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February 2017 Archives

February 4, 2017

Week in Review

By Michael Smith

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

Trump Names Supreme Court Nominee

On Tuesday, Donald Trump nominated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court. In 2006, the Senate confirmed Gorsuch's nomination to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals without opposition. Gorsuch, 49, is the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court in 25 years, and has widely been compared to Antonin Scalia, whose death created the vacancy Gorsuch has been nominated to fill. Gorsuch graduated from Harvard Law School, was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, and clerked for Supreme Court Justices White and Kennedy.



AEG Announces Bowery Deal

Concert promoter AEG Live announced that it had acquired half of indie promoter the Bowery Presents. The deal is estimated to be worth $40 million. AEG represents (among others) Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber, and runs the Coachella festival. The Bowery Presents promotes New York clubs like Terminal 5 and the Music Hall of Williamsburg


Nordstrom Drops Ivanka Trump Brand

The Norstrom department store chain announced its decision not to buy Ivanka Trump clothing for the spring season, citing the brand's poor sales performance. The poor sales performance is thought to be a result of the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which encourages shoppers to boycott products connected to Donald Trump.


A&E Invests in Women's Soccer

A&E Television Networks has become a sponsor of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), and will air the NWSL's matches for the next three seasons. For an undisclosed sum, A&E obtained the broadcast rights, an equity stake, two seats on the board, and promotional consideration.



Immigration Ban Threatens Arts Programs

President Trump's Executive Order blocking entry to refugees and citizens of seven countries threatens to have a widespread impact on arts programs in the United States and beyond. Asghar Farhadi, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker from Iran, will not be able to attend the Academy Awards. The Metropolitan Museum of Art is concerned that its collaborations with institutions in the Middle East will be compromised. The Sundance Institute Theater Program's exchange program with artists from the Middle East and North Africa may also be curtailed. Individual artists from the affected countries who are legal residents are concerned that if they leave the United States, they might not be allowed to return.


Dystopia's All the Rage

The New York Times reports that sales of dystopian novels rose dramatically recently. Sales of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, George Orwell's Animal Farm and 1984, Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 all recently made it into the top 80 of Amazon.com's bestseller list, as has Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here, about a populist presidential candidate who turns out to be a fascist.


Aging Artists Portend Expanding Services Market

As some of the most prominent, profitable artists of the 20th century navigate their twilight years, the industry is scrambling to help them plan for the future. Estate planning can be quite complex for established artists, and dealers, galleries, and auction houses are competing for the business of artists in their late 70s and 80s, like Chuck Close, Claes Oldenburg, Ed Ruscha, and Gerhard Richter. Some in the industry express concern that having auction houses involved in this sort of artist management presents a conflict of interest.


Securities and Exchange Commission Alleges "Hamilton" Ponzi Scheme

Last Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint in the Southern District of New York accusing Joseph Meli and Matthew Harriton of orchestrating an $81 million Ponzi scheme around the resale of tickets to the Broadway musical "Hamilton." According to the complaint, the two raised approximately $81 million from at least 125 investors in 13 states, telling them that the investments would be used to buy "Hamilton" tickets to be sold at a profit. Instead, they used most of the money to repay investors. Mr. Meli also faces criminal charges arising out of a similar scheme.


Fake Art Dealer Avoids Prison

Glafira Rosales, the art dealer who passed off paintings her boyfriend made in his garage as unknown works by famous artists, including Willem De Kooning and Jackson Pollock, was sentenced to three years of supervised release including 90 days of home detention, after spending three months in jail. The judge took into consideration arguments that Rosales had been intimidated and abused by her former boyfriend.


Larsson Leaves Lauren

Two years after becoming Ralph Lauren's CEO, Stefan Larsson is leaving the company, citing "creative differences." Larsson's move is one of many recent moves in the fashion industry. CFO Jane Nielsen will be acting CEO while the company searches for Larsson's replacement.



Sports Officials Concerned About Immigration Ban

President Trump's Executive Order blocking entry to refugees and citizens of seven countries may have a profound effect on international sports. Among other things, the ban threatens to impair the United States' chances of hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics or the 2026 World Cup. More imminent is the February 8th World Cup wrestling competition in Iran on February 8, 2017. On Friday, a spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry announced that Iran would bar the U.S. team from the tournament.



Commissioner Cracks Down on Cards; Correa Accuses Astros

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that a former scouting director for the St. Louis Cardinals, Chris Correa, is banned for life for hacking into the Houston Astros's computer system. Manfred also ordered the Cardinals to pay the Astros $2 million and the top two draft picks (56 and 75). On Tuesday, the Twitter account attributed to Correa (who is serving a four-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to the hacking) tweeted that the Astros had hacked the Cardinals in 2011. The MLB stated that Correa had not yet provided any evidence to support that accusation.



Student Sues Baylor Over Rape

A former Baylor University student sued it for failing to protect her from being raped by two former football players. The complaint alleges that at least 31 Baylor players committed at least 52 rapes between 2011 and 2014. An investigation conducted by the Pepper Hamilton law firm last year reportedly identified 17 sexual assaults involving 19 players.


Baylor Responds to Defamation Accusations with Troubling Details

In response to a defamation lawsuit filed by a former Baylor University football official, the university published previously undisclosed details about the way university officials dealt with accusations of sexual assault and other crimes. The university's filing described its football program as "a black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared."


National Hockey League Olympic Participation Remains Uncertain

On Friday, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach met with International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel, National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman, and NHL Players Association Director Don Fehr in New York for a "courtesy visit" to discuss the participation of NHL players in the 2018 Olympic games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. NHL officials are reluctant to shut down the U.S. hockey season for two weeks to allow its players to participate, whereas the IOC does not want to pay for the players' travel and insurance.


Track and Field Assistant Expelled

The International Association of Athletics Federations, track and field's governing body, expelled Nick Davies, former assistant of its president,
Sebastian Coe, after Davies admitted to concealing cash payments he received during the previous administration. Davies was cleared of corruption charges and will continue working in track and field.


Schools, Students Critical of Signing Day

Wednesday was college football's national signing day, when students offered athletic scholarships can sign the letters of intent, binding the schools to those offers. As offers are often made weeks or months before signing day, sometimes one party reneges prior to signing. The system has come under criticism, and the NCAA's Division I Football Oversight Committee has recommended changes, including an earlier signing period.


Kid's Football Changes Rules

In response to concerns about safety and declining participation, U.S.A. Football, the national governing body for amateur football, created a new set of rules designed to minimize impact. The changes include fewer players, smaller fields, and no kicking. It will be years before the new rules are implemented nationwide.


National Labor Relations Board Says That College Football Players Have Rights

General counsel for the National Labor Relations Board issued a memorandum concluding that top-level college football players at private universities are employees entitled to seek improved working conditions or pay. The memorandum does not carry the force of law, and does not conclude that players have the right to unionize.


McKnight Shooter Charged with Murder

Ronald Gasser Jr. was charged with second-degree murder by a Louisiana grand jury. Gasser, who shot former National Football League player Joe McKnight at a red light, previously had been charged with manslaughter. The district attorney's office came under strong criticism at the time and was accused of going easy on Gasser because he is white.



