July 13, 2018

Should You Require Your Employees to Sign Arbitration Agreements with Class Waivers?

By Kristine A. Sova

In late May, the Supreme Court upheld the lawfulness of class action waivers in arbitration agreements (Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, 584 U.S. ____ (2018)). This means that employers are free to not only require employees to sign an agreement mandating that all of their employment disputes go to binding, private arbitration rather than courts, but also that employers can include waivers where employees lose their right to bring claims collectively as a class.

The decision in Epic has been touted as a victory for employers. Now that employers can have an arbitration agreement with a class action waiver (under federal law, at least), does it mean all employers should? Arbitration has its pros, the most notable being a private forum for the resolution of claims, but arbitration has its cons as well. Moreover, a pro for one employer might be considered a con for another. Consider the following pros and cons.

Pros of arbitration

-Private / confidential process
-No juries (juries tend to be employee-friendly, overly generous, and unpredictable)
-Less expensive than litigation in court, but not always the case once arbitrator fees are factored in
-Faster than litigation in court
-Less formal process
-More finality (avenues for appeal are very limited so this could be a con as well)
-Ability to select arbitrator (or arbitrators, as the case may be)

Cons of arbitration

-No formal rules of evidence and arbitrators may end up considering evidence that a judge would not consider
-Arbitrators have a tendency to "split the baby" and may issue an award to give the employee "something" rather than dismiss the case
-Arbitrator fees can be significant (this can add up if there is a class waiver and an employer has to deal with a multitude of individual claims

Class action waivers might not be a pro either when one considers the cost of defending individual claims. The considerations are complex. -
Therefore, if you're considering having your employees sign arbitration agreements with, or even without, class action waivers, you should definitely consult with counsel before doing so.

July 9, 2018

Week in Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa Hecker


Trump Administration Says That It Needs More Time to Reunite Migrant Families

The Trump administration asked a federal judge for more time to reunite migrant families separated by authorities at the southwest border. Some parents separated from their children have already been deported, while the children remain here. The government says the parents' whereabouts are unknown, making it difficult to reunite the families. Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the Federal District Court in San Diego gave the government a hard deadline by which to come up with a list naming all 101 of the youngest children, along with an explanation of why it would be impossible to promptly restore each of them to a parent.


Trump Officials Reverse Obama's Policy on Affirmative Action in Schools

The Education and Justice Departments have announced that they rescinded seven Obama-era policy guidelines on affirmative action, which called on universities to consider race as a factor in admissions, in order to diversify incoming classes. The Trump administration will promote race-blind admissions standards.


Supreme Court Labor Decision Wasn't Just a Loss for Unions

The Supreme Court struck down mandatory union fees for government workers. This will certainly result in fewer dollars in union coffers. One effect of the decision will likely be the loss of public sector dollars that have been used to fund liberal causes - such as immigrants and civil rights - and turning out voters or placing ads in Democrats' campaigns.


Court Blocks Trump Administration From Blanket Detention of Asylum Seekers

In a sharply worded ruling, Judge James Boasberg of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia blocked the systematic detention of migrants who have shown credible evidence that they were fleeing persecution in their home countries, finding that the government's own directive calling for asylum applicants to be freed when appropriate while their cases are pending "has been honored more in the breach than the observance." While the government is entitled to hold asylum seekers in detention, a 2009 directive provides that those who have shown what is known as a "credible fear" in an initial interview have a right to be considered for release. In a court challenge, lawyers for nine plaintiffs who had been held in detention presented evidence that parole rates under the Trump administration have plummeted more than 90% to "nearly zero."


Lawyers for Neo-Nazi to Defend Alex Jones in Sandy Hook Case

The conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who claims the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 children and six adults was a hoax, has hired lawyers representing a founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website to defend him against defamation claims brought in Connecticut by families of seven Sandy Hook victims. Jones has spread theories that the families were "crisis actors" in a government plot to confiscate firearms. His online supporters have harassed and threatened the families as a result. Jones is being sued in Texas by two more Sandy Hook families, but is represented by different lawyers in that State.


Emergency Rooms Run Out of Vital Drugs, and Patients Are Feeling It

Supplies of painkillers, heart medications, and many other sterile injectable drugs like morphine have virtually disappeared from emergency rooms around the country, endangering patients and limiting doctors' options for optimal care. These shortages are the result of several problems that have hit the pharmaceutical industry simultaneously. Pfizer, which produces the majority of generic injectable drugs, has had serious manufacturing problems at several of its plants. Puerto Rico, which manufactures many pharma products, was slammed by Hurricane Maria, and for a long period was unable to produce the small saline bags that are emergency room mainstays, adding to a years-long problem with keeping intravenous fluids in stock. Lowered profit margins for generic drugs have caused some pharmaceutical manufacturers to limit or even cancel production of those medicines.


Merkel, to Survive, Agrees to Border Camps for Migrants

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel - a standard bearer of the EU - planned on welcoming hundreds of thousands of migrants into Germany, but recent political shifts at home as in many EU countries have brought conservative anti-immigrant parties into power. In order to keep her seat and her party in power, Merkel announced that Germany would build border camps for asylum seekers and tighten the border. The nationalism and anti-migrant sentiment that has challenged multilateralism elsewhere in Europe is taking quickly root in mainstream German politics.


Austria Could Be the Next EU Country to Tighten Its Borders

Hours after Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative bloc agreed to measures that would tighten Germany's southern border, Austrian leaders announced plans for similar actions that would further threaten Europe's system of free movement.


Russians Protest Over Retirement Age Hike

Russians protested over a government decision to increase the retirement age, but there were no demonstrations in the cities hosting the World Cup because of security restrictions in force during the tournament. Most of the rallies had been approved by local authorities, and there were no reports of arrests.


Same-Sex Couples Entitled to Equal Visa Rights, Hong Kong Court Says

Hong Kong's top court ruled that committed same-sex couples have the same rights to spousal visas as married heterosexual couples, a decision that advocates said could have ripple effects in advancing gay rights. Banks and law firms had pushed for such recognition to lure and keep top talent in the financial and business center. The woman at the center of the case came to Hong Kong as a visitor in 2011, several months after entering a same-sex civil partnership in Britain with a woman of South African and British nationality who had taken a job in Hong Kong. Their application for a dependent visa was refused on the basis that marriage is defined in Hong Kong as the union of one man and one woman.


Poland Purges Supreme Court and Protesters Take to Streets, with its Supreme Court in Disarray After Judges Defy the Order

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Warsaw in opposition to the forcible retirement of nearly one third of Poland's Supreme Court justices, including the Chief Justice, by lowering the mandatory retirement age from 70 to 65. The right wing Law and Justice Party, which has taken control over the Constitutional Tribunal, has asserted new powers to select judges and created a judicial disciplinary chamber. These actions erode the judiciary's independence, and are likely to force a confrontation with the EU over the rule of law.

However, despite their firing, Poland's Supreme Court Judges showed up for work the following day, supported by demonstrators. Former president Lech Walesa was among those in the streets.



In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant 'Ghettos'

Denmark has had trouble integrating immigrants into its homogeneous society, so it is taking steps to train Muslims, among others, living in "ghettos" - urban centers in which immigrants are a sizable community - in the culture of the country, including Christmas and Easter traditions and the Danish language. This controversial process starts with children as young as one-year olds for 25 hours per week.


López Obrador, an Atypical Leftist, Wins Mexico Presidency in Landslide

The leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador was elected president of Mexico in a landslide victory upending the nation's centrist and globalist political establishment. López Obrador promised to end corruption, reduce violence and address Mexico's endemic poverty - issues that were immensely popular with voters angry at Elites. Now the trick will be to deliver on those promises without shaking up the already-fragile economy, and without retaining some "bad actors" who were instrumental in the presidential campaign.



Star Flutist Sues Boston Symphony Over Pay Equity

The Boston Symphony Orchestra's principal flutist and one of its most prominent musicians has filed a gender pay discrimination, claiming that her compensation is only about 75% that of her closest comparable colleague, the orchestra's principal oboist, who is a man. The suit is the first under a new law in Massachusetts requiring equal pay for "comparable work" that became effective this week, after employers had two years to rectify disparities.


Harvey Weinstein Faces New Sex Assault Charges in Manhattan

A grand jury in State Supreme Court in Manhattan has voted to allow an amended indictment against Harvey Weinstein, adding a third victim and
new charges against the former film mogul. The new charges carry higher penalties than the charges of sexual assault on which Weinstein is currently bound for trial. Although more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexually harassing or assaulting them, usually after luring them with a promise of a business meeting, prosecutors have had difficulty finding other victims whose allegations fall within the statute of limitations and are willing to testify.


Unwelcome Sound on Germany's Stages: Musicians Who Boycott Israel

The Scottish rappers Young Fathers were dropped from an arts festival in Germany last month because they openly support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, also known as B.D.S., which asks companies and people to avoid doing business with Israel in protest of its treatment of Palestinians. Another B.D.S. supporter, the musician Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, who is revered in Germany, has feuded with the mayor of Munich over the boycott. In Germany, where calling for a boycott against the Jewish state carries deep historical associations with the Nazis, the movement is widely viewed as anti-Semitic.



Statue of Liberty Stamp Mistake to Cost Postal Service $3.5 Million

The United States Postal Service mistook a Las Vegas-based replica for the real Statue of Liberty, and used it as the basis for a 2010 Forever Lady Liberty postage stamp. The replica's sculptor has now been awarded $3.5 million from the Post Office for violating his copyright. The sculptor filed the infringement lawsuit in 2013, claiming that his sculpture was sufficiently different from the original, thereby deserving protection.


French and Swiss Museums to Share a Cézanne With a Murky Past

The family of Paul Cézanne and the museum in Switzerland that holds the controversial art collection of Cornelius Gurlitt have settled a dispute over the ownership of a majestic landscape, "Montagne Sainte-Victoire", painted by Cezanne in 1897. Gurlitt, a recluse who hoarded about 1,500 artworks, some looted by the Nazis, bequeathed the painting to the Kunstmuseum Bern. Gurlitt inherited many of the works, including the Cézanne, from his father, Hildebrand Gurlitt, a dealer who purchased art in occupied France for Adolf Hitler's planned Führermuseum in Linz, Austria. The Cézanne is known to have been in the possession of the artist's family until at least 1940. Under the terms of the agreement, the Bern museum will loan the painting to the Musée Granet in Cézanne's hometown Aix-en-Provence, France, for about three months a year.


Curator Says MoMA PS1 Wanted Her, Until She Had a Baby

MoMA PS1, the Queens museum known partly for its inventive live art, music and dance series, courted a new creative hire for months before formally offering her the position as curator of performance last August. However, within a few weeks and after she mentioned to the museum's chief curator that she had just had a baby, the offer was rescinded. Now she has filed a complaint with the New York City Commission on Human Rights, asserting that the museum discriminated against her in violation of the city's laws on caregivers, pregnancy, and women's rights. The complaint said that the museum tried to assert, inaccurately, that she had turned down its job offer.


Turmoil at Lincoln Center: Infighting, Money Troubles, Scrapped Projects

Lincoln Center has had four leaders in five years, and that instability has affected every aspect of the institution. There have been shuffled and abandoned priorities and financial difficulties, just when major cultural institutions are struggling to retain and build donors and audiences. There will be no Lincoln Center Festival this summer, the promised Hall of Fame hasn't happened, and the Philharmonic's Geffen concert hall renovation is being "rethought."


The Philadelphia History Museum Is Closing Its Doors (Maybe for Good)

Falling revenues and the abrupt abandonment of a proposed partnership with Temple University have placed the Philadelphia History Museum's future in doubt. It will certainly be closed for at least six months, and may never reopen. Philadelphia is home to many well-known tourist attractions, such as the Liberty Bell, but the History Museum is home to some of the city's most valuable artifacts, including a desk used by President George Washington, the preserved body of a small dog named Philly who once served on the front lines during World War I, and boxing gloves worn by Joe Frazier during a championship match in the 1970s.


