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Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter, Esq.

Court Ruling Opens Door Once Closed to Refugees

A ruling from United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Seattle unblocked access to thousands of refugees and clarified who was covered by President Trump's travel ban. In July, Judge Derrick K. Watson of Federal District Court in Honolulu disagreed with the Trump administration's narrow interpretation of the Supreme Court's directive to allow in travelers and refugees with a "bona fide relationship with a person or entity" to mean only immediate family members and in-laws, but not grandparents, cousins, aunts, and uncles. The administration appealed to the Ninth Circuit and lost when three appellate court judges--Michael Hawkins, Ronald Gould, and Richard Paez--upheld Judge Watson's decision. Stating that the government had not made a compelling explanation as to why an in-law was a more bona fide relationship over a "grandmother, grandchild, cousin, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew," the appellate court not only established that a resettlement agency met the "bona fide relationship with the U.S." standard, but also rejected the government's claim that a resettlement agency did not have a formal relationship with the refugees themselves but had one with the government. The Supreme Court then overturned the Ninth Circuit, and left the travel ban in place pending a determination on the merits.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/appeals-court-travel-ban.html

U.S. Law Firm Chases Fraud Tips in Britain

A chance client inquiry call in 2015 paved the way for Britain to be the next hunting ground for U.S. whistle-blower cases, which can be quite lucrative for whistle-blowers and the firms who represent them. There are several whistle-blower laws, including the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistle-Blower Act, the 2010 Dodd-Frank program under the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the False Claims Act, among others. Recently, a British whistle-blower utilized the U.S. False Claims Act. Under that Act, whistle-blowers can collect 15-30% of the amount the federal government recovers. Andrew Patrick, a warehouse operative from the north of England, was canvassing attorneys to handle an employment matter he was having with his former employer, Pure Collection Ltd. He contacted Richard Pike, who is based in London (and is a partner at Constantine Cannon, the firm founded by Lloyd Constantine, the former chief of the New York Attorney General's Antitrust Unit). Patrick happened to mention that Pure Collection "avoided paying custom duties on the luxury sweaters it shipped to the U.S. by splitting up orders from customers," taking advantage of the legal rule, at that time, that merchandise packages with retail values under $200 could enter the U.S. duty free. Patrick had contacted the I.R.S. and the U.S. Embassy in London, but nobody was interested. To test the company's shipping tactics, Constantine Cannon had a customer in Maine place an order for merchandise above the $200 duty free limit. Sure enough, three separate packages arrived over the course of three days to fill the $937 order. With Maine as an appropriate venue, the attorney general of the state brought a complaint stating that "by finding a way around the customs duties, Pure Collection put itself in the same favorable domestic pricing position as its American competitors". Constantine Cannon expects that there will be many other opportunities under whistle-blower laws, and has added a European team to pursue them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/business/dealbook/whistle-blower-law-firm-britain.html

States Sue to Save Dreamers, Claiming Bias Drove Decision

A group of 16 Democratic attorneys general filed suit in Federal District Court in Brooklyn, alleging that President Trump improperly ended the policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Attorneys general from New York, Massachusetts, and Washington are leading the group. Eric Schneiderman (NY) "accused the Trump administration of using the threat of lawsuits as a pretext that hid the president's true motives: bias against immigrants and Latinos." Separate challenges to President Trump's plans are expected from California's attorney general, and major companies, such as Starbucks, Microsoft, and Amazon. The group lawsuit claims, in addition to the Trump administration violating the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection clause, that the "administration failed to follow the right process, under the Administrative Procedure Act." Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that DACA would begin to phase out in March 2018. The court challenge is one alternative to thwarting that policy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/us/daca-lawsuits-trump.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

