« Center for Art Law Case Law Updates | Main | Founder of Tower Records Dies at 92 While Drinking Whiskey and Watching the Oscars »

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

SCOTUS Refuses White House Bid in Dreamers Case

The Supreme Court declined a White House request that it immediately decide whether the Trump administration can shut down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. No appeals court has yet ruled on the issue.

President Trump ended the program last September, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive powers, and called on Congress to give the young immigrants legal status and an eventual path to citizenship before the program expires on March 5th. Two federal judges ordered the administration to maintain major pieces of the program while legal challenges move forward, by requiring that the federal government allow people enrolled in DACA to renew their protected status, shielding immigrants from immediate deportation and allowing them to work legally in the U.S.


Second Circuit Rules Civil Rights Act Offers Shield for Gay Workers

The Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws bias in the workplace on the basis of "race, color, religion, sex or national origin," should be extended to include sexual orientation. The case involved Donald Zarda, a gay Long Island skydiving instructor fired in 2010.

In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a ruling in a separate matter, finding for the first time that "sexual orientation is inherently a 'sex-based consideration'" and should be protected by the law. The Justice Department intervened in the Zarda case in 2017, arguing that protections did not extend to sexual orientation and that the EEOC was "not speaking for the United States".


Trump to Impose Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

President Trump announced that he will impose tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum. He is also opposed to targeted tariffs and has stated that no country should be exempt from the order.

The president's authority to impose these sweeping tariffs stems from a Commerce Department investigation that concluded that imported metal threatened national security by degrading the American industrial base. The administration has said that it wants to combat cheap metal flooding into the U.S., particularly from China, currently the 10th largest source of steel imports.


National Security Agency Chief: White House Has Given No Order to Counter Russian Meddling

During his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the departing head of the National Security Agency acknowledged that the White House had not asked his agencies to find ways to counter Moscow, or granted them new authority to disrupt Russian attacks "where they originate".


Kroger, Walmart, and Dick's Sporting Goods Raise Age Limits on Gun Sales

Customers will not be able to buy either guns or ammunition without undergoing a background check that verifies they are at least 21 years of age. Dick's will also end sales of all assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.


Vancouver-based Mountain Equipment Co-op Drops Brands Linked to U.S. Gun Maker

Following an online petition with over 50,000 signatures, outdoor-gear retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op ("MEC") cut ties with brands owned by Vista Outdoor, a Utah company that also makes assault rifles and ammunition.

While retailers such as Dick's Sporting Goods announced that they will stop selling assault rifles, MEC went a step further by deciding to stop carrying popular products whose corporate owner was in the firearms business.


Delta Tax Cut Imperiled After Airline Distances Itself from NRA

Georgia's lieutenant governor threatened to kill a proposed tax cut after Delta ended its discount fare program for travelers attending the National Rifle Association's ("NRA's") 2018 annual meeting. Delta's decision was meant to reflect its "neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings."

The tax bill would grant a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel, primarily benefiting Delta. The governor's office said that the bill was necessary to encourage airlines to open direct routes from Georgia to global destinations.


Contractors Leaving Puerto Rico Despite Many Still Lacking Power

The Army Corps of Engineers will begin a "responsible drawdown" of its work force in Puerto Rico. The Army Corps of Engineers is in charge of the federal effort to repair the power grid in the island, coordinating the work of two major contractors with the efforts of the island's government-run power utility. While an estimated 86% of customers have had power restored, some areas are still reporting widespread power outages and continue to lack access to basic services.


U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Will Resign

Ambassador Roberta S. Jacobson plans to step down in May after two years in the post, and 31 years in the State Department. Hers is one of several recent departures from high-ranking officials with expertise in Latin America.


Panama Hotel Owners Try to Oust Trump Company

The owners association of a Panama City hotel voted to end its relationship with the Trump Organization, which manages the property, citing declining revenues due to the hotel's affiliation with the Trump brand. A Miami-based investor, whose firm holds a majority stake in the hotel, attempted to hand-deliver termination notices to property managers at the hotel this week. This led to a standoff with Trump Organization staff, who called police and barred the owners from entering a room where the building's computer servers and CCTV system are stored. The owners' group accuses the Trump team of improperly destroying documents during the power shut-off that followed.


Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Microsoft Case

Supreme Court justices called on Congress to define the limits of privacy in the digital era, expressing concerns about adapting a 1986 law that pre-dated cloud computing. The issue is whether Stored Communications Act ("SCA")warrants can be used to obtain data, specifically a suspect's emails, located in servers outside the U.S.

Microsoft contends that the SCA warrants only apply within the U.S. and that compelling disclosure of data stored in a foreign country requires execution of a warrant there, thus violating the presumption against extraterritorial application of statutes. The government argues that the warrant will be executed domestically, since Microsoft could access the foreign server from within the U.S.


