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Week in Review

By Tiombe Tallie Carter, Esq.

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration's Third Travel Ban Attempt to Proceed

The Supreme Court allowed the third iteration of the Travel Ban to continue, pending resolution of the issues that challengers raised in circuit courts. The Justices encouraged the appellate courts to quickly determine if it is lawful.



GOP Scrambles to Push Tax Bill Through Senate

The Senate passed the most sweeping tax bill overhaul in recent history. With a vote of 51-49, Republicans approved the bill early Saturday morning. Last month, the House of Representatives passed its own tax bill. The 500-page House bill was quickly passed, with little reflection by lawmakers and included many handwritten revisions in the margins. Pitched as a middle-class tax cut, the new bill overlooks the many reports that reveal how the new plan will cause even greater federal debt. It is expected that President Trump will sign the bill as early as next week.


Flynn Pleads Guilty; Will Aid Inquiry

Michael Flynn, long-time friend and advisor to President Trump who was once a top contender to be vice president and eventually became national security advisor, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with a Russian ambassador. Flynn, who resigned several months ago amid the Russian scandal, made a deal with Robert S. Mueller III, special counsel to the Russian investigation. There is growing speculation as to how much President Trump was aware of Flynn's action, and if the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was involved.


Delayed DACA Requests Grow to More Than 900

Over 900 applications from immigrants seeking to renew work permits under Deferred Actions for Children Arrivals, or DACA, have been rejected by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services due to mail problems. Those with work permits expiring before March 2018 had until October 5th of this year to renew for a two-year extension. The 900 applicants whose paperwork was received by the post office by the deadline but not by the agency will receive rejection letters with instructions to resubmit within 33 days.


Comedian Is Subpoenaed in Inquiry on Russia Meddling

Randy Credico, a comedian who has run for public office, has been subpoenaed to appear before the House Intelligence Committee to testify regarding Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential elections. Credico, who hosts a radio show and performs street theater (once appearing at a New York State Senate meeting dressed as the Greek philosopher Diogenes the Cynic), is seen as an intermediary between Roger J. Stone Jr., an advisor to Donald J. Trump "who appears to have had advance knowledge about hacked emails related to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign," and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, who Credico once interviewed.


Calls and Insults Pour In Over Net Neutrality Plan

Ajit Pai, chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), released his plan to strip away existing rules of net neutrality and to allow "telecom companies to charge websites to deliver their data at higher speeds." Under the current Obama era rules, telecoms prohibit such charges. Many argue--including big web companies, consumers, lawmakers, startups, public interest groups, and celebrities--that the proposed plan not only hurts innovation and the economy but also creates a negative impact on the distribution of information based on wealth. In addition to the protests of the conservative plan, it has been discovered that over 400,000 public comments on the FCC website originated from St. Petersburg, Russia.


Two Acting Directors and One Skeptical Judge

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has two acting directors, Leandra English and Mick Mulvaney. English was appointed by then-director Richard Cordray (an Obama appointee) on November 24th, before his departure. In apparent retaliation, the Trump administration announced Mulvaney, who is currently the director of the White House Office of Budget and Management, as acting director until President Trump decided on a permanent appointment. English filed for an emergency restraining order to block Mulvaney's appointment late Sunday evening. English and Mulvaney both showed up to work on Monday, with Mulvaney instructing the bureau's employees to disregard any communications from English and to report them to the White House general counsel. The matter was heard by Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, DC, who ruled that President Trump's appointment was valid. English is challenging that decision. In the meantime, Mulvaney said that he would like for English to serve as the Deputy Director.



Justices Take Up Digital Privacy in Case with Roots in a Robbery

The United States Supreme Court heard Carpenter v. United States, No. 16-402, a privacy law case involving a Radio Shack robbery. Considered to be a seminal case in the application of the Fourth Amendment on digital privacy, lawyers, policymakers, and watch dog groups are weighing in on the issues before the Court.

