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Week In Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter

Trump Backs Plan to Stop Deportation of Dreamers

After meeting with Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi for dinner at the White House, President Trump announced he could support a deal to protect young, undocumented immigrants brought to the county as children if it is paired with enhanced border security legislation. Not all Republicans are in agreement with the deal, primarily because it was struck with Democrats. Some of the points discussed over the dinner included "sensors to beef up border monitoring, rebuilding roads along the border, drones and air support for border enforcement" measures drawn mainly from President Trump's budget request. Many from the political left and Hispanics have misgivings, as the talks which were to be about DACA are now including increased border security. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed a "get-tough measure called the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, aimed at MS-13 and other immigrant gangs." Opponents say that the act will codify racial profiling.


New Battlefield in a War Over Judicial Appointments

With the huge number of judicial vacancies, President Trump may have one of the largest election spoils of any administration in political history. There are 144 federal court vacancies, which include 21 on the appeals court and 115 at the district court level. With the current Republican majority, it is nearly impossible for a minority party (in this case, the Democrats) to block an appointment except for the little-known power in the "blue slip." Individual senators can block a nomination in their home states by refusing to sign the blue slips. One candidate to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit experienced the blue slip's influence. David R. Stras from Minnesota had his nomination blocked by Senator Al Franken, a Democrat from Minnesota and a member of the Judiciary Committee. Ninth Circuit nominee Ryan Bounds from Oregon encountered the same obstacle from Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell is now advocating "that the blue slip be made strictly advisory when it comes to appeals court nominees." The blue strip practice is at the prerogative of the Judiciary Committee chairman. Democratic leaders are seeking to meet with Senator McConnell and top members of the Judiciary Committee to dissuade from weakening the blue slip practice, citing that "both parties should remember that they could find themselves back in the minority." Interestingly, Senator McConnell wanted to repeal use of blue slips when the Democrats held a majority.


Whistle-Blower Suit Discloses Inquiry into Practices of For-Profit Law School

Professor Barbara Bernier's whistle-blower lawsuit against her former employer, Charlotte School of Law, revealed fraud practices by the now-defunct school. Originally kept sealed under the False Claims Act, the whistle-blower suit was unsealed under motion by the U.S. attorney's office in Charlotte, North Carolina, noting that it was not intervening in Professor Bernier's lawsuit. Bernier will be able to continue her federal claim that InfiLaw Corporation, the for-profit owner of Charlotte School of Law, "defrauded taxpayers of $285 million over a five-year period." According to Bernier, she quit her tenured position after discovering that the school "shored up student numbers and performance metrics through unusual means . . . telephoned graduates the night before the bar exam to dissuade them from taking the exam the next day . . . to reduce the number of first-time bar exam takers who might fail it." The school then instituted a mandatory bar preparation course, requiring students to add another semester to their education and resulting in additional student loans. By targeting military veterans and African-Americans, it boosted its enrollment numbers, a factor of great importance to the school's investors. The school asked for additional time to respond to the lawsuit. It closed its doors last month, after the Department of Education withdrew its eligibility for federal student loans in response to the American Bar Association's placing it on probation, due to "deficiencies in several areas."


Ban on Refugees Stands as Court Considers Case

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court temporarily re-instituted one aspect of the Trump administration's ban on immigrants from six Muslim countries. Nearly 24,000 refugees will be stopped from entering the U.S. until the court considers the lawfulness of the travel ban on October 10th. The travel ban is limited to people "without a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the U.S." The definition of a "bona fide relationship" is still contested, but the court stated that spouses and mothers-in-law count. To qualify as "an entity," the court said "the relationship must be formal, documented, and formed in the ordinary course, such as students admitted to American universities, workers with job offers from American companies, rather than entities formed for the purpose of evading" the travel ban.


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


Rebel Wilson Prevails in Defamation Suit

"Pitch Perfect" star Rebel Wilson was awarded $3.6 million in damages for her Australian defamation suit against Bauer Media. The publisher of the Australian publications Woman's Day and Women's Weekly painted Wilson as a "serial liar and opportunist who assumed a false name, age and biography to advance her career." Justice John Dixon agreed that the articles cost her work and personal distress, citing in his opinion that the publisher "did not care whether the plaintiff suffered reputational damage as it pursued its own corporate interests."



