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Week In Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

White House Proposes $4.4 Trillion Budget That Adds $7 Trillion to Deficits

The President's budget proposal outlines steep cuts to domestic programs, large increases in military spending and a ballooning federal deficit. The budget request adds $984 billion to the federal deficit next year, despite proposed cuts to programs like Medicare and food stamps, and leaner budgets across federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency. Previously, President Trump signed a two-year deal struck by congressional leaders largely without his involvement, to boost both domestic and military spending by $300 billion.


Senators Strike Bipartisan Deal on Immigration Despite Veto Threat

A bipartisan measure by Senators calling themselves the Common Sense Coalition would appropriate $25 billion for border security, including construction of the president's proposed Mexican border wall, while offering a path to citizenship for the "Dreamers," those who were brought to the U.S. as children by undocumented immigrant parents. President Trump, however, suggested he would veto a plan if it does not take his harder line approach to immigration issues.


Senate Rejects Immigration Plans, Leaving Fate of Dreamers Uncertain

Three different plans were rejected by the Senate, leaving the so-called "Dreamers" in limbo. President Trump's plan failed through bipartisan rejection - Democrats will not pay for his "get tough" approach, and Republicans will not sign on for what they derided as "amnesty." Two bi-partisan measures - one mooted by a group called Common Sense Coalition, and the other headed by John McCain - had already been shot down before the vote on the President's bill.


Second Federal Judge Issues Injunction to Keep Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals in Place

Judge Nicholas G. Garaufis of Federal District Court in Brooklyn ruled that the Trump administration must spare spare Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA"). Judge William Alsup of Federal District Court in San Francisco issued a similar ruling last month. On September 5, 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration planned to end DACA gradually. The Department of Homeland Security is still considering pending DACA applications and renewals filed by October 5, 2017, but plans to reject all applications after that. After the announcement, a coalition of immigration lawyers and a group of 16 Democratic state attorneys general, led by Eric Schneiderman of New York, filed separate but linked lawsuits in Brooklyn, claiming that the repeal of DACA was "arbitrary and capricious" and largely motivated by a "racial animus" against Latinos.


Intelligence Chiefs Warn That Russia Sees Midterm Elections as Chance to Sow Fresh Discord

Russia is using fake accounts on social media to spread disinformation in order to disrupt American and European elections, to worsen political and social divisions through digital means. "We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokespeople and other means of influence to try to exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," said Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, to the Senate Intelligence Committee at its annual hearing on worldwide threats.


White House Let Rob Porter Keep Job Even After Receiving Final F.B.I. Report

Rob Porter, who had been given an interim security clearance - a standard practice in the White House until it was halted by President Trump's Chief of Staff last fall - was allowed to continue serving in the West Wing long after officials had received word of accusations of domestic abuse.


Abuse Case Exposes Fissures in a White House in Turmoil

White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter's resignation in light of allegations of domestic abuse by two ex-wives is considered to have been mishandled by Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, who offered to step down if President Trump wished it. So far, he is holding onto his job, despite the President's advisors urging that someone should be held accountable, and with turmoil within the White House staff over this and other issues, including the President's informal search for Kelly's replacement.


Michael D. Cohen, Trump's Longtime Lawyer, Says He Paid Stormy Daniels Out of His Own Pocket

Cohen claims that he personally paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, professionally known as Stormy Daniels, and was not reimbursed directly or indirectly by the Trump campaign or Trump organization. The watchdog group Common Cause filed a complaint to determine whether the Trump campaign or an individual had made the payment to the actress who claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump while Melania Trump was pregnant with their son Baron.


How Much Is Your Privacy Worth? A Lot, if You've Won $560 Million

New Hampshire's requirement that a lottery winner discloses her identity or forfeit the prize has drawn offers from strangers to help her collect while retaining her privacy, as well as outright demands for assistance. The State claims that it has an overriding interest in disclosing the names of lottery winners to avoid corruption. The prizewinner's lawyers made a host of arguments for allowing the winner to retain anonymity, including to prevent "violence, threats, harassment, scams and constant unwanted solicitation" that have plagued previous lottery winners.


Planners of Deadly Charlottesville Rally Are Tested in Court

The planners of last Summer's white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which 30 protesters were injured, and Heather Heyer was killed, defended their actions as an exercise of their right to self-expression under the First Amendment, and claimed that they did not cause any injuries. This narrative of blamelessness became a campaign and rallying cry for the so-called "alt-right," made up of white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and their supporters, and was carried on in the media and vociferously on social media in the aftermath of the rally.

In response, a lawsuit against 15 individual defendants and the groups they represent was filed in U.S. District Court in Charlottesville (Sines v. Kessler, Civil Action No.: 3:17-cv-00072-NKM, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Charlottesville Division) by nine named plaintiffs, who say they were hurt in Charlottesville. The plaintiffs claim that the event's leaders plotted to deprive them of their civil rights.


