September 16, 2019

Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


The Obamas Want What She Won't Let Go

The Obama's new production company, Higher Ground Productions, wants to trademark "Higher Ground", but computer training company Higher Ground Enterprises beat them to the punch and the US Patent and Trademark Office deemed the marks too similar. The Obama lawyers have successfully found resolutions with other similar trademark owners. Higher Ground Enterprises offered to sell the mark in exchange for "significant demands", including appearances in the Obamas' productions. The production company didn't agree to the demands and filed a "petition to cancel" a few weeks ago.

Actress Gets 14-Day Sentence in College Admissions Fraud Scandal

Felicity Huffman received a 14-day sentence in the college admissions case that raised questions of race and class. The is the first of a group of accused parents to face consequences in this case. The college admissions conspiracy included 34 wealthy and mostly white parents who are alleged to have paid thousands of dollars to inflate their children's credentials during the college application process. The investigation accused some 50 people, including coaches, test administrators, and others. Huffman was arrested in March and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. She pleaded guilty. In addition to her 14-day sentence, Huffman must also pay a $30,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service.

New Weinstein Book Names Previously Unknown Sources

The new book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, by New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey, has named key sources in the Weinstein case. The sources include company officials, Hollywood stars, and other victims, and describes the extent of alleged transgressions and secret settlements. The book also reveals that 2 years before the allegations, Weinstein's brother and business partner Bob Weinstein confronted him. In addition, former top executive Irwin Reiter also raised concerns, along with accuser and former Miramax assistant Roweina Chiu. The book also chronicles how the reporting came together and the scandalous involvement of Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom.

MoviePass Ends Run: Attracted Film Buffs, But Maybe Too Many

After 2 years, millions of signups and a net loss of $150.8 million in 2017, MoviePass is shutting down. In response to major losses, MoviePass began reducing the number of movies that subscribers could see and restricting the films that could be watched. This was not an altogether unexpected ending for the service in which film buffs could see as many films as they wanted for $10 a month.


Billionaire Tied to Epstein Speaks of Being Betrayed

Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands (a retail and fashion empire) was Epstein's biggest client. Since the Epstein scandal broke, a Wexner spokesman has said that he "severed ties" with Epstein more than a decade ago and Wexner doesn't appreciate the negative media attention. Wexner recently said in a speech that he was deceived and betrayed by Epstein, after his brand shares plummeted.

Yoga Instructors Are Warned 'Don't' On Union

Most YogaWorks (one of the Nation's largest yoga chains) teachers are hybrids, classified as employees but given only part-time work with little or no job security. Some of the YogaWorks employees asked the private equity firm that owns the company to recognize their union, which would be the first in the $16 billion industry. The company then emailed its employees asking them not to sign on the union card. Recently there has been a lot of union talk in the gig economy, with Lyft and Uber drivers gearing up for a union drive.

Comic Book with Men's Kiss Survives Brazil Mayor's Raid

The Mayor of Rio De Janeiro recently ordered Avengers: The Children's Crusade comic book, published in 2010, to be removed from a biennial book festival. After the failed attempt, the book completely sold out at the festival and one of Rio's biggest newspapers decided to put it on the front page to "shed light on the threats of censorship." The mayor's demand sparked backlash and the book fair responded by filing a preventative injunction with Rio's Court of Justice to "ensure full operation of the event and the rights of the exhibitors."


California Law Would Let College Athletes Get Paid, But Challenges Await

The new "Fair Pay to Play Act" is now on California Governor Newsom's desk, but the logistical reality of enacting the law looms large. This is the latest attack on the NCAA's amateurism rules. Under the new law, college athletes would get paid for their names, images, and likenesses through endorsement deals, sponsorships (with limits on signing with brands that would conflict with school contracts), and autograph signings, among other things, creating an Olympic-style income model in California. The new law drew social media support from professional athletes and others. The NCAA argues that the law would lead to the end of college sports as we know it and create unfair recruiting advantages. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

Ex-Trainer Accuses Brown of Sexual Assault

Newly signed New England Patriot Antonio Brown has been accused of multiple incidents of rape and sexual assault by a former trainer. Brown denies the allegations and says that any sexual interaction was entirely consensual and this is just a financial ploy now that Brown is the highest paid wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). Brown can be disciplined under the NFL's personal conduct policy even though not formally charged.

Justify Failed Drug Test Before Triple Crown Run

Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test just weeks before the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Given the sport's rules, Justify should have been disqualified and unable to enter the race, thus not winning the Triple Crown. Justify's trainer denies the drug use allegations. The California Horse Racing Board took over one month to confirm the results and then dropped the case. Justify was just the 13th Triple Crown winner and retired shortly thereafter.

Trainer's Lawyer Blames 'Environmental Contamination' in Justify's Drug Test

The Hall of Fame trainer blamed the results on contaminated food that Justify ate. Before the 2018 Kentucky Derby, Justify tested positive for a "minuscule" amount Scopolamine. The trainer said that it was obvious environmental contamination, a known problem in California, that comes from wild Jimson weeds. Seven horses from 4 different trainers also had some level of Scopolamine in their systems when tested.

Big Brother...The Crimson Tide is Watching

In an attempt to solve the problem of a deserted student section at Bryant-Denny stadium, the University of Alabama is taking an extraordinary step in using location-tracking technology downloaded onto students' phones to see who stays and who skips out on games. In a move that is likened to that of "Big Brother," students would earn loyalty points for attending home games and pick up a few extra points by staying until the fourth quarter, all while Alabama prompts concerns from students and privacy advocates.

The Power Gap in the Power Five

In the top, most powerful and richest college sports conferences, there are only a handful of women leading those athletic departments, while 50% of college athletes are female. There has only been begrudging progress in elevating women to top posts in the executive suites of American sports. The Power Five is the most male dominated sports sector, but women are making progress outside of that. Gender parity is at the forefront of any conversation, with the approach of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX.

Jailed for Sneaking Into a Soccer Game, She Died a Cause Célebre

Iran's "Blue Girl," who became a hashtag trend across social media after gaining international attention, has died. Sahar Khodayari, 29, sneaked into Azadi Stadium, Tehran's main sporting venue, dressed as a man and was arrested and sentence to 6 months in prison. After her arrest, she sat herself on fire in front of a courthouse on September 2nd. Khodayari snuck into the stadium in defiance of a social custom that prohibits women from entering sporting venues, a ban that has been in place since 1979 under a hard-liner interpretation of Islamic law. FIFA has been working with Iranian authorities to overcome the ban before it hosts the World Cup Qualifier on October 10th.


Top Official in Virginia Sues CBS for Defamation

In a $400 million lawsuit, Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax claims that the network smeared his name and helped to cost him his partnership at Morrison & Foerster. Fairfax also asserts that senior in-house lawyers knew that the network was airing allegedly false sexual assault claims against him, with reckless disregard. CBS stands by its reporting.

Ex-Fox News Host's Business is Under FBI Investigation

Former Fox News host Clayton Morris' real estate advisory business has left a trail of angry customers and is currently being investigated by Indiana and New Jersey. The business is under investigation for alleged real estate fraud and a Ponzi scheme that used fake leases. Investors in the real estate business said that they didn't realize that something was wrong until they started receiving code violations and condemnation notices. Morris and his family have since moved to Portugal while investigations are ongoing.

E.U.'s New Digital Czar Expands Her Portfolio

The E.U.'s Margrete Vestager is now the most powerful regulator of big tech. As the E.U.'s Competition Commissioner, her new role combines digital regulation and antitrust enforcement. Vestager has levied billions in fines and initiated investigations against Google, Apple, and Facebook for violating antitrust laws and harming consumers. In this new role, Vestager has unmatched regulatory reach and can even propose legislation on issues from privacy and data management to disinformation. The E.U. wants to become the activist tech regulator in the world, but there are concerns over a concentration of power. President Trump says that Vestager hates the U.S. and that is why she targets the big tech platforms and companies.

Google to Put Originators of News at the Top

In a sign of willingness to work with publishers, Google is battling baseless content in favor of trustworthy reporting by changing its algorithm to highlight "original reporting." Digital news has obliterated the "daylong exclusive" enjoyed by publishers in the print era. The new changes to the company's search guidelines would help it "better recognize original reporting and make it more visual." Google and other major tech platforms have been under scrutiny lately because of their influence over the digital news industry.

Australia Threatens Jail Time for Violent Content Online, Link By Link

New sweeping legislation in Australia threatens huge fines for social media companies and jail time for their executives if they fail to rapidly remove "abhorrent violent content." Australia is moving to identify and block entire websites that hold even a single piece of illegal content, denying terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes. Even though there is no First Amendment-type protections in Australia, there are still limits to this approach.

A Mission to Bolster Authoritarians, With Hashtags as Weapons

An Egyptian company that is run by a former military officer and self-described expert on "internet warfare" has been engaged in a covert social media campaign to boost military rulers. The company pays recruits $180 million and supplies them with hashtags and talking points to post in pro-military messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram using fake accounts. Such campaigns have been used in Sudan after soldiers massacred pro-democracy demonstrators.

General News

Justices Permit U.S. to Exclude Asylum Claims

The Supreme Court has ruled to allow the government to curtail requests during the current legal battle over proposed asylum rules. In a 7-2 vote, the Trump administration can enforce the "Third-Country" requirement announced back in July. This ruling essentially reverses a lower court ruling imposing a nationwide injunction. The Court did not explain its reasoning, but Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented.

President Ousts Bolton Amid Rifts on Foreign Policy

Foreign policy hawk and hardliner on foreign policy challenges in North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia, John Bolton has been fired by President Trump. Trump says that he disagreed strongly with many of Bolton's suggestions and was often at odds with Secretary of State Pompeo. Bolton ruffled feathers while in office, but says that he was not fired, rather that he resigned from his post. Bolton was Trump's third National Security Advisor.

U.S. Appeals Court Reinstates Emoluments Case Against Trump

A New York federal appeals court reinstated a case filed by a D.C.-based watchdog group and restaurant and hotel owners alleging that President Trump is violating the Constitution and unfairly benefiting from visits by government officials to his private properties. The Emoluments Clauses prohibit the President from receiving gifts or payments from foreign or domestic governments without Congress' permission. The case was initially dismissed in 2017, as the court stated that the group and owners did not have legal standing to sue and that Congress would need file the lawsuit. The new ruling allows the case to continue with a vote of 2-1 in favor of returning the case to the lower court.

A Hopeful Perk Upon Check In: Trump's Favor

Ethics lawyers are up in arms over what seems to be a daily merging of Trump's official duties and his commercial interests. The latest instance involves individuals, companies, and organizations staying or hosting events at his hotel and the perceived possibility of getting something in return. Since taking office, there have been thousands of visits to his properties, not only by Trump but also foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, Cabinet members, and others with ties to the President. Critics say that this "reflects the normalization of corruption" and a degradation of ethical norms. The issue was brought to the forefront recently, as Vice President Pence stayed at a Trump property in Scotland and Trump himself suggested holding a G7 Summit at one of his properties. Democrats announced that they would begin an investigation into the merging of interests.

A Military Stopover At a Trump Resort Raises Ethical Questions

In 2014, President Trump made a deal with a Scottish airport to increase air traffic and boost tourism in the region that in turn sent flight crews to his resort. The Pentagon uses the airport to refuel Air Force flights and the local airport staff finds them accommodations. These two separate agreements now intersect and Trump's continued ownership of his businesses produces regular ethical questions. Although Trump claims that he had nothing to do with that deal, there are documents from the Scottish government agencies that show he in fact had a direct role in making it. Sending crews to Trump's property raises eyebrows because his property is on the list of preferred hotels, even though the resort is 20 miles away and more expensive than other accommodations in the area. The deals raise questions that the Defense Department needs to address. The Air Force is now reviewing its policies as well.

Seven Million People Fled From Disasters Tied to Weather in 6 Months

Climate disasters have displaced 7 million people this year, twice as many people as conflicts have displaced. This year has already been a record breaker for weather related incidents. More than 950 natural disasters (monsoon, cyclones, landslides, etc.) have plagued 102 different countries and territories in the first 6 months of 2019. India and Bangladesh have been hit the hardest, with over 1 million people forced to evacuate.

Advisor Who Rejected Climate Science Is Said to Leave Post on Security Council

William Happer made a promise to serve 1 year in Trump's administration and then leave. He is making good on that promise after his plan to question climate science was shut down by the White House as a risk to re-election. His departure is celebrated by Democratic lawmakers, environmental groups, and climate policy think tanks. Happer was a Director on the National Security Council and his last day was September 13th.

U.S. Secretary Said to Coerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Leaders

According to reports, the Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts who contradicted Trump claims about the path of Hurricane Dorian. In an unusual, unsigned statement, full of anger and accusations, employees were threatened with termination. The National Weather Service is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a division of the Commerce Department, and there are concerns that it had been bent to political purposes, calling into question its scientific independence. The Commerce Department disputes the threats and some say that the Birmingham office was just motivated by a desire to threaten the President.

Environmental Protection Agency Planning to Phase Out Chemical Testing on Animals

The current administration wants to eliminate almost all studies using mammals by 2035, but public health groups say that this is irresponsible and will make it more difficult to regulate chemicals. Proponents of plan say that it will improve the science. After 2035, requests for using mammals (rats, mice, guinea-pigs, and rabbits) will require approval from an EPA administrator. PETA applauds the new plan.

Beekeepers Sue Environmental Protection Agency for Approving Pesticide They Say is Harmful to Bees

In July, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanded the allowed uses of Sulfoxaflor. Earth Justice argues that the EPA relied too heavily on industry-funded studies when expanding use. This is the second such suit, the first came from the Center for Biological Diversity back in August.

Mnuchin Dismisses Data Showing Trade War Pain

Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports are having no impact on the U.S. economy, contrary to the gloomy economic data and industry surveys. The tariffs on $360 billion and another $160 billion come on December 15th and include furniture, televisions, and bikes. As a result of the tariffs, the Administration authorized a $28 billion bailout for struggling farmers hit by China's retaliation. The U.S. and China are expected to resume high-level trade talks next month, but the Administration sees no downside to continuing the trade war because "it's effecting China, not us."

Vaping is Safe? Can't Say That, Juul is Warned

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that Juul's marketing of its e-cigarette device may have violated the law and Juul Labs Inc. has been warned by U.S. health officials. There have been 450 cases and 5 deaths of a mysterious lung ailment that is raising new questions about the health effects of vaping. Currently, vaping is marketed as "less risky than cigarettes" without the agency's approval and pitched as a way to quit cigarettes. It will be a tough road for Juul to gain FDA clearance to continue selling next year, as there is mounting security due to the surge in teenage vaping and recent deaths. Juul halted much of its social media marketing last year after criticisms.

Bloomberg Pledges $160 Million Over 3 Years to Fight Vaping

Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg wants a ban on vaping products as health officials struggle to control an epidemic among young people. E-cigarettes threaten to reverse the decline in youth smoking by using the same tactics that lured kids to cigarettes. Bloomberg wants to use the money to help at least 20 states and cities pass laws banning the products and aims to fully remove the popular flavored products from stores and online since the government has failed to do so.

Does Apple Tip the Scale in Favor of Its Own Apps?

Apple is one of the largest competitors on a platform it controls and appears at the top of search results. This has led to antitrust complaints in the U.S., Europe, and Russia. Apple claims that its apps appear at the top of the results due to its popularity and use of generic names, but Apple executives have acknowledged its ranking advantage while denying that it was intentional. Apple claims to have now adjusted the algorithm, but there is still a lack of oversight in the process. There is now regulatory scrutiny from both major political parties.

Gap Between Rich and Poor Gets Bigger

The widening gulf in incomes and wealth is not only an economic issue, but it also affects health, as the rich are leading longer lives and the life expectancy of the poor is shrinking. Poverty is a life-threatening issue for millions. The Government Accountability Office reports that greater levels of income and wealth were associated with greater longevity. The income gap will be a major talking point this election cycle.

Opioid Moguls Poised to Settle Over Epidemic

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family, the makers of Oxycotin, may now pay billions of dollars in a landmark proposal. The tentative settlement involves more than 2,000 lawsuits. In the proposal, Purdue will file for bankruptcy and effectively dissolve, then a new company will form and continue selling, with sales revenue going to the plaintiffs. Purdue will also donate drugs for addiction treatment and overdoes. The deal is expected to be worth $10-12 billion (as of 2016, the company made more than $31 billion in revenue from Oxycotin).

Opioid Defendants Seek to Disqualify Judge

The attorneys for the 8 drug distributors, pharmacies, and retailers facing trial for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis want to disqualify the federal judge overseeing the case over a perceived bias in his effort to obtain a multibillion dollar global settlement. The judicial code requires judges to recuse themselves when there is an appearance of prejudice or bias. The attorneys state that Judge Polster has made comments during hearings, media interviews and public forums, that when taken as a whole and viewed objectively demonstrate that recusal is necessary.

In a 'Gesture of Good Will,' Trump Delays China Tariffs

The Trump administration has agreed to delay the latest round of China tariffs by 2 weeks. The new $250 billion tariffs will go into effect on October 15th instead of October 1st. Trump said the postponement comes at the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, due to the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. U.S. stock futures jumped more than 0.5% after the announcement of the delay.

Google Settles Over Claims That It Stifled Worker's Dissent

Google settled with the National Labor Relations Board after complaints from multiple employees who say that it stymied dissent. As part of the settlement, Google plans to explain to employees the rights they have as workers under the federal law and that Google won't retaliate. The complaints stemmed from accusations of political bias at the major tech company and has been a powerful rallying call among conservatives.

House Inquiry Targets Heads of Tech Giants

Bipartisan lawmakers seek information and emails from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple in a new front in the government's antitrust probe. The requests from House Judiciary Committee leaders from both parties set up potential conflicts between tech leaders protective of their business tactics and lawmakers who want to scour their corporate records. The Committee is requesting executive communications and financial statements as well as information about competitors, market share, mergers, and key business decisions. The tech giants are likely to resist such carte blanche access.

Chief Executives Join Hands to Demand Action on Guns

CEOs and executives from 145 companies have signed a letter urging the Senate to take action on gun control. CEOs from Twitter to AirBnb and Reddit signed on. They want the Senate to support common sense gun laws, including background checks and nationwide "Red Flag" laws, that could prevent tragedies.

Seminary Creates $1.7 Million Fund to Pay Slavery Reparations

Virginia Theological Seminary used slave labor and now is the first school to create a reparations fund. In the past several months, reparations have been at the forefront of national conversation and the school set up a task force to determine how it would handle the issue. The purpose of the fund is to "repair the material consequences of our sins in the past" and will be used to address the "particular needs" of the descendants, to create programs that promote justice and inclusion, and to elevate the work and voices of African-American alumni and clergy within the Episcopal church.

Inquiry Clears Carson Over $31,000 Expense

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been cleared of misconduct over ordering a $31,000 dining set for his office in 2017. HUD investigators found no evidence that he acted improperly. However, the Inspector General did determine that Carson did not follow federal laws that prohibit expenditures of more than $5,000 on furniture without Congressional approval. In its 14-page report, blame was plplaced on department officials who should have known better, and not Carson.

For Children Allergic to Peanuts, Food and Drug Administration is on Track to Approve a New Treatment

The drug Palforzia is designed to minimize the incidence and severity of allergic reactions in people from ages 4 to 17 with peanut allergies. The FDA will make its final approval by January, and if approved, the drug will become the first FDA approved treatment for peanut allergy. More than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts and tree nut allergies, with 2.5% of American children being allergic. Palforzia works by exposing children to controlled dosages of peanut protein until they reach a maintenance level. Nine percent of children dosed with Palforzia during the trial had to stop because of severe allergic reactions.

Police Officer is Fired After KKK Application Is Found in His House

A Michigan police officer was fired after KKK memorabilia and Confederate flags were found in his home. Officer Charles Anderson was fired after a disciplinary hearing and the Muskegon Fraternal Order of Police called this an "unfortunate situation." Anderson was on administrative leave since August when potential homebuyers saw the flags and framed KKK application while touring his home. Anderson's wife has stated that her husband is not a Klan member.

Users in Illinois Can Sue Facebook Over Use of Private Data

Users in Illinois can now sue Facebook over facial recognition and its use of users' private data. A new ruling gives users a foothold to dig into data-sharing practices. In its defense, Facebook argues that users can't expect privacy, but a District Judge doesn't agree, and says that Facebook failed to safeguard users' personal data and deceived users into allowing their data to be harvested. The San Francisco judge says that when one shares sensitive data with a limited audience, especially when it has been made clear of an intention to share with a limited audience, one retains privacy rights and can sue for violation of such. Facebook will have to pay damages and rewrite its policies for handling personal information. In July, it agreed to pay $5 billion to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation. The current lawsuit targets Facebook's relationships with its business partners and the parents' access to users' information and that of their friends. The plaintiffs argue that users did not consent to such sharing, while Facebook claims that its usage was disclosed in its user agreements.

Price of Activism, and Maybe of Free Speech, is $4 Million

Seventy-eight year old Florida activist and sister of former attorney general Janet Reno, Maggy Hurchalla has devoted her life to protecting the untamed Florida wilderness. Currently, she has been fighting a losing public battle with a rock-mining company. Last year, a jury decided that she should pay $4.4 million in damages to Lake Point Restoration, a limestone mining company along Treasure Coast. Lake Point sued for her interference with a contract in which county commissioners backed out of a water deal with the company. Hurchalla argued that she was only exercising her First Amendment rights. A state appeals court upheld the verdict with a precedent that could chill citizens' abilities to question their leaders and alarming environmental and free speech organizations.

Virginia Suit Asks Why Should Couples Have to List Their Race to Marry?

Three couples have filed a federal suit in the Eastern District of Virginia for being denied a marriage license after refusing to disclose their races on their application. They argue that the rule is "offensive and unconstitutional," "scientifically baseless" and "reflective of a racist past." Virginia is currently one of 8 states (including Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Minnesota) that requires this disclosure to get a license. The plaintiffs are seeking "reasonable costs," including attorney's fees, plus a reversal of the denial.

A Call to Have Massachusetts's State Seal Lay Down Its Weapons

In a state that has gay rights, gay marriage, and voted against the death penalty is now in the middle of an effort gaining steam to change the state seal, a quest that started in the 1980s. Those in opposition to the seal believe that its image is insensitive in its depiction of a white, colonialist arm clutching a sword near an image of a Native American.

2,500 Reported Missing in Bahamas After Storm

A government compiled list says that there are at least 2,500 people currently missing in the Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. The list is not checked against government records of people at shelters or those who were evacuated. Aid workers and residents say that the number of those missing is in the thousands after entire communities were decimated by the Category 5 storm. The volunteer-created platform allows individuals to search for their missing family and friends.

After Dorian, Cruise Lines Step in With Meals, Aid, and Rides to Safety

A Bahamas Paradise Cruise line is transporting supplies, first responders, and evacuees while offering free rides to Bahamians stranded in Florida after Hurricane Dorian. Those stuck in the Bahamas can ride the ship to Florida for free if they are able to provide proof of residency. The Grand Celebration ship did something similar after Hurricane Irma. The cruise line is currently accepting donations of relief materials.

Suspension of British Parliament Was Illegal, Top Scottish Court Rules

An Appeals Court says that the Prorogation Order is "void," but failed to issue an injunction for Members of Parliament to return. This ruling overturned an earlier one that said that courts didn't have the power to interfere in the Prime Minister's political decisions. Parliament is suspended for 5 weeks in breach of the Constitution and is designed to stifle parliamentary debate and halt action on Brexit.

Afghans Fear That Violence Will Surge After Trump Abandons Peace Talks

Afghanistan is bracing for a bloody prelude to its National Elections on September 28th, after the Trump administration abandoned peace talks. Trump blamed a Taliban attack, in which an American soldier died, for the cancellation of the Camp David talks, but the administration declined to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord. Both sides have left open the door to resume negotiations even though each feels that it is being sabotaged by the other. Both sides increase their attacks to improve their negotiating leverage and the Taliban hoped a deal would delay the upcoming elections. There was also outrage in the Taliban being hosted at Camp David. Many questions still swirl around these peace talks.

