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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, L├ęger, 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.


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