Tech Companies Resist Immigration Ban

The leaders of the world's largest tech companies have spoken out aggressively against President Trump's executive order blocking entry to refugees and citizens of seven countries. On Monday, Amazon and Expedia joined a lawsuit filed against the Trump administration by Washington State's attorney general seeking to have parts of the order declared unconstitutional. The tech companies believe that the order will impair their business, including the ability to recruit and retain employees from overseas. Google employees already staged demonstrations protesting the order.



Violence Mars Berkeley Protest

Students at the University of California, Berkeley, gathered on Wednesday night to demonstrate against a speech by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, whose speeches on college campus are intentionally inflammatory and include what has been called hate speech. Although many protested peacefully, some engaged in brutal violence and vandalism. The speech was canceled.


Super Bowl Commercials Under Political Scrutiny

At least two companies are facing negative pressure as a result of what some perceive to be political Super Bowl ads. 84 Lumber was forced to revise its 90-second spot after Fox rejected it as too controversial, because it depicted a Spanish-speaking mother and daughter confronting a border wall between the United States and Mexico. 84 Lumber's president and owner voted for Trump. When Anheuser-Busch InBev released its Super Bowl ad for Budweiser on YouTube earlier this week, many thought its depiction of the brewery's co-founder immigrating to the United States and overcoming discrimination was a response to President Trump's immigration policies. The company denied this, saying "We believe beer should be bipartisan." Words to live by.


February 11, 2017

Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

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


Early Signs Suggest That President Trump's Actions Are Taking a Toll on the Trump Brand

Major companies, such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, have pulled Ivanka Trump's brand from their stores, citing lackluster sales. This comes after many were questioning the impact of Donald Trump's ascendancy to the White House. Early in Trump's campaign, after he called Mexican immigrants "killers" and "rapists," Macy's dropped his clothing line. Whereas prior to the election many were indifferent toward the Trump brands, the first weeks of Trump's presidency have generated more controversy that has had more of a negative impact on the brands than a positive effect.


Trump Assails Nordstrom for 'Unfairly' Dropping Ivanka's Line

Donald Trump tweeted that his daughter, Ivanka Trump, was unfairly treated when Nordstrom dropped her brand from its stores. Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that the tweet was not about business, but about "an attack on his daughter." Experts view the tweet as likely not violating conflict of interest rules, but being inappropriate as a "misuse of presidential power." Retailers now have to grapple with deciding how to treat the Trump brands of merchandise, with an awareness that an adverse action against the brands could result in a tweet and a subsequent boycott by President Trump's most fervent supporters.


Teenagers Who Vandalized Historic Black Schoolhouse Are Ordered to Read Books

A judge has ordered five teenagers in the Ashburn community of Virginia to: Read one book a month from a specific reading list for 12 months, write a report, and visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington. This decision came after the teenagers vandalized a 19th century former schoolhouse for black children. The Commonwealth's attorney said that they are using the opportunity to teach the teenagers the significance of their actions and impact on the community.


Prince's Post-1995 Albums and Music From His Vault Will Be Released by Universal Music Group

Prince's estate has agreed with Universal Music Group (UMG) to provide UMG with the rights to his music and celebrity brand for his music recorded after 1995, as well as material from his recording vault. This covers 25 albums that Prince released, with some of his most notable hits. The agreement's details have not been disclosed. UMG's chairman called the deal "an absolute honor."



Is The Metropolitan Museum of Art a Great Institution in Decline?

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) has experienced rapid changes over the past several years, leaving some to find the changes to be evidence of institutional decline. After the Met redesigned its logo, which was a costly venture, many in the public expressed dismay and dissatisfaction. Curators have lessened the nearly 60 exhibitions a year to approximately 40. A $600 million wing has been postponed for several years. Not all the news is bad for the Met, however. The new Modern Art collection, housed at the Met Breuer, which opened in March 2016, has exceeded projections by drawing 557,000 visitors.


Met Museum Makes 375,000 Images Free

The Met announced that all 375,000 of its public domain artwork images will be made publicly available for free. The Met's Director said that it has been "a priority for over a decade" to increase access to the works. The Chief Digital Officer confirmed that anyone can download the images, which "can be used however you want to use them." In taking this step, the Met follows in the footsteps of the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, which has 45,000 and 150,000 images available, respectively.


Museum of Modern Art Takes a Stand: Art From Banned Countries at Center Stage

In response to Donald Trump's banning and rescinding of visas, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) replaced its fifth-floor permanent gallery with contemporary art from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan. President Trump's Executive Order targeted immigrants from those three countries (and four others). The exhibition is scheduled to be available for several months. This form of protest by MoMA represents one of the "strongest protests yet by a major cultural institution" in response to the immigration ban.


For Paris 'Spiderman,' Stealing Five Museum Masterpieces Was No Sweat

Vjeran Tomic, known as "Spiderman," testified at his trial as to the charges of stealing cultural property from Paris' Museum of Modern Art in 2010. He stole five masterpieces painted by Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Léger, and Modigliani, worth together approximately $112 million. He testified that he had cased the museum prior, and on the morning of the heist, disassembled a window and entered the museum without triggering an alarm. Tomic called the heist one of his "easiest and biggest." The chances of the masterpieces entering the mainstream market remain slim, as they were prized museum works and dealers would instantly recognized them as such.


Sotheby's Files Second Lawsuit Over Works It Calls Fake

Sotheby's, the auction house, filed a lawsuit in the English High Court against Mark Weiss, a London art dealer, and David Kowitz, a collector. Kowitz sold a Frans Hals painting, "Portrait of a Gentleman" in 2011 for $10.75 million that was later declared a fake. While Sotheby's asserts that it has had experts review the piece and confirm it undoubtedly is a fake, Weiss asserts that he has not been permitted to have any other expert review the piece for its authenticity.



U.S. Women's Soccer Team Restructures Union in Effort to Revive Collective Bargaining Agreement Talks

The U.S. Women's soccer team has restructured its union in an effort to put the players in a better position when negotiating with the U.S. Soccer organization. With the goal of achieving equal pay with the U.S. Men's soccer team, the women hope that the restructuring will rally support of more players to their cause. They have created new positions within the union, which are designed to promote participation in union activities and to become more active in negotiating equal wages.


Iran to Bar American Wrestling From World Cup

In response to Donald Trump's executive order severely limiting travel from Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Iran's Foreign Ministry has announced that the U.S. wrestling team will not be allowed into the country to compete in the Freestyle World Cup, scheduled for February 16th and 17th. The President of the United World Wrestling Organization has announced that they are working to find a solution for the ban "as soon as possible."


Russia Will Likely Be Excluded From World Track and Field Championships

Global officials for track and field met in Monaco and agreed that Russia's athletes will almost certainly be barred from competing in the summer World Championships. The ban would come after the revelation that Russia had a widespread, state-sponsored doping program. Following that finding, Russia's sporting authorities were required to file a special application detailing the remedial steps taken to remedy the situation. While there has been cooperation with Russian sporting authorities, global officials are not satisfied that Russian athletes are prepared to qualify in this summer's games.


Russians Implicated in Doping Still Compete, Angering Other Athletes

Hundreds of athletes from around the world have signed petitions threatening to boycott major sporting events where dozens of Russian athletes will be competing. The boycott is a reaction to the widespread doping that occurred at the Sochi Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been investigating the Russian athletes, but has not completed its inquiries. Before bans are doled out, the IOC is valuing "the presumption of innocence, the right to be heard and due process."


