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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.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 4, 2017 1:22 PM.

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