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Week in Review

By Jana Slavina Farmer
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

U.S. Government Shutdown

Democrats and Republicans traded blame for the government shutdown, as the House and Senate reconvened this past weekend to discuss the stopgap spending measures. Republican Representatives attempted to use the extension of Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides coverage for nearly nine million children, as an incentive in their bid to secure Democratic votes for the spending measures. Democrats insisted that the measures must address the plight of young undocumented immigrants known as the Dreamers. To reopen the government, the votes of about a dozen Democratic Senators are needed.



Supreme Court Appears to Side With a Death Row Inmate

In McCoy v. Louisiana, No. 16-8255, a case argued on Wednesday, the Supreme Court appeared inclined to agree with Robert McCoy that his lawyer acted improperly when he disregarded McCoy's explicit instruction not to admit guilt for three murders. McCoy's counsel believed that admission of guilt gave McCoy better chances during the trial's sentencing phases. This strategy ultimately failed, and McCoy was sentenced to death in Louisiana. During the argument, several justices said a decision as fundamental as admitting guilt in a capital case belonged to the client rather than the lawyer. Formal decision to follow.


Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Ruling on North Carolina Gerrymandering

The Supreme Court on Thursday granted a stay of an order of a North Carolina court, which required the state's legislators to draw up a new congressional voting map by January 24th. The trial court previously held that the existing voting map violated the Constitution and hurt the electoral chances of Democratic candidates. Representative David Lewis admitted that the congressional map was originally drawn up with a specific purpose of affording Republicans an advantage over Democrats. The Supreme Court has never held partisan gerrymandering to be unconstitutional.


Battle Over Net Neutrality Regulations Continues

Multiple lawsuits were filed against the Federal Communications Commission in connection with the recent repeal of net neutrality regulations. Plaintiffs include 21 state attorneys general, Mozilla, the Open Technology Institute, Free Press and Public Knowledge public interest groups.


Former Department of Energy Photographer Seeking Whistle-Blower Protections

Last year, Simon Edelman, a former photographer for the Department of Energy, shared with journalists a photograph of Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, which he took for official purposes. In one of the photographs, Senator Perry is depicted giving a bear hug to Robert E. Murray, the head of one of the country's largest coal mining companies, Murray Energy. Another showed a photo of a cover of a confidential "action plan" that Murray brought to the meeting, calling for changes benefiting coal industry. Edelman said in an interview that he wanted to expose the close relationship between the two men. He lost his job and is now seeking whistle-blower protections.


Justice Department Appeals the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Ruling to the Ninth Circuit

The Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed the decision in The Regents of the University of California and Janet Napolitano v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Elaine Duke, seeking review before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The DOJ is also expected to file a petition for a writ of certiorari before judgment, seeking direct review in the Supreme Court. This is an unusual step, which will allow the Supreme Court to hear the case prior to the Ninth Circuit. The DOJ maintains that Elaine Duke, the acting homeland security secretary, was within her discretion to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.



The Woman Who Started the French Equivalent of #MeToo is Sued for Defamation

Sandra Muller, a French journalist working in New York, was sued for defamation by Eric Brion, a former television executive, whom she accused of sexual harassment. On October 2017, Muller started a hashtag #BalanceTonPorc (ExposeYourPig), similar to #MeToo in the U.S., in a series of Twitter posts encouraging women to speak out against sexual harassment. Tens of thousands of French women used the hashtag to tell their own stories. Unlike many, however, Muller named Brion in her tweets. Brion is not denying the advances, but takes issue with their characterization as sexual harassment.


Prominent Activist Detained In China After Making An Appeal To Change the Constitution

Yu Wensheng, a prominent lawyer and political activists in China, was taken into police custody on Friday after posting an appeal to change China's Constitution, including the procedure of election of China's President.


Writer Accuses Yale of Blocking Misconduct Complaint

Naomi Wolf, author of the Beauty Myth, claims that Yale University officials blocked her from filing a complaint against Harold Bloom, English professor and literary critic, who she claims had groped her while she was a college student.


Felony Conviction Does Not Preclude Bar Admission

Washington State's attorney licensing panel voted to block a candidate with felony convictions and a bankruptcy from taking the bar licensing exam. The candidate successfully appealed the ruling.