India Says That it Located Spacecraft on the Moon

After presumably crashing during a landing attempt, India claims that it has finally spotted the country's Vikram Lunar Lander. India has not made contact with the lander, but is hopeful that it still functions. The Vikram Lunar Lander is a key part of the Chandrayaan-2 Mission aimed at studying the moon's south pole in greater detail. Ninety to 95% of the mission is accomplished and if it had been successful, India would have become the forth nation in the world to put a vehicle intact on the lunar surface.

Diverting Europe's Asylum Seekers, This Time to Rwanda

The European Union is preparing to pay Rwanda to take its asylum seekers, something that it has been doing with other countries for 3 years. This is not new, as Israel also sent some asylum seekers elsewhere for payment back in 2017. Europe, replete with populist and anti-migrant parties, has set up an arms-length network to deal with the migrant population seeking refuge.

September 9, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Blackbeard's Ship Heads to Supreme Court in Battle of Images of Wreckage

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case arising from the discovery of a ship that the pirate Blackbeard captured over 300 years ago. At the heart of the action is a claim that the State of North Carolina "stole copyrighted videos of the submerged remains of the ship" when it posted five of the videographer's recordings on a YouTube channel and printed one photograph in a newsletter. Lawyers for the state have argued that the materials were public record according to North Carolina law and that the publications fell under the "fair use" exception to copyright laws.

Mac Miller's Death Leads to Drug Charges Against California Man

Federal prosecutors have announced that charges are pending in the United States District Court in Los Angeles against Cameron James Pettit for allegedly selling counterfeit drugs that contained fentanyl to the rapper Mac Miller, leading to Miller's death two days later. The Medical Examiner-Coroner determined that Miller suffered from an "accidental fatal overdose of fentanyl, cocaine, and alcohol."

Latinos Are Underrepresented in Hollywood, Study Finds

Latinos "remain woefully underrepresented both in front of and behind the camera," according to a new study released by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California. The study analyzed the top 100 grossing films each year from 2007 to 2018 and found that 3% "featured Latino actors in lead or co-lead roles" and only 4.5% of the 47,268 speaking roles going to Latino actors. Additionally, only 4% of movies had a Latino director.


John W. Campbell Award Renamed After Winner Criticizes Him

The magazine Analog Science Fiction and Fact announced that it would drop John W. Campbell's name from its annual prize because of "racist sentiments he had expressed" when he ran the magazine from the late 1930s to 1971. He wrote that slavery was "a useful educational system," made "derogatory comments about women and homosexuality," and supported segregation.

Dallas Opera Cancels Gala Starring Placido Domingo

The Dallas Opera has cancelled the March 2020 gala concert that was set to feature opera star Placido Domingo based on new accusations that he has sexually harassed multiple women. The Dallas Opera joins the Philadelphia Orchestra and the San Francisco Opera in cutting ties with Domingo based on the allegations, and he is still scheduled to appear at the Metropolitan Opera in New York pending the outcome of an investigation by the Los Angeles Opera.

Complaint Filed After Door Closes on Drag Performers With Down Syndrome

A troupe of drag performers with Down Syndrome have performed in cities around the world under the name Drag Syndrome and were set to perform in Grand Rapids, Michigan until some members of the community began to speak out against the performance. Peter Meijer, a Republican congressional candidate and the man behind the supermarket chain, owns the venue where the performance was to occur, and last month declined to host them on the basis that he questioned whether the performers could give their "full and informed consent" to perform. On Thursday, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights against Meijer, claiming discrimination against the performers based on disability and sex.

Jeffrey Epstein's New York Hunting Ground: Dance Studios

While in Florida dozens of girls were being targeted in "high schools and shopping malls," in New York City, Jeffrey Epstein was targeting young dancers at dance studios. The investigation into the trafficking charges, which has stretched to 6 employees, girlfriends, and associates, has revealed that there were recruiters in dance studios who funneled girls to Epstein on the pretense that he was interested in a dance workout, only to find that he would ask the girls to "take part in several sexually charged stretching activities."

Judging Margaret Atwood's Top Secret New Novel

Margaret Atwood's new book, The Testaments, has become a highly anticipated release as it follows her smash hit The Handmaid's Tale. One judge for the Booker Prize, Britain's most prestigious literary award, has had difficulty even having the book delivered to her home, and of all the 150 novels that judges read in considering the prize, none of them other than Atwood's required a nondisclosure agreement to be signed.

French Author Accused of Anti-Semitism Is Snubbed for a Top Literary Prize

The recent book by Yann Moix, an author and "resident provocateur" on one of France's popular late-night talk shows, had stirred up controversy based on his telling of physical and psychological abuse by his parents. When it was released in August, some began whispering that it may receive the Goncourt Prize, France's top literary award, but when the digging into Moix's past began, the French news media uncovered "vicious anti-Semitic drawings and texts" that Moix had made in his 20s, which were published in a student magazine. He initially denied having created them then admitted that he had, and has since stopped promoting his book and apologized.

Are African Artifacts Safer in Europe? Museum Conditions Revive Debate

The Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper has found that many of the artifacts on display in Berlin have been stored in "less-than-ideal conditions," including in rooms that have been flooded and depots that are "choked with toxic dust." The report comes as officials continue to debate whether repatriating artifacts to Africa is better or worse for the condition of the artifacts, setting aside the issue of rightful ownership. The museum released a statement conceding that it had issues common to museums throughout Germany, which included "outdated facilities, a lack of staff members, and a sense of disarray that dates to moments of crisis in German history."

H&M Stops Buying Brazilian Leather Over Amazon Fires

H&M, the second-biggest fashion retailer in the world, has announced that it will stop buying leather from Brazil given concerns that the country's cattle industry is contributing to the "deforestation of the Amazon rainforest." This announcement comes after VF Corporation, which includes international brands, such as The North Face, announced a temporary suspension of purchases as well. While it is unclear the precise amount of deforestation attributable to the cattle industry, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization "linked 80 percent of deforestation in the country to cattle grazing."


US Open Fines Mike Bryan for Making Gun Gesture at Line Judge

At the US Open, a doubles player, Mike Bryan, challenged a call that the tennis ball had landed out despite being called in. When the screen showed the reversed call, Bryan "held his racket in both hands and pointed the handle at the line judge as if it were the barrel of a rifle." For that, he has received from the US Open a $10,000 fine and an unsportsmanlike conduct warning.

Has Sports Betting Arrived to Transform the National Football League?

With the Supreme Court's ruling last year striking down a law that prohibited sports betting, football fans in 12 states are now able to gamble on sports, and several more states are planning to permit the activity as well. While some expected that the Supreme Court decision would open the floodgates and change the way consumers watched football, given the opportunity to now bet on various parts of each game, the change has been slow to occur. One National Football League (NFL) executive identified the reason for this: "We get great engagement, we don't need to integrate sports betting directly into that," hinting at the terms of the contracts that the NFL enters into with television networks.

Education Department Hits Michigan State With Record Fine Over Nassar Scandal

Michigan State University has agreed to pay a $4.5 million fine as part of a larger settlement between the Education Department and the university. The fine stems from the university's mishandling of the former team doctor Lawrence Nassar's long-known sexual abuse of students, which the department has called systemic in nature and occurring over the course of decades. The president of the university pledged to improve the school and accepted the resignation of the school's provost effective immediately.

After Tyler Skaggs' Death, Major League Baseball Turns a Cautious Eye to Its Drug Policy

The players' association and Major League Baseball plan to re-evaluate their drug policy following the report that the Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Tyler Skaggs, died with fentanyl, oxycodone, and alcohol in his system on July 1st. While players in the major league are testified for drugs other than performance enhancing ones, players in the minor league are not tested unless there is "reasonable cause" to do so.

In Italy, Racist Abuse of Romelu Lukaku is Dismissed as Part of the Game

Romelu Lukaku, a former star in the English Premier League, is playing at Inter Milan and has become used to hearing from fans behind the goal "a prolonged round of monkey chants" when he takes a penalty shot. Italian soccer has long been plagued by racist incidents, and one fan group has summed up the way that some Italians think of these incidents: "We understand that it could have seemed racist to you, but it is not like that. In Italy we use some 'ways' only to 'help our teams' and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up."


Google Is Fined $170 Million for Violating Children's Privacy on YouTube

On Wednesday, Google agreed to pay a record $170 million fine and has vowed to change its platform YouTube to ensure that children's privacy is protected when using the site. Regulators had identified that YouTube had "knowingly and illegally harvested personal information from children and used it to profit by targeting them with ads." Critics have voiced their concern that the settlement of the matter, which was with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and New York's Attorney General, are "paltry" and will not lead to the necessary changes that will truly protect children's privacy on YouTube.

Popular YouTube Toy Review Channel Accused of Blurring Lines for Ads

Watchdog group Truth in Advertising filed a complaint with the FTC accusing the YouTube channel Ryan ToysReview of "deceiving children through 'sponsored videos that often have the look and feel of organic content.'" The videos are hosted by a 7-year-old boy, Ryan Kaji, and has amassed 21 million subscribers since it began in 2015 as each video shows Kaji trying new toys. Nearly 90% of the videos include a "paid product recommendation aimed at preschoolers, a group too young to distinguish between a commercial and a review," the watchdog group alleges in its complaint.

Radio Free Europe Is Poised to Return to a Less Free Hungary

The United States Agency for Global Media, an independent federal agency, is contemplating opening up Radio Free Europe 26 years after it stopped broadcasting. Radio Free Europe had been the alternative for Eastern Europeans for listening to what was happening in the world other than what their governments were telling them. With the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Soviet Union, the broadcasting stopped in 1993 with the belief that the mission has been accomplished. Congress is set to green light the service, and that approval may happen this month.

The World's First Ambassador to the Tech Industry

Casper Klynge is the world's first foreign ambassador to the technology industry. Denmark created the post after acknowledging that technology companies often have as much power--if not more than--as other countries given their impact on daily life, values, institutions, democracy, and human rights. Thus far, Silicon Valley companies have given Klynge "a mixed reception," and he has not met with the heads of Facebook, Google, and Apple as of yet.

China Expels Wall Street Journal Reporter After Article on Xi's Cousin

A Wall Street Journal reporter has been expelled from China following his writing of an article investigating a cousin of China's top leader, Xi Jinping. The Chinese government declined to renew the press credentials of the reporter and noted, "We are resolutely opposed to an individual foreign journalist maliciously smearing and attacking China. As for such journalists, we do not welcome them." This move is the latest of Xi's that takes a harder stand against the media, both inside and outside of China, as the country seeks to more closely control its image in the world.

Now Streaming on YouTube: Confessions From a Presidential Hit Squad in Gambia

Gambia, a nation of 2 million people on the Atlantic coast of Africa, is grappling with the atrocities that occurred during the 22-year reign of Yahya Jammeh, a leader "who created a culture of fear and misinformation so deep that many still take care to call him a gentleman." On YouTube, one man confessed that he killed one of the country's "best known journalists" based on a kill order that came directly from Jammeh. Officials have been eliciting testimony from hundreds of people through live feeds that transmit through YouTube, Facebook, television, and radio in what is essentially a "public truth and reconciliation commission."

Life in an Internet Shutdown: Crossing Borders for Email and Contraband SIM Cards

Internet shutdowns have become one of the most popular tools for government repression in this century. In Zimbabwe, during a recent crackdown, a prominent government critic "had no way of knowing when it was safe to emerge from hiding" and thus remained in his home where he was arrested after 3 days. He noted, "If I had been connected maybe I would have got information that it wasn't safe to be out there." The crackdowns not only allow governments to round up those who may go into hiding but also "batter whole economies and individual businesses, as well as drastically disrupt the daily life of ordinary citizens."

A Million Refugees May Soon Lose Their Line to the Outside World

Approximately 1 million Rohingya Muslims in Bangladeshi camps may soon lose cell service. The telecommunications minister in Bangladesh ordered a halt this week to mobile phone service citing "state security" and "public safety." The occupants of the camps are entirely Rohingya Muslims that fled their native Myanmar due to ethnic cleansing by the Myanmar military government, and one refugee noted, "Our suffering will be unlimited if mobile phone communication goes off."

General News

Bahamas Relief Efforts Frustrated as Dorian Pulls Away

Hurricane Dorian passed through the Bahamas and struck the continental United States last week, causing significant flooding and several deaths. President Trump had claimed that the hurricane would strike Alabama, and despite the forecast not coming to fruition, the parent agency of the National Weather Service issued a statement claiming that Alabama "will most likely be hit" by the hurricane despite forecasts not showing that to occur. Since then, the President has taken to Twitter to attack the news media for its "corrupt reporting."

House Panel Subpoenas Department of Homeland Security Over Alleged Trump Pardon Offers

The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed the Department of Homeland Security for documents that may shed light on President Trump's "alleged offer of pardons to officials implementing US immigration policy." The Judiciary Committee is contemplating whether to recommend impeachment against Trump, and citing reports in the media that he offered pardons to officials who may face legal consequences for closing sections of the US-Mexico border, have sought to obtain information and documents showing President Trump's dangling of pardons in this realm.

As Trump Escalates Trade War, US and China Move Further Apart

On Tuesday, President Trump predicted that China's manufacturing infrastructure would "crumble" if the country did not agree to the terms on which his administration have insisted, but newly released data show that the trade war has been hurting domestic factories as well as Chinese. A reputable index of American manufacturing activity has fallen for the first time since 2016, and companies have identified "shrinking export orders as a result of the trade dispute" as well as "moving supply chains out of China to avoid the tariffs" for that fall in production. It is unclear whether either side will back down from the trade war in the short term, and that uncertainty has caused consternation in the markets.

Trump Administration Reverses Abrupt End to Humanitarian Relief

On August 7th, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services eliminated its "deferred action" program that had previously allowed immigrants to avoid deportation if they or their relatives were in the middle of "lifesaving medical treatment." The Trump administration
announced that it would reconsider its decision to eliminate the program, as there is growing outrage and condemnation from the medical establishment. It is unclear what will happen to the deportation proceedings initiated against those between August 7th and last week, but an agency official noted that the agency "is taking immediate corrective action to reopen previously pending cases for consideration."

How a Trump Tax Break Became a Windfall for the Rich

The 2017 tax-cut legislation was touted as a boost to "low-income areas" outside of the country's major cities. It was said that the tax benefits would "coax investors to pump cash into poor neighborhoods, known as opportunity zones, leading to new housing, businesses, and jobs." However, "billions of untaxed investment profits are beginning to pour into high-end apartment buildings and hotels," and financial institutions are "boasting about the tax savings that await those who invest in real estate in affluent neighborhoods."

Pentagon to Divert Money From 127 Projects to Pay for Border Wall

The Pentagon has determined that it will divert $3.6 billion away from 127 projects to fund the construction of a border wall along the US-Mexico border, pursuant to instructions from the Trump administration. This has included taking millions of dollars from projects, such as constructing a middle school that contains students from military families along the Kentucky-Tennessee border who are currently crammed into an antiquated school with insufficient supplies and classrooms.

Justice Department Investigates California Emissions Pact That Embarrassed Trump

The Department of Justice has opened an antitrust inquiry into 4 automakers that "struck a deal with California this year to reduce automobile emissions." The deal, among Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, and BMW, set stricter emissions standards than those the Trump administration has espoused, and the announcement of the deal had created embarrassment for the administration and prompted Trump to label the deal as nothing more than a "P.R. stunt." The Justice Department will determine whether the agreement violated federal antitrust laws on the grounds that it "could potentially limit consumer choice."

When Apps Get Medical Data, Your Privacy May Go With It

Medical organizations, such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, are warning consumers and regulators that technology companies are taking patients' data and potentially facilitating invasions of privacy. The federal government is set to approve and put into effect rules that will "require health providers to send medical information to third-party apps" as part of an effort to "make it easier for people to see their medical records, manage their illnesses, and understand their treatment choices." However, without more restrictions in place as to what can happen with the data, the groups have urged that those consumer apps will "be free to share or sell sensitive details like a patient's prescription drug history."

Palestinian Harvard Student Blocked From Coming is Now Allowed to Enter

Ismail Ajjawai, a matriculating Harvard student, had been denied entry into the United States last month from Palestine but was permitted this week to enter the country and begin his classes. The group that sponsored him, Amideast, announced that he was permitted entry and that the United States Embassy in Beirut had reviewed the case and reissued a visa. He was initially denied entry when officials checked his friends' social media posts, prompting furor from free speech advocates and corroborating the concern amongst university officials that the Trump administration's policies were affecting the student population.

Pence's Stay at Trump Hotel in Ireland 'Business as Normal'

When Vice President Mike Pence visited Ireland last week, rather than stay in Dublin for a night, he stayed 181 miles away by car, on the other side of Ireland, at the Trump International Golf Links & Hotel in Doonbeg. According to Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, "it was a suggestion" that the President made: "I don't think it was a request, like a command." Pence thus has become part of a "well-established trend among prominent Republicans" as since 2015 "nearly $20 million has been spent at the Trump family hotels" by "various mostly Republican political groups."

US Imposes Sanctions in Iranian Shipping Network

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on an "elaborate shipping network that Iran uses to sell oil, and unveiled a $15 million reward to anyone with information that disrupts the scheme, stepping up its effort to exert pressure on the Iranian economy." The sanctions are an attempt to return Iran to the negotiating table and work on an agreement regarding the country's nuclear program since President Trump withdrew from the 2015 agreement in May 2018. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has announced that the sanctions "should serve as a strong warning to anyone considering facilitating the Quds Force's oil sales that there will be swift consequences."

Judge Rules Terrorism Watchlist Violates Constitutional Rights

On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that the federal government's database that contains a list of "known or suspected terrorists" violates the rights of the citizens on that list. The ruling calls "into question the constitutionality of a major tool the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security use for screening potential terrorism suspects." Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that the standard for being included on the list was too vague: "The court concludes that the risk of erroneous deprivation of plaintiffs' travel-related and reputational liberty interests is high, and the currently existing procedural safeguards are not sufficient to address that risk."

DeVos Toughens Rules for Student Borrowers Bilked by Colleges

The Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has tightened Obama-era rules governing student borrowers, "imposing a deadline on claims and eliminating a requirement that the department automatically wipe away the loans of some students whose schools closed while they were enrolled." The new rules are set to apply for loans made going forward starting on July 2020, and the rules will require that students demonstrate the college made a deceptive statement "with knowledge of its false, misleading or deceptive nature or with reckless disregard for the truth" and that the student remained in the school based on that statement and suffered financial harm as a result. Then, the student must submit the claim within three years of graduating or leaving the school, whereas now students have no statute of limitations on submitting their claims.

Cases of Vaping-Related Lung Illness Surge, Health Officials Say

Medical experts warned that the use of vaping devices has resulted in severe lung illness in at least 450 cases in 33 states. In the New England Journal of Medicine, one doctor wrote, "There is clearly an epidemic that begs for an urgent response," and the editorial called for doctors to discourage their patients from using any electronic cigarettes and develop the public's awareness as to the "harmful effects of vaping."

Three SEAL Team Leaders Fired for Breakdowns in Discipline

The Naval Special Warfare Command has fired 3 senior leaders of SEAL Team Seven, the most prestigious of the SEAL teams, for "failure in leadership" that "caused a breakdown of good order and discipline." Team Seven's Foxtrot platoon was "abruptly removed from Iraq in late July after reports of serious misconduct during a Fourth of July celebration," and the firings this week appear to be related to that misconduct. It is alleged that during a party, a senior enlisted member "raped a female service member" and a second SEAL made "unwanted sexual contact with a second female service member." Additionally, some team members, against regulations, consumed alcohol at the party.

Looming Over the College Admissions Case: Will Parents Like Felicity Huffman Get Jail?

With sentencing on the horizon in the college admissions action, there remains a question as to whether anyone will serve jail time. For actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty "to paying a consultant $15,000 to inflate her elder daughter's SAT score," prosecutors are recommending 1 month in jail. Prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum that "some period of incarceration is the only meaningful sanction for these crimes," but it will be a test of the federal judge's belief when the first sentencings begin next week.

Gregory Craig Acquitted on Charge of Lying to Justice Department

After fewer than 5 hours of deliberation, a jury acquitted Washington lawyer Gregory Craig of a felony charge that he lied "to federal authorities about work he did seven years ago for the Ukrainian government" while he was working at the prominent law firm Skadden Arps. While the case showed how "a foreign government was able to harness Washington's industry of lawyers, lobbyists and public relations experts," the only question before the jury was whether he had lied to or misled officials who were investigating "whether he should register as a foreign agent."

Texas Shooting Brings New Urgency to Gun Debate in Congress

The shooting in West Texas has given "fresh urgency to a debate that was already expected to be at the top of lawmakers' agenda when they return to the Capitol," as it left 7 people dead and 22 wounded just weeks after gunmen killed dozens in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas. President Trump even weighed in on the issue, saying that he was considering "really common-sense sensible, important background checks" for those buying guns. Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, promised a debate in the Senate.

Walmart to Limit Ammunition Sales and Discourage 'Open Carry'

The retailer Walmart has announced that it will "stop selling ammunition that can be used in military-style assault rifles" and that it would "discourage its customers from openly carrying guns in its stores and would call on Congress to increase background checks and consider a new assault rifle ban." The announcement came 1 month after the shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas and, according to the retailer, "after weeks of discussion and research about how best to respond." The decisions that the retailer has made are "in line with public opinion polls that favor more gun controls."

She Sued New York Over Harassment. Then the Gaslighting Began, She Said

Alexis Marquez worked for one month in 2017 as a principal court attorney for a New York State Justice, but when she sued New York State last year for ignoring complaints of workplace sexual harassment, it argued that she "had not actually been an employee of the state." Instead, she was employed by her boss, Justice Douglas Hoffman, and could only hold him accountable for the accusations of sexual harassment. While New York recently passed a law that made it "easier to hold employers liable for their employees' behavior," harassment suits like Marquez's remain difficult for plaintiffs, as highlighted by the State's position in Marquez's case.

A Judge Refused to Hire a Party Boss' Aide. A Demotion Followed

Three months after the Bronx Democratic Party announced that it would support Judge Armando Montano, the party chairman requested that the newly-elected judge "hire the chairman's former aide as a confidential assistant." Seven months later, he was reassigned from presiding over felonies to presiding over domestic violence cases, and when he refused the assignment, the chief administrative judge stripped him of "his caseload, chambers, and staff." The former judge has maintained that the move from the Office of Court Administration came because he did not hire the chairman's aide, but officials insist that it was a "routine assignment that had nothing to do with politics."

White Supremacists Targeted Her. Now She's Fighting Hate Crime

The New York Police Department has noted that incidents of hate crimes have increased 41% as compared with the same time last year, and the City has adopted "an unusual strategy to combat the wave of bias-driven incidents": it hired an anti-hate crime czar, Deborah Lauter. She heads the new Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes, which will not investigate bias incidents; rather, it will seek to prevent and shed light on them. She noted that, in a remarkable paradox, if she does her job well, there will be more reported instances of hate incidents which will cause the numbers to "rise as her office's education efforts spread."

The Battle Over the Files of a Gerrymandering Mastermind

The Republican strategist and "master of gerrymandering," Thomas Hofeller, who died last year, is at the heart of a court ruling this week striking down North Carolina's state legislative maps. More specifically, "computer backups" of legislative maps that Hofeller has drawn in his work for Geographic Strategies, LLC a consultancy that advised the Republican Party on redistricting, was at the center of the action. There have been numerous motions seeking to seal or destroy the documents and maps that Hofeller and Hofeller's partner, Dalton Oldham, created, as they are claimed to be "trade secrets" and "attorney-client privileged."

The High School Course Beijing Accuses of Radicalizing Hong Kong

The protests in Hong Kong have continued even after the leader of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, announced that the bill that prompted the protests -- regarding the extradition of Hong Kong residents to mainland China for crimes -- would not be debated or passed. The tension between Hong Kong and China continues particularly as Hong Kong continues to hold on to traditions, such as one class in its high schools where students "debate the merits of democracy and civil rights." The mandatory course is known as liberal studies and has been "a hallmark of the curriculum in Hong Kong for years."

China's Prisons Swell After Deluge of Arrests Engulfs Muslims

Throughout the Xinjiang region of China, the government has set up "re-education camps" for the Uighur and Kazakh minorities, which are largely Muslim. Now, China is filling prisons in Xinjiang as the space in the camps is taken up with too many prisoners. The region has seen a surge "in arrests, trials, and prison sentences in the past two years," and the move from camps to prisons "is throwing into doubt even China's limited protections of defendants' rights."

