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Week in Review

Bby Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


U.S., Britain, and France Strike Syria Over Suspected Chemical Weapons Attack

The United States and European allies launched airstrikes on Friday night against Syrian research, storage, and military targets as President Trump sought to punish President Bashar al-Assad for a suspected chemical attack near Damascus last weekend that killed more than 40 people. Britain and France joined the United States in the strikes in a coordinated operation that was intended to show Western resolve in the face of what the leaders of the three nations called persistent violations of international law. Trump characterized it as the beginning of a sustained effort to force Assad to stop using banned weapons, but only ordered a limited, one-night operation that hit three targets.


Trump Proposes Rejoining Trans-Pacific Partnership

President Trump, in a sharp reversal, told a gathering of farm-state lawmakers and governors that the United States was looking into rejoining a multi-country trade agreement known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deal he pulled out of days after assuming the presidency. Trump's reconsideration of an agreement he once denounced as a "rape of our country" caught even his closest advisers by surprise, and came as his administration faces stiff pushback from Republican lawmakers, farmers, and other businesses concerned that the president's threat of tariffs and other trade barriers will hurt them economically.


Victims of Bernard Madoff's Ponzi Scheme to Receive Millions More

Victims of Bernard L. Madoff, the architect of one of Wall Street's largest frauds, will receive another $504 million, proceeds from assets that the government seized after Madoff's financial firm collapsed a decade ago. With this distribution, the second in a series of payouts, about 21,000 victims will have received a total of more than $1.2 billion. Payments were made by the Madoff Victim Fund, a government entity created to help people who lost money when Madoff's long-running Ponzi scheme unraveled. The government said that it could return more than $4 billion to victims who lost their savings to Madoff and his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, but that number is still small compared with the imaginary profits the firm had promised investors and the real losses it incurred.


Trump Pardons "Scooter" Libby, Former Iraq War-Era Cheney Aide

President Trump pardoned former George W. Bush administration official Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who years ago was convicted of lying in an investigation of the unmasking of a CIA agent. Democrats immediately criticized the president's move, drawing an arc running from the Iraq war to today and linking the Libby pardon to Trump's bitter feud with James Comey, who Trump fired as FBI director last year. The Libby pardon came just hours after Trump's morning Twitter attack against Comey. The president called the ex-FBI chief a "weak and untruthful slime ball."



Justice Department Cannot Tie Police Funding to Help on Immigration, Judge Rules

The Justice Department cannot require that local police departments help immigration agents in order to receive federal funding, a federal judge has ruled. The ruling is a significant victory for local governments that have opposed the Trump administration's stance on immigration and vowed to stay out of enforcement efforts. United States District Judge Manuel Real in Los Angeles issued a permanent, national injunction against the federal funding rules, giving the city an important win in a long-running legal battle with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the White House.


Trump Signs Bill Amid Momentum to Crack Down on Trafficking

Federal authorities seized the classified advertising website Backpage.com last week, then unsealed a 93-count indictment, charging several of its top officials with facilitating prostitution and revealing details about victims, including minors as young as 14. President Trump also signed new anti-sex-trafficking legislation into law. The law, which passed Congress with near unanimous bipartisan support, will give prosecutors stronger tools to go after similar sites in the future and to suspend liability protections for internet companies for the content on their sites.


F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump's Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It 'Disgraceful'

The F.B.I. raided the Rockefeller Center office and Park Avenue hotel room of President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, seizing business records, emails and documents related to several topics, including a payment to a pornographic film actress. Mr. Trump, in an extraordinarily angry response, lashed out hours later at what a person briefed on the matter said was an investigation into possible bank fraud by Mr. Cohen.


Trump Sees Inquiry Into Cohen as Greater Threat Than Mueller

President Trump's advisers have concluded that a wide-ranging corruption investigation into his personal lawyer poses a greater and more imminent threat to the president than even the special counsel's investigation. As his lawyers went to court in New York to try to block prosecutors from reading files that were seized from Michael D. Cohen, Trump found himself increasingly isolated in mounting a response. He continued to struggle to hire a new criminal lawyer, and some of his own aides were reluctant to advise him about a response for fear of being dragged into a criminal investigation themselves.


Raid on Trump's Lawyer Sought Records on "Access Hollywood" Tape

The F.B.I. agents who raided the office and hotel of Michael D. Cohen were seeking details about his relationship with the Trump campaign and his efforts to suppress negative information about Trump, according to three people briefed on the matter. Prosecutors are interested in whether Cohen, who had no official role in the 2016 campaign, coordinated with it to quash the release of anything detrimental to it and whether that violated campaign finance laws -- a new front in the investigation into Cohen.


