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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:

U.S. Supreme Court Stays Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Disclosure

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Trump administration's application for a stay of the Northern District of California's order that the administration turn over internal documents concerning its reasons for canceling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected young undocumented immigrants from deportation. The Court set an expedited briefing schedule for disposition of the government's petition for mandamus or certiorari.


U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument in Gay Wedding Cake Case

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court heard almost 90 minutes of argument in the dispute between David Mullins and Charlie Craig, on the one hand, and Jack Phillips, the baker who refused to make their wedding cake, on the other. Mullins and Craig contend that Phillips's refusal violates Colorado's anti-discrimination law, whereas Phillips argues his decision to turn them away is protected by the First Amendment, as his cake decorations are his art.


New York Supreme Court Considers Jurisdiction Over Trump (Sexual Misconduct)

Lawyers for Donald Trump and Summer Zervos, who is suing Trump for defamation, argued before Justice Jennifer Schecter over whether the New York State Supreme Court has jurisdiction over a sitting president. Zervos's lawyers rely primarily on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed Paula Jones to sue President Bill Clinton in federal court. Trump's lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, relies on the supremacy clause.


Polish Parliament Approves Drastic Changes to Judiciary

On Friday, the Polish Parliament passed two bills that will drastically change the composition of the judiciary. One, which lowers the retirement age for the Supreme Court from 70 to 65, will result in the removal of 40% of the over 80 justices. The other increases the vote needed to approve judges from a simple majority to 60%.


Chocolate Makers Reach Détente (Chocolate)

After several months of legal sparring with Mondelez International, the owner of chocolatier Toblerone, British discount chain Poundland is releasing its "Twin Peaks" chocolate bar. Toblerone kept Poundland's bar, which contains two "peaks" between each "valley", off the shelves until Poundland agreed to change the color of its wrapper (originally red over gold, like Toblerone's). Poundland also intends to modify the shape of its "peaks".



Seventh Circuit Upholds Dassey Conviction (Murder)

Brendan Dassey, the subject of Netflix's documentary series "Making a Murderer," suffered a major setback in his effort to overturn his 2007 conviction for murder. Dassey confessed to helping his uncle kill a 25-year-old photographer, but later recanted his confession. The Eastern District of Wisconsin overturned the conviction, finding that Dassey's confession was coerced. A three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit upheld the decision, but on Friday, in a 4-3 decision, that court, sitting en banc, ruled that the confession was voluntary. Dassey's lawyers say they will seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.


Bryan Singer Sued (Sexual Assault)

Cesar Sanchez-Guzman filed a lawsuit against director Bryan Singer in Washington state court, alleging that Singer sexually assaulted him on a yacht in 2003, when Sanchez-Guzman was 17 years old. Singer denies the allegations.


Netflix Fires Danny Masterson (Rape)

Netflix fired actor Danny Masterson from its series "The Ranch." Masterson has been accused of rape by several women.


The Girls Author Counters Plagiarism Allegations (Domestic Violence)

Emma Cline, author of the best-selling novel The Girls, is involved in two litigations over her ex-boyfriend's accusations that Cline plagiarized and spied on him. Chaz Reetz-Laiolo sued Cline in the Northern District of California, and Cline fired back with her own lawsuit, which includes allegations of domestic violence, tortious interference, and conversion (of Cline's personal journal and other files).


Illinois Will Not Charge Metropolitan Opera Conductor (Sexual Abuse)

Illinois law enforcement officials announced on Friday they would not charge Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine in connection with his alleged sexual abuse of Ashok Pai, because Pai was 16 years old when the alleged sexual contact began. Sixteen was the age of consent in Illinois at the time. Four men, including Pai, have accused Levine of sexually abusing them. Levine denies the accusations.


Head of New York City Ballet Takes Leave of Absence (Sexual Harassment)

Peter Martins, head of the New York City Ballet, took a leave of absence after being anonymously accused of sexual harassment. The Ballet has retained Kelley Drye partner Barbara Hoey to investigate the allegations.


Horovitz Plays Canceled (Sexual Misconduct)

Two plays by Israel Horovitz have been canceled since Horovitz was accused of sexual misconduct by nine women. Horovitz has apologized, but says he has "a different memory of some of these events."