Protests Shutter a Show That Cast White Singers as Black Slaves

When the show "Slav", featuring performances by white women as slaves picking cotton, premiered at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, it immediately spawned a backlash and criticism that white artists had recklessly appropriated black culture. Critics called the work an insulting and insensitive performance. The production by the celebrated Quebec director Robert Lepage claims to be inspired by traditional African-American slave and work songs, and featured white and black performers. The backlash was swift and severe, causing the show to close after two performances of 16 scheduled.



When Sports Betting Is Legal, the Value of Game Data Soars

England has dealt with the issue of official versus unofficial sports data sources for years, and has not been able to curtail unofficial sources, which create lucrative niches for private betting companies. Just like bootleggers steal music and films by recording them during live performances using hidden miniature equipment, data collectors attend sports events incognito. Using various types of electronic equipment, they can send real-time play-by-play info that may beat the official data collectors' captures by just a few seconds, which can be enough to give the unofficial collectors a competitive edge. These practices raise many important questions: How should sports data from any source, official or unofficial, be regulated, monitored and purchased? Who should settle a dispute over whether an in-play bet was won or lost? Does real-time data from a sporting event, like the sounds of a musical performance, have a claim to royalties and copyright protection for those who produce it? By creating a sort of monopoly, could a mandate for official data actually do more harm than good?


Jim Jordan Is Defiant as Allegations Mount, and Supporters Point to 'Deep State'

New accusers have come forward to say that Jim Jordan, the wrestling coach turned six-term congressman, was aware of sexual misconduct at Ohio State University but did nothing to stop it. The Ohio Republican's stalwart supporters are already defending the conservative powerhouse, saying that he is the victim of the same "deep state" conspirators -- liberal bureaucrats embedded in the government -- who are trying to bring down President Trump. In a Fox News interview, Jordan disparaged some of the former college wrestlers who have come forward to say that he knew of allegations that the team doctor, Richard H. Strauss, had fondled them. He said he could not explain why other more friendly wrestlers had leveled similar charges.


Jenrry Mejia, Barred for Life in 2016, May Return to the Mets Next Season

Jenrry Mejia, the Mets closer who became the first player in Major League Baseball (MLB) to be barred for life for using performance-enhancing drugs, has been conditionally reinstated. According to the provisions of the MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, a player who receives a lifetime ban may apply for reinstatement after two years. Mejia will be allowed to begin workouts under the Mets' supervision after the All-Star Game this month and to start a minor league rehabilitation assignment in mid-August.


For Tennis Players, Numbers in Antidoping Program Don't Add Up

Some players are never tested, some are tested occasionally, and some are tested frequently for performance enhancing drug use. Serena Williams expressed no qualms about antidoping officers showing up unannounced to collect urine and, on occasion, blood samples. She wasn't even bothered when it happened twice in the same week in the lead-up to this year's French Open until she saw numbers, plucked from the United States Anti-Doping Agency's public database and included in a recent Deadspin article, that seemed to suggest that she was being tested three times and five times more often than her competitors.


Canadian Police Charge Truck Driver in Hockey Team Bus Crash

Canadian police filed charges against a truck driver whose semi-trailer rig collided with a bus carrying a junior hockey team in April, killing 16 people, in one of the worst disasters to strike the country's sporting community.


The World Cup's Hot New Accessory Comes With a Few Questions

The must-have World Cup 2018 accessory is a laminated credential badge hanging from a FIFA lanyard, called a Fan ID, without which no fan can get into a World Cup stadium. It also grants access to perks like visa-free entry into Russia, free transport in and occasionally between host cities, and discounts in certain shops and restaurants. However, it has also raised concerns about privacy in a country that has been a base for international hackers and that has a long history of closely monitoring its citizens. The Russian authorities said the only purpose of the badges is to improve the security and comfort of fans. The badges, however, do give World Cup organizers and security officials the ability to track the location of fans during the tournament and provide the authorities those fans' personal information.


Russia Win in World Cup Offers Distraction as Putin Benefits

Russia's surprise victory over Spain in the World Cup has changed official policy on wild in the streets celebrations, as Moscow became a giant street party with the eager support of the Kremlin. With the anticipation of a Russia-U.S. summit the day after the tournament final, President Vladimir Putin is basking in good news. Even protests against a government plan to raise the retirement age (see above in General News) were drowned out by the cheers.




Instagram Account That Sought Harassment Tales May Be Unmasked

The now-removed anonymous Instagram account "Diet Madison Avenue," which solicited and published reports of sexual misconduct in the advertising field, has been named in a defamation lawsuit filed by Ralph Watson, former Chief Creative Officer of the Boulder, Colorado location of advertising agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky (CP&B). As a result, the identities of the account owners of Diet Madison Avenue may be required to be revealed by Instagram. Posts on the Instagram account claimed that Watson was a serial sexual predator and demanded that CP&B to fire him to prove that it supported its staffers and the tenets of #MeToo. Watson was fired by the agency shortly thereafter.


Hard News. Angry Administration. Teenage Journalists Know What It's Like

High school educators across the country have been clamping down on students who publish articles on protests, sexuality, and other hot-button issues. In Prosper, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, Prosper High School's principal fired the faculty advisor to the school's student-run newspaper, Eagle Nation Online, after he forbade publication of three articles written by students, including an opinion piece on the National School Walkout protest.


Yelp Can't Be Ordered to Remove Negative Posts, California Court Rules

In a decision widely scrutinized by free speech advocates, the California Supreme Court has ruled that Yelp, the local search and review site, does not need to remove negative comments posted by a user. In a 4-to-3 opinion, the court said that federal law protected internet companies from liability for statements written by others. Forcing a site to remove user-generated posts could interfere with and undermine the viability of an online platform. The role of moderating speech on online platforms has become a hotly contested topic, as the reach and influence of companies like Facebook and Google have grown. Such companies have long argued that they are not liable for posts published by others on their platforms.


New York Times Reassigns Reporter in Leak Case

The New York Times reporter whose email and phone records were secretly seized by the Trump administration will be transferred out of the newspaper's Washington bureau and reassigned to a new beat in New York. The reporter had been the subject of an internal review by the newspaper after revelations that she had a three-year affair with a high-ranking aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which she covered for several news organizations before joining The New York Times in December. The aide, who handled classified material for the committee, was arrested last month as part of a leak investigation in which the Justice Department also seized the reporter's communications, an unusually aggressive move against a journalist that prompted an outcry from press advocates.


Sri Lankan Lawmakers Target Reporters in New York Times Investigation

A New York Times investigation into the seizure by China of a Sri Lankan seaport caused a backlash by Sri Lankan lawmakers, who denounced the paper, and focused on two local journalists. The lawmakers, who are allies of the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, held a televised news conference in which they claimed that the journalists, Dharisha Bastians and Arthur Wamanan, were working on behalf of the current government to malign Rajapaksa.


July 5, 2018

National Football League Files Motion for Summary Judgment to End Colin Kaepernick's Collusion Case

By Michael Kusi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Colin Kaepernick, a former San Francisco quarterback and unrestricted free agent, is suing the National Football League (NFL, league) for collusion, alleging that the NFL willfully kept him from playing after his public national anthem protests before NFL games. The NFL filed a Motion for Summary Judgment with arbitrator Stephen Burbank, requesting him to examine the 14 depositions that Kaepernick's legal team had taken to determine where there is adequate evidence to support any finding. The NFL also cited Article 17, Subsection 5, which states that if the complainant's evidence was insufficient, the arbitrator may dismiss the claim.

In Kaepernick's collusion filing, the plaintiff argues that he was blackballed from the league because of his anthem protest. Kaepernick's proposed visit with the Seattle Seahawks was abruptly ended when Kaepernick would not say that he would stand for the anthem. The NFL owners had approved a new national anthem policy requiring players to stand for the anthem, or as an alternative, to be in the locker room during the anthem.

July 2, 2018

Week in Review

By Nick Crudele
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

The Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration's Travel Ban

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed that President Trump had the authority to protect the country through the implementation of a travel ban. The Court said that the law allows the president to bar those deemed to be detrimental to U.S. interests.


Justices Side with American Express

The Supreme Court sided with American Express, ruling that the company's policy of forbidding merchants from encouraging customers to use rival cards does not violate federal antitrust law.


The Supreme Court Backs Anti-Abortion Pregnancy Centers

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of anti-abortion centers who opposed a California law requiring them to provide women seeking counsel about pregnancy to be informed about abortions. The Court said that the law violated the center's free speech rights.


California Passes Tough New Online Privacy Law

California passed a powerful online privacy law rooted in its constitution. The California Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect in January 2020, provides California residents with the right to know what data is being collected on them, the purpose of the collection, and with whom it is being shared.


Trump Does Not Want Due Process for Illegal Immigrants

President Trump said that illegal immigrants crossing the border should be sent immediately back to their countries instead of the U.S. courts. Trump Tweeted: "People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the U.S. illegally."


NSA Contractor To Plead Guilty to in Classified Leak

Former NSA contractor Reality Winner will plead guilty to charges of espionage for allegedly leaking information about Russian interference in the 2016 election to media outlet The Intercept. Winner could face up to 10 years in jail.


General Motors Warns Trump About Tariffs

General Motors (GM) warned President Trump that his planned tariffs could lead to less investment, fewer jobs, and lower wages for its employees. GM also said that the cost of cars could increase. Other big businesses have made similar statements, with business leaders concerned about reciprocal tariffs affecting them negatively.


Man Charged After Threats to Federal Communications Commission Chairman

A California man was arrested and charged with threatening to murder the family of the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Markara Man said that he was angry at the FCC's decision to repeal net neutrality and wanted to scare the chairman.


Poland Weakens Holocaust Law

Poland weakened it Holocaust Law, which had made it illegal to accuse the Polish authorities of complicity in the Holocaust after heavy criticism. The Polish Parliament voted to remove criminal penalties.


Turkey's President Extends Reign

Turkey's President Recep Erdogan extended his 15-year grip on power in a decisive election victory. Erdogan's crackdown on lawyers, judges, and journalists in recent years and last year's referendum giving him unchecked power over the legislature and judiciary have stoked fears of Turkey becoming an authoritarian state.


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


Senate Judiciary Committee Votes in Favor of Music Modernization Act

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of a bill that would modernize the music copyright laws for the digital age. The Committee voted in favor of the Music Modernization Act, which was drafted to correct flaws and loopholes that have led musicians to complain about streaming services, including low compensation and unnecessary protections for such services.


MTV's "Catfish" Will Continue

MTV's show "Catfish" will resume filming after an investigation into sexual harassment claims turned up with no evidence of wrongdoing. The show's co-host Nev Schulman was accused by a guest of sexual harassment and a sexual encounter in which she was "in and out of consciousness." An independent investigation found the claims to be without merit.


Grammys Seek to Increase Diversity

In an attempt to increase gender diversity among its nominees, the Grammy Awards will expand the number of nominees in some of its top categories from five to eight. The Grammys were criticized in the past, including last year's award ceremony, where the only woman nominated for album of the year was not given a solo performance, and only one women was given a solo award in the handful of televised categories.


China Blocks HBO Website Over John Oliver Joke

China blocked HBO's website after comedian John Oliver, on his show "Last Week Tonight", denunciated China's human rights abuses and suppression of dissent and made fun of Chinese President Xi Jinping, saying: "Clamping down on Winnie-the-Pooh comparisons doesn't exactly project strength. It suggests a weird insecurity."



Wilder Name Dropped from Prestigious Award

The American Library Association will drop Laura Ingalls Wilder's name from its prestigious children's award because her books, published in the 1930's and '40s, contained prejudicial portrayals of Native American's and African Americans.


Artist Delivers Giant Heroin Spoon Sculpture to Purdue Pharma Headquarters

Artist Domenic Esposito unloaded a sculpture of a giant heroin spoon at the headquarters of Purdue Pharma to shame the company for what many see as the pharmacy industry's role in the growing opioid addiction crisis. The spoon, a depiction of a bent spoon used to cook heroin, was unloaded at the entrance of the headquarters. Esposito was issued a ticket and the spoon was eventually removed.