"Invasion of Privacy" Debate in Missouri

Missouri governor Eric Greitens hwas charged with invasion of privacy for taking a nude photograph of a woman without consent and threatening to publicize the image if the woman went public with their affair.

Greitens was charged under a 1995 state law that makes it a felony to knowingly photograph or film a nude person without consent in a place where he or she would reasonably expect privacy, and to distribute that recording.


Russia Vetoes United Nations Resolution Against Iran

Russia vetoed a British-drafted United Nations ("UN") resolution that took aim at Iran over a report by UN experts that Iran violated a 2015 arms embargo on Yemen by failing to prevent missiles and drones from being supplied to Shiite rebels there. A rival Russian resolution was adopted unanimously, extending sanctions against Yemen until 2019.


Putin Unveils "Invincible" Nuclear Weapons

According to Putin, Russia has developed a new array of 'invincible' nuclear weapons, including a cruise missile and new nuclear delivery systems that he said could evade detection. In his annual State of the Union speech, Putin said that the weapons were in response to U.S. development of its missile defense system. A concept video showed missiles mock- attacking Florida.


Despite Cease-Fire, Syrian Forces Began New Ground Attacks

The UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution that called for a 30-day ceasefire "without delay" across Syria after a suspected chlorine attack and bombings in the eastern Ghouta region caused thousands of casualties. Despite the resolution, Syrian government forces began a new ground attack against a rebel-held enclave east of Damascus.


UN Links North Korea to Syria's Chemical Weapons Program

UN experts contend that North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria. The report includes copies of contracts between North Korean and Syrian companies, as well as bills of lading indicating the materials shipped. If confirmed, that would mean that shipments have eluded detection, despite highly restrictive sanctions and surveillance.


China Plans to Rewrite Constitution, Xi Could Rule Indefinitely

China's Communist Party has proposed removing the two-term limit on the presidency from the constitution. President Xi's ideology, "Xi Jinping Thought," has also become the new official political doctrine and will be incorporated into the constitution's preamble. The doctrine emphasizes: (1) China's rise as a political power; (2) its single-party rule; and (3) the need for a decisive leader to maintain its rule, hence the amendment to abolish term limits that would allow Xi to remain in power indefinitely.


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


Agreement Reached to Sell Weistein Co.

The women-led group will invest $275 million to fund operations in the new studio and assume the company's $225 million debt. Sale talks had stalled as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit alleging that the studio and the Weinstein brothers repeatedly violated state and city laws barring gender discrimination, sexual harassment and coercion.

In a meeting that he hosted between the two sides, Schneiderman received express commitments from the parties that the new company will earmark up to $90 million for a victim compensation fund and implement Human Resources policies to protect employees.


Insurer Chubb Refuses to Pay for Weinstein's Legal Defense

Weinstein's insurance policies included coverage for personal liability, which would normally cover legal costs to defend against claims of damage or injury caused accidentally. Chubb has asked the New York State Supreme Court to declare that the policies' terms exclude defending sexual assault, discrimination and intentional acts.


Judge Rejects Disney's Bid for Injunction Against Redbox

Disney alleged that Redbox's sale of download codes for Disney movies constituted copyright infringement. Redbox obtains the codes by buying DVD combo packs that include a DVD, Blue-ray and a download code, and sells them individually. Disney typically includes a warning that "codes are not for sale or transfer".

A California federal court found that the restrictive language on the product did not constitute a valid "shrink-wrap" or "box-top" license. On the issue of unauthorized reproduction of the digital codes, the court found that Redbox was reselling the codes under the First Sale Doctrine and not reproducing them. As a result, Disney was misusing its copyright by attempting to control the reselling of its product.


Seacrest to Host E! Oscars Show Despite Sexual Harassment Allegations

NBC Universal defended talk show host Ryan Seacrest from allegations made by his former personal stylist, citing the results of an independent investigation in its decision not to remove Seacrest from Oscars coverage on E!. Seacrest denies the allegations.



Photographer Loses Appeal over Nike's Jumpman Logo

In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of a copyright infringement action brought by photographer Jacobus Rentmeester against Nike. Rentmeester's 1984 photo of Jordan was taken for a magazine feature when Jordan was still at North Carolina. Nike then commissioned a similarly posed photo, changing the background to the Chicago skyline to reflect Jordan's time with the Bulls and using the photo to market Air Jordan sneakers.

The court held that Rentmeester's photo was entitled to broad, rather than thin protection, because the range of creative choices open to him in producing the photo was exceptionally broad. Nonetheless, the photos were not "substantially similar" because of differences in setting, lighting and other elements. The logo was also not substantially similar, and Jordan's pose by itself could not be copyrighted.


Harper Lee's Will Is Unsealed

An Alabama court unsealed Harper Lee's will, which was signed eight days before her death in 2016. The will directs that the bulk of Lee's assets, including her literary properties, be transferred into a trust she formed in 2011.

