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Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter

Trump Proposes Eliminating the Arts and Humanities Endowments

National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting -- which includes PBS, National Public Radio, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars -- would all be scrapped if President Trump's federal budget is adopted as proposed. This nationwide elimination of arts, humanities, and culture is a complete abandonment of the ideals of an advanced civilization as declared by President Lyndon B. Johnson, when he created the national endowments in 1965. Although the endowment budget is a tiny fraction of total discretionary spending, $300 million of the $1.1 trillion, Conservatives have been trying to dismantle the endowments for years. With Republicans controlling Congress and the White House, it will take a different type of battle to preserve the endowments without the Democratic majority shield used in the past. Ironically, Ivanka Trump supports the arts, as well as Vice President Pence's wife, Karen, the latter of whom is a visual artist who also supports art therapy. It will be interesting to see if Republican arts supporters will cross their own party's president. William D. Adams, chair of the NEH, noted major contributions that the endowment has made to the humanities, including theater work by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Chair of the NEA, Jane Chu, called her staff together to brief them on the proposed budget so that they would not be surprised. It has been reported that Mary Anne Carter, a Trump administration's arts endowment liaison, would not have taken the position if she had known that the endowment would be eliminated. According to Teresa Eyring, executive director of Theater Communications Group, arts groups and supporters have begun a nationwide lobbying campaign to "communicate with their legislators and really try to make clear the value of this relatively modest but very important investment in our country through the arts."

EASL is included in this effort, as mentioned in this recent blog post: http://nysbar.com/blogs/EASL/2017/03/presidents_proposed_budget_eli.html



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


Members of the Italian Band Soviet Soviet Are Deported

Soviet Soviet, a three-member postpunk band, was deported before getting to perform in the United States. The trio was scheduled to play at South by Southwest (SXSW), as well as in Seattle and Southern California, via travel authorizations through the Department of Homeland Security's Visa Waiver Program (also known as ESTA). According to its Facebook statement, it was the band's understanding that because it was performing for free, the performances were promotional, and the ESTAs were sufficient for short-term travel within the U.S. Although equipped with the ESTAs, an invitation from SXSW, and a letter from their U.S. label, Felte Records, the band members were individually interrogated for 4 hours, handcuffed, and taken to jail without a chance to make any phone calls. According to a Department of Homeland Security statement to the Seattle radio station where Soviet Soviet was to perform, "it was standard procedure."


Disney Says That It Will Not Edit Beauty and the Beast for Malaysian Censors

Disney's $300 million live-action remake of its 1991 animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, has a three-second scene where two male characters dance in a ballroom. These three seconds caused the Malaysian Film Censorship Board to deem it promotes homosexuality and calls for its elimination from the film. Notwithstanding the director's admission that the scene is an "exclusively gay moment," Disney has refused to make the edits. Unlike Russia who will allow the film to be shown with the restriction that youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by someone over 16, Malaysia will not allow the film to be shown without the edit. Disney may appeal to the Malaysian Film Appeal Committee, but to date no application has been submitted. Malaysia, with a population of 30 million, represents less than 1% of Disney's overall audience. Last year, Malaysia brought in $5.7 million of the $967 million global ticket sales for The Jungle Book.



Stolen Etruscan Vessel to Be Returned to Italy

A vase dating back to 470 B.C. and valued at $250,000 was spotted in a Midtown Manhattan gallery. The Etruscan vessel titled "Attic Red-Figure Nolan Amphora" is a "dual-handled vessel featuring a nude satyr and draped youth from the Royal-Athena Galleries." It was discovered by Christos Tsirogiannis, a researcher with the Scottish Center for Crime and Justice Research Center in Glasgow. The vase was looted and then trafficked by Gianfranco Becchina, an Italian antiques dealer who was convicted in 2011. The Manhattan District Attorney's office seized the vessel when Mr. Tsirogiannis informed it of the vase's location. The vase was returned to the Italian consul general in New York, where it will be on display before being sent to the Polo Museale del Lazio in Italy.


A New York Philharmonic Coup: Deborah Borda Is Named the New Leader

Debora Borda is the next president and CEO of the New York Philharmonic. Borda, who ran the orchestra in the 1990s, has been poached from the Los Angeles Philharmonic, where she was at the helm for the last 17 years and made significant achievements during her tenure there. She has moved the orchestra into the Walt Disney Concert Hall, which was designed by Frank Gehry, and signed Gustavo Dudamel as its music director. She also quadrupled its endowment, a skill she will need to immediately put to use in New York, since the New York Philharmonic has substantial financial challenges. When Borda ran the orchestra in the 1990s, its endowment was valued at $210 million. It decreased to $183 million during its 2015-16 season. Ms. Borda may have her work cut out for her, but the sentiment is that she's up for the challenge.