The British Museum Accepts Chinese Ivory Carvings

The British Museum accepted a donation of 556 Chinese ivory carvings. The museum's director, Hartwig Fischer, condemned the ivory trade but defended his decision to accept the donation by saying that nothing would be gained by destroying the ancient carvings.



Court Upholds NCAA Transfer Rule

The 7th Circuit upheld the NCAA's rule that student-athletes who transfer to another school must sit out a year. The court said that the rule doesn't undermine the amateur character of college athletics. A former Northern Illinois football player brought the suit, claiming the rule was an unreasonable restraint on trade.


Nassar Faces New Sex Abuse Charges

Disgraced gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was charged by Texas authorities with six counts of sexual assault at the former U.S.A Gymnastics training facility. Ex-Trainer Debbie Van Horn was also charged with one count of sexual assault. The incidents date back to the early 2000's. Nassar is serving a life term in prison for sexual assault of minors.


Suit Claims That NYC's Black and Latino Students Suffer From Racial Inequity in Sports Programs

A class-action lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme Court says that black and Latino students suffer from racial inequity in the NYC's public-school sports programs. It states that: "On average, Black and Latino students have access to far fewer teams and sports, and the city spends much less per student than for students of other races. Black and Latino students are twice as likely as students of other races to lack access to any public high school sports team whatsoever."


Court Rules That Lochte Can Be Prosecuted in Olympic Case

A Brazilian Court ruled that the swimmer Ryan Lochte can be prosecuted for filing a false police report during the Rio Olympics. An earlier case against Lochte was dismissed.


World Cup and Politics

FIFA, soccer's governing body, has had its fair share of political drama to go along with the drama on the field at the World Cup in Russia. In one instance, a Swiss player made a so-called double-eagle symbol after a goal against Serbia. The double-eagle is a nationalist sign rooted in the Albanian flag and viewed as a provocation in Serbia. In another instance, Egypt's star player Mohamed Salah was given honorary citizenship to the Chechen Republic by controversial Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.


Police Commander to Face Trial for 95 Killed at Soccer Match in 1989

The police commander in charge during a 1989 soccer match in England where 96 people were trampled and crushed to death will face prosecution for 95 of those deaths. A 2016 inquiry into the tragedy found that the fans had been "unlawfully killed", citing errors and omissions in the planning and security by the police. This reversed the claims from the original investigation, which said that those who died had been responsible for their own deaths.



New York Times Cries Foul After FBI Seizes Reporter's Note From Illicit Affair

An affair between a 57-year-old senior aide to the Senate Intelligence Committee and 22-year old intern turned political journalist digging for dirt on President Trump, has lead to an arrest and confusion and fear in the Washington D.C. media. Former aide James Wolfe was arrested on June 7th for lying to investigators about his contacts with journalist including Ali Watkins. The investigators were searching for the source of leaks of classified information to the press. Watkins, a national security reporter for Politico, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, and the New York Times, and Wolfe, started the affair in 2013, and continued to see each other until last fall. Since Wolfe's arrest, the FBI seized Watkins's files in search of the source of the classified information leaked to her.


New York Times Reporter Must Testify in Baby Hope Murder Trial

The New York State Court of Appeals rules that New York Times reporter Frances Robles must testify about her jailhouse interview with the suspect in the Baby Hope Murder. The court declared that Robles could not appeal the trial court's rejection of her motion to quash the subpoena to testify, as only direct participants in a criminal proceeding can appeal a trial court's decision.


Facebook, Twitter Aim to Improve Transparency Around Advertisements

Facebook and Twitter unveiled tools to help bring transparency around advertisements. Twitter started requiring a verification process for any advertisers and will introduce a public searchable archive, which will allow anyone to view all ads run on its platform. Facebook announced a database of political ads for the public to view and made it easier to see background details, such as the buyers, of those ads.


Gunman Kills 5 at Maryland Newspaper

A gunman apparently angry at a newspaper over a column written about him in 2012, shot and killed 5 people at its offices. Jarrod Ramos barged into the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland and opened fire. Ramos apparently held a grudge about an article published in the Gazette about a court case that Ramos filed and lost.


BBC Apologizes to Editor Over Pay Gap

The BBC apologized to Carrie Gracie, its former China editor, over pay inequalities. In January, Gracie stepped down from her position citing discrepancy in her pay compared to her male colleagues. In a joint statement with Gracie, the BBC acknowledged the pay gap and apologized the Gracie and corrected its wrong.


June 25, 2018

Dan Ingram, RIP

By Barry Skidelsy
EASL Chair, former Co-Chair EASL TV & Radio Committee

Legendary New York radio disc jockey and Long Island native Dan Ingram died at the age of 83. When inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007, Dan was named "the best Top 40 DJ of all time." I -- and many other members of EASL, I suspect -- who remember listening to Dan during the W-A-Beatles-C heydays or during his later time on-air in NYC at WCBS-FM, do not dispute that honor and are saddened by his passing.

If you don't know about any of this (or even of you do), take a few minutes to check out this Newsday obit (https://www.newsday.com/entertainment/celebrities/dan-ingram-death-1.19424059), this post from the National Radio Hall of Fame (http://nationalradiohalloffame.com/dan_ingram.htm); and, this "scoped" behind-the-scenes air-check from 1992 while Dan was then on-air at WCBS-FM in New York City (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBr308F3lIA&feature=youtu.be).

Tight, baby, tight. Man, I miss those days. RIP Dan.

New York Right of Publicity Bill Passage Drama Ends With No Action by State Senate

By Judy Bass
Chair, Right of Publicity Bill Subcommittee
Member, EASL Executive Committee

A controversial New York right of publicity bill came very close to being enacted by the New York State legislature last week. The New York State Assembly passed the bill (A. 8155-B) by a vote of 131-9 on Monday night, June 18, 2018. The question then was whether the New York State Senate would vote on the companion bill (S.5857-B) before the legislative session ended on Wednesday, June 20th. The Senate adjourned, however, at 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning without taking up the bill. The bills would have dramatically modified New York Civil Right Law, Sections 50 and 51, which currently provide only for a right of privacy under New York law, not a descendible right of publicity as has been enacted in certain other states.

SAG-AFTRA led the effort to enact the legislation. After passage of the bill by the New York State Assembly, SAG-AFTRA posted on its website a statement saying the following: "Today's historic vote supports an incredibly important 34-year campaign by the performance community giving families the right to prevent unwanted commercial exploitation of their deceased loved ones. A.8155-B better protects individuals from unwanted image and voice manipulation and unauthorized advertisements, while prohibiting deepfake pornography, and clarifying the digital replica rights of entertainers. The bill extends rights to survivors 40 years past death."

The SAG-AFTRA statement went on to say that the proposed bill protects performers while "maintaining the free speech rights afforded to the media and content creators." https://www.sagaftra.org/sag-aftra-statement-passing-new-york-assembly-bill-a8155-b.

A large contingent of the media community, however, strongly disagrees with that assessment. Statements in opposition to the Assembly and Senate bills were submitted by a wide range of organizations and companies, including the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Getty Images, the New York State Broadcasters Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Digital Media Licensing Association, the Entertainment Software Association, the Media Coalition, Disney, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and Viacom.

Professor Jennifer Rothman of Loyola Law School, an expert on the right of publicity, on her blog post opposing the amended version of the bill introduced in early June, strongly criticized the "ill-thought-out right of publicity bill" being pushed through the Assembly without allowing for hearings and public debate. She further stated that the bill "jeopardizes a vast array of creative works and biographical works" and grants a "windfall to heirs of dead celebrities without ever justifying why they should receive one at the expense of the public." She also called out the "estate tax danger that can force the commercialization of the dead against both their and their families' wishes", and that the bill "opens the doors of New York courts to all plaintiffs regardless of their domicile." She concluded by saying the following: "New York need not revise its current law which is working just fine. Nevertheless, if New York State wishes to extend postmortem protection and to address concerns over the use of digital avatars to replace actors, it should propose distinct, narrower, and more carefully drafted statutes to address these issues." https://www.rightofpublicityroadmap.com/news-commentary/new-york-right-publicity-bill-resurrected-again.

The New York State Bar Association Committee on Media Law, chaired by Sandra Baron, submitted a detailed report on the bill, including a history of the current right of privacy in New York. It noted that New York Civil Rights Law Sections 50 and 51, on the books since 1903, "have been strictly construed in New York, favoring the right to freely publish about persons based on State Constitutional and First Amendment principles and only restricting the publication in clear cases where the use of the personality's image or likeness is for purposes of advertising or trade." It urged the state legislature not to make wholesale changes to the law "without significant public input" and to amend the current law only "with careful weighing of the costs to this historical legal structure." The report was approved by New York State Bar Association and submitted to the New York State legislature last week. It is available here (Media Memo #3): https://www.nysba.org/CustomTemplates/SecondaryStandard.aspx?id=73536.

It is not known whether the bills will be re-introduced next fall. If so, we should urge our state legislators in both houses to conduct a more open and complete discussion of the issues and evaluation of the impact of the legislation, including public hearings, and to implement additional necessary changes before moving forward again on this controversial legislation.

June 24, 2018

Week in Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Republicans Join Democrats in Pushing Trump to Halt Family Separations

As the extent of the Trump administration's policy of separating children from parents at the border pending immigration proceedings, the outrage grew this week into a fever pitch. Mayors from cities around the country and First Lady Melania Trump visited the border, but Republicans joined Democrats in denouncing the policy and resulting in President Trump issuing an executive order stopping the practice. However, by the time the order was issued, thousands of children had already been separated and placed into facilities throughout the country stretching the capacity of those facilities to the point that the federal government has explored keeping children unused military bases.


Trump Administration Plans to Overhaul Government

The Trump administration has put forth a proposal to rehaul the structure of the federal government. It plans to merge the Department of Education and Department of Labor in an effort to consolidate workforce programs but may have a "profound effect on millions of poor and working-class Americans." The proposal is music to the ears of "small government" conservatives who resent the expansion of the federal government in the past several decades. President Trump, speaking to the media on Thursday, joked that the plan was "extraordinarily boring."


Supreme Court Widens Reach of Sales Tax for Online Retailers

The Supreme Court held this week that internet retailers can be required to collect sales taxes even in states where those retailers do not have a physical presence. This decision is a victory for the brick-and-mortar businesses that have taken a hit in the Amazon era of retailing, and it is also a victory for states that claim to be missing out on billions of dollars in tax revenues. This decision is essentially a full reversal of the Court's previous decision in 1992 in the case Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, which held that businesses could not collect sales tax unless there was a substantial connection to the state.


Securities and Exchange Commission Judges Were Appointed Unlawfully, Justices Rule

The Supreme Court held that administrative law judges working within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were not properly appointed and were deciding cases without constitutional authorization. Staff members appointed the administrative law judges, and the Court held in a 7-to-2 decision that the judges must have been appointed by the five-member SEC for them to be lawfully deciding cases. This was true even though the decisions by the administrative law judges were reviewed by the SEC itself.


Supreme Court Rules on Digital Privacy

The Supreme Court has held that the government must have a warrant to collect location data from customers of cellphone companies. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority that there is no right for the state to have unrestricted access to the database of physical location information, which contain "deeply revealing" records for 400 million devices. There are a handful of exceptions to the rule, however, such as bomb threats or child abductions.


Supreme Court Avoids Answering Issue of Partisan Gerrymandering

The legislature in Wisconsin had its redistricting plan challenged, and the Supreme Court ruled on the challenge this week, declining to answer the issues of gerrymandering. In Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in a similar case in 2004, he explained that there is no clear standard on how to deal with the issue of gerrymandering, and accordingly, the Court would not make any determination on the standard. In its decision this week, the Supreme Court continued to punt the issue, finding that it "is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences" and instead only decided the issue of standing.


