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Week in Review

By Nick Crudele
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Judges Slowing Deportations

Federal judges are slowing the deportation process for thousands of illegal immigrants, even though they lack jurisdiction to decide the immigration cases themselves. Several district courts are giving the immigrants time to fight in immigration courts, insisting that the immigrants have a right to due process despite that fact that they had known for years they could be expelled.


U.S. Spies Paid Russian Peddling Trump Secrets

A shady Russian bilked at least $100,000 from U.S. spies seeking information about stolen cyberweapons, but instead received unverified and fabricated information involving President Trump. The payment was part of a $1 million deal to try and recover stolen NSA material.


John Kelley Willing to Resign Amid Criticism

According to officials in the White House, Chief of Staff John Kelley offered his resignation over his handling of spousal abuse against staff secretary Rob Porter. Kelley denied that claim.


Trump Blocks Democratic Memo Release

President Trump will not release a Democratic memo rebutting a Republican intelligence memo alleging FBI abuse. He sent the memo back for changes to "properly classified and especially sensitive passages".


Climate Change Skeptic Dropped as Environmental Advisor

President Trump withdrew the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to be the chair of the Council of Environmental Quality after it became known that she was a climate change skeptic with ties to the fossil fuel industry. In a contentious Senate hearing in November, White defended her statement that particulate pollution released by burning fuels is not harmful unless a person were to suck on a car's tailpipe.


Trump Lawyers Advise Against Mueller Interview

Lawyers for President Trump advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Their concern stemmed from Trump's history of false statements and contradictions that could put him in danger of being charged with lying to investigators. President Trump has said publicly that he is eager to speak with Mueller regarding the Russia election interference.


Trump-Managed Hotel Seeks a $6 Million Tax Break

A hotel under construction in the Mississippi Delta with the Trump name, which is expected to be managed by the Trump Organization, is seeking $6 million in tax breaks to offset the $20 million is costs for the hotel. The developers requested the break to improve cash flow.


Lululemon's CEO Resigns Over Conduct Issues

Lululemon CEO Laurent Potdevin resigned after complaints about behavior issues. The company didn't provide specifics about the issues, but said it expects its employees to "exemplify the highest level of integrity and respect for one another."


Lawyer Agrees He is the Least Qualified to Defend Terror Case

Lawyer Alaric Piette agrees with his critics - he is not qualified to defend the alleged mastermind of the bombing of American destroyer Cole in 2000. After the legal team defending Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri quit, following a courtroom dispute involving classified snooping, Piette was left as the sole defense attorney in the case. The former Navy Seal with just six years of legal experience has never tried a capital case. Military tribunal rules require a learned counsel who have tried capital cases before. Despite this, the judge decided to move forward.


Wynn Resigns from Company Amid Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Casino mogul Steve Wynn resigned as chairman and CEO of his company, Wynn Resorts, after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. In a statement, Wynn said "an avalanche of negative publicity" created an environment in a rush to judgement came before facts. Last month, the Wall Street Journal published an in-depth investigation, which found that Wynn had harassed female employees and coerced them into sex for decades. The focus now turns to the survival of the company without its chief visionary. Wynn's casinos from Macau to Massachusetts face scrutiny from regulators trying to find out how much the company knew about Wynn's alleged misconduct.



SpaceX Rocket Launch Brings It One Step Closer to Mars

The launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket from the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center brings Elon Musk one step closer to realizing his dream of putting humans on Mars. The launch, which carried a playful payload of Musk's personal Tesla Roadster accompanied by a test dummy wearing a SpaceX space suit, was the first time a private rocket this powerful was sent into space by a private company. The Falcon Heavy's success brings Musk one step closer to realizing his dream of developing his B.F.R. (Big Falcon Rocker or playfully Big F*** Rocket) generation of rockets powerful enough to bring human to space, and possibly Mars.


Bribery Scandal Kept Corporate Sponsors Away from Olympics

Corruption scandals, including those of Samsung chairman and South Korea's former president, have made South Korean big name sponsors reluctant to sponsor the Pyeongchang Olympic Winter Games. The scandals, which mostly involved bribery via sports sponsorship, had a financial impact on the usually sponsorship laden Olympics. While big corporations have done their part in paying for and sponsoring the games, they are doing so less aggressively then in the past.


Russian, North Korean Hackers Likely Targeting the Olympics

The Department of Homeland Security warned Americans attending the Olympics that cybercriminals will likely target the games. Experts believe that North Korean hackers, who have probed South Korean networks for years, and Russian cybercriminals angry about Russia's ban from the games, will try and target athletes and visitors, searching for embarrassing information or simply looking to cause trouble. More than 300 Olympic-related systems have already been hit and a second wave of attacks is underway.