U.S. Women's Hockey Team Plans to Boycott World Championship Over Pay Dispute

The International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship to be held this month may be boycotted by members of the U.S. women's national team, due to stalled compensation negotiations. The players are seeking living wages and full support of the women's program. Law firm Ballard Spahr has taken the case pro bono. Although participation in the sport has grown considerably, with more than 75,000 athletes (compared to 23,000 in 1998), women players often have to work two or more extra jobs to make ends meet. According to a statement from U.S. Hockey executive director, David Ogrean, each player would receive $85,000 annually. However, according to Jocelyn Lamoureux-Davidson, a national team veteran, $37,500 is earned only if the team wins an Olympic gold medal, with $24,000 of that amount paid by the Olympic Committee. The women players' attorney stated that during the six-month Olympic period, the players received $1,000 per month and "virtually nothing" afterwards between Olympics. In addition to living wages, the women players are seeking support comparable to what the men's team receives: a training facility, development programs for teen girls, and international competitions between Olympics. The U.S. Hockey Federation threatened to use other players at the World Championship, should the team boycott. According to attorney John Langal of Ballard Spahr, the meeting with the federation has not "advanced the ball."

According to Meghan Duggan, the U.S. women's hockey team captain, the team decided to boycott the upcoming World Championship "because we feel like we've been ignored and this shows how serious we are about this issue." This women's hockey team fight is not dissimilar to the U.S. women's soccer fight of 20 years ago. Then, the women's soccer team boycotted a scheduled tournament game in response to a denial from the U.S. Soccer Federation for pay equality, more marketing of the sports, and financing to develop younger players. That boycott was the pivotal moment in the women's soccer team's journey for equitable treatment. The women's hockey team is represented by the same attorney, Langel, who represented the women's soccer team. He sees similarities in each federation's position: "Like U.S. Soccer back in 1998, U.S.A. Hockey is saying, 'We are not going to support the women more than we have in the past, in any significant way.'" Attorney Jeffrey L. Kessler of Winston & Strawn, experienced in professional sports leagues and who represented the U.S. women's soccer team, warned that "strikes and boycotts might not be for everyone."

The team was given a 5:00 on Thursday ultimatum by the hockey federation. The team held its ground, leaving the federation with few options. It could try to field a new team with younger, less experienced players, host the World Championship without a U.S. team, or come back to the table and work with the current team. Not long after its self-imposed deadline, the federation stated that its objective was to "continue to work toward ensuring the players that have been selected for the team are those that represent the United States in the world championship."





South Carolina Ends One Controversy and Exploits Its Neighbor's

Oh, how times have changed, or have they? The NCAA has not held a basketball championship tournament in states displaying the Confederate flag since 2002. This year, Greenville, South Carolina is hosting the NCAA's men's basketball tournament, because its state legislature ended the tradition of displaying the Confederate flag on statehouse grounds in 2015. Furthermore, now that the NCAA imposed its ban on states with anti-gay restrictions, Greenville will get to host another tournament, due to Greensboro, North Carolina's HB1 law, which "curbs anti-discriminatory protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people" and was found discriminatory by the NCAA. This is a declaration sure to have serious effects on Greensboro, who has held so many back-to-back men's and women's tournaments that, according to Kim Strable, president of the Greensboro Sports Commission, its logo is "Tournament Town." The NCAA ban will affect Greensboro, Raleigh, and Charlotte, which submitted bids for the 2019-2022 cycle of tournaments. The ban is not limited to North Carolina, but to any state with discriminatory practices. Earlier this month, Texas tentatively approved Senate Bill 6, also known as the "Bathroom Bill," which will require transgender people to use bathrooms based on their biological sex rather than their gender identities. States with discriminatory practices will be ineligible to hold NCAA tournaments while the NCAA sticks to its mandate. "The NCAA remains committed to maintaining a college sports experience that is inclusive and fair for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity," according to a written statement from Mark Emmert, NCAA president.


