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Week in Review

By Michael Smith

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into Entertainment, Art, Sports, and Media. First, of general interest:

Vegas Shooter Kills 58

During the last night of the "Route 91" country music festival in Las Vegas, a 64-year-old white male fired repeatedly into the crowd from a suite in the Mandalay Bay Hotel, where he had more than 20 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. He also had explosives and chemicals used for bomb-making in his car. Investigations are ongoing.


High Court Hears Argument on Workplace Arbitration

The Supreme Court heard argument in three cases consolidated to present the issue of whether employment agreements could include arbitration clauses with class-action waivers. The Justices' comments and questions suggest no clear outcome.


France Moves Closer to Stricter Counterterrorism Laws

The lower house of the French Parliament has passed, by a wide margin, a bill that would put into the hands of security personnel decisions typically reserved for, or overseen by, the judiciary. The legislation would permit search and seizure and house arrest without judicial review, expands the areas where police can establish checkpoints, and permits the restriction of access to public areas for up to a month without judicial review. The bill, which still must be reconciled with the upper house's version, is intended to codify measures that would allow the president to lift the state of emergency that has been in place for two years.


U.S. Shuts Door on Cuban Immigrants, Mystery Ailments

The U.S. State Department sharply reduced its staff at the U.S. embassy in Cuba, and indefinitely suspended processing of visas at that embassy. The U.S. also has halted its "wet foot, dry foot" policy, which permitted Cubans to stay if they made it to U.S. soil, but required those halted short of the shore to turn around. President Trump also expelled 15 Cuban diplomats. All of these steps appear to be in response to mysterious symptoms reported by U.S. consular staff, which some think may be the result of a direct attack on those personnel.



Japanese Journalist Dies of Overwork

31-year-old journalist Miwa Sado died of congestive heart failure caused by overwork. Sado rarely took weekends off, and in one month worked 159 hours of overtime. Death by overwork is so common in Japan that there is a name for it: karoshi.


Trump Administration Asks High Court to Dismiss Travel Ban Suits

The U.S. Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court to dismiss two cases challenging the Trump administration's revised travel ban, arguing that they are moot in light of recent changes to the travel restrictions. The Court took the case off the argument calendar last month, after the administration announced the changes.


Attorney General Rolls Back Transgender Workplace Protections

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) to take the position that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans workplace discrimination based on sex, does not protect transgender people. This is a reversal of former attorney general Eric Holder's order instructing the DOJ to define "sex" in that statute to include gender identity.


Concert in Egypt Leads to Crackdowns on Gay and Transgender People

Since fans waved a rainbow flag at a rock concert in Egypt last month, at least 34 people have been arrested, apparently for "trying to promote homosexual ideas," and at least one detainee has been convicted of "committing debauchery" and sentenced to 6 years in prison.



Weinstein Company in Distress after Harassment Allegations

In the wake of reports that co-chairman Harvey Weinstein had been engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment for over three decades, the Weinstein Company is in disarray. On Thursday, Weinstein announced he would take an indefinite leave of absence. On Saturday, Weinstein's attorney, Lisa Bloom, resigned. At least three board members reportedly have resigned, and the remaining members have hired an outside law firm to conduct an investigation. On Sunday evening, the directors announced that Harvey Weinstein was "terminated, effective immediately."



Country Music Artists Have Mixed Reactions to Vegas Shooting

The mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas has highlighted divisions--and fears--in the country music community. Long associated with pro-gun rights sentiment, the country music industry historically has had a very close relationship with the NRA, including a "lifestyle brand" called "NRA Country." Some musicians, like Jennifer Nettles and Sheryl Crowhave, called for stricter gun control in the wake of the massacre, while others, like country duo Big and Rich, see no connection between gun laws and what happened in Vegas. For the most part, however, country artists seem to be keeping mum, afraid of being "Dixie Chick-ed" for expressing a view that may be unpopular among fans.


Actress Accuses Polanski of Rape

No, a different one. Renate Langer, a former actress, recently told Swiss Police that director Roman Polanski raped her when she was 15, in 1972. Langer is the fourth woman to publicly accuse Polanski of sexually assaulting her as a teenager.


Television Directors More Diverse

The Directors Guild of America released the results of a study it says shows that women and "ethnic minorities" are being hired as first time directors at higher rates than in 2009. Others criticize the results as incomplete and unduly self-congratulatory.



