« "Extreme Vetting" or Extremely Unnecessary: Trump Administration Releases New Questionnaire Asking for Visa Applicants' Social Media Handles and Biographical Information | Main | New National Basketball Association Collective Bargaining Agreement in Effect »

Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter

Court Affirms New York Law Requiring That Juries Not Be Given Full Anonymity

In the federal criminal justice system, a judge may decide to keep anonymous the names of the jurors to protect the jury from intimidation or corruption. However, New York State law doesn't go that far. It only "allows the addresses of jurors to be withheld from the public and parties at a trial, but does not allow their names to be withheld." That law was affirmed recently by the appellate court. In an Orange County case, presided by Judge Nicholas DeRosa, the names of four defendants were withheld from the jury. Before jury selection and over objections by the defense lawyers that keeping the juror's names anonymous would be prejudicial against their clients, Judge DeRosa required the jurors to only be identified by number. His reasoning was that in the past, several jurors told him of their discomfort from encountering defendants in the court parking lot. Prior to trial, a female juror was excused, because one defendant who was released on bail, and a group of people, intimidated her in the court parking lot by gathering around her car and staring at her. Judge DeRosa did not instruct the jury that his masking of their identities was not a reflection on the defendants' guilt or innocence. The appeals court ruled that by deciding to withhold the juror's names before jury selection, "the court acted on its own initiative based on concerns expressed by jurors who served in prior trials," thereby violating stated law by empaneling an anonymous jury. The defendants were granted a new trial. Appellate Judge Mark C. Dillon provided a dissenting opinion, taking issue that the 1983 law was obsolete. As the law allows the jurors' addresses, "in today's world of internet technology, it may be reasonably argued that the law affords no real or practical protection whatsoever."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/nyregion/court-affirms-new-york-state-law-governing-anonymous-juries.html?mcubz=0

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

Entertainment

Tolkien Estate Settles Lawsuit Over Licensing

The estate of J.R.R. Tolkien settled its 2012 copyright infringement lawsuit for $80 million against Warner Bros. over "the digital merchandising of products from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit." Warner Bros.' countersuit claimed the loss of millions of dollars due to the lawsuit. At issue was whether a 1969 agreement granting Warner Bros. the right to sell "tangible personal property" also included "electronic or digital rights, rights in media yet to be devised or other intangibles such as rights in services." The settlement terms were undisclosed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/movies/tolkien-estate-and-warner-bros-settle-lawsuit-over-licensing.html

Actress Files Lawsuit Over Feud Portrayal

Actress Olivia de Havilland filed a lawsuit over her portrayal in the "Feud: Bette and Joan" television series aired on FX Networks and produced by Ryan Murphy Productions. De Havilland, a two-time Oscar winner, claimed that the "FX defendants misappropriated her name, likeness and identity without her permission and used them falsely in order to exploit their own commercial interests." De Havilland, now 101, was close friends with Bette Davis. The series depicted de Havilland as an important character in the Davis-Crawford drama. The actress rejected the quotes attributed to her, as well as the overall tone of her portrayal. She sought "damages for emotional harm and harm to her reputation." According to the lawsuit, de Havilland "has made efforts, spent time and money, protecting her well-defined public image." She also requested an injunction against the use of her name and likeness.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/02/arts/olivia-de-havilland-files-lawsuit-over-feud-portrayal.html

Fyre Festival Organizer Charged With Wire Fraud

Billy McFarland of the failed Fyre Festival was arrested and charged with one count of wire fraud. According to the acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon H. Kim, the entrepreneur presented fake documents to induce investors to put more than $1 million into his company Fyre Media and its subsidiary Fyre Festival LLC. McFarland faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. He and his business partner, Jeffrey Atkins (aka Ja Rule), also face several lawsuits as a result of the Fyre Festival debacle. Atkin's attorney, Stacey Richman, stated that he is not "perceived to be a subject of this [McFarland] investigation." The complaint alleged that McFarland repeatedly misrepresented his and his company's financial position, stating that Fyre Media had earned millions of dollars in bookings, when it only earned $57,443. At least two people invested approximately $1.2 million in the two companies. However, it is believed that there are approximately 85 investors. The failure of the Fyre Festival brought on McFarland's arrest. Based in the Bahamas, the festival was marketed as an ultra-exclusive experience. Photos on social media that went viral showed anything but high-end accommodations. The festival was quickly canceled.