The Supreme Court argument in the Carpenter case was lively and lengthy, lasting 20 minutes longer than allotted. The attorney for Timothy Ivory Carpenter, Nathan Freed Wessler, argued that prosecutors violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to get a warrant for the records from his cellular carrier. The Justices are wrestling with whether the problem is that "the level of detail in Mr. Carpenter's phone records violated his reasonable expectation of privacy" or whether it was that "the records were his property and should not have been disclosed without his consent or a warrant." The Stored Communications Act requires prosecutors to go to the court to obtain tracking data. Under that federal law, they must only demonstrate that there were "specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe" that the records sought are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation, which does not meet the probable cause standard needed for a warrant. It appears that five Justices are leaning to limit the government's power to obtain the records. A decision detailing its rationale for that decision is expected next June.



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


Peter Martins, head of New York City Ballet, Under Investigation For Sexual Harrassment

Peter Martins, long-time head of City Ballet, has been removed from his teaching duties at the School of American Ballet pending investigation of sexual harassment. Martins had a reputation of sleeping with ballet dancers.


DMX Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Dodging $1.7 Million in Taxes

Earl Simmons, the rapper and actor DMX, pleaded guilty for tax evasion. At the Manhattan federal court, he pleaded to avoiding the payment of $1.7 million in taxes from 2002 to 2005, when his albumns topped the charts. DMX faces up to five years in prison and will be sentenced in March 2018 after completing his drug rehabilitation.


A Bitter Plagiarism Case with Sex, Lies, and Spyware

The 2016 best seller The Girls has been the center of a legal dispute that includes copyright infringement, physical and emotional abuse, digital spying, and invasion of privacy. Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, once the boyfriend of the best-selling author Emma Cline, claims that Ms. Cline used spyware to plagiarize phrases and scene structures from his emails and other personal documents. Ms. Cline has countersued alleging that Mr. Reetz-Laiolo's claims are "ludicrous," as the phrases called into question include "heavy rear and "Doomsville." She used spyware because she suspected him of infidelity and that he physically abused her. Both parties are represented by high-powered attorneys. The legal team most recently known for representing Harvey Weinstein, Boies Schiller Flexner, is representing Mr. Reetz-Laiolo and for Ms. Cline, attorney Carrie Goldberg, who "specializes in representing women who have been victims of harassment and revenge porn." We can expect many plot twists in this legal drama.


After Accusations, A Founder of Def Jam Will Resign

Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, a yoga lifestyle brand, and owner of multiple media properties, has resigned from his companies following accusations of sexual assault. Screenwriter Jenny Lumet of The Mummy and model Keri Claussen Khalighi have accused Mr. Simmons of forcing them to have sexual relations on separate occasions in the early 1990s. Mr. Simmons has denied the allegations but stepped down from leadership of his empire.


"Nightmarish Mentor": Nine Women Accuse Playwright of Assault

Award-winning playwright Israel Horovitz was accused of sexual assault spanning decades by more than nine women, some of whom were in their teens. Horovitz, considered the most produced American playwright in French history, wrote over 70 plays and is the founding artistic director of Gloucester Stage, a respected regional theater. Many of the women worked for Horovitz at the Gloucester Stage, where his mentoring program allegedly included kissing, fondling, and intercourse, along with fostering theatrical careers. Thought by some as merely "too touchy," early claims in 1992 and 1993 were casually dismissed. Bolstered by the Weinstein revelations, the women are now coming forward.



The Arts and Opioids

The Sackler family, who has a long history of supporting arts and cultural institutions, have been linked to the opioid epidemic. Recent reports uncovered that several family members derived portions of their fortune from Purdue Pharma, the company that produces OxyContin, the powerful narcotic painkiller attributed to the growing number of overdose deaths in the nation. This new revelation has raised the question as to whether cultural institutions should be required to return the millions of dollars in donations from the Sackler family. To date, there are no Congressional requirements that donations from Purdue Pharma, which was indicted on federal fraud charges, be returned, so it would be a hard press for arts institutions to require more than for what the law calls.


Macron Pledges Return of African Artifacts

President Emmanuel Macron of France, while on a three-day trip to Burkina Faso, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast, vowed to return African artifacts to them. He pledged that in the next five years the "temporary or permanent restitution of African heritage to Africa" will be a top priority. Without going into much detail as to whether the restitution will include a plan for storage and curation in African cultural institutions, President Macron did announce his commitment to improving relations between France and African nations.


