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Week in Review

By Jana Slavina Farmer
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

States Still Wondering How To Protect the Voting Process in the Next Election

State election officials say that they have not received any information from the federal government as to specific threats to registered voter databases, voting machines, and communications networks more than a year after the general election was tainted by the Russian interference scandal. Federal officials promise to do better in the future.


Twitter Accounts with Suspected Russian Links Weigh In On Gun Violence

Within an hour after the Parkland shooting, automated Twitter accounts with suspected links to Russia posted hundreds of comments addressing gun violence and gun control. These accounts appear to target controversial topics in the U.S. social discourse, often jumping on breaking news and attempting to introduce fringe ideas into the mainstream.


Politics Among Factors Affecting Supreme Court Justices' Decisions as to When to Retire

The Supreme Court does not consider party politics when deciding cases, but the justices acknowledge that they try to time their retirements to coincide with the terms of politically like-minded presidents. Justice Kennedy, 81, may retire during this Presidential term, potentially allowing President Trump and the Republican Congress to shift the highest court to the right politically. Justices Ginsburg and Breyer could have retired under President Obama, but continue to serve. Justice Ginsburg previously commented that if she were to resign in the latter part of President Obama's term, he could not have appointed a justice to be a suitable replacement.


Lawyer Admits to Lying to Prosecutors

Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen and former lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, admitted to lying to investigators about his communications with a former Trump campaign aide and to deleting emails sought by the investigators. He faces up to five years in prison.


Hotel to Be Managed by the Trump Organization is Awarded a Tax Break

The State of Mississippi awarded a tourism tax rebate worth up to a $6 Million to a new hotel that is to be branded and managed by the Trump Organization.


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


Congressman Goodlatte to Introduce Umbrella Music Copyright Reform Bill

U.S. Representative Goodlatte (R-Va.), plans to introduce an umbrella music licensing bill in March, which will include the Music Modernization Act, which will change the digital mechanical licensing process and lead to better payouts for songwriters; the Classics Act, which addresses payment of royalties for songs recorded prior to 1972; and the Allow Music Producers ("AMP") Act, which would codify the existing practice of paying music producers compensation stemming from digital royalties earned by artists. The bill may also include the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement ("CASE") Act, which would create a copyright small claims court for disputes under $15,000. Most music industry advocacy group announced their support for the Music Modernization Act, the AMP Act and the Classics Act.



Oscar-Nominated Documentary Filmmakers Fear Russian Interference

Filmmakers of two Academy Awards-nominated documentaries, the "Last Man in Aleppo" and "Ikarus", are afraid of repercussions from Russia beyond negative publicity in Russian media. The "Last Man in Aleppo" illustrates the work of the White Helmets, the volunteer Syrian emergency medical workers, in their search for bombing survivors. "Ikarus" details the doping scandal at the Sochi Olympics in Russia.


Fewer Women Were Portrayed in Film in 2017, Study Finds

According to the study by San Diego State University, there was a five percent decrease in female protagonists in the 100 top-grossing domestic films of 2017, as compared to the year before. On the other hand, two percent more women had speaking roles in those films.


Lebanese Comedian Faces Charges Over Jokes On A Television Show

Hiccham Haddad, the host of a popular TV show in Lebanon, made a joke about the crown prince of Saudi Arabia on air. Lebanon's public prosecutor filed charges against Haddad for defamation of the foreign leader. When Haddad next appeared on air in prison garb and singing about the prosecutor, a council of judges called for further charges of insulting the judiciary. Several other recent cases against entertainers, journalists and activists in Lebanon raise concerns that tolerance is drying up in the former oasis of free speech in the Middle East.


#MeToo in South Korea

Lee Youn-taek, a former artistic director of the National Theater of Korea, apologized for his sexual abuse of actresses after last week's Facebook post by a former actress resulted in a stream of accusations against him.



SCOTUS Rules That Terror Victims Cannot Seize Iranian Antiquities As Compensation

In 2003, American victims of the 1997 Iran-sponsored terrorist bombing in Jerusalem won a $71 million court judgment against Iran. To satisfy this judgment, the victims sought to seize about 30,000 Iranian clay tablets and fragments - known as the Persepolis collection - on loan to the University of Chicago. Under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act ("FSIA"), a foreign nation is immune from lawsuit in the U.S., except that victims of terrorism can sue any country that sponsored the attack. The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Rubin v. Islamic Republic of Iran, No. 16-534, that this FSIA exception did not apply to seizure of antiquities, but only to clearly commercial assets. The U.S. had filed a brief supporting Iran's position in this lawsuit, stating that "[e]xecution against such unique cultural artifacts could cause affront and reciprocity problems."