Business Leaders Urge Trump to Keep Shield in Place

More than 400 American business leaders signed a letter to the president and congressional leaders urging President Trump to extend DACA, citing that the Dreamers, immigrants brought to the United States as children, are "vital to the economy." The letter, titled an "Open Letter From Leaders of American Industry," includes Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Hubert Joly of Best Buy, David Zalesne of Owen Steel, Warren Buffett, executives from Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, Marriott, and Wells Fargo. According to the letter, 65% of the Dreamers own cars and 16% are homeowners, an "economic activity that would be eliminated if the Dreamers were deported." The chief economist at Moody's Analytics, Mark Zandi, estimates that five years after the repeal of DACA, there would be a $105 billion loss to the nation's gross national product. In addition to the economic toll of repealing DACA, there is also the human toll that deportation would take on people who have known only the United States for the better part of their lives.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/business/daca-dreamers-trump-business.html

Federal Reserve's Vice Chairman to Depart, Giving Trump an Opportunity

Stanley Fischer, who was midway through his four-year term as vice chairman of the Federal Reserve (the Fed), resigned. Citing "personal reasons," he will leave his office in mid-October. His resignation will leave the Fed with four vacant seats. President Trump will now have an opportunity to significantly direct the policy of the Fed's board with his appointments. Questions remain as to whether President Trump will replace chairwoman Janet L. Yellen, and who his other appointments may be. So far, he has only offered one candidate, Randal K. Quarles, who is expected to receive a Senate vote soon.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/business/economy/fed-stanley-fischer.html

Reverence for Entrepreneurs Guide Trump Policy on Protecting Workers

The Trump administration reversed the government's original position under President Barack Obama on National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, No. 16-307, (Arg. 10.02.2017), a case before the Supreme Court involving employers being able to force workers to forfeit their rights to bring class-action lawsuits. This reversal is yet another action setting the tone of the Trump administration's position on worker issues "that entrepreneurship is the highest economic calling and the entrepreneur is the economic actor most deserving of respect." The administration has "undone Obama-era guidances on enforcement of employment laws." One such guidance clarified when a worker could be classified as an independent business operator as opposed to an employee, who is covered by protections such as minimum wage and overtime pay. The Trump administration withdrew the Obama interpretation that suggested that many gig-economy companies were improperly treating workers as independent contractors. Trump's approach provides more cover to tech entrepreneurs who largely employ the gig economy. Other actions establishing the current administration's position include "proposing to cut the government agency that conducts research into workplace hazards by 40%, seeking to eliminate a program that helps organizations to educate workers on how to avoid injury and illness . . . and the requirement that employers pay workers a time-and-a-half rate for overtime if their salary falls below a certain threshold."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/business/economy/trump-labor-policy.html?mcubz=0

Letter by Trump on Comey Ouster Informs Inquiry

In Washington, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III obtained a letter said to be drafted by President Trump and Stephen Miller, one of his top political advisers, that provides President Trump's perspective on firing James B. Comey, then FBI director. The letter, referred to as a "screed," was curtailed by White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II, "who believed that its angry, meandering tone was problematic" and was concerned about its references to "private conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump," particularly those about the FBI's Russia investigation. According to the New York Times, "Mr. McGahn's concerns about Mr. Trump's letter (that was dictated to Mr. Miller by the president) show how much he realized that the president's rationale for firing Mr. Comey might not hold up to scrutiny." Deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein received a copy of the multipage diatribe, "who then drafted his own letter that was later used as the Trump administration's public rationale for Mr. Comey's firing."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/us/politics/trump-comey-firing-letter.html

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

Entertainment

Verses of Civil Rights Anthem "We Shall Overcome" Are Ruled Not Under Copyright

A portion of the civil rights song "We Shall Overcome" is not under copyright as originally claimed by music publisher, Ludlow Music. The copyright suit was brought against the publisher by makers of a documentary on the song's history and filmmakers of "Lee Daniels' The Butler". Judge Denise L. Cote of the United States District Court in Manhattan decided that the song's adaptation from an earlier work, which included changing the word "will" to "shall", lacks originality to qualify for copyright protection. The issue of whether the entire song's copyright is invalid will have to go to trial.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/business/media/we-shall-overcome-copyright.html

