« Conducting Salary Discussions in New York City after November 1, 2017 | Main | Sixth Circuit Creates 'Presumption' of Unmasking Copyright Infringers »

Week in Review

By Eric Lanter

Australian Furor Over Chinese Influence Follows Book's Delay

Clive Hamilton is the Australian author of a book detailing how China's growing influence in Australia has a tremendous impact on Australians, and his book experienced delays in its release because of Chinese influence. The publisher, Allen & Unwin, one of the country's largest publishers, delayed publishing the book for fear that it may anger China's Communist Party and harm relations between the two countries, particularly through China bringing lawsuits in relation to the book. When the author reported the reason behind the delay, he set off an uproar in the country and a realization that Australia has become closer to China, as China's power and influence has grown in recent decades.


Italy Fears Outsiders Will Meddle in Election

The news that Russia had interfered with the U.S.'s 2016 election, Britain's vote to exit from the European Union, and the latest Catalan effort to secede from Spain and form its own state, Italians are in fear that Russia will be involved in its national election. The governing Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, is fearful that Russia will intervene to bring down one of the last remaining center-left political parties in Western Europe. Facebook indicated that it will have Italian fact-checkers in the country as the elections loom to prevent "fake news" from being spread on social media, and analysts expect any "fake news" to be part of an effort of promoting the right-wing Five Star political party, which has increased its power in recent months and may be poised to do well in the national election.


India's Gay Rights Activists Seize Momentum After Landmark Court Ruling

In August, India's Supreme Court ruled that there is a fundamental right of privacy that extends to citizens of India, and the Court noted that sexual orientation falls within the umbrella of privacy. This has inspired Indian lawyers and members of the LGBTQ community in India, as they still contend with an 1861 law that prohibits homosexual acts. The Supreme Court of India estimated that approximately 200 people have been prosecuted under the law, but it has been part of a wider culture of homophobia that Britain's colonization of India brought in a marked change to India's culture, which openly embraced gender fluidity and homosexuality. One Indian lawyer, who has been working for years to overturn the antiquated law, sees the Indian Supreme Court's ruling as a nail in the coffin for the law, and expects challenges to the law to ultimately sink it.


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


Charlie Rose Made Crude Sexual Advances, Prompting His Firing

After eight women came forward accusing television host Charlie Rose of sexual misconduct, CBS fired him and PBS canceled distribution of his self-titled nightly interview program. Bloomberg TV, which also carried "Charlie Rose" and rebroadcast the program from PBS, announced it, too, was terminating its agreement. Rose released a statement acknowledging that he "behaved insensitively at times," but that he "always felt that I was pursuing shared feelings, even though I now realize I was mistaken."



Jeffrey Tambor Leaves 'Transparent' After Sexual Misconduct Allegations

The star of the Amazon series "Transparent," Jeffrey Tambor, announced that he will not return for the show's fifth season after two women came forward with allegations of sexual misconduct. He denied the allegations, which came from a co-star and a former assistant. His co-star announced that he made sexual advances and comments, and then sexually assaulted her between takes of filming. His former assistant wrote on Facebook that he sexually harassed her and then groped her. He released a statement, part of which stated: "Given the politicized atmosphere that seems to have afflicted our set, I don't see how I can return to 'Transparent.'" Amazon has not commented on his departure.


Who We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Harvey Weinstein

Annabella Sciorra, an actress since the 1980s, told journalist Ronan Farrow that she was a victim of Harvey Weinstein's scheme of sexual assault. She detailed his raping her and terrorizing her career later. She joined a group of women, like Gwyneth Paltrow and Ashley Judd, who made casting decisions solely on the basis of rumors and dealing with Weinstein. While many ask questions about how Weinstein's work has been interpreted, the columnist asks readers to ask a different question: How does what has been done to these actresses bear out in art they never were able to make? The columnist speculates that Sciorra's talent and skill was likely to place her at the top of the profession, but her falling into Weinstein's predatory exploits and viciousness prevented her from achieving her full potential.