McFarland appeared on July 1st before Judge Kevin N. Fox of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Although he lives in a Manhattan penthouse with rents reported at $21,000 per month and drives a Maserati, he was represented by Sabrina P. Shroff, a public defender. His previous lawyers handling his myriad civil lawsuits had "not been paid enough to continue to represent him." The purpose of the hearing was to set bail. An issue at the hearing was McFarland's financial condition. When he was arrested, he had on him $5,000 in cash. In addition to the legal team representing him against the civil suits from the disastrous Fyre Festival, he also hired a crisis public relations firm. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristy J. Greenberg said, "there are real questions about where his money is." McFarland has one week to complete a required financial affidavit listing his assets--it had not been completed before the hearing. Bail was set at $300,000. He was released and has one week to satisfy the bail conditions of paying $50,000 in cash or property. Preliminary hearings begin at the end of this month.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/arts/music/billy-mcfarland-fyre-festival-arrested.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/01/arts/fyre-festival-billy-mcfarland-court-bail-arraignment.html?action=click&contentCollection=Music&module=RelatedCoverage®ion=Marginalia&pgtype=article

Blac Chyna Files for Restraining Order Against Rob Kardashian

Blac Chyna filed a temporary restraining order against ex-boyfriend reality star Rob Kardashian. According to her attorney, Lisa Bloom, Chyna was the victim of cyberbullying by Kardashian, who "posted sexually explicit images of the model on Instagram and Twitter." Violation of a 2013 California law penalizing "nonconsensual pornography" or "revenge porn" is a misdemeanor, carrying a jail sentence of up to six months. A hearing on the restraining order will be held on July 10th.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-kardashian-chyna-order-20170707-story.html

Legal Language Divided Jurors in Cosby Trial

The case against Bill Cosby ended with a hung jury and mistrial, and many questions. According to two jurors, "a great deal of their time was spent parsing and disagreeing about the meaning of words and phrases like 'unconscious', 'reasonable doubt' and 'without her knowledge'." Wording disputes are a common challenge for jurors. Paula L. Hannaford-Agor, director of the Center for Jury Studies at the National Center for State Courts, says that: "Several studies have documented that jurors can have a hard time grasping the language of the jury charge." As prosecutors prepare for a retrial, consideration must be given to their words so as not to cause confusion and connect trial testimony with language of the law. For example, one juror voted against a third count of sexual assault that accused Cosby of penetrating the prosecutor's lead witness, Andrea Constand, while she was "unconscious". According to Barbara Ashcroft of Temple University Beasley School of Law, "jurors had an image of someone unconscious on a hospital bed, but unconscious in legal terms can mean being unable to give consent." Montgomery County district attorney, Kevin R. Steele, said that "his office would review the way it presented the case as part of its preparation for the retrial."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/arts/television/bill-cosby-jurors-mistrial-wording-unconscious.html

Judge Sets Retrial Date in Cosby Case

A retrial for the sexual assault case of Bill Cosby has been set. By court order, Judge Steven T. O'Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas set the retrial for November 6, 2017. According to Pennsylvania courts spokesman, James Koval, "the retrial must begin within one year of the declaration of the mistrial," which was June 17th. While the prosecutors examine whether they can get additional testimony admitted, the defense attorneys will determine whether to move the trial or seek a different pool selection altogether. It is expected that the coming months will be filled with pretrial motions, making the November 6th date tentative or unlikely.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/arts/bill-cosby-retrial-date.html?mcubz=0

Two Asian-American Actors in "Hawaii Five-0" Depart

Just last fall, CBS announced its Diversity Institute, a new program aimed to provide access to the network's decision-making process. Unfortunately, it will be starting from a deficit. CBS's crime series "Hawaii Five-0" lost it two leading Asian-American actors, Grace Park and Daniel Dae Kim. It's been reported that they were unable to come to terms on their new contract. There is "speculation that they left because they would not be earning as much as their white co-stars." Kim's Facebook post, "the path to equity is rarely easy," suggests that pay equity was the reason he left the show after seven seasons. According to a statement by the show's executive producer, Peter M. Lenkov, they "tried very hard to keep them with offers of large and significant salary increases." Park and Kim's representatives did not comment. CBS has been criticized for lack of diversity in its shows. Its 2016 lineup included only white male leads. Guy Aoki, founding president of the Media Action Network for Asian-Americans, "has criticized the network for not including more actors of Asian or Pacific Islander descent" in the show, which is set in Hawaii.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/business/media/asian-american-actors-cbs-hawaii-five-0-salary-dispute.html

