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Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

New York Judges Wants Bigger Role for Female Lawyers

Judge Jack Weinstein of the Eastern District of New York encourages a rule change that he uses, and hopes that other judges will adopt. He encourages more junior lawyers, which women tend to be, have the opportunity to argue motions or question witnesses, even if it means that multiple counsel will be involved in representing clients in proceedings. The hope is that this rule change will allow women the opportunity to improve their skills in arguing cases and to more often rise to the top of the profession.


Interior Secretary Proposes Shrinking Four National Monuments

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke proposed reducing the size of four national monuments, which were designed under Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Bush. It is a rare step for an administration, but has occurred before. The legal basis for doing so is the Antiquities Act of 1906, and prior reductions in the size of national monuments were not challenged in court. One of the areas proposed to be reduced is the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, which President Obama designated as a national monument. Some have argued that the designation impedes grazing, mining, and drilling that is crucial for the local economy, but others say that it protects the wildlife and conserves the land for others, like the nearby Navajo nation. One advisor to the Native American tribes told the New York Times that if the reductions took place, the tribes have a complaint ready.


Identity Thieves Hijack Cell Phone Accounts to Steal Virtual Currency

In the past few years, identity thieves have increasingly taken to calling phone service providers like Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile, requesting to transfer phone numbers to a devices under their control. Then, the thieves have access to the various accounts, including users' virtual currency like Bitcoin, and have drained hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time. This occurs even as service providers have added protections to accessing accounts, causing concern for those who invest in virtual currencies.


Teaching Kids Coding, By the Book

A nonprofit organization, Girls Who Code, has taken hold through its summer programs and afterschool sessions in teaching young women how to write computer code and develop software. Reshma Soujani, the founder of the nonprofit, has taken to a new medium to spread the knowledge of coding: books. She is set to release 13 books over the next two years that teach children and young adults how to code, joining a growing sector of literature that has attracted an audience of millions.


Former Attorneys General Call for Condemning Hatred

A group of 67 former attorneys general from 36 states as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico, signed an open letter to leaders to denounce hatred throughout the country. This open letter comes 40 years after one of its signers, Alabama Attorney General Bill Baxley, sent a letter to a member of the Ku Klux Klan denouncing the group in vulgar language, which influenced others. The open letter does not name any specific public official, but undoubtedly implicates President Donald Trump following the death of a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia at the hands of a white supremacist.


New Balance Wins $1.5 Million in Landmark China Trademark Case

A Chinese court awarded the shoe company New Balance with $1.5 million, finding that three companies had infringed on the company's trademark. Each of the companies sold shoes that had the same angled "N" on the shoe, creating consumer confusion and leading to a dilution of the brand. This case comes after Chinese laws changed in 2014, which increased the potential award amount for intellectual property infringement. One intellectual property attorney who practices in China supposes that this is not an anomaly, and other cases will follow with similar results.


In China, Company Names Cannot Be a Paragraph

The Chinese government announced that it will no longer accept businesses registering with names as long as a paragraph, in an effort to clean up active businesses in the country. This is part of a broader effort to enforce a more organized, efficient business sector in a country that is known for being authoritarian and controlling. Analysts expect that this effort will lead to more clarity for entrepreneurs and business owners.


Chinese Activist Confesses to Subversion in Chinese Show Trial

A Chinese human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, confessed to an attempt to overthrow the Communist government in a show trial broadcast throughout the country. His wife and supporters claimed in response that he was tortured and forced to make the confession, drawing on his defeated body language during the confession. Analysts characterize the confession as neatly fitting President Xi Jinping's view of China, which has soundly rejected Western ideas of liberalism and freedom. While similarly positioned activists confessed to subverting the government, they received prison terms of up to 7.5 years, but it is possible that Tianyong's could be less or suspended altogether.


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


Cosby Hires a Former Lawyer for Michael Jackson and Faces Retrial in Spring

Bill Cosby's legal team made several changes. Two lawyers who represented him through his sexual assault trial involving Andrea Costand ceased representing him, and he hired three new attorneys, one of which represented Michael Jackson in his 14-week child molestation trial in 2005. Thomas Mesereau, Jr. is based out of Los Angeles, and joins two other attorneys based out of Nevada and Pennsylvania to round out Cosby's legal team. While his retrial for the sexual assault was set for November 6, 2017, the judge in Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas has announced that the trial will not begin until March 2018, with a jury selected from that part of Pennsylvania, rather than a jury selected from elsewhere in Pennsylvania (which was done in the first trial and resulted in a hung jury).



