Los Angeles. There is no application process and no strings are attached. How fun!

And Then There Were Two

Placido Domingo has been singing at the Metropolitan Opera for 51 years. Not anymore. This is about institutions that tolerated misogynist power culture abuses being desperate for a scapegoat. I'm not saying that there's no personal responsibility or that Domingo wasn't a jerk. Yet scapegoating is scapegoating, no matter who does it, and no matter how plausible it sounds. It always sounds plausible to the believers.


Hello Little Girl

When the teenage Rosie Clooney and her sister were offered the chance for a singing career, the family got together, took a vote, and chose an uncle to chaperone and travel with them across the country. The girls weren't just left to fend for themselves. This figure skating "coach" started sexually abusing his student when she was 14, and he continued until she was 16, and probably not just her. In January, coach John Coughlin killed himself over accusations, which he said were unfounded, but now, two more skaters have come forward to accuse him. This seems to be the culture; children are presented to these predators. There appears to be a little more all-around exploitation in figure skating than in other sports, but maybe that's because the practitioners are mostly young girls and easily exploited.

The Lamoureux Twins

These young women twins (now 30), are champion ice hockey players who brought home gold for the U.S. against Canada in 2018. Inspired by Serena Williams, they also take seriously their responsibilities to other players and to the next generation, and they fight for things like equal pay and comprehensive maternity benefits. Thanks to their efforts, USA Hockey now provides 100% pay during maternity leave. This enables players to train as long as possible into their pregnancies, give birth, and then return to the ice without having lost too much of their physical edge. Of course this activism hasn't always been welcomed, and in 2017 it looked like the sisters might be dropped from the team rosters, but then they were brought back. Someone made a smart decision. The sisters hope to have formed a new league by 2020, when the national contracts run out.

Live Fast, Die Young

Teenage girls, horses, who cares. Let's just run 'em until they can't run anymore, and then we can toss 'em. The difference is, of course, the horses can't speak for themselves. In The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan, I think, tries to sway the faith of Alyosha. He taunts Alyosha with talk about the Russian peasants whipping the horses on their "poor eyes." There was less money involved, but the desperation was apparently just as great. Ten horses a week die on American racetracks, and that is probably a conservative number. Thirty horses have died at Santa Anita alone since Boxing day. California Governor Gavin Newsom had suggested that perhaps the regulatory commission should not be staffed by owners and breeders with "direct financial interests" in the sport. For example, Justify was found to have "won" the Triple Crown completely doped up, and the owner tried to claim that the horse picked it up in dirty bedding.

What's Good for the Goose

The men basketball players pushed for mental health coverage in their CBA and got it, and the women want it too. The problem is that the coverage is not consistent throughout the league. Some teams have great coverage and access to "multiple health care professionals," and some have none.

NCAA Recruiting Violations in Kansas

This is mostly about sneakers. Adidas paid the families of UK students, and allegedly the coaches, specifically head coach Bill Self, knew about it. Three "level one" infractions have been charged, which could lead to postseason bans, the forfeiture of wins, and the loss of scholarships. Other schools are also "under the microscope."

Sentencing Inequality

Felicity received 14 days; Sloane got 4 months plus 500 hours of community service; Crystal Mason voted by mistake and received 5 years, as did Tanya McDowell, who sent her son to the "wrong" school. The first 2 are white, the second 2 are black. You do the math. Granted, the McDowell story is a little complicated and was conflated with illegal drug issues.

They Just Keep Losing Them

First, the Russians refused to allow anyone to come and retrieve the data. Then they claimed to have lost the results from some positive drug tests. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is unhappy, and the punishment could include banning the Russians from the Olympics in Tokyo. The problem is that this was info Russia had to supply in order to get out of a 3-year suspension. So far, WADA has found 47 suspected doping cases in the Russian data.

The Compatibility of Australian Rules Football and the Human Brain

Players in their 30s and 40s experience memory loss, attention deficit, and anger. They start feeling old. Later in life they may suffer epileptic seizures. What many of them have in common is chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). I wrote about this last month, that even one season in the National Football League can create significantly different brain waves from the beginning to the end of the season -- and in the U.S. we use helmets. The Australian players only have a mouthpiece, and that's pretty much it. The neurophysiologist who tried to bring these issues to light, Alan Pearce, originally received some funding, but after he published his findings, he was ostracized, and lost his lab space. Not a coincidence. More than 100 retired Australian Football League players are coming forth with accusations, but the league is still in denial, and the negligence element may be hard to prove, that the league doctors neglected their duty of care.


Genuine, Old Fashioned, Authentic Steam-Powered Aereo-plane

Locast is a nonprofit streaming company that basically takes broadcast signals and distributes them, and users don't need a cable or satellite plan. In July, the networks "banded" together to sue Locast, arguing violation of copyrights and pay-tv revenue. While broadcast stations must provide their signals free, the pay-tv providers require "retransmission-consent fees" before those signals can be carried by anyone else. Locast says this isn't fair and claims collusion. Apparently, the big fish like Google, are warning the little fish, like YouTubeTV, not to sell to Locast or risk retribution and "punishment." Interestingly, Locast is also claiming copyright abuse, that the big fish are using copyright to "expand their market power beyond what those copyrights were intended to protect." Locast has about 700,00 subscribers and relies on donations from viewers, but it also accepts corporate grants. It recently received $500,000 from AT&T. That actually looks like the big fish are using the little fish as pawns against the other big fish. There is precedent, in the case of Barry Diller and Aereo, which basically did the same thing, and the Supremes found copyright violation. In fact, David Goodfriend, a lawyer and former FCC employee, started Locast as a kind of "thought experiment" on Aereo. I wonder what makes him think he can win this time?

Al Franken, Siriusly?

He's going to do a weekly show and contribute to 2020 election coverage. Thank you, Jane Mayer.

Take a Gander at This Prop!

The writer George Saunders once published a story in which socially adept characters are secretly employed by corporate manufacturers to tout those manufacturers' products to their friends without the friends being aware that they are targets of an ad campaign. Why wouldn't governments do the same thing? Most people don't know the difference between advertising and news anyway. The article says at least 70 countries are spreading disinformation as a regular thing. Big countries, small countries, they're all doing it. Russian "operatives" are in fact running a cottage industry in propaganda training. Organized propaganda campaigns of 56 countries were found on Facebook alone, and the article doesn't even include Fox News or Breitbart.

Captain Marvel Secret Decoder Ring

The Anti-Defamation League ( keeps an online catalog of "extremist symbols." In addition to obvious symbols like swastikas, the catalog includes others, like the "bowl-shaped haircut" of the Charleston killer. Now the ADL has decided to include the "ok" symbol, thumb touching forefinger and the other three3 fingers spread, which it says creates the w and p of "white power."

Grammar and Usage Department's

The whole interchange is reprinted here. Do you honestly think this guy cares that he has abysmal English language skills?

"Honor" Killing Disallowed

A Pakistani brother drugged and strangled his sister while she slept. The excuse is that the family was shamed by the sister's posting "seminude" photos of herself along with her provocative views, on Facebook and Twitter. There were 5 other suspects, including a "well known cleric," who were all acquitted for lack of evidence, although possibly it was the cleric who incited the killing. The parents forgave their son. In Pakistan, that is often enough to allow an "honor" murderer to go free. In this case, however, the judge gave a life sentence. There will be appeals and a journalist was quoted saying that this will probably not be the last word in this case.