Still on View: A Lingering Cloud

The Walker Art Center (the Walker) continues to swirl in a cloud of controversy after dismantling Sam Durant's, "Scaffold". The piece, which "evoked the macabre setting of seven executions including the hanging of 38 Dakota Indian men in Minnesota after the US-Dakota war in 1862," was denounced by Native American leaders. After several weeks of deliberation, the Walker ultimately decided to demolish and bury the sculpture. The board of directors hired a law firm to review its handling of the artwork, as many are dismayed that the Walker not only decided to display the piece on former Dakota land without consulting the native community, but also brought in a Jimmie Durham exhibition when his self-identification as Cherokee has not yet been validated. In addition to the legal review of its actions, staff members have left the museum, sparking speculation on mismanagement. Executive director Olga Viso acquiesced that the museum some "rocky terrain," but she remains optimistic.


Brazilian Art Show Sets Off Dispute That Mirrors Politics

Funders of an art show in Porto Alegre, Brazil, suddenly closed an exhibit on gender and sexual diversity. Queermuseu, or Queer Museum, which was curated by Gaudencio Fidelis and included over 263 works of art from 85 artists, was funded by Santander Bank. It is a common practice in Brazil for banks to finance museums. Queermuseu, which went on exhibition at the bank's cultural center on August 15th, came under heavy criticism from conservative groups who said that the work promoted pedophilia and child pornography. Two images "included a baby monkey snuggling in the Virgin Mary's arms, sacramental wafers with the words 'vagina' and 'tongue' written on them, and naïve-style portraits of smiling children spray-painted with tags like 'transvestite' and 'gay child.'" Julio Almeida, the regional district attorney for children's issues, did not find pedophilia when he saw the exhibit. He stated: "There are some images that could be characterized as sexually explicit. But from a criminal viewpoint, there is nothing." The protesters called it a victory when they heard Santander Bank's statement for canceling the show: "We heard the protests and we understand that some of the works at the Queermuseu disrespected symbols, beliefs and people, which is not in line with our vision of the world." Exhibit supporters formed their own protest outside the cultural center, demanding that the show be reopened, and gathered more than 60,000 signatures denouncing censorship. In the meantime, the show may move to the city of Belo Horizonte, where censorship is not welcomed.


Lawsuits and High Costs Sink Billionaire's Plan for Arts Pier

Barry Diller, the billionaire chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, decided to pull the plug on the Hudson River project called Pier 55. He stated that his reasons for ending the $250 million project along the Hudson River shoreline were "because of the huge escalating costs and the fact it would have been a continuing controversy over the next three years." The Hudson River Park Trust, which was overseeing the project, introduced the idea of the pier to Diller in the fall of 2011. It was widely supported by the community and public officials, and expected to benefit millions for their enjoyment. The futuristic pier evolved from a $35 million project "with a few trees" to a quarter of a billion dollar performance destination, including an amphitheater and two landscaped areas for staging musical and theatrical performances. Opposition came eight months after it was formally announced in 2014 from the City Club; Douglas Durst of the large Manhattan real estate family; and two activists, Tom Fox and Rob Buchanan. City Club protested that the project would negatively impact the protected estuary. Diller accused Durst of bankrolling the opposition's lawsuits, but in the end relented to his family's concerns that other causes were being overlooked while continuing with the project.


Foam, Armor, and Nights at the Museum: Protecting Florida's Art from Irma

Floridian arts and cultural organizations took precautions to brace for Hurricane Irma. Thankfully, arts groups were in the strongest buildings, according to Quincy Perkins, director of development of the Key West Film Festival. Many organizations prepared for hurricanes during their building phases by advising architects to build in a contingency for hurricanes into the planned structures. The Perez Art Museum Miami was designed with Miami's "mercurial weather in mind," and the new Dali Museum in St. Petersburg has 18-inch thick walls. As a result of water damage, some buildings, like the Wortham Theater Center in Houston, have to find alternative venues for upcoming exhibitions and performances. Irma's route twisting left some areas not as affected as predicted and others walloped by its blasts. In Sarasota, many artists weathered the storm in nearby hotels, while several in Naples had to evacuate. Protecting the art by moving pieces inside or upstairs, taking works off the walls, and packaging pieces in foam and storing in bins, was the order of the day.