July Sentencing Set in Cuban Smuggling Case

Bartolo Hernandez, a sports agent, and Julio Estrada, a trainer, were convicted with conspiracy and alien smuggling. A federal jury decided the two men managed an operation to get players from Cuba into the United States to be signed by Major League Baseball teams. Chicago White Sox player Jose Abreu and Seattle Mariner Leonys Martin both testified. The evidence detailed how Hernandez and Estrada used a network of "boat captains, handlers, document forgers, and phony paperwork to obtain player[s'] residenc[ies] in Mexico and Haiti before coming to the U.S.". Agent Hernandez and trainer Estrada face prison sentences of 15 years and five to 35 years, respectively. Sentencing is set for July 11th.


Penn State Ex-Officials Plead Guilty in Sandusky Case

The Sandusky scandal continues to reverberate. Ex-athletic director Tim Curley and former university vice president Gary Schultz pleaded guilty to misdemeanor child endangerment. Their original indictment in their roles in the Sandusky child molestation were with felonies punishable by over 15 years in prison. This week's plea deal reduced the charges down to five years in prison. The Sandusky case stems from a 2001 complaint of Sandusky sexually assaulting a boy in the Penn State team shower. Curley, Schultz, and ex-president Graham Spanier handled the complaint by telling ex-coach Sandusky that he could no longer bring kids on campus. This was 10 years before Sandusky was arrested. He is now serving a 30 to 60 year prison sentence for 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys. In the aftermath, coach Joe Paterno was fired. He died shortly thereafter and was never charged with a crime. The costs due to the scandal are mounting: $93 million paid to 33 people who made sexual abuse allegations, $48 million in NCAA penalties, plus a $12 million verdict in favor of former assistant coach Mike McQueary's (the ex-graduate assistant who saw the team shower incident) whistle-blower and defamation case. Graham Spanier's prosecution is moving forward to trial.


Leader of U.S. Governing Body Resigns as Scandal Spreads

Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics, resigned on Thursday. He was CEO of the national governing body of gymnastics, reporting more than 174,000 members. Penny's departure comes in response to calls for his resignation due to accusations of negligence pertaining to the indictment of Dr. Larry Nassar. Nassar was the national team doctor from 1996-2015, who is currently in prison facing several state child sexual abuse charges and federal child pornography charges. Although Penny has received support from several prominent executives and athletes, including Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton, other prominent athletes, such as Olympian Dominique Moceanu, have called for his resignation.


After 29 Years, Kingpin of African Soccer Is Abruptly Shown the Door

Issa Hayatou, 70, president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the last 29 years, lost his presidency to Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar. Hayatou, the son of a sultan in northern Cameroon and the brother to a former prime minister, became president of CAF in 1988. His presidency is complex as much as it is lengthy. He changed rules that allowed him to run for eight terms and made sure to limit the pool of presidential candidates. He decided where the Cup of Nations tournament would be held and executed large sponsorship deals in dictatorial fashion. Although his presidency was mired in controversy, no one disputes his impact on the sport; at least 10 teams will qualify for the world cup, FIFA was held in Africa for the first time, the Cup of Nations has grown from eight sides to 16, and the African Champions League has increased its value tremendously. Hayatou's dethronement by Ahmad is the result of a changing mood calling for more transparency and reformation.


With Phil Mickelson on Witness List, Gambler's Insider Trading Trial Begins

Phil Mickelson, pro golfer, was named on the witness list of the William T. Walters insider trading trial in the Federal District Court in Manhattan. The case involves Walters, a high stakes sports gambler, and Thomas C. Davis, chairman of Dean Foods. Walters is accused of profiting from insider information from Davis between 2008 and 2014 to the tune of $40 million. Federal authorities allege that "Lefty" Mickelson also profited from receiving stock tips. He agreed to pay $1 million in profits; however, he has not been charged. It is not yet confirmed whether he will actually testify.


Affidavit Cites a Jayhawk's Threat

Douglas County District Court officials released an affidavit stating that Josh Jackson, a freshman star of top seeded Kansas, threatened to beat McKenzie Calvert, a female basketball player. The affidavit, sent to the Lawrence Journal-World, includes statements from Kansas basketball players, Ms. Calvert, and two witnesses of the alleged December 9, 2016 incident outside a Lawrence venue called the Yacht Club. According to the sworn statement, Jackson followed Calvert to her car, "yelling for her to get out of the car and that he would beat her." Jackson is due to respond to the allegation in court on April 12th.