New Charges in Huge C.I.A. Breach

A software engineer is at the center of a breach and has been accused of stealing classified information and government property, and then lying to the F.B.I. about the theft. If the allegations are true, it would be one of the worst losses of classified documents in the C.I.A.'s history, and there is the potential for the stolen information to be published, as it is suspected that the engineer, Joshua Schulte, provided the information to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization. His case is set to be prosecuted in New York, although the crimes are alleged to have occurred in Virginia, where the C.I.A. is based.


Trump Threatens Further Tariffs on Chinese and European Goods

President Trump has escalated the confrontation with China and Europe by threatening to impose tariffs on additional products worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It is a gamble by the White House, as China and Europe may retaliate by imposing additional tariffs on American goods and increasing the likelihood of a full-scale trade war, which may disrupt markets. Markets toward the end of the week dropped on the news of additional tariffs, and members of Congress raised concerns over the administration's stance, as those tariffs may affect agriculture and businesses in the middle of the country; a section that was crucial to Trump's victory in 2016.


Senate Votes to Reinstate Penalties on ZTE, Setting Up Clash with White House

A showdown between the Senate and President Trump looks likely on the issue of penalties against ZTE, a Chinese telecom company. President Trump agreed that it would allow ZTE to remain in business in exchange for paying a $1 billion fine after the company was found to violate American sanctions, but the Senate voted 85 to 10 to reinstate the penalties against ZTE partly because President Trump's decision would put national security at risk. The White House has announced that it will not allow the bill to become law.


Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From U.N. Human Rights Council

This week, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, joining Iran, North Korea, and Eritrea as the only countries in the United Nations that refuse to participate in the Council's meetings and deliberations. Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, explained that the U.S. withdrew because of hostility toward Israel with the Council having passed five resolutions against it evidencing motivations "by political bias, not by human rights."


Disability Applications Plunge as Economy Strengthens

New evidence shows the strength of the current economy, as the number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits has dramatically dropped. The extent of the drop has caused the Social Security Administration to revise its forecast as to how long the program could be funded: from 2028 to 2032. While some say that this drop is attributable only to the strength of the economy, some scholars and advocates say that the Social Security Administration has made it more difficult to qualify for benefits.


Cohen Said to Hire Former Prosecutor as New Lawyer as Executive Subpoenaed

Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney and longtime fixer, has hired Guy Petrillo, an attorney that previously was senior in the federal prosecutors' office that has been investigating Cohen. The move is not uncommon, as it provides a defendant insight into how the case may be prosecuted and allow the defense to better formulate its strategy. However, prosecutors have tightened the pressure on the case, as they have subpoenaed the executive of The National Enquirer, David Pecker, who is expected to have knowledge about the money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. To the media, Pecker has denied any wrongdoing.


With Voting Deadlock, Few Signs of Legislative Action

The end of the legislative session has come for Albany, leaving much unresolved. The low-hanging fruit were thought to be reauthorization of speed safety cameras at New York City schools and extending some local governments' tax collection abilities, but the legislature showed it was not able to get the bills passed and on Governor Cuomo's desk. For that matter, while he expressed support for the speed cameras, he was remarkably quiet as the end of the session came as the gubernatorial primary comes in the next week.


Junot Diaz Cleared of Misconduct by M.I.T.

In May, writer Zinzi Clemmons accused Junot Diaz of "forcibly kissing her when she was a graduate student," causing Diaz to withdraw from public appearances and step down as the chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board. However, he remains part of M.I.T.'s faculty. The university concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct and thus no reason to restrict his role or stop him from teaching in the next academic year. Critics have called the decision a setback for the #MeToo movement that may discourage others from speaking out about sexual harassment.


Migrants Arrive in Spain After Being Shunned by Italy

Three ships containing approximately 600 migrants from Africa were shunned from Italy and Malta ended up in the port of Valencia, Spain. Italy's turning away of the migrants was part of the anti-immigration policies of Italy's new populist government, and the Spanish government agreed to hold the migrants for 45 days pending the review of the asylum cases.


Hopes for New Era of Malaysian Free Speech are High

In Malaysia, the ouster of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his replacement, Mahathir Mohamad, has raised hopes that the country will be a bastion of civil rights in the area. One artist, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, had nine sedition charges and was prohibited from leaving the country after he published cartoons targeting Malaysia's political elite, but he discovered that he is was free to travel. While there are laws that have been used to restrain criticism of the government or elite Malaysians, there are indications that Prime Minister Mohamad may lighten up the use of these laws (despite him having earned a reputation when he was Prime Minister between 1981 and 2003 for jailing his opponents and critics).


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


Video Game Addiction Tries to Move from Basement to Doctor's Office

The World Health Organization has announced that "gaming disorder" is a medical condition being added to the organization's International Classification of Diseases. This addition comes at a time when many are concerned about the harm that technology may bring, and video game developers have been known to study ways to keep gamers hooked on their newest releases so much so that some medical professions have found addictions to games as strong as a cocaine disorder.


Chris Hardwick's Show Yanked After Abuse Allegations

Chloe Dykstra, Chris Hardwick's ex-girlfriend, came forward with an essay detailing emotional and sexual abuse by Hardwick over a period of years. AMC has announced that Hardwick's show, set to air today for a second season, will not be aired after all until the allegations have been vetted. Dykstra detailed the trauma that he inflicted and disclosed that he created rules such as prohibiting drinking alcohol or her spending too much time with her friends. Then, after the couple split, Hardwick allegedly contacted companies with which she regularly worked and tried to get her fired. Dykstra said the effort was successful, as she has been effectively blacklisted. Regardless, Hardwick has denied the allegations against him.


ABC Plans a 'Roseanne' Spinoff Without Roseanne Barr

Less than a month after the network ABC canceled "Roseanne" because of Roseanne Barr's racist tweet, the network has announced that it will proceed with a spinoff series that does not include Barr. It is scheduled to be aired this fall on ABC under the name, "The Connors," with all of the cast members of the revival minus Barr, and is part of a gamble that ABC can still get significantly high ratings despite not having Barr on screen. Other shows, such as Netflix's "House of Cards," continued without key cast members, but the nature of Barr's tweet (which targeted former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett in a rambling racist and prejudiced way) may prove to be too much for the show to overcome.



Public Art Campaign Will Commission Political Billboards Across Country

The organization For Freedoms has announced that in the weeks leading up to this fall's midterm elections, its artists will display public artwork, such as billboards and lawn signs, in an effort to foster debate and political activism. The organization, originally founded as a super political action committee, has maintained its purpose of not being partisan but fostering political discourse in town halls and displays of artworks throughout the country.


Glasgow Artists Mourn After Fire Rips Through City's Creative Heart

The Glasgow School of Art has been at the center of Glasgow's creative scene for decades, but near the end of its restoration from a fire four years ago, the building caught fire again and was left nearly destroyed. The restoration that was underway had cost approximately $46 million, and there is now an investigation beginning into the cause of the fire. Some have compared the building's importance to that of the Chrysler Building to New York or the Eiffel Tower to Paris.


'Billy Elliot' Musical Branded Gay Propaganda in Hungary; Cancellations Follow

The musical "Billy Elliot" has had dozens of performances canceled by the Hungarian State Opera after a newspaper columnist accused the production of being "gay propaganda." The Hungarian pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Idok has "accused the production of corrupting young people", in that it encourages young people to take a direction in life and that they "would have taken this direction on their own." The Opera released a statement: "Just because something that is an undeniable part of life appears onstage at the opera, it doesn't mean we are promoting it."


Mass Shooting at New Jersey Arts Festival Leaves 22 Injured and 1 Dead

A New Jersey art festival in Trenton was the site of a shooting that left 22 people injured and one dead. Authorities have disclosed that the shooting appeared to be gang-related and occurred after several physical altercations in and out of the festival venue. There were also warnings of the shooting on social media. Regardless, the arts festival's disruption was unfortunate, as it serves as a centerpiece to revitalizing the Trenton area, which has had issues with crime and poverty.



Mexico's World Cup Captain Is on a U.S. Blacklist

The United States Treasury Department has Rafael Marquez, a prominent member of the Mexican World Cup soccer team, on its blacklist. Marquez has been suspected of laundering money for drug cartels, and his presence on the blacklist has led to him being separated from the rest of the roster. He does not stay at lodgings with American connections and has agreed to not receive wages, as it could complicate the bank's business dealings.


Semenya Will Challenge Testosterone Rule in Court

South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya has filed a legal challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a rule (promulgated by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track's governing body) that "seeks to limit the permitted testosterone levels in female athletes in races over certain distances." She has called the rule "discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable" and a violation of the rules of sport as the rule would force some portion of women to receive hormone treatment to lower their natural testosterone levels.


Argentina Player Banned for Match-Fixing

Nicolas Kicker, a top 100 tennis player, is suspended for six years and fined $25,000 for fixing two matches. Last month, he was removed from the French Open when an anti-corruption hearing officer found that he fixed two matches in 2015, and he has since been found to be guilty of failing to cooperate with the Tennis Integrity Unit's investigation.


U.S. Open Will Revamp Seeding to Account for Pregnancy Leaves

The United States Open has announced it will change the approach for seeding players that are coming back from pregnancy leaves as critics were outspoken given Serena Williams' seeding in the French Open last month. In effect, the policies as they stand served as a penalty for those coming back from pregnancy. The U.S. Open organization has not made any specific promises in terms of seeding for Serena Williams, but it is expected that the U.S. Open's decision may influence other major tournaments' approaches to seeding for players coming back from pregnancy leaves. The critics have characterized the current seeding process as the equivalent in the business world of a top executive taking pregnancy leave and returning to an entry level position in the company.



The Los Angeles Times Names Norman Pearlstine Top Editor

On his first day, the new owner of The Los Angeles Times announced that the top editor would be Norman Pearlstine, a former member of Time Inc., Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal. Pearlstine's move comes as a surprise to some, as he has spent a significant amount of time away from daily journalism, but he is expected to develop a team with new talent capable of reviving the flailing newspaper's fortunes.


'Disastrous' Copyright Bill Approved

The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs has approved a measure that would make major changes to European copyright law and change the nature of the internet, according to experts. The measure would put the burden of reviewing all material users upload to the websites that host those users, and the measure would also create a "link tax" that would require "online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content." A non-profit in the U.S., Creative Commons, has called the measure a "dark day for the open web." The measure is set to be debated and voted on in July by the European Parliament.


June 22, 2018

U.S. Supreme Court Rules That Local Governments May Collect Sales Tax From Internet Retailers

By Barry Skidelsky, Esq.*

On June 20, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court released an opinion of wide ranging importance not only to those who make retail sales over the Internet, but also to state and local governments who wish to impose related sales taxes. The opinion in South Dakota v. Wayfair is available at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/17-494_j4el.pdf.

This case overruled a well-known 1992 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Quill v. North Dakota, 504 U.S. 298), which had held that the Constitution's Commerce Clause bars any state from collecting sales taxes from retailers who lack a brick-and-mortar presence in that state. In Wayfair, the court held that "the physical presence rule of Quill is unsound and incorrect."

Writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy explained that when Quill was decided "the court could not have envisioned a world in which the world's largest retailer would be a remote seller." Think Amazon, and consider that less than 2% of Americans had internet access in 1992, as compared to about 89% today. Further, U.S. mail order sales in 1992 totaled approximately $180 billion, while e-commerce retail sales alone last year reached an estimated $453.5 billion.

Kennedy also said the rule in Quill had created an unfair system favoring online retailers, in effect serving as a judicially created tax shelter for sellers that decide to limit their physical presence -- which also caused local governments to lose up to a total of $33 billion a year in sales tax revenue. At issue in the Wayfair case was the constitutionality of a South Dakota law that requires out-of-state retailers to pay sales taxes, provided they make at least 200 sales or at least $100,000 in sales in that state.

A dissenting opinion in Wayfair written by Justice Roberts opposes discarding the physical presence rule, because the internet economy has grown up in reliance on it. Any change to rules with the potential to disrupt such a critical segment of the economy should be left to Congress, he said. Collecting taxes on all e-commerce sales "will likely prove baffling for many retailers."