Representative Meehan Settles Sexual Misconduct Claim

Representative Patrick Meehan (R-Pennsylvania), who took a leading role in combating sexual harassment in Congress, settled a complaint for sexual misconduct made against him by a former aide.


Thousands Participate in Women's March 2018

Thousands of demonstrators marched on Saturday in cities across the U.S. in protest against the policies of the Trump administration. More than 200,000 protesters attended the march in New York.


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


Will More Accusers Be Able to Testify at Bill Cosby's Retrial?

Last year, Bill Cosby's sexual assault trial ended with a hung jury. Cosby will face a retrial in April. Has the #MeToo movement effected a cultural shift that it would lead to a different result this time? While that remains to be seen, the prosecutors filed a motion asking Judge O'Neill of the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to reconsider the previously set limitations on the testimony of other women allegedly assaulted by Cosby to help support the accusations of Andrea Constand. In Pennsylvania, evidence of prior bad acts may be admitted to show intent or similar conduct inferring a common scheme or plan. It is expected that Cosby's counsel will vehemently object to the inclusion of additional accusers.


Actress Accuses Stuntman of Sexual Assault

Actress Eliza Dushku accused Hollywood stuntman Joel Kramer of sexually abusing her during the filming of "True Lies" when she was 12. Kramer denied the accusation in an email to the New York Times on Tuesday. He also disputed two other accusations of sexual misconduct, both involving women who were not named. James Cameron, who directed the movie, reportedly said Dushku was "brave" for speaking up.


Continuing Support to Time's Up

Actor Timothee Chalamet will donate his entire salary from the upcoming Woody Allen film, "A Rainy Day in New York," to Time's Up, the LGBT Center in New York and the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. His co-star, Rebecca Hall, earlier announced that she would donate her salary from the movie to the Time's Up legal defense fund. Woody Allen was previously accused of sexually abusing his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow.



Early Banksy Work Saved From Destruction

Over 18 years ago, Banksy, a renown street artist whose identity has still not been officially confirmed, painted a bird with a gas plump handle for a beak on a derelict container at a beach in protest against the oil industry. During recent beach cleanup efforts, the artist's work was salvaged and restored by Brandler Galleries.


UNESCO Partners Holocaust Memorial In Commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day

UNESCO is organizing a series of events in partnership with the Holocaust Memorial, to take place between January 22nd and 25th, in advance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorated each year on January 27th.


Russian Court Extends Artistic Director's House Arrest

Kirill S. Serebrennikov, the artistic director of the Gogol Center in Russia, is accused of embezzling the ruble equivalent of $2.3 million in government funds allocated for one of his theatrical projects. He claims that he was falsely accused by his former accountant, who turned state's witness in the case. Serebrennikov's case has raised concerns of repression of artistic freedom and return of censorship to the arts in Russia, as he has staged plays that featured nude actors and touched on socially-divisive topics in his productions. Last week, his house arrest was extended another three months while he is awaiting trial. President Putin commented that the Bolshoi Theater recently staged "Nureyev," a ballet directed by Serebrennikov, suggesting that this production is evidence that the latter is not being persecuted.


Costa Rica Exhibits Artifacts Recovered from Venezuela

The National Museum of Costa Rica's exhibition of 196 pre-Columbian artifacts recovered from Venezuela represents a major victory in an ongoing battle for repatriation of cultural artifacts in Latin America.


Stolen Furniture of an Egyptian Monarch Resurfaces in the U.S.

A mahogany and mercury-gilded bedroom suite of Egypt's late King Farouk disappeared from the royal rest house in Giza Zoo in 2013, replaced by a cheap replica. The suite was originally crafted by Antoine Krieger, a top Parisian cabinet-maker of the 19th century. Internet users have recently discovered the furniture for sale on an American antiques website. Egypt's attorney-general is investigating.