Vandals Mar Christopher Columbus Statue, Leaving a Warning

An 1892 bronze sculpture of Christopher Columbus mounted in Central Park was vandalized. Its hands were painted red, pedestal graffitied with "#somethingscoming," and "Hate will not be tolerated" written in white spray paint. Nationwide, statues have been removed in response to the white supremacists' violence last month in Charlottesville. Mayor Bill de Blasio convened a commission to study the possible removal of statues across the city. One suggestion is to keep the statues in place, but add plaques that explain "issues surrounding them." Several Central Park visitors stated that it was good to have the city presenting both sides of history. According to a spokesperson for Mayor de Blasio, there are no plans to increase police protection to the statues at this time.


Got a Warhol? An Insurer May Arrive at Your Door Before a Flood

Property and casualty insurers who cater to high-net-worth individuals will extend extraordinary levels of service to help art collectors protect their holdings during natural disasters. Such companies as AIG Private Client Group, Chubb, Cincinnati Insurance, and Pure Insurance, not only advise in advance of a potential disaster, but will also call on the aid of specialists to determine the steps to protect the artwork. They will send an art preservationist and a team of movers to move the art out of harm's way, send plumbing professionals to install seismic shut-off valves in earthquake-prone homes, offer wildfire protection or remediate services, and provide a complimentary risk-minimization service for the new construction of homes budgeted at $5 million or more. They will even find space to have yachts pulled out of the water and into secure, dry dock storage in advance of mother nature's wrath. The insurers try to cover every scenario.



International Olympic Committee Investigation of Russian Doping Could Lead to Sanctioning of Athletes

It is expected that the investigation into Russia's elaborate doping program at the 2014 Sochi Games will soon yield Russian athletes who will be formally disciplined. According to Denis Oswald, a member of the International Olympic Committee's executive board, the investigation should conclude by the end of this year. The investigation suffered initially due to inadequacy of its urine sample testing method. It has since been able to overcome its examination challenges, and will have the results on the first set of 50 urine samples in less than a week. Those athletes found to have participated in the doping program could be stripped of their medals and barred from future games.


Son of Sandusky Pleads Guilty to Sex Abuse Charges

Jeffrey Sandusky, the son of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, plead guilty to 14 counts of sexual abuse. Two teenage girls accused the younger Sandusky of pressuring them to send him naked photos and to perform oral sex. He plead guilty to all charges, including solicitation of statutory sexual assault and solicitation of involuntary deviant sexual intercourse, and will receive a six-year jail sentence, although a longer sentence could be imposed. By pleading the charges, the young girls will avoid suffering through a trial. Sandusky was a loyal supporter of his adopted father Jerry Sandusky, who is now serving an over 40 year prison sentence for the sexual abuse of 10 boys.


Red Sox Are Fined over Theft of Signals

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a fine against the Boston Red Sox for the use of electronic devices to steal signs during games. At issue was a complaint from Red Sox archrival, the New York Yankees, for the use of an Apple Watch by an assistant trainer in the dugout during a game at Fenway Park in August. The Yankees submitted video they shot of the Red Sox trainer "Jon Jochim looking at his Apple Watch and then apparently passing information along to outfielder Brock Holt and second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who is seen passing information to outfielder Chris Young." The goal of this "game of telephone" style of information passing is to alert the batter as to what pitch is coming. The information chain sped quicker with use of the advanced technology, an upgrade from the use of video replay. The Red Sox did not deny the allegation. The MLB hopes that the penalty will be a deterrent to future use of the prohibited action.


It's Official for Paris and Los Angeles

The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, and the 2028 Summer Olympics will be held in Los Angeles. Establishing two Summer Games at once is an unprecedented decision by the International Olympic Committee.


Randolph Sentenced to Community Service

Zack Randolph, the Sacramento Kings forward, entered a no-contest plea to marijuana possession and resisting arrest charges on August 9th. He was recently sentenced to 150 hours of community service. After one year, he may petition the court to vacate the charges if he stays out of trouble.