Austrian Police Raid Kazakh Biathletes' Hotel, Confiscating Drugs and Phones

On Wednesday, police raided Kazakhstan's biathlon team's hotel rooms, seizing "medical equipment, drugs and cellphones" on the eve of the World Championships. The seizure was part of an investigation into doping violations and fraud, which are violations of Austria's criminal code. The investigation stemmed from several buses dropping a box of syringes, medical equipment, and records detailing doping regimens.


The National Hockey League's Problem With Science

Former players and their families filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Hockey League (NHL) as a result of the danger of head injuries. At a time when the National Football League (NFL) is plagued with and addressing the specter of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the NHL has instead adopted the perspective of a skeptic. The NHL asked for all materials and documentation of head injuries, so that it can "confirm the accuracy of published findings." The NHL's critics assert that its demands are unduly onerous and designed to harass and suppress the plaintiffs' cases.


National Football League's Jaguars' Owner Shahid Khan Opposes Trump's Immigration Ban

The owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Shahid Khan, spoke out against Donald Trump's Executive Order, which severely limited travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Khan, born in Pakistan, immigrated to the U.S. in 1967 and owned a multibillion-dollar car parts business prior to owning the Jaguars. He expressed his hope that the courts would stop the ban.


Lender Deceived Ailing NFL Retirees, Suit Claims

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and the New York Attorney General filed an action against RD Legal Funding LLC, a New Jersey-based finance company. The action accuses the company of deceiving retired NFL football players who planned to receive money from the NFL's settlement of the concussion-related lawsuit. The company targets individuals who are to receive significant payouts from settlements in class-actions lawsuits, extending them loans with interest rates of 40% or higher. RRD Legal Funding LLC also engaged in these practices with 9/11 emergency medical workers.


Big 12 to Hold Back Millions of Dollars in Conference Revenue From Baylor University

The Big 12 Conference announced that it would withhold millions of dollars from Baylor University until an outside review determines whether Baylor's athletic department was complying with Title IX guidelines. This announcement came after Baylor fired its football coach and parted ways with its president and athletic director as a result of improper investigations into sexual assault allegations.


Athletes Stand to Gain in NCAA Settlement

Last Friday, the NCAA and 11 of its conferences reached a $208.7 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit that players brought over the value of athletic scholarships. If the judge approves the settlement, approximately 40,000 players in Division I will be eligible to receive payments of $5,000 or more. Attorneys for the conferences have indicated that with "Phase 1" of the litigation being successful, they hope to move to "Phase 2": getting the athletes more compensation.


Michigan State University Suspends Three Football Players

Michigan State University suspended three football players as part of a sexual assault investigation. Names have not been released, but the University retained a Title IX consultant to investigate whether the students violated the its misconduct policy. Similar allegations plagued Baylor University and the University of Minnesota last year, leading to organizational changes.


Stanford Drops Lawyer Who Advised Students in Sexual Assault Cases

Stanford University is no longer using Crystal Riggins, a lawyer who represented students in sexual assault complaints, on retainer, after she spoke out against the University's internal handling of such cases. Riggins was tasked with enforcing the provisions of Title IX, which is aimed at protecting women on campuses. She commented that her duty as an advocate was to the student-parties that she represented, and as such, her comments were appropriately expressed free speech.


Mets' Wilmer Flores Wins Arbitration Case

The New York Met Wilmer Flores, who captured attention from fans and media when he cried during a game when he believed he would be traded to another team (which fell through later that evening), won his arbitration hearing against the team that nearly traded him. The arbitration, which was the first since 2008 for the team, netted Flores the $2.2 million he requested. That is $400,000 more than the Mets wanted to pay, and as such, Flores' holding out to negotiate his salary was a well played gamble.


Tinker with Extra-Inning Rules? Cue the Purists' Outrage

Baseball organizations are considering changing the rules of baseball to put a runner on second base for extra innings, in an effort to shorten the length of games. In a sport that tends to change slowly, baseball purists are outraged. Trials of the new rule will happen in two rookie leagues in the spring.


Kushner Family Is In Talks to Buy Miami Marlins

The Kushner family, whose member Jared Kushner is a close adviser to Donald Trump, is in negotiations to acquire the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joshua Kushner, Jared's brother, is a venture capitalist and is pursuing the acquisition for approximately $1.6 billion. The dealings of the Trump family and Kushner family have been increasingly scrutinized in the first few weeks of the Trump administration.


Stephen Curry Takes Issue With Under Armour Leader on Trump

The Golden State Warriors' point guard Stephen Curry became the latest athlete to weigh in about Donald Trump's presidency. Under Armour's Kevin Plank, appearing on CNBC, called Trump "a real asset" to the country. Under Armour is a sports apparel company and the primary sponsor for Curry. Curry said in an interview, "I agree with that description, if you remove the 'et.'" Throughout social media, Plank's comments spawned the hashtag: #boycottUnderArmour.



President Trump's Federal Communications Commission Pick Quickly Targets Net Neutrality Rules

Donald Trump's appointee to lead the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, has already taken steps to roll back consumer protections that the Obama administration promulgated, including stopping nine companies from having to provide discounted high-speed Internet service to low-income individuals. Consumer advocates expressed outrage for the rapid changes, which went largely unannounced and have been buried on the FCC's website. One analyst surmised that Pai's actions may be the start of a pattern of pro-internet service provider regulations, which would not be a surprise given Pai's work as a lawyer for Verizon.


Not Everyone in Tech Cheers Visa Program for Foreign Workers

Tech companies depend on the 85,000 foreign workers allowed into the U.S. every year with an H-1B visa. Companies like Microsoft and Google have lobbied for an increase in the quota, with the argument that there are not a sufficient number of Americans skilled to work certain jobs within their companies. Critics of the program argue that tech companies use H-1B workers because they are less expensive than American workers. It is not clear what Donald Trump's position is on the matter, but there have been proposed changes circulating in Congress to raise the salary threshold for H-1B workers to narrow the gap between pay for foreign workers and American workers.


In Libel Suit, Melania Trump Cites Loss of Chance to Make Millions of Dollars

First Lady Melania Trump filed a lawsuit in New York State court against The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, for libel. The newspaper reported that the modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s was also an escort agency. As a result of these statements, the complaint alleges, her brand lost significant value, claiming as much as $150 million in damages. At a time where there may be issues about conflicts of interest and business dealings in the Oval Office, the lawsuit has further inflamed those concerns.


Ivanka Trump Reported to Have Stepped Down as Murdoch Trustee

The Financial Times disclosed that Ivanka Trump stepped down as a trustee for the trust fund set aside for the daughters of Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News Channel and The Wall Street Journal, in December 2016. Some analysts have concluded that her resignation illustrates the closeness between the Trump and Murdoch families and the desire to create distance between the two with Donald Trump beginning his presidency.


Snap Inc. Amends Compensation Filing of Its Lone Female Director

In the last week, it came to light that the sole female director of Snap Inc., owner of the popular app Snapchat, is paid less than her male peers on the company's board of directors. The company amended a regulatory filing this week to disclose that Joanna Coles in fact acquired additional stock when signing her annual contract, which supposedly made up the difference in pay with her counterpart male directors. However, the regulatory filings do not detail precisely how Coles actually has achieved equal compensation, raising further questions.


February 20, 2017

Week in Review

By Tallie Carter

For your browsing convenience, the below blurbs are divided into the following categories: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media.