Currently, more than 10,000 state and local jurisdictions collect sales taxes, each with differing rules and rates. "This is neither the first, nor the second, but the third time this court has been asked whether a state may obligate sellers with no physical presence within its borders to collect tax on sales to residents," Roberts wrote. "Whatever salience the adage 'third time's a charm' has in daily life, it is a poor guide to Supreme Court decision-making."

This decision should be of immediate concern to anyone (not just major players like Amazon) who makes or who contemplates making retail sales online or via mobile devices -- taking into account not only location of the seller, but also location of the seller's buyers, customers, fans or audience. The Wayfair decision is part of a broader and emerging trend to increasingly transpose a variety of laws and regulations from the analog or real world into today's digital ecosystem, affecting the sale of entertainment, arts, and sports related merchandise - and much more.

*Barry Skidelsky is Chair of the NYS Bar Association's Entertainment Arts and Sports Law (EASL) section, former Chair of its TV and Radio Committee, and former Chair of the NY chapter of the Federal Communications Bar Association (whose members' practices in part involve work before the FCC in Washington DC). He also successfully served as an in-house General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for inter alia a publicly traded digital media company and a venture capital backed internet service provider, as well as a bankruptcy trustee (following nomination by a large financial institution he had consulted), and as a business broker. Barry provides diverse legal and consulting services to lawyers, other individuals, companies and local governments, offering particular value to those directly or indirectly involved with entertainment, media, technology and telecommunications. Contact Barry at bskidelsky@mindspring.com or 212-832-4800.

June 18, 2018

Week in Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Historic Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore Ends with Mounting Questions About What Has Been Achieved

President Trump hailed his meeting with Kim Jong-Un as a "big step back from nuclear catastrophe", but critics say he made too many concessions without receiving any specific commitment to denuclearization. Kim has reportedly agreed only to a "step-by-step" denuclearization. Trump also offered to suspend joint U.S.-South Korean military drills to appease Kim, a move that reportedly came as a shock to both the Pentagon and South Korean officials, who are now working in tandem to scale back on such drills.


Repeal of Net Neutrality Rules and How They Could Affect You

The end of net neutrality took effect this week. The rules enacted by the Obama administration in 2015 prohibited internet providers from charging more for certain content or giving preferential treatment to certain websites.

Among a wide range of arguments, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that it repealed the rules because they restrained broadband providers from experimenting with new business models and investing in new technology. Those opposing the repeal argued that it would open the door for service providers to censor content online or charge additional fees for better service, something that could hurt small companies who cannot afford to "pay-to-play" to access internet "fast lanes." Twenty-nine state legislatures have so far introduced bills to ensure net neutrality, and some have used executive orders to enforce the previous rules.



Attorney General Sessions Removes Domestic and Gang Violence as Grounds of Asylum

Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has ordered immigration judges to stop granting asylum to most victims of "private violence," like domestic abuse and gang violence. Sessions' decision overturns a precedent set during the Obama administration that allowed more women to claim credible fears of domestic abuse, a precedent that Sessions says created "powerful incentives" for people to "come here illegally and claim a fear of return."

The ruling drew immediate condemnation from immigrants' rights groups, who view it as a return to a time when domestic violence was considered a private matter, and not the responsibility of government to intervene. The National Association of Immigration Judges pointed to Sessions' authority to exercise veto power in these cases as a reason of why the immigration courts need true independence. Immigration courts are housed under the Justice Department, not the judicial branch of government.



Treasury Department Imposes New Sanctions on Russia in Response to Hacking

The sanctions target five Russian companies and three individuals, some of whom are accused of directly supporting Russia's intelligence agency in its efforts to carry out cyberattacks. The sanctions were in response to "malign and destabilizing" activities in Ukraine, intrusions into America's energy grid, and efforts to compromise global digital infrastructure. There have also been Russian efforts to track underwater communications cables that transmit much of the world's data.


China Matches U.S. Tariffs as Trade War Escalates

The United States moved ahead with tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods. China's response was swift and focused on $50 billion worth of American goods including beef, poultry, tobacco, and cars.


Supreme Court Upholds Purge of Ohio Voting Rolls

The Supreme Court sided with the Republican position in the partisan battle of how far states can go in imposing voting restrictions. Republicans argue that restrictions are needed to combat alleged widespread voter fraud.

Federal laws prohibit states from removing voters from state rolls due to failures to vote, but they do allow election officials who suspect that a voter has moved to send a confirmation notice. Ohio has been more aggressive than any other state in purging its voter rolls as it begins the process based on someone's failure to vote in a single federal election cycle. If a voter fails to respond to a notice and does not vote in the next four years, that voter's name is purged from the rolls.

Justice Alito recognized that federal law forbids the use of nonvoting as the sole criterion for removing a registrant, but distinguished Ohio's practice from that. Justice Breyer wrote that the goal of ensuring accuracy of voting rolls did not justify erecting obstacles to prevent eligible people from casting ballots.



Supreme Court Strikes Down Minnesota's Voter Clothing Law

The law prohibits voters from wearing clothing, hats, and buttons expressing political views at polling places on election days. The law bans even general political messages, like support for gun rights or labor unions, as well as materials "designed to influence or impact voting." The Court acknowledged the value of decorum and solemn deliberation as voters prepare to cast their ballots. Chief Justice Roberts even cited with approval more focused laws aimed at limiting classic electioneering. However, this law was too broad, violating the free speech clause of the First Amendment.


Judge in Emoluments Case Questions Defense of Trump's Hotel Profits

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit, the District of Columbia and the state of Maryland, argue that Trump's profits from his D.C. hotel violate anti-corruption clauses of the Constitution that restrict government-bestowed financial benefits. The issue of what constitutes an illegal emolument has never been litigated. The Justice Department contends that the framers meant only to bar federal officials from providing a service to a foreign government and receiving compensation in return. In this case, foreign diplomats allow Trump to profit financially, but there is "no allegation that in exchange, [Trump] took some official action."

Justice Messitte repeatedly challenged that interpretation, asking whether the framers meant merely to rule out outright bribery or to ward off situations that could give rise to corruption as well. He will decide by the end of July whether to allow the plaintiffs to proceed, at which point they could demand financial records from the hotel or other evidence from the president.


Lawyer for Ex-FBI Deputy Director McCabe Sues the Government for Allegedly Withholding Documents Related to McCabe's Firing

The lawsuit alleges that the Justice Department, the FBI, and its inspector general refused to turn over documents related to McCabe's disciplinary process. The plaintiff is demanding the information under the Freedom of Information Act, arguing that the documents could help build a larger case against the Justice Department for wrongful termination and due process violations. McCabe was dismissed in March only hours before his planned retirement over his "lack of candor" about his interactions with a Wall Street Journal reporter in 2016.


Aides Say That Scott Pruitt Enlisted Staff Members to Help with Personal Matters and Obtain Favors for His Family

Embattled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt is in the news again, following reports that he used his office and connections in the energy industry to curry personal favors. Aides say that they were asked to approach donors for assistance in finding his wife a job and help his daughter obtain a summer internship at the White House. According to his former aides, there was an expectation that they would help boost his and his family's standing, while constantly fielding requests that had nothing to do with running the EPA.


Report Criticizes James Comey and Other FBI Employees But Finds no Political Bias in FBI Decision on Clinton

The Justice Department's inspector general issued a report that was unsparingly critical of former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey for breaking with longstanding policy and publicly discussing the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server. The inspector general did not, however, challenge the conclusion that Clinton should not be prosecuted. Investigators uncovered no proof that political opinions at the FBI influenced the outcome of the presidential campaign.


Michael Cohen Calls for an End to the "Media Circus" and Seeks Gag Order on Michael Avenatti, Stephanie Clifford's Lawyer

Cohen filed a motion in Federal District Court in Los Angeles requesting a restraining order against Avenatti, barring him from publicly discussing his breach-of-contract lawsuit he had filed against Cohen and Trump for breaking the nondisclosure deal with Clifford. Cohen claims that Avenatti's publicity tour and denigrating comments about him are contrary to the California Rules of Professional Conduct and likely to result in Cohen being deprived of his right to a fair trial.


Paul Manafort is Sent to Jail to Await Trial Following New Obstruction Charges

A federal judge revoked Manafort's bail and sent him to jail, citing new charges that he had tried to influence the testimony of two government witnesses after having been granted a temporary release. Manafort had posted a $10 million bond and was under house arrest while awaiting his September trial on charges that include money laundering and making false statements.


Steve King's Inflammatory Behavior and Racially Charged Language is Met with Silence from G.O.P.

The House Republican leadership kept silent this week after Rep. Steve King, Republican of Iowa, retweeted a British white supremacist and Nazi sympathizer. King appears unapologetic in subsequent interviews, saying that his intention was to highlight an article warning about the dangers of immigration in Europe. There has been no statement from other Republicans in the Iowa congressional delegation. King has a history of racist comments during his eight terms in Congress.


New York State Sues Trump Foundation after Two-Year Investigation

The New York State Attorney General's Office is accusing the Trump Foundation and the Trump family of sweeping violations of campaign finance laws, self-dealing, and illegal coordination with the presidential campaign. It seeks to dissolve the foundation and bar President Trump and his three children from serving on nonprofit organizations.


New York Limits Damages Measures by "Avoided Costs"

New York's Court of Appeals has curtailed "avoided costs" damage claims brought in New York in particular causes of action, including claims for common law misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition, and unjust enrichment claims. In its unfair competition analysis, the Court found that damages should be based on "the loss of plaintiff's commercial advantage, which may not correspond to what the defendant has wrongfully gained." However, the Court stopped short of saying that an avoided costs theory was never viable, especially in cases of unfair competition and misappropriation when there is a connection between the defendant's gain and the plaintiff's loss. How close a connection will be required remains to be seen.


Federal Study on Drinking Is Shut Down After the National Institutes of Health Concluded the Study Was Tainted by Ties to the Alcohol Industry

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) gave scientists $100 million to fund a global study on alcohol and cardiovascular health. The New York Times reported earlier this year that officials associated with the study had solicited that funding from alcohol manufacturers, a violation of federal policy. An advisory panel to the director of the NIH has now recommended that the trial be terminated altogether. Investigators found that there was frequent email correspondence among staff, outside scientists, and alcohol industry representatives, and that the interactions "appear to intentionally bias the framing of the scientific premise in a direction of showing a beneficial health effect of moderate alcohol consumption."



National Advisory Panel Report Says That Universities Fail to Stop Harassment

The report was issued by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, independent agencies that advise government and the public. It offered 15 recommendations, including that schools should overhaul their academic advising systems so that students and junior researchers are not dependent on a single senior researcher for advancement or grants. It also urged legislators to pass laws so that people can file harassment lawsuits directly against faculty and not just the university, so that employees who settle complaints cannot keep them confidential from prospective academic employers.


Group Suing Harvard Says Admission Officials Discriminated Against Asian-American Applicants by Rating Them Lower on Personality Traits

A lawsuit by Students for Fair Admissions alleges that Harvard ranked prospective Asian American students lower than other races on characteristics like personality, likability, and courage. The lawsuit accuses Harvard of "racial balancing" and keeping the Asian-American student rate low in favor of "less qualified" Latino, black, and white students. The group is led by conservative lawyer Edward Blum, who represented Abigail Fisher in her 2016 Supreme Court case alleging discrimination against white applicants at the University of Texas. Harvard warned that the analysis of over 160,000 records paints a dangerously inaccurate picture of its admissions process.


Apple Will Plug iPhone Port That Police Use to Crack Devices

Apple is closing the technological loophole that let authorities hack into iPhones. Whenever Apple refuses to help open locked iPhones, law enforcement usually turn to third parties for help. A software update will now disable the phone's charging and data port - the opening used to plug in headphones, power cables, and adapters, an hour after the phone is locked. Users can still charge the phone, but will need to enter their passwords to transfer data to or from the devices using the ports. This will hinder law enforcement who have used ports to connect phones to other devices running special software.