Milestone for Broadcast Music Inc.: More Than $1 Billion in Music Royalties

Broadcast Music Inc. (BMI), a performing rights organization with members including Sting and Ed Sheeran, reached its goal to pay $1 billion in royalties to its music publishers and songwriters one year early. In 2015, BMI predicted that it would take three years to be able to pay the record-level revenue after expenses. Last week, it announced that during its most recent fiscal year, it distributed $1.02 billion in royalties from its $1.13 billion in revenue. The income growth for BMI and ASCAP (the latter of which reached the billion-dollar mark a few months earlier than BMI) is attributed to the growth in digital uses and payments. In 2010, BMI collected $20 million from then called "new media" and most recently took in $163 million from that sector.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/business/media/bmi-music-royalties.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

Honorary Oscars Give a Nod to Diversity

Honorary Oscars will be bestowed by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to Agnes Varda, a French New Wave director; Charles Burnett, an independent filmmaker; actor Donald Sutherland; and Owen Roizman, a cinematographer. Varda's and Burnett's awards are the result of the Academy's effort to address diversity. The honorary awards, which will be distributed at the Academy's Governor's Awards in November, "reflect the breadth of international, independent and mainstream filmmaking and are tributes to four great artists whose work embodies the diversity of our shared humanity," said John Bailey, the Academy's president.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/business/media/burnett-sutherland-honorary-oscars.html

Disney Plots to Stream Movies and Sports

Disney is planning two streaming services: one geared toward sports and the other for Star Wars and Marvel movies. In response to the growing segment of consumers who are cutting the cord of cable, the new services will be Netflix-like, with the sports programming service offering an a la carte model, allowing viewers to purchase "a season, a league, maybe a conference" as early as next spring, according to Disney chief executive Robert A. Iger. The second service is expected to roll out in 2019 and will include not only Disney's core film factory, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm but also original, live-action movies developed by Disney that will only be available on the service.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/business/media/disney-streaming-services.html

Arts

Keith Haring Mural Is Restored in Paris

After heavy weather damage and almost 30 years of wear, a mural called the "Tower" has been restored. Painted by American artist Keith Haring in 1987 with his boyfriend Juan Rivera in the stairwell at the Necker-enfants Malades hospital in the 15th Arrondissement of Paris, the 88.5 foot work was nearly demolished when the hospital planned construction. The mural's poor condition gave the conservator, William Shank, concern as to whether the work could actually be saved. Shank and fellow conservator, Antonio Rava, "painstakingly restored" the work with funds raised by Jerome de Noirmont and the Keith Haring Foundation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/arts/design/keith-haring-paris-hospital-painting-tower.html

Paternity Test Clears Dali in Lawsuit

DNA testing determined that Pilar Abel, a Tarot card reader, is not the daughter of renowned surrealist artist Salvador Dali. The judge presiding over Abel's 2015 lawsuit against the Gala-Salvador Dali Foundation and the Spanish state ordered the exhumation of the artist's remains for forensic testing. Dali died in 1989 at the age of 84. Had the test results been in her favor, Abel could claim part of Dali's estate, estimated to be in the "hundreds of millions of dollars." Now that paternity has been established as not being Dali, his remains will be returned to his crypt underneath his museum in Figueres, Spain.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/arts/salvador-dali-paternity-lawsuit.html

National Cathedral Will Remove a Tribute to Confederate Generals

In the Washington National Cathedral hang two 4-by-6-foot stained glass windows that pay homage to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. On Tuesday, church officials voted to remove the windows donated by the Daughters of the Confederate and a private donor in 1953. The Episcopal Diocese of Washington took notice of the windows after the horrific 2015 Charleston, South Carolina mass shooting by a white supremacist at a Black church. A task force that studied the issue for six months discussed the impact of having the windows in a sacred worship space. The recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, which resulted in one death and many injured, spurred the resolution: the windows would be removed, preserved, and possibly used in an education programming. There have been mixed reactions to the decision. The Daughters of the Confederate have not commented. The Very Rev. Randolph Hollerith, who is also Dean at the cathedral, stated, "I fully believe we're doing the right thing at the right time in the history of our nation."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/us/politics/washington-national-cathedral-stained-glass-confederate-lee.html?_r=0