Bill Introduced to Make Copyright Office Split from the Library of Congress

A bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Tom Marino (PA, 10th District) to split off the Copyright Office as a separate legislative agency. H.R. 890, Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act, "To establish the United States Copyright Office as a agency in the legislative branch, and for other purposes," was introduced on February 6, 2017.



Court Says German Comedian Cannot Recite Lewd Poem

German television comedian Jan Bohmermann may be back on the air, but he remains barred from reciting his poem satirizing Turkey's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Bohmermann recited his poem over the air last March, after the Turkish president was already outraged by a separate video lampoon. The poem is said to make "provocative and outrageous insinuations" about the Turkish president's intelligence, sexuality, and behavior. Bohmermann was placed under police protection, and his show was suspended after the poem seemed to cause an international uproar. It was postulated that the poem affected a deal between Turkey and the European Union over immigrant migration. Erdogan initially tried to bring criminal charges under an 1871 law that prohibits Germans from insulting heads of state. Last fall, the charges were dropped when prosecutors viewed the poem as mostly hyperbole, lacking criminal intent. Erdogan continued with a civil cause of action to prevent the dissemination of the poem. A Hamburg court issued an injunction, barring Bohmermann from reciting 18 lines of the 24-line poem. Bohmermann refused to sign a cease and desist declaration, thereby sending the case back to court. Bohmermann's attorney, Christian Schertz, will not only appeal the lower court decision, but, if necessary, bring the case to the Federal Court of Justice, seeking a precedent for freedom of speech. Germany expects to soon repeal the law that protects foreign leaders from critical speech.


2017 Grammys

26 million people viewed the 59th Annual Grammys Awards, which is up almost one million viewers from last year. This year's ceremony was noted for not only who won, but for who did not win, and who did not attend.



Shia LaBeouf's Art Show Shut Down

The Museum of the Moving Image, based in Queens, has elected to remove Shia LaBeouf's art instillation, citing threats of violence. "He Will Not Divide Us," was designed to be a rebuke to President Trump. The participatory exhibition, collaborated on by LaBeouf, Luke Turner, and Nastja Sade Ronkko, mounted a video camera on an outside wall of the museum. Passers-by repeated the phrase, "he will not divide us." The quotes were meant to be streamed online for the duration of President Trump's administration. The exhibition began mid-January and was quickly politically charged. LaBeouf made appearances, and in one was arrested by the police. The museum shut down the exhibit, stating that the installation "had become a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent." As of last Friday, the exhibition website replaced the words with "The Museum Has Abandoned Us". The Museum stated that the installation was engaging and thought-provoking, however after LaBeouf's arrest, a 24/7 police presence was required.



Betances' Arbitration Could Redefine Relief Pitching

The manner in which relief pitchers are played in pro baseball games may impact how they are valued by teams. Last year, Andrew Miller was the Cleveland Indian's best relief pitcher. However, during its World Series title run, Miller was not used in the traditional team closer role. He was called upon when Manager Terry Francona determined that there was a critical juncture in the game.

This week, another consideration of the role of relief pitchers will come when Dellin Betances's, setup reliever for the New York Yankees, arbitration panel convenes. Betances is seeking a 2017 salary determination in the amount of $5 million over the Yankee's offer of $3 million. Either result will be a win for Betances, whose 2016 salary was only $507,500. Even with a three million dollar salary, he would be the highest paid non-closer. His stats are impressive: 6'8", with a 97-mph fastball and a "knee buckling" curveball. He made the All-Star Team every year, and his record 15.5 strikeouts per nine innings was the highest one last season. He will return to being a closer, even though he suffered as slump in the last three weeks of the season, after initially excelling in his role.

Although rare for Yankees to go to arbitration, the two million dollar difference in the figures was too much to overcome. Arbitration has well established terms under the collective bargaining agreement. The process entails one hour for each party to make its case, with the player going first, followed by a 30-minute rebuttal and summation. The decision is expected quickly, within 24 hours. This decision is of particular note, because the arbitration process is based on precedent and statistics. However, newer statistics, such as fielding independent pitches and wins above replacement, will be valued, as compared to number of saves, which is the previous determining factor of a reliever's worth. Arbitration decisions are not explained, so it is difficult to know how the stats will be weighed.




College Basketball: Leading Women's Referee Arrested

Wesley Dean, an awarded N.C.A.A. basketball referee, was arrested for child molestation and enticing a child. Dean, who worked the 2003 championship between Connecticut and Tennessee and was named the 2006 Naismith's Woman Official of the Year, is currently in custody at the Cobb County Jail.


Six Months After Olympics, A Crumbling Legacy

It is common that there will be some underutilized facilities after the summer Olympic games, however, the state of decay experienced by Rio is an exceptional case. There are bigger problems than the empty buildings, which are in a state of disrepair, and hopes are crumbling. Some of the Olympic Park is boarded, the handball arena is barricaded, the broadcast center has been partly disassembled, and many areas have not been maintained. Despite government promises, Rio has quickly become yet another case of abandonment. The original plans to turn the facilities into public sports arenas and schools have not materialized. There have been no interested bidders for many of the vacant properties left to be managed by government agencies. Real estate developers who, after the Olympics, hoped to convert the facilities into luxury condominiums, are now negotiating a deal with the city to sell the apartments to civil servants. The giant swimming pool that was used as the canoe slalom course in Deodoro, a poor neighborhood often heralded as a flagship site by Olympic officials, is now closed, with no announced date to reopen. The decay of the Olympic facilities comes at a time when Rio is in financial crisis, leaving little hope that there will not be blight of Olympian proportions.


Kushners Will Not Buy Miami Marlins if Seller Gets Ambassadorship

The family of Jared Kushner, son-in-law to President Trump and his senior advisor, stated that it will not proceed with the purchase of the Miami Marlins baseball team. The offered reason is that the team's current owner, Jeffrey Loria, is poised to become an ambassador to France. It has been the White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus', top priority to secure a Trump administration position for Loria, a major donor to the joint Trump and Republican Party campaign. Loria had been in discussions with the Kushner family to sell the Marlins and, now, with the probable ambassador appointment, there are concerns of the appearance of a quid pro quo. Joseph Meyer, brother-in-law to Jared Kushner, stated that the family did not want the unrelated transaction to impact Loria's appointment, and, although the family remains interested in purchasing the Marlins, it would not pursue the matter at this time.


Coach Retires After Suspension

Kathie Klages, Michigan State women's gymnastics coach for 30 years, retired the day after her suspension ended. Klages's suspension resulted from what her boss described as a "passionate defense" of the sports doctor Larry Naasar. Nassar is currently being held on federal and state charges, including for the assault of a girl at his home, child pornography and destruction of evidence. Klages has been named in lawsuits for having brushed off previous complaints of abuse by Nassar.


Cycling: Armstrong Fails to Stop Federal Lawsuit

The federal government's $100 million-dollar lawsuit will proceed against embattled cyclist Lance Armstrong. Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, barred from competition, forced to pay more than $10 million in damages, and lost all sponsors since admitting publicly that he cheated to win his cycling titles. The government joined the 2010 Floyd Landis (Armstrong's former U.S. Postal Service teammate) lawsuit in 2013. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper's ruling puts Armstrong on course for a fall trial.