Leading Iranian Human Rights Lawyer Arrested in Iran

Nasrin Sotoudeh's activism has landed her in prison numerous times. Most recently, she defended women arrested for having taken off their compulsory head scarves during public protests. Last week she was taken from her home in Tehran and sent to the notorious Evin Prison. Iran hardliners have been empowered since the judiciary decided that only a pool of 20 pre-selected lawyers could represent accused in political cases. Sotoudeh was not among them.


Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Exiled in the United States Criticizes China's Coercion of Western Companies

Teng Biao, one of China's preeminent civil rights lawyers, is drawing attention to the behavior of Western companies trying to stay in China's good graces. He is outspoken about China's "influence operations", and how it coerces foreigners to bend to its point of view or to self-censor in return for favors or access to the Chinese consumer market. Companies like Marriott International and Gap Inc. recently apologized to the Chinese government for communications in which they identified Taiwan, among others, as separate territories, a violation of the Communist Party canon. Teng left China in 2012 after increasing harassment by Chinese authorities. In 2016, he clashed publicly with the American Bar Association (ABA) over its decision to rescind an offer to publish his book on the history of the lawyer-led rights movement in China. He accused the ABA of not wanting to jeopardize its operations in Beijing.


Below, for your convenience, are blurbs for Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media:


Blue Man Group Will Pay More Than $3 Million to End Royalty Dispute

In his suit in 2016, Ian Pai sued Blue Man Group for $150 million in both punitive and compensatory damages. Pai had worked with the avant-garde performance ensemble in its early days, serving as its music director and helping to compose some of its music. After the group's success, Pai claimed that the payments he was receiving for his contributions of "musical compositions and creative work" were not up to what he deserved. The suit has now been settled for $3 million. While the specific figure or other terms of the agreement were not disclosed, a reference to the payout was included in a separate lawsuit filed by Blue Man Group against its insurance company.


Fyre Festival Organizer is Facing New Charges for Running a Ticket-Selling Scam While Out on Bail

Billy McFarland, the promoter of the failed Fyre Festival in the Bahamas, has now been charged with wire fraud and money laundering for running a company that sold fake tickets to exclusive events, like the Met Gala and Coachella. He defrauded about 15 customers out of $100,000. McFarland was out on bail awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to defrauding investors and vendors of the Fyre festival.


Second Circuit Decision in Wilson v Dynatone Publishing Company

The Second Circuit ruled on a copyright suit brought by the writers of a 1970s song that was sampled in a Justin Timberlake hit. It found that the district court erred when it concluded the songwriters had given up their rights years ago and that the claims had been filed to late. The Court found that under section 304(a), the abandonment by the plaintiff of a claim of authorship in the initial term did not affect his claim of authorship for the renewal term. It also found that the defendant's registration of a renewal term copyright was not the repudiation required for the three year statute of limitations to accrue for a claim of authorship, reasoning that mere registration of a copyright did not put a reasonably diligent plaintiff on inquiry notice of the adverse claim of authorship.


Restraining Order Issued against Stan Lee's Supposed Guardian Who Has Been Accused of "Unduly Influencing" Him

A Los Angeles court issued a temporary restraining order against a man who claimed to be a caregiver for Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee. Police had charged the man with filing a false report in connection with Lee. The man had called 911, reporting unidentified people in the home, when police were actually conducting a welfare check on Lee and had refused him entry. According to his lawyers, Lee suffers from hearing, vision, and memory impairments, and was unable to "resist undue influence." At 95 and with an estate worth over $50 million, they say that he is vulnerable to financial predators.



Frieze Fair is Being Sued by Galleries for Failing to Manage Extreme Temperatures

Shane Campbell Gallery, one of the participants in Frieze New York, has sued the event organizer, asserting that the Frieze Fair was negligent in not preparing for the heat wave that caused extreme temperatures in the main tent structure of the art fair on Randalls Island in May. The gallery is seeking full reimbursement for all fees associated with participation. Frieze executives recently offered compensation to affected galleries equal to 10% of the cost of a booth, with a minimum of $1,000. The prices of booths vary, with emerging galleries paying around $8,000 for a spot.


New York Philharmonic is Revisiting its No-Pants Dress Code for Female Musicians

The New York Philharmonic is the only major American orchestra that does not allow its female players to wear pants for formal evening concerts; floor-length skirts or gowns are the only option. The orchestra's management is now discussing modernizing the dress code for women to allow for more options. The dress restrictions are both unfair and could hinder female musicians' abilities to play comfortably. Management is also re-examining its rule requiring men to wear white ties and tails, over worries that the old-fashioned formal wear can be off-putting to newcomers as it struggles to attract new audiences.


Italian Court Rules That Greek Statue in Los Angeles' Getty Villa Should Be Returned to Italy

The bronze "Statue of a Victorious Youth" has been part of an extended legal battle since the 1960s. The work was accidentally discovered in 1964 by an Italian fisherman in the Adriatic Sea. After the fisherman sold it, it was shipped out of the country and the Getty Trust purchased it in 1977 for $3.95 million from a German dealer. The legal conflict stems from a 1939 Italian law that says Italy owns any antiquity discovered on its territory and that any ancient work to be shipped out of the country requires a government export license. However, the Getty argues that the work's discovery in the sea puts it outside of Italy's jurisdiction. Italy's culture minister said the next step is to request that the U.S. government seize the statue, but there is still hope that the parties can come to an agreement on returning the item.


Rape Charges Filed Against Man at the Center of Scandal Tied to Nobel Literature Prize

A furor that has badly damaged the reputation of the Swedish Academy has culminated in charges of two counts of rape against Jean-Claude Arnault. Arnault was the head of a prominent cultural center that received financial support from the academy. A number of women accuse him of leveraging his position in the arts world to pressure women into sex, with some of the offenses allegedly taking place at academy-owned properties. After several high level resignations, the panel announced in May that it would not award a literature prize in 2018.


Canadian Court Orders Toronto Woman to Pay Musician Ex C$370,000 in Damages and Legal Fees for Sabotaging His Future at a Prestigious Music Program

Court records show that Eric Abramovitz's ex-girlfriend had intercepted his acceptance letter, impersonated him, and turned down the offer because she did not want him to leave Canada. He had been invited to study under Yehuda Gilad, a distinguished professor who only accepts one or two students a year. His students fill a large majority of North American orchestra positions. It was not until a second audition with the professor that the rejection came up and the story began to unravel. The award reflects the value of the lost scholarship and income, legal fees, and compensation for having a "dream snatched from him by a person he trusted."



St. Louis Rams Ordered to Pay Reggie Bush $12.5 Million for 2015 Injury

A jury has ordered the now-Los Angeles Rams to pay former National Football League (NFL) running back Reggie Bush around $12.5 million after finding the team 100% liable for an injury Bush suffered at the Rams' stadium in St. Louis in 2015. Bush ran out of bounds at the end of a play and slipped on a concrete surface between the outer perimeter of the field and the walls of the stadium seats. He suffered a torn meniscus that cost him his season.


The National Football League Players Association is Exploring Legal Action over New Anthem Policy

The NFL Players Association (NFLPA) has retained multiple law firms to research the options for fighting the NFL's new anthem policy. The policy mandates all players in the playing area to stand for the anthem. Players who protest the anthem are required to remain in the locker room. One potential challenge is a "non-injury grievance" under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, where the union could argue that the NFL failed to engage in good-faith bargaining before taking away a right the NFL had previously given to the players. The right to protest comes from a 2009 policy that required players to be on the sideline for the anthem, but made standing optional. The deadline for filing that grievance is in late July. Other legal challenges are possible, including an action premised on First Amendment rights to freedom of expression.


National Collegiate Athletic Association Settles First Concussion-Related Lawsuit to Reach Trial

Ploetz v. NCAA was the first of many concussion-related lawsuits by former college football players to reach trial. Greg Ploetz's wife sued the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for negligence and wrongful death, alleging that it did not do enough to protect Ploetz from the long-term effects of concussions while he played NCAA football. Lawyers argued that those effects ultimately contributed to his death. Ploetz was a former University of Texas defensive lineman who died in 2015 at the age of 66. After his death, researchers at Boston University concluded that he had a severe case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which could only be diagnosed posthumously. NCAA chief legal officer Donald Remy said in a statement that "the NCAA does not admit liability as part of the settlement. [...] It is our hope that other plaintiffs' lawyers recognize this is one settlement in one case."



Italian Prosecutors Imply That Sexual Harassment Has Age Limit in a Case Against the Former Leader of the Italian Soccer Federation

Italian prosecutors have dropped a sexual harassment case against Carlo Tavecchio after concluding that the woman he allegedly groped was too old to be distressed by his advances. His accuser is 53-year-old Elisabetta Cortani, the president of the female division of the Lazio soccer club. Prosecutors wrote that harassment was "incompatible" with the accusation, because she was too old to have been intimidated by the accused, had reported it too late, and knew him too well. Italian law gives private citizens six months to report sexual harassment, and up to six years if they are harassed by a public official, which Cortani argues that her harasser was. She also had evidence of an encounter when Tavecchio unknowingly stopped a miniature camera she hung from her necklace while trying to grope, her but the device had continued to record his vulgar remarks.


Yankees Consider Buying Back the YES Network if Fox Sells Assets

The New York Yankees are considering buying back YES after ceding control of the regional sports network four years ago to Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. That agreement included a clause that gives the team a buyback option in the event of sale. Comcast bid $65 billion for Fox's assets, including YES. Both Comcast and earlier bidder Disney have said that they would be willing to divest Fox's regional sports networks if it helps them win government approval for a Fox deal. YES is the most-watched regional sports network in the U.S. It was started in 2002 by the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.


U.S., Mexico, and Canada Win Joint Bid for 2026 World Cup, Beating Out Morocco in FIFA Vote

FIFA delegates in Moscow voted 134 to 65 to pick the North American bid over a rival pitch from Morocco. The U.S. previously hosted the tournament in 1994, while Mexico has held it twice, in 1970 and 1986. The bid proposed that the U.S. will host 60 matches, while Canada and Mexico will host 10 each.


Three Letters from President Trump Ease Fears about U.S. Playing World Cup Host

Officials who led the winning North American bid for the 2026 World Cup said that letters from President Trump reassured FIFA voters that the United States will allow entry to teams, officials, and fans from any country. Trump had provided U.S. Soccer officials with letters addressed to Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, soccer's global governing body. In effect, the letters assured officials voting on the event that the administration's hard-line stance on visas would not apply to the World Cup. A second Trump term would end in 2025, a fact the United Bid officials had pointed out to voters. However, U.S. soccer president Carlos Cordeiro maintains that the mere existence of the letters eased the minds of some. The White House began an interagency review to craft the letter, with Jared Kushner reportedly leveraging his relationship with the Saudi royal family to get it to publicly announce its support for the North American bid.


World Cup Underway in Russia as the Country Tries to Tame Xenophobic Behavior

Russia has launched an effort to curb xenophobia in anticipation of 500,000 soccer fans descending on the country for the World Cup. For instance, railroad employees working on special trains between host cities have had classes on smiling. In an effort to keep hooligans at bay, it has also instituted a system where ticket holders must get identification cards proving they have been vetted by security services. Fans implicated in things like racist chanting in the past have been denied them. However, some lawmakers continue to make eyebrow raising and downright offensive comments about foreigners, including warnings against sex with foreign men as a way to protect the family, saying that such liaisons often produce single-parent homes.


United States Olympic Committee Issues New Reporting Requirements for Governing Bodies Related to Sexual Abuse Cases

National governing bodies (NGBs) must now provide the United States Olympic Committee information for four new reporting requirements. Those include a list of all ongoing or unresolved investigations, grievances or complaints, as well as a list of suspended members, reason for suspension, and length (except those suspended by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency). The move is meant to bring more accountability and uniformity to how NGBs handle sexual abuse cases.


