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Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

The Environmental Protection Agency Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists

Under the Trump administration, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is headed by Scott Pruitt, a skeptic of climate change. The EPA canceled the appearance of three scientists at a climate change conference this week, which a spokesman confirmed without any further comment. Some analysts have viewed the cancellation as confirmation that the EPA, under Pruitt's direction, denies the existence of climate change and to engage in "scientific censorship."


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


The Former Weinstein Company Empire Continues to Unravel

The New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, opened an inquiry into the Weinstein Company as to whether sexual misconduct and harassment of its co-founder Harvey Weinstein was part of a broader environment of gender discrimination and other unlawful activity. The Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau served the company with subpoenas for information and documents that are expected to show whether there is a history of discrimination within the company.

Harvey Weinstein's friend and colleague, Fabrizio Lombardo, is also under scrutiny for potentially being an accomplice to Weinstein's sexual escapades for the past several decades. Lombardo headed Miramax's Italian division, but was known to be a close contact with Weinstein. The nature of their relationship, says one accuser, was that Lombardo brought women to Weinstein under the pretense that he was bringing them to a party with Weinstein, only to find that Weinstein was alone and forced himself on them. Lombardo, at his attorney's office in Rome, denied the allegations and the characterizations that the accusers have outlined.

The Weinstein Company sought financial help. It secured a preliminary agreement with Colony Capital, which deal, however, fell apart this week. Colony is a private equity firm that is experienced in acquiring and renewing distressed Hollywood assets. The Weinstein Company still has other suitors, such as Fortress Investment Group, which has been working to provide an offer of $35 million that would keep the studio operating for several months. It is unclear what exposure the company may face in the coming months and years, as the accusations against Harvey Weinstein may manifest in further payouts or litigation.

Weinstein is also suing the company he co-founded in an effort to obtain access to records and emails that he said are necessary to defend himself against the more than 50 women who have accused him of sexual harassment or rape in recent weeks. The complaint, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, indicates that his email account and personnel records will exonerate him from wrongdoing, and also help him prosecute a case against the company for wrongful termination.





The Turtles Lose Battle Over Pre-1972 Copyrights

The Turtles band lost its battle over the right to collect royalties from pre-1972 recordings, when Florida's Supreme Court ruled that Florida common law does not recognize that right.

The decision is available here: sc16-1161.pd.pdf

Eminem's Publisher Triumphs in New Zealand Copyright Battle

The National Party of New Zealand is required to pay Eminem's music publisher $413,000 for infringement of copyright. Eminem's hit song "Lose Yourself" was the subject of the copyright infringement, as the defendant used a suspiciously similar song it called "Eminem Esque" in its campaign advertisements in 2014. While the defendant's lawyers contended that it did not substantially copy the song, Justice Helen Cull found it to be strikingly similar and "with minimal discernible differences" between the two songs.



Rockwell's Children Sue Berkshire Museum to Stop Sale of His Works

The Berkshire Museum, in an effort to reinvent itself and to improve its finances, placed two Norman Rockwell paintings up for auction, causing Rockwell's children to file suit to stop the sale. The plaintiffs argue that Rockwell donated the paintings to the institution, and the museum has "grossly exaggerated" its financial difficulties to create an appearance of necessity for selling the works that amounts to a breach of the board of director's fiduciary duty. They also argue that the selling would violate the statute that created the museum, which requires gifts to be for "the people of Berkshire County and the general public." Attorneys for the museum insist that the lawsuit is "factually and legally flawed."


Communism's Answer to Mickey Mouse is Thrust Into a Very Capitalist Dispute

A popular cartoon mole that was meant to be the Eastern Bloc's equivalent of Mickey Mouse, a forbidden symbol in that region, caused a controversy after its creator, Zdenek Miler, died in 2011. Miler left his company to five direct relatives, and his granddaughter Karolina Milerova has since contended that he gave her full control of all copyrights he owned while on his deathbed. She used this supposed control to establish her own company, but a court has rejected the claim, stating that the contract signed on his deathbed was too vague. Milerova indicated she will take the case to a higher court and continue her fight.


Leon Wieseltier Admits Offenses Against Female Colleagues

A prominent editor of The New Republic for three decades, Leon Wieseltier, has apologized for offenses against his female colleagues in his years of work, as several women came forward accusing him of sexual harassment and inappropriate advances. This apology came as Wieseltier was working to create a new magazine, called Idea, in collaboration with Emerson Collective.


