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Week in Review

By Nick Crudele
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

President Trump Disbands Voter Fraud Commission

President Trump shut down a White House commission investigating voter fraud despite what he claims is "substantial evidence of voter fraud." In a tweet following his decision, Trump called for voter identification requirements for the country's "rigged" voting system, and cited states' refusals to cooperate with the commission as the reason for its end. The President did not address the commission's inability to find any evidence of fraud.


Trump Ordered White House Lawyers to Stop Sessions Recusal

The New York Times reported that President Trump ordered White House lawyers to stop Attorney General Jeff Sessions from recusing himself from the Russia investigation. According to the newspaper, Trump expected the Attorney General to protect him like he believed Robert Kennedy protected John F. Kennedy and Eric Holder protected Barack Obama, and was furious when Sessions recused himself.


Utah's Orrin Hatch's Retirement Sets Path for Trump Critic Romney

Despite personal pleas from President Trump, Orrin Hatch, the longest serving Republican in the Senate, announced his retirement. Hatch's retirement clears the path for former Massachusetts governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney to fill his seat. Romney, now a Utah resident, has been an outspoken critic of President Trump and could pose a significant challenge to the President's agenda, if elected.


Sessions Names New U.S. Attorneys for Manhattan and Brooklyn

Attorney General Jeff Sessions named interim U.S. Attorneys for Manhattan and Brooklyn. Sessions named Geoffrey Berman to the Southern District and Richard Donoghue to the Eastern District. The appointments last for 120 days.


Ex-Securities and Exchange Commission Official Khuzami Named interim U.S. Attorney in Manhattan

Ex-Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official Robert Khuzami was named as the deputy U.S. Attorney in Manhattan by interim U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman. Khuzami led the enforcement division of the SEC for four years under the Obama administration.


Republican Senate Edge Cut After Two Democrats Sworn In

Democrats Doug Jones of Alabama and Tina Smith of Minnesota were sworn into the Senate this week. Republicans now hold a one vote majority of 51-49.


Justice Department Shift Brings Uncertainty to Legal Marijuana Industry

In what he called a "return to the rule of law," Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded an Obama administration policy to not interfere with state laws regarding medical and recreational marijuana use. In a statement, Sessions said that the previous guidance by the Obama administration "undermines the rule of law." In a one-page memo, Session wrote that Congress already determined that marijuana is a dangerous drug, and related activities are serious crimes and federal prosecutors should weigh the seriousness of the crime and priorities set by the Attorney General when deciding on which cases to prosecute. Despite President Trump's campaign comments that marijuana was an issue for the states, the White House said that the president supported the Justice Department's action.



Control of Virginia's House of Delegates Decided by Random Drawing

Republican David Yancey won a seat in Virginia's House of Delegates after his name was picked from a bowl. Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simonds tied in the general election. The random drawing was needed to break the tie. Yancey's win gives the Republicans a narrow control of the
state's House of Delegates. By law, Simonds can ask for a recount, She said that "all options are still on the table."


Republican Senators Formally Recommend Author of Anti-Trump Dossier for Federal Investigation

Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham formally recommended that the Justice Department and FBI investigate the author of an anti-Trump dossier. The dossier was authored by former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele, who was hired by an opposition research firm GPS for the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Senators told the Justice Department that they had reason to believe Steele had lied to federal authorities investigating his contacts and information regarding the dossier.


Mail Problems Impacted the Applications of More 1,900 Immigrants

More than 1,900 immigrants' applications were wrongly rejected due to delays with the mail, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Many rejected applicants have already lost their work permits, and others are scrambling to overcome the error. The immigration agency has given applicants 33 days to resubmit their renewal forms.


Notorious Ethiopian Prison to Close

The prime minister of Ethiopia announced the closing of Maekelawi prison and release of some prisoners across the country, including political prisoners.


