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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

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


Evidence That Cosby Used Quaaludes to Pursue Women Can Come in at Trial

On Friday, the Pennsylvania judge presiding over Bill Cosby's criminal sexual assault trial ruled that evidence showing that Cosby obtained Quaaludes to help him pursue women is admissible. The judge denied the prosecution's request to admit Mr. Cosby's statements about using "Spanish fly," which defense attorneys argued were part of a comedy routine.


Cosby's Lawyers Look to Change 'Optics' Ahead of Trial

In an interview released on Wednesday, one of Bill Cosby's defense lawyers said, "[t]he challenge for us is to change the optics" surrounding Cosby, who she said has been found guilty by the court of public opinion. Other representatives of Cosby deny that his daughter's public statement defending him, his decision to grant an interview after months of silence, and the acknowledged plan of Cosby and his family members to make further public statements and interviews in the lead-up to the trial is a coordinated public relations strategy.


"The Bachelor" Star Arrested

Reality TV star Chris Soules, famous for his turn on "The Bachelor", was arrested at his home on Monday after he reportedly fled the scene of a fatal car accident. Soules called 911 after rear-ending a man on a tractor, but then ended the call before authorities arrived.


Fyre Festival Fails

Fyre Festival, promoted as a luxury music festival in the Bahamas, with weekend packages ranging from $1,200 to six-figures, was canceled on Thursday after guests desperately tried to flee the island. Guests expecting luxury accommodations were told to "grab a tent"; meals that were supposed to have been catered by celebrity chef Stephen Starr turned out to be slices of bread and cheese in Styrofoam; and essentials like beds and blankets were in short supply. Festival organizers -- rapper Ja Rule and 25-year-old tech entrepreneur Billy McFarland --- took responsibility for "underestimating" the challenges involved.



"Rebecca"' Trial Begins

On Monday, counsel delivered opening statements in a trial arising out of the failed would-be Broadway musical adaptation of the 1938 novel Rebecca. The producers of the show contended that the show's former publicist, Marc Thibodeau, sabotaged the troubled production by persuading a last-minute investor not to give the producers his money. Thibodeau said that he was just trying to save the investor from losing his money to dishonest and incompetent producers. The trial will determine Thibodeau's liability for defamation and tortious interference, as well as damages for breach of contract (for which Thibodeau already has been found liable).


Fake-Play Scammer Pleads Guilty

Roland Scahill, a former theater agent who stole $189,000 from investors in a nonexistent Broadway play, pleaded guilty to grand larceny and fraud. Scahill was sentenced to six months in jail and five years' probation, and ordered to make restitution and receive psychiatric treatment.


Nazi-Looted Portrait Pulled from Austrian Auction

The current possessor of a van der Helst painting seized by Nazis in 1943 from the collection of Adolphe Schloss put the painting up for auction after an Austrian proceeding determined that he was the "fair and legal owner." However, he withdrew the work just hours before the auction, after receiving threats. The Austrian system, which prevents the heirs from legally intervening to block the sale at auction of looted works, has come under international criticism.


U.S. Tax Court Finds That Sotheby's Lowball Estimates Were a Conflict of Interest

A judge on the U.S. Tax Court has upheld the IRS's challenge to a Sotheby's appraisal of a painting by Bruegel the Younger. That estimate, $500,000, was less than a quarter of what Sotheby's later sold the painting for at auction. The judge found that the Sotheby's official who gave the appraisal was simultaneously soliciting the owner (an heir) for the right to auction the paintings, and provided "lowball" estimates that would lessen the estate tax burden in an attempt to curry favor.



Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football Sues Former FIFA Officials

The Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) sued former FIFA officials Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer in Brooklyn federal court for $20 million, accusing them of negotiating bribes and kickbacks in connection with tournament broadcasting rights.


Cities, Stadiums Cracking Down on Big League Chew

New YOrk City ordinances ban the use of smokeless tobacco at Citi Field and Yankee Stadium, as well as at a dozen Major League stadiums outside New York. Major League Baseball says that it supports these bans and has a policy to enforce them. A first violation incurs a written warning and a referral to a doctor who helps players stop using smokeless tobacco. Recidivists must pay the fine prescribed in the local ordinance.