Nikolas Cruz, Florida Shooting Suspect, Showed 'Every Red Flag'

Nikolas Cruz had emotional problems and may have been diagnosed with autism. Patrol cars were often in the driveway of his mother's house. He was expelled from school. He showed pictures of dead animals and guns on social media. He acted out. He posted a comment on YouTube: "I wish to be a professional school shooter." Who missed all these signs?


Julian Assange's Arrest Warrant Is Again Upheld by U.K. Judge

Stating that Julian Assange only wants justice when it's in his favor, an English Senior District Judge upheld an arrest warrant for the second time in a week for the WikiLeak-er, who has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than five years, most recently, as an Ecuadoran citizen.


Following are stories divided into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media categories:


Weinstein Company Fires David Glasser, Its President

David Glasser was removed "for cause," though the Weinstein Company did not indicate what the "cause" has been.


Weinstein Company Sale Delayed by N.Y. Attorney General Lawsuit

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the Weinstein Brothers company, alleging that it repeatedly violated New York State and City laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual abuse and coercion. The suit is expected to delay the sale of the company, which has scrambled to offload about $225 million dollars in debt, and to realize about $275 million from an investor group led by Maria Contreras-Sweet, who is best known for running the Small Business Administration under President Obama. That group also agreed to create a multi-million-dollar settlement fund (in addition to the insurance funds available) to compensate victims of Harvey Weinstein. Schneiderman has said that if the sale goes through, there might be no funds available to compensate Weinstein's victims.


Does a Lawsuit Now Help the Weinstein Victims?

The Attorney General's lawsuit may backfire on Weinstein's victims. If the company goes bankrupt, Harvey Weinstein's victims would be treated as all other unsecured creditors, and there might not be enough money to compensate them.


Former Employee Sues Vice Media, Claiming That It Pays Women Less

Vice Media was sued by a former employee in Los Angeles Superior Court who is seeking class action status and claiming systematic discrimination against women employees, marginalizing them, and paying them less than men. The lawsuit comes after a New York Times investigation revealed four financial settlements involving allegations of defamation or sexual abuse, and more than two dozen women said they experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct at the edgy millennial-focused entertainment company.


Artist Says Kendrick Lamar Video for "Black Panther" Song Stole Her Work

"Black Panther", the film featuring the first black superhero to appear in mainstream comics, has all the positive buzz this week. However, one negative side issue emerged; the team that put the film together is facing allegations by a British-Liberian artist that her work was used without permission in the music video for "All the Stars," a song from the film's soundtrack. Artist Lina Iris Viktor's lawyer sent a letter to Top Dawg Entertainment alleging copyright infringement of the 24-karat gold, patterned artworks in Viktor's "Constellations" series. Viktor had been contacted twice by the film's creators for permission to feature her work, the letter says, but she decided not to participate. She asks, at a minimum, that she receive a public apology and a licensing fee.


Beyoncé Songs Come to the Olympics. But Who Pays for the Rights?

Music performed during the Olympics, even though watched on tape delay, is considered live performance, so the performance rights organizations (PROs) will collect royalties for their uses. This year is the first in which music that includes lyrics has been allowed to be used for performances by ice athletes.


Amazon Moves On Without 'Transparent' Actor Jeffrey Tambor

Following months of waffling about the likelihood that Jeffrey Tambor would return to "Transparent," Amazon has now made it clear that although he is out, the show will continue without him. Tambor was accused of inappropriate workplace behavior by a former personal assistant and a "Transparent" cast member.



Graffiti Artists Awarded $6.7 Million for Destroyed 5Pointz Murals

A federal judge in Brooklyn ruled that graffiti -- a typically transient form of art -- was of sufficient stature to be protected by the law, awarding a judgment of $6.7 million to 21 graffiti artists whose works were destroyed in 2013 at the 5Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens. A civil jury deciding the case last November found that Jerry Wolkoff, a real estate developer who owned 5Pointz, broke the law when he whitewashed what a lawyer for the artists had called "the world's largest open-air aerosol museum." Wolkoff's lawyers had argued that the buildings were his to treat as he pleased, however, the jury found that he violated the Visual Artists Rights Act, which protects public art of "recognized stature" created on someone's else property.


Inquiry Results State That Abuse Accusations Against Peter Martins Are Not Corroborated

Allegations of sexual harassment or physical abuse made by former dancers and others against the recently retired chief of New York City Ballet and its school by former dancers and others have not been corroborated, according to the results of a two month internal investigation. The ballet and school announced new policies to assure that dancers "feel safe, respected and able to voice their opinions and concerns freely."


Children's Book Industry Has Its #MeToo Moment

The children's publishing industry suffered a major upheaval as trade groups, literary agents and a publisher broke with several best-selling authors over allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. Random House announced that it would not publish any future books by James Dashner, author of the dystopian science fiction series, "The Maze Runner," that was turned into a film trilogy. Jay Asher, whose novel Thirteen Reasons Why was turned into a Netflix series, was also accused. The industry's sudden reckoning with the #MeToo movement primarily involved complaints that a long list of prominent writers and editors exploited their power and position at keystone industry events to make sexual advances, particularly toward female authors hoping to further their careers.