The Privacy Roundup

1. Every Breath You Take

It's bad enough having to punch a time clock at work. Could you imagine having to be watched by law enforcement every time you enter or leave your home; especially when the program makes so many mistakes, and THEY CUT DOWN SHADY TREES TO DO IT, which is barbaric. ...And, oh yes, they are in fact giving the footage directly to the police department. This is not a sustainable way for humans to live. The Detroit Public Housing Commissioner's executive director says, "oh, the police would never use technology to make frivolous claims." Right. The police never use any of the tools at their disposal to make frivolous claims. We need to have the right to be let alone. Fourth Amendment, remember? Of course we want to solve crimes. But we can't live in a police state. We shouldn't want to.

2. Every Move You Make

California has enacted a "landmark" privacy law, through voter referendum, which is difficult, but the group "Californians for Consumer Policy" is trying to make the law even tougher. Right now, the law allows consumers to find the personal information compiled about them, delete it, and stop companies from selling it. The group also wants greater consumer rights, greater company obligations, and the formation of an independent oversight agency. Internet companies of course want the federal government to make one very weak law, which they express by the term "unified," to overrule stricter state laws, like forcing cars to be less emissions efficient (more about that below). Even so, these laws don't really seem to be stopping anything; they just provide for explanations once the damage has already been done.

3. The Largest Book Ban in the United States

This is a privacy issue -- the entitlement of the human mind to its own counsel. This week PEN America released a report, which found that prisons ban books from the 2.2 million prisoners in the U.S. for little or no reason. The report found that "excessive restrictions were frequently put into place with "little regulatory oversight or public scrutiny." For example, a book showing maps of the moon was banned because it might "'present risks of escape.'" Well, yes. Escape from the miseries of the current situation. How does one pass the time in prisons? Reading is the best way to steady, discipline, and yes, improve the mind. Even in New York, there was a program that prohibited any books except from 5 pre-approved vendors, which left "'five romance novels, 14 bibles and other religious texts, 24 drawing or coloring books, 21 puzzle books, 11 guitar, chess, and how-to books, one dictionary, and one thesaurus.'" That is torture.

4. Every Single Day, and Every Word You Say

A Paris court found that Sandra Muller, who started France's equivalent to #MeTo, defamed a man who made lewd comments to her in a private situation that had nothing to do with employment or other illegal power plays. She has to pay damages of about $16,500 and about $5,500 in legal fees, which both sound like modest European awards. The plaintiff claims to have lost business opportunities and to be suffering from depression. An appeal will postpone levying on the damages.

5. Every Game You Play

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has limited the landmark privacy law known as "the right to be forgotten." The European Union (EU) now says sorry, the right to privacy is not an absolute right, and by the way, the ECJ rules do not apply outside of the EU. This means that the ECJ can't (and won't) enforce its rules on e.g., Google, outside of the EU geographic area. The ECJ also ruled that there may be a right to free expression issue about "certain categories" of personal data, no matter how old, outdated, fallacious, etc. There has to be a weighing of the right of an individual to be left alone and the "right" of public nosiness (alright, that's a little cynical). The thing is, as we know, there is a great deal of information that is publicly available. In the past, however, you had to do some legwork. Now it's all just a click away.

General News

It was quite a week. Here's a rundown:

1. Link to the Complaint and Transcript of The Call:

2. Water's Boiling!

Last week, on or about September 18th, the Washington Post reported that an alleged CIA officer had "blown the whistle" on the U.S. president. In a Complaint dated August 12th, and addressed to Richard Burr and Adam Schiff, respective Chairs of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, the whistle-blower alleges that in a July 25, 2019 phone call from President Trump to the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, Trump asked Zelensky to dig up alleged dirt on Trump's enemies, namely, American citizen and former Vice President Joe Biden, and his family. In exchange, the U.S. president offered to support Ukraine and back Zelensky. The Complaint alleges that this was an attempt to interfere with the U.S. 2020 elections. The Complaint further alleges that the director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and other members of the National Security Council, then went ahead and blocked the transcript of the call by removing it from the computer system on which such transcripts are typically stored. This was to prevent Congress from seeing it. Along with Attorney General William Bar, Rudy Giuliani is named as a facilitator, but he claims not to have seen anything wrong in his or Trump's behavior. Perfectly normal he says. Something anyone would do, he says. (9/25 update)

3. The Last Straw

Last Tuesday, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that on the basis of the facts alleged in the Complaint, the House would initiate a formal impeachment inquiry against the Trump. She said that the president's attempt to use a foreign government to investigate an American citizen and political figure and then promise U.S. support in exchange, in an attempt to influence U.S. elections, was a Constitutional violation, "a betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections."

4. The Plot Thickens

On Wednesday, a "reconstructed" transcript of the call was released. Zelensky was going to buy some anti-tank missiles, but Trump "pounced": I need you to do a little favor for me first, he said. Attorney General William Barr (you know, the head of U.S. law enforcement), will help you in opening an investigation into (a) the beginning of the FBI's inquiry regarding Russia's 2016 election interference, and (b) a "corruption investigation" into Joseph Biden. When asked, Trump declared, but there was no pressure. I didn't pressure him. The Justice Department said Barr knew nothing about it. BTW, Biden was already not a favorite with the corrupt Ukrainian government, from when he was Veep. There was no "explicit reference" to the $391 million in military aid to Ukraine that Trump told Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to put on hold a few days before the call.

5. Barr-bary

At the end of August, intelligence officials asked Justice Department officials if they should forward the Complaint to Congress, and the Justice Department said no, Barr would handle it. He certainly did. Four weeks later, the Department issued its verdict: No criminal violation of campaign finance laws. I would like to see the transcripts of THAT investigation.

6. Fleeing the Ship

On Thursday, Kurt Volker, a former ambassador to NATO and the president's special envoy for Ukraine, a part-time, unpaid position, resigned. The article says he was caught in the middle of the "pressure campaign" by Trump and Giuliani to "find damaging information about Democrats." He gave no explanation, just that it was impossible for him to do his job. However, he was in fact named in the Complaint. Apparently he helped liaise for Giuliani and the Ukraine government. As usual, Giuliani is in CYA mode, sputtering on Fox News that he did not "operate" on his own. He was just trying to help Ukraine with its Russia problems. At any rate, Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Dem. of CT., says that Volker now needs to "put country first" and speak up about what he knows.

7. Paging Rosemary Woods

On Thursday, the New York Times reported that the transcript of the call had "not been formally placed into the [national security] council's carefully organized records system according to normal practice." Nor was it simply restricted to "eyes only" (or whatever is the appropriate phrase). Instead, it was stored in a "far more secret and restricted system maintained by intelligence officials within the White House." The Complaint says that this is not the first time politically sensitive and not just national security sensitive transcripts have been handled that way. If you want to read documents handled this way, you have to go to where they are. However, a former intelligence official states that "political embarrassment" is not enough of a reason for treatment of documents this way.

8. Nah-nah nah-nah-nah

The whistle-blower called it an attempted "lock-down." Trump called the whistle-blower a spy who should be subject to old-timey types of punishment. We'll see who has the last word.

9. Let's Get This Show on the Road

The Complaint provides a clear "'road map'" to impeachment. Adam Schiff can't wait to meet the whistle-blower. He especially wants to find out how many times this, or something like it, has happened before. Representative Michael R. Turner, a Republican from Ohio, believes that "that conversation is not O.K."

10. House Issues First Subpoena

Duces Tecum ad Testificandum. Like the full transcript of the call, a list of any State Department officials who listened to it or read the transcript. It also asks for Guiliani's files, among other things. Pompeo had a week to answer, but I guess there's a large staff to work on it. Trump attacked Adam Schiff, and the Republican National Committee is planning a major ad campaign to "counter" the Democrats' efforts. Another Republican Representative, Mark Amodei of Nevada, believes that if it happened, then that's a problem. The administration can cooperate, or it can object and stall. Stalling might result in a charge of obstruction of Congress, which is what Pelosi calls a cover-up of a cover-up.