Robert Mugabe, Strongman Who Cried, 'Zimbabwe Is Mine,' Dies at 95

At the age of 95, Robert Mugabe, the only leader Zimbabwe had from 1980 to 2017, died this week. He had begun his public career as a liberator but then became a tyrant who oversaw the decline of what was once "one of Africa's most prosperous lands." He labeled himself as inspired by "Marxist-Leninism-Mao-Tse-tung thought," and he predicted even in 2017 that he would run again as president. But because of health reasons, he capitulated. He died in Singapore, where he had been receiving medical treatment for an undisclosed illness.

Afghans Push Back on US Deal With Taliban as Violence Intensifies

The Afghan government, concerned that a proposed agreement with the US "lacks assurances that the insurgents will honor their promises once American troops leave," is pushing back against the deal. The American special envoy has finalized "in principle" the deal after nearly a year of negotiations with the Taliban. One condition for the withdrawal of American troops is the assurance "that the Taliban will break from international terrorist groups and start direct negotiations with Afghan officials over Afghanistan's political future."

After Meeting With Trump, Myanmar Clergyman Could Be Prosecuted

A Baptist minister from Maynmar spent less than one minute in the Oval Office to speak with President Trump about the mistreatment he has seen in his country at the hands of the military government. A colonel in the Myanmar army "has gone to court seeking to have the minister prosecuted for his comments about the military during that conversation with Mr. Trump." The minister, Hkalam Samson, returned to his home after the White House visit, and it is expected that the judge will decide next week whether the case may proceed. If it does proceed, there have been similar cases where "the military has taken advantage of Myanmar's sweeping criminal defamation laws," and Samson said in an interview, "There is no freedom of expression for Myanmar citizens wherever you are because you can get in trouble even when you talk about the truth in the White House."

Teenager Dies in Kashmir Amid Protests After Autonomy Was Revoked

A 16-year-old teenager in Kashmir has died as a result of security officers hitting him in the face with buckshot, and his death is the first linked to the protests regarding the Indian government's revocation of Kashmir's autonomy one month ago. Kashmir has been "simmering with fury" since the Indian government announced that it was "stripping away the special status the state has held for more than 70 years and splitting the territory into two federally controlled enclaves." Before the announcement, security forces had already "cut off internet, mobile phone, and landline service in the region."

Brexit Votes Goes Against Boris Johnson, and He Calls for Election

In a chaotic week in Britain's Parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced 2 stinging defeats. He called for an election on October 15th, but the ministers rejected the call "out of fear he could secure a new majority in favor of breaking with Europe, deal or no deal." Then, Parliament "blocked his plans to leave the union with or without an agreement." The maneuvers thus far have shown that Johnson faces the same herculean obstacles that his predecessor Theresa May faced prior to her resigning earlier this summer.

September 2, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Senators Ask for Antitrust Probe in Concert Ticketing

Two senators, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, have called for a probe into the surcharges that companies such as Ticketmaster and StubHub put on ticket orders. They have asked the Justice Department to investigate the competition in the ticketing business and to "extend a regulatory agreement with Live Nation Entertainment", the company that owns Ticketmaster. The Justice Department had approved the Ticketmaster and Live Nation merger on the basis that it sign an agreement that prohibited it from forcing venues to use its Ticketmaster service, but an investigation by the New York Times has revealed that it has violated that decree on numerous occasions.

Meek Mill's Criminal Case Ends With Misdemeanor Guilty Plea

Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge relating to a 2007 arrest, bringing an end to a saga that sent him to prison multiple times and resulted in over a decade of probation. His lawyer has confirmed that the plea will ensure he does not serve any additional time in prison and will no longer be on probation. Other charges relating to the 2007 arrest, drug possession and a charge relating to him pointing a gun at an officer, have been dropped.


Lord & Taylor Will Be Sold to Le Tote, Clothing Rental Start-Up

Lord & Taylor, founded in 1826, is set to be acquired by Le Tote, a 7-year-old clothing rental startup company. Le Tote will pay $100 million in cash for Lord & Taylor's brand and inventory while Lord & Taylor's parent company, Hudson's Bay, will continue to own the real estate and cover rent at those properties for 3 years. While 5 stores will close as part of the deal, there has been no announcement as to the locations of the closing stores. While Rent the Runway has become the best known clothing rental company, Le Tote has also earned a reputation for being a quality clothing and accessory rental company. Many see the technology and data of the startup complementing the shopping experience for Lord & Taylor customers.


Officials Ignored 'Clear Evidence' of Abuse by Ohio State Doctor

A review panel has announced that regulators found evidence of sexual abuse by an Ohio State University doctor and "inexplicably failed to punish him." The conclusion of the report was that "systemic failures" permitted the doctor, Richard Strauss, to continue the abuses despite allegations being brought to light in 1996, 2 years before his employment with the school ended. It is estimated that there may be more than 1,500 cases of abuse in the school's history, and while Strauss killed himself in 2005, the inquiry has continued into the extent of the conduct, as lawyers representing a group of former students numbering over 300 have sued the university.

Denver Broncos Ownership Dispute Clears Hurdle in Court

In the case brought by Bill Bowlen, a former minority owner of the Denver Broncos and his brother Pat, the longtime owner who died in June, it had become a public family squabble for ownership of the team. Last week, a Colorado state court judge dismissed the case. Bill Bowlen's lawsuit had sought for an overseer to come in because of conflicts of interest on the board. However, with dismissal of the lawsuit, there will not be an end to the fighting, as the National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell is set to appoint an arbitrator in an NFL-sanctioned mediation.

Tevin Biles-Thomas, Brother of Gymnast Simone Biles, Is Charged in a Triple Murder

The brother of gymnast Simone Biles, Tevin Biles-Thomas, has been arrested and charged with murdering 3 people who were shot and killed at a party in Cleveland, Ohio last New Year's Eve. He has been charged with "homicide, voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, and perjury." He was an active duty member of the United States Army stationed at Fort Stewart in Georgia. Tevin and Simone did not grow up together in the same house.

Family of Minor League Baseball Pitcher Slain in Virginia

Matthew Thomas Bernard, brother-in-law of a minor league baseball pitcher Blake Bivens of the Montgomery Biscuits, has been arrested after killing the "athlete's wife, toddler son, and mother-in-law." Investigators have not determined a motive for the triple homicide, but the shooting led to a manhunt involving up to 100 officers, a tank, and an armored vehicle being deployed.

Arrest Warrant Issued for DeMarcus Cousins

In Mobile, Alabama, an arrest warrant has been issued for Los Angeles Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins for a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence. Additionally, a court has granted a protective order for Christy West, prohibiting Cousins from contacting her. West alleged in Mobile County Court that Cousins threatened to shoot her, and she alleged that he had previously choked her in the past. The charge Cousins faces is third-degree harassing communication based on the threat that Cousins made to West by telephone to shoot her "even if he didn't have to get his hands dirty doing it."

Nets' Wilson Chandler Suspended 25 Games for Violating National Basketball Association's Drug Policy

The veteran National Basketball Association (NBA) forward Wilson Chandler has been suspended for 25 games without pay as he has violated the NBA's antidrug policy by taking a growth hormone known as Ipamorelin. He released a statement after the news had broken: "During my injury rehab process, before I signed with the Nets, I was prescribed a treatment that included small doses of a substance recently added to the NBA's prohibited substances list. I did not realize this substance was banned, and neither did the doctor." Chandler has apologized and vowed to continue preparing for his debut with the Brooklyn Nets in the upcoming season.


YouTube Said to Be Fined Up to $200 Million for Children's Privacy Violations

Google is set to face a $150 million to $200 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission based on accusations that YouTube "illegally collected personal information about children." The fine would carry "significant repercussions for other popular platforms," such as TikTok, a social video-sharing app, and it comes at a moment when legislators in the European Union and Washington are increasingly cracking down on the use of data and information by the biggest companies in the tech world, such as Google and Facebook.

Apple Apologizes for Use of Contractors to Eavesdrop on Siri

Apple has apologized for its permitting outsiders to listen to clips of recorded conversations gathered through its digital assistant Siri. While Apple has worked to position "itself as a trusted steward of privacy," the apology highlights that even though it had previously pledged to not keep audio recorded through Siri without consumer permission, the company had not lived up to its "high ideals." Apple is not the only company that has been engaging in this practice: in recent months, "Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple have all acknowledged that people have been reviewing users' interactions with artificial intelligence assistants in order to improve the services."

Facebook Tightens Rules on Verifying Political Advertisers

Facebook has announced that it will be strengthening its verification process for groups and people that wish to place political advertisements on the site in preparation for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. While Facebook introduced new rules last year that require political advertisers to disclose the name of the organizations responsible for the advertisements and to prove their identities, the new rules will require further demonstration that the advertisers are registered with the United States government by submitting an employer identification number, Federal Election Commission identification number or government website domain.

Lawrence O'Donnell Retracts Claim of Russians' Role in Trump Loans

MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell has retracted a story he reported this week claiming that President Trump "had made a financial arrangement with so-called Russian oligarchs." He noted that the story "didn't go through our rigorous verification and standards process" and that it was "wrong to discuss it on the air." The story came following news that Deutsche Bank admitted to having tax documents belonging to the Trump Organization.

The Baroness Fighting to Protect Children Online

Beeban Kidron, a member of the House of Lords, has become Silicon Valley's latest antagonist as she has been seeking to overhaul how tech companies treat children. She has noted that it is not a fair fight for children to be up against the "turbocharged influence tactics" of companies like YouTube and Instagram, which personalize videos and play one after another based on the likes and dislikes of the viewer. She is seeking to change the law and to remake how social media companies use data and influence children on social media to rein in the power and use of data by those companies.

How China Uses LinkedIn to Recruit Spies Abroad

LinkedIn, the social media platform that is used for its networking and professional opportunities, has become a medium for Chinese officials to recruit spies. Under the pretense that a Chinese official can grant one "great access to the Chinese system" for research or other opportunities, spies have contacted many in the West and sought to bring them to China for a meeting. One major reason that the platform has become the one of choice for the Chinese is that it is the only major American social media platform that the Chinese government does not block as LinkedIn has agreed to censor posts that may be harmful or offensive to the Chinese government.

General News

Huge Oil Spill in Indonesia as Fires Burn in Africa and the Amazon

Fisherman on the Indonesian island of Java have not been able to work for weeks after crude oil from an offshore well sent oil across 12 miles of shoreline. The government's response has been "slow, piecemeal, and opaque" since the leak first occurred in mid-July. In Brazil, the Amazon rainforest has continued to burn, and despite outrage around the world, President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has refused to accept aid from the Group of 7. Instead, Brazil has only accepted aid from Britain in its fight to quash the extensive forest fires in the Amazon, which numbered more than 26,000 during the month of August. Meanwhile, the Congo Basin forest, the second-largest tropical rainforest in the world, also is dealing with wildfires at its edges. While these fires are typical for this time of year, a forest manager has noted that there must be resources dedicated to ensuring that the fires are controlled as if the rainforest in the Congo Basin was to catch fire, "it will be worse than in South America."

Curbs on Methane, Potent Greenhouse Gas, to Be Relaxed in United States

The Trump administration has laid out a plan to "cut back on the regulation of methane emissions, a major contributor to climate change." The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a rule to "eliminate federal requirements that oil and gas companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from wells, pipelines, and storage facilities." The new rule also reopens the question as to whether the EPA has the legal authority to regulate methane, and the rule is only the latest instance of the administration's push to "dismantle climate-change and environmental rules."

The Mysterious Vaping Illness That Is 'Becoming an Epidemic'

Physicians across the country are treating patients, now numbering more than 200, with "mysterious and life-threatening vaping-related illnesses this summer." The outbreak of the illnesses is so severe that one doctor has said it is "becoming an epidemic" and that "something is very wrong." Patients are going to their physicians with severe shortness of breath and several days of vomiting, fever, and fatigue, which has left them confined to intensive care units. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have told consumers that they should refrain from buying bootleg products for their vaping devices, one obstacle physicians have been facing is getting patients to admit that they are indeed vaping and getting information about what substances they are inhaling.

Johnson & Johnson Ordered to Pay $572 Million in Landmark Opioid Trial

A judge in Oklahoma ruled that Johnson & Johnson must pay the state $572 million, as it "intentionally played down the dangers and oversold the benefits of opioids." The action sought a $17 billion judgment, but despite the difference between the amount sought and the judgment awarded, lawyers and plaintiffs are heartened around the country in the more than 2,000 pending lawsuits relating to the opioid epidemic and its effects. At the heart of the decision in Oklahoma was the company's breaching of the state's "public nuisance" law, which provides a hook for other plaintiffs on which to base their arguments.

Cherokee Nation Seeks to Send First Delegate to Congress

The Cherokee Nation has turned to treaties from the 18th and 19th centuries to push for Congress to receive a delegate from the Cherokee Nation, which now consists of nearly 400,000 enrolled members and makes it the largest of the nearly 600 federally recognized Native American tribes. Although the delegate would be a nonvoting member of Congress, it would provide visibility and representation for Native Americans in the debating and creation of federal legislation. The basis for sending a delegate to Congress goes back to the Treaty of Hopewell of 1785, but even more significantly the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, which was not only the legal grounds leading to the Trail of Tears, but also created the right to send a delegate to the House of Representatives.

Comey Is Criticized by Justice Department Watchdog for Violating FBI Rules

Former FBI director James Comey has set a "dangerous example" for officials with access to government secrets, according to a Justice Department inspector general report. The report noted that Comey improperly handed memos to his lawyers, which contained classified information, and although he could have been charged, prosecutors declined to charge him with illegally disclosing the material.

Russia Bars Two Senators From Entering Country Ahead of Congressional Trip

Senators Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, and Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, have been barred from visiting Russia. Both lawmakers issued statements expressing frustration and disappointment with the denial of their visas as they claim that the country further isolates itself and continues "to play diplomatic games with this sincere effort" to improve relations between the United States and Russia. Johnson and Murphy have been vocal critics of Russia's annexation of Crimea and want to impose sanctions on Russia for its interference in the 2016 presidential election, as well as its construction of an offshore pipeline that strengthened its hold on the natural gas market in Eastern Europe.

Former Star Google and Uber Engineer Charged With Theft of Trade Secrets

Anthony Levandowski, a pioneer of self-driving vehicle technology and a confidant of Google co-founder Larry Page, is facing charges of 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets from Google. He has posted $2 million bail and wears an ankle monitor after prosecutors alleged him to be a flight risk, but the charges are the latest maneuver in a battle between Google and Uber in the fight over the autonomous vehicle market. The case illustrates the "no-holds-barred culture, where gaining an edge in new technologies versus competitors can be paramount." It is alleged that before Levandowski left Google in 2016, he downloaded more than 14,000 files containing "critical information about Google's autonomous-vehicle research" and then joined Uber later that year when Uber bought his self-driving trucking company Otto.

The Trump Secrets Hiding Inside Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank disclosed that it possesses tax returns relating to President Trump's family or business which has set off a frenzy of speculation about what those tax returns may reveal. The bank, for almost 2 decades, was essentially on the only "mainstream financial institution" that lent to President Trump given his "long record of defaulting on loans" and therefore is expected to have "reams of his personal and corporate information." The disclosure by the bank came in the context of litigation involving 2 House committees enforcing subpoenas and President Trump suing to block the bank from complying with those subpoenas.

Trump Tells Aides 'Take the Land' as Impatience Grows on Border Wall

President Trump is seeking to accelerate the fight for getting his signature border wall built and has repeatedly said during meetings for aides to "take the land" and "get it done." He has reportedly "floated the idea of offering pardons to aides willing to break the law, a suggestion he has made previously when exploring ways to fulfill his campaign promises." Thus far, despite his promises to complete 500 miles of wall during his first term, the Army Corps of Engineers has constructed approximately 60 miles "of vehicle barriers or replacement fencing where existing impediments have been damaged," according to a document published by Customs and Border Protection.

Citizenship Change Will Affect a Handful, but the Backlash is Fierce

The announcement of the homeland security policy to restrict automatic citizenship for "some children born abroad to active service members" has "incited a fierce backlash against President Trump, who has hailed himself as an advocate of veterans." Immigration lawyers and military groups have opined that the new policy will make obtaining citizenship for those families "an onerous, expensive application process," but it is expected that fewer than 100 families at the moment are to be impacted by the new policy. One immigration lawyer noted, in light of the policy affecting approximately 25 people every year for the past 4 years, "I cannot for the life of me figure out why the administration thinks that is a good policy," particularly as the hashtag #TrumpHatesMilitaryFamilies has been trending on Twitter.

International Students Face Hurdles Under Trump Administration Policy

Unexpected denials and extensive delays have become increasingly common for international students and scholars that seek visas to study in the United States. College officials see a threat to the "diversity and enrichment of their campuses" as students as stories emerge, such as that of 2 Ethiopian students who were denied visas because they had not established "strong enough ties to their home country and might not return." Another was that of a Palestinian student who had been set to start his freshman year at Harvard, but was refused entry by Customs and Border Protection when an agent objected to the social media activity of the student's friends.

Opinion Pieces: Trump is Not Making the Country Safer and is Profiting From the Presidency

In an opinion piece by the Editorial Board of the New York Times, it objects to President Trump's "obsession with what he has termed an immigrant 'invasion'" as it is "undermining the functioning of his administration and the safety of the nation." In effectuating his policies, the editorial notes, the administration has diverted resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and put it toward detention and removal operations. Additionally, the acting Secretary of Homeland Security has noted that there has been a rise in domestic terrorist acts "fueled by this toxic ideology." Meanwhile, at the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump noted that his resort at Doral near Miami would make a prime location for a future Group of 7 meeting, as he touted its "magnificent buildings" and "incredible restaurants." These comments raise, according to the editorial, ethical and legal questions as to whether a president may "use a summit meeting to plug his resort and then host an official event at it, all to his personal profit."

Epstein Accusers Testify Weeks After His Suicide

In a New York courtroom, a 2.5-hour hearing was held before U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, during which the judge permitted a group of women to testify as to the actions of financier Jeffrey Epstein over the course of decades. In total, 16 women testified that they had been lured into a scheme by an inner circle surrounding Epstein that forced the girls to perform sex acts and recruit others. Some women called for investigators to continue their work and uncover the depth and extent of the trafficking, and one noted: "The fact that I will never have a chance to face my predator in court eats away at my soul."

Approximately 160,000 People in New York to See Their Marijuana Convictions Disappear

On Wednesday, New York began the process of expunging criminal records pertaining to marijuana-related crimes. Approximately 160,000 people with marijuana convictions will have their convictions cleared, according to the State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Of those, it is expected that over 20,000 people will no longer have a criminal record. This cleanup comes as part of a new state law that passed in June and is meant to protect "communities of color" which "have been disproportionately impacted by laws governing marijuana and have suffered the lifelong consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction."

Missouri's Eight-Week Abortion Ban is Blocked by Federal Judge

Senior Judge Howard Sachs of the Federal District Court in Kansas City, Missouri has issued a ruling that has blocked the state from enforcing its ban on abortions after the eighth week of pregnancy. The legislation was one part of a broader nationwide campaign by Republican legislatures to restrict abortion and encourage a challenge to rise to the United States Supreme Court to erode or eliminate the Roe v. Wade ruling. Judge Sachs noted that, "while federal courts should generally be very cautious before delaying the effect of state laws, the sense of caution may be mitigated when the legislation seems designed, as here, as a protest against Supreme Court decisions."

Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash Pledge $90 Million to Fight Driver Legislation in California

A bill is now in California's legislature that would force ride-hailing companies, such as Uber and Lyft, to treat drivers who use their apps as employees rather than independent contractors. Uber and Lyft have contended that the effect of such a law would be a threat to their businesses and announced that they would put forward $60 million to have a ballot initiative that exempted them from the proposed law. DoorDash also has announced that it would add $30 million to the war chest. As the drivers for all three companies work as independent contractors, they have "no legally protected minimum wage, guaranteed sick days, or traditional health benefits," and many drivers have also complained that the companies have cut earnings without explanation or removed drivers from the apps with no recourse.

Gregory Craig, Washington Lawyer on Trial, Says That He Never Lied to Investigators

One of Washington's most powerful Democratic lawyers, Gregory Craig, found himself on the witness stand testifying in his own defense in a federal felony trial. He has passionately denied "that he had deceived federal investigators" when asked "whether he had aided a public relations campaign by Ukraine's president to repair his battered image in the United States." Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had sought for a report published by law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to improve his public image, and Craig, then a lawyer at Skadden, is facing accusations that he lied about his role in the campaign so as to "safeguard his reputation and career prospects."

Barr Plans to Throw $30,000 Holiday Party at the Trump Hotel

Attorney General William Barr has booked a ballroom at President Trump's Washington hotel for the annual holiday party. Ethics experts have criticized the move after it was reported that Barr had booked the Presidential Ballroom for a 200-person holiday party at an expense exceeding $30,000. The news came from a Justice Department official, speaking anonymously to discuss a non-government function, and is being made public at a time when the Justice Department has been defending President Trump against accusations that he is profiting from his time as president.

UK's Johnson Moves to Suspend Parliament Ahead of Brexit

Queen Elizabeth II has approved British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's move to suspend Parliament, outraging his critics and giving his political opponents even less time to block a no-deal Brexit before the October 31st deadline for withdrawal. While he has insisted that the maneuver is one that will allow him to be more effective in achieving his agenda, he also has noted that it was not designed to curb debate, as there will be "ample time" to discuss Brexit and other issues. The speaker of the lower House of Commons, which is not an inherently political position as is the Speakership of the American House of Representatives, noted that: "Shutting down Parliament would be an offense against the democratic process and the rights of parliamentarians as the people's elected representatives."

August 27, 2019

Week In Review

By Lisa Ornest
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Weinstein Trial Starts 9/9

Weinstein is seeking a change of venue because he claims he that he can't get a fair trial in NYC. Typical stall tactic. Maybe he'll get it. The trial is supposed to start on September 9th. Justice Burke is at 100 Centre. Better get to court early so you don't trip over the cameras.

San Francisco Theaters Come to an Agreement

There are 3 commercial theaters in San Francisco, and they have been jointly run by the Nederlander and Shorenstein families for decades. However, then they got into a fight, which ended up in a courtroom, about whether one of the theaters, the Curran, should be allowed to compete with the other two, the Orpheum and the Golden Gate. The settlement states that Carole Shorenstein Hays will retain ownership and control of the Curran, and Robert Nederlander will solely own and operate the others. The Curran will open with "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" in October, and the Orpheum and Golden Gate will present touring productions of "Mean Girls" and "the Band's Visit."

Many Years Ago, Placido Domingo Was a Jerk

More guilty until proven innocent "zero tolerance" based on anonymous accusations. One of 3 accusers on NPR said that Placido Domingo didn't touch her, didn't interfere with her employment, and didn't do anything else except keep asking her out (admittedly as a euphemism), when she wasn't interested. Yet now, many years later, he's being humiliated and losing his livelihood. Yeah, he acted like a jerk. So what? Who hasn't? Hopefully time will tell as to what really occurred.


Bootlegging Blair

Apparently Amazon is selling, non-ironically, counterfeit copies of Animal Farm, 1984 and Down and Out in Paris and London, among others. From the excerpts, it sounds like the counterfeits are translations into English from another language of books that were originally written and published in English. This is also a problem of optical scanning. Some, especially the ones from India, which does not appear to have much in the way of copyright law, are not just inaccurately copied but actually censored, uh, I mean, "made more palatable." This is a big problem when it comes to face cream, but it's corrupt and unforgivable when it comes to texts. Amazon doesn't seem to be especially concerned, although it did remove some of the counterfeit editions from sale after communications from the article's author.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Considers What To Do About Probably Stolen Loot

This is about our old friend and smuggler of cultural artifacts, Subhash Kappor, and his transactions with the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met). To recap, last month, Kapoor was charged with 86 felony counts and accused of trafficking in $145 million in antiquities, over about 45 years. The Met became a customer in the 90's, and currently possesses 15 works that Kapoor either "gifted" or sold to it, without any provenance prior to the date of his own "ownership." The items include a set of first century terra-cotta rattles and an eleventh century celestial dancer carved from sandstone. The Met is now scrambling to establish more plausible provenances. UNESCO calculates that at least 50,000 artworks have been stolen from India, although it's not clear that Kapoor stole them all. In 1972 India ratified a treaty prohibiting the export or transfer of cultural property without explicit government approval. So far, only about 40 items have been returned.