U.S. Charges Iranian Hacker After HBO Hack

In the Southern District of New York, charges were unsealed against Behzad Mesri. It is alleged that Mesri hacked into HBO's computer systems and stole over 1.5 terabytes of data, which included unreleased episodes and scripts for the HBO hit "Game of Thrones." The charges include fraud, extortion, and identity theft, but when Mesri will be charged is unknown, as he remains in Iran. He sought $6 million in Bitcoin payments from HBO after stealing HBO's material, and prosecutors question whether he is working on behalf of the Iranian government, given his previous connection with it. One expert in the field guessed that this hacking is just one example of a broader pattern of Iranian hacking, and he expects that additional hackers could be caught and charged with crimes.



Creator of Brazil's Outdoor Museum Inhotim Sentenced to Prison

In Brazil, the Inhotim Institute is an outdoor contemporary art museum. Its founder, Bernardo Paz, was sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of using money raised for the institution for expenses related to a conglomerate of mining and steel companies that he also operated. In 2007 and 2008, he received over $98 million in donations for the art museum, part of which he siphoned to his other companies. Paz has consistently denied the allegations, and his family says that an appeal is likely.


Donald Fagen Sues Walter Becker's Estate for Control of Steely Dan

The only remaining member of the band Steely Dan, Donald Fagen, sued the estate of Walter Becker, his longtime bandmate who died in September 2017, for ownership of the band's name and damages over $1 million. At the heart of the dispute is an agreement that the band members signed before their debut album in 1972. The agreement stipulated that whenever a member died or left the group, that member's shares would be sold back to the remaining members. The Becker estate sent a letter to Fagen four days after Becker's death, claiming the agreement was null and that Becker's window, Delia, should be appointed as director or officer of the band. Fagen also sued Steely Dan's accounting and business management firm, accusing it of accounting errors, "secretive behaviors and/or withholding information."


Trying to Save a 1950s Mural of 1800s Chelsea From Demolition

Sitting in a bank in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan is a mural on canvas depicting the intersection of 14th Street and 6th Avenue in the late 19th Century. The property developer, Gemini Rosemont, acquired the property and is planning to convert the building into condominiums and retail space, but it does not know yet what it will do with the mural. The City Council Member for the area, Corey Johnson, teamed up with Save Chelsea, a preservationist group, to save the mural. The developer announced that it contacted several galleries to determine the value of the mural and to see whether there was any interest in the work, but the developer claims that it did not receive any positive responses.


Town Hall Meeting Held on Sexual Harassment

The Public Theater is holding a Town Hall for all to attend in light of the recent revelations of sexual harassment throughout the entertainment industry. Stephanie Ybarra, the director of special artistic projects at the Public Theater, announced that the event is being held, as the institution is not only an artistic venue but a civic one, and a place where people should gather to freely talk about their stories and to suggest ways to prevent and report sexual harassment. The event, which is open for anyone in the theater industry, is scheduled for December 2, 2017 at 2 PM and is free.



Debate at FIFA Trial: Witness Tampering or Itchy Skin?

The first week of a federal trial regarding FIFA's bribes, corruption, and vote-buying schemes ended in a debate about one of the defendant's skin condition. Defendant Manuel Burga, who was a Peruvian soccer official now facing a racketeering conspiracy charge, appeared to make throat-slitting gestures toward the first witness testifying in the case. His attorney attributed the gestures to a skin condition that made his neck itch, and because the gestures were captured on camera, it is expected that the prosecution will introduce the video as evidence as the trial progresses. In the meantime, Judge Pamela Chen, overseeing the case, indicated that if the gestures were an attempt to tamper with the witness, she will imprison Burga, who has been free on bail.


Nasser Al-Khelaifi Discussed Buying Company Linked to Bribes

A Qatari businessman, Nasser al-Khelaifi, was president of Paris St.-Germain, one of France's top soccer clubs, and linked to a corruption inquiry regarding payment of millions of dollars in bribes for rights to coveted television contracts. He had planned to acquire a 51% stake in an Argentine company, Full Play Group, the founders of which have been charged in a United States Department of Justice soccer corruption investigation. Al-Khelaifi denied the accusations and met with authorities. Whether he will be charged is not yet known.


A Star on Washington's Ice With a No. 1 Fan at the Kremlin

Alexander Ovechkin, a Russian national, is one of the most accomplished hockey players, and plays for the Washington Capitals. He recently appeared in an Instagram post alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, in what appeared to be an endorsement of the Russian president in the lead-up to his re-election (which is virtually guaranteed). A major Russian public relations company, which devised the term "Putin Team," denies that it was involved in getting Ovechkin to pose for the picture. Analysts suspect that the post is aimed at securing more support for Putin.