11. Sew Buttons

I remember the first time I accused an opposing counsel, and/or his client, of reprehensible deeds, trying to make a point of morality, and the attorney responded, and I quote, "So?" It was a revelation to me, and a bit shocking, how easily that one little word cut through all the baloney. I also remember realizing that neither counsel nor his client cared one iota about what (I claimed) they had done; the only thing that mattered to them was whether they could escape legal consequences. I no longer remember the specific facts of the case, but I'm sure there were no ramifications for anyone but the parties in the dispute. In the current situation it's a little different. A president who collaborates with a foreign power to influence U.S. elections is guilty of "a betrayal of his oath of office, betrayal of our national security, and betrayal of the integrity of our elections," as Speaker Pelosi put it on September 24th. That's so what.

Speaking of Elections

A Senate committee has determined that we should spend $250 million more to protect the 2020 elections from outside interference, in addition to the $630 million already spent. It's not enough. Especially when they also need to be protected from inside interference. The Brennan Center estimates that it will take $2.2 billion. McConnell has blocked most of this legislation, calling it a "federal intrusion" into local elections. When he finally agreed to the extra $250 million, McConnell then spoke about the "'enormous strides'" of the current administration toward more secure elections. Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon called the amendment a "'joke.'" It's just not enough money.

...And Speaking of Treason

A 60 year-old intelligence officer from Utah who had been in the army for 20 years was convicted of trying to pass defense information to China. He was working as a contractor for the U.S. government and was approached by foreign agents.

Paging Frank Zappa (and Plato)

In the meantime, we still haven't seen the tax returns. In 2016 the president said that he would make his tax returns public, but he hasn't done it yet, and in fact he's fighting tooth and nail to prevent it. In the effort to block the New York District Attorney's office subpoenas seeking said documents, the lawyers have "invented" a "presidential 'tax return privilege.'" The "privilege" posits that revealing tax return information will "'impede the functioning of a president.'" To his credit, the New York District Attorney is not buying it, pointing out that since the president did not use the courts to try to stop investigations into his family business or the Mueller investigation on the basis of alleged "impediment," why is this any different? Trump's lawyers additionally claim that the investigation is politically motivated.

Flores Upheld

Judge Dolly Gee of the Central District of California ruled that only Congress could supplant the Flores Agreement, a 20 year-old consent order that requires migrant children to be held in state-licensed facilities and released within 20 days, and not the president. Judge Gee called the new policy proposed by the administration "Kafkaesque" in "some of its reasoning." The administration complains that Flores is a loophole created by a judge that allows children to be smuggled across the border and then physically and sexually abused. Flores is the only thing protecting children from that abuse. By the way, there are more than one million cases pending in immigration court.

Supreme Court to Consider LGBTQ Discrimination

In more than half of these United States, a person can STILL be fired for being gay. The Supremes will consider whether sexual and gender orientation are covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The problem is that previously, Justice Kennedy was the swing vote in an even split. Proponents are concerned that the focus on the right to marriage was too narrow and that it should have included broader discrimination issues. They may argue that it is basically a sex discrimination issue, that a person would be fired, essentially, for being married to someone of the same sex. However, that's not really broad enough.

Hate Crime "Epidemic" Against LGBTQ People

Eighteen transgender people were murdered this year, and 26 last year, in what looks like basic garden variety hate-type crimes. One trans-woman was burned to death. The American Medical Association calls it an epidemic. Of course there may be many more that have not been reported. Maybe Mattel can make a difference here (see below). Stories can change people's minds.

Creatable World Dolls

The line is called "Creatable World," and the dolls are gender neutral and can have short or long hair or pants or skirts. They also come in different skin tones and with different types of hair. The claim is that the dolls are "'relatable,'" not "'aspirational.'" The doll is being released at a time when the administration is taking backward steps regarding transgender policies, so it's really quite a brave move. I wonder if there will be a backlash. This is not the first transgender doll, which was "Jazz Jennings" in 2017, but this is a mainstream Mattel doll.

Some Local L&T Discrimination News

A landlord who threatened to call ICE on a tenant more than once, was fined $5,000 and ordered to pay $12,000 in damages by New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) Judge John Spooner. The judge said that "harassment or intimidation in housing violates the city's human rights law." The case was brought by the Human Rights Commission (HRC) on behalf of an immigrant from Guyana. Apparently the landlord was harassing the tenant even before the tenant stopped paying rent, but the landlord denies it and says everything is false. The landlord ultimately lost the house to foreclosure. This ruling will not take effect until the parties submit comments and the HRC issues a final decision, which can then be appealed. Housing court found that the tenant owed $7,000.

The Week in Climate Change

1. U.N. Climate Summit

On September 23rd, the U.N. hosted the Climate Action Summit, seeking commitments from world leaders in regard to weaning their respective populaces from fossil fuels. China wouldn't promise anything, and the U.S., which is pulling out of the Paris Agreement, didn't say anything at all. Other countries hedged. Russia said that it would ratify the Paris Agreement, but said nothing about any concrete plans to reduce emissions. Greta Thunberg tried to shame the stuffed shirts into action, but that didn't work either. Trump stopped by, and Michael Blumberg, a special envoy to the U.N. for climate, said he hoped the discussions would help Trump when he formulated a climate policy. Everyone laughed. By the end of the day, 65 countries agreed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, but it may be too late by then. If things move at even half the rate they have been in the last 20 years, we don't have another 30 years left to fix it.

2. Backlash

At the climate summit, 16 year-old Greta Thunberg made a speech criticizing world leaders for dragging their feet in regard to environmental issues. This is just fantastic, don't you think? I am so heartened by teenage activism. Yet now she is getting trolled and vilified and, in a word, scapegoated, by the ignorant and fearful ones who accuse her of being a brainwashed automaton, as if that's not the pot calling the kettle. They imply, or even come right out and say, that she is either evil herself (in the biblical sense,) or the tool of evildoers (you know, like Satan). They reference Stephen King. It's insane, but that craziness was always there -- it just has a wider platform now. There are links to backstories explaining how Thunberg developed her sense of responsiblity. She could have been lost in her iphone and the virtual world, like so many teenagers, but she's not. That's a beautiful thing.

3. How Deep is the Ocean?

A report by the U.N.-sponsored and scientist-staffed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released on September 25th, says that the oceans have soaked up about as much of greenhouse gases as they can, and that global warming is causing them to become hotter, more acidic, and less oxygen-rich. This kills species, melts the ice caps, fuels cyclones and extreme flooding; provides a breeding ground for harmful bacteria and toxic algae; kills the coral reefs, kelp forests, and seagrass meadows; and otherwise generally wreaks havoc around the planet. Fish are trying to migrate to cooler waters, but how long will they last anywhere they try to go?

4. The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Glaciers Cracking

A block of about "nine million cubic feet" of the Planpincieux Glacier on the French-Italian border has splintered. Fractures are not uncommon after summer, I guess glaciers systole and diastole like everything else, but this time the crevasse is "alarmingly wide," and the potential volume of the "block in peril" is much greater. If the weather gets colder, the crevasse might heal. If it doesn't, there could be a serious avalanche. The area is uninhabited, but that's not really the point, is it? The ecology of the entire area could change.