The Flight of the Purse Experts

In a dispute between two auction houses concerning poaching luxury handbag experts - which are in high demand in the industry - a Manhattan judge allowed breach of contract and tortious interference claims to proceed to trial. Heritage Auctions (Dallas, TX) sued Christie's in 2014, claiming that the latter induced several of Heritage's employees to jump ship, breaching their employment agreements and engaging in unfair business practices.


State Seeks Book Sale Proceeds of Incarcerated Author

Curtis Dawkins is serving a life sentence for murder in Michigan. While in prison, he wrote a collection of short stories, titled The Graybar Hotel, which casts light on the lives of prisoners. In 2016, his agent secured a book deal for Dawkins with a top literary publisher for $150,000. The Michigan Department of Treasury filed a complaint seeking 90% of Dawkins' assets to pay for his incarceration, including not only the book proceeds, but also about $200 to $300 that his family adds to his account monthly to pay for incidentals, such as writing paper. Dawkins, who is representing himself, argues that he has a moral and legal obligation to support his three children and help pay for their education. The laws of over 40 states allow inmates to be forced to pay for their incarceration.


Commission to Investigate Russian Avant-Garde Art Show In Ghent Disbands, Art Returned To Owners

Earlier this year, 10 specialist curators and dealers signed an open letter questioning the authenticity of the avant-garde artworks exhibited at the Museum voor Schone Kunsten ("MSK") in Ghent, Belgium, on loan from the Dieleghem Foundation. At the behest of the culture minister Sven Gatz, an expert commission was appointed to assess whether the MSK had acted with due diligence, and whether doubts about the works' authenticity justified the decision to withdraw them. When the commission first convened on Monday last week, lawyers for MSK's director and for the city of Ghent insisted that the commission should not begin its work until the artworks had been scientifically examined and "reasonable doubts" as to their authenticity established. Ghent's alderwoman for culture, Annelies Storms, announced that the loan was being cancelled and the works returned to the Dieleghem Foundation.


Terra-Cotta Warrior Loses Thumb to a Selfie-Seeking Thief

A man attending an Ugly Christmas Sweater party at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia this past December snuck into the terra-cotta warrior exhibition room for a selfie and a souvenir -- a thumb of one of the terra-cotta warriors. The FBI apprehended the thief, who returned the stolen thumb. China's authorities reacted with a demand that the thief be given a harsh penalty.


Tate is Called On To Remove Dealer From Its Program Amidst Sexual Harassment Allegations

The campaign group called We Are Not Surprised is demanding that the Tate remove London-based art dealer Anthony d'Offay, 78, from its program. In January 2018, the Observer reported allegations from three women of sexual harassment against d'Offay. The Metropolitan police received a complaint from a fourth woman over his allegedly sending malicious messages.


Stolen Degas Found on a Bus

Nine years after it was stolen from a museum in Marseille, where it was on loan, French customs officials found Edgar Degas' painting from 1877 entitled "Les Choristes" in the luggage compartment on a bus near Paris, in an unclaimed suitcase bearing the name "Degas.". The Musée d'Orsay confirmed the painting's authenticity.




Social Media Assists in Recovery of Stolen Prayer Items

Twelve prayer lamps, Nataraja, Shiva and Murugan statues were stolen from the Shree Sathi Velayuthan Kadaval Alayam, a landmark Hindu temple in Northdene, South Africa. After the details of the robbery began circulating on social media, a scrapyard owner came forward, returning the artifacts and claiming that he did not know they were Hindu prayer items. He was not charged.


U.S. and Libya Sign Cultural Property Protection Agreement

On February 23, 2018, the U.S. and Libya signed a landmark bilateral Memorandum of Understanding on cultural property protection. As part of the agreement, the United States will impose import restrictions on specified categories of archaeological material representing Libya's cultural heritage dating from 12,000 B.C. through 1750 A.D., and Ottoman ethnological material from Libya dating from 1551 A.D. to 1911 A.D. The United States has also entered into similar bilateral agreements with 17 other countries around the world, and has placed emergency import restrictions on cultural property from Iraq and Syria.


Art Thief Gets Job Offer

A woman stole a photograph from a gallery in Zagreb, Croatia. The heist was caught on camera. The institution's directer opted not to prosecute and instead offered employment to the thief, described as a "legitimate, highly motivated lover of contemporary art."


Turkey Recovers Ancient Artifacts

Istanbul police recovered a 2,200-year-old crown and other ancient gold artifacts during an anti-smuggling operation.


Controversial Artwork Was Removed From Art Fair In Spain

On Wednesday, Madrid's main exhibition center, IFEMA, ordered removal of the artwork "Contemporary Spanish Political Prisoners," by the artist Santiago Sierra, from ARCO, Spain's foremost contemporary art fair, before the fair opened to the public. The work labels Catalonia's separatist leaders as political prisoners. The removal may have added to the artwork's appeal, however: It has already been sold for €80,000 (about $98,000) despite the quick deinstallation.