The will was unsealed following a lawsuit filed by The New York Times, which argued that wills filed in probate court in Alabama are typically public records, and that Lee's privacy concerns were no different from those of others whose wills are processed through the court system. The estate withdrew its opposition to making the will public, but did not disclose its reasoning. According to court documents, "To Kill a Mockingbird" sells more than a million copies a year worldwide, generating $3 million in royalties.


Virginia Judge Orders Tarps Removed from Charlottesville Confederate Statues

The statues of Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were shielded from public view out of respect for the woman who died during violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters last August. The judge had denied previous attempts to force the city to uncover them, but scolded city leaders in his latest ruling for what he called an "after-the-fact attempt" to claim that the plan had always been to cover them for one year.

The City Council had voted to remove the Lee statue months before the rally, and planned to rename the park with the Jackson monument. Several groups sued the city last year to block those efforts. That ruling is expected later this year.


Chinese Relics Damaged on Loan

The cultural center that arranged the loan of 10 terracotta warriors is seeking compensation from Philadelphia's Franklin Institute after a visit damaged one of the statues, valued at $4.5 million. It is not the first time that Chinese artworks and cultural relics on loan have been vandalized or damaged during shipping - another terracotta warrior had been damaged in Osaka, Japan.



The Metropolitan Museum of New York Begins Charging Mandatory Admission Fee

Nonresidents of New York State are now required to pay the $25 entrance fee in a move that marks the end of the Metropolitan Museum of New York's 50-year policy of "pay what you wish". The fee is aimed at giving the museum a reliable revenue stream of $6 million a year.


Scanners Discover Secrets From Picasso's 'Blue Period'

Researchers have peered through the canvas of "The Crouching Woman" to show once again that Picasso painted his work over another artist's landscape. Scientists are using tools originally developed for medicine, manufacturing and geology, including X-rays and a technique that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter uses to figure out the makeup of Martian rocks from orbit.



Russia's Membership in International Olympic Committee Restored

The International Olympic Committee ("IOC") reinstated Russia effective on February 25th, lifting the suspension it had imposed following revelations about Russia's state-backed doping program.

The IOC allowed more than 160 Russian athletes to compete in South Korea, with a prohibition on the national anthem or flag in venues. Two Russian athletes tested positive in Pyeongchang, but the IOC reported that all remaining test results were negative.


Michigan State University Faces a Federal Inquiry

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced a new investigation of the university's probe of Dr. Larry Nassar related to complaints under Title IX. A federal education team is on site to examine the Michigan State's compliance with the Clery Act, a federal law requiring colleges to report campus crimes.


U.S. Olympic Committee CEO Resigns

USOC CEO Scott Blackmun stepped down after eight years at the helm, citing health concerns. Praised for bringing financial and executive stability, Blackmun could not escape criticism over the USOC's handling of the USA Gymnastics scandal. Interim CEO Susanne Lyons gathered a working group to review the relationship between the federally-chartered USOC and the NGBs. She calls for more USOC authority to oversee governing boards and intervene when necessary to protect athletes.


Raisman Sues USOC and USA Gymnastics

Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman filed a lawsuit against both organizations, claiming that they "knew or should have known" about Nassar's abuse. The filing alleges negligence for failing to make sure appropriate protocols were followed in regards to monitoring Nassar. More than 100 civil actions were also filed against Nassar and USA Gymnastics, as well as a federal suit against Michigan State University.


USA Swimming Faces Claims of Ignored Abuse

Two top USA Swimming officials, including the athlete protection officer, resigned after a series of reports allege that the organization ignored sexual abuse by coaches and chose not to pursue cases even after being presented with direct complaints.


Biathletes from U.S. to Boycott Russia Event

The U.S. team will boycott the World Cup Final in Russia amid continuing concerns about the lack of a functioning anti-doping agency there.


The United States Tennis Association, Eugenie Bouchard Reach Settlement Over Locker Room Fall

The United States Tennis Association ("USTA") and Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard reached a settlement after a New York City jury found the USTA mostly liable for Bouchard's fall on a wet locker room floor at the 2015 U.S. Open. The fall left Bouchard with a concussion and a serious head injury, forcing her to withdraw from three tournaments.


Dallas Mavericks Name New CEO in Wake of Scandal

Owner Mark Cuban has named Cynthia Marshall as the Mavericks' interim CEO. The move comes in the wake of a Sports Illustrated investigation exposing rampant sexual harassment allegations against the team's former president, as well as two domestic violence incidents involving a former team web writer, one of which resulted in his arrest at the team business offices in 2011. An internal investigation is also underway.


