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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

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


Cosby's Jury Will Come from Another County

Earlier this week, the judge presiding over the sexual assault case against Bill Cosby ruled that jurors would be brought in from another county. Cosby's lawyers had made an application to have the trial moved because of intense press coverage of the case.


Nintendo Goes After Real-Life Mario Kart Company

Japanese company MariCar rents go-karts made up to look like the vehicles in Nintendo's popular "Mario Kart" franchise, along with costumes that customers can wear to look like the video game characters. On Friday, Nintendo filed a lawsuit in Tokyo, alleging that MariCar was using Nintendo's intellectual property without permission.



Fearing Cuts, Arts Groups Lobby Congresspersons

Members of the Trump Administration, along with some Republicans in Congress, are sending strong signals that indicate funding cuts to or elimination of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. Other Republicans, however, are ready to defend the endowments. The ultimate decision may rest in the hands of a few Republican members of the House Appropriations Committee.


New Nazi Art Law Opens Latest Chapter in Fight over Schiele Drawings

Fritz Grunbaum's art collection has been the subject of much debate and litigation. Grunbaum's heirs assert that the collection (including two drawings by Egon Schiele) was seized by the Nazis and should be returned to the family. Several courts have rejected those claims, but the heirs contend that none of those rulings were on the merits, and therefore they should not be barred from pursuing their claim to the two Schiele drawings under the new Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act, which was meant to prevent claims to Nazi-confiscated art from being barred by nonmerits defenses.


Penguin Random House to Publish Obama Memoirs

Former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama have signed a deal granting Penguin Random House worldwide publication rights for their respective autobiographies. Penguin Random House reportedly paid over $60 million for those rights.


San Fransisco Symphony Holds LGBT Fundraiser for North Carolina Concerts

In protest over North Carolina's law limiting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, the San Francisco Symphony canceled two concerts it had scheduled in that state. Instead, the symphony is holding a gala concert called "Symphony Pride," which will highlight works by lesbian and gay composers. The proceeds will go to nonprofit organizations that serve the LGBT community.


New York Artists Save Nina Simone's North Carolina Home

When the childhood home of legendary singer and activist Nina Simone went on sale late last year, four New York artists concerned that the historical building would be destroyed, pooled their money to buy the house for $95,000. The group described the rescue as a political act taken, in part, in response to the increasing racial tensions in the United States.


For Thomas Campbell, MOMA no More

Thomas P. Campbell, former director and chief executive of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, resigned Tuesday amid concerns about his ability to manage the museum, which faces significant financial challenge


Melee in Minneapolis Museum

A kerfuffle broke out in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, after a group of protesters followed members of an alt-right group inside. The hubbub apparently began outside the museum, where the Industrial Workers of the World were holding a rally. Not surprisingly, the two groups have differing accounts of the ruckus. One man was hit during the donnybrook before a security guard ended the rumpus, but declined to press charges.



U.S. Congress Chews Out Olympic Officials

On Tuesday, the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations heard testimony from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), and two American Olympians (Michael Phelps and Adam Nelson). However, most of the hearing consisted of Representatives from both sides of the aisle taking shots at the officials for the latters' mishandling of the Russian doping scandal and doping in general.


U.S. Sports Executives Biting the Hand that Could Feed Them

Even as the United States Olympic Committee lobbies for the 2024 Games to be held in Los Angeles, the United States Anti-Doping Agency is criticizing the way the Olympics has handled recent doping scandals.


Putin Challenges Doping Evidence

Referring to the investigation by the World Anti-Doping Agency into the Russian state-sponsored doping operation said to have involved more than 1,000 Russian athletes, Russian President Vladimir Putin called into question the chain of custody for urine test sample vials that WADA says show evidence of tampering. Putin said the vials were fine when they were handed over to Olympic officials and may have gotten scratched while in storage.


UEFA President Says That Immigration Policy Could Hurt U.S. Chances of Hosting World Cup

Aleksander Ceferin, president of UEFA (Europe's governing body for "soccer") and a vice president of FIFA (the world governing body and organizer of the World Cup) said that President Trump's immigration policy would be taken into account in considering the United States' bid to host the 2026 World Cup. "If players cannot come...then the World Cup cannot be played there." Ceferin also noted that Brexit could impact Britain's chances of hosting finals.