Major League Baseball Bars Former Braves Executive in Signings Scandal

Major League Baseball (MLB) barred John Coppolella, who was previously the Braves's general manager, for violating MLB's rules regarding how players were acquired. The rules allow teams a "specified bonus pool to spend on international amateurs," and if it exceeds that amount by more than 5%, it may not sign any additional players for over $300,000 for the following two years. MLB found that the Braves, while Coppolella was at the helm, did not report the full extent of its signings: it inflated the bonuses of lesser prospects not covered by the aforementioned rule while funneling the money to better prospects who had signed within the rule. Coppolella resigned his position last month amidst the the investigation, and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that he is confident the Braves will put procedures in place to prevent similar conduct in the future.


Jerry Jones Calls Off Threat to Sue National Football League Over Goodell Contract

The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, announced that he will not pursue suing the National Football League (NFL) and the six owners of its compensation committee who are in the middle of negotiating a contract extension for Roger Goodell, the commissioner. Jones reinforced his reputation for acting independently, but he joins the likes of former owner of Oakland Raiders Al Davis, who regularly attacked the NFL main office. Jones' objections to Goodell were said to be centered on declining television ratings and the players' protests during the national anthem before games, but others think that the objections came down to Goodell's decision to suspend the Cowboys' star running back, Ezekiel Elliott.


Olympic Champion Gabby Douglas Says Team Doctor Abused Her, as Doctor Pleads Guilty to Charges

Lawrence Nassar, the doctor who worked with the United States gymnastics team and Michigan State University's gymnastics team, pleaded guilty to seven counts of sexual assault on Wednesday and is facing a minimum of 25 years in prison. He is also accused of sexually assaulting at least 130 other women and girls, including Olympic gold medalists Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas. Raisman came to the media in recent weeks with the revelation that she was assaulted, and while Douglas initially attacked Raisman, she too admitted that Nassar had assaulted her while she was on the United States gymnastics team. Judge Rosemarie Aquilina told Nassar in court: "You used your position of trust in the most vile way: to abuse children. I agree that now is a time of healing, but it may take them a lifetime of healing while you spend your life behind bars thinking of what you did by taking away their childhood."



Striker Sentenced in Absentia

Brazilian soccer star Robinho, who played for his country and for AC Milan (and now plays in Brazil for the club Atletico Mineiro), was sentenced in absentia to nine years in prison for his taking part in a gang rape of an Albanian woman at a club in 2013. He has two appeals as of right, and Italy will not seek extradition until the legal process is exhausted, but Brazil does not allow the extradition of its own citizens.


More Russian Doping Means Upgrading of Medals

Four more Russians were disqualified from the Sochi Olympics for doping. This development has put more pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide whether Russia can be permitted to compete in the Pyeongchang Games in South Korea. In total, 14 Russians have been disqualified during this month alone, relinquishing nine medals. There is an IOC meeting scheduled for December 5, 2017, where it is expected that a decision will be made as to whether Russia's team will be permitted to compete, given the state-sponsored doping that has occurred. This decision is similar to the one made just prior to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, when it was well-known that at least some Russian athletes had been flagged and disqualified for doping.



Murder Sentence Increased for Oscar Pistorius

On Friday, South Africa's Supreme Court of Appeal reviewed the lower court's sentencing of former Olympic sprinter Oscar Pistorius and found that the sentence should be doubled from six to 15 years. Given his time served, he faces an additional 13 years and five months in prison for the killing of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in their home in February 2013. South African law requires a minimum sentence of 15 years for murder, but permits a more lenient sentence "if there are mitigating circumstances." In Pistorius's case, the court noted that he "displays a lack of remorse and does not appreciate the gravity of his actions." It is not yet known whether his lawyers will appeal to the Constitutional Court, South Africa's highest court.


Canadian Football Has Taken Steps to Lessen Hits, Unlike NFL

The Canadian Football League has faced pressure and lawsuits to protect its players against concussions and the disease CTE, which is widely presumed to result from repeated concussions or hits to the head. The pressure and lawsuits led the commissioner to institute reforms such as three bye weeks during the course of the 18-week season and, more controversially, a prohibition of direct contact between players at practices during the season. While the NFL in 2011 reduced the number of practices where full contact is permitted to 14 per season, it has not further reduced them since then, despite the fact that research has grown about CTE and its correlation with the sport. While Canadian players have anecdotally reported feeling more rested and fresher during their games, it will be some time before the full effects of hit-less practices and more bye weeks are known.



