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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, L├ęger, 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.


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