Charges Against Darrelle Revis Are Dismissed

All charges against Darrelle Revis, 31, an National Football League (NFL) cornerback, were dismissed by a municipal court judge. Revis was charged with two counts of aggravated assault, one count of robbery, one count of conspiracy, and one misdemeanor count of making terroristic threats. These charges stemmed from a February 12, 2017 fight on Pittsburgh's South Side. According to testimony from Revis' childhood friend, Rashawn Bolton, Revis was not the one to knock out two men, it was Bolton who landed the punches. Bolton stated that two men (ages 21 and 22) attempted to jump Revis when he stepped in to help and subsequently knocked out each of them. Bolton was not charged with any crime. Revis, who was recently released from the Jets, is now a free agent interested in joining the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, the criminal charges could affect his standing in light of the NFL's personal conduct policy.



Us Weekly Is Sold to National Enquirer Publisher

American Media Inc expands its celebrity gossip holdings by adding Us Weekly to its stable, which includes The National Enquirer, Radar Online, Star, and OK! Wenner Media, publisher of Rolling Stone, Men's Journal, and Glixel, a website devoted to games, agreed to sell Us Weekly for $100 million. Us Magazine became Us Weekly when purchased by Wenner Media. The weekly was saddled with debt since Wenner bought back its 50% stake from The Walt Disney Company at a cost of $300 million. It originally sold the 50% stake for $40 million. The Us Weekly sale will help to pay down Wenner's debt.


Donald Trump Condemns Snoop Dogg on Twitter for Satirical Video

What do you get when you put a clown and a rapper in a video? When it occurs in a tweet of umbrage from President Trump. Snoop Dogg, a renowned rapper, was featured in a music video of hip hop jam band's BadBadNotGood's song "Lavender." In the clip, Snoop Dogg pulls the trigger of a toy gun, pointing at a clown named Ronald Klump. After a sign reading "bang" drops from the barrel, clown Klump later appears in handcuffs. The video drew the ire of President Trump whose tweet suggested that a similar video pointing at President Obama would result in "jail time."


Ferguson Documentary Disputed as New Footage Is Released

The documentary "Stranger Fruit", by Jason Pollock about the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black man, by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, was released at SXSW. The film shows additional unreported footage of Michael Brown at the Ferguson Market & Liquor store minutes before he was fatally shot. A grand jury of nine white jurists and three black jurists brought no criminal charges against officer Wilson. The interpretation of the included surveillance video is controversial. Mr. Pollock claims that Michael Brown was trading marijuana for cigarillos and returned to the store to pick up his merchandise. This claim is disputed by Jay Kanzler, attorney for the store and its employees, who says that no trade was made by his clients. The additional footage supports the community's protest of a police cover-up. The store's attorney said that the documentary had "reopened old wounds," while the documentarian has called for a new criminal investigation of officer Wilson.


Twitter Accounts Hacked With Pro-Erdogan Messages

On Wednesday, several Twitter accounts were hacked, affecting prominent politicians, large brands, and the BBC. Several of the exposed posts showed support of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, notable of late for his dispute with the Netherlands and Germany. He accused the two countries of Nazi practices because Turkish politicians were prevented from entering those countries. It was not confirmed who committed the attacks; however, a third party application called Twitter Counter was indicated. Twitter stated that it isolated the hacking. Separate attacks also occurred on Tuesday, when a distributed denial of services, or DDoS, was sent to two websites established to help Dutch voters. The websites were overwhelmed with messages until their servers shut down. Anita de Jong of ProDemos, an organization that runs one of the Dutch voter-aid sites, stated, "We don't know where it is coming from, but it is an organized attack coming from abroad." However, she could not confirm the geographical origin.


British Regulators to Investigate 21st Century Fox's Deal for Sky

Karen Bradley--Britain's minister of culture, media, and sport--has asked regulators to investigate 21st Century Fox's acquisition of Sky, the British satellite television company and 24-hour news channel. Bradley, concerned over the level of influence the $14.3 billion deal will give Rupert Murdoch over British media, requested its broadcast and communications regulator, Ofcom, and the Competition and Markets Authority to investigate. 21st Century Fox opposed Bradley's position. Sky has almost 22 million customers in Austria, Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Italy. Murdoch is the executive chairman of both 21st Century Fox and News Corp, which also owns three dailies: The Sun, The Times of London, and the Wall Street Journal. The deal will additionally face antitrust review by European Union regulators. The British regulators' determination is due in May. 21st Century Fox expects to close the deal by the end of the year.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 20, 2017 10:20 AM.

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