Colleges: Three in Sandusky Case Seek Appeal

The Jerry Sandusky scandal (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania vs. Sandusky, No. 338 MDA 2013) continues to reverberate. Three former Penn State administrators, President Graham Spanier, Vice President Gary Schultz, and Athletic Director Tim Curly, are facing trial for child endangerment. Recently, they sought permission to appeal a trial judge's decision to keep in place felony charges. The trio are due to go to trial next month.


Sandusky's Son Faces Sexual Abuse Charges

Jeffrey S. Sandusky, adopted son of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State assistant football coach presently serving a Pennsylvania prison sentence for sexually assaulting young boys, was charged with child sexual abuse this week. Jeffrey Sandusky faces 14 criminal counts, including solicitation, sexual abuse, child pornography, and corruption of minors. His bail was set at $200,000. His father's 2011 conviction led to the downfall of Penn State's famed coach, Joe Paterno, and toppled the football program with further charges against the former university president, vice president, and athletic director for criminally endangering children.


Olympics: Russian Runner Stripped of 2012 Olympic Gold Medal

Mariya Savinova, a 31 year-old Russian runner was found by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to be doping from January 2010-August 2013. She was stripped of her 2012 gold medal, and barred from competing for four years. Caster Semenya, the silver medalist of the 2012 games, is in line to become champion, if the Olympic Games Committee elects to reallocate the medals.


Oakley Is Not Ready to Drop Feud with Knick's Owner

Charles Oakley, formerly of the New York Knicks, continues his public war with Knicks's owner, James L. Dolan. Last week, Oakley told Sports Illustrated's Crossover basketball website that Dolan reminded him of ousted former Los Angeles Clippers owner, Donald Sterling. His comments stem from last week's altercation at a Knicks's home game, where he was forcibly removed from Madison Square Garden. The NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, had to broker a meeting between Oakley and Dolan to try to patch up their differences. Charles Oakley, a beloved former player, was hauled out of a Knicks's home game in handcuffs, after a skirmish with security personnel. Dolan then barred Oakley from entering the arena, and went on to suggest publicly that Oakley had an alcohol problem and anger management issues. Oakley, who played for the Knicks back in the 1990's, has been estranged from the team, due to his criticism of Dolan and Dolan's management of the Knicks's organization. There has been tremendous outpouring of support for Oakley from fans and other high profile players, such as Lebron James and Chris Paul. Dolan sought to shield himself from the public outcry by inviting Latrell Sprewell to watch Sunday's game with him. Nevertheless, the firestorm continued, with calls from Rev. Al Sharpton for Oakley's ban to be lifted. The meeting, which was held on February 13th, was co-brokered by Michael Jordan, Charlotte Hornets owner and close friend to Oakley. Silver reported that Oakley and Dolan were contrite, and that he was hopeful that Oakley would return to the Garden as Dolan's guest in the near future. As of Feb. 17th, the likelihood of Oakley returning to a Knicks's home game anytime soon is slim.




Fake News, Real Regret

The advertising world has to figure out its role in promulgating fake news online. 20th Century Fox's marketing strategy for its new movie, "A Cure for Wellness," entailed creating fake news sites. The fake news sites included headlines involving President Trump, vaccinations, and Lady Gaga. These sites had plausible names, like The Salt Lake City Guardian, making it difficult to distinguish between real news and fake. The fake news articles were shared on social media by people who did not realize that the stories were part of a marketing stunt. This seems to have crossed the line of marketing's long tradition of bending the truth to its purposes. 20th Century Fox has apologized for its marketing strategy, which has been criticized by many in the industry. Susan Credle, global chief creative officer for FCB (an ad agency), stated that it threatens democracy "when you start to tear down media and question what's real and not real.' One of the producers of the film, Regency, explained that it used the fake sites because the movie is about a fake cure. Nevertheless, 20th Century Fox acquiesced that, in retrospect, the strategy was inappropriate and has restructured its internal approval process in response. The fake news' web addresses have been redirected from the movie's marketing messaging to the film's official website. Tribeca Enterprises' CEO, Andrew Essex, does not see anything wrong with ruse. He stated, "There's no moral quandary here because they are not purporting to deceive people with actual news. Anyone with a pulse can see this is actual parody." Others in the industry see the tactic as ineffective and tiresome. Given the lackluster box office opening for "A Cure for Wellness", they may be right.


Lawyer Says that Fox News Is Under Investigation

Andrea Tantaros's attorney in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News claims that the U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating how Fox structured payments. According to Attorney Judd Burstein, another client received a grand jury subpoena related to Fox News, and federal investigators, identified as being from the securities fraud division of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, believe that Fox News structured sexual harassment claims payments as salary, "so as not to have to report them." Fox News denied receiving a subpoena, but states that it remains cooperative with any legal authorities. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.

Fox News has been trying to put the sexual harassment scandal that spurred the departure of its chairman, Roger Ailes, behind it. After the company settled with Gretchen Carlson, a former anchor who sued Mr. Ailes, in the amount of $20 million, its parent company, 21st Century Fox, hired Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct its own internal investigation. Several women, including Megyn Kelly, have come forward with similar allegations. Burstein's claim came after his hearing seeking to have the Tantaros lawsuit tried in open court. At a hearing at the New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday, the court decided that the case will be resolved in arbitration, as moved by Fox News. Ms. Tantaros's suit named several Fox News executives as having marginalized her after she complained of sexual harassment. Fox News has denied the allegations, stating that Ms. Tantaros was let go for breach of contract after writing a book without approval.


Zuckerberg, Bucking Tide, Takes a Public Stand Against Isolationism

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO, posted a 5,800-word letter as an update to his original 2012 founder's letter. In it, he pledges to push Facebook in a direction that will help convince individuals and governments that "progress now requires humanity coming together not just as cities or nations, but also as a global community." He states that he wants to focus parts of Facebook in a way that help people better come together. He plans to build inclusive online communities that are supportive, safe, and informed environments. This new direction emphasizes Facebook's role in keeping communities well informed. Zuckerberg alluded to Facebook's role evolving from being just a technology or media, to being a distributor of news. Facebook's shift comes amidst the growing debate over globalization.


Yahoo Is Said to be Near Deal With Verizon

Yahoo is close to renegotiating its purchase deal with Verizon Communications. The original $4.8 billion-dollar deal was stalled, in reaction to two major data breaches experienced by Yahoo. Instead of undergoing a protracted legal battle in Delaware court, the titans have come to a soon-to-be-announced terms, which include reducing the purchase price by $300 million and sharing the legal costs for the data breaches.


February 26, 2017

Week in Review

By Anna Stowe DeNicola

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

Trump's Global Trademark Strategy Appears at Odds With Government Policies

As a businessman, Donald Trump has been aggressive in registering and protecting his company's trademarks across the globe. The Trump brand has registered over 400 marks for a wide array of products in over 80 countries, and includes registrations sought during his presidential campaign and after the election in countries such as China, Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, the European Union (EU), and the Philippines. Aggressively registering marks to protect a brand is not unusual, but it appears at odds with the stance he has taken on global trade since taking office. He has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA, has ended U.S. involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, criticized the EU, and accused China and Mexico of unfair trade practices. Additionally, his "trail of trademarks" indicate business dealings in countries such as Brunei, a country he criticized Hillary Clinton for having connections with during the campaign. While Trump has said he handed the reigns of his company over to his two oldest sons, presidential ethics watchdogs continue to challenge his business dealings as potential conflicts of interest.