Judge Denies Request to Drop Roman Polanski Sexual Abuse Case

Roman Polanski requested a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge to drop a sexual assault case against him, which would allow him to vacate an international arrest warrant. The charges are related to his alleged sexual assault of a minor in the 1970s. An alleged second victim emerged, however, in the midst of considering Polanski's request, prompting the judge to deny Polanski's motion and allow the case to continue.


Apple, Citing Sanctions, Removes Popular Apps from Iran

Apples removed apps from its App Store that are known to be popular in Iran, citing the American sanctions on Iran, which prohibit American businesses from violating the economic embargo. Many Iranians obtained iPhones and other Apple products from Dubai or Hong Kong, and then download apps like Snapp, a ride-hailing app, to use in Iran. Some of the app developers are located in Iran, and compare the removal of the apps to if Uber was deleted from the American App Store. Apple confirmed the removal of the apps, but declined to further comment.


Crowded TV Marketplace Gets Ready for Three Tech Giants

Facebook, Google, and Apple are preparing to enter into the crowded television market, ensuring a saturation in the market, given that Netflix and Amazon have enjoyed success competing against the major networks. As the number of streaming platforms is ready to expand, some networks, like A&E and WGN, announced that they will no longer be producing scripted television shows. With Apple ready to invest $1 billion and Google ready to pay $3 million per episode in a drama series, the competition in the market is sure to increase soon.


Disney, Ditching Netflix, Grabs a New Key to the Kingdom

Disney acquired a tech company for $1.6 billion that will lead it to have the potential for direct-to-consumer streaming, comparable to Netflix. Disney currently has several shows on Netflix, which has provided a significant revenue source for the company, but it appears to be taking a step toward having its own platform for its content. Analysts expect that the streaming service will be successful, given Disney's history of good investments (like Lucasfilm, Marvel, and Pixar), but investors worry that splitting from Netflix at a time when many of the biggest actors and producers are shifting toward Netflix may pose a problem for Disney's streaming plan.



In New York City, Museum Boards are Strikingly White

As part of the Cultural Plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the museums and cultural institutions in New York City must begin to reflect the diversity of the population. The boards of most museums in the city consist of one-fourth people of color, while the city's population is two-thirds people of color. The mayor
indicated that the NYC's arts and cultural funds will be directed toward institutions that fulfill the city's goal of increasing diversity of the museum boards going forward.


Move, Not Destroy, Confederate Monuments

Holland Cotter calls for the moving of Confederate monuments to museums or other preservation institutions to educate and inform as to the context of the monuments, rather than destroy the monuments altogether. Following the death of a woman in Charlottesville, Virginia who was protesting against white supremacists, there has been introspection as to what should be done with Confederate monuments, like the statue of Robert E. Lee, at the center of those protests. Some have said that the monuments should remain where they are, with placards giving a fuller context to their meaning, while others have said that they should be moved and space should be made for other stories to be told through art. While some protesters have taken to destroying monuments themselves, as was done in Durham, North Carolina, Cotter does not see that as a solution, as the monuments have an intrinsic value that an institution like a museum can harness and display.


Who is Really Making 'Chihuly Art'?

Dale Chihuly is a Seattle-based artist who has enjoyed success for his paintings and glass works. He and his wife operate a company of artists that have produced a high volume of art. One contractor has filed suit against Chihuly, claiming that Chihuly copied works of art without giving the contractor credit or compensation. However, Chihuly claims that an underling must have created the work. This issue touches on a narrow part of the law: inadequate credit being the basis for a copyright infringement requires the copyright filer, Chihuly in this case, to have filed intending to share authorship with his underling that produced the work. One Los Angeles lawyer hypothesized that most in the industry knew, that given the volume of works coming from Chihuly's company, he had many artists working for him and could deny the intention of sharing authorship for the work.


Venezuela Cancels Gustavo Dudamel Tour After Criticism

Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel has increasingly denounced the Venezuelan government for the turmoil that has plagued the country in recent months. The government finally responded, canceling his and the National Youth Orchestra of Venezuela's upcoming United States tour. Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, personally issued a statement directed at Dudamel for his comments denouncing the government and seeming to call for an end to the Maduro regime.


Russia Detains Theater Director, Adding to Fears of a Crackdown

Russian authorities detained Kirill S. Serebrennikov, an acclaimed Moscow theater director. He is alleged to have been part of a conspiracy to misappropriate over $1 million in government funds that went to his production company, Studio Seven. He had been previously detained and searched, but released without charges, when investigators apparently had not found proof of any wrongdoing. Then, an accountant testified in a court proceeding that Serebrennikov had in fact been involved in the conspiracy, prompting investigators to pounce. While many in the theater and arts community have come to his defense, it is not yet known what charges he will face and when he will have the opportunity to defend himself.