Newly Discovered 65,000-Year-Old Cave Art Offers a Perspective On Our Humanity

Symbolic and cultural expressions such as art and language have always been thought to distinguish humans from other species. The recently discovered 65,000-year-old drawings in three caves in Spain were confirmed to have be created by Neanderthals, suggesting that modern humans did not invent creative expression, as previously thought. The archaeologists were able to determine through a type of carbon-dating involving uranium-thorium, that the paintings of lines, geometric shapes and hand prints were made by Neanderthals, because the drawings were created 20,000 years before the earliest known modern humans had migrated to Spain.



U.S. Olympic Medalists

Jamie Anderson, women's snowboard slopestyle
Jessica Diggins and Kikkan Randall, women's cross-country skiing
Red Gerard, men's snowboard slopestyle
Chloe Kim, women's snowboard halfpipe
Mikaela Shiffrin, women's giant slalom
David Wise, men's halfpipe
Shaun White, men's snowboard halfpipe
Team USA, women's hockey
Team USA, men's curling

Jamie Anderson, women's snowboarding big air
Alex Ferreira, men's halfpipe
Lauren Gibbs and Elana Meyers Taylor, women's bobsled
Nick Goepper, men's freestyle skiing slopestyle
John-Henry Krueger, men's 1,000-meter short-track speedskating
Chris Mazdzer, men's luge
Mikaela Shiffrin, women's Alpine combined
Kyle Mack, big air snowboarding

Arielle Gold, women's snowboard halfpipe
Maia and Alex Shibutani, ice dance figure skating
Brita Sigourney, women's freestyle skiing halfpipe
Lindsey Vonn, women's downhill skiing
Team USA, figure skating team event
Team USA, women's speedskating team pursuit

USA Finally Breaks Canada's 20-Year Winning Streak in Women's Hockey

On Thursday, the United States women's hockey team secured a 3-2 overtime, shootout victory against Canada, the four-time defending Olympic champion. Last year, this team battled for better pay and work conditions and secured a contract similar to that of the men's national team.



Olympic Athlete from Russia's Curler Returns Medal Amid New Doping Scandal

To the dismay of many, and especially Russian athletes hoping for the country's reinstatement by IOC, Olympic Athlete from Russia's ("OAR's") Alexander Krushelnytsky failed a doping test after winning a bronze medal in a mixed curling event with his wife. The athlete denied wrongdoing but admitted to the "formal breach of the current anti-doping rules." Russian officials claim that the athlete's food or drink may have been spiked by jealous rivals or Russia's political enemies. On Thursday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport ("CAS") held that Krushelnytsky was guilty of doping, disqualifying him from the Games and stripping him and his wife of their medals. Krushelnytsky withdrew his appeal but is expected to continue fighting to clear his name after the Games. The Russian Federation opened a criminal investigation into the case. While there have been cases of doping in curling, this sport is not usually involved in a high profile doping scandal. People outside the sport may ask, is curling so taxing on the stamina for athletes to be tempted to try doping? In fact, sweeping a broom round after round is a feat of endurance, and fatigue interferes with the precision required to make the shots.





Another OAR's Athlete Tests Positive For Doping, But The Jury Is Still Out

OAR's female bobsledder Nadezhda Sergeeva tested positive last Friday for an unspecified performance-enhancing drug. The process of evaluating the sample and confirming it contained a banned substance is not yet complete. Furthermore, it is reported that the athlete may have mitigating reasons for taking the substance. Such mitigating reasons may include a medical condition. A Japanese speedskater and a Slovenian hockey player also tested positive for doping at these Olympic Games.


Women Push For Equality At the Bobsled Track

Male athletes are able to compete in a "two-man" and "four-man" bobsled competition. Female athletes only have the two person event available to them. Top female bobsleders are pushing for the inclusion of the four-person bobsled event in the Olympics. International officials are reportedly concerned that there are not enough female bobsleders for two events, and that a second event would limit the opportunities for male bobsled athletes.


On the Other Hand, IOC Is Seeking Female Participants For Nordic Combined, But Not Much Luck So Far

The IOC, which goal is to achieve equality of participation by gender, is seeking female participants for the event known as Nordic combined, which requires athletes to ski jump and cross-country ski. There are, however, not that many takers. The first U.S. national championship in Nordic combined had only two participants. Men's Nordic combined dates to the first Winter Games in 1924. Perhaps female skiers could take a leaf out of Esther Ledecka's book (see story below) and go for gold in two sports?