Propaganda and Popcorn at the Movies in China

Chinese theaters are now required by Chinese film authorities to show propaganda videos before every movie screening. Produced by the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television, four short videos espouse messages of "socialist core values" and President Xi Jinping's "Chinese Dream", "Four Comprehensives", and the "Five in One Overall Arrangement", which are Communist Party slogans. Several A-list celebrities, such as Jackie Chan, Li Bingbing, Angelababy, Donnie Yen, and Kris Wu, are featured "quoting ancient poetry and national leaders". President Xi Jinping called on celebrities to "disseminate contemporary Chinese values." Last month, Chinese cyberspace regulators called on internet companies to resist allowing sensationalist celebrity coverage, as such bloggers do not create a "healthy, uplifting environment for mainstream opinion." As a result, several bloggers were shut down. The penalty to theater movie managers who do not show the videos is undisclosed.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/world/asia/propaganda-movies-communist-party-china.html?mcubz=0

Arts

The Most Expensive Art Wasn't a Gauguin

Paul Gauguin's 1892 oil painting "Nafea Faa Ipoipo" (When Will You Marry?) was revealed not to be the top ranked for high art prices in a recent lawsuit. It was originally reported to be sold by retired Sotheby's executive, Rudolf Staechelin, in 2014 for approximately $300 million. Simon de Pury, a Swiss auctioneer involved in the transaction, along with his wife and their limited partnership, sued Staechelin and his trust for $10 million in commissions owed. The lawsuit showed that the painting was only sold for $210 million. Staechelin sold the painting through a British art dealer, Guy Bennet, to the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. With this new revelation, the Willem de Kooning's 1955 painting "Interchanged" sold in 2016 for $300 million, ranks as the world's most expensive artwork.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/arts/design/lawsuit-reveals-gauguin-painting-was-not-worlds-most-expensive.html

Jenner Sisters Stop Selling Music T-Shirts

Kendall and Kylie Jenner stopped selling their "vintage" T-shirts. The $125 shirts superimposed Jenner branding over images of famous artists, such as Tupac Shakur, The Doors, The Notorious B.I.G., and Metallica, apparently without their (or their estates' or photographers') permission. According to Rolling Stone, The Doors' attorneys sent cease-and-desist letters. Voletta Wallace, mother of Christopher Wallace (a/k/a The Notorious B.I.G.), called the action "disrespectful, disgusting and exploitation at its worst!" The celebrity sisters, who have often been accused of cultural appropriation, apologized via Twitter.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/arts/kylie-kendall-shirt-tupac.html

China Invites Cancer Experts to Treat Nobel Laureate

Cancer experts from several nations, including the U.S. and Germany, have been called to treat Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in a Chinese hospital. At 61, Xiaobo is currently suffering from advanced liver cancer that was discovered in May. After "helping organize the Charter 08 manifesto, which called for democratic reforms in China", he was incarcerated in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power". In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." Calls for his unconditional release have been made since news of his illness, including a petition signed by other Nobel laureates and prominent writers. Xiaobo was denied permission to travel abroad for treatment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/04/world/asia/liu-xiaobo-cancer-treatment-nobel-china-prison.html

A Last Wish from Albee: Destroy Work Left Undone

Renowned playwright Edward Albee, who died last September at age 88, directed his estate executors to destroy any incomplete manuscripts. His "dead hand control" instructions were left in his 2012 will, which is filed with the Suffolk County Surrogate's Court. Mr. Albee, most famous for his play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?", has received several awards, including three Pulitzer Prizes for "A Delicate Balance" (1967), "Seascape", (1975) and "Three Tall Women" (1994), and two Tony Awards for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" (1963) and "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?" (2002). The Edward Albee Foundation will benefit from the playwright's art collection, which will be auctioned by Sotheby's this fall. and is expected to net more than $9 million.

The estate's executors, Arnold Toren and William Katz, an accountant and designer respectively, communicated that they will honor Albee's request. Known for exacting very strict control over his materials, they have already exercised his desires by refusing to allow an Oregon production of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" to cast a Black actor as a blond character. Artists and legal experts are split on "dead hand control" instructions. According to the president of the Dramatists Guild of America, Doug Wright, of unfinished drafts, "the author has the right to determine their fate." Author of Estate Planning for Authors and Artists, John Sare, also a partner at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler, explained the quandary: "You may feel a moral obligation to do as you've been asked, but that may be in competition with a moral obligation to do what's best for the history of arts and letters and a legal obligation to conserve the assets of the estate for the beneficiaries." University of Chicago Law School professor, Lior J. Strahilevitz, disagrees, stating that what makes an artist great is "the ability to curate, and it's frequently the case that artists build great reputations by being selective about what they show to the world."