Dakota Tribe Plans to Bury Sculpture

Scaffold, the Sam Durant sculpture that gained notoriety when mounted in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, will be buried. The Dakota people protested at the garden, which sits on former Dakota land, largely because they were never consulted about the piece that "depicted gallows and was intended to represent seven state-sanctioned executions, including the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato, Minnesota after the Dakota War in 1862." The protesters demanded that the Walker Art Center, which commissioned the piece and manages the garden, remove the sculpture. Durant and Olga Viso, director of the Walker Art Center, apologized for not involving the Native American people at the beginning of the process. Durant went so far as to give the Dakota people the copyright to the work. A council of Native American elders was formed to determine the outcome of the sculpture. An early suggestion was to burn the 51,000-pound wood sculpture; however, burning is discouraged in the Dakota tradition. The alternative to burying the sculpture in an undisclosed location was approved by a majority of the council members and is seen as the first step in healing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/arts/design/dakota-plan-to-bury-not-burn-scaffold-sculpture.html

Sports

Whistle-Blower Says He Told I.O.C. of Corruption Linked to Rio Games Years Ago

The International Olympic Committee (I.O.C.) was told about the corruption in Brazil as early as 2011, according to Eric Maleson, a former ice sports federation official. An investigation by law enforcement recently raided the home of Carlos Nuzman, one of Brazil's top Olympic officials, and the "crucial architect" of Rio de Janeiro's successful bid to host the Olympics. Maleson led the Brazil ice sports federation that he founded for over a decade. He has been an "outspoken critic of Mr. Nuzman" and warned the I.O.C. of corruption. His main complaint was the obvious conflict of interest with Nuzman holding the dual roles of leader of the Rio 2016 organizing committee and chief of Brazil's national Olympic Committee. Maleson accused Nuzman of corruption and election fraud in 2012. The I.O.C. confirmed that
Maleson had in fact contacted it and was told to work directly with Brazil's national Olympic Committee, which, ironically, is run by Nuzman. Brazil's corruption inquiries go back far beyond the 2016 Olympics, and include the downfall of a former president, Dilma Roussef and the governor of Rio, Sergio Cabral, who was convicted of receiving kickbacks from some construction firms linked to the Olympics. The widespread graft and corruption continue to be under investigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/sports/olympics/whistle-blower-says-he-told-of-rio-olympics-corruption-years-ago.html

2026 World Cup Bid Will Consider 41 Cities

Forty-one cities submitted formal proposals to host the 2026 World Cup in North America. From New York and Chicago to Regina, Saskatchewan and Salt Lake City, almost every market is represented, and venue choices include stadiums and football arenas. The current pool of proposals will then be reduced to 20-25 stadiums. FIFA will complete the proposal review by early March and make its award in June. The U.S., Canada, and Mexico have made a joint proposal. FIFA rules require that World Cup stadiums hold 40,000 people, and opening and closing matches must be in stadiums with double that capacity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/sports/2026-world-cup-bid-41-cities.html

Massachusetts Settlement Announced

DraftKings and FanDuel, two fantasy sports companies, reached a settlement with Massachusetts, resulting from an inquiry into their unfair and deceptive practices. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that each company will pay $1.3 million. New regulations adopted in 2016 protect participants by prohibiting persons under 21 from playing and restrict how the games are marketed.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2017/09/07/business/07reuters-massachusetts-fantasysports.html

Seahawks' Bennett Says Police Held Gun to His Head

Michael Bennett, defensive end for the Seattle Seahawks, was "held at gunpoint and handcuffed by Las Vegas police." The episode occurred after the Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor boxing match on August 26th. According to Bennett, he began running, along with other people, after hearing what he thought were gunshots. Police singled him out, and an officer "forcefully jammed his knee into his back, held a gun to his head and handcuffed him so tightly that his fingers went numb." He attributed his detention to being Black. The Las Vegas Police Department's Undersheriff Kevin C. McMahill said that Bennett's actions of crouching behind a gaming machine, running out, and jumping a wall led them to "believe that he may have been involved in the shooting." It was not until the police later realized Bennett's celebrity status, being a two-time Pro Bowl player, that he was released. The National Football League (NFL) stated its support of "Mr. Bennett and all NFL players in promoting mutual respect between law enforcement and the communities they loyally serve and fair and equal treatment under the law." Bennett is exploring the possibility of a civil rights lawsuit.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/sports/football/michael-bennett-seattle-seahawks-police.html