Former Artistic Director Says Geffen Playhouse Forced Him Out

Randall Arney, the former artistic director of Los Angeles' Geffen Playhouse, filed suit against the institution. Arney claims that after 18 years of working for the Playhouse, he disclosed a medical condition earlier in 2017, and within months, was fired. He alleges that the firing was discriminatory on the basis of age and medical condition. He also alleges that despite the institution's characterization that it was an amenable end to his employment, it was nothing but a firing.


Refugees Suffering 'Auschwitz on the Beach?' Germans Say No

Italian artist Franco Berardi has had his performance called "Auschwitz on the Beach" canceled, after its comparison between the Nazis' extermination of Jews to the contemporary treatment of refugees to Europe. The comparison drew ire from Germans and those in the arts community, as many found it to be tasteless, given the millions of Jewish people who died in the Holocaust. This decision comes at a time where anti-Semitic and xenophobic rhetoric is increasing in Europe.


Is Edinburgh's Fringe Far Enough Out There?

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival has grown from a small sideshow to Edinburgh's International Festival to being one of the biggest gatherings in the world, alongside the Olympic Games. It attracts thousands who perform theater, comedy, and musical performances throughout hundreds of theaters in the city. It brings a wealth of tourism, fed by companies like AirBnb. Although it is on its 70th annual show, some wonder whether it has become too big for what it is, as it brings hundreds of unlicensed buskers and performers to the streets in addition to the thousands of arranged shows. Some shows sell out, while others do not attract much attention. Some organizers wonder whether it is time to rethink the Festival and reshape it going forward.



Azarenka Pulls Out of U.S. Open Over Custody Dispute

Belarusian tennis star Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the U.S. Open, which is set to begin within a matter of days. She is facing a custody dispute with her son's father in California, and in the midst of that, the judge required her and the father to remain in California until the matter is resolved.


New Lawsuit Alleges Baylor University Failures Under New Rape Policies

A female student at Baylor University filed a federal action against the school following its revised policies for investigating reported sexual assault. This is the eighth action of this kind filed against the school, and comes after the student reported a sexual assault, but had the investigation turn against her, rather than against her alleged assaulter. The suit alleges that despite her undergoing a sexual assault examination, meeting with a Title IX examiner, and reporting the information to Baylor police, the police still did not file charges against the alleged assaulter.


UFC Champion Jones Faces Another Doping Offense

Former UFC champion Jon Jones was charged with a doping offense leading up to his championship bout with Daniel Cormier. Jones is considered to be one of the best fighters, winning 23 of his 24 fights since 2009. However, he previously had a doping offense and was banned for one year following.



Lawyers to See Venus Williams' Cell Phone Data After Crash

Tennis star Venus Williams' attorneys agreed to produce cell phone records for the 2.5 hours surrounding the crash that occurred earlier this summer and resulted in the death of a 78-year old man in Florida. Her attorneys insist that she was not distracted while driving at the time of the accident.


Barcelona Sues Neymar for Breach of Contract

The Spanish soccer club Barcelona sued Brazilian superstar Neymar, after his transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain for the bonus that the former paid to him just months prior to his transfer, when he agreed to a five-year extension. The complaint has alleges that Neymar is liable for the $10 million bonus, and if he does not pay, then Paris Saint Germain is also liable. Paris Saint Germain denies exposure because it lawfully offered Barcelona 222 million euros, which triggered a release clause and allowed Neymar to be transferred away from Barcelona.



Pursuing Founder of Neo-Nazi Site

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit against a prominent neo-Nazi blogger Andrew Anglin for his role in relentlessly targeting a Jewish woman in Montana with anti-Semitic remarks directed toward her and her young son. However, serving him with the summons and complaint in the matter has been difficult: personal service impeded by his various homes and supporters who have made him thus far impossible to track, certified mail from the court clerk has been returned as undeliverable; and regular mail from the clerk has been returned as undeliverable. There is the potential for the plaintiffs to have to effect service by publication, putting notice of the action in a newspaper for a series of weeks. One legal expert called the measure very rare for a civil rights action, as it is more often used for consumer debtor cases.


After Criticism, Publisher Reverses Decision to Bow to China's Censors

Cambridge University Press announced that it will restore access to hundreds of academic papers that China's censors deemed to be offensive. The turnabout comes after academics and other publishers pressured Cambridge to reverse course, claiming that it was feeding into the Chinese government's agenda of censoring material it deemed dangerous to its people and allowing that to happen with academic papers set a bad precedent for the industry. Cambridge restored access and issued an apology, even making access to the papers, which usually have a steep cost to access, free for everyone.