This is not the first time that heirs have substituted their own judgment over the deceased artists. Kafka's friend allowed publication of the writer's unpublished novels against his request that they be burned, and Eugene O'Neill's widow allowed "Long Day's Journey Into Night" to be published a full 22 years before he wanted it to be. We shall see whether Albee's last known project, "Laying an Egg", will be destroyed, as he had withdrawn it from a Signature Theater production, stating that it wasn't ready. Albee left to the discretion of his executors the determination of what material "counts as incomplete".

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/04/theater/edward-albees-final-wish-destroy-my-unfinished-work.html

Hobby Lobby Agrees to Forfeit Over 5,500 Ancient Artifacts Smuggled Out of Iraq

A civil complaint was filed in by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn against Hobby Lobby, the seller of arts and craft supplies. The suit claims that Hobby Lobby acquired more than 5,500 rare and valuable artifacts that were smuggled from Iraq. The company's Evangelical Christian owners have an established interest in the biblical Middle East. In 2009, it began collecting cultural artifacts from the Fertile Crescent, including tablets, clay talismans, and cylinder seals. Although hiring a cultural property law expert who warned that the artifacts might have been looted, Hobby Lobby purchased the clay slabs for $1.6 million without determining their heritage. In a stipulation of settlement filed with the complaint, Hobby Lobby is required to "return all of the pieces, and to forfeit to the government an additional $3 million, resolving the civil action", plus "adopt internal policies to better govern its importation of cultural items, hire qualified brokers and experts and submit quarterly reports to the U.S. attorney's office for the next 18 months." The Justice Department will determine the return of the items. Artifact owners will have 60 days to submit claims to the pieces; then the Iraqi government will have its opportunity to submit a claim. In response to the smuggling allegations, Hobby Lobby's president Steve Green stated that "Hobby Lobby was new to the world of acquiring these items and did not fully appreciate the complexities of the acquisition process."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/nyregion/hobby-lobby-artifacts-smuggle-iraq.html?mcubz=0

Sports

Social Media Presents a New Challenge in Curbing Domestic Violence

Two recent Major League Baseball (MLB) domestic violence investigations were not spurred by traditional sources, such as law enforcement or video, but instead, by social media posts. Kristen Eck, former fiancée of Tampa Bay Rays catcher Derek Norris, posted her accusations on Instagram, and Chicago Cubs shortstop Addison Russell was named in an Instagram post of a friend of Russell's wife, Melisa, stating that Russell hit his wife. MLB and the player's union joint policy on domestic policy do not account for the role of social media in such investigations. Under the new policy, players are required to cooperate with the investigators. However, players must be cautious not to prompt a police investigation. Norris states that he will "go above and beyond" to cooperate with the investigation, as has his former fiancée. However, Melisa Russell, who has now filed for divorce, and her friend have not. These cases are very similar to those of Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys) and Jamison Crowder (Washington Redskins). These National Football League cases also have women posting photos on social media of their injuries. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence's chief executive Kim Gandy, "by turning to social media, victims may also be hoping that pressure from peers, or even employers, will stop the abuse." However, Margaret Duval, executive director of the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, explained that posting on social media is a double-edged sword, as it "also enables fans who adore their athletic idols to harass those making the accusations." Social media's ubiquitousness to the millennial generation further complicates MLB's effort.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/02/sports/baseball/domestic-violence-major-league-baseball-derek-norris-addison-russell.html?_r=0

Four Years Later, Fired Leader Gets Court Date Against the Player's Union

Billy Hunter, former executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, will have his day in court. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Huey P. Cotton set a March 5, 2018 trial date for Hunter's wrongful termination suit and the union's suit for breach of fiduciary duty. At issue is the validity of Hunter's employment contract. The player's union disputes whether his contract extension was ratified. Hunter contends that ratification was unnecessary for contract extensions, and that "his contract was implied in fact since all parties operated under its terms as if it were valid for more than two years." The four-year battle has involved many NBA players, including LeBron James and Chris Paul, who were deposed. Hunter is seeking his remaining salary of $10.3 million. It is estimated that the union's legal fees thus far are $6.1 million.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/05/sports/basketball/trial-date-set-for-billy-hunters-case-against-nba-players-union.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