To Coach or Not to Coach

Last year, Serena Williams was accused by an umpre of being coached from the stands, which Williams's coach later admitted was true. Nevertheless, at the time, it made Williams feel that she was being accused of cheating. While coaching is not allowed at the Open or other Grand Slam events, like Wimbledon and the French Open, or on the men's tour, it is in fact allowed on the women's tour. This is probably confusing to players. One gets used to a way of doing things. There is dissent about whether coaching should be allowed at all, and it turns out that women are fined more often for breaking coaching rules than men. The article doesn't say whether the men are actually doing it as often or not. It does say that even more than the players, the dwindling tennis fan base needs to have some understanding of the rules and see consistency in their application. Doesn't every other sport allow coaching on the field?

Football and Non-Symptomatic Brain Injury

Apparently, the ordinary rough and tumble of football can induce brain damage even without anything as extreme as an actual concussion. Impact seems to affect "white matter," the job of which is to connect neurons, in the midbrain. The study was done by placing "accelerometers" that tracked the "number and intensity" of every impact of those players who did not experience concussion. At the end of the season, all the players showed "'fraying'" of the tissue, even though the players had no symptoms. They did not do a study to show if this "fraying" could reverse itself over time. In addition, the players they studied had in fact already played for several seasons but showed no damage at the beginning of this particular season, so maybe the whole thing is meaningless.

Major League Baseball Players Linked to Dominican Republic Crime Ring

Pitcher Octavio Dotel was arrested by the Dominican Republic authorities, and infielder Luis Castillo was "cited," both for alleged links to drug trafficking and money-laundering schemes. It sounds like Cesar Emilio Peralta is the kingpin who used, allegedly, the players as a way to hide his assets.


Smear Campaigns Against Journalists

Conservative "operatives," including one Arthur Schwartz (not Deitz's partner), who works with Stephen Bannon, are keeping busy this summer by compiling dossiers and publicly releasing embarrassing any private information they can find, with the intention of discrediting journalists who are skeptical of the president. These journalists are from organizations like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The "research" extends to the journalists' families and other generally liberal activists. This appears to be a "smear campaign." The info is released on Breitbart, then twittered by the president, and then repeated on Breitbart. The only named journalist in the article is a Mr. Wright-Piersanti, who wrote a negative review of the new press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, and who apparently made anti-Semitic remarks when he was a teenager. He has apologized.§ion=Politics

Don't Tell Misha!

This woman is not an anomaly, but rather, the tip of an iceberg unaffected by global warming. There are entire sections of the boroughs where people think like this, and who knows what else.§ion=Dance

Floating Digital Billboards Banned in NY

All digital/video billboards should be banned, on waterways especially, but also on regular roads. It's dangerous for drivers, and it's a blight on the landscape. There has to be some rest and respite for the eyes and the soul, not just the constant bombardment of advertising. Of course the Florida-based company wants to keep doing it anyway, but apparently it is having a hard time in Florida, as well as in New York.

It's Not Paranoia if It's Really Happening

Facebook has a new tool to allow you to see which apps and websites, outside of Facebook, are tracking you. Don't we have enough to do in life? Won't everyone just feel too overwhelmed by this and throw up their hands in despair? Further, this doesn't mean that Facebook is going to stop doing anything it's been doing so far to exploit its users for its own profit. Granted, there is the option of wiping the browsing history clean, but it turns out that while the data can be "disconnected," it cannot actually be deleted.

Facebook to Hire Humans

Facebook is, allegedly, hiring journalists to help tweak algorithms, at least in regard to "News Tab," a new news section separate from the news stories in the feeds. The journalists will help discover the stories and properly tailor them to users. Part of this is about trying to disseminate some non-dis-information. Part of it is about sharing "content" with "other" news organizations. How this really going to work? What is the goal? Facebook absorption of all news media? Like Invaders from Mars?

Tucker Carlson's Ad Revenue in a Slump

Apparently Tucker Carlson has lost "dozens" of advertisers over the last year as the result of his racist, sexist, and otherwise generally divisive demeanor and remarks, like calling white supremacy a hoax. There's a chart showing the reduction in minutes of commercials and number of advertisers. Last year Carlson was responsible for 18% of Fox News's advertising revenue, this year, 13%. It's a start.

Twitter Bans State-Sponsored Accounts

Social media is full of propagandists and agent provocateurs, many of them state-sponsored. Surprise! Right now it seems a good idea that Facebook and Twitter police these things, removing pages and accounts (on Twitter, in this instance, 936 accounts) that seem to be acting together to spread "disinformation," like spinning the Hong Kong protests and protesters by calling them, among other things, cockroaches. Bangladesh, Iran and Venezuela have engaged in the same behavior. A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says, of course a country will try to present its own side of things, and he doesn't understand why everyone is so upset. Facebook still wants to think some more before enacting anything like a ban (China is a big advertising purchaser), but Twitter is banning promoted tweets from state-sponsored media. How long before they start removing legitimate dissent?

Something is Rotten!

In Denmark, as in other places, prosecutors used cellphone location data to trace alleged perps to crime scenes, but it turns out that the info may have been flawed. The first flaw was in the way the IT system converted raw data, and the second was because of tracking to wrong cellphone towers. Both problems may have wrongly "placed" innocent people at crime scenes. Over 10,000 verdicts dating back to 2012 are being reviewed. Apparently no one previously thought to question the accuracy of any of the data.

General News

You Can't Get a Man With a Gun, or Can You?

For a brief moment Trump tried to make it sound like the lax gun laws were the fault of the Democrats (and probably Hillary's emails), but now that he is in charge we can have "'very meaningful'" background checks. Then he talked to Wayne LaPierre on the phone, and now he's back to spouting the NRA party line, including pretending to know about the Bill of Rights.

Broken Promises

The Justice Department argues, essentially, that it's o.k. for the U.S. government to go back on its word. It argues that the Department of Homeland Security "correctly and reasonably concluded" that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is unlawful. However, as we all know, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has no constitutional right to "conclude" anything, either about legislation or executive orders issued by the previous president. Nor does DHS have the sua sponte right to pick and choose which laws it supports and which ones it doesn't. Yet "lawyers" for the current administration wrote briefs stating exactly that. Of course, this is the same Justice Department that doesn't believe that children in custody separated from their parents and with no one to take care of them should have dry clothes and soap, so it's not like they have an iota of credibility.

Let Them Drink Coke

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wrote a letter (to whom?) on August 9th stating that the lead in Newark's water (and children), was at an unacceptable level. For this agency to exercise itself over any kind of environmental situation must mean the situation is pretty severe. Not to mention that every plastic bottle is eventually going to end up in a whale's belly, although maybe that doesn't matter, because the bottled water distribution office is only open for one hour a day.

Take Back Your Mink

The new Title X rules say that Planned Parenthood can't refer at all, for anything, to doctors who perform abortions, much less for actual abortions. However, Planned Parenthood believes that its duty is to advise women of all of their reproductive options and help them to exercise those options. So if the Title X funding rules won't allow it to do that, then it won't take the money, about $60 million. However, it's not just about the money, it's about the low income "Title X" women who will now have nowhere to go for their birth control, pregnancy tests, and screening for sexually transmitted diseases and breast and cervical cancer. Planned Parenthood says that the rules are unethical, and it simply cannot agree to be in the program on those terms. The anti-abortion, anti-choice groups are thrilled. The government agency in charge (DHHS) says that Planned Parenthood and other groups are "'now blaming the government for their own actions'" and '"abandoning their obligations to serve their patients.'" The American Medical Association supports Planned Parenthood and the right of patients to speak freely with their doctors. Planned Parenthood is challenging the rule in court. DHHS will not allow "intermediate" status until the rule is adjudicated. Basically, in or out. DHHS says that the rule is not a "gag rule." It's wide open for the faith based providers now.

When Smoke Doesn't Get in Your Eyes

Trump tried to roll back pollution standards and the Obama regulation that car companies must double fuel efficiency by 2025, but the car companies won't go along with it. They are throwing their lot in with California, which is mounting a lawsuit. This is great fun, but it's not entirely altruistic. The car companies are worried that consumers will prefer cars that adhere to emissions reduction standards and split the market. There is probably also a big technology commitment. At the White House, the official in charge of this, uh, initiative, is 29 years old. The EPA is trying to write the rule, but is having trouble. In a fit of pique, Trump said he might be willing to keep the Obama regulations, but now wants to "revoke" CA's ability to regulate itself. Spite much?

King of the Jews

The problem is that despite the obvious bad faith there are too many Jewish supporters who are just as stupid as anyone and will fall for this and not realize they are being played. The word is collaborator.

Trump Wants Russia Back in G7 (or 8)

Trump is projecting, saying that the only reason Russia is not in G7, nee G8, is because of "Obama's wounded pride," and not Russia's annexation of Crimea, which other countries regarded as a violation of international law.

Trump Wants China Out

And/or he wants us out of China. He is threatening to make all American businesses leave China, and he says he has the authority to do it. He is citing the "International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977 ("IEEPA"), a law which can be used to enable a president to "isolate criminal regimes, not sever economic ties with a major trading partner." It's the case of a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Daniel M. Price, international economic adviser to George W. Bush, says to use the Act for these purposes would be an "abuse." What does Trump think, that Russia can take China's place? He has supposedly "ordered," via Twitter, American companies to look for an "alternative" to China. However, the IEEPA allows a president to declare a national emergency in case of any "unusual and extraordinary threat" to the "national security, foreign policy, or economy of the US from abroad." It has been used before, but never for "Pure economic warfare" when there was no national security threat. Trump has people finding this stuff. He is not going to go quietly.

The Cold Coast of Greenland

Apparently the president has been talking about buying Greenland for more than a year and even "detailed" the National Security Council staff to study the idea. The article says he joked about trading it for Puerto Rico. However, when the Prime Minister of Denmark said it was not for sale, Trump threw a hissy fit and canceled a trip to Denmark scheduled for September. He became misogynistic and dismissive of NATO countries in general, because Denmark belongs to NATO. The article discusses some other irrational actions of the first executive, like saying he was chosen by God to lead a trade war with China, and how he made fun of a fat man (for being fat) who turned out to be a supporter.

Kids Still in Cages

Since the mid-80's there have been protections in place for migrant and refugee children, codified in the "Flores Agreement." The Flores Agreement was enacted as the result of a class action lawsuit regarding shameful abuses during a period of heavy immigration activity from El Salvador. Children were crowded together in unsanitary conditions, with no exercise or education or protection. The immigration agents were doing body cavity searches on CHILDREN. The Flores Agreement said, among other things, that children could not be held indefinitely, they had to be released quickly to a family member or to a licensed care facility that "did not operate like a jail," and that generally children could spend no longer than 20 days in detention. Now, of course, the president wants to do away with all of that and use the children as political bait.

Blue-Green Algae in NYC

The New York Times reports that bodies of water in Central Park, Morningside Park, and Prospect Park are infected with the algae, which can cause neurological disorders, liver damage and respiratory paralysis in animals. No swimming in natural bodies for your best friend this summer, please.§ion=New%20York

And Maybe Hurting Florida Panthers

Florida panthers, especially the young ones, and a bobcat on the Gulf side, are staggering when they try to walk. It started in 2017, but this year there seems to be an increase. As a result of not being able to walk, more of them are being hit by cars. The article says that the cause may be neurological but does not suggest the trigger. The cats were almost extinct, down to about 20, and then they started coming back, but we're losing them again. I wonder if it's the algae.

A Populism Primer

Things seem to be imploding all over the place. Like another country we could mention, in Italy, the populists are in ascension. Yet of course populists are not serious or responsible, so their agendas are not sustainable, and the "leader" of the "Five Star Movement," Mattea Salvini, who seems to be a Trump clone, behaving like a spoiled infant rather than a dignified adult leader, became disillusioned with his own party's "inaction" and pulled away, trying to grab all the power for himself. Salvini is the kind of guy who refuses to staff important government posts and then decries the government as inept when nothing gets done. Sound familiar? At any rate, the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, then accused Salvini of opportunism and resigned his post, which "collapsed" the government, which I don't quite understand, but at least it was a protest. Opponents of Five Star and Salvini are hoping they can "sap" his strength by putting off elections, but it may not work. This is worth keeping an eye on, as maybe we can learn something.

Luxury Cruise

A prosecutor has ordered that a ship carrying 80 mostly African migrants, prevented by the blowhard Matteo Salvini (see above) from docking for almost 3 weeks, must be allowed to dock. It contains 80 people, 2 bathrooms, children, and pregnant women. People were jumping overboard, trying to swim the 3 miles. They were rescued. Salvini pretends that he's being humanitarian by claiming that rescue ships like Open Arms are really just a front for traffickers. He is being investigated on charges of illegal detention of the people on the ships. The president of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, seems not to be completely under Salvini's thrall.

Did They Lose Another One?

There was an explosion at a naval weapons range in Russia on August 8th. Seven people were killed, and elevated levels of radiation were found 25 miles away. On August 10th, 2 radiation sensors that send information to an international monitoring network based in Vienna, as part of the test ban treaty, went offline. On August 13th, 2 more went offline. The Russians say they they don't have to share this information if they don't want to, and Putin is assuring everyone that there is no risk to the public. Of course Trump probably believes him, and the sensors were just experiencing "'communications and network issues.'" Yet then another official seemed to suggest that it was in fact Russia's exercise of a prerogative not to send the information and not an accident. Russian scientists admitted that it was a nuclear device. Trump and others think it was a nuclear cruise missile that NATO calls Skyfall.

David Koch Dead at 79

Please read Jane Mayer's Dark Money, which explains what the Kochs do with the money, and then perhaps this recent book by Christopher Leonard, Kochland, which explains how they obtained it. The Koch brothers want a world where they can operate freely and not have to think about anyone or anything but themselves, and they have pretty much achieved that. Although, of course, like many rich people, they live with the constant nagging anxiety of going broke any second, which I suppose is its own kind of hell. But not hellish enough. Where is Dickens when you need him?§ion=Books§ion=Obituaries

August 20, 2019

Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below is the previous week's news in the categories of Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


CBS and Viacom to Merge

After more than a decade apart, CBS and Viacom, both under Shari Redstone's control, agreed to merge on Tuesday in a deal that will reunite a roster of once-mighty media businesses. Viacom's Paramount film studio and MTV and Nickelodeon cable networks will be added to the broadcast giant CBS and the book publisher Simon & Schuster. The deal will allow the company to invest more in streaming, which is the future of entertainment. Redstone will be chairwoman of the combined company.

Bill Cosby's Appeal Begins

Actor Bill Cosby is trying to appeal his conviction for sexual assault. Cosby is currently serving a 3-to-10-year sentence for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home outside Philadelphia after giving her some pills. His lawyers are arguing that the trial judge should never have allowed the testimony of 5 other women who said they too had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Cosby. The prosecution, however, contended that the women's testimony showed a series of "prior bad acts" that fit the pattern of conduct in the Constand case. His defense challenged the existence of such a pattern and said the admission of the women's testimony had hurt the presumption of innocence toward their client, but the trial judge didn't buy it.

ASAP Rocky Found Guilty in Sweden Assault Case but Will Serve No More Time

Rapper ASAP Rocky was found guilty of assault for his part in a street brawl in Stockholm on June 30th that left a 19-year-old man bleeding and needing medical treatment. Rocky - born Rahkim Mayers - and two members of his entourage, Bladimir Emilio, Corniel and David Tyrone Rispers, spent almost a month in a Swedish jail following the fight, having been detained from July 5th until their trial ended on August 2nd. The court sentenced Rocky and his co-defendants to time-served and awarded the victim 12,500 Swedish kronor ($1,300 USD) for pain, insult, and injuries from each defendant. Following the verdict, Rocky expressed his "disappointment" via a post on Instagram and it is unclear whether the rapper will appeal.

'Sopranos' Actress May Testify at Weinstein Trial

The Manhattan district attorney is seeking a new grand jury indictment against Harvey Weinstein that would allow actress Annabella Sciorra, who has accused him of rape, to testify at his criminal trial next month, even though Weinstein is not charged with assaulting her. Sciorra, who is known for her work in "The Sopranos", has said that Weinstein attacked her in her Gramercy Park apartment in 1993. As the incident is too old to be prosecuted under state law, District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. is maneuvering to use Sciorra's account at trial to bolster counts in the indictment that charge Weinstein with predatory sexual assault. The charge carries a life sentence.

Chrisleys Indicted for Tax Fraud

Todd and Julie Chrisley, the stars of the reality TV show "Chrisley Knows Best", are facing a 12-count indictment on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, and hiding income from the Internal Revenue Service. A federal grand jury in Atlanta indicted the couple on charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, and hiding income and the Chrisleys' accountant, Peter Tarantino, was also indicted on tax-related offenses.

TLC Reality Show '90 Day Fiancé' Invites Viewers to Offload Ambivalence Around Immigration

TLC's hit series "90 Day Fiancé", which premiered in 2014, follows couples as they navigate the K-1 visa process, in which an American citizen petitions for a foreign beneficiary to enter the United States. Once that beneficiary arrives, the couple has 90 days to marry. Otherwise, the foreign national must leave. Immigration to the US, as currently practiced, depends on narrative. If you are not from one of the 30-odd countries that receive visa waivers and you want to come here, legally, you will have to tell a story about what you do or whom you love or from what you are running, and you will have to make some judge and/or consular official and/or case officer believe it.

The "90 Day Fiancé" franchise depends on narrative. Every season, TLC and Sharp Entertainment, the show's producers, select 6 or 7 couples who have already applied for a K-1 and then tell their stories. Those stories need to keep fans watching past the commercial breaks, so episodes -- each a commercial-heavy, lavishly underscored, 2-hour event -- emphasize conflict, some of it funny, like disagreements over wedding venues, some of it not, like accusations of cheating and allegations of domestic abuse. That's "the good stuff". That formula has created a hit for TLC, where it is often the top-rated ad-supported cable show in its time slot, especially among women 25 to 54, a demographic coveted by advertisers. The subject of immigration has polarized Americans, on and off, for centuries. Now and as the 2020 elections near, it is polarizing us again. The incredible popularity of "90 Day Fiancé" suggests that stories that signal immigration as a joke, a crime, or a dubious privilege, are the stories that some Americans want to hear.

Fortnite Champ Targeted in Hoax

Fortnite champ Kyle Giersdorf, who plays online as "Bugha", recently won $3 million in a Fortnite competition in New York. Over the weekend, his home was the target of a fake crime report to the police. Kyle was live-streaming a game of Fortnite on Twitch Saturday when he blurted out that his home in Upper Pottsgrove Township in Pennsylvania was being "swatted," referring to the phenomenon where someone makes a false report about a crime to force a response from the authorities. The police were dispatched by a call just after 11 p.m. on Saturday in regards to a possible shooting, after a caller falsely reported to the authorities that he had shot his father and tied up his mother. The authorities quickly cleared the incident and no one was harmed.


Artist's Estate Says Caretaker Neglected Him

A lawyer for the estate of artist Robert Indiana has accused a former caretaker of taking advantage of and neglecting Indiana in the final years of his life at home on a remote island in Maine. The executor of the Indiana estate has argued that Indiana had been poorly cared for by the caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, who, the court filing says, "improperly lined his pockets" with $1.1 million from the artist and took more than 100 works of art by claiming that they were gifts. The filing comes more than a year after Indiana's death and is a response to a case filed by Thomas in July, in which he sued the estate for millions of dollars for legal fees he incurred fighting a separate lawsuit in New York by Morgan Art Foundation, a former business partner of Indiana's.

Opera Star to Be Investigated for Sexual Harassment

Opera star and Los Angeles Opera co-founder, Plácido Domingo, is under investigation after The Associated Press reported that multiple women had accused him of decades of sexual harassment. The Associated Press reported that Domingo, 78, had pressured several women into sexual relationships in a series of encounters beginning in the late 1980s -- including 7 women who said that they felt their careers had been harmed after they rebuffed him. Domingo said in a statement that he believed "all of my interactions and relationships were always welcomed and consensual."

San Francisco School Board Votes to Hide Murals

The San Francisco Board of Education voted 4-to-3 to conceal, but not destroy, a series of Depression-era school murals that some considered offensive to Native Americans and African-Americans. The vote came after a meeting that nullified the board's earlier vote to paint over the murals, a decision that had brought widespread complaints of censorship. Even though the murals would now be preserved, defenders of the artwork objected to the new decision to hide them from view.

Author J.D. Salinger Joins the Digital Revolution

Matt Salinger, son of "The Catcher in the Rye" author J.D. Salinger, has decided to do what his late father refused to do 10 years after his death - publishing digital editions of his four books. In addition to the e-books, Salinger is partnering with the New York Public Library, which will host the first public exhibition from his father's personal archives, featuring letters, family photographs, and the typescript for "The Catcher in the Rye" with the author's handwritten edits, along with about 160 other items. He will also publish decades worth of his father's unpublished writing. Salinger is working to keep his father's works alive in the digital age and relevant for a new generation of readers, although the senior Salinger detested publicity and considered publishing to be "a terrible invasion of privacy."

Who Calls the Shots on Broadway?

Women, such as Paula Wagner ("Pretty Woman"), Eva Price ("Oklahoma!" and "Jagged Little Pill"), Diana DiMenna ("What the Constitution Means To Me"), Mara Isaacs ("Hadestown"), Dori Berinstein ("The Prom"), Dale Franzen ("Hadestown"), Carmen Pavlovic ("Moulin Rouge!" and "King Kong") and Lia Vollack ("Almost Famous") are arriving on Broadway as lead producers in ever greater numbers, and their influence is reshaping theater's top tier. Of the 4 shows that won the top prizes at the 2019 Tonys, 3 featured women as first-billed lead producers -- Isaacs and Franzen of "Hadestown", Friedman of "The Ferryman", and Price of "Oklahoma!". Despite these changes, Broadway still has a long way to go, as women continue to be significantly underrepresented as writers and directors.

Versace, Givenchy and Coach Apologize to China After T-Shirt Row

Luxury brands Coach, Givenchy, and Versace have apologized to China for producing T-shirts that were regarded to have undermined the country's sovereignty. The apparel, which identified the semiautonomous regions of Hong Kong and Macau as countries, set off an angry online backlash from Chinese consumers who perceived the designs as violations of the "One China" policy. The outcry over the luxury apparel underscores the growing pressures faced by foreign companies that seek to do business in China. In recent months, Beijing appears to have increased its policing of how overseas companies refer to semiautonomous Chinese territories. Versace, Givenchy, and Coach are just the latest foreign companies to draw fierce criticism from consumers in mainland China over sovereignty sensitivities, and boycott calls and online backlashes have been on the rise in recent months.

Judges Block Girl's Attempt to Join Boys Choir

Berlin's administrative court blocked a 9-year-old German girl from joining Berlin's oldest cultural institution, its all-boys' choir, after she sued to be allowed to sing with the chorus, in a case that pitted a push for gender parity against centuries of musical tradition. The suit argued that because the choir -- the State and Cathedral Choir, part of Berlin's University of the Arts -- is a publicly funded cultural institution, its high-quality, intense musical education, voice training, and performance opportunities must be made available to everyone, regardless of gender. The court, however, said that artistic freedom was more important than equal treatment in this case.

Slippery Slope for Star Architect

An Italian court ordered one of the world's leading architects, Santiago Calatrav, to pay damages to Venice for negligently building a bridge that failed to take into account "what everyone understands" about the city -- namely, that it has a ton of tourists with luggage. The 5 judges on a Roman court overseeing the use of public funds ruled on August 6th that Santiago Calatrava, the Spanish-Swiss architect globally renowned for his sleek and elegantly curved designs, had committed "macroscopic negligence" in constructing the glass-and-steel bridge that opened near Venice's train station in 2008. They fined him 78,000 euros. Calatrava's lawyers have not commented or responded to questions about whether they would appeal the decision.