Women Accuse Knight Landesman of Sexual Harassment

Hours after a lawsuit was filed in New York against him accusing him of sexual harassment of nine women, Knight Landesman, a publisher of Artforum magazine and a well-known broker in the community, resigned this week. The revelations surrounding his sexual harassment and resignation are just the latest example of women vocalizing the sexual harassment of a man long known to have a propensity for the behavior and causing their resignation or firing.


Ex-Theater Agent Sentenced for Fake Play

A former theater agent, Roland Scahill, confessed to a scheme in 2014 and 2015 where he bilked investors of hundreds of thousands of dollars to back a nonexistent Broadway play headed by popular actress Lupita Nyong'o and streamed on Netflix. He confessed in court to fabricating the entire story and defrauding 10 investors of $205,000, leading to a sentence of six months in jail.


Panel Finds That Cancer Did Not Kill Pablo Neruda

The Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was supposed to have died of cancer in 1973, which was the cause of death reported in his death certificate. However, his former driver, Manuel Araya, reported in 2011 that Neruda in fact was poisoned when he had an injection of an unknown substance at a private clinic in Chile. This caused a judge to order in 2013 that his remains be exhumed and sent to forensic genetics experts. The experts have found a potentially deadly bacteria in a sample and have also found it impossible that Neruda died from cancer. The panel of experts has been asked by the judge to now determine the origin of the bacteria that they found, as it may indicate whether he was killed or died of natural causes other than cancer.


'Diller Island' is Back From the Dead

Approximately a month and a half ago, Barry Diller admitted defeat on his effort to build a pier in the Hudson River that was a park and a performing arts center. Governor Andrew Cuomo has now intervened, and Diller agreed to revive the project, while his opponents also agreed to stop the legal battle against Diller's. Cuomo promised to complete the 4.5-mile-long Hudson River Park, which stretches from Battery Park City to 59th Street and includes the site where Diller is to develop the pier, and he has promised to protect the estuary, which was a prime concern of opponents to the development. While others have questioned placing a performing arts center on a pier in the Hudson River, Diller is now prepared to move forward with his experiment.



Iditarod Doping Mystery: Who Slipped Tramadol to the Dogs?

Doping has now made its way to an unexpected event: the Iditarod. Dallas Seavey's team of four dogs have brought him to be a four-time champion of the 1,000-mile trek across Alaska, but his dogs tested positive for an opioid pain reliever, Tramadol. He claimed in a video posted on YouTube that he was likely sabotaged by a competitor. While many others involved in doping have taken to coming up with unreasonable, unrealistic excuses for the doping, his competitors believe his excuse, calling him "an honest and upstanding Iditarod competitor." The Iditarod Trail Committee has not disciplined Seavey or asked him to return his prize money.


Former Player Blasts National Football League for Hiding CTE Risks

A former National Football League (NFL) player, Chris Borland, became well-known for leaving the NFL after his rookie season, calling the long-term health risks "not worth it." He has now appeared in a public service announcement denouncing the NFL for hiding the risks of brain damage resulting from playing the game. While the NFL has not returned a New York Times' call for comment, it has touted its rule changes to the game that are designed to maximize safety for the players.


Guatemalan Soccer Executive Gets Eight Months in FIFA Corruption Case

In the Eastern District of New York, Judge Pamela Chen sentenced a former Guatemalan judge, Hector Trujillo, to eight months in prison for accepting and laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. He also was required to pay $415,000 as restitution for the victims. His sentencing is part of a broader corruption case in global soccer implicating more than 40 people four years ago. Trujillo's sentence is likely to inform the sentences of the more than 20 defendants who are waiting resolution of their own cases.


Israeli Judoka Wins Gold but Not Under Israeli Flag

At a judo competition in Abu Dhabi, an Israeli judoka, Tal Flicker, competed and won a gold medal this week. The United Arab Emirates has banned Israeli athletes from wearing their country's symbols on uniforms and has not permitted the displaying of its flag or the playing of its national anthem during the tournament. At the award ceremony, he mouthed the words to the Israeli national anthem while the Judo federation flag flew above him.


Teen Golfer Denied Trophy

A Massachusetts high schooler finished first in a regional golf tournament, but was denied a trophy and the opportunity to play at the state high school golf championships solely because she is a female. She expressed her disappointment to a local media outlet, but the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, which promulgates the rules that apparently bar the teenager from competing, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Figures Show Rise in Positive Doping

The World Anti-Doping Agency announced that there has been a rise in doping in sports from 2015 to 2016. The report indicates that positive results rose from 1.26% of tests in 2015 to 1.6% in 2016.



Federal Communications Commission to Loosen Rules on Local Media Ownership

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), headed by Ajit Pai, announced that it is planning to eliminate its decades-old rules regarding media ownership that are designed to protect local coverage and diversity in the media. It is scheduled to vote in November to roll back the rules. This is part of a pattern of the FCC since Pai was appointed by President Trump in January, the result of which has been to deregulate the industry.