Anonymous Collector Puts a Possible El Greco Painting on Public Display

The Visitation, a large canvas depicting the Virgin Mary greeting her cousin Elizabeth, was revealed to the public in 2014 as the possible work of the artist Doménikos Theotokópoulos, or El Greco. The painting is owned by an anonymous private collector, who has not yet allowed any experts to examine its authenticity. It was recently put on display at the Oballe Chapel in San Vincente, Toledo. The available records suggest that the painting was completed after 1608, including the contract commissioning the El Greco with the work. Several versions of the painting were allegedly created. Another example of the Visitation paintings is located in Washington. While some experts believe it very probable that the newly revealed painting is authentic, others are not convinced.



Assault Victims Testify at Dr. Nassar's Sentencing; Michigan State University President Under Pressure to Resign

Dr. Lawrence G. Nassar, a former doctor at Michigan State University, pleaded guilty in November to several sexual assault charges after being accused of molesting over 150 former female patients while he worked as a physician for the Olympic gymnastics team. Last week, almost 100 women, including several Olympic medalists, testified at his sentencing. Meanwhile, there are growing calls for the Michigan State University president, Lou Anna K. Simon, to resign over how much she knew about the abuses.







Koreas Agree to Cooperate on Olympics

North and South Korea agreed on Wednesday that their athletes will march under one flag at the Winter Olympics next month. North Korea is also sending its 140-member pop orchestra to perform. Furthermore, South Korea proposed that it fields a joint women's hockey team with North Korea. While South Korea seeks to thus deescalate the tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. is concerned that Kim Jong-un will unify the Koreas under one flag.




400 Russian Athletes Are Clear To Compete at the Winter Olympics

While Russia remains barred, the International Olympic Committee provisionally cleared nearly 400 Russian athletes to compete at the 2018 Winter Games. The International Paralympic Committee is still expected to announce whether Russia can compete in Pyeongchang.


Russian Investigators Claim To Have Found Evidence Rebutting Doping Allegations

Russia's Investigative Committee claims to have found evidence rebutting the accusations of systematic doping during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Specifically, the Committee apparently obtained documents relating to the chain of custody of the doping samples of 15 Russian athletes, who were recently banned for life from the Olympic Games. Grigory Rodchenkov, the head of the Sochi laboratory during the 2014 Winter Olympics, previously came forward with a description of a scheme he allegedly carried out at the direction of Russian sports officials, which involved replacing steroid-laced urine with clean urine, collected months earlier, on each evening of the Games. Russian officials have vehemently denied Rodchenkov's allegations and the existence of a state-sponsored doping program.


New Rules Appear To Reduce Withdrawal Rate at Austrian Open

Fewer players were scratched from competition during this year's Australian Open, following the adoption of a new rule allowing injured players to withdraw before taking the court and still receive half of their first-round prize money.



Senator Jeff Flake Condemns President Trump's Attacks on the Press

This past Wednesday, Senator Flake (R-Arizona) took to the Senate floor to defend the news media on the same day Trump's "fake news awards" were to be announced. Flake compared Trump's language to that of Joseph Stalin, and said that the president's attacks on the press are "a source of great shame".


Journalists Arrested in Sudan After Covering Protests

Several reporters for Reuters and Agence France-Presse were arrested by Sudan's National Intelligence and Security Service as they covered economic protests in Sudan last week. There is no information as to why the reporters where arrested and when they are to be released. These arrests raise concerns of the increasing censorship of the media in Sudan.


Reporters at the Los Angeles Times Form A Union

248 out of 293 journalists of the Los Angeles Times, one of the largest newspapers in the country, voted to join the NewsGuild, which represents 25,000 workers at news organizations across the United States. The union will now negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with management.


Condé Nast to Adopt Rules Protecting Models From Harassment

In light of the sexual harassment outcry in fashion, entertainment and other industries, Condé Nast is working on a new code of conduct, scheduled to go into effect this month. Under the new rules, the publisher will not work with underage models, alcohol will be prohibited on sets, and any shoots involving nudity will be detailed and agreed upon by the models beforehand.


YouTube's New Monetization Policy Disfavors Small Accounts

YouTube raised the minimum threshold for which videos can accept advertisements in addition to promising human oversight over most viewed videos amid concerns that ads appear alongside extremist videos. Only channels with over 1,000 subscribes and whose videos have over 4,000 watch hours in the last 12 months will be able to accept advertisements.



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 21, 2018 9:57 PM.

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