"Street-style" Photographers Protest Unauthorized Use

Dozens of photographers promoted the hashtag #NoFreePhotos to protest the uncompensated use of their photos in the promotion of fashion brands. "The Photographers," as they call themselves, are among the paparazzi-like street photographers who vie for snaps of so-called "influencers"--Internet personalities known for their styles. The influencers and the fashion brands with whom they often have synergistic, cross-promotional relationships, increasingly are using these copyrighted photos in their own promotions, without paying the photographers.


Critic Accuses Poet of Plagiarism

In his review of Jill Bialosky's memoir, "Poetry Will Save Your Life," literary critic William Logan accused the poet of plagiarizing Wikipedia and the websites of the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Foundation. Bialosky, who is a vice president and executive editor at W. W. Norton, said Logan "extracted a few ancillary and limited phrases...that inadvertently include fragments of prior common biographical sources and tropes after a multiyear writing process."


"Fearless Girl" Firm Failed Females Financially, Forfeits Five Million

State Street Corporation, the financial services firm that sponsored the "Fearless Girl" statue that now stands in front of the iconic Wall Street bull, agreed to pay $5 million to settle an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor that State Street paid female executives less than similarly situated males. The $5 million will go into a fund for female and minority executives who were paid less than white males in the same positions. .


Seuss Museum to Replace Offensive Mural

The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts, will be replacing a mural depicting "the Chinaman," a character from Seuss's first book, "And to think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street." Several authors complained, calling the image a "jarring racial stereotype," and refused to attend an event at the museum. The museum announced that it would take down the image, then canceled the event.


Guggenheim Pulls Works After "Ominous Threats"

The Guggenheim Museum removed three works from its new exhibit, "Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World," after receiving threats directed at its employees. All three pieces involved animals (the basis for the threats and protests). The most notorious piece, "Dogs That Cannot Touch Each Other," featured two fighting dogs on treadmills facing each other.


Louvre Pulls "Sexually Explicit" Installation

The Louvre announced that "Domestikator," a piece by the collective Atelier Van Lieshout, will not be on view at the Louvre's Tuileries Gardens on October 19th as originally planned. The 40-foot high sculpture is a semi-abstract representation of copulation, and the Louvre's director cited concerns that the work "risks being misunderstood by visitors to the garden," and that it is situated near a children's playground.


Lincoln Center Abandons $500 Million Renovation

A $500 million plan to gut renovate the home of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center was scrapped. Media mogul David Geffen pledged $100 million to the effort in 2015, and Avery Fisher Hall was renamed David Geffen Hall. Citing various construction issues and concerns for delay, the project leaders went back to the drawing board to devise a more modest renovation. In reaction to the news, Geffen called out New York's wealthiest for not giving more. "New York deserves to have the best concert hall for the Philharmonic. New York should have the best of everything," said Geffen on the day the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that Geffen was donating $150 million.



Miranda Releases Charity Single for Hurricane Relief

Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of the smash musical "Hamilton", released a single called "Almost Like Praying," which features a lineup of famous Latino artists like Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, John Leguizamo, and Rita Moreno to raise funds and awareness for victims of Hurricane Maria.


Ishiguro Wins Nobel

Kazuo Ishiguro, the Japanese novelist best known for "The Remains of The Day," has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.



Russia Orders Doping Whistle-Blower's Arrest

A Russian court issued an order calling for the arrest of Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Anti-Doping Center in Moscow, who publicly disclosed that urine samples were tampered with during the 2014 Winter Olympics. Rodchenkov's revelations led to investigations by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Olympic Committee, and the banning of several Russian athletes.


Silver Says Hoopsters Should Stand for Anthem

National Basketball Association (NBA) Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking after the NBA's Board of Governors meeting, said that he expected players to follow the league rule requiring standing during the national anthem. He said they have other avenues through which to make their voices heard.


National Football League to Investigate Pryor Claims of Racial Taunting

National Football League officials are investigating Washington Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor's report that racial slurs were shouted at him from the crowd during last Monday night's game at Kansas City. TMZ published a video that catches the tail end of a heated exchange between Pryor and some fans; reportedly no racial slurs are clearly audible in the video.


Head of Brazil's Olympic Committee Arrested in Bribery Investigation

On Thursday, federal police detained Carlos Arthur Nuzman, head of Brazil's Olympic Committee. Nuzman is accused of failing to declare assets (including 16 bars of gold) held abroad, and is implicated in emails that appear to discuss payment of bribes in connection with Brazil's successful bid to host the Olympic games.