Shia LaBoeuf Exhibit Has A New Home

The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens shut down Shia LaBoeuf's livestream exhibit, citing safety concerns. The exhibit was scheduled to run for the duration of Donald Trump's presidency. Mr. LaBoeuf and his collaborators criticized the museum for closing the exhibit, claiming that it "bowed to political pressure." The exhibit has found a new home at the El Ray Theater in Albuquerque.


Bill Cosby Civil Defamation Suit Dismissed by Federal Judge

A Massachusetts District Court judge dismissed a civil defamation lawsuit filed against Bill Cosby by one of the women who accused him of sexual assault. Katherine Mae McKee filed the lawsuit in 2015, stating that Mr. Cosby's rebuttal to her allegations damaged her reputation. The judge, however, ruled that Mr. Cosby's statements were subject to First Amendment protection, and that individuals must be able to issue statements beyond "no comment" in response to allegations of misconduct. Several additional defamation lawsuits against Mr. Cosby remain pending.


Second Accuser Allowed to Testify in Cosby Assault Case

The judge presiding over the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby in the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, has ruled that a second accuser may testify against Mr. Cosby. Prosecutors originally sought to introduce testimony from 13 additional witnesses. The second witness, "Prior Alleged Victim Six," gave an account of sexual assault similar to that of the primary witness in the case. The testimony of the second witness may be introduced under Pennsylvania law in order to demonstrate a common scheme or plan, or "unique signature" of the defendant. Mr. Cosby is seeking a change in venue, arguing that negative publicity has harmed his case.


Syrian Nominees Will Attend The Oscars During Open Window in Trump's Travel Ban

Two Syrian documentaries are up for an Oscar in the best documentary short category. The filmmakers of both documentaries planned to bring the subjects of their documentaries to the awards show on February 26th, but their plans were disrupted by President Trump's Executive Order banning travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries, including Syria. Now, however, as federal courts have blocked the travel ban, the filmmakers are rushing to bring their guests into the United States to attend the Oscars. The first film, "The White Helmets," documents the efforts of a western-funded search and rescue team that has saved the lives of over 75,000 Syrians by pulling them from the rubble of bombed buildings. The other film is "Watani: My Homeland," and follows the ordeal of the Kamil family who fled Syria after Mr. Kamil was captured by the Islamic State.


German Government Warns Over Latest Hacking Vulnerability: A Child's Talking Doll

Last week, Germany's telecommunications watchdog, the Federal Network Agency, issued a stark warning to parents: the toy "Cayla," a talking doll, may be spying on them. The agency warned that hackers could steal personal information from the doll by listening in on private conversations via Bluetooth, an insecure network built into the doll. "Cayla" has been pulled off shelves and banned throughout the country. Her ban highlights growing concern over "smart" products - such as baby monitors, cars, and medical devices, which are relatively easy to hack. Germany has some of the world's most stringent data privacy laws, and considers an individual's right to privacy paramount over any public rights to know private information. The doll is also currently under investigation in the United States.


Polanski Asks for Testimony to be Unsealed

Roman Polanski again is seeking to have testimony unsealed in his statutory rape case from the late 1970s. Testimony from a former deputy district attorney who handled his case could show that he has served the requisite time after his 1977 guilty plea to unlawful sex with a 13-year old girl. Polanski fled the United States soon after his guilty plea, and argues that he served time under house arrest abroad. A California court informed Polanski that he must return to the United States to resolve the case, but several countries have refused to extradite him.


Caitlyn Jenner Joins Opposition Against Trump's Decision to Rescind Transgender Bathroom Protections

Caitlyn Jenner joined the growing list of critics who have condemned President Trump's decision to repeal bathroom protections for transgender individuals. Her criticism is perhaps the most prominent, as she is a lifelong republican and was an early supporter of Trump. She called him out on twitter, saying, "You made a promise to protect the LBGTQ community. Call me." Jenner joins other vocal celebrities, including Janet Mock and Jackie Evancho. Opponents of the rollback believe it has "opened the door to bullying, harassment and discrimination of children."



Trump Budget Cuts Include Familiar Targets

Not surprisingly, at the top of the list of programs the White House is targeting for elimination, are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps, and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. These programs, each with relatively small budgets, have historically been targets for elimination by conservatives. The administration sees these programs as examples of taxpayer waste. With Trump's White House budget director finally in place, plans to move forward with the cuts are in the works. President Trump aims to balance the budget in future years but wants to boost spending on the military and infrastructure immediately. Agencies that are targeted for elimination will be required to make their cases to the administration by March 3rd, and the list will be finalized by March 13th. The targeted agencies have vowed to mount a strong fight against elimination. (The EASL Section will also be officially opposing the cuts to the National Endowments.)


Case May Proceed Against the International Art Center For Recovery of Holocaust-Era Looted Art

A unanimous panel from the New York State Appellate Division, First Department, affirmed the Manhattan Surrogate's ruling in favor of the plaintiff in a suit against The International Art Center (IAC), an art holding company. The court rejected IAC's claim of lack of jurisdiction because it is based in Panama. IAC acquired a painting by the artist Amedeo Modigliani in 1996, which is alleged to have been looted from the residence of Oscar Stettiner after he fled from his home in Paris in 1939. Stettiner's heir, Philippe Maestracci, initiated a lawsuit in 2013 seeking the painting's return. The Appellate decision removed several roadblocks for the plaintiff as he seeks recovery of the artwork.


"Spider-Man" of Paris Sentenced to Eight Years for Art Heist

Vjeran Tomic, a/k/a "Spider-Man," received an eight-year prison sentence and 200,000 Euro fine after confessing to stealing five paintings with a combined value of over 104 million Euros from the Paris Museum of Modern Art in May 2010. The stolen works were by Modigliani, Léger, Braque, Matisse, and Picasso. His accomplices in the heist received seven- and six-year sentences and received fines of 150,000 Euros. Additionally, the three were ordered to collectively pay indemnification of 104 million Euros to the city of Paris.


Concern Arises That The Art Market Has Become a Mechanism for Money Laundering

Seller anonymity in the art world has been a historic tradition, but many are starting to question whether the practice has become reckless. The release of the Panama Papers has led to debate regarding this practice, and some organizations believe that the art market has become a hotbed for money laundering. In response to recommendations from organizations such as the Basel Institute, many auction houses (including Christie's) have revised their policies regarding ownership disclosures. Cases currently pending include one involving Malaysian officials accused of converting billions of embezzled public funds into real estate and art investments, and another accusing Sotheby's of selling a Toulouse-Lautrec without knowing who actually owned the work. Despite the concerns regarding money laundering in the art market, many believe that eliminating anonymity would negatively impact the market and amount to an invasion of privacy. Further, critics argue, auction house rules would merely divert transactions abroad or into the hands of private dealers, who are not subject to public disclosure requirements.


The Venice Biennale Will Feature Recovered Iraqi Art

This year, the Iraqi pavilion at the Venice Biennale will include pieces looted from the National Museum of Iraq after the 2003 invasion of Iraq that have since been recovered. The pavilion will include a display of medical artifacts, statutes, toys, and jugs that date back over 7,000 years.