U.S. Women's Soccer Gender Suit to Continue After Failed Talks

Mediation talks between the United States women's soccer team and U.S. Soccer collapsed without a resolution, damaging hopes that the sides could avoid a showdown in federal court over the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the players earlier this year. The sides had agreed to meet secretly for several days in New York, just over a month after the women's team won its second straight World Cup championship. The mediation sessions were set to resolve issues between the team and the federation about equal pay and other workplace issues, since they hammered out the details of the players' current collective bargaining agreement in April 2017.

Wide Receiver Loses Helmet Grievance

Raiders' wide receiver, Antonio Brown, appears to have lost an ongoing dispute about his helmet. Brown, already dealing with a foot issue that required him to sit out of training camp, prefers to wear the make of helmet he has been wearing for years, but the National Football League says that model, now 10 years old, is no longer approved.

U.S. Fencer and Hammer Thrower Lead Silent Protests at Pan-American Games

U.S. fencer Race Imboden could face sanctions for kneeling at a medal ceremony during the Pan-American games. The U.S. men's foil team won the gold medal at the games in Lima, Peru, and Imboden knelt as the national anthem played and the American flag was raised. The next day, hammer thrower Gwen Berry raised her fist during the national anthem. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement that Imboden may face consequences, as "every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan-American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature" and "in this case, Race didn't adhere to the commitment he made to the organizing committee and the USOPC." Imboden has said that he doesn't regret his decision.

Degree Rule for Agents is Reversed

The NCAA backtracked from new criteria it had imposed on agents representing college basketball players considering the National Basketball Association (NBA) draft, dropping the requirement for a bachelor's degree. Instead, the NCAA said, it will adopt regulations used by the National Basketball Players Association to certify agents -- including an option to grant waivers for any prospective agent who does not have a bachelor's degree. This comes after the rule faced fierce criticism from players and agents alike, including Rich Paul, one of the NBA's most prominent agents. Paul wrote an essay that said requiring a bachelor's degree could make the profession inaccessible to "young people from less prestigious backgrounds, and often people of color."

New York Casinos Are Struggling

Resorts World Catskills, about 85 miles northwest of New York City, has lost money every quarter since it opened in February 2018, dragged into the red by a combination of underwhelming attendance and 9-figure loans. Last month, the largest stockholder of Empire Resorts, the company that operates the casino, argued that it should go private because it no longer believed it had "any reasonable prospect for becoming financially self-sustaining in the future." The company's most recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission showed a $36 million loss in the second quarter of 2019, after a $37 million loss in the first 3 months. The company warned that it may seek bankruptcy protection if it does not secure financing.


Jimmy Kimmel Skit with Fake Emergency Alert Ends in Federal Communications Commission Fine for ABC

Simulated wireless alert tones used in a "Jimmy Kimmel Live" skit making fun of a presidential alert test have cost ABC $395,000 in civil fines with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC has fined several other networks, such as AMC Networks, Discovery's Animal Planet channel, and Meruelo Radio Holdings smaller amounts for similar violations. The use of the emergency alert system or wireless emergency alert tones is barred by FCC rules "to avoid confusion when the tones are used, alert fatigue among listeners and false activation of the system by the operative data elements contained in the alert tones." ABC told the FCC that the tones had been improperly included because of a "misunderstanding that the use of the tone was permissible." The FCC said that ABC had taken steps to remove the portion of the episode containing the tones from its website and other streaming sites, and decided not to rebroadcast the episode.

El Paso Killer Echoed the Words of Right-Wing Pundits

Echoing the words and views of folks like Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh, and Ann Coulter - among others - the El Paso gunman who confessed to killing 22 people at a Walmart this month posted a 2,300-word screed on the website 8chan, saying that he was "simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought on by an invasion." An extensive New York Times review of popular right-wing media platforms found hundreds of examples of language, ideas and ideologies that overlapped with the mass killer's written statement -- a shared vocabulary of intolerance that stokes fears centered on immigrants of color. The programs, on television and radio, reach an audience of millions. The cumulative effect is a public dialogue in which denigrating sentiments about immigrants are common.

Facebook Knew of Risks Before 2018 Breach

Facebook users suing the world's largest social media network over a 2018 data breach say it failed to warn them about risks tied to its single sign-on tool - which connects users to third-party social apps and services using their Facebook credentials - even though it protected its employees. The lawsuit, which combined several legal actions, stems from Facebook Inc.'s worst-ever security breach back in September 2018, when hackers stole login codes - or "access tokens" - that allowed them to access nearly 29 million accounts. "Facebook knew about the access token vulnerability and failed to fix it for years, despite that knowledge," the plaintiffs said in a heavily redacted section of the filing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco.

New York Times Editor is Demoted After Tweets About Race

Jonathan Weisman, a deputy Washington editor of The New York Times, has been demoted and will no longer oversee the paper's congressional correspondents, because he repeatedly posted messages on social media about race and politics that The Times says showed "serious lapses in judgment." Weisman came under scrutiny for tweets he posted on July 31st and August 7th. In the July 31st posts, he implied that it was inaccurate to describe certain politicians from urban areas as being representative of the Midwest and the South - specifically mentioning Representatives Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Lloyd Doggett of Texas, and John Lewis of Georgia. In the August 7th tweets, Weisman replied to a tweet by the progressive political organization Justice Democrats that included a photograph of Morgan Harper, a candidate the group was backing for a United States House seat in Ohio. Weisman's response noted that she would be challenging Representative Joyce Beatty, an African-American Democrat. Harper replied to Weisman's message, telling him, "I am also black." To that, Weisman replied, "@justicedems's endorsement included a photo," insinuating that she isn't black because he looked at a picture and can't see it.

India Shut Down Kashmir's Internet Access

In Kashmir, Indian security forces are stopping people from moving freely and a communications blackout has cut residents off from the outside world. As the Indian government's shutdown of internet and phone service in the contested region, Kashmir has become paralyzed - pharmacists can't restock medicines; workers aren't being paid; and doctors can't communicate with their patients. The block has brought everyday transactions, family communications, online entertainment, and the flow of money and information to a halt.

Journalists Chronicle Kashmir Crackdown with Pens + Paper

Kashmir's journalists are striving to rise to the occasion and simply hold on in the face of one of the most severe clampdowns this predominantly Muslim war-torn region has faced. India's government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cast Kashmir into more turmoil by abruptly canceling the limited autonomy it has held since the 1940s. That decision raised tensions with Pakistan instantly. Indian security forces shut down the internet, mobile phone services, and landlines, rendering the Kashmir Valley, home to about 8 million people, incommunicado. Television news channels, which were allowed to broadcast news of the canceled autonomy, were later taken off the air.

Out of the 50 or so well-known Kashmiri newspapers, only about half a dozen are still publishing. They put out thin paper editions, a maximum of 8 pages, that are quickly bought and then passed hand to hand for the rest of the day. Since the reporters have no access to the news wires or social media, they cannot fact check anything online or even make phone calls, and are forced to do their work the old-fashioned way, with notebooks and pens.

How YouTube Radicalized Brazil

Members of Brazil's newly empowered far right -- from grass-roots organizers to federal lawmakers -- say their movement would not have risen so far, so fast, without YouTube's recommendation engine. YouTube's search and recommendation system appears to have systematically diverted users to far-right and conspiracy channels in Brazil. The recommendation system is engineered to maximize watchtime, among other factors, by suggesting what to watch next, often playing the videos automatically, in a never-ending quest to keep viewers glued to their screens. As the system suggests more provocative videos to keep users watching, it can direct them toward extreme content that they might not otherwise find. it is also designed to lead users to new topics to pique new interest - so much so that people like Zeynep Tufekci, a social media scholar, are calling it "one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century."

Military Prosecutes Its Critics for Defamation

Since 2016, 25 Myanmar Army colonels have bypassed the battlefield to fight their adversaries in civilian courts, using criminal defamation cases to stifle criticism of the army's authority ahead of parliamentary elections next year. Under the Myanmar Constitution's system of divided government, the military is autonomous and is largely able to avoid civilian scrutiny. The military's spokesman, Brig. Gen. Zaw Min Tun, says the officers are simply defending the "dignity" of the armed forces, known as the Tatmadaw.

China Wages "Disinformation War" Against Hong Kong Protesters

In response to the growing numbers of protesters, China has more aggressively stirred up nationalist and anti-Western sentiment using state and social media, and it has manipulated the context of images and videos to undermine the protesters. Chinese officials have begun branding the demonstrations as a prelude to terrorism. China has long curated the content that it allows its citizens to see and read. Its new campaign has echoes of tactics used by other countries, principally Russia, to inundate domestic and international audiences with bursts of information, propaganda and, in some cases, outright disinformation.

Russia Suspected in Bulgaria Hack

Kristiyan Boikov is accused by prosecutors of stealing the personal data of nearly every working adult in Bulgaria from the National Revenue Agency and working to "create instability in the country." The hack was made public -- with the data leaked to news media organizations from an email bearing a Russian address -- just as Bulgaria was finalizing its purchase of 8 new F-16s as part of an American-backed plan to replace the country's aging Soviet-era jets and bring its air force in line with NATO standards. The deal, worth $1.25 billion -- the largest military procurement by post-Communist Bulgaria -- includes the jets, ammunition, equipment, and pilot training. Six single-seat and 2 2-seat F-16s would be delivered by 2023. In the immediate aftermath of the breach, Bulgaria's interior minister, Mladen Marinov, raised the prospect that Russia might have had a hand in the attack, given the timing.

U.K. Bans Ads Over Sexist Stereotypes

Britain's advertising authority has banned 2 television ads under new rules against harmful gender stereotypes. The ads, from the local branches of Volkswagen and the food giant Mondelez, were found to be in breach of the rules, which stipulate that ads must not include "gender stereotypes that are likely to cause harm, or serious or widespread offense." Volkswagen's ad showed a series of men "engaged in adventurous activities," while the only two women depicted were asleep in a tent and sitting by a baby carriage. The main characters of the ad from Mondelez, for the cheese spread Philadelphia, were two distracted young fathers in a restaurant who appeared "unable to care for children effectively." Jessica Tye, the investigations manager at the Advertising Standards Authority, said that both ads contained stereotypes with the potential to cause "real-world harms", such as affecting children's career choices.


Trump Administration Weakens Endangered Species Act

The Trump Administration announced that it would change the way the Endangered Species Act is applied. The new rules would make it easier to remove a species from the endangered list and weaken protections for threatened species, the classification one step below endangered. The changes will make it more difficult for regulators to factor in the effects of climate change on wildlife when making classification decisions.

Trump's Policy to Allow U.S. to Deny Green Cards to Poor Immigrants

The Trump administration plans to implement a new rule that would deny permanent residency to legal immigrants if they are judged likely to use government benefit programs. Starting in October, poor immigrants would be denied green cards under the new rule if they are deemed likely to use government benefit programs, like food stamps and subsidized housing. Officials would also consider an immigrant's age, health, family status, assets, resources, financial status, and education. Officials would be given broad leeway to determine whether immigrants are likely to use public benefits, deny them green cards, and order them deported.

Trump Official Says 'Huddled Masses' in Statue of Liberty Poem Are European

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, a top Trump administration immigration official and acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), has set off a controversy with his comments about "The New Colossus", the 136-year-old sonnet at the base of the Statue of Liberty. The poem reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free," but Cuccinelli added a caveat: "Give me your tired and your poor who can stand on their own two feet, and who will not become a public charge," later saying that the poem referred to "people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies and people were considered wretched if they weren't in the right class."

Court Rules That Migrant Children Are Entitled to Toothbrushes and Soap

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has rejected the government's argument that it is not required to provide migrant children with toothbrushes, soap, and showers. A lawyer for the government had tried to parse the meaning of "safe and sanitary" conditions -- the existing legal standard for detained, arguing that provisions, such as soap and toothbrushes, might not be necessary under the rules that govern facilities in which children are held for only a short period of time. The ruling strengthens protections for children being held in detention after crossing the border without authorization.

Appeals Court Rules That U.S. Can Block Migrants Seeking Asylum in Some States

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has held that Trump can begin blocking some Central American migrants from applying for asylum in the United States, but only along parts of the border with Mexico. Under the administration's new rules, migrants who seek asylum in New Mexico and Texas can be subjected to the rules, which will effectively prohibit them from requesting protection if they traveled through another country on their way to the United States unless they already tried and failed to receive asylum in that other country or countries.

Scientists Confirm That July Was the Hottest Month Ever Recorded

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) confirmed that July 2019 was the hottest month on record, edging out the previous record-holder, July 2016. The findings are in line with those of European scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service, who said earlier this month that July was 0.07 degree Fahrenheit higher than 3 years ago.

Trump Delays New Tariff Plans Until December

Trump unexpectedly put off a new 10% tariff on many Chinese goods, including cellphones, laptop computers, and toys, until after the start of the Christmas shopping season, acknowledging the effect that his protracted trade war with Beijing could have on Americans. Trump pushed the tariff on some imports to December 15th, and excluded others from it entirely, while facing mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm that they say the trade conflict is doing.

The House of Representatives v. Trump

Democrats took control of the House this year promising to use legislation and investigations to check Trump. Living up to those promises, the House has already become a party to 9 separate lawsuits this year, while also filing briefs for judges in 4 others. The surge in litigation is a consequence of Trump's norm-busting presidency. House Democrats are looking for additional venues through which to take him on -- or, in some cases, fighting lawsuits that the president filed against Congress himself to try to block lawmakers from obtaining information about him from entities outside the federal government.

Court Allows Trump to Defund Planned Parenthood, Title X

A 3-judge panel on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Trump administration's "domestic gag rule", which blocks health providers that offer abortion care or even discuss it from receiving federal funding via Title X, can go into effect immediately. Planned Parenthood announced the decision to withdraw from the federal family planning and reproductive health grant program, known as Title X, after the Court declined to intervene. This comes after Planned Parenthood filed a final letter in a last-ditch effort to persuade the Court to act against the rule that effectively blocks Planned Parenthood from Title X. The rule says that clinics that also provide or even refer patients for abortion may no longer receive and Title X grants. This was widely seen as an attack on Planned Parenthood and its network of clinics, which currently serves 40% of the patients who receive Title X-funded care.

States Sue Trump Administration Over Rollback of Obama-Era Climate Rule

A Trump administration plan to regulate coal-fired plants more lightly faces a major legal challenge, as 29 states and cities sued to block the administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants, setting up a case that could determine how much leverage the federal government has to fight climate change in the future. It is the most significant test to date of the Trump administration's efforts to eliminate or weaken President Obama's regulations to reduce the United States' contribution to global warming.

Lawyer's Trial Will Test Crackdown on Unregistered Foreign Agents

Gregory B. Craig, a well-known Washington lawyer, is charged with deceiving Justice Department officials who sought to determine whether he should have registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, for work that earned his law firm more than $4.6 million. His trial is being viewed as a litmus test of the Justice Department's growing effort to hold more foreign lobbyists criminally responsible for conduct the agency once treated as mere administrative infractions.

State Department Fails to Provide Update on Yemen

In defiance of federal law, the State Department is refusing to submit reports to Congress detailing efforts by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Trump administration officials have missed both Congressionally mandated deadlines this year to submit the biannual reports. This has further inflamed tensions between the administration and legislators who were already furious with the administration's unflagging support of the Saudi government and were still stung by the White House's decision in May to circumvent Congress to sell arms to Riyadh.

Couple Sues Big Law Firm Over Parental Leave

Julia Sheketoff and Mark Savignac are suing their former firm, Jones Day, over its parental-leave and wage practices, along with Savignac's dismissal. Their lawsuit asserts that Jones Day's policy unlawfully denied Savignac the full leave he was entitled to after their son was born in January and that it unlawfully fired him when he complained about the policy. Under the firm's policy, biological mothers who seek to be a primary caregiver receive 10 weeks of paid family leave plus 8 weeks of disability leave, while biological fathers who seek to be a primary caregiver receive 10 weeks of family leave. The firm also awards new adoptive parents of either gender 18 weeks of paid leave if they seek to be a primary caregiver. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has held that employers can award biological mothers 8 weeks more paid leave than biological fathers if the additional time is tied to their recovery from the physical toll of childbirth - however, in their legal complaint, Savignac and Sheketoff argue that Jones Day awards mothers 8 additional weeks of paid leave without regard to whether their physical condition warrants it, and that the policy gives "female associates more time to enable their husbands to prioritize their careers over child care" and "reflects and reinforces archaic gender roles and sex-based stereotypes."

Cure Found for the Deadliest Strain of Tuberculosis

After a groundbreaking clinical trial, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) effectively endorsed the approach, approving the newest of the 3 drugs used in the regimen. Usually, the World Health Organization adopts approvals made by the FDA or its European counterpart, meaning the treatment could soon come into use worldwide. Tuberculosis has now surpassed AIDS as the world's leading infectious cause of death, and the so-called XDR strain is the ultimate in lethality. It is resistant to all 4 families of antibiotics typically used to fight the disease. The drug regimen tested has shown a 90% success rate against the drug-resistant tuberculosis.

N.Y.P.D. Has Thousands of People's DNA in a DNA Database but Many Are Unaware

The New York Police Department has taken DNA samples from people convicted of crimes, as well as from people who are only arrested or sometimes simply questioned. The city's DNA database has grown by nearly 29% over the last 2 years, and now has 82,473 genetic profiles, becoming a potentially potent tool for law enforcement, but one that operates with little if any oversight. The practice has exposed the Police Department to scrutiny over how the genetic material is collected and whether privacy rights are being violated.

Water Crisis in Newark Resembles Flint

Newark officials have begun giving out bottled water out of concerns about elevated lead levels in tap water, the culmination of years of neglect that has pushed New Jersey's largest city to the forefront of an environmental problem afflicting urban areas across the nation. State and local officials said that they were making free water available to 15,000 of the city's 95,000 households, and hundreds of people waited in long lines in the summer heat to pick up cases of water. Officials had to halt the distribution temporarily after discovering that some of the water exceeded its best-by date. The intensifying worry about the safety of Newark's drinking water has raised comparisons to Flint, MI, where dangerous levels of lead led to criminal indictments against state and local officials and forced residents to rely on bottled water.

Before Suicide, Epstein Was Left Alone in His Cell by Sleeping Guards

Jeffrey Epstein, the financier accused of trafficking girls for sex, was left alone in a cell for hours - only 11 days after he had been taken off a suicide watch - exposing "serious irregularities" at the Manhattan facility in which he was being held. At 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, guards doing morning rounds found him dead in his cell after he hanged himself. Epstein was supposed to have been checked by the 2 guards in the protective housing unit every 30 minutes and because he may have tried to commit suicide 3 weeks earlier, he was supposed to have had another inmate in his cell. However, the jail had recently transferred his cellmate and allowed Epstein to be housed alone. His guards are said to have been sleeping during the times when he was left alone. These failures in Epstein's detention at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) deepened questions about his death and are now the focus of inquiries by the Justice Department and the F.B.I. The guards and the warden of MCC have now been removed from their positions.

Epstein's Estate Will Still Deal with Litigation + Investigations

Several women who have said they were victimized by Epstein said they planned to file lawsuits, and a new state law in New York that expands the amount of time that some sexual abuse victims can sue could open the door to more claims. While Epstein's recent death ended a federal criminal prosecution on child sex trafficking charges, his estate will still have to defend against civil suits. He was believed to have been worth at least $500 million. Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University School of Law, said that "death does not end civil liability, death ends criminal liability," "the person is gone, but their assets remain."

U.S. Suspects New Nuclear Missile in Russian Explosion

The mysterious explosion that recently released radiation off the coast of northern Russia apparently happened during the test of a new type of nuclear-propelled cruise missile hailed by President Vladimir V. Putin as the centerpiece of Moscow's arms race with the United States. The blast, being considered as possibly the worst since Chernobyl, killed at least 7 people. The explosion came at a critical moment in the revived United States-Russia nuclear competition. This month, the United States withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, citing long-running Russian violations, and there are doubts that New START, the one remaining major treaty limiting nuclear forces, will be renewed before it runs out in less than 2 years.

Fake News, Real Radiation Following Blast in Russia

The explosion which took place at the Nenoska naval weapons range on the coast of the White Sea in northern Russia apparently involved a test of a new type of cruise missile propelled by nuclear power. The military and a state nuclear energy company announced the deaths but few details of the accident. A flurry of murky, misleading reports surfaced, as Russians have been mostly left guessing about what happened.

Trump Doesn't Criticize China

In comments to reporters and in a series of afternoon tweets, Trump took no strong position on the demonstrations that have gripped Hong Kong for weeks and have drawn an increasingly brutal response from local security forces. He echoed none of the defenses of freedom and democracy coming from both Democrats and Republicans. He simply stated that "The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation. Very tough," thus presenting himself as a neutral observer.

Hong Kong Crisis Hits Boardroom

The chief executive of Cathay Pacific Airways, one of Hong Kong's best-known international brands, stepped down after a storm of criticism from the Chinese government over its employees' participation in street protests that have seized the territory in recent months. In a filing with Hong Kong's stock exchange, Cathay said its chief executive, Rupert Hogg, was resigning "to take responsibility as a leader of the company in view of recent events."

Israel Bars Two Reps. From Visiting After Trump's Urging

Under intense pressure from Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government barred 2 members of Congress - Representatives Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota - from entering Israel for an official visit. Netanyahu cited their support for boycotting Israel, acceding to the wishes of the American president, who declared on Twitter shortly before Israel's announcement that letting them in would "show great weakness." By enlisting a foreign power to take action against two American citizens, let alone elected members of Congress, Trump crossed a line that other presidents have not, in effect exporting his partisan battles beyond the country's borders. Israel relented slightly after barring Rep. Tlaib and said that she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank. Tlaib, an outspoken Palestinian-American, agreed in writing not to promote boycotts against Israel during the trip. She then quickly reversed course herself, saying that she could not make the trip under "these oppressive conditions".

Afghan Women Fear Losing Rights in Peace Deal

An agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, for new talks with Kabul, raises concerns that women may lose rights in future Afghan governments. Roya Rahmani, a longtime women's rights activist, was appointed as the first female Afghan ambassador to the United States to signal Kabul's commitment to women's rights as the Trump administration pushes for a peace deal with the Taliban. The agreement is expected to outline steps for the eventual withdrawal of 14,000 American troops and pave the way for future talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Officials said that the preliminary deal is not expected to include specific assurances that women will continue to have equal opportunities in education, employment, and government.

India Plans Big Detention Camps for Migrants

More than 4 million people in India, mostly Muslims, are at risk of being declared foreign migrants as the government pushes a hard-line Hindu nationalist agenda that has challenged the country's pluralist traditions and aims to redefine what it means to be Indian. State authorities are rapidly expanding foreigner tribunals and planning to build huge new detention camps. Hundreds of people have been arrested on suspicion of being a foreign migrant -- including a Muslim veteran of the Indian Army. Local activists and lawyers say the pain of being left off a preliminary list of citizens and the prospect of being thrown into jail have driven dozens to suicide.

August 12, 2019

Theater Critics as State Bar Association Presidents

By Bennett Liebman
Government Lawyer in Residence
Government Law Center, Albany Law School

In the Broadway musical "Curtains", composers Fred Ebb and John Kander say of theater critics, in the song "What Kind of Man?": "Who could be mean enough, Base and obscene enough, To take a job like that? ... Who could be jerk enough, Hard up for work enough, To want a job like that?" The short answer, as far the New York State Bar Association (NYSBA) is concerned, is former State Bar Association presidents.

Two NYSBA presidents worked doing entertainment criticism and writing up news of the entertainment field. Take Sidney B. Pfeiffer of Buffalo, who served as NYSBA president in 1965, for example. Besides serving as an attorney active in the entertainment field, Pfeiffer worked as a correspondent for Variety, the entertainment magazine mainstay, for over 40 years. He started working for Variety in 1919, and even before the conclusion of his work there in the 1960's, he was recognized as the magazine's "longest consecutive out-of-town correspondent." Pfeiffer's devotion to the theater and arts fields is memorialized in Buffalo at his namesake Pfeiffer Theater, a 350-seat theater in downtown Buffalo run by the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts.

Even odder than a NYSBA president stringing for decades for Variety is the case of Elihu Root. Root, in the late 19th century and early 20th century, epitomized the lawyer as a public servant. He served as a United State Senator, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State. He won the Nobel Peace Prize. Not only was he the president of the State Bar from 1910 -1911, he also served terms as the president of both the New York City Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He helped establish the firm that became the basis for the current firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.