5. Dammit

The current Interior Secretary is David Bernhardt. Previously, Bernhardt was the chief lobbyist for a group called the Westlands Water District. This consortium of farmers would profit considerably from raising the height of the Shasta Dam, and Bernhardt has lobbied for it for them for years. Nevertheless, the Interior Department always resisted the idea, saying that not only would it be environmentally damaging and cost-prohibitive, but it was also illegal under California law. Now, however, it seems, with Bernhardt at the helm, the Interior Department has changed its tune. It ordered the Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare a new environmental review of the project, but the requisition is very limited in scope. For example, it would exclude review of the dam's downstream effects, which are of course the most potentially adverse of all the possibly adverse affects of a dam. Further, for Bernhardt to work on this project is an ethical violation of the rule that requires a 2-year recusal from any project on which a former lobbyist has previously worked. However, the Interior Department says that it reviewed the issues and doesn't see any problem. In addition, Benrhardt is already under federal investigation for allegations that he helped weaken the Endangered Species Act simply to free up water for his chums at Westlands, and that he "intervened" to block a scientific report regarding the use of pesticides on some endangered species. Even George W's Environmental Protection Agency head says that the current administration is disregarding scientific evidence when making environmental policy. California's Attorney General is suing.

6. It's Wonderful

Stewart and Lynda Resnick, who own bottled water and agriculture companies, have endowed the California Institute of Technology with $750 million for an environmental study, specifically "technological solutions to combat climate change." It is the second largest donation ever to an American university (the first was former Mayor Bloomberg's $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins in November, for financial aid for students). The Resnicks own the "Wonderful Company," which brands include Fiji Water, Pom, Wonderful Pistachios, and Teleflora, the flower delivery service. Their businesses use large amounts of water and plastic, so the Resnicks have come in for criticism by environmentalists. Regardless, they also apparently do good things in Central Valley, California, by providing charter schools and health clinics to their employees and their employees' families, distributing college scholarships, and donating to cultural institutions. There will be a new building, immediate research, and a fund for future research. The funded scholars will "retain complete independence over their work," says Caltech's president.

No Soup for You

The current administration is seeking to limit eligibility for food stamps and cut millions from the food stamp program. Public comments ended last Monday, with more than 75,000 comments logged, including from mayors and governors. Congressional delegations also voiced opposition. However, the 800,000 comments opposing the loosening of the Endangered Species Act had no effect whatsoever, so why would this? Abuse of the food stamp program is a mostly a myth, like voter fraud (which is completely a myth). Do some people abuse it? Probably. So what? (!) It's not worth taking food out of the mouths of people who need it. Right now, you can qualify if you make up to $50,000 annually for a family of 4 and have $3,500 in assets. Kids whose families lose eligibility would also lose their free school lunches. In addition, raising the limit would jeopardize schools' eligibility for social welfare programs, which may be what the administrations wants.

Flynn Acted Alone, More or Less

The appeals court overthrew the lower court ruling and found no evidence of any "'actual or implied agreement'" between Michael Flynn's business partner, Bijan Kian, and the government of Turkey, which would have required Bian to register as the agent of a foreign power. Flynn was no help because he flip-flopped on his story. It's not clear if the U.S. attorneys will appeal or not. This was about Turkey's "secret 2016 lobbying campaign" to pressure the U.S. to "expel" Fethullah Gulen, a rival of Turkey's President Erdogan, for purposes unknown. Flynn's firm received a total of $530,000 for its part in the "campaign." However, the judge said there was no evidence that an op-ed written by Flynn attacking Gulen had been "requested" by the Turkish government. Apparently Flynn wrote it sua sponte and it is not clear what this will mean for him.

I'm Stickin' With the Union

The National Association of Immigration Judges represents 420 immigration judges who are under the purview of the Justice Department, not the judiciary. About a month ago, the Justice Department moved to decertify the union (the Clinton administration tried too, but was rejected). The union struck back, as it wants to be independent. The judges do not feel that they can exercise "independent decision making" if they have to worry about being fired every second. More recently, the union filed a complaint after the Justice Department executive office sent court employees a link to a blog post from a white nationalist website that included anti-Semitic attacks on judges. It's not clear why it was sent, but some judges see it as a threat.

Misdirection, Anyone, or Just Tone Deaf?

Granted, the New York Times is always the last to know, and of course it's horrible, but why is a story about the glut of child porn on the internet the top story on Sunday, September 29th? I mean, given everything else that's currently going on. Put it in the magazine.

Pretzel Logic

California's really gettin' it. The administration is threatening to withhold federal highway funding from the state, arguing that California "has not shown what steps it is taking to improve its air quality." I guess what they need to do is permit lower emissions standards on new car manufacturing: "Just last week, the EPA joined the Transportation Department in revoking California's right to set stricter pollution limits on cars and light trucks." Janet McCabe, who was an EPA official under President Obama, said that it's "ironic that EPA is taking California to task for not solving the air quality problem when for decades the state has been moving forward with the most aggressive clear air rules and programs in the nation.'" Precisely.

If You Ever Plan to Motor North

N.Y. State and the Seneca nation have finally come to an agreement regarding one truly awful, flat tire causing and tie-rod bending 3 mile stretch of Interstate 90, southwest of Buffalo, that runs through tribal land. NYS previously argued that the Senecas owe more than $250 million in casino revenue, and that going onto the land to fix the road might give the tribe an excuse not to pay the money. After 5 years they finally worked it out. It's not clear if the tribe is paying the money, but Cuomo is sending the repair crews.

The Executive Bars Iranian Government Officials

We were not sure whether Iranian officials were permitted to go to the U.N. but just not anywhere else, or whether they were not even allowed to go to the U.N. Some were actually already here. The bar/ban is about forcing China to buy oil from Saudi Arabia as opposed to Iran.

The Generalissimo to be Exhumed

What are they going to do with the remains? I guess it has something to do with the fact that Franco is buried in an underground mausoleum with about 33,000 unnamed corpses, including Republican prisoners used as a labor force to build the mausoleum and its underground basilica. Should it now be considered an historical site? Tearing it apart has nothing to do with the genuine transformation of social inequality. It's just another empty circus.

September 24, 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:


Shane Gillis Dropped From 'S.N.L.' Cast Amid Criticism of Racist Slurs

Newly hired comedian Shane Gillis, along with 2 other new castmates, was dropped from the "Saturday Night Live" cast shortly after videos surfaced in which he used slurs and offensive language. A journalist unearthed a video of a podcast in which Gillis used a slur in referring to Chinese people and mocked a caricature accent of a Chinese person speaking English. In another podcast recording, Gillis used homophobic slurs to describe Judd Apatow, the comedy filmmaker and producer, and the comedian Chris Gethard. In yet another podcast recording, Gillis used a homophobic slur, this time prefaced by the word "Jew," in referring to the Democratic presidential candidates Andrew Yang and Senator Bernie Sanders. A spokesperson for the show said in a statement: "we want 'S.N.L.' to have a variety of voices and points of view within the show, and we hired Shane on the strength of his talent as a comedian and his impressive audition for 'S.N.L.'........the language he used is offensive, hurtful and unacceptable. We are sorry that we did not see these clips earlier, and that our vetting process was not up to our standard."

Writers Guild Re-elects Leadership at Odds with Agencies

It has been 5 months since thousands of movie and television writers fired their agents in a standoff that has consumed Hollywood. Union election results last week indicate that the impasse is likely to continue. A strong majority of writers voted to re-elect top leaders of the Writers Guild of America West, the biggest union that urged the mass firing of agents. The win is a blow to a band of writers who were running against current leadership and have argued that the agency dispute has been mishandled. The win is also a setback for many big-name writers, like Shonda Rhimes, Aaron Sorkin, and David E. Kelley, who endorsed the opposing candidates. The writers' contract with the studios is set to expire in 7 months. In the 2017 contract negotiation, it took a last-minute deal to avoid a strike. There were writers' strikes in 1988 and 2007-8 that lasted for months. This year's negotiations are expected to be difficult as well.

