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Week in Review

By Jana Slavina Farmer
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Ninth Circuit's Judge Passes Away

Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit passed away this week; President Trump has the opportunity to seat a conservative judge on this liberal-leaning court.


China Imposes Tariffs on 128 U.S. Products, Including Wine; Trump Considers Imposing Further Tariffs

American companies frequently complained about China's actions in blocking them from entering markets such as technology and media in China, requiring them to share technology with Chinese partners, and even stealing technologies through cyberwarfare. In response, the White House devised a series of trade measures, including steel and aluminum tariffs. China retaliated with imposing its own set of tariffs on American products. U.S. technology, investment and other companies are now concerned that the administration's efforts to help American businesses will do more harm then good. Trump is considering tariffs on an additional $100 billion in Chinese goods.





Trump Is Indeed Changing Libel Laws, But as a Defendant

President Trump pledged to change the country's defamation laws as one of his campaign promises. He has now done so as a libel defendant after a judge allowed the case of the alleged victims of sexual misconduct claiming that they are called liars to proceed. Prior to the #MeToo movement, suits by people accused of being liars were in decline.


Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Chief Believes That Less Is More

Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, called for legislation curbing the Bureau's power and independence. This included funding through congressional appropriations, direct presidential oversight and authority over the Bureau's director. The proposed measures are expected to meet with vehement opposition from Democrats.


Thousands At Google Protest Involvement in a Pentagon A.I. Project

Over 3,000 Google employees signed a letter protesting Google's involvement with the Pentagon's artificial intelligence program, Project Maven, and stating that "Google should not be in the business of war." Other technology giants are meanwhile publicizing their own work on defense projects.


New York To Introduce Retirement Plan Options For Private Sector Employees Without 401(k)

New York is poised to join a growing list of states with legislation enabling businesses to provide workers with access to Roth individual retirement accounts overseen by the state.


India is Set To Purchase a Missile Defense System From Russia

The sale will violate U.S. sanctions against Russia and leave the U.S. with a choice of whether to punish India, whom it is cultivating as an ally, or to grant an exemption.


The Federal Government Clashes with California, Again

Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed suit on Monday against the State of California, alleging interference with the sale of federal lands. Last week, Sessions sued California to block three laws seeking to protect unauthorized immigrants. Meanwhile, California filed 29 lawsuits against the federal government since January 2017 on the issues of immigration, the environment and voting rights.


Cities and States Mount Constitutional Challenge Over Census' Citizenship Question

Seventeen state attorneys general and seven cities filed suit to block the Trump administration from including the question as to responders' U.S. citizenship status in the 2020 census. The dispute is predicted to end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.


Lawyer Sentenced to 30 Days In Prison for Lying to Mueller's Team of Investigators

Alex van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, son of a Russian billionaire, and former lawyer at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, admitted to lying to investigators about his communications with former Trump campaign officials. Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that a fine alone might not be a strong enough deterrent to others, and accordingly issued a 30-day prison sentence.


Mueller Uses Trump Appointee's Oversight Over his Investigation To Defend Against Paul Manafort's Claim That Mueller Overstepped His Bounds

Questions as to the scope of authority and independence of special counsel from the executive branch have been raised during the Watergate, Iran-contra, Whitewater, and Valerie Plame leak investigations. Now, Paul Manafort asked the court to dismiss his indictment on the grounds that Mueller exceeded the limits of the special counsel's assigned jurisdiction or that he had been improperly given leave to prosecute anything. In an unusual move, Mueller's legal team pointed to its subordination to Rod J. Rosenstein, the acting attorney general for the Russia investigation, who has specifically confirmed that the allegations that form the basis of Manafort's prosecution are within Mueller's purview.


Democrats Increase Participation Of Women In Politics; Make Strides In Unity

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reports that in 2018, 40% of the campaign managers for Democratic candidates running for Congress are women. In comparison, according to Kelly Dittmar of Rutgers University's Center for American Women and Politics, in 2010 the number of women managing a race was too small to be statistically reliable.


Rebecca Dallet, Backed by Liberals, Was Elected on Tuesday to the Wisconsin Supreme Court


Rival Democratic Factions in New York State Senate Unite Following Seven Years of Infighting


Proposed Immigration Reform Causes Uncertainty Among Families of Skilled Workers

The Trump administration announced last fall that, as part of a the proposed immigration reform, it plans to rescind the program that allowed spouses of skilled workers on the H-1B program to work. Thousands of women are potentially affected. Meanwhile, the administration has begun a new push for legislation on illegal immigration and immigration of refugees.



U.S. Imposes Further Sanctions on Russia

The U.S. imposed new sanctions on seven of Russia's richest men and 17 top government officials as further punishment for interference in the 2016 election and other transgressions.