O'Reilly Settled Claim, Then Renewed Fox Contract

In January 2017, Bill O'Reilly entered into a $32 million agreement with an accuser, six months after the organization ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal. Then, in February, Fox News renewed O'Reilly's contract, granting him a four-year extension with $25 million a year. These revelations come as Fox News is attempting to show its board, employees, and the public that it has cleaned up the organization and excised those who took to unlawful activity. The chief executive of 21st Century Fox said that he did not know the size of O'Reilly's $32 million settlement until recently, as it was not a private settlement.



A Long-Delayed Reckoning of the Cost of Silence on Abuse

As revelations of sexual harassment and abuse come to the surface from influential figures like Bill O'Reilly, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and John Besh, it is clear that many came to know of their behavior, but were silenced with money or nondisclosure agreements that were part of settlements. Investigative journalists uncovered the revelations and publicized them, which permitted other women to come forward to the media and add to the lists of revelations. Some analysts see the mounting revelations as a national reckoning that is changing the culture of the industry, and more broadly the country, to hold accountable those who commit sexual assault. To further that cause, the New York State legislature is "considering legislation that would void contract provisions that keep employees from bringing harassment and discrimination claims."



Mark Halperin, Top Political Journalist, Faces Multiple Claims of Harassment

A prominent political journalist, Mark Halperin, was accused of sexually harassing multiple women while working as the director of political coverage at ABC News. Five unidentified women described his unwanted and aggressive sexual advances, and the fallout has been swift since the revelations. While he had television appearances on MSNBC and HBO, those and an upcoming book tour were canceled in light of the revelations.


Russia's Favored Outlet is an Online News Giant that YouTube Helped

The world's most visited video site, YouTube, has had a cozy relationship with Russian news channel RT, which became the first news organization to surpass one billion views on YouTube in 2013. The relationship is now being scrutinized, as investigators in Washington examine the "scope and reach of Russian interference in United States politics." During the 2016 election campaign, RT was a prominent critic of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, reporting that she was involved with corruption and in poor physical and mental health. YouTube's community guidelines ban nudity or copyright violations but not propaganda, which many analysts say best describe RT's content, as it is an arm of the Russian government.


Russian Journalist Stabbed, Renewing Fears of Attacks on Media

On Monday, a man wielding a knife broke into the Moscow talk radio station Echo of Moscow and stabbed an announcer in the throat, raising concerns about the safety of journalists in Russia. The station reports on a range of political views and has been known to host liberal commentators and politicians when they are in Moscow. The victim, Tatyana Felgenhauer, was in critical condition at a Moscow hospital, but her life was not at risk. Police have not announced the assailant's motive.


UK Lawmakers Ask Facebook About Russian Influence in Brexit Vote

Britain's Parliament has raised inquiries with Facebook, Twitter, and other internet companies to determine whether Russians had used social media to influence Britain's vote to leave the European Union, often called Brexit. The vote to leave, cast in 2016, continues to be a point of contention for Britain as the approach for leaving the European Union is far from clear, and Russian interference with the vote would only further complicate the process. Facebook's spokesman has vowed to respond to Parliament's request once it has been reviewed.


Russia Fanned Flames with Twitter, Which Faces a Blowback, Causing Twitter to Ban Two News Outlets from Advertising

One Twitter account, @TEN_GOP, was able to reach more than 130,000 followers in Tennessee throughout the course of the campaign for the election in 2016, which was more than 10 times the followers for the Republican Party's Twitter handle for the state. The account was a Russian troll account designed to stoke division in the country, and its content was filled with "inflammatory misinformation." Twitter came under fire for allowing the account to spread misinformation, and, in an effort to prevent an appearance of supporting Russian propaganda, announced that it will ban RT and Sputnik, two Kremlin-backed international news outlets, from advertising on the site. The company announced that these steps are to "help protect the integrity of the user experience on Twitter."



Reddit Bans Nazi Groups and Others in Crackdown on Violent Content

The online internet forum Reddit implemented a new policy of banning content that glorifies violence, eliminating its forums for Nazi, racist, and white supremacy groups from the site's forums. Its administrators had previously flagged posts, but its policy was "too vague" to reliably eliminate posts that could even lead to "mild violence." Now, if content is considered "borderline," it will be tagged with a warning.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 29, 2017 2:27 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Week in Review.

The next post in this blog is Keitel v E*TRADE Fin. Corp., 2017 NY Slip Op 06624, (September 26, 2017 App. Div. 1st Dept.).

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