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


Disney Deal Solves Family Problems for Murdoch

21st Century Fox's proposed sale to Disney may not only solve a business problem for Fox's Chairman Rupert Murdoch, it might also solve some family dysfunction. The Disney deal allows Fox to focus on its news holdings instead of trying to compete in the changing landscape of the entertainment industry. It also puts Murdoch's oldest son, Lachlan, co-chairman of Fox, squarely in line to take over for his father. However, Murdoch's other son James, who is the current CEO of Fox, will have to find another role at Disney or Fox, or strike out on his own.


Prominent Hollywood Women Come Together to Fight Harassment

300 of Hollywood's most prominent female actresses, agents, writers, directors, producers, and executives formed an initiative to fight sexual harassment in Hollywood and blue-collar workplaces nationwide. Called "Time's Up", the initiative includes a legal defense fund to protect less privileged women from sexual misconduct in the workplace, legislation to penalize companies that tolerate persistent harassment, and a drive for gender parity in the entertainment industry.


Gretchen Carlson to Lead Miss America Pageant

Former Fox News anchor, Miss America contestant, and outspoken opponent of sexual harassment Gretchen Carlson was picked to lead the Miss America Pageant as the organization deals with fallout from its own harassment scandal. Several executives and board members recently resigned after it was revealed that leadership derided and made misogynistic remarks towards former contestants. Carlson, who accused former Fox chairman Roger Ailes of sexual harassment.


Apology from YouTube Star for Video of Suicide Victim

YouTube star Logan Paul, who rose to fame with his juvenile and physical humor, apologized for a video he posted of a body hanging from a tree in Japan's "Suicide Forest." Amid widespread criticism, Paul released a statement apologizing to anyone who saw the video, anyone affected or touch by mental illness or depression, and the victim's family.


Hoda Kotb To Replace Matt Lauer

Hoda Kotb will replace Matt Lauer as co-anchor of NBC's "Today" show. Kotb will co-anchor the first hour of the program with Savannah Guthrie and remain co-host of the 10:00 a.m. hour of the show with Kathie Lee Gifford.


Spotify Plans To Go Public with Direct Listing

Spotify, the on-demand music service with 140 million active users, has filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission to direct list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. A direct listing is an unusual method for a company to go public: Typically, companies undergo an initial public offering to raise money and work with underwriters to help set up and increase the value of the shares. In a direct listing, the company's shares will be transferred to the exchange without underwriting activity, and it is unclear how the market will value the shares. Based on a recent valuation in connection with a share swap between Spotify and Tencent Holdings Ltd. (China), Spotify may turn out to be one of the largest technology companies to become listed on an American exchange. If successful, other highly valued startups, such as Airbnb Inc., may follow Spotify's lead and opt for direct listing. Of concern to Spotify may be a recent string of copyright infringement lawsuits by songwriters and music publishers.


Fighting Back Wearing Black

As a show of solidarity with sexual misconduct victims, Hollywood women were asked to wear black for the Golden Globes. Some critics however, said silently posturing in black will achieve nothing; staying home would be a better gesture.


YouTube White Noise Video Hit With Copyright Claims

The creator of a 10 hour YouTube video of continuous white noise was hit with five copyright infringement claims. The video by musician Sebastian Tomczak is an indistinct electronic hissing. The claimants include publishers of sleep therapy white noise. They are not demanding the removal of the video, but want the advertising revenue.


Japanese Blackface Comedian Faces Criticism

Japanese comedian Masatoshi Hamada faces backlash for his New Year's Eve show in which he performed in blackface while attempting to imitate Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop". Hamada appeared in a Detroit Lions football jacket, curly wig, and dark makeup. The Twitter hashtag #StopBlackfaceJapan was started by outraged viewers.



New York City Ballet Chief Retires Amid Sexual Harassment, Abuse Accusations

New York City Ballet (City Ballet) Chief Peter Martins decided to retire amid sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse allegations. Martins, who has been on leave from City Ballet as the accusations are being investigated, has denied all such accusations. In a statement, City Ballet Chairman Charles Scharf thanked Martins for his contributions, but said the investigation into the allegations will continue.