Baylor Ex-Coach Denies Cover-Up

A day after Texas opened a criminal investigation into Baylor University's handling of assault reports, former football coach Art Briles released a statement saying he had not covered for his players or tried to obstruct any investigations. Baylor fired Briles in May 2016 after an investigation by Pepper Hamilton found that at least 19 football players had been accused of sexual assault. In recent months, evidence has surfaced that suggest Briles may have tried to shield players from accusations.


British Cycling Admits Failures, Promises "Better Behavior"

Representatives of British Cycling have apologized for failures in the face of accusations of bullying and sexism, and say they will change their approach.


Women Athletes Probably Better Prepared for Post-Pro Life

The New York Times reports that WNBA players are, on average, better at preparing for the transition between sports and whatever comes next. Among the factors that may account for this include: WNBA players make less (sometimes far, far less) than 14% of their male counterparts' salaries. The WNBA is smaller, so there are fewer opportunities within the world of professional basketball, and WNBA players typically have had more life experience before they start playing pro ball. Some research suggests that women in general are less likely to take risks and more likely to stick to a plan, while men tend to be overly confident.



Federal Communications Commission Blocks Data Security Regulations

On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) blocked the implementation of regulations that would have subjected broadband Internet providers to stricter scrutiny of their efforts to protect customers' personal data. The FCC said that it and the Federal Trade Commission needed more time to come up with "a comprehensive and consistent framework."


...From My Cold, Dead Thumbs

The United States Supreme Court heard argument on Monday about whether or not North Carolina can bar registered sex offenders from accessing social media. Its decision in the case (Packingham v. North Carolina) could have far-reaching effects to the extent that it finds that unrestricted access to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is protected by the First Amendment.


Parties Compete in Bid for Time

Time Inc. has requested formal bids from potential acquirers, who may include Meredith Corporation and a group led by Edgar Bronfman Jr. The company's board says that it has not yet decided whether to sell the company.


Turkish Tycoon Told to Testify

Aydin Dogan, whose corporate empire owns several Turkish newspapers, was ordered to appear in court on Wednesday in connection with accusations that he ran a fuel-smuggling ring. Mr. Dogan, whose newspapers historically have taken editorial positions critical of president Recep Erdogan's government, has long been at odds with Erdogan, and some believe the government has taken steps against Mr. Dogan and his newspapers as retribution for those positions.


Security Firm Finds Vulnerabilities in Future Robot Overlords

IOActive, a Seattle computer security consulting firm, announced on Wednesday that it had found significant security flaws in six different home and industrial robots. The firm warned that these vulnerabilities were found as part of a high-level sweep, not an extensive security audit. It expressed concerns that robot manufacturers were rushing their products to market without adequate security, but failed to consider that the flaws were placed there intentionally, as a safety mechanism for when SkyNet becomes self-aware.


Snap Shares Up After IPO

The price of Snap Inc. shares skyrocketed after Snap's IPO on Thursday, giving the business a paper value of over $30 billion. Snap is operating at a substantial deficit, but its 20-something founders say they will spend the next five years trying to explain why their company has value.



Tech Companies Join Amicus Brief in Transgender Rights Case

53 companies, including Amazon, Apple, eBay, Intel, Twitter, and Microsoft, signed the amicus brief filed by the Human Rights Campaign in support of Gavin Grimm, a transgender student who sued a Virginia county school board over his right to use the school bathroom. The Supreme Court will decide whether Title IX's protections against discrimination on the basis of sex extend to gender identity.


French Presidential Candidate Loses Immunity for Graphic Tweets

Marine Le Pen, a deputy in the European Parliament and candidate for president of France, has been charged with the crime of "dissemination of violent images" for a series of tweets she made in December 2015. Those tweets included graphic images of violence perpetrated by the Islamic State. On Thursday, the European Parliament voted to lift the parliamentary immunity that would have protected Le Pen from prosecution. Le Pen is the leader of France's far-right National Front, and an outspoken critic of the European Parliament. Le Pen also is being investigated for allegedly misusing funds provided by the European Union.


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