Federal Communications Commission Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in Victory for Telecoms

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a plan to eliminate regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, which would allow internet service providers to charge users to use certain contact. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC, made the announcement, which appears to be part of his broader effort to reverse the Obama administration's policy of net neutrality. The change in policy pits titans of the industries against each other: AT&T and Verizon against Google and Amazon, as companies like Google and Amazon see the rollback of rules empowering telecom companies to prevent access to certain information and entertainment. The telecom companies view the rollback as allowing them to offer customers a wider selection of services at various price points. Pai's announcement does not come as a surprise, given his agenda of deregulation, but so far he has received 20 million public comments regarding his agenda.


Justice Department Sues to Block AT&T and Time Warner Merger

AT&T made an $85.4 billion bid to acquire Time Warner, and the United States Department of Justice filed suit to stop the acquisition. This action, under President Trump, represents a shift from President Obama's administration, which permitted Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal after imposing conditions on the acquisition. Already, AT&T is one of the largest internet and telephone providers, and it acquired DirecTV in 2015, at that time the largest satellite company. Time Warner owns a number of companies that would add to AT&T's empire: HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner Broadcasting, which owns the television networks CNN and TNT. The chief executive of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, said in a news conference about the Justice Department's filing of an action: "It defies logic, and it's unprecedented."


Glenn Thrush, The New York Times Reporter, Accused of Sexual Misconduct

One of The New York Times's (the Times) most prominent reporters, Glenn Thrush, was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, and the Times suspended him in light of these allegations. Female journalists reported to the website Vox that Thrush had acted inappropriately toward them, such as unwanted kissing and touching. The Times released a statement condemning his behavior as "very concerning and not in keeping with the standards and values of The New York Times."


21st Century Fox Establishes Workplace Culture Panel

21st Century Fox (Fox) announced that it is establishing an oversight panel called the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council, which will report to the company's directors and the company's website instances of sexual harassment. This is part of an agreement struck between the company and a shareholder that is intending to overhaul the workplace culture at the network: the City of Monroe Employees' Retirement System in Michigan. The shareholder had filed an action in Delaware, and the creation of the panel is only one term of the settlement of the action. Fox is also due to pay the shareholder $90 million from third-party insurers, minus the cost of attorneys' fees and costs. These changes come after the company has paid out around $50 million in costs to deal with settling sexual harassment and discrimination allegations.


John Lasseter, Pixar Co-Founder, Takes Leave After 'Missteps'

A co-founder of Pixar, John Lasseter, announced that he will take a "six-month sabbatical" after "missteps" that made his staffers feel "disrespected or uncomfortable." He apologized in an email to employees for hugs that may have been unwanted or gestures that "they felt crossed the line in any way, shape or form." An article in the Hollywood Reporter identified Rashida Jones, the actress and writer, as one who was a victim of Lasseter's "unwanted advance," causing her to leave a Pixar assignment earlier than expected. Pixar previously came under fire for not being supportive of minorities and women, with one piece of evidence being that of its 19 feature films, only one has a female director (who Lasseter fired midway through production).


Chicago Journalists Faces Showdown Over Sources

Jamie Kalven, a journalist in Chicago, uncovered dashcam video of a police officer shooting a 14-year-old boy carrying a folding knife. The police officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder, and his trial is approaching. Kalven is scheduled to appear in December at a pretrial hearing and face questions related to how he uncovered the existence of the dashcam video. Kalven, however, has no plans on answering those questions, as he views the First Amendment as protecting the anonymity of his sources for the story. The case surrounding the shooting has been prominent in Chicago newspaper headlines since its occurrence in 2014, but Kalven's testifying in the case is the latest controversy as he is prepared for a long, drawn-out fight regarding his right to preserve the anonymity of his sources.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 27, 2017 5:45 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Conducting Salary Discussions in New York City after November 1, 2017.

The next post in this blog is Sixth Circuit Creates 'Presumption' of Unmasking Copyright Infringers.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.