Saudi Crown Prince Meets American Luminaries As Part of His Transformative Agenda for Saudi Arabia

During his three-week-long trip to the United States, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia had dinner with Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman and Dwayne Johnson; met with Oprah Winfrey; discussed space travel with Richard Branson, philanthropy with Bill Gates, and technology with Jeff Bezos. The crown prince seeks to change the perception of Saudi Arabia and transform it into a modernist desert oasis; diversify its economy into industries other than petroleum; and to attract American investors.


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


Bill Cosby's Retrial: Jury Selection Complete; Testimony That The Accuser Was Scheming Allowed

Seven men and five women were impaneled to sit on the jury at the retrial of Bill Cosby on sexual assault charges. The previous trial ended in the Summer of 2017 with a hung jury. During jury selection, the jury pool members were asked whether they were overly influenced by the #MeToo movement or whether their close family members had been victims of a sexual assault. Testimony that Cosby's central accuser, Andrea Constand, allegedly told a witness that she could profit financially by falsely claiming that she had been molested by a prominent person will be allowed; this testimony was barred during the first trial.




Bill O'Reilly's Confidential Settlement Agreements with His Accusers Made Public

The newly-revealed settlement agreements reportedly show that two women who accused Bill O'Reilly of sexual harassment, Andrea Mackris and Rebecca Gomez Diamond, were required to turn over all evidence and to disclaim it as fake if it ever became public. Furthermore, as part of the Mackris settlement, her attorneys allegedly agreed to provide legal advice to O'Reilly in sexual harassment matters, a provision that some say may have legal ethics implications.


Spotify Goes Public; Sony Sells The Same Day

Spotify began trading on the New York Stock Exchange this past Tuesday, finishing with a market valuation of $26.5 billion. Many record companies have previously acquired shares in Spotify as a condition of granting licenses for their music. Sony sold about 17% of its position in the company the day Spotify went public, promising to share any net gains from the sale with Sony's artists and distributed labels.



Roger Corman's Sons Sue Him Over Sale of His Film Library

Roger Corman, 91, is a director of over 50 films, producer of many others, and recipient of a 2009 honorary Academy Award. He is presently embroiled in a legal battle with his sons over an irrevocable trust established in late 1970s. The sons claim that 270 films that Corman recently sold to a China-based company belongs to the trust.


Netflix Series Causes Controversy in Brazil

"The Mechanism", a new Netflix series, depicts a corruption investigation into Brazil's politics. Meanwhile, Brazil's leftist former president, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, is planning a comeback. His supporters claim that his depiction in the series is unfair and has intimated a threat of legal action.


Eddie Izzard Joins Labour Party's National Executive Committee

Mr. Izzard, a stand up comedian and a transgender activist, replaces Christine Shawcroft on Labour's governing body after her resignation following her opposition to suspending of a council candidate accused of Holocaust denial.



Kim Jong-un's Appearance at Pop Music Concert

North Korea's leader attended a pop music concert of South Korean musicians. He clapped, smiled, and posed for photographs with the band in an unusual departure from his government's policy to prevent infiltration of the South's pop culture.



Berkshire Museum Can Sell Its Rockwell and Other Artworks After All

Justice David A. Lowy of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court approved the controversial sale by the Berkshire Museum of a significant number of works, including an important painting by Norman Rockwell that the artist donated to the institution. Justice Lowy acknowledged that the sale presented "serious concerns", but held that the museum had demonstrated that selling the works was vital to its survival.


Arts Foundation Derailed In the Wake of Allegations Against Co-Founder

Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, which helped pay for art and dance classes for children, and opened galleries showcasing the work of young artists of color, is having trouble raising money after its co-founder, Russell Simmons, was accused of rape. Charity officials reportedly stated that it may need to close its New York operations. Separately, the Kevin Spacey Foundation, which mentored and trained young performers, shut down at the end of February when its trustees reportedly deemed it "no longer viable." While the #MeToo movement has exposed the human suffering from systematic harassment and abuse that was rampant in many industries, philanthropic efforts of the accused public figures have become collateral damage.


Claimants Win Nazi Looted Art Case

The heirs of an Austrian Jewish entertainer, Fritz Grunbaum, are to get back two valuable artworks by Egon Schiele -- "Woman in a Black Pinafore" (1911) and "Woman Hiding her Face" (1912) - which were stolen during World War II. Judge Charles J. Ramos applied the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery, or HEAR, Act, passed by Congress in 2016, which is designed to ease statute of limitations restrictions for plaintiffs seeking to recover Nazi-looted art.