Venus Williams Faces Wrongful Death Suit

A wrongful death suit was filed against Venus Williams for the death of a passenger in the car that crashed into hers on June 9th. Jerome Barson, 78, died on June 22nd from his injuries. His wife, Linda Barson, 68, who was driving the vehicle, sustained a "cracked sternum, shattered right arm, broken wrist, hand and fingers." The suit was filed by Audrey Gassner-Dunayer. Williams did not sustain any physical injuries and was able to compete in Wimbledon. According to the initial police report, Williams "was at fault for violating the right of way" of the Barsons' car. However, after further investigation, the police reported that Williams was driving in a legal manner. Known for remaining cool under pressure, Williams was overcome at a recent press conference at Wimbledon when questioned about the accident.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/sports/tennis/venus-williams-crash-lawsuit-wimbledon.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/sports/tennis/venus-williams-wimbledon-car-crash.html?mcubz=0

Baylor Settles Lawsuit by Former Student

A former student who filed a federal lawsuit against Baylor University for mishandling her 2015 sexual attack reached a settlement agreement with the university. It is the first settlement of several lawsuits from women who allege that they had been attacked and claimed that the university bungled their cases. As a result of the scandal, the former university president Ken Starr was demoted (and eventually resigned), and the former football coach Art Briles was fired.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/07/06/us/ap-us-baylor-sexual-assault-investigation.html?mcubz=0

Media

Fox Sports Abruptly Fires a Top Executive Amid a Claim of Misconduct

21st Century Fox Sports group executive, Jamie Horowitz, was fired on July 3rd, amid allegations of sexual harassment. Fox Sports did not announce the reason for the firing. However, it was reported that the company investigated the allegations. Horowitz, who was in charge of sports programming, hired attorney Patricia Glaser to represent him. 21st Century Fox, owned by the Murdoch family, includes Fox News, Fox Sports, and other entertainment properties. The media giant has been involved in many sexual harassment scandals stemming from July 2016, claiming the jobs of Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, news host Bill O'Reilly, and others. Eric Shanks, president of Fox Sports, stated that all employees are to adhere to professional conduct at all times.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/03/sports/fox-sports-jamie-horowitz.html

Fox Network Suspends Anchor Amid Inquiry Into Conduct

Heads continue to roll at 21st Century Fox due to sexual misconduct allegations. Its subsidiary, Fox Business Network, suspended Charles Payne, a longtime anchor. A former CNN and Fox News contributor with whom Payne admitted to having an extramarital affair has alleged misconduct. A Fox Business Network spokesperson stated the company has a "zero-tolerance policy" and is thoroughly investigating the allegations. Payne recently renewed a multiyear contract. His attorney Neal Korval could not be reached for comment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/business/media/fox-business-network-suspends-charles-payne.html?mcubz=0

Social Media Aggregator Sues for Copying

Distractify, a social media aggregator, sued Brainjolt LLC, which owns 22 Words, another social media aggregator, for being a social media aggregator. Both companies repackage content from other websites. Distractify's complaint seeks to distinguish copyright infringement from what is typically seen on aggregator websites--a curation of "emerging memes, social media posts and uplifting stories" from other websites. According to Distractify, 22 Words committed "acts amounting to digital piracy and plagiarism", by repackaging posts from its website. As an example of the 51 instances of the alleged copying, after Distractify wrote: "Ellen DeGeneres Used 'Finding Dory' to Criticize Trump's Immigration Ban," 22 Words wrote: "Ellen DeGeneres Used 'Finding Dory' Plot to Slam President Trump's Immigration Ban." At issue is whether facts and story concepts, such as the topic of an article, are subject to copyright protection. Staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Daniel Nazer, asks: "How is this infringement if their original articles aren't infringement?" Distractify is not without its own allegations of infringing. At least two photographers, Jeffery Werner and Peter Menzel, sued Distractify for posting their photos without their permission. They are represented by attorney Scott Burroughs of Doniger/Burroughs.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/06/business/media/distractify-lawsuit-22-words.html?mcubz=0