Looted Antiques Seized From Billionaire's Home

New York investigators raided the office and home of billionaire hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt and carried out several ancient works. The raid is part of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.'s effort to repatriate looted antiquities. Last month, Vance formed an Antiquities-Trafficking Bureau. Among the pieces seized was a fifth century Greek oil vessel worth at least $380,000 and a seventh century B.C. Proto-Corinthian figure worth about $250,000.


Columbia Photography Professor Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Thomas Roma, the director of the photography program at Columbia's School of Arts, is accused by five former students of sexual misconduct. The accusations, which mostly occurred in the 1990's, depict a pattern of sexual relationships with his students. One incident was investigated by the school in 2000, when it found both parties complicit in the incident. A statement by Roma said that he was "shocked" by the other accusations. Columbia said that it has a policy forbidding faculty-student relationships and will investigate the recent accusations against Roma.


The Met To Charge Non-New Yorkers Entrance Fee

Starting in March, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will change its longstanding admission policy of pay-what-you-wish and start charging adult out-of-towners $25. New York State residents will still be able to pay what they wish.


Public Art Project Image of Female Empowerment

A sculpture of a white neon outline of a uterus with boxing gloves in place of the ovaries outside of The Standard hotel in West Hollywood is another sign of female empowerment amid widespread sexual harassment claims. Artist Zoe Buckman hopes the sculpture "offers a completely different view of femininity" in contrast to the advertisements and billboards objectifying young women which line the Sunset Strip.


"Movie-Worthy" Heist Nets Sheikh's Jewels

In what the Italian media has dubbed a "movie-worthy heist," thieves made off with a gold brooch and earrings from an exhibit in Venice. The two thieves were able to disarm a sophisticated alarm system and steal the pieces in plain view of the closed-circuit cameras before disappearing into the crowd of tourists. The brooch and earrings belonged to a Qatari Skeikh, and are said to be worth millions of euros.


Toronto Theater Director Resigns Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

Prominent Toronto theater director Albert Schultz resigned as leader of the Soulpepper Theater Company amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment. During a news conference, four actresses claimed that Schultz harassed, groped, touch, and propositioned them repeatedly over 13 years. Four other actors, three men and one women, joined the accusers and announced that they would not work for Soulpepper until Schultz left. Schultz plans to "vigorously defend himself against the allegations."



Rich Rodriguez Fired as Arizona's Football Coach

The University of Arizona fired Rich Rodriguez as its football coach after an investigation over workplace misconduct. In October, the university conducted an investigation into sexual harassment allegations by a former athletic department employee. The accuser refused to cooperate, but the university become aware of other information during the investigation. A statement by the university explained that Rodriguez's firing was "based on several factors, including the direction and climate of our football program." The University of Arizona will pay Rodriguez $7 million as a buy-out of his contract.


FIFA Accused of Stalling Doping Inquiry Into Russia's Doping Program

Anti-doping leaders are criticizing FIFA for its failure to aggressively investigate whether Russia covered up positive doping tests of the country's top soccer players. This comes on the heels of Russia's ban from the Olympics for its doping program. With the Russia's World Cup just six months away, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency called FIFA's inaction "exasperating". FIFA released a statement saying that "FIFA will continue its investigation."


Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis Fired By ESPN

ESPN hosts Donovan McNabb and Eric Davis were fired after a lawsuit was filed detailing sexual misconduct at NFL Network. McNabb and Davis were two players named in a lawsuit filed by former wardrobe stylist Jami Cantor. Cantor accuses McNabb of sending inappropriate text messages, lewd comments and rubbing his body against hers. She accuses Davis of asking her to have "rough sex" with him.


University of Minnesota Suspends Star Reggie Lynch Amid Sex Assault Claims

University of Minnesota basketball player Reggie Lynch was banned from playing in any games while he appeals his suspension and ban from campus over findings of sexual misconduct. The findings stem from a complaint from a woman who claimed that Lynch sexually assaulted her in April 2016. Prior to coming to Minnesota, Lynch was arrested on allegations of assault on another woman, but charges were never filed. Lynch will be allowed to practice with the team while he appeals.