Casting Director Fired (Sexual Misconduct)

Casting agency Telsey + Company fired casting director Justin Huff after receiving reports of sexual misconduct toward actors.



Dusseldorf Cancels Max Stern Exhibition

The mayor of Düsseldorf canceled an exhibition about Jewish art dealer Max Stern, citing ongoing investigations into pieces currently held by German museums, which Stern's estate claims were looted by Nazis. Jewish groups and German government officials are among those vociferously criticizing the decision, especially in light of the Gurlitt exhibit.


Saudis Say Prince did not buy da Vinci Painting

Speculation surrounding the identity of the buyer of "Salvator Mundi"--a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, which sold for $450.3 million at a Christie's auction last month--seemed to have been quelled by the New York Times' report that Saudi prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud bought the piece. However, on Friday, the Saudi Embassy issued a statement that the ministry of culture of Abu Dhabi bought the painting, which will be hung in the Abu Dhabi branch of the Louvre. The statement is disputed by American officials and Arabs familiar with the details of the sale.



International Olympic Committee Bans Russia from Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned Russia from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as a penalty for Russia's systematic state-sponsored doping program. President Putin said that Russia will not stop individual athletes from competing in the Olympics under a neutral flag, as permitted by the IOC. Olympics officials indicated they might permit Russia's flag during the closing ceremonies.



District Judge Voids National Football League Concussion Loans

Judge Anita Brody voided $1 billion in loans made to former professional football players with cognitive impairment who expect to receive payments pursuant to a settlement with the National Football League (NFL). Some of the loans have interest rates of up to 50%.


Former Gymnastics Doctor Sentenced to 60 Years (Sexual Abuse)

Lawrence G. Nassar, former team doctor for U.S.A. Gymnastics was sentenced to 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. Nassar previously pleaded guilty to sexually abusing gymnasts.


FIFA Chief Ethics Investigator Hid Relationship with Bedoya

María Claudia Rojas, chief ethics investigator for FIFA, failed to disclose her friendship with Luis Bedoya, former president of Columbia's soccer federation, who pleaded guilty to fraud charges.


Russian Whistleblower Apologizes for Indirectly Implicating Official

On the basis of an internal memo written by Grigory Rodchenkov suggesting that Swiss chemist Martial Saugy would be helpful in covering up the Russian national lab's systematic doping scheme, many sports officials and investigators believed Saugy was involved in the cover-up. Rodchenkov, who famously blew the whistle on Russia's scheme, publicly stated Saugy was not involved, and apologized for indirectly implicating him.


Christie All-In on Sports Betting

Lame duck New Jersey governor Chris Christie has been playing up his role in a case now before the Supreme Court, which will decide whether New Jersey can decriminalize sports betting or whether, as the professional sports leagues suing the state contend, doing so violates the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act.


Austria Investigating Allegations of Sexual Assault in Skiing

Several Austrian ski athletes have reported being sexually assaulted by coaches, supervisors, and teammates. The Austrian province of Tyrol announced that an independent commission will investigate the allegations.


Jerry Sandusky's Son Sentenced for Child Sex Crimes

Jeffrey Sandusky, son of former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, has been sentenced to from three-and-a-half to seven years in prison for soliciting two teenage sisters for sex. His father, convicted of sexually abusing young boys, is serving a
30- to 60-year prison sentence.



WNYC Puts Hosts on Leave

New York Public Radio's WNYC placed hosts Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz on leave while it investigates allegations of "inappropriate conduct."


Alphabet Adding Humans to YouTube Review

As part of its response to advertisers' concerns about the videos with which they are being associated, YouTube will increase the number of humans who, along with automated software, work to identify hate speech, extremism, and other content deemed inappropriate. Content creators have complained the software is inaccurate and has flagged (and demonetized) videos without objectionable content.


Russia Designates Additional Outlets "Foreign Agents"

On Tuesday, the Russian government declared Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty "foreign agents", in retaliation for the U.S.
government's designation of Kremlin-financed television station RT America as a "foreign agent." The two outlets must now label all information they broadcast as the product of a "foreign agent" and submit extensive financial reports to the government. They can also be suspended at any time.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 10, 2017 4:31 PM.

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