Yet, as a young lawyer he also worked as the assistant drama editor for the New York Sun from 1870-1874.The toned-down conservative Root would seem to make an unlikely theater critic, and in reviewing a book that cataloged American theater critics, Variety regarded his entry as a critic as a "surprise". In addition to Root's theater criticism, his junior law partner at the time, the future Court of Appeals Chief Judge Willard Bartlett, was the actual theater critic for the New York Sun. Root was his junior partner's assistant at the Sun. Moreover, while Bartlett handled the deeper and more challenging plays, Root generally reviewed the lighter, more burlesque types. One wonders whether they had an assignment editor calling on a future Court of Appeals Chief Judge to review "King Lear" while telling a future Nobel Peace Prize winner to review a "Beetlejuice"-type of musical.

So, if anyone is looking to head the NYSBA or to become a future Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, the toughness and orneriness celebrated by Kander and Ebb might suggest that theater criticism could serve as the proper career vehicle path to achieving these goals.

Week In Review

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

Below is the previous week's news in the categories of Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


R. Kelly Faces Two New Counts of Sex Crimes in Minnesota

Following an alleged incident involving the prostitution and solicitation of an underage fan at a concert, R. Kelly is now facing four sets of separate sex-crime charges. Kelly is already facing multiple federal and state sex-crime charges in the Eastern District of New York, Northern District of Illinois, and Cook County in Illinois. The three-year statute of limitations for such cases in Minnesota only applied if Kelly remained in the state. This case is also urging Minnesota to change its laws to "more properly reflect crimes" against children, because as it currently stands, the only available statute under which he can be charged is the prostitution statute.

'Rookie' Star Says She Was Sexually Assaulted

Star of the ABC "Rookie" series, actress Afton Williamson will not be returning to the second season after accusing fellow actor Demetrius Gross of sexual harassment and assault and the show's Hair Department Head of racial bullying and discrimination. The ABC network is waiting for the outside investigation to run its course before taking any action.

Movie Studio Cancels Release of 'The Hunt' in Response to Shootings

Universal Studios has canceled the release of its upcoming satirical thriller, "The Hunt", about a group of Americans who are captured to be hunted and killed for sport. The decision came after criticism from President Trump and the back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.


A Beloved Novelist of Black Identity in America: Toni Morrison, 1931 - 2019

Pulitzer Prize winning and Nobel laureate Toni Morrison passed away after a short illness at the age of 88. Morrison was a legendary novelist and playwright whose work who used the lenses of racial and gender identity to explore American identity. Born in 1931, Morrison did not publish her first novel, The Bluest Eye, until the 1970's, and it is considered to be a classic. Some of her other more notable works include Beloved and Song of Solomon. Morrison was the first black woman in history to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Barack Obama in 2012.

Levine and Met Opera Settle Lawsuit Over Firing

The Metropolitan Opera and former conductor James Levine have ended their legal battle of more than a year, after the Met fired Levine amid sexual misconduct allegations. Levine was suspended back in 2017 after several male students accused the legendary conduction of sexual abuse dating all the way back to the 1960s. Levine filed suit against the opera house in March of 2018 claiming the accusations were baseless and he sought $5.8 million in damages. The Met subsequently filed a counterclaim. The details of the settlement have not been made public.

Japan-South Korea Tussle Forces Art Exhibit Closing

An exhibit at a major Japanese art festival was recently shut down following protests. This comes at a time when diplomatic ties between Japan and South Korea are at a new low because of disputes over wartime history and trade policy. The exhibit "Statue of a Girl of Peace" depicted "comfort women" or "ianfu" who provided sex (most often against their wills) for Japanese troops before and during WWII. The exhibit has received many threats and criticism, which led to its closing.

Murder Attempt Charge in Tate Balcony Case

A 17-year-old has been charged with attempted murder after tossing a 6-year-old boy off of the popular viewing platform at the Tate Modern. The boy fell approximately 100 feet before he landed on a fifth-floor rooftop and was airlifted to a nearby hospital. He has remained in stable but critical condition. There is no known connection between the teenager and the young boy and the motive is unknown. The museum is still open to the public, but it is unknown whether the platform will be reopened.


Sponsors Join Soccer's Equal-Pay Fight, Taking a Cue From Consumers

U.S. soccer players and their union are in a battle with U.S. Soccer Federation over gender discrimination against female athletes. The players are using the power of media and the influence of their sponsors to apply pressure to U.S. Soccer. Sponsors such as Nike (who has recently had its own gender discrimination issues), Visa, and Secret have already launched campaigns pushing for gender equality in sports. This all comes at a time when consumers want brands to make public their stands on a variety of social and political issues. Consumers want to support brands who share their values.

Driven by Olympic Mandates, Sport Adds More Women to the Mix

After continuing to lag behind most other sports at the Olympic Games, World Sailing has voted for full gender equity in the number of athletes and medals for the 2024 Olympics. World Sailing will achieve this goal in part by adding new races to the sport: a mixed two-person offshore race and a mixed kiteboarding relay. World Sailing's president said that these new measures have a two-fold objective, to make the sport more interesting to youth and bring up the level of mixed sport. National governing bodies have already started to mobilize to form these new teams.

Miami Player Chides Owner For His Politics

Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of the Miami Dolphins and investor in Equinox gyms and SoulCycle has come under fire for defending his decision to hold a Trump fundraiser. The decision has drawn boycott threats and criticism from within his own businesses. SoulCycle has since tried to distance itself from Ross. Kenny Stills, a wide receiver for the Dolphins, called Ross out on social media for his inconsistent efforts to fight racial inequality. Ross has a nonprofit called the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality that champions social justice and improving race relations.

Plea on Gun Violence Draws Not a Penalty, but an Award

Major League Soccer (MLS) player Alejandro Bedoya made a passionate statement against the gun violence epidemic plaguing the U.S. after scoring a goal in a game. Only hours after the mass shooting in El Paso and Dayton, Bedoya grabbed and on-field microphone and shouted "Hey Congress, do something now. End gun violence! Let's go!" Joining a long list of outspoken athletes who are calling attention to our societal ills, many thought that Bedoya would be penalized by the MLS because the outburst happened during a nationally televised game. However, not only did MLS not discipline Bedoya, it made him Monday's MLS' "Player of the Week".

Video Games Get Blame, Despite Lack of Evidence

After 2 more mass shooting this year, politicians are looking for a scapegoat and have circled back to an old refrain: video games. Trump and other Republicans are blaming society's glorification of violence for the uptick in mass shooting in the U.S. Video games have been getting the blame for these shooting since Columbine in 1999, although there is no evidence of a causal link between the games and violent behavior.


8chan on Web Is a Dark Refuge For Extremists

8chan, a "free speech" website started in 2013, has since become a haven for violent extremist rhetoric. Initially started by Fredrick Brennan as a free speech utopia in response to the increasingly restrictive 4chan, the site has now become a go-to resource for violent extremists with connections to at least 3 mass shooting this year (Christchurch, the Poway, California synagogue shooting, and the El Paso shooting). 8chan has always been home to fringe movement and internet-based communities whose speech and behavior get them removed from more mainstream sites (i.e. GamerGate, "incels", and QAnon supporters). Now being used as a megaphone (because of being nearly completely unmoderated) for mass shooters and a recruiting platform for violent white nationalists, its founder is now calling for the site to be shut down. Critics have also lobbied the site's service providers to get it taken down, since the new owners of the site are remaining defiant in the face of the criticism and one of the site's providers, Cloudflare, has since stopped working with the site.®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=2&pgtype=collection

How Trump Campaign Used Facebook Ads to Amplify "Invasion" Claim

According to the New York Times, the Trump campaign has posted more than 2,000 Facebook ads this year that use the word "invasion" spending over $1.25 million on the immigration-specific ads. With immigration a central issue for the 2020 presidential election, this is a big deal. In light of the recent El Paso shooting, these ads are coming under fire, with such lines as, "America's Safety is at Risk" and "It's Critical that we Stop the Invasion", which were mirrored in the shooter's manifesto. There is no direct evidence that these ads influenced the shooter, but the ads and Trump's rhetoric are coming under heavy scrutiny.

Why Hate Speech On the Internet Is a Never-Ending Problem

Most of today's internet giants that are now the topic of heated debated about free speech and their roles in the spread of domestic terrorism were not around when the Communications Decency Act of 1996 was passed. This federal law has helped companies such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and many others thrive. However, this law also protects sites that host content from users that can be classified as hate speech on these fringe sites. Section 230 of the Act shields these websites from liability for content posted by their users, and they can moderate their sites without being liable for the content they host. In light of recent events and intensified scrutiny of big tech companies, lawmakers are questioning whether Section 230 should be changed.

Palin's Lawsuit Against New York Times Is Reinstated

A federal appeals court has ruled that a lower court was wrong to dismiss former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's defamation lawsuit against the New York Times over an editorial linking her to a 2011 mass shooting. The editorial, published in 2017, suggested that material distributed by Palin's Political Action Committee played a role in inciting a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz. that killed 6 people and wounded Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The New York Times corrected the editorial two days later, saying there was "no such link established." Due to a procedural irregularity, the case was sent back down and the actual merits of the defamation case will be up to a lower court to decide.

Facebook Loses Appeal on Facial Recognition

Facebook lost a federal appeal in a lawsuit over facial recognition data after a federal appeals court rejected its effort to undo a class action lawsuit claiming that it illegally collected and stored biometric data for millions of its users without their consent. The company now faces a massive damages payment over its privacy practices.

Trump Echoes 'Fox & Friends' On Shootings

President Trump's talking points around major U.S. events recently have been mirroring statements and theories that emerged from conservative media outlets, such as Fox News. Not only did Trump's statements after the El Paso shooting echo media pundit statements, but so did his statements about the city of Baltimore last month. Trump is even following suit by "condemning" the "racism, bigotry and white supremacy", while blaming mental health issues and video games for the violence and refusing to toughen gun control measures. The New York Post, a pro-Trump outlet, has broken from the pack, urging the President to take action on the mass shooting and gun control.

Acquisition of Gannett Creates Print Goliath in a $1.4 Billion Deal

New Media Investment Group Inc. (GateHouse Media) agreed to acquire Gannett Co. (USA Today and more than 100 other publications nationwide) in a $1.4 Billion deal that unites the two biggest U.S. daily newspaper chains in an industry that's consolidating to survive.


Fight Turns to Domestic Terror Without a Clear Path to Follow

The recent shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH has renewed the debate over how the U.S. should combat domestic terrorism. Homegrown terrorism, especially that by white supremacists, is now as big a threat as terrorism from abroad, but the U.S. is ill-equipped to protect against it. Officials say that preventing these attacks requires adopting the same type of broad, aggressive approaches used to fight international extremism, but many in this administration are hesitant to do so. Under current federal law, officials have few options to curtail these events before they happen domestically because of First Amendment issues, lack of agency jurisdiction, and a lack of penalties.

G.O.P. Gets Behind Bills in Congress for Gun Seizures and Washington's Eyes Turn to McConnell for Response to Gun Violence

After recent mass shootings, Congressional Republicans are under intense pressure to come together around legislation that would move to take weapons from high-risk individuals. If the measure is signed into law, it would be the most significant gun control legislation within the last 20 years. These "red flag" laws, although not as strong as now-expired assault weapons ban or the bills passed by the House in February, are still running into opposition from Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. After the back-to-back shootings, Republicans are starting to call for more restrictions.

Gun control organizations are also turning their focus on Mitch McConnell and other vulnerable Senate Republicans who are up for re-election in 2020. These politicians blocked a background check bill passed in February by the Democratic-controlled House. In light of the recent mass shootings, the conversations around background checks and other gun control methods are at the forefront of the political debate.

An Echo of Trump's Language In Texas Gunman's Manifesto

The 21-year old accountable for the El Paso shooting that killed 20 people and injured dozens more wrote a manifesto decrying immigration and used language akin to the fear-stoking language President Trump uses when discussing border security and immigration. Trump denies any connection or influence, while Democratic presidential candidates argue that he is encouraging this extremism. Trump's staff and advisors say it is unreasonable to hold him responsible for the heinous acts of these extremist or white supremacists.

Trump Adds to Sanctions on Venezuela

In an effort to force Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to step down, the Trump administration has escalated its pressure campaign by placing new sanctions on the Venezuelan government. In an executive order issued last week, the U.S. will freeze and block the transfer of all Venezuelan government property and assets in the U.S. These sanctions will also apply to any U.S. individuals or entities who/that try to do business with Venezuela. While this is going on, the humanitarian and economic crisis still ravages the country. The U.S. has now put Venezuela in the same league as Cuba and Nicaragua. It is unclear what effect these new sanctions will have on Maduro and the status quo.

How Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Data Shows

According to the World Meteorological Organization, July was the hottest or equal to the hottest month in recorded history. This news comes along with the forecasting of the years 2015 to 2019 being the 5 hottest on record. Temperature records have been shattered all around the world this year as an effect of climate change and climate disruption.

Water Crisis May Grip a Quarter of Humanity

Water usage has been growing at more than twice the rate of the human population and as of 2019, 17 countries are now experiencing "extremely high" levels of baseline water stress. Around 1.7 billion people are currently living in areas where agriculture, industries, and cities withdraw 80% of their available water supply every year. Water stress can lead to food insecurity, conflict and migration, and financial instability. New solutions are emerging, but not fast enough. It's a grim future if the world's population doesn't improve its agricultural efficiency, decrease water usage, and recycle.

The Food Supply is at Dire Risk, U.N. Experts Say

The United Nations warns that the world's land and water resources are being exploited at "unprecedented rates", which combined with climate change, is putting dire pressure on the ability of the world to feed itself. The report also concluded that the window to address the threat is closing rapidly, half a billion people already live in places turning into desert. Climate change will make it even worse as extreme weather threatens to disrupt, and over time shrink, the global food supply.

Jailhouse Lawyer Propels a Case to the Supreme Court

Calvin Duncan, a former inmate at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, identified an issue that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court. The pending case, Ramos v. Louisiana, is asking the Court whether it is constitutional to allow nonunanimous verdicts in state criminal trials. The Court might overrule a 1972 decision and hold that the Sixth Amendment requires unanimity; this case has the potential to save hundreds of individuals from life in prison, although the change would not apply retroactively.

In Puerto Rico, Installation of the New Governor is Challenged

Puerto Rico is facing its biggest constitutional crisis and days of protests after Governor Ricardo Rossello was forced to leave office. Senate President Schatz has filed a constitutional challenge after Rossello's handpicked successor, Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as governor without confirmation from the Senate. The lawsuit claims that consent duty under the island's constitution was usurped and Pierluisi should be removed. This case could lead to further political turmoil of the bankrupt government.

In Ferguson, the Children Inherit Scars

Veteran protestors, as young as 7 years old, have had to flee gunshots and tear gas while marching against police brutality. A generation of largely African-American children in Ferguson have been molded by the unrest of 2014 and the aftermath that has followed. They are no longer able to just be kids; they are now scarred by their traumatic experiences and the stigma of Ferguson.

Epstein is Dead; Found in His Cell in New York Jail

The Justice Department is investigating the "apparent" suicide, while in federal custody, of disgraced millionaire financier who was accused of sex trafficking. The 66-year-old was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, even though two weeks prior he was found injured in his cell with marks on his neck. His death came the day after a trove of court documents was unsealed, providing new details about the sex ring and naming names. Epstein's death leaves many questions unanswered.

Huntsman Steps Down as U.S. Envoy to Russia

The U.S ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, is resigning after a "historically difficult" term. Huntsman's 2-year tenure in Moscow was repeatedly undermined by frictions between the two superpowers. In 2018, critics called for Huntsman's resignation after the questionable summit in Helsinki between Trump and Putin. Huntsman has served in 5 presidential administrations and is rumored to be considering a third term as Utah governor once he returns to his home state. He officially steps down on October 3rd.

One of Two Charges Against Ex-Obama Aide is Dropped

Former Obama White House counsel Greg Craig, accused of lying about foreign lobbying for Ukraine, has had one of his two criminal charges dropped by a federal judge. Judge Amy Berman Jackson dismissed a count of making false and misleading states to the Department of Justice's Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA unit, because of ambiguity in the breadth of the provision under which the charge was brought. The other lying charge was brought under a separate but related law and will still proceed to trial. Craig had argued that both counts should be dismissed. He faced a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison for each count.

Man Who Sent Pipe Bombs to Trump Critics is Sentenced to 20 Years

Fifty-seven-year-old Floridian Cesar Sayoc who admitted to sending 16 pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN was sentenced to 20 years in prison. His bombs targeted individuals such as Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Barack Obama, and Robert DeNiro, as well as the New York and Atlanta CNN offices.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Opens Domestic Terrorism Investigation in Gilroy

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now opened a domestic terrorism investigation into last month's mass shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California after finding that the shooter had a list of potential targets of violence. The motive for the attack is still unknown. The 19-year-old gunman killed 3 people before dying of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, when he opened fire on July 28th. The potential targets on the list included religious institutions, federal buildings, courthouses, and political organizations from both parties.

FBI Agent Says His Firing Was Politically Motivated

Former FBI agent Peter Strzok is suing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, alleging that his firing was politically motivated and violated his constitutional rights. Strzok is accusing FBI deputy director of relenting to pressure from President Trump and his political allies after Strzok criticized the President. Strzok also alleges that the DOJ and FBI violated his First and Fifth Amendment rights by firing him for expressing his political views and depriving him of the right to due process to challenge his firing and violations of the Privacy Act. Furthermore, Strzok's lawsuit contrasts his firing with the way the White House has handled other controversies.

Lawsuit Accuses Boy Scouts of Hiding Extent of Abuse

800 former Boy Scouts accuse leaders of abuse. They claim that Boy Scouts of America didn't properly vet volunteers and engaged in a cover-up to hide "the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organization." Incidents were either not reported to law enforcement or were kept hidden from family members.

When A Message From Mom is Against the Law: A Battle Over Extending Birth Parents' Rights

Lawmakers are clashing over a new New York adoption law that would give more rights to birth parents even when adoptive parents object. The emotionally charged legislation would fundamentally shift the relationship between birth parents and their children after a court has taken the children away permanently and another family steps in to adopt them. Under this new law, a judge can order children stay in contact with their birth parents if it "helps the child". Only 8 other states allow similar leeway. The New York legislature has passed the measure and the bill is currently awaiting Gov. Cuomo's signature.®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=collection

Prosecutors in California Say District Set Up Purposely Segregated School

A school district in one of California's wealthiest counties has agreed to desegregate a flailing school that the state attorney general found was intentionally created to segregate students and it "knowingly and intentionally maintained and exacerbated" racial segregation. To track the district's progress, the state has created a desegregation advisory group after a 2-year state investigation.

Trump Campaign Challenges California's Tax Return Law

President Trump's re-election campaign and the Republican party has sued California over a new state law requiring presidential primary candidates to release their tax returns. The new legislation would require the returns to qualify for the state ballot and its constitutionality has been called into question in a number of legal challenges. Qualifications for running for president are defined in the U.S. Constitution and it is argued that California is overstepping its authority. It is unclear in which direction the courts will go, as legal opinions are varied on the constitutionality, but the lawsuits will delay its implementation until after the 2020 election.

New York Expands National Rifle Association Investigation to Include Group's Board Members

The National Rifle Association's (NRA's) court battle began in early 2018 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed banks, insurers, and other state-licensed financial companies to review their relationships with the NRA and other gun rights groups for "reputational risk". The NRA fired back with free-speech claims, but their latest maneuver demanding that NY produces a wide range of investigatory documents was rejected by U.S. Magistrate Judge Christian Hummel. On August 6th, Attorney General Letitia James issued a subpoena for documents from more than 90 current and former members of the NRA's board, looking at whether the organization has misused funds earmarked for charitable purposes.

FedEx Will End Some U.S. Deliveries for Amazon

FedEx has announced that it is ending its ground delivery contract with, essentially severing ties with one the world's biggest shippers. Amazon is bolstering its own delivery network. FedEx ended its air cargo services for the company back in June. It is noted that Amazon accounted for less than 1.3% of FedEx's total revenue for 2018. Amazon's aggressive plans to expand internal shipping is threatening regular delivery providers, like FedEx and UPS.

U.S. Moves to Ban Huawei From Government Contracts

In furtherance of the trade war between the U.S. and China, the White House is expected to start implementing provisions of a law that bars the U.S. government from doing business with Huawei Technologies and several other Chinese companies. The Chinese telecommunications giant is trying to block the rule in court. Huawei is a giant maker of telecommunications equipment and smartphones. The prohibition is part of a broader defense bill signed into law last year that covers direct purchases that have raised security concerns inside the American government.

China Deploys Currency as Lever in Trade Feud, Jolting Global Markets

In response to President Trump's trade tariffs and the intensifying trade war between the U.S. and China, the Chinese central bank let the yuan depreciate, which led to a global fall in financial markets. This move could in turn stall the U.S.'s economic expansion. In response, the U.S. has designated China a currency manipulator with the International Monetary Fund for the first time since 1994. This back and forth between the world's two largest economies will continue to have an effect on global financial markets.

Hindu-Led India Puts Clamp on Muslim Kashmir

India has revoked Kashmir's "special status" as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist project, raising fears of unrest, and tried to cut off all communications of that region with the outside world. It's a controversial move to usurp power from the nation's only Muslim-majority state. Essentially, the government has scraped the portion of the constitution that gave the state of Jammu and Kashmir near-autonomous authority to conduct its own affairs (except for matters of foreign policy and defense). Now the area has turned from a state to a union territory under the control of India's central government in New Delhi. India unilaterally pushed to change Kashmir's status without Pakistan's buy-in which could lead to widespread unrest in the region.

Beijing to Hong Kong: Don't 'Take Restraint for Weakness'

Amid the third month of violent anti-government protests, Chinese officials have urged protesters in Hong Kong not to mistake Beijing's "restraint" for weakness. Beijing has said it will take a hard line against the protests and has no plans to open a dialogue on activists' demands for political reforms. They are also urging Hong Kong citizens to turn on the protesters. The amount of violence and property damage continues to rise and there is growing speculation that the Chinese Government will send in the People's Liberation Army.

Parliament Removes Lawmaker in Kenya for Taking Baby to Work

Kenyan lawmaker Zuleika Hassan was removed from parliament after bringing her 5-month-old baby to work. Hassan had a domestic emergency and there is no child care in the legislative building. Under Kenya's laws, the parliamentary speaker is entitled to remove anyone classed as a "stranger"--even if a child. Her ejection has prompted an uproar on both sides of the debate.

Celebrations in Sudan as Factions Sign Pact for Civilian Rule

After the recent ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (who served in that capacity for 30 years) and months of unrest, the ruling military council and pro-democracy protesters have signed a constitutional declaration establishing a 3-year transitional military-civilian period. Although this is a step towards establishing democracy in Sudan, there are still many issues (i.e. the fate of the paramilitary, immunity from prosecution and other humanitarian law issues) that were left undecided in this landmark power sharing agreement aimed at establishing civilian rule.

August 5, 2019

Week In Review

By, Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are sections divided into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


Katy Perry Loses Copyright Battle over "Dark Horse"

Katy Perry and her collaborators owe $2.78 million following a ruling that her song "Dark Horse" copied elements of "Joyful Noise," a Christian rap song. In determining the damages, the jury decided that the riff in question was responsible for 22.5% of the success of her song.

Hollywood's Two Biggest Public Relations Firms Announce Merger

PMK-BNC and Rogers & Cowan will merge to create a new agency of over 500 clients. The companies represent high-profile actors, music starts and an array of corporate clients. The move is seen as an effort to stave off competition from boutique publicity agencies in Hollywood.

Woodstock 50 Anniversary Festival Cancelled

Organizers called off the tribute festival just two weeks before the event. The article traces what went wrong, including rejections of two proposed festival sites in upstate New York and lost funding.

A$AP Rocky Claims Self-Defense in Assault Trial; Returns to U.S. to Await Verdict

A$AP Rocky has returned to the U.S. while he waits for the verdict in his assault case, which is expected August 14. President Trump, who had demanded the rapper's release, sent a special envoy for hostage affairs to Sweden to observe the trial of someone the administration considered an "unjustly detained American."