Olympic Gold in Two Sports

Last week, Czech Republic' Ester Ledecka surprised everyone (including herself) when she won Olympic gold in women's snowboarding parallel slalom. Ledecka's primary sport is skiing, and she was not even close to being a favorite to win the event. Ledecka also won gold in the women's super-G Alpine skiing event. Prior to Ledecka, Jorien ter Mors medaled in two different sports in the single Olympics: gold in long-track speedskating and bronze in a short-track relay.


Eugenie Bouchard Settles Suit Against the United States Tennis Association

Eugenie Bouchard, former top-five female tennis player from Canada, sued the United States Tennis Association ("USTA") after her slip and fall in the locker room at the U.S. Open. The case went to trial in a federal court in Brooklyn this past week. The jury found USTA 75% liable for the accident during the liability phase of trial. A confidential settlement was reached on Friday.





Philadelphia Eagles Filed a Trademark For the Phrase "Philly Special"

The Super Bowl champions are seeking trademark registration for the phrase "Philly Special," referencing a trick play used against the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.



NCAA Upholds Penalties Against Louisville

On Tuesday, NCAA upheld penalties levied against Louisville men's basketball program related to the sex scandal involving players and prostitutes. Louisville must vacate every game won between 2011 and 2015, including its 2013 national championship.


Mavericks Owner Fined for Remarks on Tanking

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was fined $600,000 for a public statement that losing was in the Mavericks' best interest to improve their chances of landing a higher draft pick.


Former National Football League Player Detained After Ambiguous Post On Instagram About Gun Violence

Jonathan Martin, the former National Football League ("NFL") offensive lineman for the Miami Dolphins, was detained by the police on Friday after posting a photograph of a shotgun on Instagram with a comment: "When you're a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge". The post included a hashtag with the name of the private high school Martin attended in Los Angeles, which resulted in this school's closure on Friday.


Russian Whistle-blower Is Being Sued For Defamation

Mikhail D. Prokhorov, owner of the Brooklyn Nets, is reportedly helping to finance a defamation lawsuit by three now-retired Olympic athletes against Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who implicated them in the alleged state-controlled doping scheme during the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.



New York Judge Holds That Embedding a Tweet in a Blog Post May Violate Copyright

Based on a recent ruling of the federal court for the Southern District of New York, linking to a Tweet on one's website may constitute an infringement of the exclusive right to display a copyrighted image. In Goldman v. Breitbart News Network, et al., No 17-cv-3114 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 15, 2018), photographer Justin Goldman shared his photograph of NFL star Tom Brady in his Snapchat Story. The photograph went viral, and was shared by several users on Twitter, after which news media outlets, including Time, Vox, Breitbart and the Boston Globe, published articles that embedded the Tweets with the subject photograph. Judge Katherine Forrest held that the news media outlets' actions violated the plaintiff's exclusive display right.



U.S. Decides to Stay Out of Mexico's Spyware Investigation

In June of 2017, the New York Times revealed that surveillance technology acquired by the Mexican Government to investigate criminals and terrorists was used to target prominent human rights lawyers, journalists and anti-corruption activists. Mexico's president, Enrique Peña Nieto, vowed to investigate any misuse, and requested the FBI's assistance. After reviewing the request, American officials decided not to get involved.



Kashmir Photographer Is Now a Prisoner and A Cause For Other Journalists

Photographer Kamran Yousuf, 21, has been jailed since September, allegedly for throwing stones at the Indian security forces in Kashmir and being part of a militant network supported by Pakistan. Journalists have rallied around Yousuf's case, claiming that he is in fact being jailed for covering antigovernment protests and militant activity, and that the intent of Yousuf's incarceration is to intimidate journalists. The Indian authorities counter that Yousuf is not a real journalist, as he has never photographed newsworthy items, such as inaugurations of bridges, schools or hospitals.


National Public Radio Top Editor Was Repeatedly Warned To Stop Harassment

According to an independent investigation report, Michael Oreskes, the former National Public Radio news executive who resigned last November amid sexual harassment allegations, was repeatedly warned about his behavior.


Facebook and YouTube Work To Put An End To Posts Perpetuating Misinformation

Facebook and YouTube vowed to remove the posts and videos falsely claiming that survivors of the Parkland shooting were paid actors. However, while many posts were deleted, multiple others still remain, perpetuating misinformation that the shooting was a hoax. Some posts are using slightly tweaked terminology to avoid automatic detection.


Bahrain Activist Jailed for Insulting Tweets

Nabeel Rajab, 53, president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was sentenced to five years in prison for "insulting national institutions" by Tweeting about prison torture and "insulting a neighboring country," Saudi Arabia, for its involvement in the war in Yemen. He is also facing charges related to an Op-Ed published in The New York Times in 2016, "Letter From a Bahraini Jail."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 25, 2018 9:23 PM.

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