Former FIFA Official's Testimony Could Raise New Ethics

A former FIFA governance committee member has little hope that the association will be able to clean up its act under its current leadership. Joseph Weiler, a New York University law professor, filed an ethics complaint against FIFA's top leadership. Filed days after Miguel Maduro, the former chairman of FIFA's governance committee, testified before a British parliamentary hearing that FIFA's president Gianni Infantino tried to block scrutiny of senior soccer executives, Weiler's complaint covers many of Maduro's allegations. Specifically, Maduro testified that Infantino "bowed to pressure from senior soccer figures rather than uphold FIFA's regulations" and highlighted cases of "electoral abuses in regional confederations." Maduro was fired eight months after he was hired to help reform FIFA's image. The top ethics investigator and the adjudicatory chamber judge were also fired after a second ethics probe commenced into Infantino's conduct, who had since been cleared of his first complaint about his misuse of FIFA's resources.


Brain-Damaged Boxer to Receive $22 Million

A settlement was reached in a lawsuit stemming from a 2013 boxing match between Russian boxer Magomed Abdusalamov and Mike Perez. During the match held at Madison Square Garden, Abdusalamov sustained injuries to his head early on. In round one, "he took an errant forearm to the cheek," and although he told his handlers that it might be broken, the fight continued through the 10 rounds. The lawsuit pertains to what occurred after the fight, when instead of being directed to two ambulances stationed at the garden, Abdusalamov was ushered to Eighth Avenue and 33rd Street to hail a cab. Improper interpretive services appear to be the cause of delay in medical services. Abdusalamov, age 38 and married with children, suffered brain damage and remains unable to walk or to speak in complete sentences. Judge Jeanette Rodriguez-Morick in New York City Civil Court awarded a $22 million settlement. Another lawsuit is pending against the ringside doctors Anthony Curreri, Osric King, and Gerard Varlotta.


At US Open, Women Surprise and New Rules Get Trial Run

The world of tennis is undergoing a season of change--some welcomed and some with resistance. The US Open's experiment with serve clocks, warm-up clocks, and in-match coaching met mixed reviews. Allowing coaches to communicate directly with their players during the qualifying and junior events was met with skepticism. The chair umpires were pleased with the change, because it allowed them to avoid having to police the usual entourage of coaches trying to get a word to their players on the sly. However, Wimbledon officials are concerned that "tennis's appeal" will be negatively impacted. Watching high-level players handle the stress of problem-solving when six million people are watching them is the essence of the sport. CEO of the WTA Steve Simon's proposal to restructure the women's tour by creating more mandatory tournaments for the leading players, has met opposition from tournament directors. Some change is inevitable. The serve and warm-up clocks during the US Open were well received, according to Stacey Allaster, the CEO of the US Tennis Association. The new clocks, meant to help with "pace-of-play" concerns, had few hiccups on the field. They will likely be adopted. The ATP is considering reviving its World Team Cup in 2019, which would add to an already full slate of men's events.


Some Chafe at Rules Meant to Protect Youngest Girls

American women of all ages did very well at this year's US Open. Sloane Stephens won the all-American women's final, and Amanda Anisimova beat Cori Gauff in the girls' final. The shocker was that Cori Gauff is only 13 years old, making her "the youngest player to ever reach the US Open girls' final," with the youngest being Martina Hingis, who won at age 12 the 1993 French Open, followed by Jennifer Capriati who won at age 13 the 1989 French Open. Under too much pressure at such a young age, Capriati burned out, and the WTA "restricted the number of professional tournaments that teenagers could play at each age." Female players 13 and younger cannot play at any professional tournaments. Some feel that the rule is unfair because there are no such restrictions for the men's tour, and it prevents girls from competing with better players.


Oakley Sues, Continuing Feud with Knicks

Charles Oakley filed a lawsuit against Knicks owner James Dolan, Madison Square Garden (MSG), and two other companies owned by Dolan. The lawsuit stemmed from his February 8th incident with Dolan, when Oakley was ejected from MSG during a game. A month ago, Oakley agreed to a deal with the Manhattan district attorney's office on charges relating to the incident. He vowed to pursue civil remedies against Dolan. In Oakley's suit, he alleges assault, battery, and false imprisonment against MSG, MSG Networks, and MSG Sports & Entertainment, plus defamation against Dolan for statements he made after Oakley's arrest, inferring that OaMSGkley has a drinking problem. The defendants are also accused of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and state and city human rights statues for the Garden's perception of his alcoholism as a disability and subsequent ban.