Major League Baseball Clears Coach of Cheating with Apple Watch

Major League Baseball (MLB) announced its conclusion, after investigation, that Arizona Diamondbacks coach Ariel Prieto did not use his Apple Watch for improper purposes during a recent game against the Colorado Rockies. Prieto and the Diamondbacks were fined for violating the MLB's rules against using electronic communications during games.


Newton Apologizes for Sexist Remark

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton apologized for a sexist remark he made to reporter Jourdan Rodrigue of The Charlotte Observer. The apology came after Dannon withdrew its sponsorship of Newton.


Devils to be First National Hockey League Team to Own Women's Franchise

The New Jersey Devils agreed to a three-year partnership with the Metropolitan Riveters (nee New York Riveters), which includes providing the women's team with rent-free facilities, and assisting in sponsorships, ticket sales, and marketing.


Youngstown Settles with Convicted Rapist

Several months after Youngstown State university accepted Ma'lik Richmond to the football team, the university told Richmond that he couldn't play. That decision was made after a student circulated a petition to keep Richmond off the team, because Richmond previously had been convicted of rape. Richmond sued the school and obtained a TRO allowing him to play. The parties settled, and Richmond will remain on the active roster.


Barcelona Joins Catalan Protest

The Barcelona football club joined a country-wide strike to protest government efforts to stop Sunday's referendum on Catalonian independence.


French Bank Implicated in Olympics Bribery Scheme

French prosecutors are looking into the role of Société Générale, one of France's largest banks, in a $2 million transfer officials believe was a bribe intended to secure Brazil's chances of hosting the Olympics in 2016.


String of Arrests in Basketball Bribery Investigation

A three-year investigation into bribes given to basketball recruits led to the arrest of 10 people, including four assistant coaches, an Adidas marketing executive, and a tailor who made suits for NBA stars. At the University of Louisville, which is alleged to have paid a player to attend the school, coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave, and the school began the process of firing Pitino.


Contact Sports Cause 600,000 Injuries a Year

Researchers at Yale University calculated that contact sports may be responsible for 650,000 injuries among male high school and college athletes. Making those sports non-contact could save over $20 billion in medical costs and time lost.



Top Lawyer Leaves Fox News

Fox News announced Friday that its executive vice president of legal and business affairs, Dianne Brandi, has taken a voluntary leave of absence. Brandi is reportedly a subject of the U.S. Attorney's investigation into Fox News' handling of sexual harassment complaints. The plaintiffs in several lawsuits alleged that Brandi concealed inappropriate behavior or dismissed employees' concerns.


AIM is 404 as of 12/15/17

On December 15, 2017, the 20-year-old messaging platform AOL Instant Messenger will transmit its last message.


Los Angeles Times Newsroom Looking to Unionize

Newsroom employees at The Los Angeles Times have been organizing in favor of a union they hope would help them improve working conditions, pay, benefits, and employee protections. A majority reportedly support representation by the NewsGuild, a national organization. The push for unionization is a reaction to recent unilateral and unwelcome actions by the Times' parent company, Tronc.


Yahoo Breach Hit All Three Billion Accounts

Yahoo previously disclosed that a cyberattack in 2013 had affected 1 billion user accounts. Verizon, which bought Yahoo for $4.5 billion in June, announced that all of Yahoo's user accounts--about 3 billion--were affected.


Russian Collusion Investigation Continues, Targets Social Media

The Senate Intelligence Committee has now been investigating whether Russia coordinated with the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 elections for roughly nine months. It has interviewed over 100 witnesses, reviewed more than 100,000 pages of documents, and the investigation continues. Facebook gave Congressional investigators over 3,000 Russian ads it said had been viewed by about 10 million individuals in the U.S. According to the social media giant, "[m]ost of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum...." Twitter has agreed to appear for a public hearing on November 1st to answer questions about fake Russian accounts. Facebook has said it also will appear.




Facebook to Manually Review Sensitive Ads

Facebook announced that it will implement "human review" for ads that target certain politically sensitive groups or issues, and that this may cause delays in approval of ads.


Google Finds Russian-financed YouTube Ads

Google determined that some YouTube ad spending--less than $100,000--was potentially linked to Russian operatives.


Facebook Blocks Critic of China

Guo Wengui, a Chinese billionaire living in New York, is known for publicizing accusations of corruption among China's leaders. Facebook blocked Guo's profile and took down another page associated with him, stating that the pages included a third party's personal identifiable information in violation of the Facebook terms of service.


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