Tekashi 6ix9ine Testifies for Prosecution at Gang Trial

Rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine testified against Aljermiah Mack and Anthony Ellison, 2 alleged members of a Brooklyn street gang, describing how he discovered a formula for success with the crew before betraying it by becoming a prosecution witness. 6ix9ine explained that his role in the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods was to "just keep making hits and be the financial support for the gang ... so they could buy guns and stuff like that." The testimony in federal court in Manhattan was a dramatic turnabout for a performer who had gone out of his way to portray himself as a legitimate gang member. He told the jury he decided to cooperate only a day after his arrest last year on a racketeering indictment naming him as a member of the gang - a move that has put him at risk behind bars and prompted rap icon Snoop Dogg to label him a "snitch" in a recent Instagram post.

Tekashi 6ix9ine Recounts Kidnapping in Testimony

Prosecutors say that after a falling out with 6ix9ine, alleged Nine Trey Gangsta Blood member Anthony Ellison took revenge by abducting and robbing the rapper. 6ix9ine testified how Ellison and his cohort drove him around, stopping at various points to taunt and beat him. 6ix9ine said the men then took him to his Brooklyn home, where they stole a bag full of jewelry before driving him a few blocks away and releasing him. An attorney for Ellison is portraying the alleged kidnapping as a publicity stunt.

On Day Three of Testimony, Tekashi 6ix9ine Speaks on Kidnapping, Jim Jones, and Cardi B

On his final day testifying against members of his former gang, rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine told the court that he was not the only well-known rapper associated with Nine Trey. On the stand, Hernandez was asked by prosecutors to identify the voices on a recording of a phone conversation. He said one of them belonged to Jim Jones, whom he called a "retired rapper" and said was a member of the gang. Another well-known rapper, Cardi B, was drawn into the Tekashi saga - during cross-examination, 6ix9ine was asked if he "joined the Bloods specifically to advance" his music career. "Correct," 6ix9ine replied. When asked if he knew anybody else who furthered their music career by associating with Bloods, 6ix9ine said no. Then the lawyer, Alex S. Huot, who is representing Aljermiah Mack, asked if he knew Cardi B was a member of the Bloods. He replied yes. He also said he "didn't pay attention" to her work at that time. When asked if he knew that she made popular music videos with Bloods gang members in the background, 6ix9ine replied, "Correct." Cardi B appeared to respond to 6ix9ine on Instagram with a popular meme of the actress Keke Palmer saying, "I don't know who this man is." Cardi B has previously acknowledged being affiliated with the Bloods.

American Filmmaker Sued Over Film on Sexual Enslavement by Japan

Miki Dezaki, a Japanese-American filmmaker, decided to make a documentary for his graduate thesis; he wanted to examine a question that reverberates through Japanese politics: Why, 75 years later, does a small but vocal group of politically influential conservatives still fervently dispute internationally accepted accounts of Japan's wartime atrocities? Specifically, Dezaki focused on what historians call the Imperial Army's sexual enslavement of tens of thousands of Korean women and others in military brothels during World War II. He explored in detail the conservatives' case that the so-called comfort women were in fact paid prostitutes. Ultimately, Dezaki was unpersuaded -- he concluded that the conservatives were "revisionists," and used terms like "racism" and "sexism" to characterize some of their claims. Now, 5 of them are suing him for defamation.

In the film, Dezaki highlights a 1944 American Army document, cited by the conservatives, in which 20 Korean comfort women interviewed in Burma are described as "nothing more than" prostitutes who were "attached to the Japanese Army for the benefit of the soldiers." That same document says that the women were recruited under "false pretenses." Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a retired history professor who uncovered key documents describing the military's management of the brothels, said that by "denying one point," the conservatives "seek to deny the big picture."

Russian Celebrities Rally Behind Jailed Actor, Russia Then Releases Same Jailed Actor After Public Outrage

Russian entertainers joined in a rare show of defiance and solidarity, in support of actor Pavel Ustinov, who they said was wrongfully convicted of resisting arrest during an anti-Kremlin rally, despite clear evidence in his favor, and sent to prison. Publicly calling out injustice in the legal system is unusual in Russia and carries real risks; most of the actors who spoke out work in government-sponsored theaters and appear in state-supported films. Ustinov was the sixth person to be sentenced to a significant prison term in cases stemming from a wave of anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow this summer. After the public outrage, Russian authorities freed Ustinov from custody, pending an appeal from a 3 1/2 year conviction that will be heard next week.


Archaeological Sites Are Imperiled by Border Wall

According to a study conducted by the National Park Service, the construction of a wall along the southwestern border will significantly damage or completely destroy several archaeological sites in a natural park in the heart of Arizona's Sonoran Desert. Scientists have found stone tools, rock shelters, artifacts, and ancient engravings in the area, which has been populated for 16,000 years. That includes the historic Quitobaquito Springs, where ancient cultures obtained seashells and salt along what is known as the Old Salt Trail. The National Park Service found 17 archaeological sites that "likely will be wholly or partially destroyed by the forthcoming border fence construction." An additional 5 sites that park experts want protected under the National Register of Historic Places could also be damaged.

Parity for Female Artists Still Elusive

New data shows that between 2008 and 2018, only 11% of art acquired by the country's top museums for their permanent collections was by women. The report, which included more than 40 interviews with curators, artists, collectors, and dealers, suggests several reasons for the gender imbalance, including museum committees tasked with acquiring work that were often preoccupied with name recognition and wary of spending money on a female artist who didn't have a recorded reputation for selling at auctions. Of the roughly 5,800 female artists whose works were acquired, 190 women -- or just 3% -- were African-American.

Getty Trust to Invest $100 Million in Saving Threatened Antiquities

The J. Paul Getty Trust will invest $100 million in the conservation of antiquities from ancient societies across the world, citing threats, such as sectarian violence and climate change. The Trust, which operates the Getty Museum, has long focused on Greek and Roman antiquities. This new program, however, is designed to expand the conservation efforts it underwrites to countries where it has not worked before, including Southeast Asia and Central and South America.


National Football League Set to Interview Antonio Brown's Accuser, Leaving the Star's Future Uncertain

Five days after a woman who was once his trainer filed a federal lawsuit in the Southern District of Florida accusing him of sexual assault and rape, receiver Antonio Brown made his debut for New England in a 43-0 victory over the Miami Dolphins. The New England Patriots released Antonio Brown after just 11 days, ending his brief but turbulent tenure with the team as the National Football League (NFL) was investigating him for multiple accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior, including rape. Brown's brief tenure with New England ended the same day that NFL officials spoke with an artist who accused the star wide receiver of unwanted sexual advances. Cathy Lanier, the NFL's chief of security, met with the artist, an unnamed woman, who said she endured unwelcome sexual advances from Brown 2 years ago. The woman also accused the wide receiver of sending her texts she found intimidating. In addition, Brown was accused of rape in a federal lawsuit filed recently by Britney Taylor, a former gymnast who met Brown while they attended Central Michigan and whom he later hired as a trainer. Brown, who has denied the accusations from both women through his lawyer, Darren Heitner, posted about his release several times on social media, saying: "Thank you for the opportunity" to the Patriots on Twitter. The NFL was investigating and opted not to suspend Brown. In spite of this, Nike became the second sponsor to end its relationship with Brown, and a spokesperson for Nike said that "Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete."

Pirates Reliever Arrested on Solicitation and Other Charges

Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Felipe Vazquez was arrested and charged with 3 felonies, including statutory sexual assault and unlawful contact with a minor, among other charges, in Pennsylvania and Florida. Authorities began investigating Vazquez last month after they "obtained information that Vazquez had a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old female victim". Vazquez was charged in Florida with computer pornography offenses, including solicitation of a child. The girl is now 15 and had still been communicating with Vazquez by text message, according to the law enforcement department, which said in the release that Vazquez had sent text messages to the girl "suggesting they would meet for sex after his baseball season was over." Law enforcement agents in Pennsylvania and Florida obtained a warrant, and officials searched Vazquez's residence in Pittsburgh, taking "several electronic devices" to examine, which could lead to more charges. Pirates president, Frank Coonelly, said that Major League Baseball's commissioner's office would put Vazquez on administrative leave, meaning that Vazquez would be ineligible to play but still receive pay.