Crude Rant Gets a Player the Boot--and Good Riddance

Tennis gets edgy. Italian tennis player Fabio Fognini, who is the No. 22 seed in singles, was "provisionally suspended" from playing in the United States Open after calling Louise Engzell, a female veteran umpire, "among others things, a whore." Fognini was fined $24,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct and pending further investigation could be facing upwards of $250,000, the fine for major offenses. The Grand Slam Board will determine whether Fognini committed a major offense during the September 2nd match. According to Grand Slam rules, "major offenses include violations like a single episode of egregious behavior, or conduct contrary to the integrity of the game." In addition to the fine, if found to have committed a major offense, Fognini will be "permanently barred from future Grand Slam tournaments."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/02/sports/tennis/fabio-fognini-us-open.html

Cowboy's Elliott and Union Sue to Void Any Suspension

Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL players' union filed a federal lawsuit in Texas to preemptively nullify the NFL arbitrator's anticipated decision of Elliott's appeal of his recent suspension. Elliott received a six-game suspension from Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, due to allegations of domestic violence. Elliott appealed the suspension, and a "league-appointed arbitrator" is expected to issue a decision on the appeal this week. The players' union is calling the NFL's case into question because the arbitrator, Harold Henderson, "denied a request to have testimony from the woman whom Mr. Elliott is accused of assaulting," and the lead investigator who concluded that there was not enough evidence against Elliott to warrant the suspension was not allowed to provide her views to the commissioner.

Last Tuesday, NFL arbitrator Harold Henderson denied Elliott's appeal of his six-game suspension. However, Elliott was able to play in the September 10th season opener, because the decision came too late in the day for it to be enforced. After that, United States District Judge Amos Mazzant granted an injunction to halt Elliott's suspension for domestic abuse allegations. Elliott will be able to play while Judge Mazzant hears the case. The NFL asked the judge to affirm its suspension.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/sports/cowboys-elliott-and-players-union-sue-to-void-any-suspension.html?mcubz=0&_r=0

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/05/sports/football/ezekiel-elliotts-appeal-is-denied-but-he-will-play-for-cowboys-on-sunday.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fsports&action=click&contentCollection=sports®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=48&pgtype=sectionfront

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/sports/federal-judge-halts-ezekiel-elliotts-suspension.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fsports&action=click&contentCollection=sports®ion=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=8&pgtype=sectionfront

Paris Saint-Germain Signings Prompt an Investigation

The governing body of European soccer, UEFA, is launching a formal investigation of the recent transactions of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Scrutiny was raised on PSG's latest transfer activity because of the level of spending to acquire players. The fee to sign Barcelona's Neymar for $262 million is a world record, and the commitment to pay $216 million for Monaco's Kylian Mbappe is unusually high for a one-season loan. These transactions suggest that PSG may again be violating "rules designed to control excessive spending" by the soccer clubs.

http://metro.co.uk/2017/09/01/paris-saint-germain-under-uefa-investigation-after-199m-neymar-transfer-6896858/

Media

Bolling Out at Fox News After Inquiry On Messages

Eric Bolling, the Fox News host recently suspended pending investigation of sexual misconduct allegations was fired. Bolling was accused by three female colleagues of sending unsolicited photos of male genitalia. Fox News, who used the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison to conduct the investigation, confirmed on Friday that "Fox News Channel is canceling 'The Specialists'" and that it had parted ways with Bolling, who had joined the company about 10 years ago and had recently renewed his contract with the network. Bolling brought a $50 million defamation lawsuit against HuffPost for publishing the initial article exposing the allegations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/business/media/fox-news-ousts-eric-bolling-after-probe-into-lewd-text-messages.html