Trump's Personal Lawyer Attacked by U.S. Prosecutor Over Privacy Claim

A U.S. prosecutor attacked a claim by President Trump's longtime personal lawyer Michael D. Cohen that many of the materials seized this week in FBI raids on Cohen's office and home as part of a criminal investigation should remain private. Prosecutors also confirmed in a court filing on Friday that they have been investigating Cohen for months, largely over his business dealings, rather than his legal work. Uncertainty over exactly what FBI agents seized from Cohen comes as Trump faces an intensifying probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether his presidential campaign colluded with Russia. The raids were partly a referral by Mueller's office.


Raids on Trump's Lawyer Sought Records of Payments to Women

The F.B.I. agents who raided the office of President Trump's personal lawyer were looking for records about payments to two women who claim they had affairs with Trump, as well as information related to the role of the publisher of The National Enquirer in silencing one of the women. The search warrant carried out by the public corruption unit of the United States attorney's office in Manhattan sought information about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, who claims that she carried on a nearly yearlong affair with Trump shortly after the birth of his youngest son in 2006, and for information related to Stephanie Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, a pornographic film actress, who also said she had sex with Trump while he was married.


Michael D. Cohen, "Ultimate Trump Loyalist," Now in the Sights of the F.B.I.

Cohen, whose role as personal lawyer and fixer for President Trump has been firmly rooted in the transactional world of his boss, emailed an old friend who had been talking about seeking Kremlin support to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen's efforts put him under scrutiny in the Trump-Russia inquiries and hinted at the somewhat murky space he occupied in the Trump Organization, where his precise duties were unclear. Since then, a series of disclosures have revealed the unusual range of Cohen's portfolio.


What Could Happen if Trump Fired Rosenstein

As President Trump continued to seethe over F.B.I. raids on the office and hotel room of his longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, a chorus of his supporters have been publicly urging him to fire Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who signed off on the move. The clear idea behind the suggestion -- which Trump is also said to be weighing -- is that ousting Rosenstein would enable the White House to put the criminal investigations encircling the president's associates on a tighter leash, or even to shut them down.


Former F.B.I. Deputy Director Is Faulted in Scathing Inspector General Report

The Justice Department inspector general delivered to Congress on Friday a scathing report that accused Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director, of violating the federal law enforcement agency's media policy and then repeatedly misleading investigators about his actions.


Mueller Investigating Ukrainian's $150,000 Payment for a Trump Appearance

Special counsel Mueller is investigating a payment made to President Trump's foundation by Ukrainian steel magnate Victor Pinchuk for a 20-minute video-link conference talk made by, Trump during his presidential campaign. Michael D. Cohen, the president's personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation. The contribution from Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Trump himself.


Paul Ryan Upends Republican Hopes and Plans for Midterm Elections

Fifteen months after Republicans took full control of Washington, the man long seen as central to the party's future is abandoning one of the most powerful jobs in the capital, imperiling the G.O.P. grip on the House and signaling that the political convulsions of the Trump era are taking a grave toll on the right months before Election Day. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan's retirement announcement blindsided many House Republican candidates and their campaign leaders who were counting on him to lead them to victory in the November midterm elections.


Thomas Bossert, Trump's Chief Adviser on Homeland Security, Is Forced Out

John R. Bolton, a hard-line former ambassador to the United Nations, is determined to put his own stamp on the National Security Council in his new role as national security adviser. He began shaking up the Trump administration's national security ranks by ousting the President's chief adviser on homeland security, Thomas P. Bossert. Bossert's sudden departure was the latest in an exodus of senior officials, and it leaves the White House short-handed in counterterrorism and cybersecurity operations.


Trump Company Lawyers Asked Panama President for Help in Hotel Dispute

Lawyers representing the Trump Organization in a bitter dispute over management control of a luxury hotel in Panama City appealed directly to President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama to intercede. At the time, the Trump Organization's hotel management team had been evicted from the hotel, but was still fighting to regain control. Several days after the letter was sent, an arbitrator ruled against the Trump Organization's request that its management be reinstated.


Economists Say That U.S. Tariffs Are Wrong Move on a Valid Issue

President Trump's advisers insist that the economics profession is solidly behind the administration's threat to impose tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese imports. Many top economists say however, that no, they're not. Across the ideological spectrum, trade experts and former top economic advisers to presidents say that Trump is right to highlight issues on which China is widely viewed as an offender, such as intellectual property theft and access to its domestic market. Yet many of those experts say that Trump's planned tariffs would backfire -- by raising costs to American businesses and consumers, and by inviting retaliation against American exporters.


