« Week in Review | Main | Week in Review »

Week in Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Kim Prepared to Cede Nuclear Weapons if U.S. Pledges Not to Invade

The South Korean government said that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, had told President Moon Jae-in that he would abandon his nuclear weapons if the United States agreed to formally end the Korean War and promise not to invade his country. Kim also said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the United States to watch the shutdown next month of his country's only known underground nuclear test site.


Trump Signals Openness to a 'New Deal' to Constrain Iran

President Trump signaled that he was open to a new arrangement with European allies that would preserve the Iran nuclear agreement by expanding and extending its terms to constrain Tehran's development of missiles and other destabilizing activities in the Middle East. Hosting President Emmanuel Macron of France at the White House, Trump again assailed the agreement made by the Obama administration as insane and ridiculous, but said he could agree to a new deal negotiated by American and European officials if it was strong enough.


Lawyer Who Was Said to Have Dirt on Clinton Had Closer Ties to Kremlin Than She Let On

The Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in June 2016 on the premise that she would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton has long insisted she is a private attorney, and not a Kremlin operative trying to meddle in the presidential election. However, newly released emails show that in at least one instance two years earlier, the lawyer, Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, worked hand in glove with Russia's chief legal office to thwart a Justice Department civil fraud case against a well connected Russian firm. She also appears to have recanted her earlier denials of Russian government ties, now acknowledging that she was not merely a private lawyer, but also a source of information for a top Kremlin official, Yuri Y. Chaika, the prosecutor general.


Michael D. Cohen to Take Fifth Amendment in Stormy Daniels Lawsuit

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, will invoke his Fifth Amendment right in a lawsuit filed against the president by Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels. Cohen's decision, disclosed last week in a court filing in California where the suit was filed, came a day before a federal judge in Manhattan was set to hold a hearing regarding materials seized from
Cohen during an F.B.I. raid earlier this month.


Stormy Daniels Lawsuit Delayed as Judge Cites 'Likely' Indictment of Michael Cohen

A federal judge in California ordered a three-month delay in the lawsuit brought by Stephanie Clifford against President Trump, citing what he called the likelihood that Michael D. Cohen, Trump's longtime personal lawyer, will be indicted. In granting a defense request for the postponement, Judge S. James Otero of United States District Court in Los Angeles sided with the president's legal team that the unusual circumstances of the case warranted the stay of action. Judge Otero acknowledged in his order that complications might arise from an overlap with a criminal investigation into Cohen.


Supreme Court Upholds Procedure That Is Said to Combat 'Patent Trolls'

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a procedure that makes it easier to challenge questionable patents. The procedure, created by Congress in 2011, resembles a trial in federal court, but is conducted by an executive branch agency. Supporters say that it helps combat "patent trolls," or companies that obtain patents not to use them, but to demand royalties and sue for damages. Opponents say that the procedure violates the Constitution by usurping the role of the federal courts, violating the separation of powers, and denying patent holders the right to a jury trial. By a 7-to-2 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the procedure was a permissible way for the agency that administers patents to fix its mistakes.


Supreme Court Bars Human Rights Suits Against Foreign Corporations

Foreign corporations may not be sued in American courts for complicity in human rights abuses abroad, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The vote was 5 to 4, with the Court's more conservative justices in the majority. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for a plurality of the justices, said such suits should not be allowed without explicit Congressional authorization. In dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said that the Supreme Court created a double standard for corporations.


Rod Rosenstein Makes a Timely Supreme Court Appearance

The Supreme Court heard an argument that touched on the president's power to fire subordinates. That same afternoon, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who has been the subject of reports that President Trump wants to fire him, argued before the Court. The morning argument examined how to balance independence against accountability within the executive branch. The specific question for the Court was whether in-house judges at the Securities and Exchange Commission had decided cases without constitutional authorization. Several justices acknowledged that their ruling in the case could have broad implications.


After Late Vote Switch, Senate Panel Approves Pompeo for Secretary of State

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the confirmation of Mike Pompeo to be the next Secretary of State, after Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, bowed to pressure from President Trump and dropped his opposition.


With No Nomination From Trump, Judges Choose U.S. Attorney for Manhattan

Exercising a seldom-used power, the judges of the Federal District Court in Manhattan voted unanimously to appoint Geoffrey S. Berman as the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. Berman was appointed interim United States attorney in January, and his 120-day term was due to expire. With no one yet nominated by Trump for the Southern District position, the judges acted to fill it. Under federal law, he will now serve until the Senate confirms a nominee by President Trump, whose administration has been slow to fill many posts in the executive and judicial branches.


For Politicians Scraping Bottom, a Scarce Resource: Impeachment Lawyers

Governor Eric Greitens of Missouri finds himself the newest member of a small, unenviable club: governors so embattled that they risk being expelled from office. So it was hardly surprising when Greitens's office brought in Ross H. Garber, a professed "Watergate nerd" who, after representing besieged governors in Alabama, Connecticut, and South Carolina, has arguably become the nation's leading practitioner of a subspecialty whose relevance can be a barometer of political rancor. Despite the high stakes and bright lights, the nation's statehouse impeachment bar is made of up just a few battle-tested lawyers who have improvised legal strategies largely on history and hunches.


Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money

At the E.P.A., Scott Pruitt is under investigation for allegations of unchecked spending, ethics lapses and other issues, including his interactions with lobbyists. An examination of Pruitt's political career in Oklahoma reveals that many of the pitfalls he has encountered in Washington have echoes in his past.


F.D.A. Cracks Down on 'Juuling' Among Teenagers

The Food and Drug Administration announced a major crackdown on the vaping industry, particularly on the trendy Juul devices, aimed at curbing sales to young people.



Music Modernization Act Unanimously Passes House of Representatives

The Music Modernization Act, HR 5477, has passed the House of Representatives by unanimous vote. It combines the legislation introduced in December under the same name, as well as the Allocation for Music Producers Act, which provides royalties for music producers, and the CLASSICS Act, which provides royalties for songs created before 1972 from digital streaming services. The bill paves the way for improved royalty payments to songwriters, artists, and creatives in the digital era. The bill is overwhelmingly supported by the music industry, and has bipartisan support in the House, where it was introduced by co-sponsors Robert Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY). Corresponding bills have been introduced in the Senate championed by Senator. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT).


Bill Cosby Found Guilty of Sexual Assault in Retrial

At his second sexual assault trial, actor and comedian Bill Cosby was convicted of three counts of drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home near Norristown, Pennsylvania 14 years ago. Constand was a Temple University employee at the time. Cosby's conviction offered a measure of satisfaction to the dozens of women who for years have accused him of similar assaults against them.


Gender Letter: The Culture Is Changing. Cosby is Proof.

The New York Times Gender Editor reflects on changes since the advent of the #MeToo movement, and its possible effects on the second Cosby trial, in which multiple victims were allowed to testify and a conviction was obtained.


Madonna Loses Legal Battle Over Tupac Shakur Breakup Letter

Madonna lost a legal battle to prevent the auction of her intimate memorabilia, including satin underwear and a letter from her former boyfriend, the rapper Tupac Shakur. In July 2017, New York Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits granted Madonna a preliminary injunction blocking the sale of 22 items that she described as "extremely private and personally sensitive." Yet in a decision made public last week, Justice Lebovits dismissed the case on the grounds that the statute of limitations to recover the items had passed. The belongings, which also included intimate photographs, a hairbrush, and cassette tapes of unreleased recordings, were set to be sold by the online auction site GottaHaveRockandRoll.com last year.


Kenya Bans Film About 2 Girls in Love Because It Is "Too Hopeful"

The first Kenyan entry ever nominated for an award at the Cannes Film Festival will debut in France in two weeks -- but it is now illegal for Kenyans back home to watch it. The Kenya Film Classification Board banned the film, "Rafiki," a drama about two Kenyan girls who fall in love. Ezekiel Mutua, the board's chief executive officer, said the film "legitimizes homosexuality against the dominant values, cultures and beliefs of the people of Kenya." Mutua said that the film board's ruling did not represent a ban on homosexual content. "Homosexuality is a reality," he said. "What we are against is the endeavor to show that as a way of life in Kenya."



Decision Reached in "Monkey Selfie Case"

In a 41-page decision published on April 23rd, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit dismissed Naruto (the Crested Macaque)'s claims, and held that although the monkey had constitutional standing, it lacked statutory standing to sue for infringement of its copyright in its selfie photographs, because the Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement lawsuits.

Naruto v. Slater, No. 16-15469 (9th Cir. 2018) is available at: http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2018/04/23/16-15469.pdf

French Museum Discovers That More Than Half of Its Paintings Are Fake

More than half the paintings owned by a southern French museum are worthless fakes, and authorities fear that more forgeries may be on display at other public galleries. The small museum in Elne, dedicated to local artist Etienne Terrus, a contemporary of Henri Matisse, learned that 82 of its 140 works were fakes after art historian Eric Forcadea raised the alarm. Forcadea noticed while helping to prepare an exhibit that some of the paintings attributed to Terrus featured buildings built after his 1922 death.


Paris Opera Ballet Dancers Complain of Harassment and Bad Management

"The current director seems to have no managerial competence, and no desire to acquire any," and "We are no longer children!" were among the blistering remarks submitted in response to an anonymous internal questionnaire compiled by the Paris Opera Ballet company's Committee for Artistic Expression. Other complaints and charges by the respondents included sexual and verbal harassment, lack of support and care, and incompetence. These are just some of the accusations leveled at the Paris Opera Ballet management and at the company's artistic director, Aurélie Dupont. The responses were leaked to journalists last week, setting off a furor in the French media.


Why Won't We Learn from the Survivors of the Rana Plaza Disaster?