Judge Orders Hernandez Suicide Notes Released to Family

On Monday, a Massachusetts judge ordered that the three notes found in the cell of former National Football League player and convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez after he hanged himself last week be released to his family.


Golf Won't Go to the Videotape

The United States Golf Association and the R&A, the two bodies in charge of golf's rules, issued a decision on Tuesday limiting the use of video technology to influence rulings in televised matches. The rule favors players' "reasonable judgment" and evidence seen by the "naked eye" over evidence revealed by high-definition or super-slow-motion cameras. The rule is intended to prevent players in televised competition from being held to a higher standard.


Surfer's Death Renews Australian Shark Debate

The death of a 17-year-old surfer in a shark attack has renewed debate in Australia over whether more should be done to protect people against sharks, which kill two to three people per year in that country. There is little evidence that culling sharks works, but many Australian states use hooks or nets to trap and kill sharks who come close to shore. A spokesperson for Western Australia announced that it will subsidize electromagnetic shark repellents, which have been shown to prevent "investigative" attacks but not deter sharks in "hunting mode."



Facebook Temporarily Suspends Account Critical of Chinese Government

Last week, Facebook temporarily suspended the account of Guo Wengui, an outspoken critic of the Chinese Communist Party, after the Chinese government asked Interpol to issue a request for his arrest. Wengui, a Chinese-born billionaire who lives in the U.S., has been posting accusations of corruption against family members of party officials. He also has been accused of giving millions of dollars in bribes to a former top intelligence official. A spokesperson for Facebook said that the suspension was erroneously triggered by the company's automated systems.


Groups Sue Berkeley Over Canceled Coulter Appearance

Two conservative organizations --- the Berkeley College Republicans and the Young America's Foundation --- filed a federal lawsuit in San Francisco against the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley), after UC Berkeley canceled an appearance by author Ann Coulter, citing specific security threats. Earlier this month, the College Republicans had canceled an appearance by another conservative writer, David Horowitz, after UC Berkeley required that the speech take place in the afternoon and far from the center of campus. The suit accuses UC Berkeley of unreasonably restricting the time and place of events featuring conservative viewpoints.


AT&T's Actions Invite Antitrust Scrutiny of Time Warner Merger

Even as AT&T works to convince the Justice Department that it needs to merge with Time Warner in order to compete with "big cable", it has been taking actions to prevent competitors, including Google Fiber, from expanding into markets it already dominates, by suing to prevent or delay use of its utility poles. AT&T says that its local efforts are to protect its consumers, but others see hypocrisy. If these actions raise concerns with Justice Department officials, the AT&T-Time Warner merger could still be approved--but with strings attached.


Former Fox News Anchor Says That Ailes Also Harassed Her

Alisyn Camerota, a former Fox News anchor, claimed that Roger Ailes sexually harassed her, including by inviting her to a hotel room when she asked for new opportunities at work. Ailes' lawyer denied Camerota's claims.


Fox News Faces Class Action Alleging Racial Discrimination

On Tuesday, eleven current and former Fox News employees filed a class-action lawsuit in the Bronx accusing the network of "abhorrent, intolerable, unlawful and hostile racial discrimination."


Chobani Sues Alex Jones

Yogurt company Chobani sued radio personality and conspiracy-theorist Alex Jones for publishing false and defamatory reports connecting the company to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases. Chobani and its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, have drawn criticism and threats from right-wing groups for their support of refugees.


Maldivian Blogger Killed

Yameen Rasheed, a 29-year-old blogger and outspoken critic of radical Islam was stabbed to death last Sunday in his home in the Maldives. Rasheed was devoted to a campaign to find his friend Ahmed Abdulla, a journalist abducted in 2014. Rasheed frequently received death threats from extremists, and complained that the police often failed to respond.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 29, 2017 9:49 PM.

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