$6 Million Effort Seeks Diverse Arts Leaders

In response to several studies reporting that American cultural institutions fail to reflect the demographics of the country, the Ford Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation are providing $6 million to diversify leadership at art museums. Twenty museums were selected from an application pool of 83 to receive funds to develop "innovative strategies to hire and advance the careers of underrepresented minorities." The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, and the Art Institute of Chicago are some of the few institutions chosen.


Who Owns Guantanamo Art? Not Prisoners, the U.S. Says

Guantanamo Bay, the Cuban detention center for prisoners with terrorist ties, has an art program. Until recently, for nearly a decade, detainees received art classes and often were allowed to give their creations to their lawyers as a "thank you or for safekeeping...with restrictions on what content went public." The ability to transfer art from the prison is now suspended and under review by the Defense Department in light of a recent exhibition held by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice that featured 36 paintings, drawings, and sculptures by former and current detainees. According to the Pentagon, anything produced by detainees remains the property of the United States government. It is unclear what the government will do with the art. The exhibition will be on display through January 26, 2018.



U.S. Bobsled Hopeful Ryan Bailey Sees Olympic Dreams End after Court Reinstates Doping Ban

Ryan Bailey, a United States Olympics athlete, will be barred from competing for two years, according to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Bailey was a member of the U.S. track and field team that won a silver medal at the 2012 London Games. He recently switched to bobsledding. Bailey used a supplement in January that included a banned stimulant. His explanation that the stimulant was not on the label was of little consolation, as another banned ingredient was listed and he still used the supplement. He served a 6-month suspension that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency appealed as too lenient. The Court of Arbitration agreed.


Blue Jays Analyst Gregg Zaun Fired for Inappropriate Behavior to Female Co-Workers

Former catcher of the Toronto Blue Jays, Gregg Zaun, has been accused by female employees for inappropriate behavior and comments. Specific details have not been provided, but it is reported that his behavior does not include sexual or physical assault. Zaun was a catcher for 16 Major League seasons, including earning a World Series ring in 1997, when he played for the Florida Marlins.


Pitino Sues for $38.7 Million over Firing

Rick Pitino, former coach of the University of Louisville basketball team, filed a federal lawsuit in Louisville. Due to accusations that Pitino is the anonymous "Coach-2" in United States v. Gatto, the university placed Pitino on administrative leave for his alleged involvement in the corruption and bribery scheme with Adidas. Pitino was subsequently terminated by the university. He is suing the school for firing him without notice, proper process, or cause, as it had not conducted its own investigation. Pitino claims that he is entitled to $4.3 million per year through 2026 in liquidated damages.


An Iranian Wrestler Throws His Match to Avoid an Israeli

Alireza Karimi-Machiani, 23, of Iran, threw his wrestling match at the U23 World Senior Wrestling Championship held in Poland. Karimi-Machiani was wrestling Russian wrestler Alikhan Zhabrailov and was poised for an easy victory until the Iranian wrestler apparently stopped fighting suddenly after a shout from his coach. Video of the match indicates his coach shouted: "Alireza, lose." And after a momentary defiance, he complied with his coach's direction and purposely lost. He revealed in a news interview after the match that his coach was informed that an Israeli wrestler had won a recent match that would have positioned him against Karimi-Machiani in his next match. Under Iranian law, athletes are forbidden to compete with Israelis, even if it means forfeiting a match.


Doping Diaries: Chemist's Notes Strengthen Case Against Russia

The diaries of Russian chemist Grigory Rodchenkov substantiate the involvement of Russia in the massive use of banned substances during the last Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee is taking the diaries, in conjunction with Dr. Rodchenkov's sworn statements implicating the then Russia sports minister, deputy sports minister, and the deputy director of the center of sports preparation, in the cheating scheme to determine the penalties it will issue against the country next week. Those penalties could include "barring Russia completely from the coming Winter Olympics in South Korea, keeping all Russian emblems out of the Games and Russian athletes would compete in neutral uniforms." Russian officials have threatened to boycott the 2018 Olympics.