ESPN Stands By Sean Miller FBI Wiretap Story

ESPN is standing by its report that FBI wiretaps intercepted conversations between Arizona basketball coach Sean Miller and sports agent Christian Dawkins discussing a $100,000 payment to ensure that freshman DeAndre Ayton signed with Arizona. Dawkins is one of the defendants in the FBI's ongoing probe into corruption and bribery in college basketball. DeAndre Ayton announced that he will declare for the 2018 National Basketball Association draft.

Miller denied the allegations, and asserted that he and Ayton have suffered "defamation" by the manner in which the media reported the allegations. If Miller is fired for cause, the university would have to pay his base salary through 2022, entitling him to an unprecedented $10.3 million. The contract has no provision that waives Arizona's obligation to pay Miller what he is owed based on an NCAA violation.



Jalen Rose Calls for Player Boycott of NCAA Tournament

An outspoken critic of the current NCAA model, former Wolverine Jalen Rose called for players to boycott the NCAA Tournament to gain leverage in the debate over player compensation. The issue resurfaced after the FBI allegedly discovered that several high-profile current and former players received payments during the recruiting process. In recent days, Kentucky coach Calipari advocated for players being able to earn income from their names, signatures and likenesses.



Turbulent Year for Iditarod Sled Dog Race

The Iditarod's future is in question, following a turbulent year marked by the loss of major sponsor Wells Fargo and escalating pressure from animal rights activists. At the center of the controversy is also the governing board's failure to hold four-time winner Dallas Seavey liable for his four dogs testing positive to a banned substance. Rules were recently changed to hold mushers liable for dogs' positive drug tests.


Jets Linebacker Charged After Tunnel Crash

Dylan Donahue was arrested and charged with DWI and reckless driving following a wrong-way car crash at the Lincoln Tunnel.



Country's Largest Broadcaster Takes Steps to Finalize Tribune Media Takeover

Sinclair Broadcast Group filed an amended plan to win federal approval of its proposed $3.9 billion takeover of Tribune Media. Justice Department antitrust officials seek more divestitures over concerns that the merger will harm competition in several cities. In a separate review, the Federal Communications Commission ("FCC")is focusing on whether the deal could give Sinclair too much power over TV advertising and licensing deals with cable and satellite companies.

Sinclair's latest proposal would put many of the local stations in trust, an arrangement that consumer groups say will pave the way for Sinclair to operate them through partners down the road. It has also arranged to sell other stations to third parties, in an effort to get near the FCC threshold of owning stations that reach no more than 39% of American households.


House of Representatives Passes Anti-Trafficking Bill that Penalizes Websites Hosting Illicit Ads

Website operators could be held liable for knowingly "facilitating" sex trafficking under a House bill that passed by a vote of 388 to 25. The legislation amends section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which protects websites from criminal investigation and civil lawsuits over user-generated content. The legislation targets sites like Backpage, which has been accused of hosting ads that promoted the trafficking of minors and is now the subject of a long-running Senate investigation.


Facebook Ends News Feed Experiment

In an effort to grapple with its role in spreading fake news, Facebook launched the Explore experiment in six countries last October. The Explore function separated posts from news sites and publishers from other material on the social network. Independent news sites and Non Governmental Organizations were quick to criticize Explore for reducing traffic to their sites and making it harder for trusted sources of information to reach local populations, including during a government crackdown in Cambodia, when Facebook had emerged as an important and
more independent channel for information.


Newspapers Launch Political Action Committee, Want Anti-Trust Pass to Take On Google, Facebook

News Media Alliance, a trade group of more than 2,000 U.S. newspapers, is launching the industry's first political action committee to raise money to fight for a safe-harbor exemption to compete against their internet rivals and stop Canadian newsprint tariffs. Last year, newspaper publishers argued for an anti-trust exemption to bargain collectively with Google and Facebook, which control more than 53% of the digital ad market in the U.S.


Treasury Sec. Mnuchin Blocks Release of UCLA Heckling Video

A video shows Treasury Sec. Mnuchin being heckled at an event arranged by UCLA's Burkle Center for International Relations. Treasury Department officials withdrew consent for the video to be posted on the school's website.


China Bans Phrases, Letter 'N' Online to Stop Xi Dissent

China temporarily banned words, phrases and even solitary letters from internet searches over concerns that they might be used to attack the decision to abolish constitutional term limits for China's president. Among the blocked search terms were the hybrid name "Xi Zedong," Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm, "disagree" and "shameless".


China Detains Relatives of Five Reporters

Chinese authorities detained relatives of reporters who covered a government crackdown in the Xinjiang region for Radio Free Asia, funded by and based in the U.S. Network officials questioned whether the detentions were ordered in retaliation for their reporting of China's campaign against what it called separatism and religious extremism among the Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group native to the region.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2018 10:05 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Center for Art Law Case Law Updates.

The next post in this blog is Founder of Tower Records Dies at 92 While Drinking Whiskey and Watching the Oscars.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.