Trove From Nazi Era Art Dealer To Go On Display in Bern and Bonn

In November, sister exhibits in Bern, Switzerland and Bonn, Germany will feature works from the collection of Cornelius Gurlitt, the son of a Nazi-era art dealer who had concealed a collection of 1,200 to 1,500 works in his apartment in Munich and house in Salzburg for decades. The exhibits are scheduled in the wake of a Munich court ruling that held that Gurlitt had been of sound mind when he bequeathed the collection to the Kunstmuseum Bern. No works with an unknown or incomplete provenance will be included in the Bern exhibit. A German-led task force, created after the discovery of the works, continues to investigate the provenance of the works in the collection and along with the Kunstmuseum is committed to returning any looted works to their rightful owners.


Lincoln Center Refuses Patron With Anti-Trump Sign

Lincoln Center refused entry to a long-time patron wearing a sign on her back that read, "NO! In the name of humanity we refuse to accept a fascist America." Jenny Heinz had a ticket to attend a performance of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, but chose to continue wearing her sign while attending the performance. Lincoln Center refunded her ticket and told Heinz that her entry was refused because of a policy that banned signs of any kind from inside the performance halls or the exterior plaza. In 2002, a federal court found in favor of Lincoln Center and held that the venue could prevent leafleting and protesting from its outdoor plaza. Many people argue that the arts are inherently political, and that the "dialogue between art and democracy" should be allowed to continue. In response, Lincoln Center maintains that in fulfillment of its mission it strives "to provide an environment that cultivates the special and uninterrupted connection between a diverse array of performers and patrons."


McDonald's Sponsors Archeological Dig That Revealed A Section of an Ancient Roman Road

The construction of a McDonald's in Marino, Italy unearthed a surprise - a section of an ancient Roman road, which has been dated to the second and first centuries B.C. Generally when ancient sites are unearthed, best practice is to cover them back up and continue with the construction project as planned. The rationale is that the sites are safer when reburied, and can be preserved for future examination. When left exposed, the sites are in danger of damage or destruction. However, in this case, McDonald's stepped up and provided funding to excavate the site, and pledged to pay for its preservation and upkeep. The section of the ancient road was excavated, documented, and enclosed in a glass-roofed gallery. The gallery is separate from the restaurant itself, and is open to the public. The general public and McDonald's patrons alike can look down into the gallery to view the road.


Federal Lawsuit Filed to Protect First Amendment Rights of High School Student Artist

High school student David Pulphus was among the winners of the national Congressional Art Competition. The work depicts police as pigs in a confrontation with citizens in the city of St. Louis. Mr. Pulphus's painting was retroactively disqualified from the competition and removed from public display. Democratic Representative William Lacy Clay filed the federal lawsuit, arguing that the work's removal violated Mr. Pulphus's First Amendment Rights. Mr. Clay believes that the work was censored due to "enormous political pressure" from the Speaker of the House and right-wing media outlets.


This Year's PEN Festival To Focus on Gender and Power During Trump Presidency

Instead of highlighting a particular geographic region of the world, this year's PEN Festival will aim to be an antidote to President Trump's stance on foreign policy and immigration. The focus will be on PEN's mission of promoting free expression and enabling "the breadth of voices vital to an open marketplace of ideas." Highlights include performances by Patti Smith and Ani DiFranco, conversations about cultural identity with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Trevor Noah, and a reading of "Literay Quest: Tenement Museum Edition," meant to highlight the history of New York's immigrants. The festival runs from May 1st through 7th in New York.


65 Authors and Artists Sign PEN America Open Letter to Trump Re: Travel Ban

PEN America sent an open letter to President Trump this week condemning his Executive Order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The letter sought to highlight the importance of a "global exchange of arts and ideas" and need for a vibrant, open exchange of ideas as a means to combat terrorism. Some signatories stated they do not believe the letter would impact the President's perspective on the travel ban, but rather felt it was important to be "noisy" when faced with "matters of essential unfairness." Signatories included prominent voices in the international writing community, as well as composer Stephen Sondheim, signer/songwriter Roseanne Cash, and photographer Sally Mann.



Higher Education Is Under Pressure to Maintain Title IX Sexual Assault Protections

With the dawn of the Trump Era, institutions in higher education are under increased scrutiny and pressure regarding Title IX sexual assault protections with parties from both sides speaking out. Those in favor of Obama-era protections for campus victims of sexual assault are putting pressure on the Department of Education to preserve the protections already in place. Critics, on the other hand, are fighting against what they view as requirements that hinder investigative efforts and often "demonize" men. Advocates are proactively reaching out to Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, through Twitter and other social media platforms, hoping to highlight the stores of those victimized by sexual assault on college and university campuses. Opponents maintain that they want to create safe environments for all, but the current federal regulations can act as a "straightjacket" and instead curtail campus efforts to resolve issues through mediation and other alternative dispute resolution forums.


Iranian Fans Fanatic About U.S. Wrestling Team

Amidst increasing tensions between the United States and Iran, the U.S. wrestling team received a warm welcome by adoring fans on its stop in Tehran last weekend. Questions arose about whether the team would be allowed to travel to the tournament in Tehran at all, after the Iranian government originally barred the team in wake of President Trump's Executive Order banning immigrants from seven countries, including Iran. However, after seeing the wave of people protesting the ban, Iranian authorities reversed their stance. One of the wrestlers said the tournament was one of the best he has experienced - even better than the Rio Olympics. The team views themselves as ambassadors, especially given the intimate nature of the sport. The Iranian wrestling federation sent bodyguards to the team's hotel, but rather than controversy, the team members were met with smiles.


Lawyers Seek $112.5 Million in Costs and Attorneys' Fees in National Football League Concussion Suit

Co-Lead Counsels in the historic class-action concussion lawsuit against the National Football League (NFL) filed a memorandum of law in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to support their petition for $112.5 million for costs and attorneys fees. The class-action settlement, negotiated by the attorneys, will provide benefits to 20,000 retired players of the NFL. The case was taken on a contingency basis, and the parties have represented that they will not object to or oppose a petition seeking cost and fees up to $112.5 million. Of that total, attorneys fees sought amount to $106.8 million.


Under Armour Accused of Fraud in Federal Class Action Lawsuit

A federal class action lawsuit was filed against Under Armour, and its CEO and CFO, on behalf of all purchasers of Under Armour Common Stock between April 21, 2016 and January 30, 2017. The lawsuit alleges that the company made false misleading statements regarding its revenue, growth, and vitality, and failed to disclose that the company's revenue and profit margins were not sustainable in the face of various market and retail fluctuations. The lawsuit also alleged that the CEO, Kevin Plank, was aware of the challenges in the market and in response sold portions of his stake in the company to prevent individual losses.


Major League Baseball Commissioner Frustrated With Union's Resistance to Rule Changes

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred would like to institute rule changes in upcoming years, but has been met with resistance from the MLB Players Association. Mr. Manfred believes that the game rules need to evolve in response to changes in the game. He cites a large increase in home runs and strikeouts and record low numbers of balls in play as reasons for the changes. He would like to institute a pitch clock, limits on visits to the mound, automatic intentional walks, and raising the strike zone. The Players Association argues that the better approach is to increase focus on educating fans about the game's nuances, rather than change rules of play.


Congressional Hearing Over Russian Olympic Doping Scandal Scheduled for February 28th

On February 28th, members of a House subcommittee will conduct a hearing to address anti-doping controls in anticipation of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Congress has already responded to the Russian doping scandal from the 2016 Winter Olympics by expressing its concerns directly to Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, and to the World Anti-Doping Agency. Reforms of the global anti-doping system are currently underway, and have become a top priority after revelations were made regarding systematic doping cover-ups in Russia and its impact on the 2016 Winter Olympics.