Danish Submarine Inventor Says He Buried Swedish Journalist at Sea

The Swedish journalist Kim Wall is believed to be dead. She joined Danish submarine inventor Peter Madsen for a trip on his submarine in the water close to Copenhagen. Although Madsen initially told investigators that he dropped Wall off in the harbor, investigators found a female torso in the water near Copenhagen, which is believed to be hers. Madsen then changed his story to say that there was an accident on the submarine, and he buried her at sea. The details of her death and Madsen's role in it have yet to be fully uncovered. However, prosecutors intend to pursue the equivalent of a murder charge against Madsen for his role in Wall's death.



Germany Condemns Holding Turkish-German Writer in Spain

Turkish-born German citizen Dogan Akhanli was arrested in Spain at the direction of Turkey's government. Turkey indicated that it is seeking extradition, but the grounds for the extradition are not clear. Akhanli was released within a day of his arrest, but ordered to remain in Spain. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel denounced the decision, calling it an abuse of the Interpol system. The European Center for Press and Media Freedom also released a statement in support of Akhanli.


Los Angeles Times Ousts Editor-Publisher and Top Managers

The Los Angeles Times announced that its editor-publisher and several top executives were fired in a broader effort to move the newspaper more toward a model that was successful for the New York Times and Washington Post. The Los Angeles Times has had difficulty transitioning from print to digital, with its ad revenues and subscriber counts, and its owner views the firings as a step toward a smoother transition. The paper also will begin having broader coverage, including more national events and news from Washington.


ESPN Pulls Broadcaster and Encounters a Storm

ESPN announced that it pulled a broadcaster named Robert Lee from commentating the University of Virginia-William and Mary football game, solely because of the broadcaster's name. The Asian-American broadcaster happens to share the name with the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, and the game he was scheduled to broadcast involved the University of Virginia, which is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. ESPN has come under fire from both liberals and conservatives for its decision, but it is clear that the politics of the present moment have stretched beyond Washington and entered into more distant arenas, including the broadcasting booth.


Village Voice Ends Print Publication

After 62 years in print, the New York newspaper Village Voice announced that it will switch to being digital only. The newspaper has become increasingly less influential, but nonetheless was a launching pad for extraordinary journalists. The newspaper's website saw a recent increase in visitors, but still some worry whether the newspaper can survive without its ubiquitous red boxes throughout the city.


YouTube Removes Videos Showing Atrocities in Syria

YouTube came under fire for flagging videos for removal that show the battles and atrocities in the ongoing Syrian civil war. The videos were flagged as a result of an algorithm that YouTube uses to eliminate offensive content, but many of the videos from the Syrian civil war do not contain offensive or exceedingly graphic content. This fact has caused many to criticize YouTube, including the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism (IIM), which is a legal team that combs through videos posted on the internet and forwards them to prosecutorial organizations for pursuing justice against wrongdoers. IIM, among others, argue that YouTube's actions is eliminating history before their very eyes, and impeding potential war crimes trials in the future.


Wall Street Journal Editor Admonishes Reporters Over Trump Coverage

The editor of the Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker, was criticized for being too soft on President Donald Trump's administration. He has admonished reporters for suggesting so, but internal emails revealed that he has shaped the direction of stories to exclude opinion. Baker's perspective on the Trump administration may be shaped by the owner of the newspaper, Rupert Murdoch, who is known to be friends with the Trumps, but Baker himself has also been heard commenting about attending the same social events as the Trump family.


Chinese National Arrested on U.S. Hacking Charge

Yu Pingan of Shanghai was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on the charge that he spread a malware that has been known to have led to the theft of security clearance records of millions of American government employees. An FBI agent submitted information for the complaint that Pingan gave the malware to two individuals who then used the software to steal the records from the government. Pingan's attorney stated that Pingan has no knowledge of the software, and that he is a teacher with no affiliation with the Chinese government.


Tech Companies Fight Online Radicalization

Law enforcement, tech companies, and lawmakers have sought to stop online radicalization in recent years, which has almost entirely targeted those who sympathized with groups like Islamic State. Now, they are targeting white supremacists like Dylann Roof, the man who murdered nine churchgoers in 2015. Groups have targeted radicalizing individuals who recently discovered the propaganda that fuels the groups and have had direct outreach to many of them, in the hope of providing them with a voice of reason. However, as effective as stopping online radicalization may be, experts emphasize that upbringing, as well as mental state, are significant factors to bring someone to act on behalf of any radical ideology.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 26, 2017 1:19 PM.

The previous post in this blog was The Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act: A new beginning or a waste of time?.

The next post in this blog is Ninth Circuit Upholds Preliminary Injunction Against VidAngel's DVD "Filtering" Service.

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