Lawyers Walk Out to Protest Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Court Objects

Since last year, immigration agents have been making arrests far more frequently in New York City's courthouses, sparking outrage from lawyers, district attorneys, and activists. Their fight has been with the federal authorities. Now, however, a rift has erupted along local lines. It started when agents for United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") detained two undocumented immigrants who had come to Queens Criminal Court on minor charges. In protest, lawyers for the Legal Aid Society of New York and Queens Law Associates staged a walkout. The Office of Court Administration, which oversees the courts in New York State, responded that if the public defenders walked out on the job while court was still in session, cases would be reassigned to private defense lawyers under contract to represent the poor. Ten cases were reassigned.


Hungary Election Was Free but Not Entirely Fair, Observers Say

One day after Viktor Orban and his governing Fidesz party and its allies won a sweeping election victory, independent election monitors said that the party had used the resources of the state on a very large scale to bolster its chances of winning, including intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias, and opaque campaign financing that constricted the space for genuine political debate.



Bill Cosby Paid His Sex Assault Accuser $3.38 Million in Settlement

Bill Cosby paid Andrea Constand $3.38 million to settle the sexual assault lawsuit she brought against him in 2005. That sum was part of a confidential settlement between the two. Constand was a former employee of Temple University who had accused the entertainer of first befriending her, then drugging and molesting her during a visit to his home outside Philadelphia in 2004. One key defense witness, a Temple University academic adviser, is expected to testify that Constand once told her she could make money by falsely claiming she had been molested by a prominent person.


Bill Cosby's Lawyer Calls Sex Assault Accuser a Con Artist

Bill Cosby's lawyers began a combative defense of the entertainer at his retrial on sexual assault charges, portraying Cosby as the lonely
victim of a desperate "con artist" with financial problems who was steadily working her famous mark for a big payday, and presented Cosby's accuser, Andrea Constand, as a willful, greedy woman who ran a "pyramid scheme" and took advantage of a man who had lost a son.


Janice Dickinson at Cosby Trial: "Here Was America's Dad on Top of Me"

The former model Janice Dickinson told a jury that she could still remember Bill Cosby's smell from an encounter with him in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in 1982. She had gone there to meet him, she said, but was feeling woozy from a pill he gave her for menstrual cramps. Dickinson said that the pill paralyzed her, and Cosby seized the opportunity to sexually assault her. "Here was America's Dad on top of me," she said, "a happily married man with five children, on top of me." Cosby is not charged with raping Dickinson, but her account was one of five the prosecution presented from women who say they believe he drugged and sexually assaulted them. The jury is considering whether Cosby is guilty of assaulting a sixth woman, Andrea Constand.


T.J. Miller, Former "Silicon Valley" Star, Charged With False Bomb Report

T. J. Miller, the comedian and former star of the HBO series "Silicon Valley," was arrested and charged by federal law enforcement authorities with calling in a false bomb threat from an Amtrak train. The charge stems from a call to 911 that Miller made, saying that a female passenger was hiding a bomb in her bag on Amtrak Train 2256, on which he claimed to be a passenger, and which was headed north from Washington. The train had reached Connecticut before the alert could be handled. Passengers were ordered to evacuate while bomb squads searched the train and found no evidence of any explosive materials. Miller was actually on a different train.


James Toback Will Not Face Sex Crime Charges in Los Angeles

Prosecutors will not file criminal charges against the director and screenwriter James Toback in five cases in which he has been accused of sexual abuse, because their statutes of limitations have expired. Toback was accused by five women of crimes ranging from misdemeanor indecent exposure to felony sexual battery, alleged to have occurred between 1978 and 2008.



George Lucas Gives Rockwell Fans New Hope With Acquisition of "Shuffleton's Barbershop"

The mystery institutional buyer of Norman Rockwell's Shuffleton's Barbershop (1950), which was given by the artist to the Berkshire Museum and sold off to fund a major renovation, has been revealed to be the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Los Angeles. The acquisition was part of a deal brokered with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office that would allow the Berkshire Museum to deaccession around 40 works from its collection. Norman Rockwell's sons were among those who opposed the sale, but they dropped their lawsuit against the museum after the agreement spared "Shuffleton's Barbershop" from the auction block, where it was estimated to make $20 to $30 million.


Sex Abuse Scandal Casts Shadow Over Nobel Prize for Literature

The Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter reported that 18 women have accused Jean-Claude Arnault of sexual assault and harassment - a scandal that has caused a schism in the Swedish Academy, which is the body that has awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature since 1901. Arnault is a major cultural figure with close ties to the Academy, as he is married to the poet Katarina Frostenson, a member of the Academy, and together they run a private cultural club, called the Forum, that has received money from the Academy. The king of Sweden and the foundation that finances the prize warned that the scandal risked tarnishing one of the world's most important cultural accolades.