Google Female Workers Receive Lower Wages, Data Suggests

Google remains under scrutiny for its gender pay inequity. According to informal data compiled internally by Google employees, female employees are paid less than male employees. This data is sure to heighten concerns over gender disparities in Silicon Valley, seen as the "boys club" of the West, not unlike Wall Street, the "boys club" of the East, according to Natasha Lamb of the firm Arjuna Capital. The "wealth management firm that takes activist positions on issues such as gender pay" proposed at an Alphabet (Google's parent company) shareholder meeting, for Alphabet to disclose salary information based on gender. At the urging of Alphabet directors, the shareholders voted against disclosing the gender based information. The self-reported Google salary spreadsheet shows that of the six job levels reported, women are paid less than men in five of the job levels, in some levels making 4% less than men and increasing to 6% less at the mid-range levels. Google has at least 9 job levels, not including vice presidents and above. Google's vice president of operations, Eileen Naughton, cautions that the internal spreadsheet "is not a representative sample", as it does not take into account geography, job performance, job role, tenure and level. Google is currently in a dispute over what it pays men versus women with the Labor Department that began a routine audit of Google's federal contract and its pay practices. According to James Finberg, a partner at Altshuler Berzon L.L.P., over 90 current and former female employees have joined a soon to be filed class action lawsuit for "substantial gender disparities".

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/technology/google-salaries-gender-disparity.html

Shkreli Faces New Trouble for Post on Clinton

Martin Shkreli, a pharmaceutical executive who was convicted this summer on three counts of fraud and currently out on bail, continues to garner the attention of authorities. Federal prosecutors are now seeking to revoke his bail because his social media post about Hillary Clinton poses a danger to the community. Concerned that his followers would carry out his Facebook post of "On HRC's book tour, try to grab a hair from her," the secret service launched an investigation, and federal prosecutors asked Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto to return Shkreli to jail. He may have also violated other laws with his posts, and faces up to 20 years in prison on the fraud charges.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/business/martin-shkreli-bail-revoke.html

Fake Russian Facebook Accounts Planted $100,000 in Political Ads

Facebook disclosed that it identified at least 3,000 ads that were run during the 2016 presidential election cycle paid for by Internet Research Agency, a Russian company, totaling over $100,000. The ads highlighted "divisive social issues such as race, gay rights, gun control and immigration" and "were designed to damage Hillary Clinton and boost Donald Trump during the election." Facebook is cooperating with special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's role in last year's election, adding more fuel to the firestorm surrounding possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The social media giant has not made the ads public, but reported it has "also found an additional 2,200 ads, costing $50,000, that had less certain indications of a Russian connection." Federal law prohibits foreigners from election campaign spending. With this new revelation, it is more likely that the crimes Mueller is investigating will include foreign companies and individuals.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/technology/facebook-russian-political-ads.html

To Sway Vote, Russia Used Army of Fake Americans

An investigation by the New York Times and FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, revealed that Russia used several strategies on social media to influence the American presidential election. Russia used automated Twitter accounts, or bots, to send out fake posts, some with the hashtag #WarAgainstDemocrats. Facebook already reported thousands of posts during the 2016 presidential campaign attributed to a Russian company. The most nefarious tactic was the creation of fake Facebook profiles to simulate Americans. One such bogus profile was Melvin Redick, who supposedly lived in Pennsylvania and only posted news articles reflecting a pro-Russian worldview. No records of the actual existence of Melvin Redick could be found. It s important to understand Russia's methods of influence, as the 2018 congressional campaigns and 2020 presidential election could be impacted again.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/us/politics/russia-facebook-twitter-election.html

Two Politicians Chatted Online With Staten Island Social Media Troll

Political campaign social media trolls are gaining prevalence: first, Russia used thousands of phony accounts, and now there is an issue on Staten Island. Two candidates, Kamillah Hanks, a Democrat for City Council, and Ron Castorina Jr., a Republican assemblyman, hired Richard L. Luthmann, a campaign operative, who specializes in creating fake news on social media. For Hanks, he set up a fake Facebook page to attack her opponent. For Castorina, Luthmann altered images of a female opponent to make her look like she had been photographed during sex, and posted the images on the internet. An investigation of the candidates' Facebook Messenger conversations revealed the shenanigans. Castorina stated that he merely placated Luthmann to avoid setting off disputes. Hanks denied knowledge of the social media pages. As for the fake news creator, Luthmann claimed to be "the victim of a criminal act in the intrusion on his Messenger exchanges." He had no regret for the fake social media pages; offering only a warning that political campaigns can expect more of the same.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/nyregion/staten-island-politics-facebook-troll.html