A Russian Avant-garde Art Lawsuit Ends in Germany

An art forgery court case in Germany reached its conclusion after prosecutors withdrew indictments against a dealer and his partner on all charges of forgery and criminal conspiracy. They were convicted of falsifying the provenance of art works. The New York Times explains the challenges with the provenance of most of Russian avant-garde art.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/06/arts/design/russian-avant-garde-art-forgery-disputes.html; https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/russian-avant-garde-forgery-ring

Boston Museum of Fine Arts Turns to FBI to Solve a Mummy Mystery

A mummified, severed head from an Egyptian tomb was sent to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in 1921. After decades in storage, the head was exhibited by the museum in 2009. Yet to whom did it belong? The FBI's lab helped to solve the mystery, casting further light on the debated origins of the ancient Egyptians in the process.


London's Victoria and Albert Museum Offers to Return Artifacts to Ethiopia, But As a Loan

Artifacts reportedly looted by the British during the 1868 Battle of Maqdala are to be offered as a long-term loan to Ethiopia, but will still be owned by the Victoria and Albert Museum, as Ethiopia's 2007 restitution claim had been refused. The loan solution was offered as the fastest way to get the artifacts on display in Ethopia, and was welcomed by the Ethiopian state.



FIFA Vice President Resigns Following Audit

David Chung, president of one of FIFA's six confederations, resigned, citing personal reasons after an audit raised questions about a multimillion-dollar construction project.


Rule Books for National Football League Cheerleaders Appear Tone Deaf Amid the National Discourse On Gender Equality

Some cheerleader handbooks include body weight requirements, personal hygiene tips, and restrictions on social media participation. Bailey Davis, the former Saints' cheerleader dismissed in January, recently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging unfair treatment.


Conor McGregor Released on Bail Following Alleged Assault on A Bus Carrying Fighters

UFC fighter Conor McGregor was charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief after allegedly attacking a bus carrying fighters and staffers at a UFC event on April 5th. He was released on bail at $50,000 and is due to return to court on June 14th.


California Water Polo Coach Accused of Molesting Girls

Bahram Hojreh, 42, a water polo coach, was charged with the sexual abuse of seven underage female water polo players between 2014 and 2018, during one-on-one coaching sessions. He pled not guilty. Authorities are searching for additional possible victims.



Women Trying To Save a Life Asked To Leave A Sumo Ring

During an exhibition match in Kyoto this past Wednesday, a politician delivering a speech collapsed inside a Sumo ring. Several women rushed in to offer lifesaving measures. In a viral video circulated on Thursday, a referee could be heard over the loudspeaker repeatedly asking women to leave the ring.



President Trump Accuses The Washington Post of Being a Lobbyist For Amazon

In a series of Tweets, President Trump referred to The Washington Post as the "Amazon Washington Post" and accused it of being used as a "scam" and "lobbyist" to reduce Amazon's taxes.


Facebook Works To Improve User Privacy; Removes Over 270 Accounts Suspected Of Being Russian Trolls; Requires Verified Identity for Political Ads

According to Facebook, the data of up to 87 million users may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm involved in the 2016 presidential election. Facebook announced that it will now offer all of its users the same tools as are mandated under the European privacy rules, which go into effect next month; will start telling users whether their data may have been harvested by Cambridge Analytica; will limit the types of data that can be shared with outside businesses; and will stop using data from companies such as Experian and Acxiom to supplement its data for ad targeting, among other measures. Meanwhile, Facebook removed over 270 accounts and pages controlled by Russia's Internet Research Agency, which posted inflammatory content on the platform during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Facebook will also require verified identities for future political ads.




Sinclair Chairman Defends "Must-Runs" Segments

Sinclair Broadcast Group, already reported to be the country's largest broadcaster and poised to expand by further by merging with Tribune Media, faced criticism recently when a viral video showed many of its anchors reciting the same scripted speech about media bias. Sinclair's Chairman, David D. Smith, reportedly stated that the speech was a "must-run", promotional content that is a standard practice in the industry.



FBI Seizes Backpage

The FBI seized Backpage.com and affiliated websites, known for controversial classified ads and sex-related postings. The website has been at the center of criticism directed at websites allegedly turning a blind eye to sex trafficking.


Malaysia: Who Will Judge What Constitutes "Fake News"?

This past week, the lower house of Malaysian Parliament passed a bill outlawing fake news. The bill is expected to also pass the Senate. The proposal contemplates imprisonment for publishing or circulating misleading information. Online service providers would be responsible for third-party content. Members of Malaysia's political opposition are concerned that the new law will be used to stifle free speech.


India's Decree Targeting "Fake News" is Short Lived

This past Monday, India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting announced that it would punish journalists who spread "fake news", a term made popular by President Trump and picked up by politicians around the world. On Tuesday, the decree was annulled without explanation.


Pakistan's Largest Television Network Forced Off Air

Last month, Geo News was shut down in Pakistan's cantonment areas and residential neighborhoods administered by the military. This month, all Geo channels started being blocked in about 80% of the country by cable operators. The move is said to be a message from the country's generals that negative reporting will not be tolerated.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 8, 2018 10:26 PM.

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