In Nobel Scandal, a Man Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct. A Woman Takes the Fall.

The literary scholar Sara Danius, the first woman to lead the Swedish Academy that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, was ousted from her role as its permanent secretary, as part of a feud that has bitterly divided the Academy's board, which has been dealing with a sexual abuse and harassment scandal that has threatened to sully one of the world's most acclaimed cultural honors.


Twisted Tale of Stolen Chagall Nears Ending

A team of sophisticated art thieves with ties to Bulgarian organized crime bypassed a burglar alarm nearly three decades ago and selected with gloved hands more than a dozen paintings by Chagall, Renoir, Picasso, Léger, and Hopper, among others, along with antiquities from Peru and Costa Rica, jewelry, and even rugs. The elderly couple who had amassed the artworks over a lifetime of international travel were stunned to find their collection plundered when they returned from their annual two month summer vacation. The crime remained unsolved since it occurred in 1988. However, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. have now filed a complaint seeking authority to return one of the paintings, Marc Chagall's 1911 "Othello and Desdemona" that was recently discovered, to the estate of its late owners. The oil-on-canvas depicting had languished for years in a Maryland attic.


Victoria and Albert Museum's Director Rules Out Macron-Style Return of Africa's Looted Treasure

The director of London's Victoria and Albert Museum, Tristram Hunt, made waves when he announced that he would be willing to lend Ethiopian treasures back to the country from which the British army looted them after the bloody battle of Maqdala in 1868. The controversial artifacts, including an ornate gold crown and solid gold chalice, go on view in an exhibition that tells the story of their seizure. It could be the first step in their return to Africa, but Hunt says that outright restitution is not on the table; nor is a President Macron-style gesture that would include the hundreds of Ethiopian artifacts in other UK public collections, including the British Museum, British Library, and the Royal Collection at Windsor Castle.


Bronze Looted From Summer Palace Sells For £410,000 Despite Protest From China

Despite China's attempts to stop the sale, the "Tiger Ying," an archaic bronze water vessel taken by a British soldier from the Old Summer Palace in 1860, was sold in the UK for £410,000 (plus fees) to an anonymous buyer. Its sale at The Canterbury Auction Galleries proceeded in the face of outcry in China, including calls by its State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the China Association of Auctioneers to boycott the sale. The vessel, which dates to the Western Zhou (1027-771 BC) period, was rediscovered only last month in the attic of a bungalow in a seaside town in Kent by the dealer Alastair Gibson, the auction house's consultant in Chinese art, along with three other later Qing Dynasty bronzes.



National Football League Says That Fraud Plagues the Concussion Settlement

The estimated $1 billion concussion settlement that the National Football League (NFL) reached with retired players is plagued by deception, causing delays in payments of potentially millions of dollars to hundreds of players, according to court papers. To fix the problem, the NFL asked the federal judge overseeing the settlement to appoint a special investigator to stop "widespread fraud infecting" the settlement program, which provides up to $5 million to retired players with serious neurological and cognitive issues.


Another Former NFL Cheerleader Files a Complaint

A former cheerleader for the Miami Dolphins filed a complaint against the NFL and the team on Thursday, alleging that she was discriminated against because of her religion and gender. In a complaint filed with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, the cheerleader said that she was subjected to a hostile work environment for her expressions of faith in Christianity.


Kansas and North Carolina State Named in New Federal Charges

Federal prosecutors handed up a new indictment Tuesday further detailing how an Adidas executive arranged to pay star basketball players to persuade them to attend universities sponsored by the apparel giant. The superseding indictment includes not only Louisville and Miami, which
had already been implicated, but also North Carolina State and Kansas, the latter being one of college basketball's most prominent teams.


Madison Brengle Sues the International Tennis Federation and Women's Tennis Association Over Injury From Blood Testing

Tennis player Madison Brengle filed a lawsuit in Manatee County, Florida, circuit court against the Women's Tennis Association and the International Tennis Federation, seeking damages for battery, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from blood testing procedures that she said permanently damaged her right arm.


Tony Stewart and Ward Family Settle Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Tony Stewart and the parents of Kevin Ward Jr. agreed to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family against the former NASCAR champion for his role in the death of their son on a dirt track in New York more than three years ago.