Football Players or Human Lab Rats??

New technology points to an arms race in college football, while also raising privacy questions. Specifically, the new training room in the $28 million football operations building at Louisiana State features jetted tubs, antigravity treadmills, and sodium-infused water coolers. A room nearby holds a centrifuge - a machine used for blood work for injury treatments such as platelet-poor plasma therapy and stem-cell injections. It is another example of how modern efforts to improve performance in big-time college athletics have moved beyond smoothies and sleep monitors. The rapid increase in slick gadgetry now factors into the recruiting arms race for the top programs in college football. It has also prompted questions about player privacy and, in some cases, criticism over athletic spending -- for everything but player compensation.

Saudi Satellite Provider Is Behind the Piracy of Soccer Broadcasts

An investigation financed by FIFA, 2 of its confederations, and a group of top European soccer leagues has concluded "without question" that a Saudi Arabia-backed satellite provider has played a vital role in a piracy operation that has stolen and aired hundreds of soccer matches and other sporting events whose rights were purchased by the Qatar-owned broadcaster beIN Sports. BeIN has contended for more than 2 years that the piracy operation, which broadcasts stolen content to subscribers in the Middle East and elsewhere on a rogue network named beoutQ, has operated with signals transmitted by Arabsat, a communications company based in Saudi Arabia, with at least the tacit support of powerful figures in Saudi Arabia. BeIN's top executive said that he welcomed the release of the report, but also suggested that little would change until the Saudi authorities took action.

Russian Athletes Set to Remain 'Neutral' at World Track Championships

A panel investigating Russian doping in track and field is unlikely to finish its work in time for Russian athletes to compete under the country's flag at the world championships, which begin soon in Qatar. The special panel of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that has been dealing with the years-long fallout from the unmasking of Russia's institutional doping program will meet days before the start of the world championships later this month. The panel, which could still change its mind, has rejected Russia's efforts to regain full status for its track and field federation 11 times. Rune Andersen of Norway, who leads the IAAF task force on Russia, has taken a hard line on the country's athletics federations.

Montaño to Receive Medals She Was Cheated Out of at Worlds

American athlete Alysia Montaño will receive bronze medals she was cheated out of by a Russian who finished ahead of her at the 2011 and 2013 world championships but was later disqualified for doping. Montaño announced on social media that she had been invited to world championships in Doha, Qatar, where she'll receive the medals for the 800-meter races in a ceremony on September 30th.

Judo Champion in Hiding After Defying Iran's Rules

Defending world champion Saeid Mollaei has been in hiding since he left the Iranian judo team last month, saying that he had been ordered to withdraw from the world championships on political grounds. Israel's Sagi Muki was his biggest rival for the gold medal. There was one problem -- Iran has a policy of boycotting all competitions against Israelis, even if that means an athlete's training was all for nothing. Mollaei told the Associated Press that he was ordered to lose a preliminary bout against a Russian in order to cover up the reason for his withdrawal. When he refused and won, he received more intimidating calls from senior officials. "For once, I decided to live as a free man for myself, and prove to the world that I am a brave man," Mollaei said in a recent interview in Germany, where he is living in an undisclosed location. Now he is training for next year's Olympics without a guarantee that he can compete.

Hacker Who Revealed Soccer Secrets Is Charged With 147 Crimes

Rui Pinto, a hacker who ran a website called Football Leaks, published hundreds of internal documents onto the platform Pinto and later collaborated with a European media consortium led by the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel to disseminate even more documents. The information Football Leaks made public -- including player contracts, internal team financial documents, and confidential emails -- pulled back the curtain on the murky world of soccer finance, led to criminal tax prosecutions of several top players, and even helped prompt officials in the United States to reopen a sexual assault investigation involving the Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo. While Pinto won praise as a whistle-blower, Portugal's authorities consider him a criminal.


U.S. Tries to Seize Edward Snowden's Proceeds from New Memoir

The Justice Department sued former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, seeking to seize his proceeds from his new memoir because he did not submit the manuscript for review before it was published so that officials could make sure it contained no classified information. Snowden's 2013 leaks of top secret documents about the National Security Agency set off an international debate about government surveillance.

Facebook Takes Steps to Combat Extremism

Facebook announced steps to address extreme speech on the social network the day before a Congressional hearing on how Facebook, Google, and Twitter handle violent content. The company began its announcements by saying that it would expand its definition of terrorist organizations, adding that it planned to deploy artificial intelligence to better spot and block live videos of shootings. Facebook also said it would prevent links from the fringe sites 8chan and 4chan from being posted on its platform and it detailed how it would develop an oversight board of at least 11 members to review and oversee content decisions.

Facebook's Suspension of 'Tens of Thousands' of Apps Reveals Wider Privacy Issues

Facebook said in a blog post that it had suspended tens of thousands of apps for improperly sucking up users' personal information and other transgressions, a tacit admission that the scale of its data privacy issues was far larger than it had previously acknowledged. Facebook said that in an investigation it began in March 2018 -- following revelations that Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy, had retrieved and used people's Facebook information without their permission -- had resulted in the suspension of "tens of thousands" of apps that were associated with about 400 developers. That was far bigger than the last number that Facebook had disclosed of 400 app suspensions in August 2018.

Moroccan Journalist on Trial for an Abortion She Says She Never Had

Moroccan journalist Hajar Raissouni and her fiancée Rifaat al-Amin were arrested on August 31st as they were leaving a gynecologist's office in the Moroccan capital Rabat. They were charged with having sex outside of marriage and an abortion, both crimes in the North African kingdom. The doctor, an anesthesiologist, and an office assistant, have also been charged with performing an abortion. The doctor, however, insists that he did not perform an abortion on Raissouni - he says he treated her after she suffered a blood clot. The arrests have outraged many in Morocco who see this as another example of the government persecuting critical journalists and activists by charging them with moral crimes.

China Unleashed Twitter Trolls to Discredit Hong Kong's Protesters

Beginning last year, a mysterious Twitter account retweeted news, most of it in English, about Roger Federer and the Premier League, and it shared juicy clickbait on Zsa Zsa, an English bulldog that won the 2018 World's Ugliest Dog contest. Then, suddenly, the account began posting, in Chinese, about a different obsession: politics in Hong Kong and mainland China. The account, @HKpoliticalnew, and more than 200,000 other Twitter accounts were part of a sprawling Russian-style disinformation offensive from China, Twitter now says, the first time an American technology giant has attributed such a campaign to the Chinese government. Twitter last month took down nearly 1,000 accounts that it said were part of a state-directed effort to undermine the antigovernment protests in Hong Kong. It also suspended 200,000 other accounts that it said were connected to the Chinese operation but not yet very active. Facebook and YouTube quickly followed suit. All 3 platforms are blocked in mainland China but not in Hong Kong.


Whistle-Blower Complaint Is Said to Involve Trump and Ukraine

A potentially explosive complaint by a whistle-blower in the intelligence community has emerged as the latest front in a continuing oversight dispute between administration officials and House Democrats. While the allegation remains shrouded in mystery, it involves at least one instance of Trump making an unspecified commitment to a foreign leader and at least part of the allegation deals with Ukraine. The complaint, submitted by a member of the intelligence community to its inspector general, renewed questions about how Trump handles delicate matters. Trump defended his actions on Twitter, writing, "I would only do what is right anyway, and only do good for the USA!" Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the allegation, questions have already emerged about Trump's dealings with its government. In late July, he told the country's new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that Ukraine could improve its reputation and its "interaction" with the United States by investigating corruption, according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call. Some of Trump's close allies were also urging the Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could hurt the president's political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family.