Big Tech to Fight Net Neutrality Repeal

Big technology companies such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix vowed to fight the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of its net neutrality rules. The group Internet Association will use its reputation and financial clout for a legal battle seeking to block the policy.


Twitter Will Not Block World Leaders

Twitter says that it will not block or remove tweets from world leaders even if the tweets violate its rules. Twitter said censoring leaders "would hide important information people should be able to see and debate", and removing tweets would "silence that leader, but it would certainly hamper necessary discussion around their words and actions."


Vice Execs Put On Leave Over Harassment Claims

Vice Media put its president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano on leave after the New York Times published an article detailing misconduct and misogyny claims at Vice and four settlements reached by the company regarding allegations of sexual harassment and defamation. Germano acknowledged and apologized for one incident, but said it was resolved internally.


L.A. Times Newsroom Cast Ballots on Unionization

L.A. Times newsroom employees began a vote on whether to unionize. The vote is believed to be the first time that journalists have held a union vote in the newspaper's 136-year history. Workers are calling for competitive salaries, equal pay for women and minorities, more generous benefits, and improved working conditions.


"The Circus" to Continue Without Halperin

Showtime's political series "The Circus" will return in April without star Mark Halperin. Halperin, who was removed from the show after allegations of sexual harassment and assault were made against him, will be replaced with CBS News anchor Alex Wagner. The show has not decided whether it will address Halperin's absence on air.


Chinese Internet Users Want More Privacy

Fueled by widespread internet fraud and personal information theft, Chinese internet users are calling for more privacy when it comes to their internet activity. Chinese culture does not emphasize personal privacy and internet companies and the Chinese government itself regularly gathers data on internet users. However, users are starting to get a sense of personal privacy. Ant Financial, an affiliate of Alibaba, apologized for automatically enrolling users in its social credit program that tracks personal relationships and behavior patterns.


Iran Authorities Block Protesters' Social Media Tools

The Iranian government blocked social media tools and internet access throughout the country in the hopes of quelling widespread anti-government protests. Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Telegram have become crucial tools for protesters to organize and share information. The government claims that social networks are "causing violence and fear." Some cybersecurity experts believe the sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. government has made it easier for the Iranian government to crack down on social media use by protesters because encryption tools, readily available throughout the world, are not available in Iran.


German Lawmaker Suspended from Twitter Under New Hate Speech Law

A member of the German Parliament had her Twitter account suspended under Germany's new hate speech law after she posted an anti-Muslim message. In a New Year's Eve tweet, Beatrix von Storch accused police of appeasing "barbaric gang-raping Muslims." Under the new law, social media companies can be fined up to $60 million for failing to quickly remove hate speech and fakes news posts from their sites.


New Jersey Woman Jailed In Zimbabwean For Twitter Post Freed

A New Jersey woman arrested in Zimbabwe for calling the country's president a "sick man" on Twitter was released from prison after prosecutors failed to prepare their case. Martha O'Donovan could have faced 20 years in prison for the charges of subverting the government and undermining the authority of the president.


Vienna's New Year's Baby Is Welcomed With Hate and Racism

The announcement of Vienna, Austria's "New Year's Baby" was greeted with racism and hate filled social media messages. The public announcement of the birth of babies on New Year's Day is usually met with well wishes. However, the announcement of the birth of Asel Tamga, to Muslim parents, was met with racist and hate filled social media posts. One wrote: "I'm hoping for a crib death". Another wrote: "Deport the scum immediately". The newspaper where the racist posts were made removed them and is examining whether any broke laws against hate speech.


China Tries Tibetan Businessman With Inciting Separatism

China tried Tibetan businessman Tashi Wangchuk on charges of inciting separatism, after Wangchuk appeared in a 2015 New York Times report and video documentary in which Wangchuk visited Beijing in an attempt to win support for the Tibetan language. In the video, Wangchuk said, "if one nation wants to eliminate another nation, first they need to eliminate their spoken and written language. If effect, there is a systematic slaughter of our culture." Wangchuk faces 15 years in prison if convicted.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 7, 2018 7:15 PM.

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