Google and Sex Traffickers

One author proposed that perhaps copyright could be used against online services that offer child pornography, especially as Google finds itself in the odd position of allying with Backpage.com, where "the most American victims of human trafficking are sold," to kill legislation that would crack down on sex trafficking on websites. Specifically, Google is lobbying to quash the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, a bipartisan bill targeting those who intentionally engage in trafficking children. Google's concern is that the legislation will impact Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from lawsuits. The problem is that Section 230 also protects Backpage.com, "which is involved in 73% of the cases of suspected child sex trafficking." The new legislation was narrowly drafted to address only those bad-actor websites. Google's concern that closing the loophole in Section 230 will inadvertently expose it to frivolous lawsuits seems to rings hollow in the face of protecting websites that "advertised a 13 year old whose pimp had tattooed his name on her eyelids."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/opinion/google-backpagecom-sex-traffickers.html

Sports Radio Co-Host Is Charged with Fraudulent Ticket Reselling Scheme

Carton, of the Boomer & Carton sports-radio program, was charged in a fraudulent ticket-reselling scheme. Craig Carton, 48, who began as a host on "The Jersey Guys," became co-host of the WFAN radio show with retired quarterback Boomer Esiason, replacing Don Imus in 2007. The FBI charged Carton in Federal District Court in Manhattan of securities fraud, wire fraud, and conspiring to commit those offenses. According to the complaint, Carton, along with a cohort, Michael Wright, solicited investments in enterprises that he falsely claimed had access to millions of dollars' worth of concert tickets for such acts as Katy Perry and Justin Bieber, and would resell large blocks of tickets for substantial profits. By providing fake documents, the two raised together over $5 million and used the funds to cover gambling debts and earlier investors. Federal magistrate judge Andrew J. Peck ordered Carton and Wright each released on a $500,000 bond.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/nyregion/craig-carton-sports-radio-host-is-accused-in-ponzi-scheme.html

Indian Journalist Critical of Government Is Killed

Gauri Lankesh, a journalist in India most known for her outspoken critique of the Indian government, was shot down in front of her home last Tuesday. She is the fourth assassination in recent years of intellectuals who publicly criticized India's governing party and its Hindu agenda. Many close to Lankesh said that she received daily death threats for her position as a "rationalist," a term for Indians who "stand against superstition and the use of religion in politics." She was the editor of a magazine focused on feminist politics called Gauri Lankesh. There were many protests in response to her death.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/world/asia/gauri-lankesh-india-dead.html?mcubz=0

Persistent Reporter Will Not Face Charges

Dan Heyman, a reporter for the Public News Services who was arrested in West Virginia in May for aggressively questioning the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, will not be prosecuted. Heyman was facing six months for continuing to question Tom Price about "health care legislation the House had passed earlier that month to replace the Affordable Care Act." At the time he was arrested, he spent eight hours in jail until his company paid his $5,000 bail. A joint statement by the Kanawha County prosecutor's office and Heyman's legal team said that a careful review determined that Heyman "had not acted unlawfully."

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/business/media/tom-price-journalist-arrest.html?mcubz=0

Advertisers Beware: Analyst Says Social Media Network Is Exaggerating Its Reach

A Pivotal Research analyst, Brian Wieser, noted that some of Facebook's claims regarding its reach with American young adults is exaggerated. Specifically, Facebook claims that it can "potentially reach 41 million 18-to-24-year-olds and 60 million 25-to-35-year-olds." The problem with these claims is that according to U.S. Census records, 18- to 24-year-olds number only 31 million, and there are only 45 million 25- to 34-year-olds. Facebook responded that its numbers are self-reported by users and include non-residents, and that their estimates "are based on Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, location data from devices, and other factors." Publishers and advertisers have been asking for better accountability; and this latest disclosure supports their concerns.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/business/media/facebook-advertisers.html