Court Orders Records Unsealed in Penn State Administrators' Case Surrounding Sandusky Scandal

A Pennsylvania appeals court ordered the release of documents sealed in the criminal case against former Penn State administrators over their handling of child sex abuse complaints against assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. The judges said that the basic information in many of the documents has previously been made public and should be released. The Associated Press had argued that the records were a matter of great public interest and the blanket sealing order was too broad and did not explain what documents had been denied and why.


New Jersey Legalizes Sports Betting in Time for World Cup

New Jersey governor Murphy signed the bill and gambling was set to start on Thursday to coincide with the start of the World Cup. The licensing process was being expedited to get betting operations up and running, including Monmouth Park, that helped lead the charge to make sports betting legal. The CEO of British bookmaker William Hill says the company is inundated by U.S. sports teams seeking sponsorship. Back in 2013, William Hill agreed to spend $1 million, an amount more than doubled by now, to build out a sports book at Monmouth Park Racetrack.



Boris Becker Claims Diplomatic Immunity in an Attempt to Thwart Ongoing Bankruptcy Proceedings

Lawyers for Becker told the High Court of Justice in London that British courts could not touch Becker because the Central African Republic named him as its attaché to the European Union for sports, culture, and humanitarian affairs. As a result, they argue that he cannot be made subject to any legal process without the express consent of that country; and legal claims can only be served on him through diplomatic channels. Becker won six Grand Slam singles titles. He was recently declared bankrupt over substantial long-standing debts.


Former French Open Finalist Sara Errani's Doping Suspension Increased to 10 Months

On appeal, the Court of Arbitration for Sport increased Errani's suspension to 10 months from the original two-month ban. The Italian tennis player tested positive for the banned substance letrozole in an out-of-competition drug test in February 2017. The court ruled that the letrozole came from medicine taken by Errani's mother "that found its way into the family meal prepared by the athlete`s mother and eaten by the entire family". However, the court said that Errani needed to be more careful and that her mother's fault "is imputed to her." The two-month suspension she has already served will count toward her new suspension.



The Battle for the Future of Media: Disney, Fox and Comcast

The $85.4 billion AT&T-Time Warner deal is likely the first in a series of mergers of news and entertainment companies built in the era of cable primacy as they try to compete against the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Mergers will allow companies to compete for costlier rights to professional sports that some say have the potential to keep viewers from cutting the cord. All eyes are currently on the pending clash between Comcast and Disney as each seeks to own the bulk of 21st Century Fox. Last December, Disney struck a $52.4 billion all-stock deal to buy much of Fox's assets, but Comcast recently announced its own $65 billion all-cash offer for Fox.


Justice Department's Actions Back Trump's Anti-Press Rhetoric

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recently briefed journalists about the government's policies on obtaining information from reporters. The Obama-era guidelines will remain in effect - reporters would be told in advance of any attempt to obtain their records and will be given a chance to negotiate the scope of the request or to challenge it in court. Twenty-four hours later, news surfaced that the Justice Department had seized years of phone and email records from a New York Times journalist, raising concerns that the Trump administration was adopting a highly aggressive approach. Prosecutors seized the records as part of an investigation into whether a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide had given classified materials to reporters. Jeff Sessions has also stated in the past that this administration would vastly expand leak-related prosecutions.


The New York Times is Reviewing Journalist's Work History and Potential Involvement in Leak Case

Washington-based reporter Ali Watkins's email and phone records were seized by prosecutors in a leak investigation case that implicated Senate Intelligence Committee aide James A. Wolfe, with whom Watkins had a personal relationship. Now the New York Times is reviewing Watkins's involvement in the case, including the nature of her relationship with Wolfe, and what she disclosed about it to her prior employers, Politico, BuzzFeed News and The Huffington Post, among others.


American Media Inc., Tabloid Giant and Trump Ally, Expands its Reach by Adding to its Celebrity-News Portfolio

American Media Inc., the country's largest tabloid publisher, acquired In Touch, Life & Style, and 11 other titles from Bauer Media, expanding a portfolio that already included The National Inquirer and Us Weekly. Its flagship, The National Enquirer, has devoted covers to Donald Trump, aggressively attacking his rivals, and making its first-ever presidential endorsement. The company has currently come under public and legal scrutiny after the Federal Election Commission started looking into whether it violated campaign finance laws when it bought the silence of a former Playboy Model who said she had an affair with Trump. Investigators with the Southern District of New York are also looking into that arrangement as part of their investigation into Michael Cohen.


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Cartoonist Has Been Fired as Paper Shifts Right

Rob Rogers had been with the paper since 1993 and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 1999. Following the arrival of a new editorial team earlier this year, many of his cartoons were killed, and he was presented with a set of guidelines that included setting certain conditions on his work and an approval process for his cartoons. The editor says that he finds characterizations of him as "a right-wing yahoo" inaccurate, and that his goal is make sure the paper is "independent and thoughtful" in its approach, without any ideological intent.


Facebook Directs Congress Back to Terms of Service

Congress has released Facebook's follow-up responses to questions Mark Zuckerberg could not answer during his appearance before it in April. Much of the information, however, refers members of Congress back to the company's terms of service and community standards when addressing questions about its policies on user data, privacy, and security. Facebook also says that it is actively looking for other companies that might have improperly harvested people's personal data.


Ireland to Vote on Removing Blasphemy From the Constitution

Ireland's constitution can be amended only by a majority vote in a popular referendum. Irish citizens will vote in October on whether the blasphemy clause should be stripped from the constitution. There is also a corresponding law on the books, with a top fine of almost $30,000. As recently as last year, English actor Stephen Fry was reported to the Irish police for blasphemy after he made comments disparaging God in an interview on a religious affairs television program. Prosecutors declined to pursue the case, and government officials claim that they have written the law to be essentially unenforceable. Critics say that it still has a chilling effect, and news organizations are self-censoring to avoid the cost of a complaint.


June 11, 2018

Week in Review

By Jana S. Farmer
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

SCOTUS Rules In Favor Of Colorado Baker But Reaffirmed Protection For Gay Rights

The Supreme Court ruled that Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker who had refused to create a wedding cake for a gay couple, was improperly treated with hostility to his religious beliefs by the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which originally ruled against the baker. Phillips claimed that he had a right to decline to use his artistic creativity to create a work at odds with his religious beliefs based on the grounds of freedom of speech. Justice Kennedy, in writing the majority opinion, did not discuss the issue of free speech in any depth. He did, however, state that the outcome of similar cases in other circumstances must await further elaboration in the courts "without subjecting gay persons to indignities when they seek goods and services in an open market". Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito Jr., Elena Kagan, and Neil M. Gorsuch joined Justice Kennedy's majority opinion. Justice Clarence Thomas voted with the majority but noted that he would have ruled in favor of Phillips on free speech grounds. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, dissented, but wrote that she agreed with several passages of the majority opinion reaffirming protections for gay rights.


SCOTUS Denies Request To Discipline American Civil Liberties Union's Lawyers

The Supreme Court denied a request from the Justice Department to discipline lawyers with the American Civil Liberties Union for assisting an undocumented teenager to obtain an abortion.


General News

Regan A. Smith Is the New General Counsel of The United States Copyright Office

Regan Smith was appointed the General Counsel and Associate Register of Copyrights for the United States Copyright Office effective May 27, 2018. Smith joined the Copyright Office in 2014 and advanced to deputy general counsel in 2016.


The Environmental Protection Agency Scales Back The Rules For Determining Risks From Chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) narrowed the requirements for evaluating health and safety risks associated with the most dangerous chemicals on the market. In most cases, the EPA decided to exclude from its calculations any potential exposure caused by the substances' presence in the air, ground, or water.


Trump Takes Aggressive Stance At The G-7 Summit

President Trump called for Russia's readmission to the Group of 7 nations and refused to ease his assault on the global trading system. His stance earned angry rebukes from the leaders of the other member nations. Trump arrived to the Summit late and left early, before the scheduled sessions on climate change, clean energy, and oceans. He also retracted his endorsement of the final statement from the Summit. Canada's Prime Minister announced that Canada will institute retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. effective July 1, 2018.




Trump's Lawyers Claim In Letter To Mueller That the President Cannot Be Compelled To Testify

The New York Times obtained a copy of a 20-page letter, sent by President Trump's lawyers to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. The letter broadly interprets the executive authority, implying that Trump does not need to talk to the investigators and asserting that he may terminate the investigation and even exercise his power to pardon. Trump also declared by tweet that he had "the absolute right" to pardon himself for any crime and that the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller was unconstitutional, but he did not elaborate on the legal basis for his claim.





Ryan Contradicts Trump On FBI's Use Of Confidential Informants, Self-Pardon

Speaker Paul D. Ryan dismissed President Trump's "Spygate" conspiracy theory, agreeing with Representative Trey Gowdy, who stated that FBI's use of informants to investigate potential Russian meddling in Trump's campaign was appropriate. Speaker Ryan also expressed his preference that President Trump should not try to pardon himself, as such a move may spark a constitutional crisis.



Letter To Mueller Also Contradicts Trump Team's Storyline On Son's Meeting

President Trump's lawyers acknowledged that he had dictated the statement from Donald Trump Jr. about meeting a Russian lawyer, contradicting his team's prior statements that he was not involved in the drafting of that statement.


Special Counsel's Team Accuses Paul Manafort Of Witness Tampering; Files Charges Against Manafort's Associate

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's office asked U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the District of Columbia to revoke or revise the conditions of Paul Manafort's bail because they had found probable cause to believe that he sought to tamper with witnesses. Additional charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice were filed against Manafort. Similar charges were also filed against his associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian Army-trained linguist with purported ties to Russian intelligence.



Consumer Bureau Purges Its Consumer Advisory Board

Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, dissolved its volunteer consumer advisory board, which is a board of outside experts consisting of consumer activists, academics, entrepreneurs and industry representatives. The board will be reconstituted next fall, but the current members will not be eligible to apply.



Special Master Finds That Most Materials Seized In Cohen Case Are Not Privileged

Special master Barbara S. Jones, in a report submitted to Kimba M. Wood, the federal judge presiding over Michael Cohen's case in Manhattan, recommended that only 14 paper documents out of the 639, and only 148 of 291,770 electronic files that she had looked at, should be found to be privileged or partly privileged, and therefore should be withheld from the prosecutors' inquiry. The President's lawyers asked to file an objection under seal directly to Judge Wood, arguing in favor of keeping the documents secret. Judge Wood required that the objections be filed publicly "except for those portions that divulge 'the substance of the contested documents.'"




Ambassador Grenell Causes Outrage In Germany

Richard Grenell, the new United States ambassador in Berlin, reportedly expressed to Breitbart London his desire to empower other conservatives throughout Europe. As this sentiment appears to be a direct threat to Chancellor Angela Merkel's governing coalition, Germany's Foreign Ministry asked for a clarification. In the U.S., some argued that ambassadors making political statements should be relieved from their duties. The State Department spokeswoman, on the other hand, stated in a briefing on Tuesday that ambassadors have a right to express their opinions.



Mexico Imposes Tariffs On US; China Offers To Buy $70 Billion In Products In Order to Suspend US Tariffs On Chinese Products; ZTE Reaches Deal With Trump

Mexico imposed tariffs on US imports, including bourbon, apples, potatoes, cheese, and pork in retaliation to the Trump administration's levies on steel and aluminium. Meanwhile, China offered to buy $70 billion of energy, agricultural and manufactured products from the US to suspend tariffs on Chinese products. At the same time, President Trump agreed to lift sanctions from the Chinese telecommunications firm ZTE in exchange for a $1 billion fine and a leadership and compliance team overhaul.





Google Says It Will Not Use Its Artificial Intellegence For Weapons But Will Continue Working With The Military

Following an outbreak of employee protests, Google promised that it would not use its artificial intelligence program for weapons or for surveillance that violates human rights, but stated that it will continue working with governments and the military.


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


Weinstein Pleads Not Guilty To Sexual Assault Charges

Harvey Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from two alleged sexual assaults in New York City.