Americans won the following medals last week in the Winter Olympics at Pyeong Chang, South Korea:

U.S. Olympic Medalists

Jamie Anderson, women's snowboard slopestyle
Red Gerard, men's snowboard slopestyle
Chloe Kim, women's snowboard halfpipe
Mikaela Shiffrin, women's giant slalom
Shaun White, men's snowboard halfpipe

Nick Goepper, men's freestyle skiing slopestyle
John-Henry Krueger, men's 1,000-meter short-track speedskating
Chris Mazdzer, men's luge

Arielle Gold, women's snowboard halfpipe
Team USA Figure Skating

Notre Dame President Rips NCAA's Denial of Notre Dame Appeal

Notre Dame's appeal to the NCAA to restore 21 vacated football victories was denied, which punishment included removal of all 12 wins of the school's 2012 national championship run under coach Brian Kelly. The NCAA's decision to deny the school's appeal from an academic misconduct violation infuriated the school's president, who said in a letter to alumni that the NCAA "perverted" the notion that universities determine how they police academics, and compared Notre Dame's treatment to that of North Carolina, which was not punished for its athletes taking irregular courses.


South Korea Got the Winter Games. Then It Needed More Olympians.

South Korea has experienced limited Olympic success in winter sports, so it followed a familiar strategy for host nations that do not excel at winter sports: It hired foreign coaches and granted citizenship to 19 of its total of 144 athletes from other countries.


Ex-Coach for English Soccer Teams Convicted of Molesting Child Players

Barry Bennell was convicted of 36 counts of sexually assaulting boys aged eight to 15, from 1979 to 1990. Bennell worked as a scout and coach for several popular teams, including Manchester City, for the clubs' youth programs, which gave him access to children who lived away from their parents while playing soccer.


First Blood Test to Detect Concussions and Other Brain Injuries Is Approved

The Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") approved Banyan Biomarkers' Brain Trauma Indicator, a new blood test to detect concussions and other brain injuries. The test, which may take the place, in part, of CT scans used to detect brain lesions that indicate injuries, will reduce brain injured victims' exposure to radiation. The FDAsaid that the Banyan test proved able to predict the presence of intracranial lesions on a CT scan 97.5% of the time, and those who did not have lesions, 99.6% of the time. Concussions and other brain injuries have become a major public health concern in sports involving players of all ages, which has led to a decline in children participating in tackle sports. The blood test was developed to assist medics in combat areas determine which head injury victims are in need of higher levels of care, and was intended to be used on adults, however a new clinical trial that will focus on children is planned to start soon.


Mirai Nagasu Lands Triple Axel, a First by an American Woman at an Olympics


White Apologizes for Comments on Sexual Misconduct Lawsuit

Shaun White apologized after dismissing the sexual misconduct allegations made against him in a 2016 lawsuit by a former drummer in his band as "gossip" shortly after winning his third Olympic gold medal in the men's halfpipe. The suit was settled for an undisclosed amount.



Federal Communications Commission Watchdog Looks Into Changes That Benefited Sinclair

Last April, the Federal Communications Commission("FCC") approved rules allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own. A few weeks later, the new rules made it possible for Sinclair Broadcasting to announce a deal to buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion. However, by the end of the year, the top internal watchdog for the FCC opened an investigation into whether FCC Chair Ajit Pai and his aides had improperly pushed for the rule changes and timed them to benefit Sinclair. The extent of the inspector general's investigation spotlights Mr. Pai's decisions and whether there had been coordination with the company. The inquiry could also add ammunition to arguments against the Sinclair-Tribune deal. Public interest groups and Democratic lawmakers are strongly opposed to the deal, arguing that it would reduce the number of voices in media and diminish coverage of local news.


To Stir Discord in 2016, Russians Turned Most Often to Facebook

Facebook, more than any other technology tool, was singled out by the Justice Department when prosecutors charged 13 Russians and three companies for executing a scheme to subvert the 2016 election and support Donald J. Trump's presidential campaign. The indictment detailed how the Russians repeatedly turned to Facebook and Instagram, often using stolen identities to pose as Americans, to sow discord among the electorate by creating Facebook groups, distributing divisive ads and posting inflammatory images.


Brazil Looks to Crack Down on Fake News Ahead of Bitter Election

Brazil is cracking down now on organized efforts to intentionally mislead voters, ahead of a critical election, with a "fake news task force" that is strategizing prevention of fake news production, and halting its dissemination. Luiz Fux, a Supreme Court Justice who runs the operations of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, said that the right to free speech cannot come at the expense of an illegitimate outcome in an election.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 19, 2018 3:51 PM.

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