FIFA Cannot Fill Sponsor Slots for World Cup

The FIFA brand, tarnished with organizational-wide corruption scandals and its New York trial, is losing its popularity among corporate sponsors. Soccer still remains widely popular among its fans. However, the 2018 FIFA tournament is undersubscribed for sponsors. A top-tier sponsorship slot costs $150 million, with all slots unfilled both at this and the second-tier level. Only one slot is confirmed at the third-tier level. In 2015, key FIFA officials were arrested on corruption charges. The trial is underway in New York. Sanctions against prominent Russian business people and companies further complicate the 2018 World Cup to be held in Russia. Some experts suggest FIFA consider changing its name altogether as the "brand's association with corruption runs so deep."



Lauer Offers an Apology, and a Little Bit of a Denial

As heads continue to roll in the aftermath of sexual harassment and assault allegations throughout the media, entertainment, and political arenas, Matt Lauer offers an apology of sorts. Lauer, an NBC host of "Today", is a household name. The network has received at least three separate complaints, including one for sexual assault. Lauer's statement was read on "Today": "Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed....To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry."


NBC Leaders on the Defensive in Handling of Lauer

Andrew Lack and Noah Oppenheim, chairman of NBC News and president of the News division, respectively, are being asked questions about when they became aware of the Matt Lauer allegations. Rival news outlets report that Lauer's antics were widely known. Lack issued a statement that NBCUniversal's top legal and human resources team will be conducting a thorough investigation.


For Trump and Russia, A Common Foe: U.S. News Media

The Justice Department recently registered RT, the state-run Russian news group formerly known as Russia Today, as a foreign agent. This United States designation is usually assigned to identify foreign lobbying groups. RT has been accused of serving as a propaganda outlet during the 2016 presidential campaign. In retaliation, Russia signed a law last week, requiring "certain American media outlets working in Russia to register with the government as foreign agents." However, under Russian law, foreign agents are essentially hostile entities, thereby "evoking Soviet counterintelligence efforts." Meanwhile, if not seemingly in concert, President Trump took to Twitter to share his opinion against CNN as a major source of "fake" news. His tweets continue to raise concern among champions of the free press.


Three Vice Media Employees Fired After Complaints

Vice Media, the free-spirited media conglomerate based in Brooklyn, NY, recently installed a chief human resources officer to address corporate culture and employment policies. Susan Tohyama's first order of business was to announce the company's zero-tolerance policy toward inappropriate behavior, which includes "verbal and sexual harassment to other behavior that is inconsistent with Vice's policies, values and the way in which they believe colleagues should work together." Reportedly, there have been three firings from this policy: the head of its documentary division, a producer, and an editor. The company has also instituted an A-list advisory board, including Gloria Steinem, to review its corporate policies.


The Washington Post Says It Spurned Offer of False Story about Moore

The Washington Post accused Project Veritas, a "conservative group that films undercover videos," of conspiring to dupe it into publishing false claims about Roy S. Moore, the Republican Senate candidate facing sexual harassment allegations, to discredit the newspaper. In a December 27th article, The Washington Post said that a woman named Jaime T. Phillips contacted the newspaper with a story claiming that in 1992 she became pregnant with Moore's child, but terminated the pregnancy. With its own investigation, the newspaper discovered the woman had ties with Project Veritas. When questioned about why she had contacted the paper and inconsistencies in her statements, she stated that she no longer wanted to participate in the story.


Glittering Past, Edgy Present, Uneasy Future

After years of uncertainty over its fate, employees of publishing giant Times Inc. continue to experience unease after the announcement of its purchase by the Meredith Corporation. The $2.8 million deal includes an infusion of cash from the Koch brothers, who are known for using their wealth to promulgate their conservatism. The Meredith Corporation, based in Des Moines, has a publishing portfolio that includes lifestyle magazines such as Family Circle and Better Homes and Gardens. Time Inc., once considered the arbiter of American culture with titles such as Time, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, and Money, make Meredith "an unlikely caretaker." Speculation exists that several titles under the Time Inc. moniker will be sold off, possibly to Koch Industries. Spokespersons for Meredith and Koch state that Koch will have no influence over the magazines.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 4, 2017 8:06 PM.

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