95 Russian Athletes Are Cleared in Doping Plot

Out of the first 96 doping cases brought after the discovery that Russia had a year's long program of doping, 95 were dropped due to insufficient evidence, according to Olivier Niggli, director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The identities of the 96 athletes under review were not revealed. The cases stem from a tell-all account by whistleblower Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian antidoping lab chief who is now living in hiding in the U.S. According to Dr. Rodchenkov, Russia has a very well-organized system of cheating that extended all the way to the Olympics. A two-year investigation implicated 1,000 athletes. However, it has been difficult to bring the cases forward, due to Russia's practice of destroying evidence, impeding investigations by making it a crime for investigators to enter certain storage areas of the lab, and the unavailability of Dr. Rodchenkov, which he disputes. His lawyer, Jim Walden, stated that only one investigator requested an interview. The 95 cases were derived from an evaluation of the 1,000 athlete pool through a process of scrutiny and punishment by governing sports bodies for each sport, whose decisions were then reviewed by WADA. Conflicts of interest in the leaders of the individual governing sports bodies who may want to protect their own athletes are a concern, as well as the conflict of Craig Reedie's position as head of the WADA and serving on the International Olympic Committee. Investigations of the other athletes are ongoing. Exoneration of the 95 athletes may be seen to vindicate Russia. However, Niggli cautions that although there may not be enough evidence against individual athletes, the investigator has established a Russian system of doping, and the International Olympic Committee is considering blanket sanctions against the country ahead of the 2018 Games.


Show of Unity in Anthem Demonstration in Cleveland

At games across the National Football League (NFL), players continue to demonstrate protests during the national anthem, with the latest at a Cleveland Browns game where players--united with police, firefighters, and emergency rescue workers--locked arms before the season opener. The protests stem from Colin Kaepernick kneeling during his former team's anthems last season. Formerly a San Francisco 49ers quarterback, Kaepernick is now a free agent who has yet to be picked up, spurring speculation that his politics may be affecting his future in football. There have been several "Standing 4 Kaepernick" protests, and boycotts by bar owners who will not show NFL games. Recent demonstrations include Michael Bennett of the Seattle Seahawks sitting during the anthem while his teammate Justin Britt kept his hand on Bennett's shoulder. Other teammates shook his hand, and Jimmy Graham wore "liberty" and "justice for all" inscribed on his cleats. Martellus Bennett, who plays for the Packers and brother to Michael Bennet, raised his right fist, along with Robert Quinn of the Los Angeles Rams and Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles. Marshawn Lynch of the Oakland Raiders sat during the anthem, and Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs did not stand.


Battling the Scourge of Doping with Patience and Candor

Gary Wadler, the antidoping pioneer, died last week. He was 78. "His articulate explanations about steroids and human-growth hormones made him a frequent voice in the news media, at medical conferences, before congressional panels and at trials as an expert witness." It was his approachability that became his greatest asset on top of being a distinguished physician. Don Hooton--the father of Taylor Hooton who, as a teenager, committed suicide after he stopped using steroids--spoke highly of Dr. Wadler as being the unofficial translator on the subject of performance-enhancing drugs. Hooton stated that "he was able to put things in a way that I could understand, and was so compassionate." Dr. Wadler was a founding member of the World Anti-Doping Agency, testified before Congress on steroid use in MLB, and was an advisor to the National Basketball Association. He began his career in sports and medicine as a tournament physician at the US Open in 1980, and co-authored the seminal textbook Drugs and the Athlete in 1989.




White House Calls ESPN Host's Remarks a "Fireable Offense"

ESPN's SportsCenter co-host Jemele Hill is under fire from the White House for calling President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. Her comments included that "Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period." ESPN gave a public statement that Hill's comments "do not represent the position of ESPN" and have addressed the matter with Hill. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the comments "a fireable offense." ESPN stated that Hill recognizes her actions were inappropriate. She continues to co-host the show and has not addressed her tweets on the air. As the company gives its employees "wider latitude in talking about politics when they intersect with sports," it continues to struggle with the line between "what is considered inappropriate commentary from its writers and TV personalities."