Polish President Signs Controversial Death Camp Legislation into Law

Poland enacted a law making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation of being complicit in the Holocaust and Nazi atrocities. The law outlaws the phrase "Polish death camps", which historical scholars agree is misleading, since the Nazis erected and controlled the camps. However, the law also makes any accusation that the Polish nation was complicit in the Holocaust and other atrocities punishable by a fine and three years in prison. Critics say the Polish government is trying to whitewash the role the Poles played during the war and Holocaust. Many Poles, however, feel that Poland's wartime experience and suffering has not been properly told.


Bermuda Revokes Same-Sex Marriages

In what is believed to the first jurisdiction to do so, Bermuda has reversed its law legalizing same-sex marriage. Instead, Bermuda will allow same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships, but not marry. In May 2017, Bermuda's Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Bermuda's Senate and House of Assembly passed legislation to overturning the Court's decision in December. Most voters on the socially conservative island opposed same-sex marriage.


Cambodian Opposition Challenges Facebook in U.S. Court of 'Likes'

A Cambodian opposition leader has asked a U.S. court to compel Facebook to release records of advertising purchases by Cambodian's authoritarian prime minister Hun Sen. The opposition argues that the prime minister and his allies use the platform to manipulate public opinion and strengthen his hold on power through the spread of false news and death threats directed at political opponents.


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


Federal Copyright Board Raises Streaming Royalties by More Than 40%

The Copyright Royalty Board raised the music streaming royalties for songwriters and music publishers by more than 40% to narrow the financial divide separating them from recording labels. The decision stems from a dispute between the artists and popular streaming services like Spotify and Apple. While hailed by music publishers as a win, streaming services will still be receiving around $3.82 for every $1 paid to the artists.


Recording Artists Ask Congress to Protect Their Rights

Recording artists Aloe Blacc and Booker T. Jones testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee asking the members to support legislation that protects the rights of artists. The Music Act would establish a performance right for artists, including paying those whose songs are played on the radio, establish rights for producers to receive royalties, and create a blanket license for royalties when songs are reproduced in various formats.


11 Years After His Death, James Brown's Estate Still Not Settled

James Brown's estate remains unsettled 11 years after his death. More than a dozen lawsuits have mired the process and delayed all distributions. One case claims that Brown's widow made illegal back-room agreements with the estate; another case is challenging whether Brown's wife was actually his wife (a lower court said that she was). All the litigation has held up disbursements of money set aside for scholarships and his grandchildren.


Top Female Music Executives to Recording Academy: Organization "Woefully out of Touch"

A joint letter from six top female music executives to the Recording Academy's board of trustees called the organization "woefully out of touch with today's music, the music business, and...society", and called for more transparency and inclusiveness. The six executives also note that they write not only on behalf of themselves, but also their companies, adding more weight to the message. This comes on the heels of Recording Academy President Neil Portnow's remarks that women need to "step up" to get ahead in the music business. The letter stops short of asking for Portnow's resignation.


Hispanic Group Protest for Inclusion Outside of Oscars Luncheon

Seven dozen protestors picketed outside a lunch held for Academy Award nominees at the Beverly Hilton, demanding more Hispanic/Latino characters on movie screens. Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population, but only 3% of speaking characters in films.


Tarantino Says Uma Thurman Car Stunt is His Biggest Regret

A car stunt on the set of "Kill Bill Vol. 2" nearly 15 years ago, which resulted in an accident that severely injured actress Uma Thurman, was the biggest mistake of director Quentin Tarantino's life. Thurman's account of the accident stemmed from an article that centered around Harvey Weinstein's sexual assault of Thurman on the set of the film. Thurman recalls that she wanted a stunt person to do the scene, expressing doubt about the car's safety, but that she was forced to do the scene after Tarantino became furious with her.


Fembots Taking the Internet by Storm

Fembots, or Female Robots, are no longer a thing of fantasy - at least on the internet. These creations of artificial intelligence persuasively mimic the female physical form, which can be constantly resized and reshaped to a viewer's liking. Fembots like Poppy, an android-themed pop star, has 257 million YouTube views and is in the middle of a U.S. concert tour, and Lil Miquela, a life-like computer animated Instagram model with her own merchandise, have captivated their online audiences. While their images may be that of the "perfect" physical form, they are mentally deficient.



The Metropolitan Museum of Art Can Keep Picasso's "The Actor"

U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska dismissed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art by the great-grandniece of a German Jewish businessman who claimed that a Pablo Picasso piece, "The Actor", was sold at an artificially low price to fund an escape from the Nazis. The judge said the great-grandniece of Paul Leffman, who once owned the piece, could not show that the painting was sold under "duress" under New York law.


Berkshire Museum Gets Approval to Sell its Art

The financially struggling Berkshire Museum was given approval by the state of Massachusetts to sell dozens of its artworks. The museum announced this past summer it would sell up to 40 pieces, but the plan immediately drew criticism from the state and the heirs of Norman Rockwell, who said that the plan violated various trust provisions of the artwork. The museum's famous Rockwell painting "Shuffleton's Barbershop" will be sold to another museum, and will remain open to public view.