In the National Basketball Association, the Court and the Canvas Are Increasingly Intertwined

National Basketball Association players have grown more interested in art in recent years, creating a new market of consumers and enthusiasts. Former Knick Amar'e Stoudemire has amassed a notable art collection and served as a league tastemaker. Grant Hill's African-American art collection has been exhibited at museums. Former Suns guard Elliot Perry is known league-wide for his impressive trove.


In Austria, Police Raids Stemming From Russian Sports Corruption Inquiries

Authorities in Austria raided the headquarters of biathlon's global governing body following a tip from the World Anti-Doping Agency that its leaders may have been involved with the vast Russian doping scandal that continues to roil international sports. The Salzburg-based International Biathlon Union (IBU), which has long had close links to Russian sports, announced that its longtime secretary general, Nicole Resch, had requested a leave of absence. The IBU said that the investigation focused on Resch -- who had publicly questioned sports regulators' conclusions about Russia's systematic cheating -- and the group's president, Anders Besseberg, a former biathlete and cross-country skier who is also a board member of the anti-doping agency. The raid in Austria signals that the investigation has extended to other sports' governing bodies and could raise additional questions about possible bribery in other federations.


European Authorities Raid Offices of 21st Century Fox Unit

European authorities raided the London offices of a unit of 21st Century Fox as part of an antitrust investigation into the distribution of sports programming. The search at Fox Networks Group was one of several the European Commission said it had conducted across Europe as part of an investigation into potential violations of rules prohibiting price-fixing cartels. The investigation adds to the regulatory challenges that 21st Century Fox, Rupert Murdoch's media giant, is facing in Europe, where officials have held up its bid to take full control of the British satellite broadcaster Sky.



St. Louis Commentator Loses TV and Radio Shows After Threatening David Hogg

A conservative commentator in the St. Louis area lost his television and radio shows after saying on Twitter that he was preparing to use a "hot poker" to assault a survivor of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. In the crude tweet, Jamie Allman, the commentator, said that he was "hanging out getting ready" to assault David Hogg, one of the outspoken survivors of the shooting in which 17 people were killed.


Mark Zuckerberg Testifies on Facebook Before Skeptical Lawmakers

Mark Zuckerberg's appearance, his first before Congress, turned into something of a pointed gripe session, with both Democratic and Republican senators attacking Facebook for failing to protect users' data and stop Russian election interference, and raising questions about whether Facebook should be more heavily regulated. Of specific interest were the revelations that sensitive data of as many as 87 million Facebook users were harvested without explicit permission by a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, which was connected to the Trump campaign.


St. Louis Commentator Loses TV and Radio Shows After Threatening David Hogg

A conservative commentator in the St. Louis area has lost his television and radio shows after saying on Twitter that he was preparing to use a "hot poker" to assault a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. In the crude tweet, Jamie Allman, the commentator, said that he was "hanging out getting ready" to assault David Hogg, one of the outspoken survivors of the shooting in which 17 people were killed. "Busy working; preparing," Mr. Allman added. (Mr. Allman has since made his Twitter account private.)


YouTube Is Improperly Collecting Children's Data, Consumer Groups Say

A coalition of more than 20 consumer advocacy groups is expected to file a complaint with federal officials claiming that YouTube has been violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, a federal law that requires companies to obtain consent from parents before collecting data on children younger than 13. The complaint contends that YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, has been collecting and profiting from the personal information of young children on its main site, although the company says the platform is meant only for users 13 and older. The groups are asking for an investigation and penalties from the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces the law.


Syrian Forces Aimed to Kill Journalists, U.S. Court Is Told

A Skype call captured the artillery barrage that killed an American war reporter, Marie Colvin, on February 22, 2012. The call is among a trove of materials that lawyers for Colvin's family have presented to a judge in Washington in a wrongful-death suit they filed in 2016 against the Syrian government and nine Syrian security officials. The judge, Amy Berman Jackson of the Federal District Court, partly unsealed the filings. The lawyers say that the records provide the strongest evidence to date that Syrian forces led by President Bashar al-Assad targeted foreign journalists who were chronicling the mounting horrors in Syria, and Syrian civilians helping the reporters to gather information.


They Documented a Massacre. Their Prize Is a Prison Cell in Myanmar.

U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo, Myanmar journalists who were investigating a massacre of 10 Muslim Rohingya men in Rakhine State, face up to 14 years in prison under the British colonial-era Myanmar Official Secrets Act, for reporting on a massacre in Inn Din village of Rohingya Muslims by Myanmar's military and local Buddhist mobs, which drive hundreds of thousands of refugees into Bangladesh in what is broadly seen as calculated ethnic cleansing.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 16, 2018 6:18 PM.

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