Connecticut Law May Shield Anchor from Discipline

A Connecticut law may shield ESPN host Jemele Hill from being discharged or disciplined for her comments disparaging President Trump. General Statute 31-51q states that an employer may be liable for damages if it "subjects any employee to discipline or discharge on account of the exercise by such employee of rights guaranteed by the first amendment to the United States Constitution." One attorney with the New Haven Legal Assistance Association said that the statute was intended to protect people who say things about an important issue of public concern. In Trusz v. UBS Realty Investors, the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that "people who work in Connecticut who comment on matters of 'public concern' are protected by state law, extending some speech protection for those employees even beyond the First Amendment." Remarks about the president's beliefs and fitness for office are considered highly protected matters of public concern. What constitutes protected "public concern" is important to understand, as not all public concern speech is shielded. Under the statute, employees can be disciplined or discharged when the activity "substantially or materially interferes with the employee's bona fide job performance or the working relationship between the employee and the employer." Some legal experts are of the view that ESPN may discipline Hill, as her comments may have impacted her ability to attract sponsors and viewers, and thereby may materially interfere with her performance. ESPN's greater challenge may be in meting out its discipline in a balanced manner. Last year, it fired baseball analyst Curt Schilling for sharing a Facebook post about North Carolina's controversial "bathroom bill."


Major Sites Face Rebuke for Ads Tied to Racism

Reports from ProPublica and BuzzFeed expose that Facebook and Google enable advertisers to tailor groups of people based on hate speech and racism. According to ProPublica, it tested Facebook advertising categories to see whether they could purchase ads based on anti-Semitic topics, such as "Jew hater" and "How to burn Jews," among others. Facebook approved the ad in a matter of minutes, reaching about 2,300 people with a $30 ad boost. Facebook said that it is discontinuing such fields until it has "the right processes in place to help prevent this issue." The social media giant continues to be under fire since last fall when ProPublica reported that the platform was being used for civil rights discrimination by allowing advertisers to exclude "ethnic affinities," defined as certain races, from housing and employment ads. Facebook no longer allows the term to be used in ads for credit, housing, and employment, the typical industries most often used to discriminate based on race. Google, it was reported, not only allowed advertisements tied to racist keywords, but it also "automatically suggested more offensive terms" as part of its customer service. In response to the BuzzFeed article, Google promised to work harder to stop offensive ads. These reports support the imperative for increased disclosure of the funding behind political ads, especially in light of Facebook's revelation that its platform had been used by Russia to influence the U.S. presidential election. The Federal Communications Commission will be seeking public comment on disclosure requirements for online political ads.


Search Giant Sued by Three Female Ex-employees Who Cite Pay Discrimination

Three former female Google employees filed suit against the tech giant for employment discrimination. The plaintiffs alleged that "Google knew or should have known about the pay disparity between men and women at the company, but failed to take action to rectify it." One plaintiff who worked as a software engineer claims that she was hired at Level 3, where entry-level software engineers begin, although she already had four years of work experience. Shortly after she began, Google hired a male software engineer with duplicate credentials, but placed him at Level 4, which gave him not only a higher salary but also raises, stock options, and additional chances for bonuses. The lawsuit filed in the California Superior Court in San Francisco states that other men of equal or lower qualification started at Level 4. Women at the company make up 31% of the workforce but hold only 20% of the higher-paying engineering jobs. The suit cites a 2015 Labor Department review of Google's entire workforce at its headquarters (21,000 employees) that found significant pay disparity between men and women. The Labor Department and Google continue to battle over its pay practices.


Kaspersky Lab Software Is Ordered Wiped from Government Computers

On Wednesday, Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, ordered the removal of Kaspersky Lab Software from all federal government computer systems. Kaspersky Lab was founded by Eugene V. Kaspersky, who wrote software for the Soviet Army after being trained at a high school for spies. He started his company in 1997 and led it to become the prominent cybersecurity firm in the world, boasting over 400 million users globally. The firm is currently under federal investigation for possible links to Russian intelligence agencies, an accusation Kaspersky denies. The FBI, CIA, and other security officials have warned private companies to stop using Kaspersky software, including its antivirus products, and testified they are not comfortable with the software on their federal agencies' systems. Homeland Security has asked for the software to be removed from all federal agencies within the next 90 days.


Tracing Photos in Fake Facebook Profile

An unsuspecting Brazilian found himself the subject of a media puzzle. The Russian-created fake profile discovered by Facebook included several biographical details and photos. Discovering the actual identity of the made-up "Melvin Redick" profile required the help of crowdsourcing after Google's image search function did not find anyone. The New York Times noted that one of the photos depicted "Redick" at a bar in Brazil. Readers of the Brazilian media outlet Globo shared the photo, and one recognized "Redick" to be her son-in-law, Charles David Costacurta. Costacurta had no idea that his 2014 photos of him with his then three-year-old daughter had been stolen, and was particularly disturbed, because he used Facebook's privacy setting.