U.S.A. Gymnastics Volunteer Team Doctor Accused of Sexual Abuse

Dr. Larry Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by three former elite American gymnasts, including 2000 Olympian Jamie Dantzscher. Until the end of his tenure in 2015, Nassar was a volunteer team doctor for nearly 30 years. He has been accused of inappropriately touching the young women under the guise of "treatment." Dantzcher filed a civil lawsuit against Nassar in California, which also names U.S.A. Gymnastics President Steve Penny and others as co-defendants. The suit claims that USA Gymnastics "negligently suppressed, concealed or failed to disclose knowledge" of Nassar's conduct. He was fired by the organization in 2015 after investigations of possible abuse. The F.B.I. subsequently conducted its own investigation into the doctor's conduct. Nassar is the subject of two other lawsuits, not related to his work with athletes.


Senator Diane Feinstein to Introduce Legislation to Amend Federal Olympic Sports Law to Greater Protect Children From Abuse

Senator Feinstein's proposed bill comes in the wake of the abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics. She proposes that the current Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act be amended to require that anyone associated with an Olympic governing body to immediately report allegations of sexual abuse to appropriate authorities, and to make it more difficult for coaches to leave posts and acquire new positions amid suspicion of sexual abuse.


Yankees Flaunt Arbitration Win

After winning a rare arbitration case last week, Yankees President Randy Levine flaunted the win to reporters during a conference call with press. The Yankees and relief pitcher Dellin Betances went to arbitration over his fee for the year. Betances asked for $5 million, but was awarded $3 million in arbitration. While unsatisfied with the outcome, Betances was prepared to move on until Levine belittled both Betances and his agent, Jim Murry. Obviously hurt by the comments, Betances maintains that he is a dedicated player and has stepped into the game in widely varying circumstances, including sometimes in the middle of an inning, without complaint. Attention on this case highlights many teams' shift in thinking regarding the use of relief pitchers.


Knicks Could Face Fallout Over Oakley Controversy

The National Basketball Players Association warned last week that conflict between Madison Square Garden chairman James L. Dolan and Charles Oakley may affect free agents' decision about whether to play for the Knicks in the future. Mr. Oakley had been removed from Madison Square Garden by security guards last week.


Workers Compensation Debate Between Chicago Bears and the NFL Players Association

Currently being debated in Illinois is whether athletes, whose careers often end when they age out of a sport at a young age, should be able to claim workers compensation benefits until the age of 67 like non-athlete employees. The Chicago Bears, along with other Chicago sports franchises, are backing a bill in the Illinois legislature that would impose an age cap on athletes with career-ending injuries receiving workers compensation benefits. Alternately, benefits would be paid out for up to five years after a career-ending injury. The Players Association argues that the benefits significantly help athletes whose careers end suddenly, especially lower-paid athletes in the minor leagues or on practice teams.


Serbian Football Association Banned A Stadium In Wake of Racial Taunts

Rad's stadium in Belgrade has been suspended indefinitely by the Serbian Football Association due to racist behavior from fans in a Serbian league game against Partizan Belgrade.


Three Russians Cleared to Compete in European Indoor Track & Field Championship

While the Russian Track Federation is suspended from competition, Russian athletes may be cleared for competition if they can show that they were subject to compliant anti-doping regimens. Two Russian athletes had previously been cleared for competition, and the International Association of Athletics Federations last week cleared three additional Russian athletes to compete in the European indoor track championships.


Magic Johnson Takes over Los Angeles Lakers Basketball Operations

Magic Johnson was named president for basketball operations at the Los Angeles Lakers, replacing ousted General Manager Mitch Kupchak. Team president and co-owner Jeanie Buss cleaned house at the organization, additionally removing her brother Jim from the position of executive vice president for basketball operations and longtime communications director John Black. The search for a new general manager is already underway. Mr. Johnson has a decades long relationship with the team, from being a three-time MVP during his playing career with the Lakers to being a partial owner of the team from 1994-2010.


Jets Player Turns Himself In on Fight Charges

Darrelle Revis, cornerback for the Jets, turned himself in to authorities on charges stemming from a confrontation with two or more people last weekend. Charges include aggravated assault, robbery, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, and terroristic threats.



Verizon Receives $350 Million Discount on Purchase of Yahoo's Internet Businesses

Verizon and Yahoo announced an agreed-upon $350 million reduction in the purchase price of Yahoo's core Internet businesses, in response to two large data breaches Yahoo suffered in 2013 and 2014. Additionally, the companies agreed to jointly shoulder the liabilities associated with the breaches. The deal, which has been ongoing for three years, is now valued at $4.48 billion. The companies anticipate a shareholder vote as early as April 2017. Yahoo remains subject to investigation and dozens of lawsuits over the breaches, which were the largest known hacks of a private corporation.


Milo Yiannopoulos Resignation Following Pedophilia Comments

Conservative commentator Milo Yiannopoulos resigned from Breitbart News on Tuesday in the wake of backlash over his comments downplaying pedophilia by Roman Catholic priests and condoning sexual relationships between men and underage boys. Additionally, an invitation to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference was revoked and Simon & Schuster cancelled a book deal with Mr. Yiannopoulos. While the news organization harshly criticized Mr. Yiannopoulos's comments, the editor-in-chief of Breitbart, Alex Marlow, characterized Mr. Yiannopoulous as a "victim of a 'coordinated hit' by liberal groups intent on hurting his ascent."


Less Vetting of Social Media Stars Leads to Advertising Woes for Companies

Last week YouTube, Disney's Maker Studios, and Nissan parted ways with social media star Felix Kjellberg, a/k/a PewDiePie, after the star included references to Hitler and anti-Semitic jokes into his comedy videos. Social media stars, known as "influencers," often receive less vetting by companies and advertisers than traditional celebrity spokespersons. Influencers come at a lower price tag, but often do not show the same brand allegiance or sensitivity to how a brand may react to their behavior. It is challenging to do a complete "audit" of an influencer, because each produces thousands of hours of content every year, much of which is fluid, since it can be taken down from the Internet.


EU Assembles Team to Combat Fake News

The EU created a Brussels-based team called East Stratcom to combat the proliferation of "fake" news. Since its formation 16 months ago, the team has combed through news sources to filter out articles it deems fake. So far it has "debunked" over 2,500 articles. East Stratcom was formed to counter ongoing Russian "disinformation campaigns," which often promotes anti-EU propaganda. The team attempts to debunk fake news in real time, but concedes that it is nearly impossible to catch every fake news story across social media. Similar teams have been created in other European countries, but many say a lack of technical expertise is hindering their efforts. Countries are wary that fake news essentially can be "weaponized," meaning that its spread if aggressive enough could undermine the governments and democratic institutions.


Russia Wades Into War Against Fake News

The Russian government has also waded in to the war combating "fake news," an effort that wages on two fronts: through the Foreign Ministry, which has dedicated part of its website to highlight articles considered to be fake news, and through the creation of a special military task force aimed at tackling fake news. Some people are not taking the Russian Ministry's efforts seriously, however, and see the Foreign Ministry as more of an office of propaganda than one that establishes foreign policy. The first articles to be labeled as fake included pieces from the New York Times, Bloomberg, The Daily Telegraph, and NBC News.


About February 2017

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in February 2017. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2017 is the previous archive.

March 2017 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.