Stormy Daniels Sues Cohen And Own Former Counsel For Collusion Against Her

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Michael Cohen, President Trump's "fixer", of helping and encouraging Keith M. Davidson, her former attorney, of violating attorney-client privilege and withholding relevant communications from her and her current lawyer, Michael Avenatti.


Court Orders Deposition Of The President In Ex-"Apprentice" Contestant's Defamation Case

Justice Jennifer Schecter, a New York judge, ordered President Trump to be deposed by the end of January in a defamation lawsuit brought by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on "The Apprentice." The President's lawyers argued that this lawsuit should not be heard while the he is in office. Justice Schecter ruled earlier that the case should not have to accommodate a sitting president.


Settlement In Principle Reached In The Case Of Toddler Dancing To Prince Song

In 2007, Stephanie Lenz posted on YouTube a video of her 18-month-old child dancing to the Prince song "Let's Go Crazy." The posting resulted in a legal battle over alleged copyright infringement claim and a counterclaim of alleged violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by knowingly misrepresenting said copyright. In 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that copyright owners must consider fair use when sending takedown notices, but that a copyright holder's subjective good faith belief that allegedly infringing material does not constitute fair use was a sufficient shield from misrepresentation liability. Left to try were the questions of fact as to the copyright holder's subjective beliefs about the video in question. The parties announced that they reached a settlement in principle, but the terms of the settlement have not been made public.


Chris Farley's Family Settles Fat-Tired Bike Suit

Comedian Chris Farley's family settled their federal lawsuit against Trek Bicycle, which named its fat-tired bikes Farley. The lawsuit alleged that Trek misappropriated Farley's name and "fat guy" brand of comedy.


Stars Of The "Fixer Upper" Show Settle With E.P.A.

Chip and Joanna Gaines, who star in HGTV show "Fixer Upper," have agreed to pay the EPA a civil fine of $40,000 for alleged violations of rules for the safe handling of lead paint during home renovations. The also agreed to inform their audience about the dangers of lead-based paint.


New Jersey Judge Could Not Contain His Mirth In The "Bananapalooza" Case

Judge Noel Hillman of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, who issued a decision earlier this week in a copyright infringement lawsuit between two rival costume manufacturers concerning selling lookalike banana costumes, used terms like "bananafest" and "bananapalooza" at a hearing, mused "whether the founding fathers had banana costumes in mind" when they drafted the Constitution, and declared that the costumes in question were "unlikely to end up in the Philadelphia Museum of Art." The defense lawyer brought a sample real banana into the courtroom, while the plaintiff's attorney acknowledged that the case was "ripe" for giggles.


Pixar Co-Founder Leaves Amid Unwanted Workplace Hugging Allegations

John Lasseter, a co-founder of Pixar, will leave the Walt Disney Company following complaints about unwanted workplace hugging.


Top Authors Bypass Print And Opt For Audiobooks

A-list authors, including Michael Lewis, Robert Caro and Jeffery Deaver, are bypassing printed books and releasing stand-alone audiobook originals, hoping to take advantage of the exploding audiobook market.


Arts and Cultural Heritage

Buyer Of A Sisley Landscape With Nazi-Tainted Provenance Asks Christie's For a Refund Plus Interest

Alain Dreyfus, an art dealer in Switzerland, bought Alfred Sisley's painting titled "First Day of Spring in Moret" at a Christie's auction in New York City in 2008. He now claims that Christie's did not sufficiently examine the work's provenance before putting it up for sale and failed to identify that this work was plundered by Nazis in 1940 from a Jewish collector in Paris, Alfred Lindon. A Lindon descendant has filed a claim related to the painting in a court in Paris. Dreyfus expressed his willingness to return the work to the Lindon heirs. He also demanded that Christie's reimburse him the $338,500 that he paid for the painting in 2008, plus an annual interest rate of 8%. Christie's responded that its actions were appropriate and that it had checked all available databases, catalogues, and resources prior to the sale and found nothing at that time to indicate the painting was ever in Lindon's collection.


U.S. Foundation Under Pressure To Return Ancient Chinese Manuscript

A new 440-page study traces the provenance of the Chu Silk Manuscript, a 2,300-year-old document presently in possession of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation (the Foundation) in Washington, D.C., from tomb raiders who discovered it during World War II, to American spies who smuggled it out of China, to several museums and foundations in the United States. The Foundation is now under pressure to return the manuscript and is reportedly in discussions with Beijing over possible terms of such return.


Daughter Sues Father Over Failed Attempt To Block Sale Of A Basquiat Work

Belinda Neumann-Donnelly sued her father, Hubert Neumann, a major art collector, claiming that by suing to block the sale by the Estate of her mother, he intentionally depressed the price of a Jean-Michel Basquiat masterpiece, "Flesh and Spirit", which sold at auction last month for $30.7 million. Neumann had unsuccessfully sued to block the sale, claiming that it violated his agreement with Sotheby's, which purportedly gave him the right to approve all matters concerning the marketing of works from the "Family Collection."


The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation Announces A Mega-Gift To The Whitney Museum Of American Art

The Roy Lichtenstein Foundation (RLF) announced that it is giving 400 of the artist's artworks, or about half of its holdings, to the Whitney Museum of American Art. The move marks a beginning of RLF's process of winding itself down. Smaller gifts will be going to other institutions.


Street Artists Receive Public Commission In Lower Manhattan

Silverstein Properties, a developer, in partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, commissioned street artists to create eight murals on the sheds housing mechanical equipment that will one day service 2 World Trade Center. Six of the murals are now complete. All works will be on display for at least a year.



Former President Of USA Gymnastics Pleads the Fifth Amendment

Steve Penny, the former president of USA Gymnastics, asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination several times at a Senate subcommittee hearing last week. He was being questioned about his knowledge of the abuses committed by Lawrence G. Nassar, a former Olympic national team doctor, who was convicted earlier this year for molesting gymnasts.


New Video Of Sterling Brown's Arrest Leads To New Vows To Sue

Sterling Brown, a Milwaukee Bucks player, was arrested and subdued by the police with a stun gun following an alleged parking violation this past January. Following release of new video footage of Brown's arrest, during which one of the police officers appears to be purposefully stepping on Brown's ankle, his lawyer stated that he intends to file a federal civil rights lawsuit on Brown's behalf.


Trump Disinvites The Eagles; James And Curry Boycott White House

Cleveland's LeBron James and Golden State's Stephen Curry stated that their teams would not participate in any sort of ceremony at the White House after President Trump cancelled the Philadelphia Eagles' White House victory ceremony at the last minute. Nearly all of the players and coaches of the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles team said they would boycott the visit after the President voiced his position that players should stand during the national anthem at games. White House visits by sports teams have historically been nonpolitical celebrations under prior administrations.




Delaware And New Jersey Allow Sports Betting

Delaware and New Jersey began offering full-scale sports betting this week following the Supreme Court's decision last month to strike down the provision prohibiting state authorization of sports gambling schemes in the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).






White House Unblocks Twitter Users But Promises Appeal

Last month, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York held that President Trump and his team violated the constitutional rights of seven Twitter users who were blocked from viewing or responding to President Trump's tweets based on their expressed political opinions. The White House has now unblocked these users, but promised to appeal Judge Buchwald's decision.


Reporter May Be Compelled To Testify At A Murder Trial

New York's Court of Appeals is considering whether Frances Robles, a New York Times reporter, may be compelled to testify about her interview of Conrado Juárez after his arrest in connection with the death of "Baby Hope". Robles invoked New York's shield law, which allows journalists to be compelled to take the stand or turn over notes only if prosecutors can show the information is "highly material and relevant" and "critical or necessary" to proving their case. She also maintains that being forced to testify would adversely impact her journalistic credibility and effectively prevent her from conducting sensitive interviews with others accused of crimes.


Former Senate Aide Is Charged With Lying To The Investigators; Journalist's Records Seized

James A. Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide, was charged with lying repeatedly to investigators about his contacts with three reporters in an investigation of classified information leaks. The prosecutors also seized several years of a New York Times reporter's phone and email records. News media advocates objected to the latter as an intrusion on the journalistic First Amendment freedoms.


French Parliament To Review "Fake News" Bill

France's Parliament began to debate a bill that would allow judges to block content deemed false during a three-month period preceding an
election. The bill, championed by President Emmanuel Macron, faces criticism that it poses a potential threat to the freedom of the press.


The New Yorker Magazine Forms Union

The editorial staff of the New Yorker magazine joined the growing trend among magazines and news publications and formed a union. Employees of the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, among many others, are already represented by unions.


Cambridge Analytica's Former Leader Fights Back

Alexander Nix, former chief executive officer of Cambridge Analytica, told British lawmakers during a contentious hearing before Parliament's media committee that he was being subjected to "frankly ridiculous accusations based on the most tenuous connections that simply aren't supported by evidence". Cambridge Analytica is accused of abusing information pulled from Facebook, engaging in unethical business practices, and playing a role in the British vote to leave the European Union.


Facebook Finds Itself In The Midst Of Continuing Controversy Over User Privacy

Facebook revealed that it has a data-sharing partnership with Huawei, a telecommunications equipment company with alleged close ties with China's government. Huawei was flagged by the U.S. intelligence officials as a national security threat. Facebook committed to winding down the Huawei deal. Meanwhile, the social media giant is facing a new wave of criticism from the US and European lawmakers and regulators after disclosures that it had allowed dozens of hardware manufacturers access to personal user data. To add insult to injury, a software bug this week made public the private posts of as many as 14 million Facebook users in yet another failure to keep the information of millions of users private.




Hungarian Right's Media Strategy Abroad

In Hungary, allies of the right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban control most of the domestic media and promote sensationalist, anti-immigration articles. Orban's allies are now investing in Slovenian media to give him a voice in support of Slovenia's right-wing leader Janez Jansa, who finished first in the country's national elections last week and who is now working to piece together a governing coalition.


Military Crackdown In Pre-Election Pakistan

With the national elections just six weeks away, Pakistan's military establishment is mounting a campaign of intimidation against its critics in the news media, on social media, and in mainstream political movements. Several journalists were abducted or threatened; major news outlets were blocked; and those expressing support for the civilian governing party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, were censored or punished.


U.K. Regulator Clears Way For Battle Over Satellite Broadcaster Sky

Comcast and the Walt Disney Company are fighting for control of the British satellite broadcaster and internet service provider Sky, which has 23 million customers in five countries, and owns valuable broadcasting rights to English Premier League games, Formula One races, and other sporting events. Britain's culture secretary, Matthew Hancock, ruled that 21st Century Fox, whom Disney offered to buy and which already owns part of Sky, may proceed with its bid to buy out the rest of Sky. This application was previously held in regulatory limbo over concerns that it would give Fox's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, too much control over the country's media.


Matt Lauer Can Keep His New Zealand Ranch, At Least For Now

New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office announced that it did not have sufficient evidence that Matt Lauer had breached a good-character test for foreign property buyers when he bought the lease to the Hunter Valley Station ranch in February of last year, months before he was fired from the "Today" show over sexual misconduct allegations. The agency noted, however, that it will continue monitoring the matter and could revisit the case "should further information come to light." New Zealand's definition of good character is broad and "offenses or contraventions of the law" that fall short of a crime may be evidence of a breach of the good-character test.


A Russia-Hating Priest Played A Role In The Case Of Faked Assassination Of A Putin Critic

Arkady Babchenko, a dissident Russian journalist, agreed to fake his death, believing his life to be at risk. He was found in a pool of his own blood by his wife and was pronounced dead on the way to the hospital. He subsequently apologized for the stunt at a news conference in Kiev, Ukraine. The Ukraine Security Service claimed that this was a sting operation aimed at stopping a real assassination plot against Babchenko, further complicating the tortured relations between Ukraine and Russia. In a latest twist, a Russia-hating right-wing priest claimed that he was hired to carry out the hit and that he was working for Ukraine's intelligence services. Ukrainian officials admitted that he had played a role.