Shkreli Is Jailed for Seeking a Strand of Clinton's Hair

Martin Shkreli, the former pharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud this summer, had his bail revoked on Wednesday. He was free on $5 million bail while waiting for his January 16, 2018, sentencing for his fraud conviction of a pharmaceutical company he ran. However, his recent Facebook posts landed him back in jail. He has an apparent infatuation with Hillary Rodham Clinton's hair. In his posts, he offered $5,000 for a strand of her hair, requesting that the strand include a follicle. According to Shkreli's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, Shkreli shows "immaturity, satire, a warped sense of humor" and deserved a second chance. Brooklyn Federal District Court Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto did not see the humor. At the hearing, Judge Matsumoto revoked Shkreli's bail and said, "That is a solicitation to assault in exchange for money that is not protected by the First Amendment." He is now being held at a federal jail in Brooklyn.


Feeling Heat from Top Brands, Facebook Blocks Ads from Noxious Content

In response to the heightened scrutiny by its advertisers, Facebook established new rules on the types of videos and articles that it will bar from running ads. Seeking to assure its major brands that they will not inadvertently appear next to noxious content, Facebook will also disclose where their messages will be placed on its vast ecosystem of apps, websites, and platform. The new rules, which replicate Google's YouTube guidelines, "restrict ads from content that depicts, among other topics, real-world tragedies, debatable social issues, misappropriation of children's show characters, violence, nudity, gore, drug use and derogatory language." Facebook's vice president of global marketing, Carolyn Everson, said: "We want to do everything we can to ensure that we are providing the safest environment for publishers, advertisers and for people that utilize the platform." In addition to a preview of where the ads may appear, marketers will also receive a report on where the ads actually run. The company will be hiring an additional workforce to police the new advertising program and will institute "an appeals process for content deemed ineligible for ads."


Fake Facebook Account with Ties to the Kremlin Posed as U.S. Activists

Facebook disclosed additional but limited details on a fake Facebook account created by Internet Research Agency, a St. Petersburg firm that posts material in support of Russian government policies. Facebook stated that it discovered 470 fake accounts linked to Russia between June 2015 and May of this year. One such account, called Secured Borders, posted a notice to citizens of Twin Falls, Idaho to attend a town meeting. The meeting was fake, as well as the agenda item to discuss the "huge upsurge of violence toward American citizens by Muslim refugees who had settled there." The fact that the $100,000 in advertising is low, compared to Facebook's advertising income of more than a billion dollars quarterly, should not be dismissed. Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next, explained that microtargeting allows a small budget to "go a lot further than most realize." What's most alarming is Russia's ability to destabilize American democracy, according to Jonathan Morgan, former State Department advisor, whose company New Knowledge studies Russian online activity. Former FBI agent, Clinton Watts, stated that the online campaign gives Russian president Vladimir Putin leverage in negotiations and Russian influence on the American public. "If he's successful, it gives him (Putin) an indigenous U.S. audience in support of his policies . . . It also gives him leverage in talking to President Trump: 'Why don't you stop interfering in Ukraine, and we'll leave your domestic audience alone.'" Facebook has not released the actual posts, something its own employees are requesting. According to the company's security chief, Facebook is unable to release more information due to legal issues.


Political Feud Stifles Network As Millions Feel the Effects

beIN, a broadcaster with one of the world's largest arsenal of sports rights, has found itself in a fallout between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the latter being a country that financed the company. Saudi Arabia and several Arabic-speaking countries have severed ties with Qatar, "accusing its rulers of destabilizing the region and supporting terrorism." The political feud is starting to affect beIN's business: viewers had their signals blocked, reporters have been blocked from stadiums, and players and coaches have boycotted interviews with the channel. In some instances, another sports rights agency had to "step in to ensure that crucial games such as World Cup qualification games and Asian Champions League matches could be broadcast." Until Qatar meets the Saudi Arabian-led demands, including closing the pan-Arab news network Al Jazeera, beIN will be unable to fulfill its role as a global host broadcaster. This situation jeopardizes the viewing of Asian World Cup qualifier games and games in the MENA region of the Confederation of African Football where, among other regions, it is the sole authorized broadcaster.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 18, 2017 11:02 AM.

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