Looted Art Gets New Space at Louvre

The 31 paintings of all different shapes, styles, and subjects have one thing in common - they were all looted by the Nazis and returned to France. While tens of thousands of looted artworks have been returned to their rightful owners, many, including 807 entrusted to the Louvre, have not found their rightful home. Now, these 31, which depicted Roman ruins, small children, German portraits, and Dutch landscapes, will be exhibited in one space. Critics say that the exhibit does nothing to help find the rightful owners, while the museum has said it has done its best to find them.


Louboutin Loses Sole Battle

An advisor to a court in The Netherlands said that French designer Christian Louboutin did not have an exclusive right to the famous red soles. An advocate general at the European Court of Justice advised The Netherland court that Louboutin's trademark protection on the shade of red used might be invalid. The advocate general told the court that the red color is not considered apart from the soles' shapes, which is not usually protected under trademark law. The judge usually heeds the advice of the advocate.



Olympic "Ban" on Russians Allows Many Athletes to Still Compete

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in December banned Russia from competing in this year's Winter Olympics. Despite the ban, the IOC still allowed about 400 Russian athletes to compete under a neutral flag, if they could prove they did not violate antidoping protocols. Russia has named 170 athletes to it Olympic "team", even though it was banned from having a team, with 150 of them being cleared to compete. Another 47 athletes appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the hopes of a last-minute reprieve, some even traveling to South Korea. The appeals, however, failed.




Nassar Gets Another 40 to 125 Years in Final Sex Abuse Case

Sexual predator Larry Nassar was sentenced to up to 125 years in prison for molesting 265 girls and women in the final case stemming from his sexual abuses in the guise of medical treatment. Nassar was previously sentenced to up to 175 years in jail for molesting seven girls and 60 years in prison for possession of child pornography.


Former Gymnastics Coach Under Investigation

Former U.S. Olympic gymnastics coach John Geddert is under investigation. Complaints against Geddert, who ran a gym with convicted child molester Larry Nassar, were filed in Michigan. The nature of the complaints are unknown.


Senators Call for Investigation Into U.S.A Gymnastics

A bipartisan group of Senators have called for a special committee to investigate the handling of sexual abuse of athletes by U.S.A. Gymnastics and the U.S. Olympic Committee. The committee would determine the extent to which U.S.A. Gymnastics and Olympic Committee were complicit or negligent in allowing its employees to abuse athletes.


Former U.S. Olympic Swimmer Accuses Ex-Coach of Sex Abuse

Former U.S. Olympic Swimmer Ariana Kukors accused her ex-coach, Sean Hutchison, of sexually abusing her when she was 16. Kukors said that Hutchison began "grooming" her for a sexual relationship when she was only 13. Hutchison denies the accusations of sexual abuse or "grooming" Kukors, but did admit to having a sexual or romantic relationship when she "was old enough to legally make those decisions".



North Korea Sends Delegation to Winter Olympics

North Korea said it would send a high-level government delegation to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The delegation will meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The delegation will be the highest level North Korean official visit since 2014.


Olympic Diplomacy Made Tricky by Sanctions

Are hockey sticks luxury goods? Can South Korea provide fuel to ferry carrying North Korean athletes after it ran out in the South? These are some of the many questions facing South Korea and the international community as the Winter Olympics get underway with a contingent of North Korean athletes. Normally, athletes are showered with free gifts and equipment from sponsors of the games. However, North Korea's participation has some wondering what can and can't be provided to North Korean athletes for fear of breaking the sanctions. To get around any potential violations, North Korean athletes are borrowing uniforms and equipment that will be returned after the games. Further, their athletes will not enjoy the SWAG, including Samsung phones, the other athletes will get. As for the Ferry, the South is still deciding whether to give it fuel.



Cox Communications Forfeited Copyright Safe Harbor

The Fourth Circuit ruled that Cox Communications forfeited its protections under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's ("DMCA") safe harbor, which shields providers from infringement liability linked to users, when it failed to terminate users who repeatedly pirated music. The Court found that Cox failed to terminate users in "any consistent or meaningful way" thus losing the safe harbor provided for under the DMCA. The Court however, vacated a $25 million verdict.


Fox News Removes a Top Exececutive Over Column

John Moody, an executive vice president and executive editor of Fox News, was removed after his op-ed caused a social media uproar. The article mocked American Olympic officials who emphasized diversity in this year's team of athletes. The column sarcastically suggested that the U.S. Olympic Committee adopt a new motto: "Darker, Gayer, Different".


Democracy in Jeopardy as Kenya Government Silences Critics

The Kenyan government blacked out television stations against court orders, arrested politicians and journalists, and designated some of its opponents "an organized criminal group" in its latest democracy crisis. All of this comes mere months after Kenya's historic presidential election, which saw the Supreme Court overturn the election and order a new one. Opponents of President Kenyatta, who ran unopposed in the new election after his opponents claimed the process was unfair, fear the President's actions are sliding the country away from democracy.

The Kenyan government utimately ended the blackout of some television stations after a court ordered the immediate restoration.



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 11, 2018 4:53 PM.

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