Facebook, Despite Ban, Seeks Foothold in China

Facebook, whose social media app is blocked in China, is seeking to open office space in Shanghai. The office, called Building 8, would be used by employees working on Facebook's new hardware effort. For the last three years, Facebook has been courting the Chinese government to gain approval for its network. Its recent effort was releasing Colorful Balloons--a Chinese-language version of its photo-managing app, Momentum. The executive director of Colorful Balloons was seen meeting with Shanghai officials. The site has not been shut down, a significant feat in the heavily regulated country. Being able to open an office would be another indication that the relationship between China and the social media giant is strengthening.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/06/technology/facebook-china-shanghai-office.html

The Daily News Finds a Buyer with Echoes from Its Past

The Daily News, a 100-year old tabloid, was acquired by Tronc, the current publisher of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune. The Daily News, a New York institution known for its gossip, sports, and city coverage, has been worn down over the years due to the internet age and an ongoing tabloid war with the New York Post. There have been recent layoffs, and circulation has eroded from over two million in its 1940s heyday to its current number in the low hundred thousands. According to The Chicago Tribune, Tronc, which was formerly Tribune Publishing before it was spun off from The Tribune Company that owned The Daily News, purchased the newspaper for just $1 plus the assumption of liabilities, including its pension liabilities, and its Jersey City printing plant. With The Daily News, Tronc now has newspapers in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago, three of the country's biggest media markets.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/business/new-york-daily-news-sale-tronc.html

Superstar Adjusts to a Streaming World

The release of Taylor Swift's new album, Reputation, is a textbook case model in marketing in the streaming world. It has been three years since Swift's last album, and much has changed. Many are watching to see if she can reach her 1989 sales record of 1,287,000 copies sold. Streaming is currently 63% of the market--a 40% growth from 12 years ago. With Reputation, Swift partnered with UPS to plaster her face on trucks, and Target to carry special edition albums that will include magazines with her poetry and artwork. For tour support, she is using Verified Fan--the new Ticketmaster system customized to tie music, merchandise, and ticket sales--a strategy some are criticizing as exploitative. Whether the new album will be available on Spotify is still in speculation, given the public feud Swift had with the company. However, her distribution company's licensing deal with Spotify that allows it to "restrict new music to Spotify's paid tier for two weeks" may be what Swift needs to use the streaming service. Love it or hate it, Swift knows how to make sure that everyone is watching her.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/03/business/media/taylor-swift.html

Think Tank, Funded by Google, Is Stung by Backlash after Firing a Google Critic

New America Foundation, a think tank that receives funding from Google, is being criticized for the recent firing of one its scholars. Anne-Marie Slaughter banished an entire 10-person initiative called Open Markets and fired its leader, Barry Lynn, a prominent critic of Google. Slaughter is under fire herself for taking this action. A group of the think tank's scholars and former fellows voiced dismay in the handling of the matter. At issue is the influence of New America's donors over the think tank's scholarship. Open Markets has been pushing for more rigorous antitrust enforcement against Google and other tech giants. Slaughter told the New York Times that her conflict with Lynn was not over his criticism of Google, but over his violation of the organization's unwritten policy to inform the think tank when doing something that may jeopardize funding for other fellows. One example of such a violation was in 2016, when Lynn organized a conference "at which influential liberals warned of damaging effects from market consolidation in tech." Lynn should have provided a heads-up that he would be criticizing an institution that others rely on for funding. Lynn asserts that he alerted New America's officials, and asserted that the unwritten policy is further evidence that the organization is afraid of upsetting Google. Slaughter's response to the incident is to spin off Open Markets into a separate nonprofit, and she has been working towards that end. Lynn publicly revealing the internal discord was the final straw. However, former employees of New America are more sympathetic to Lynn, citing other incidents where it is apparent that Slaughter sides more with donors over the organization's work. Slaughter admits there is often a tension between the work of a think tank and additional funders in today's climate, where foundation funding alone is not enough to support organizations whose executive directors make over $500,000 annually.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/01/us/politics/anne-marie-slaughter-new-america-google.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 11, 2017 6:50 PM.

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