Pressure to Impeach Trump Builds as He Admits to Discussing Biden With Ukraine

Trump acknowledged that he raised corruption accusations against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during a phone call with Ukraine's leader, a stunning admission as pressure mounted on Democrats to impeach Trump over allegations he leaned on a foreign government to help damage a political rival. Many Democrats said that the evidence that has emerged in recent days indicating that Trump pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate Biden, and his administration's stonewalling of attempts by Congress to learn more, were changing their calculations about whether to charge him with articles of impeachment.®ion=header

The Federal Bureau of Investigations Failed to Follow-Up on Kavanaugh Allegations Before Nomination

As the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) began looking into allegations of sexual assault against Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings last year, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware wrote to Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, saying that he had "information relevant" to the inquiry - but the FBI apparently failed to follow up. The letter, sent early last October, has come to light after a forthcoming book by 2 New York Times reporters surfaced a new allegation of sexual impropriety by a young Kavanaugh. In his letter, Coons told Wray that he and his colleagues had heard from several people who wanted to share information about Kavanaugh, but "have had difficulty reaching anybody who will collect their information." Democrats, then and now, argue that the inquiry was insufficient and geared more toward clearing Trump's Supreme Court pick rather than toward uncovering the truth.

Candidates Call for Kavanaugh's Impeachment Amidst College Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Several Democratic presidential candidates have called for the impeachment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh after The New York Times published new information about allegations of sexual misconduct against him. Trump took to Twitter, accusing news outlets of trying to pressure the justice into taking more liberal positions and suggested that the "Justice Department should come to his rescue." Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter: "Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached." Senator Kamala Harris, a member of the Senate committee that presided over his confirmation hearings, on Twitter echoed the call for impeachment, saying "he was put on the Court through a sham process and his place on the Court is an insult to the pursuit of truth and justice."

Supreme Court Says Judges Are Above Politics

Supreme Court justices insist that politics plays no role in their decision-making. However, their voting patterns and the titanic partisan confirmation battles for seats on the Court tell a different story. Back in 2016, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said "we don't work as Democrats or Republicans," - not long before the start of a successful 10-month Republican blockade of President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland. Several Supreme Court justices have said that they worked much harder to come together in the year that they were short-handed after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, however, political science data tends to demonstrate a significant correlation between judges' political affiliations and their voting.

Secret FBI Subpoenas Scoop Up More Personal Data

Newly released documents show that the FBI has used secret subpoenas to obtain personal data from far more companies than previously disclosed. The requests, which the FBI says are critical to its counterterrorism efforts, have raised privacy concerns for years, but have been associated mainly with tech companies. Now, records show that the practice extends to banks, credit agencies, cellphone carriers, and even universities. The demands can scoop up a variety of information, including usernames, locations, IP addresses, and records of purchases. They don't require a judge's approval and usually come with a gag order, leaving them shrouded in secrecy.

2.9 Billion Birds Have Vanished

Scientists have reported that the number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29% - about 2.9 billion - since 1970. The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations. Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction, but the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows. There are likely many causes, the most important of which include humans - habitat loss and wider use of pesticides.

50,000 G.M. Union Workers Strike

The United Automobile Workers (UAW) regional leaders in Detroit voted unanimously last week to authorize the strike, the union's first such walkout since 2007. The UAW union members organized a strike against General Motors in an effort to improve wages, reopen idled plants, add jobs and narrow the pay difference between new hires and veteran workers.

U.S. Cuts $100 Million in Aid to Afghanistan, Citing Government Corruption

The State Department cut $100 million in aid for Afghanistan as the Trump administration's chief peace negotiator briefed House lawmakers on the failed efforts to strike a deal with the Taliban and wind down the 18-year war. The funding was slated for a hydroelectric project to provide power to the cities of Kandahar and Ghazni in southern and southeastern Afghanistan. The dam project will continue but without the American funds, "given the Afghan government's inability to transparently manage U.S. government resources," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a written statement.

America's Abortion Rate at All Time Low

Abortion in the United States has decreased to record low levels, a decline that may be driven more by increased access to contraception and fewer women becoming pregnant than by the proliferation of laws restricting abortion in some states, according to new research. "Abortion rates decreased in almost every state and there's no clear pattern linking these declines to new restrictions," Elizabeth Nash, senior state policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, which issued the findings in a report and policy analysis. The institute, which supports abortion rights, periodically compiles abortion data by surveying hospitals and abortion clinics, and by reviewing information from health departments and other sources. The institute estimated that there were about 862,000 abortions in 2017, nearly 200,000 fewer than in 2011. The abortion rate -- the number of abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age -- dropped to 13.5 in 2017 from 16.9 in 2011, the lowest rate since abortion became legal nationwide in 1973.

Former Trump Aide Tells Congress 'I Wasn't Asked to Do Anything Illegal'

Trump's former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, confirmed in Congressional testimony that Trump had once asked him to help curtail the scope of the Russia investigation, possibly obstructing justice. Democrats focused on trying to draw out details about how Trump asked Lewandowski to pressure the attorney general at the time, Jeff Sessions, to diminish the scope of the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Lewandowski refused to provide new details about his encounters with Trump beyond what the special counsel report documented. A combative Lewandowski also insisted that Trump's request did not amount to "anything illegal."

Guidelines Say No Sweetened Drinks for Children Under 6 Years

A panel of scientists issued new nutritional guidelines for children describing in detail what they should be allowed to drink in the first years of life. The panel said that babies should receive only breast milk or formula; water may be added to the diet at 6 months; infants receiving formula may be switched to cow's milk at 12 months. The guidelines further state that for the first 5 years, children should drink mostly milk and water and should not be given any drink with sugar or other sweeteners, including low-calorie or artificially sweetened beverages, chocolate milk or other flavored milk, caffeinated drinks, and toddler formulas. The guidelines, considered to be the most restrictive yet, were issued by Healthy Eating Research, a nutrition advocacy group, and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The recommendations are likely to be influential, as they were developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Heart Association, and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Trump Weighs Retaliation Against Iran and Names National Security Adviser

While speaking with reporters on the tarmac, Trump teetered between hitting back at Iran and maintaining the peace and he also named Robert C. O'Brien, the State Department's chief hostage negotiator, as his national security adviser (Trump's fourth national security adviser in 3 years).

Pentagon Spent $184,000 in 2 Years at Trump Resort

In a letter sent to Congressional investigators, the Defense Department said that it has spent at least $184,000 at the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland since 2017, as it sent several dozen crews from flights making a refueling stopover to the resort hotel. The spending figure from the Defense Department came after the House Oversight and Reform Committee asked in June about a surge in Air Force flights stopping for refueling at the Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland. Flight crews and passengers from some of those flights spent the night at the Trump Turnberry resort, about 25 miles away. The Defense Department also reported that there was an additional $59,729 in travel charges associated with the Trump Turnberry that could not be tied to actual travel vouchers. The letter did not detail how the additional money was spent, but suggested it could have been on "meals eaten at restaurants while on official travel."

U.S. Orders Duke and the University of North Carolina to Recast Tone in Mideast Studies

In a rare instance of federal intervention in college course content, the Education Department has ordered Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to remake the Middle East studies program run jointly by the 2 schools after concluding that it was offering students a biased curriculum that, among other complaints, did not present enough "positive" imagery of Judaism and Christianity in the region. The department asserted that the universities' Middle East program violated the standards of a federal program that awards funding to international studies and foreign language programs.