Germany Tells Sites to Delete Hate or Pay Up

On June 30th, Germany passed a law penalizing social media companies if they do not delete illegal, racist, or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours. Germany is one of the most aggressive countries to "crack down on hate speech and other extremist messaging on their digital platforms." Justice Minister Heiko Maas said that the new law "ensured that rules that currently apply offline would be equally enforceable in the digital sphere", as there has been an increase in racist comments and anti-immigrant language since 2015, after the arrival of a million--mostly Muslim--migrants. The law takes effect in October. It requires companies such as YouTube (owned by Google), Facebook, and Twitter to remove any content that is illegal in Germany within 24 hours of it being brought to their attention. If content is flagged, but not clearly defamatory or inciting of violence, the companies have seven days to make a determination. The companies also have to report biannually how they have handled the complaints. Fines for taking too long to take down illegal content range from €5 million to €50 million. Advocacy groups, including digital and human rights groups, and social media companies oppose the new law. Members of the Global Public Policy Institute, Mirko Hohmann and Alexander Pirang, call the law "misguided". They wrote that "setting the rules of the digital public square, including the identification of what is lawful and what is not, should not be left to private companies." Facebook said that it will be increasing staff to work on these issues. Like Google, it has "taken steps to limit the spread of extremist messaging and to prevent 'fake news' from circulating."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/business/germany-facebook-google-twitter.html

Climate of Fear Grips Journalists in Myanmar After Arrest

On July 3rd, Lawi Weng, a reporter for the online magazine The Irrawaddy and two reporters from The Democratic Voice of Burma were detained in Shan State, Myanmar and charged "under a colonial-era 'unlawful association' law, which carries a potential jail sentence of up to three years." The government considers the rebel group an unlawful organization under the 1908 law. Critics say that ever since the National League for Democracy (NLD), the party led by Nobel Peace laureate Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, came to power 15 months ago, there has been a clampdown on the news media and free speech. Anyone who has criticized the government's authority, including journalists and activists, have been prosecuted.

U Win Htein, a spokesperson for the NLD, told the national television channel, MNTV: "For us, peace, national development and economic development are the priority, and then democracy and human rights, including press freedom." According to him, the journalists needed government permission to go in the territory controlled by the armed ethnic group, Ta'ang National Liberation Army. According to their editors, the three journalists were going to attend an event marking the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The event was held by rebels battling the government for autonomy from the central government in Shan State, a hotbed of opium farming.

Southeast Asia representative of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Shawn W. Crispin, stated that State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi was elected partly on standing for democratic progress and protection of rights. The NLD government's campaign against the journalists and other critics hurts the notion that her government stands for human rights.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/30/world/asia/myanmar-arrests-reporters.html?_r=0

On Social Media, Vietnam's Dissidents Grow Bolder Despite Crackdown

Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, whose online handle is Mother Mushroom, was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison for national security offenses. A Vietnamese blogger and environmental activist, she was charged with sharing anti-state propaganda. Arrested last October, she has been silenced since then, and attendance at her trial was severely restricted to further control her communication. Nevertheless, her attorney summarized his trial arguments and her final statements on Facebook, where he has 61,000 followers. According to him, she said, "I hope that everyone will speak up and fight, overcome their own fears to build a better country." Facebook and other online platforms have become the de facto forum for dissenting voices in authoritarian Vietnam. Now the government has a two-prong approach to clamp down on online protests by arresting bloggers and pressuring social media companies to censor content. According to Human Rights Watch Deputy Director of Asia, "Facebook is being used as an organizing tool" and "as a monitoring device for people when they are being detained and when they get released." Nguyen Anh Tuan, a pro-democratic activist, posted a copy of his summons from when he was called in for questioning by the police, with a note demanding compensation for the time he was detained. His post went viral and inspired others to do the same. Almost half of Vietnam's population (45 million) use Facebook to "organize prison visits and vigils outside police stations for detainees, and to solicit donations for political prisoners." As the government can easily block internet blogs, dissidents are moving to Facebook, where its vastness makes blocking it infeasible. Families of prisoners of conscience, such as Quynh, are supported by Tuan, who receives funds from Vietnam residents, whereas in the past it was mainly from overseas Vietnamese. The local Vietnamese know that the government can trace their contributions, but they are willing to take the risk. To assert greater control, the government has resorted to jailing over 100 bloggers and activists, including stripping one of his citizenship and deporting him to France where he held dual citizenship. When protests are expected, the government cuts access to Facebook. As a further crackdown, the government has asked Facebook and YouTube to help eliminate anti-government content, and it has warned "companies that their ads must not appear next to that sort of content." Notwithstanding the government pressure and the violent attack from thugs on the bloggers and activists, everyday citizens are raising their voices by sharing information with family and friends, and supporting the dissidents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/02/world/asia/vietnam-mother-mushroom-social-media-dissidents.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 10, 2017 7:38 AM.

The previous post in this blog was "Extreme Vetting" or Extremely Unnecessary: Trump Administration Releases New Questionnaire Asking for Visa Applicants' Social Media Handles and Biographical Information.

The next post in this blog is New National Basketball Association Collective Bargaining Agreement in Effect .

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.