Fan Bingbing, China's Top Actress, Is Considering a Comeback Following Tax Scandal

The actress was out of public view last year and it is now being reported that she under a type of house arrest while tax authorities investigated her. Authorities also revealed she had been fined nearly $70 million in unpaid taxes and penalties. She is signaling her return on social media with reference to projects that had been put on hold since the scandal.


The Case for Keeping San Francisco's Disputed George Washington Murals

The San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to cover a series of murals from the 1930s depicting the life of George Washington and including images of slavery and Native American deaths. The article takes the position that destroying a work of art is never a solution to any offense it may give. It then explores less-permanent alternatives to overpainting that might be more conducive to debate.

New York's Arts Organizations Have a Diversity Problem

A study commissioned by Mayor de Blasio's administration shows that two-thirds of the people who run the city's cultural institutions are white. The study looked at institutions that receive city funding, including museums and theaters, and found that the disparity was striking when it came to race, with people of color significantly underrepresented in upper-level leadership positions and boards. The city then asked organizations to submit plans to boost diversity and inclusion among staff, though it is unclear how it plans to "enforce" these plans - whether by offering additional financial support or tying future funding for museums and arts groups to the diversity of their employees and board members.

Photographer's Misconduct Raises Questions About Instagram Becoming a Venue for Predatory Behavior

The platform has come under renewed scrutiny after photographer Marcus Hyde was accused of engaging in appropriate behavior after soliciting nude photographs from models on Instagram in exchange for shooting them. Instagram has since disabled his account "for violating [its] sexual solicitation policies." While the platform has "democratized the process of discovery," it also provides a venue for anyone to pose as an agent or a modeling industry figure.

Picasso Show Captivates Beijing

Picasso has historically been accepted in China but the latest Picasso exhibition in Beijing is still bringing up questions of censorship in the art world there.


Proposed Legislation Would Increase Congressional Oversight of Olympic Sports

The Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 is the result of an 18-month Senate investigation that found that the U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics "knowingly concealed" Larry Nasser's sexual abuse of gymnasts. The law would require the USOPC to "submit yearly reports with audits of its finances to Congressional oversight bodies." With respect to the governing body's board, the bill increases athlete representation from one-fifth to one-third of the members and it subjects the board to "total dissolution by Congress if it acts negligently."

Ashley Wagner Renews Accusations of Sexual Assault in Figure Skating

Olympian and three-time U.S. skating champion Ashley Wagner wrote in USA Today that she was sexually assaulted by an older male skater at a training camp in 2008, when she was 17. She describes a figure skating culture that "features social circles mixing older and younger skaters, ultimately putting minors at risk."

U.S. Soccer Responds to Calls for Equal Pay

In an open letter, U.S. Soccer's president outlined the federation's position in the debate about equal pay weeks before the governing body is scheduled to enter mediation with the women's players' association. In his analysis of 10 years of financial data, the president said that players on the women's team had earned more than their male counterparts, also highlighting the federation's investment in women's soccer.

Former Michigan State President to Receive $2.4 Million in Retirement Deal

Lou Anna Simon was charged with two felonies and was accused of lying about her knowledge of Larry Nasser's sexual abuse. She stepped down as president but remained a university employee, announcing her retirement effective late August 31.

Fans Ejected from Camden Yards Over Pro-Trump Banner

Four fans were escorted out of Camden Yards earlier in the week after they unveiled a banner in support of President Trump's re-election. The ballpark has a policy that "no banners can be hung anywhere in the stadium so as not to obstruct other fans' views of the game." Earlier in the week, President Trump had made disparaging comments about Representative Elijah Cummings and the city of Baltimore.

Swiss Court Bans Caster Semenya from 800-meter Race at World Championships

The Olympic gold medalist will not compete in September's world track and field championship in Qatar. Semenya had appealed the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport to a Swiss federal court which has temporarily barred her from international races between 400 meters and a mile. The Swiss Supreme Court ruled that she must adhere to the governing body's requirement that she take testosterone-suppressing drugs. Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court had previously suspended that rule, allowing her to compete without using medication.

FIFA Considering Leaving its Swiss Headquarters

Senior FIFA executives are considering leaving Zurich for two primary reasons: difficulty in hiring staff from outside Europe and the city's reputation for corporate secrecy at a time when FIFA could benefit from a boost in public trust. One of the options is to open subsidiary offices or relocate to Paris, where the organization was first established.

Brazilian Police Recommend No Charges for Neymar After Inquiry into Rape Accusations

The police investigator noted the lack of sufficient evidence to substantiate the accusation made by a Brazilian model that she was attacked by Neymar in a Paris hotel room. The final decision rests with state prosecutors.


Broadcast Networks Sue Free Streaming Service, Locast

The networks say Locast, a streaming service that transmits their broadcasts for free, is violating their copyrights and should be shut down. Locast argues it is allowed under copyright law to stream the networks without paying them because it is a non-profit that provides a public service.

General News

29 People Dead After Mass Shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio

The deadliest of the two shootings, in El Paso, is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism and prosecutors there are considering federal gun charges that carry the death penalty. The suspect had allegedly written an anti-immigrant manifesto before attacking a Walmart and killing 20 people. Nine people were killed in Dayton in the early morning hours of Sunday. Officers on routine patrol responded and killed the gunman, who was wearing body armor and carrying a high-capacity magazine.

Dan Coats Steps Down as Director of National Intelligence

His resignation is effective on August 15th. Reports say that Coats clashed with President Trump on Russia and North Korea. With Jim Mattis's earlier departure, the president is increasingly surrounded by loyalists.

President Withdraws Pick for Top Intelligence Post; Ratcliffe Faced Questions Over His Qualifications

Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas, a staunch defender of the president, will not be nominated to replace Dan Coats. Democratic lawmakers and former officials were concerned that John Ratcliffe's appointment would have politicized an otherwise nonpartisan job. They also voiced concerns about Ratcliffe's qualifications and whether he had overstated parts of his professional experience, specifically his role in terrorism cases as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Texas.

Kelly Craft Confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

A former ambassador to Canada, Craft takes what is considered to be the second-most important foreign policy position, after secretary of state.

Lawmakers Criticize Trump Administration for Delaying F-16 Sales to Taiwan

Members of Congress are questioning whether the administration is delaying approval of an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan to placate China or use the sale as a bargaining chip now that trade negotiations are underway.

Pentagon Delays Award of $10 Billion Cloud Computing Contract

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper will review the bid process for the military's cloud computing contract that was expected to go to Amazon. President Trump had criticized the process and suggested potential bias toward Amazon. Experts on federal contracting say that it is rare for a president to intervene in a contract competition, and it is unclear whether IBM and Oracle are now back in the bidding.

U.S. Terminates Cold War Missile Treaty

The U.S. withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement and is planning on testing a new class of missiles later in the summer. American withdrawal comes after Russia was deemed to be non-compliant with the treaty.

Trump Instructs Pentagon Officials to Strip Medals From Prosecutors in War Crimes Trial

President Trump has directed the Navy to strip the four prosecutors in the case against Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher of their Navy Achievement Medals. In a court-martial earlier this month, Gallagher was charged but acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of a captured Islamic State fighter in Iraq.

National Security Agency Did Not Fully Complete its 2018 Data Purge

In May 2018, the National Security Agency (NSA) began purging hundreds of millions of phone records it had inappropriately collected from telecom companies. According to some recent inspector general reports, however, some of the data seems to have survived the purge. The NSA's ability to collect phone records is based on the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which curtailed some of its previous powers to obtain records of Americans' domestic phone calls and texts to search for terrorist cells. Critics of the program point to this instance of overcollection and failure to discard the data as a reason to let the surveillance program end when the authorizing sections of the Act expire on December 15th.

Attorney General Barr Moves to Block Asylum Claims Based on Persecution of Family Members

Migrants are eligible for asylum if they can prove persecution on the basis of a few enumerated grounds, including "membership in a particular social group or political opinion." Attorney General Barr's position is that a migrant's family does not qualify as a particular social group, announcing his decision that people can no longer request protection because their relatives have been persecuted.

900 Children Separated from Families Following Administration's Announcement to End the Practice

According to Justice Department data, family separations have occurred with even greater frequency in recent months. The reason that was often cited for removing children from an accompanying adult was the child's welfare, or that there were doubts that the adult was actually the parent. The American Civil Liberties Union is asking a federal judge in San Diego to clarify the standards governing these separations to ensure that children are removed only when there is evidence that the parent poses a genuine danger or is unfit to provide care.

Few Migrants Have Legal Representation at Their Hearings

The Trump administration instituted a rule requiring that asylum-seekers be sent back to Mexico for the duration of their court proceedings in the U.S. and be admitted back in to the U.S. to attend their hearings. Immigration court data shows that of the 1,555 cases decided under the so-called "Remain in Mexico" program, only 1.2% of petitioners had legal representation.

New Proposal Will Impact School Meal Eligibility of Nearly 500,000 Children

The Agriculture Department's proposed rule is intended to tighten access to food stamps. An estimated 3 million people would no longer qualify for food stamps. Children from those households would automatically lose eligibility for free meals at school but could qualify for reduced-price meals.

Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates by a Quarter of a Percentage Point

For the first time in more than a decade, central bankers voted to lower the interest rate as a precautionary effort to protect the U.S. from slowing global growth.

Is Scabby, the Rat Balloon, "Unlawful Coercion" of Free Speech?

The National Labor Relations Board argues that the labor movement's deployment of the inflatable rat is unlawful and crosses the line from legitimate communication to unlawful coercion. In another filing, it is described as a form of illegal picketing. The board's position appears to "set up a larger fight over union actions and free speech." In earlier challenges, courts have consistently found that the rat "did not constitute picketing, a regulated and restricted action, and was instead a protected form of free speech." The board will likely continue to argue that inflatable vermin are similar to picketing in that they intimidate non-union employees from reporting to work, or potential clients from frequenting a business.

LGBTQ Rights Cases Stall Under Betsy DeVos's Leadership in Education

The Center for American Progress's report found that the Trump administration was less likely to investigate student claims of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, and more likely to dismiss them. The number of cases in which the school was required to take action to remedy the discrimination were 9 times lower than in the Obama years. The results are likely attributable to the Department of Education adopting the administration's position that gender identity is not covered under federal civil rights law. Department officials disagree with the characterization of the data, noting that the previous administration's numbers appear better because it resolved fewer cases.

Justice Department Declined to Prosecute Comey Over Trump Memos

Prosecutors determined that Comey's handling of the memos in which he writes about his interactions with newly-elected President Trump did not warrant charges. The FBI had upgraded the memos to confidential and there were questions about whether Comey had mishandled them by keeping them at his home and sharing one with a friend.

State Department Officials Force Out Top Policy Adviser to Secretary Pompeo

Kiron Skinner, the State Department's director of policy planning and one of the highest-ranking African American women in the department, was reportedly fired this week, but it is not clear why she was removed from her post. Some colleagues say that she clashed with department staff and diplomats.

Representative Will Hurd, the Only African American Republican in the House, Retiring from Congress

The Texas representative announced that he will not seek re-election next year. He is the only Republican to represent a district along the southwestern border.

U.S. Congressman Wants Social Media Companies to Clamp Down on Fake Accounts

Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois is in the early stages of preparing legislation that would force companies like Facebook to monitor and prevent fraud on their sites. Kinzinger was himself a victim of a scam where people impersonate U.S. service members to lure women into false relationships and cheat them out of their savings.

Federal Prosecutors Launch Lobbying Inquiry into Trump Contacts in the Gulf

Prosecutors in the public integrity unit are looking into what influence Trump's contacts exerted on the administration's position on energy policy, and whether they had any involvement with a proposal to give Saudi Arabia access to nuclear power technology.

Democratic National Convention Lawsuit Alleging Trump-Russia Conspiracy is Dismissed

Judge Koeltl of the Southern District of New York dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Democratic National Convention (DNC) accusing Donald Trump's campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russia of illegally conspiring to damage a Democratic candidate's campaign. The judge acknowledged that Russia was the primary wrongdoer but was immune from liability as a foreign sovereign. While Trump campaign officials were eager to benefit for the publication of damaging materials, both their actions and those of WikiLeaks were protected by the First Amendment. Distinguishing between stealing documents and disclosing documents that someone else had stolen, Judge Koeltl stressed that WikiLeaks could not be held liable for releasing the documents as long as it did not participate in obtaining them.

New Puerto Rico Governor Sworn In

Pedro Pierluisi was sworn in as Ricardo Rosselló's replacement after the former governor stepped down following weeks of protests over government mismanagement. Pierluisi will serve until the Senate's hearing on his nomination. If the Senate does not vote in his favor, he will step down and the justice secretary, who is next in line under the constitution, will receive the nomination.

Manhattan D.A. Subpoenas Trump Organization Over Stormy Daniels Payments

State prosecutors subpoenaed the Trump Organization, asking the family business to provide documents related to money that was paid to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence during the 2016 presidential campaign. They want to examine whether senior executives at the company filed false business records related to the $130,000 payment.

New York City Declares Melinda Katz as the Winner of the Queens District Attorney Primary

The city's Board of Elections certified Katz as the winner of the Democratic primary for Queen's D.A. following a two-week manual recount. Her opponent, Tiffany Cabán, has refused to concede and filed a lawsuit arguing that nearly 100 ballots were improperly invalidated.

New York Law Bars School Districts from Allowing Teachers to Carry Guns in the Classroom

Governor Cuomo signed a bill that prevents local school districts from allowing teachers and administrators to carry guns on school grounds, an idea proposed primarily by the National Rifle Association as a means to prevent mass shootings. On the federal front, Congress has yet to pass legislation on this issue, but federal education officials did explore whether federal funding earmarked for academic programs could be used to buy guns for educators. Florida is one of 8 states to explicitly allow school employees to carry firearms on school grounds.

Police Administrative Judge Recommends That Officer in Eric Garner's Death Should Be Fired

Five years after Eric Garner's death in police custody, the judge in the disciplinary proceedings against Officer Daniel Pantaleo recommended that he be fired. The police commissioner has the final say on whether the officer is dismissed. James O'Neill could uphold, modify or reverse the findings. His decision is expected later this month. The Justice Department previously announced that it would not seek a federal indictment against Officer Pantaleo on civil rights charges.

New York Police Department Using Facial Recognition Technology

The New York Times reports that internal records show that the department has been loading thousands of arrest photos of children and teenagers into a facial recognition database, and using facial recognition technology to compare crime scene images with these photos. The department defended the practice, saying that it was an evolution of the longstanding police technique of using arrest photos to identify suspects.

Abuse Victim Rented 3 Billboards to Advocate Change to New York State Law

In the age of social media and grass-roots involvement, states are grappling with how to disentangle lobbying, activism, and normal speech. In a recent case from upstate New York, a survivor of sexual abuse spent $14,000 to rent 3 billboards that called for stronger protections against sex offenders. The state's ethics commission took the position that her activity met the definition of lobbying, especially since she surpassed the $5,000 annual threshold and identified a specific bill rather than mentioning sexual abuse more broadly.

Arizona Files Lawsuit Against the Sackler Family in the Supreme Court

The state's filings allege that members of the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma were parties to massive cash transfers (of nearly $4 billion) "at a time when Purdue faced enormous exposure for its role in fueling the opioid crisis." Arizona alleges that these transfers threaten the company's ability to satisfy any future judgments against it and were intended to frustrate efforts by victims of the crisis to obtain compensation.

California's New Election Law Requires Tax Returns Before Candidates Can Be Placed on the Ballot

Under the new law, candidates will not be eligible for California's primary ballot unless they submit copies of their tax returns from the last 5 years at least 3 months ahead of the primary. In describing the rationale for the law, Governor Newsom stated that this disclosure "will shed light on conflicts of interest, self-dealing, or influence from domestic and foreign business interests." To the extent that it applies to presidential candidates, critics say that the law is unconstitutional - states cannot add additional requirements for someone to serve as president.

School Districts Becoming Vulnerable to Ransomware Attacks

Tech experts say that school districts are the next area of concern for government infrastructure. They are especially vulnerable to cyberattacks, given the amount of personal and financial student data they handle and the fact that not many have dedicated tech staff and resources to ward off these attacks. As an example, a malware attack was reported by a Syracuse school district and Louisiana recently declared a state of emergency after a virus disabled computers at 3 of its school districts.

Capital One Data Breach Compromises Information of Over 100 Million People

A Seattle-based software engineer hacked into a Capital One server and obtained 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 bank account numbers. Another one million Canadian social insurance numbers were compromised in the breach. While Amazon Web Services hosted the server, the hacker actually exploited a "misconfiguration" of a firewall on a web application that Capital One itself had built to access the information.

Jeffrey Epstein's "Scientific" Plans

The New York Times published a report on Jeffrey Epstein this week based on public records and interviews with his acquaintances. The article describes how Epstein tried to cultivate relationships with prominent scientists "to pursue his interests in eugenics and other fringe fields like cryonics", and had a desire "to seed the human race with his DNA."

U.S. Is Able to Confirm Death of Osama bin Laden's Son

It is being reported that the United States had a role in the operation that killed Hamza bin Laden. Though few details are being released, he was killed before the State Department announced a $1 million reward for information on his whereabouts. Intelligence agencies had not confirmed his death at the time. Bin Laden's son was considered an eventual heir to the leadership of Al Qaeda.

Newly Released Tapes Record Racist Conversation Between Reagan and Nixon

The recording was made in 1971 when a then-Governor Reagan phoned President Nixon to express his frustration over a United Nations vote to expel Taiwan and seat representatives from communist China. In the exchange, Reagan is heard referring to the Tanzanian delegation, who supported the outcome of the vote, as "monkeys from those African countries," a comment that is met with laughter by Nixon.

Hong Kong Charges Dozens of Protesters with Rioting; China Reacts by Blaming the U.S.

Clashes between riot officers and demonstrators escalated in Hong Kong this week as protesters tried to approach the Chinese government's representative office there. Since the full withdrawal of the highly contested extradition bill, demonstrators have demanded an expansion of direct elections and an investigation into police use of force. Dozens of people were charged with rioting, which carries a prison term of up to 10 years. In recent days, as the crisis has deepened, Chinese officials have dialed up anti-American comments both in Washington and on state news media.

China Sentences Internet Activist to 12 Years in Prison

Huang Qi was convicted of disclosing state secrets and illegally providing them to foreign entities. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison following a secret trial in January. Known as a "cyber-dissident," Huang launched a website in 1999 that documented and tracked state corruption and public protests.

China Announces That It Has Released Muslims from Camps

Without disclosing how many individuals had been held, a government official announced that most people sent to mass detention centers in China's Xinjiang region have "returned to society". The United Nations has said that at least one million ethnic Uighurs and members of other Muslim minority groups had been detained in these centers, which China calls "vocational training camps."

Saudi Arabia Extends New Rights to Women

Saudi women will now have the right to travel without a male relative's permission and to obtain family documents from the government. The new regulations erode the so-called guardianship system that subjects women's rights to the whims of their male guardians.

Teenage Climate Activist Will Travel to U.S. Aboard a High-Tech Racing Yacht

Swedish teenager and climate change activist Greta Thunberg will leave Britain next month and sail across the Atlantic to attend the annual United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change talks. She has chosen an alternate means of traveling to the U.S. because of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with air travel.

Air Mass Responsible for Europe's Sweltering Heat Moves to Greenland

The hot air from Northern Africa has moved north over Greenland and caused the surface of the ice sheet there to melt. The World Weather Attribution group reiterated that climate change had made the heat wave at least 10 times more likely.

Ethiopia Planted Over 350 Million Trees in a Day

Government officials announced that over 353 million trees were planted in just 12 hours as part of a nationwide reforestation campaign.

July 31, 2019

Center for Art Law Case Law Digest

Below is the Center for Art Law's monthly case law digest. Please note that in September, the Center for Art Law will make its Case Law digests a subscription-based feature of its otherwise free newsletter - Art Law Blast (

If you would like to continue receiving the case updates, please subscribe: You can also support the Center for Art Law's efforts by making contributions directly:

The Mayor Gallery Ltd. v. The Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné LLC, No. 655489/2016, 2019 WL 2902163 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. July 5, 2019). For the second time, London-based James Mayor Gallery attempted to sue Arne and Marc Glimcher, of Pace Gallery, as well as Tiffany Bell, the editor of the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné. ( The Gallery alleged that the defendants "unlawfully" declared 13 authentic Agnes Martin works inauthentic, costing the Gallery over $7 million. In July, a New York Supreme Court Judge dismissed the suit, stating the claims were "vague" and "speculative", and alleged no new facts since the 2016 suit, which was dismissed in 2018. Counsel for the James Mayor Gallery has indicated that it intends to appeal the decision.

Reif v. Nagy, No. 161799/15, 2019 WL 2931960 (N.Y. App. Div. July 9, 2019). The First Department of New York's Appellate Division unanimously ruled that two Egon Schiele paintings belonged to the claimants, heirs of Austrian-Jewish cabaret performer, Fritz Grünbaum.( The decision revoked possession from London-based art dealer Richard Nagy, who had owned the paintings since 2013. The court found for the claimants on the basis that they had established a prima facie case of superior title over the defendant; the court also determined that the doctrine of laches did not bar the claim.

People of New York v. Sanjeeve Asokan et al., 2019 NY 022431 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. filed July 10, 2019). Infamous Indian antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor was charged with 86 counts of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and conspiracy to defraud, alongside seven other defendants in a 185-page criminal complaint filed by prosecutors on July 10th. ( The charges stem from a smuggling ring Kapoor allegedly ran for 30 years starting in 1986, and cover 2,600 looted artifacts worth a total of more than $145 million. Kapoor has been extradited to and held in India since his 2011 arrest in Germany.

Stuart Pivar v. John Mcfadden, 2019 NY 156970 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed July 16, 2019). Collector Stuart Pivar filed a lawsuit against attorney John McFadden after McFadden allegedly deceived Pivar into selling him a Constantin Brancusi bronze for $100,000, a fraction of its worth.( McFadden had agreed to establish a family foundation for Stuart Pivar and assist in organizing the Pivar art collection. Pivar claims that McFadden had agreed to assist in selling the bronze, "Mlle. Pogany II", to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Christie's, but that McFadden had no intention of doing so and aimed to obtain the Brancusi for himself. Pivar is demanding $200 million in damages for the fraud.

Goffman v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06733 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), Stein v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06669 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), and Kent v. Sotheby's, No. 12-CV-01374 (D. Del., filed July 23, 2019). After the June 2019 announcement that Sotheby's Auction House would be sold for $3.7 billion to BidFair USA, owned by French-Israeli Businessman Patrick Drahi, three shareholders sued the Auction House and its board of directors. ( The complaints cite "materially incomplete and misleading information" as the basis for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking undisclosed damages and a preliminary injunction against the sale pending further disclosures. Sotheby's released a statement saying the lawsuits were "expected and routine," and the company does not believe that the lawsuits will affect the closing of the sale later this year.

Portland Museum of Art v. Annemarie Germain, 2019 ME 80, 208 A.3d 772 (Me. Super. Ct. Cumberland County Ct., July 22, 2019). The Portland Museum of Art was awarded $4.6 million in its lawsuit against the late art collector Eleanor G. Potter's caregiver Annemarie Germaine. ( A longtime supporter and committee member to the museum, Potter named the museum as a benefactor to receive the entirety of her art collection and an estimated $3.3 million. Subsequently, her will was changed such that Potter's entire estate went to Germaine. The museum sued Germaine on the basis of elder abuse and coercion. On remand from the Supreme Court of Maine, the jury agreed and issued the award. Germaine intends to appeal the verdict.

Julian Rivera v. Walmart, Inc. et al, No. 2:19-cv-06550 (C.D. Cal. filed on July 29, 2019). Artist Julian Rivera, best known for his designs of a heart spelling the word "Love", has filed a copyright lawsuit against Walmart and Ellen DeGeneres, after the defendants collaborated on a clothing line with striking similarities to the plaintiff's work. ( The complaint asserts that: "Defendants' exploitation [...] is particularly damaging because Rivera has carefully avoided any association with corporate culture or mass-market consumerism". He is seeking damages for copyright and trademark infringement, along with unfair business practices. The Complaint is available upon request.

