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Week and Year in Review

By Eric Lanter and Michael Smith


Russians Fess Up to Systematic Doping Conspiracy

Russian officials finally admitted to the "institutional conspiracy" enacted by Russian sports officials, the staff of the drug-testing lab for the Sochi Olympics, members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and hundreds of athletes. Officials continued to deny that President Vladimir Putin and his closest advisers had knowledge of the scheme.


Prosecutors Give Gophers Second Look, No Charges

The county attorney's office for Hennepin County, Minnesota, has again declined to press charges against 10 suspended University of Minnesota football players accused of sexual assault. After declining to press charges in October due to lack of evidence, the county attorney reviewed the details of the University's investigation into the accusations, and concluded that, while the University's report "shined a light on what can only be described as deplorable behavior," there was insufficient evidence to warrant criminal charges.


Deceased Heisman Winner's Brain Won't Be Tested

The family of Rashann Salaam, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1994, refused to consent to tests that would determine whether he suffered traumatic head injury during his career playing football. The tests would have helped research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which is believed to contribute to depression and suicide among former athletes who suffered head trauma. Salaam shot himself to death.


Buccaneer to Enter Treatment After Drug-Use Suspension

Tampa Bay buccaneers running back Doug Martin said on Wednesday that he would enter a drug treatment program rather than appeal the four-game suspension for violating the National Football League (NFL)'s policy against using performance-enhancing drugs.


Archaeologists Employ Drones to Preserve Threatened Historical Sites

As wars, terrorists, and looters continue to devastate historical monuments and antiquities in Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East, archeologists have been using drones to take photographs of historical ruins. These images may be the only way to preserve some sites, which are being systematically destroyed by ISIS, and drones are the only safe way to obtain them. The images collected could be used to virtually reconstruct ancient structures. The Grand Palais in Paris currently is hosting an exhibition of 40,000 drone images taken at Palmyra, in Syria.


Cosby Wants New Jury Pool

Lawyers for accused rapist and former entertainer William (Bill) Henry Cosby asked the judge presiding over the upcoming criminal trial to move the trial and/or jury pool out of the county where Cosby allegedly committed the sexual assault because of "pervasive negative coverage" in local media.


DMC sues Amazon, Walmart, for Trademark Violation

Darryl McDaniels, a/k/a DMC, of the legendary hip-hop group Run-DMC, sued retailers for exploiting products bearing the Run-DMC logo that were not authorized by the group.


Playwright Sues Seuss, Says the Grinch Wasn't Stolen

Playwright Matthew Lombardo filed an action in the Southern District of New York against Dr. Seuss Enterprises, seeking a declaration that his play, "Who's Holiday!", does not infringe on "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," to which Dr. Seuss Enterprises holds the copyright. He also seeks $130,000 in damages. Lombardo's play was cancelled after Dr. Seuss Enterprises complained. Lombardo argues that elements borrowed from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" are fair use. "Who's Holiday!" is a one-woman show featuring the Grinch's ex-wife, who was imprisoned for murdering him.


Poland Buys Private Collection to Keep it in Poland

Piotr Glinski, deputy prime minister and minister of culture of Poland, signed an agreement that will give the Polish government ownership of a collection of 250,000 historic manuscripts and documents, 86,000 museum artifacts, and 593 precious artworks (including works by da Vinci, Rembrandt, Renoir, and Durer. The $105 million purchase (the collection is estimated to be worth more than $2 billion) was part of a campaign by the Polish government to focus on national heritage.


With Artworks Stuck in Iran, Berlin Exhibition Canceled

An exhibition originally scheduled to open at the Gemaldegalerie in Berlin was postponed, and then canceled, after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani failed to sign export licenses necessary for the works to be transported from the Tehran Museum to Berlin.



Russia's Doping Program is Revealed

With Rio de Janeiro hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) investigating doping, it came to light in the weeks leading up to the Olympics that Russia had engaged in an extensive doping scheme for a number of years going back to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Dozens of Russian athletes were banned from competing in the Rio Olympics, drawing outrage from the Russian sporting authorities and praise from European and American organizations. International sporting authorities conducted tests on samples from the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Olympics. Finding that a significant number of Russian athletes doped leading up to winning medals in those Olympic Games, the IOC reallocated medals, surprising athletes who had finished off the podium nearly a decade ago, only to be given their medals this year.

A Crackdown on Stolen Art

This year brought hope to those who had art stolen, even dating from Nazi Germany, as President Obama signed a piece of legislation extending the statute of limitations for individuals to bring suit seeking to reclaim the stolen artwork. In 2016, a prominent case in California became an example of how a family could have artwork stripped from it without any recourse, when a judge held that the family's inaction for a number of years precluded it from bringing suit to reclaim the stolen artwork. While this protected museums, which often can acquire notable pieces of art that were unwittingly stolen, that benefit came at the expense of families of collectors who may lack the resources of art institutions.

Sumner Redstone and Viacom Battles End

For Viacom, a battle broke out pitting Sumner Redstone and his family against the remainder of the Board of Directors. Several Directors sought to remove Redstone from the Board, arguing that he was mentally incompetent and incapable of administering his duties as a Director of the corporation. As evidence of his incapacity, the Directors called on Redstone's ex-girlfriends, who claimed he was mentally incompetent. Ultimately, Redstone and his family prevailed, agreeing to settle the matter by having the adversarial Directors resign. Redstone brought a lawsuit, claiming damages of $150 million against his ex-girlfriends. Following the resignation of the Directors from the Board, Redstone and his family installed a slate of new Directors. Near the end of 2016, Redstone announced that he was resigning his position from the Viacom Board.

NFL Grapples with Concussions and Brain Disease

In 2016, the NFL introduced a new protocol for dealing with players that potentially have sustained a concussion during the course of a football game. The NFL, headed by Commissioner Roger Goodell, has struggled to deal with the fallout coming from the frequency of concussions, which scientists have connected to the degenerative brain disease known as CTE. 2016 follows in the footsteps of previous years, with former players continuing to die seemingly as a result of CTE. To mitigate the dangers of concussions, and hopefully prevent instances of CTE, the NFL adopted protocols that require players who are suspected of a concussion to not play in a game and undergo medical procedures to determine the existence of a concussion. If teams do not comply with the new protocol, there are significant monetary penalties.

Bill Cosby's Litigation Moves Forward

Throughout 2016, the actor and comedian, Bill Cosby, was plagued with litigation from California to Pennsylvania relating to sexual assault accusations from a growing number of women. At the beginning of 2016, Cosby's attorneys argued that the cases could not move forward on the basis of the applicable statutes of limitations expiring and immunity from prosecution based on promises from one district attorney's office. As the year progressed, the judge in the Pennsylvania case determined that there was sufficient evidence for the matter to move to trial. Then, toward the end of the year, the battle for Cosby's attorneys focused on what evidence could be introduced at the trial. The trial is scheduled for June 5, 2017.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 31, 2016 5:31 PM.

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