Purdue Warns That Sackler Family May Walk From Opioid Deal

Members of the Sackler family could withdraw their pledge to pay $3 billion as part of a nationwide deal to address the opioid crisis if a bankruptcy judge does not block outstanding state lawsuits against them and their company, Purdue Pharma. The $3 billion to be paid over 7 years, plus another contribution the Sacklers would make with the proceeds of the sale of their British drug company, Mundipharma, is a key component of the deal. Their lawyers say that all lawsuits must be resolved. The new complaint, filed in bankruptcy court in White Plains, is aimed at about two dozen states that have not signed on to the settlement and are continuing to pursue cases against both the company and various Sacklers.

Colt to Suspend Production of AR-15 Rifles for Consumers

Gun maker Colt announced that it would effectively suspend production of sporting rifles, including the AR-15, for the civilian market but continue to manufacture rifles for government weapons contracts. In a statement on its website, Colt emphasized that while the company remained "committed to the Second Amendment," the "market for modern sporting rifles has experienced significant excess manufacturing capacity." However, Timothy D. Lytton, an expert on the gun industry at Georgia State University, says Colt's decision is unlikely to make it more difficult for gun buyers to get their hands on powerful semiautomatic weapons because "if there's market demand, I'm sure there are other companies with the capacity to fill it."

California + 23 Other States Sue the Trump Administration in Its Escalating War Over Auto Emissions

California and nearly two dozen other states filed suit against the Trump administration's unprecedented legal reversal of the state's authority to set its own rules on climate-warming tailpipe emissions. Jurisdictions joining the lawsuit include Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, as well as the District of Columbia. The decision could ultimately have wide-ranging repercussions affecting states' control over their own environmental laws, the volume of pollution produced by the United States, and the future of the nation's auto industry.

Manhattan D.A. Orders 8 Years of Trump Tax Returns

State prosecutors in Manhattan have subpoenaed Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, to demand 8 years of his personal and corporate tax returns. The subpoena opens a new front in a wide-ranging effort to obtain copies of the tax returns, which Trump initially said he would make public during the 2016 campaign but has since refused to disclose. The subpoena was issued soon after the D.A.'s office opened a criminal investigation into the role that Trump and his family business played in hush-money payments made to Stormy Daniels. Trump and his company reimbursed Michael D. Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, for money Cohen paid to buy the silence of Daniels, a pornographic film actress who said she had an affair with Trump. In particular, state prosecutors are examining whether the company falsely accounted for the reimbursements as a legal expense. In New York, filing a false business record can be a crime and it can become a felony if prosecutors can prove that the false filing was made to commit or conceal another crime, such as tax violations or bank fraud.

Trump Lawyers Say That He Cannot Be Criminally Investigated

Trump's legal team is trying to block a subpoena seeking 8 years of his tax returns, claiming that any criminal investigation of Trump is unconstitutional. Trump's lawyers argued in the complaint that the Constitution effectively makes sitting presidents immune from all criminal inquiries until they leave the White House. Presidents, they assert, have such enormous responsibility and play a unique role in government that they cannot be subject to the burden of investigations, especially from local prosecutors who may use the criminal process for political gain.

New York Moves to Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that he would pursue emergency regulations to quickly ban the sale of flavored e-cigarettes. This comes days after Trump announced an effort to ban similar vaping products at the federal level. If New York does outlaw flavored e-cigarettes, it would become the second state to move toward such a ban, following Michigan, which announced earlier this month that it would prohibit such products.

New York City Grants Permission Slip for Students to Participate in Climate Protests - But Teachers Are Barred

New York City announced that public school students could skip classes without penalties to join the youth climate strikes planned around the world on September 20th. The protests, which were held three days ahead of the United Nations Climate Action Summit, had parents wondering how to word emails to principals requesting excused absences; had teachers wondering how to react and whether to accompany students to the protests; and had some students vowing to protest no matter what. Opponents said Mayor Bill de Blasio was using school attendance policy to promote a political aim. The New York Post's editorial board called the decision "out-and-out government sponsorship of a particular point of view."

Despite the decision allowing students to attend, the city's Education Department ruled that employee participation would violate rules ensuring a "politically neutral learning environment," as would schools that stage their own climate-action walkouts on school property. The guidelines about staff participation state that staff members are allowed to participate in rallies outside school hours. The Education Department opted to share resources with schools to help them plan appropriate climate events in school.

Charges Say U.C.L.A. Seat Cost Woman $400,000 Fee

Prosecutors said a Chinese woman living in Canada had paid $400,000 to bribe her son's way into U.C.L.A., raising the total number of parents accused in the case. The woman, Xiaoning Sui, was arrested by Spanish authorities on Monday night and was being held in Spain, according to the office of Andrew Lelling, the United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts. That office said it would seek her extradition to Boston to face the charges. The charges against Sui bring the number of wealthy parents who have been charged in the fraudulent admissions scheme to 35, a group that includes the Hollywood actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Nobel Peace Laureate Could Face Prosecution

Myanmar's civilian leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel laureate once extolled as a champion of democracy, could face prosecution for crimes against humanity because of the military's attacks on Rohingya Muslims and other minority groups. She was first acclaimed as an icon of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar, having won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and endured many years of house arrest. Now she has become an international pariah for her government's response to brutal oppressions by Myanmar's military.

Fires in Indonesia Spur Fears as Amazon Burns

Brazil has captured global attention over deliberately set fires that are burning the Amazon rainforest, often called the earth's lungs. Now thousands of wildfires are burning in Indonesia, most of them set deliberately to clear land for agriculture. The fires are the worst Indonesia has seen in several years, in part because this year has been particularly dry.

Spanish Court Turns Down Extradition Request from U.S., Saying It's Political

Spain rejected a United States request to extradite Hugo Carvajal, the former intelligence chief of Venezuela, saying that the request was politically motivated. The court ruling also said the drug trafficking charges leveled against Carvajal were too "abstract," and lacking sufficient detail. At his extradition hearing earlier this month, Carvajal's lawyers argued that the United States wanted to extradite
Carvajal for "a spurious purpose" -- to make him stand trial for drug trafficking -- while their main goal was to get information from him about President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

Photo of Trudeau in "Brownface" Disrupts Canadian Election

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has apologized after a photograph surfaced of him wearing "brownface" makeup at a 2001 private school party. The photograph had been taken when Trudeau, then a 29-year-old teacher, attended an "Arabian Nights" themed costume gala at the West Point Grey Academy in Vancouver, British Columbia. The photograph appeared in the school's 2000-01 yearbook, Time Magazine said, adding that it had obtained a copy of the yearbook, The View, from a Vancouver businessman who first saw the image in July and felt that it should be made public. Trudeau confirmed that he was in the photo and that he was dressed as Aladdin. "This is something I shouldn't have done many years ago," Trudeau said. "It was something that I didn't think was racist at the time, but now I recognize it was something racist to do, and I am deeply sorry." Trudeau further stated "I did not realize at the time how much this hurt minority Canadians, racialized Canadians." Trudeau also admitted to donning blackface on another occasion.

Japan Clears 3 Executives in Meltdown at Tepco Site

A Japanese court acquitted 3 former Tokyo Electric Power Company executives who had been accused of criminal negligence for their roles in the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The verdict makes it likely that no one will be held criminally responsible for one of the worst nuclear accidents in history -- a catastrophe that led to a global backlash against nuclear power and created environmental damage that will haunt Japan for generations to come. Although the ruling has likely cleared it of criminal liability, the company, known as Tepco, still faces civil litigation and the burden of mitigating the continuing harm caused by the meltdown of three reactors at the Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima after a huge earthquake and tsunami in 2011.