July 29, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are articles of interest in Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


New York Attorney General's Office Wants to Prevent Anna Sorokin from Profiting from Netflix Show

New York's attorney general filed a request in State Supreme Court to block a $70,000 payment that Anna Sorokin/Delvey is expected to receive for a deal she negotiated with Netflix. Netflix bought the rights to a New York magazine story about the fake heiress and plans to turn it into a television show. The attorney general's request invokes the "Son of Sam" law that prevents felons from profiting from their crimes (and from the publicity that surrounds their crimes). Sorokin was convicted of several grounds of grand larceny and sentenced to 4-12 years in prison.

Rapper Meek Mill Is Granted a New Trial

Meek Mill's decade-old conviction for drugs and firearm possession was thrown out after new evidence of alleged police corruption. Following that conviction, the rapper served 8 months in prison and was then placed on probation for 10 years. In 2017, following 2 other arrests that did not lead to convictions, he was sentenced to up to 4 years in prison for violating his parole. The sentence drew outcry and was ultimately challenged by his legal team, who argued that the judge had become overly involved in the case and was no longer impartial. His appeal for a new trial was also based on information that a former police officer who testified at his trial had resigned from the department after he was found to have committed theft (prior to Meek Mill's trial), which he then lied about during an internal affairs investigation.

A$AP Rocky is Charged with Assault in Sweden

The American rapper was charged with assault causing bodily harm following a street brawl in Stockholm last month. He has been in custody for a few weeks and maintains that he acted in self-defense. According to the Swedish Prosecution Authority, he could face a maximum of 2 years in prison, or a fine based on his daily earnings.

Rapper Tay-K Sentenced to 55 years in Prison for Murder

The 19-year-old, famous for his song "The Race", was found guilty of murder for his role in a 2016 armed robbery/home invasion.

Strip Club Dancers Are Fighting to Reform Labor Practices

The strip club industry brought in $7 million of revenue in 2018. The estimated 4,000 strip clubs that operate across the country are governed by laws that vary by state and city. A wave of dancers and their allies are challenging both the dancers' employment status and other labor practices in the industry to put an end to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.

Hollywood and the Frequency of On-Screen Abortions

Research from the University of California, San Francisco has tracked how abortion is characterized onscreen, noting that there are now more instances of matter-of-fact abortions on television. These portrayals depart from how abortion was depicted in 1980s and 1990s, where the procedure often led to psychological or physical problems, or death. The sociologist leading the research noted that, halfway through the year, there were about 2 dozen characters in streaming shows, movies, and television who have had or talked about having abortions. Nine of the 11 people credited with writing the relevant episodes were women.

Venice Film Festival Lineup Includes Roman Polanski's New Film, "J'accuse"

Polanski's new film about the Dreyfus affair will compete for the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Festival. The director fled the U.S. in 1978 while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year.


Art Workers Are Unionizing and Fighting for Better Pay Across the Country

Museum workers are taking steps toward unionizing to challenge, among other things, their institutions' wage structures. Salary concerns at museums nationwide prompted the creation of a spreadsheet that employees are circulating among themselves to self-report their salaries and compare them to pay packages of museum leaders to highlight the pay gap between executive and staff pay.

Four Foundations Team Up to Buy Ebony's Photo Archive for $30 Million

The winning bid came from four major foundations that say they have agreed to donate the archive to major museums and to keep it in public view. Ebony's archive is considered the most significant collection of photography depicting African-American life in the 20th century. The auction was part of bankruptcy proceedings for Chicago-based Johnson Publishing, which founded both Ebony and Jet magazines in the 1940s and 1950s.

Removing Donors' Names from Museums is Fraught With Legal Risk

While the Louvre Museum took down the Sackler name following an outcry over the family's connection to the opioid crisis, the New York Times reports that other museums are unlikely to follow suit because of legal concerns. While several U.S. museums are no longer accepting donations from the family, the Sackler name remains on art wings, galleries, and buildings. That is partly because museums may be contractually obligated to keep the name, given that many granted naming rights in perpetuity, as is the case with the Smithsonian and its Sackler Gallery. Some museums are revising their gift policies to limit naming rights to 20 years or until the space undergoes significant renovation again. Inevitably, museums also look at what a particular move might signal to prospective donors, which is important for institutions that depend on fundraising.

Neil deGrasse Tyson Keeps Museum Post Following Investigation

The American Museum of National History, where Tyson heads the Hayden Planetarium, has closed an investigation into sexual misconduct accusations against the astrophysicist. Tyson was accused of behaving inappropriately with 2 women, the first a colleague, and the second his assistant on the television series "Cosmos".

Warren Kanders Resigns from the Whitney Museum's Board

The vice chairman stepped down after months of protests over his company Safariland's sale of tear gas and other law enforcement and military supplies. The campaign against him started following reports that linked his company to the tear gas grenades that were used against migrants at the United States-Mexico border. The protest was the latest in a wave of concerns over "toxic philanthropy" in the museum sector that also led to the departure of the CEO of the Serpentine in London.

Looted Painting "Vase of Flowers" Returns to Italy

The painting is the work of Jan van Huysum, a popular still-life artist in the 18th century. It returns to the Pitti Palace 75 years after having been stolen by a German soldier and shipped to Germany. The soldier's heirs made several overtures to Italian officials to sell the painting back, including a recent offer to the Uffizi, at which point Italian prosecutors opened an investigation on a charge of attempted extortion.


National Basketball Association Will Open Investigation Into Free-Agency Process and Potential Salary Cap Violations

The National Basketball Association's (NBA) investigation will focus on whether inappropriate inducements were offered to free agents to circumvent the salary cap. Players themselves had reportedly made unconventional requests as well, allegedly asking for houses and guaranteed sponsorship money. The NBA is also looking at ways it can better enforce its anti-tampering rules, which, among other things, prohibit a team from commenting about another play currently under contract with another team. Owners suspect that these rules were violated, given the flurry of deals completed and announced within hours of the start of free agency. Though the investigation may not lead to any formal punishments, it could trigger rule changes.

Nike Files Countersuit Against Kawhi Leonard Over the "Klaw" Logo

Nike has filed a countersuit against NBA star Kawhi Leonard in a dispute over a logo that Leonard says he created and that was used during his time as part of the Jordan brand. Nike shared Leonard's sketch of the logo alongside the final version that the company says its team of designers created, saying that Leonard is conflating the two. The suit goes on to point out that Leonard has continued to use and reproduce the Claw Design without Nike's authorization, on non-Nike apparel.

Tyreek Hill Will Not Face Suspension Following National Football League Investigation into Child Abuse Reports

Hill had been suspended since April, while the National Football League (NFL) conducted a 4-month investigation of child abuse reports relating to the player's 3-year-old son. An audio recording was released earlier this year of an argument between Hill and his fiancée, in which he denies causing injures to his son and threatens his fiancée. No criminal charges were filed in the case. Critics of NFL's personal conduct policy see this case as an illustration of inconsistent disciplinary responses on the part of the league, saying that any criticism that is leveled against the personal conduct policy should not be based on arguments that the policy is too harsh, or too soft, but rather that it is too arbitrary.

American Lilly King and USA Swimming Lose Disqualification Appeal

The sport's governing body, FINA, disqualified Lilly King for a "non-simultaneous touch" at the first turn of her heat at the world championships in South Korea. USA Swimming appealed the decision, but FINA upheld the disqualification shortly before the finals began.

Chicago White Sox Unveil Extended Protective Netting

A series of fan injuries caused by foul balls have prompted some Major League Baseball teams to install protective netting that, like in the case of the White Sox, extends from behind home plate to each foul pole. Research found that nearly 14,000 more foul balls were hit last season than 20 years ago, and that "the hardest hit balls are reaching seats that are not protected in most stadiums". The commissioner has left the decision to install extended netting to individual teams. The White Sox responded with both pole-to-pole netting and additional ground rules that umpires consider fairly straightforward: "treat the new netting like a wall; if a foul ball hits the net, the play is dead; if a fair ball hits it, the play is live."

The Pain of a Foul Tip to the Catcher's Mask

The New York Times reports about how vulnerable catchers and umpires are to head injuries caused by foul tips that strike their masks. Unlike other major league players who can leave the game for assessment and treatment before returning, there is no protocol in baseball that allows a catcher to leave the game for medical examination, with the option of returning to the field. The status quo is especially concerning when head trauma experts say that a player is exponentially more susceptible to a severe concussion and long-term injury after an initial blow. Perhaps a new free substitution rule for catchers is needed.

Swimmer Sun Yang Faces Protests at the Podium Over Alleged Doping

Six-time Olympic medalist Sun Yang of China just won the World championship in the 400-meter freestyle. His win, however, is marred by allegations of doping and the disdain of his fellow competitors. Also attracting attention was his refusal to provide a sample to antidoping test collectors last September (by smashing the vial of blood with a hammer) because the collectors had filed to provide the proper validation papers required to draw blood under the international standards governing the practice. His refusal to cooperate is now before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

UEFA Supported Paris St.-Germain in its Financial Fair-Play Case, Calling into Question the Governing Body's Ability and Willingness to Enforce Financial Fair-Play Rules

French soccer club Paris St.-Germain (PSG) came under investigation following exorbitant spending in the summer of 2017. To level the playing field, UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules require clubs to balance their spending with revenue. There was initially no evidence for how PSG had offset its high-profile signings that summer without sales of similar value or sponsorship revenue. The lead investigator, however, cleared PSG of any wrongdoing and closed the case.

The investigative report was sent to the chairman of a UEFA panel that enforces FFP rules. The chairman deemed the decision to close the investigation "manifestly erroneous" and rejected the accounting rules that allowed PSG to fall just within the ratio of UEFA's accepted losses. PSG took its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In what many see as a total capitulation, UEFA sided with PSG and asked to have the investigator's decision stand. Given the number of similar investigations that are underway, UEFA's position puts into question its ability and willingness to enforce its financial regulations.

Russian Boxer Maxim Dadashev Dies After Suffering Brain Injury in the Ring

The 28-year-old died after suffering several blows to the head during his fight against Subriel Matias in Maryland. The Russian Boxing
Federation says that it will investigate responsibility for his death.


Justice Department Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

T-Mobile will pay $26.5 billion in an all-stock transaction to acquire Sprint. As part of the agreement, which allows the merger of the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S., T-Mobile will sell off some of Sprint's assets to satellite-TV provider Dish Network so that it can create a new wireless network.

Jeffrey Epstein Pitched a New Narrative and Mainstream Websites Published It

Flattering articles and news releases at National Review,, and HuffPost were part of an image-rehabilitation campaign following Epstein's 13 months in county jail in 2009. The articles describe Epstein as a forward-thinking philanthropist and a "science funder". It turns out that at least one of these articles was written by a public relations firm and attributed to a contributing writer at HuffPost also explained that a 2017 article praising Epstein was published under a discontinued model that allowed outside writers to post freely, with no editorial review.

General News

Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration to Use Pentagon Money to Build Border Wall

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court will allow the government to tap into $2.5 billion in Department of Defense money to begin construction of the border wall. A trial judge had initially ordered an injunction that blocked the transfer of military funds to wall construction. A second court heard the administration's appeal but refused to stay the trial judge's ruling while it considered the matter. The Supreme Court's decision now means that construction can proceed while litigation continues. In his dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that he would have allowed the administration to pursue preparatory work but not construction, which would be hard to undo if the appellate court rules against the government.

Justice Department to Resume Executions for Federal Inmates on Death Row

Attorney General Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five death row inmates. Barr announced that he has reinstated a 2-decades long dormant policy to resume the federal government's use of the death penalty. The federal government has only executed 3 inmates since it reinstated capital punishment in 1988. The last execution was in 2003. Along with this announcement comes a new protocol that replaces the 3-drug cocktail used in lethal injections with a single drug, pentobarbital.

Congress Passes Extension for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

The legislation ensures that the Fund is financially stable for the next 7 decades to cover medical claims from emergency personnel who worked in Lower Manhattan following the September 11th attacks. In the last 8 years, about 22,400 claims have been awarded, about 45% of which were granted for cancer-related treatment.

Trump Administration Expands Fast-Tracked Deportations for Undocumented Immigrants

The administration announced this week that it would speed up the deportation of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the country for more than 2 years. These fast-track (i.e. without a hearing) deportations were previously carried out on individuals who had been in the U.S. for a few weeks and were still within 100 miles of the southwestern border.

Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Rule Banning Asylum Claims for Central American Migrants

Under the rule, Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for, and be denied, asylum in the first safe country they arrive in, like Guatemala or Mexico. Only then would they be eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S. A district court judge in San Francisco issued the injunction and stated that the rule is inconsistent with existing asylum laws, describing the government's decision as "arbitrary and capricious". A federal judge in Washington heard a separate challenge to the rule but upheld it.

Top Border Official is Reassigned Amid Concerns About Conditions in Migrant Facilities

Aaron Hull, the highest-ranking immigration official in the El Paso region, will be transferred to Detroit to oversee the U.S.-Canada border. Customs and Border Protection attributes the move to a routine shuffle of multiple senior staff members, saying the assignment is temporary. The El Paso region, one of 9 enforcement areas for Border Patrol, saw the largest increase in unauthorized crossings in the past year and is home to the controversial Clint, Texas facilities where migrant children are being detained.

U.S. Senate Confirms Mark Esper as New Defense Secretary

Esper, a former Army infantryman, replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned last December, and takes control of the country's 1.2 million active duty troops. His confirmation ends the longest period that the Pentagon had been without a permanent leader.

Special Counsel Mueller Defends Inquiry and Warns of Russian Sabotage

The special counsel testified at a House hearing last week about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and warned lawmakers that Russia remains a threat to the 2020 election. Speaking about the decision not to subpoena the president, he stated that a battle over a presidential interview could have unnecessarily prolonged the investigation, adding that the president could still be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.

Mueller Testimony Deepens Democratic Divide on the Issue of Impeachment

Democrats are still divided on whether they should seek President Trump's impeachment, with some lawmakers pushing to begin impeachment hearings soon. The latest impetus for their position - Mueller's 7-hour testimony, which they believe establishes presidential obstruction of justice. House Speaker Pelosi maintains her position that Democrats should continue with their "slow, methodical approach."

House Democrats Seek Mueller's Secret Grand Jury Evidence

In its court filing, the House Judiciary Committee says that it is seeking access to grand jury evidence collected by Robert Mueller because it is investigating whether to recommend impeaching the president. Given how divided the party is on this issue, signaling that the committee is conducting this inquiry might have staved off a House vote on whether to formally declare that it is opening an impeachment inquiry.

Senate Advances Bill to Make Election Hacking a Crime

The Justice Department would have the ability to investigate and prosecute those who seek to manipulate elections systems equipment under the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act. The bipartisan bill seeks to secure U.S. cyberinfrastructure and moves to the House next for consideration.

House Passes 2-Year Budget Deal That Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion

The House voted 284-to-149 in favor of a budget deal that raises spending by $320 billion over existing caps and allows the government to keep borrowing to pay its debts.

Army Colonel Accuses Top Military Nominee of Sexual Assault

An Army colonel is accusing General John Hyten of sexual assault. Hyten is nominated to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He denies the allegations. The matter was previously investigated, and the court-martial convening authority determined there was insufficient evidence to support findings of misconduct.

Bill Wehrum, Former Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Chief, Faces New Ethics Inquiry

The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general will investigate allegations that Wehrum's efforts to weaken climate change and air pollution standards may have benefited former clients of his from his days as a lawyer and lobbyist for the oil, gas and coal industries.

Attorney General Barr Revives Encryption Debate, Calls on Tech Firms to Allow for Law Enforcement

Barr said end-to-end encryption turns devices into "law-free zones insulated from legitimate scrutiny," urging technology firms to help the government access information on electronic devices. The confrontation between law enforcement and tech companies was best illustrated by the 2016 conflict between the FBI and Apple, after investigators obtained a court order to force Apple to unlock an iPhone recovered after the San Bernardino mass shooting.

Justice Department Opens Antitrust Review of Big Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Facebook's business practices, while the Justice Department announced a broader scope of review that will look into potential anti-competitive behavior by the world's biggest technology companies. Though it did not name specific companies, the Justice Department said that it will look into concerns about search, social media, and retail services.

The FTC Fines Facebook $5 Billion for Privacy Violations

This latest settlement is the result of an investigation following reports that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica had gathered information on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission, access that was facilitated by Facebook's deceptive disclosures and settings. Under the terms of the settlement, Mark Zuckerberg will have to personally certify his company's compliance with privacy programs. False certifications could expose him to civil or criminal penalties.

Privacy Group Files Legal Challenge to Facebook's Settlement with the FTC

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a motion to intervene in the FTC case against Facebook. The public interest research group wants to block automatic approval of the $5 billion settlement, arguing that it fails to ensure consumer privacy because it grants Facebook immunity from thousands of outstanding consumer complaints on issues related to children's privacy, health privacy, and facial-recognition technology. If the court grants the hearing, a judge could require the FTC to review outstanding customer complaints and alter the terms of the proposed settlement.

Equifax to Pay $650 Million in Largest Data Breach Settlement

Settlement documents filed in federal court in Atlanta show the credit bureau agreeing to pay $275 million in fines to two federal agencies. The settlement also resolves investigations by 48 state attorneys general and covers every American consumer whose data was stolen in the 2017 breach.

Four Automakers Strike Deal with California, Rejection Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Rule

Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda have struck a deal with California regulators to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. In essence, they negotiated rules that are slightly less restrictive than the Obama-era standards, but that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide. Since the Trump administration is expected to eliminate the Obama-era regulations, and some states have vowed to keep enforcing the stricter rules, the agreement would enable the companies to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet of cars.

President Trump Sues New York State and Congress to Shield His State Tax Returns

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington and seeks to prevent state officials and the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining Trump's state tax returns under New York law. The administration previously rejected an argument that the IRS has an obligation to provide taxpayer information under the federal tax code.

The recently enacted New York law requires state tax officials to hand over tax returns to the chairman of one of three congressional committees. The test is whether the chairman has demonstrated a "specific and legitimate legislative purpose" for making the request. No committee chairman has yet requested state officials to hand over documents pursuant to the New York measure.

Puerto Rico's Governor Resigns Following Weeks of Protests

Ricardo Rossello announced his resignation after the Puerto Rican legislature made it clear it was ready to launch impeachment proceedings against him. The legislature alleged that he illicitly used public resources for partisan purposes and allowed government officials and contractors to misuse public funds. Members of his administration were hit with corruption charges before his resignation and Rossello himself was further discredited by leaked messages that showed him using homophobic and misogynist language.

Two Opposing Political Parties Sue New York State Leaders Over Fusion Voting

In separate, but parallel, lawsuits, two ideologically opposed parties allege that the state's Democratic leaders conspired to eliminate fusion voting through a special commission that can make binding recommendations. Fusion voting allows candidate to run and collect votes on multiple party lines. Any group that gets 50,000 votes in an election for governor is guaranteed a ballot line for the next 4 years.

Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Abortion Law

The ruling temporarily blocked 3 new abortion restrictions in Arkansas, including a ban on the procedure after 18 weeks, and another that could threaten to close the state's only surgical abortion clinic. Judge Baker found that the record established that Arkansas women seeking abortion "face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights ... [and] will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief."

North Carolina Reaches Settlement on Bathroom Bill

A federal judge in North Carolina approved a settlement that prohibits the state government from banning transgender people from using bathrooms in state buildings that match their gender identity. The lawsuit was first launched after North Carolina passed House Bill 2, which required transgender people in government and public buildings to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. The issue of whether people can claim damages from earlier enforcement of House Bill 2 is on hold until the Supreme Court rules on whether a federal ban on sex discrimination protects gay and transgender people.

Tulsi Gabbard Sues Google for $50 Million Over Alleged Censorship

The former Democratic presidential candidate alleges that Google suspended her campaign's advertising account, therefore obstructing its ability to fundraise and infringing on her free speech. Gabbard alleges that her campaign emails ended up in spam folders on Gmail at a "disproportionately high rate" when compared to those of other Democratic campaigns. The representative's arguments have found bipartisan support because they echo previous concerns raised about Google tilting search results against conservative viewpoints.

Michael Flynn's Associate is Found Guilty of Secretly Lobbying for Turkey

The former national security adviser's associate, Bijan Kian, was convicted of violating lobbying laws and failing to register as a foreign agent. Kian was also implicated in a scheme to influence the U.S. government and prompt the extradition of a Turkish dissident living in the U.S.

President Trump Welcomed Pakistani's Prime Minister in Washington

This was the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders and part of a push to mend relations, with the President offering to mediate the Indian-Pakistani conflict in Kashmir. The U.S. is aiming to persuade Pakistan to pressure the Taliban into striking a peace deal with the Afghan government, which has the potential to expedite the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Trump Administration Wants China Stripped of Its "Developing Country" Status Under World Trade Organization Rules

President Trump's proclamation says that China should no longer be classified as a "developing nation", adding that the U.S. will use all available means to secure changes to a provision that allows countries to decide whether they qualify for a status that gives them preferential treatment in trade deals. The proclamation follows up on an American proposal submitted to the World Trade Organization earlier this year to exempt countries from "developing country" status if they are members of the OECD or are among the G20's most advanced economies.

Trade War Leads Chinese Spending in U.S. to Plunge

Reports say that Chinese investment in the U.S. has plummeted by nearly 90% since President Trump took office. The drop has been acutely felt by Silicon Valley start-ups, the Manhattan real estate market, and state governments. The decrease may also be attributed to stricter capital controls in China that have made it more difficult for Chinese investors to buy American, partly in retaliation against American tariffs on Chinese goods.

U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan Officials for Alleged Corruption Scheme

President Maduro is the subject of a new round of sanctions following allegations that he, acting alongside family members and business partners, siphoned off government money, mostly from the country's state-run food program, for his own profit. Under this arrangement, Venezuelan officials bought lower-quality food or less food than budgeted, and contracted business partners to launder money by importing food or packaging supplies.

Los Angeles Preacher, James Hart Stern, is Fighting to Control a Neo-Nazi Group

A strange leadership battle between a black former Baptist preacher and a long-time member of a neo-Nazi group has spurred both infighting and hope that the group will be rendered ineffective under new leadership. Stern made a prison "alliance" with an elderly KKK leader and left prison with power of attorney over that man's estate. Stern legally disbanded the KKK chapter that the man once led and intends to do the same with the National Socialist Movement. Stern's control of this second group, and its website domain, is being challenged by a long-time member that registered the group in Florida.

New Algorithm Can Identify Individuals Using Anonymous Data Sets

Computer scientists have developed a method to identify individuals from any anonymous data set using as few as 15 attributes. According to the scientists, the software code was posted online to alert data vendors and encourage them to secure future data sets that prevent people from being re-identified.

Neil Armstrong's Family Received $6 Million Secret Settlement

Armstrong's family alleged that incompetent post-surgical care at an Ohio hospital cost the astronaut his life. The alleged mistake was a decision to bring Armstrong to a catheterization lab, rather than an operating room, after complications with the removal of his pacemaker in 2012. News of the settlement comes on the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's walk on the moon.

Hong Kong Protesters Thwart Police Cameras and Facial Recognition Technologies

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have begun wearing masks in public gatherings to avoid being identified by police. They fear that Chinese-style surveillance, including facial recognition technology, is being deployed to identify and track them.

China Hints at Using Troops to Quell Hong Kong Unrest

Following weeks of protests over a proposed extradition law, China is signaling that it may be ready to mobilize its army to retain Beijing's control in the territory. A recently-released document outlining China's defense strategy and public comments by an army official have brought attention to a law that allows the Chinese military to intervene, when requested by Hong Kong's leaders, to maintain order.

Boris Johnson Succeeds Theresa May as U.K. Prime Minister

A former mayor of London, Boris Johnson also served as the Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in the early 1990s, where he was credited with creating an atmosphere of skepticism toward the European Union in Britain. He has maintained a hard-line stance on Brexit, stating that the U.K. will leave the E.U. with or without a deal on October 31st.

Tragedy in the Mediterranean: 150 Migrants Drown off the Coast of Libya

Up to 150 people are feared drowned after several boats capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Some rescued migrants were transferred to a detention center near Tripoli, which the U.N. does not consider to be safe after it was hit by an air strike earlier this month.

Shinzo Abe Wins Another Term as Japan's Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe's conservative coalition won a majority of seats in the upper house of Parliament. Abe has been serving as prime minister since 2012.

India's Moon Launch Succeeds on Second Try

India's space agency successfully launched Chandrayaan-2, scheduled to touch down on the Moon in September.