Bangladesh is among the cheapest places to produce clothes, along with Vietnam and India. More than 4.4 million people -- mostly women -- work in its 3,000 factories, where the minimum wage is currently 32 cents an hour, or $68 a month. Brands flock here to source $30 billion worth of "ready-made garments," or RMG, making Bangladesh the world's second largest apparel manufacturing center, after China. However, the Bangladesh apparel industry has also been rife with sweatshops and industrial accidents. Between 2006 and 2012, more than 500 Bangladeshi garment workers died in factory fires usually caused by faulty electrical wiring. After more than 1,100 people were killed in the horrific building collapse of Rana Plaza, hundreds of factories in Bangladesh were shuttered. Five years later, the garment industry looks set to return to business as usual.



Former National Football League Cheerleaders Offer to Settle for $1 and a Meeting With Goodell

The lawyer representing two former National Football League (NFL) cheerleaders who recently filed discrimination claims against the NFL has made a settlement proposal: If her clients can have a four-hour, "good faith" meeting with Commissioner Roger Goodell and league lawyers, they will settle all claims for $1 each. The settlement proposal, sent to an NFL attorney, asks that league representatives meet with at least four cheerleaders to prepare a set of binding rules and regulations which apply to all NFL teams.


FIFA's Infantino Calls for Rare Emergency Meeting Amid $25 Billion Offer

FIFA's president, Gianni Infantino, called for an emergency meeting of the leading officials in international soccer to address a $25 billion rights offer from an investment group that could radically change some of the biggest competitions in the sport. Infantino called for a special meeting with leaders of soccer's six regional bodies to discuss details of the offer for control of a new quadrennial 24-team club tournament along the lines of the World Cup, FIFAs's $5 billion cash cow, and a proposed league for national teams.


N.C.A.A. Panel Proposes Reforms, Including End to 'One and Done'

N.C.A.A. leaders endorsed a series of broad recommendations they received from a commission chaired by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the latest attempt to clean up men's college basketball and fix a system mired with corruption. The proposed changes would alter the texture of the sport, but stopped well short of challenging the longtime requirement that the college athletes remain amateurs, uncompensated beyond a scholarship and a stipend for their talents and efforts.


Review Finds 'Tsunami' of Fixed Matches in Lower Levels of Tennis

Professional tennis has created an environment ripe for corruption at the sport's lowest levels, and needs reform to combat the problem, an independent task force reported after a two-year investigation. The review panel of three prominent lawyers found that there was a "tsunami" of fixed matches at the lower levels of the game, but also that there was no conspiracy or collusion among the sport's governing bodies to cover it up.


Track's New Gender Rules Could Exclude Some Female Athletes

In an effort to address questions about fair play, track and field's world governing body will publish regulations that could force some elite female athletes with naturally elevated testosterone levels to lower the hormone with medication, compete against men in certain Olympic events, or effectively give up their international careers. Female track athletes with elevated levels of testosterone, a condition known as hyperandrogenism, will be required to lower the amount of the hormone circulating in their blood for six months before being allowed to compete from the quarter-mile to the mile in major international events like the Olympics and the world championships. The rules, scheduled to take effect in November, will initially be enforced in middle distance races of 400 meters to one mile. These distances, which synthesize the need for speed, power and endurance, are events in which raised testosterone levels can have the most profound influence on performances.


Baseball Document, Thought Worth Millions, Spurs Court Fight

One of the most valuable pieces of baseball memorabilia -- a copy of the 1876 National League Constitution, which established business practices that remain the norm today -- is at the center of a legal dispute between the family of a late baseball executive and an auction house the family claims is holding it hostage. The two sides were working together last May to sell the papers that had been among Fred Fleig's belongings when he died in 1979, a year after he retired as the National League's secretary and treasurer. After ads and an Associated Press story appeared about the auction, Major League Baseball claimed it was the rightful owner, and the sale was stopped.



Prosecutor of Patz's Killer Takes Over Weinstein Inquiry

A senior prosecutor known for winning a murder conviction in the killing of Etan Patz in now running the Manhattan district attorney's investigation into rape allegations against the movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. The prosecutor, Joan Illuzzi, took over the case in early April, replacing a veteran sex crimes prosecutor who had been leading the inquiry since December, allegedly due to escalating tension between prosecutors and police investigating Weinstein's conduct.


Tom Brokaw, in Email, Angrily Denies Harassment Claim

Tom Brokaw, the longtime NBC News anchor, issued a pointed rebuke to a former colleague who accused him of groping and harassing her during the 1990s, describing himself as "angry, hurt and unmoored from what I thought would be the final passage of my life and career." In a lengthy email message, Brokaw angrily rejected the claims of the woman, Linda Vester, a former correspondent at NBC News and Fox News. "I was ambushed and then perp walked across the pages of The Washington Post and Variety," Brokaw wrote, referring to the news organizations that on Thursday night published Vester's account.


Professor Apologizes for Helping Cambridge Analytica Harvest Facebook Data

Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who was hired by Cambridge Analytica to harvest information from tens of millions of Facebook profiles, defended his role in the data collection, saying that he was upfront about how the information would be used, and that he never heard a word of objection from Facebook. Kogan, a psychology professor who has found himself cast as the villain by both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, expressed regret for his role in the data mining, which took place in 2014.


YouTube Says Computers Are Catching Problem Videos

The vast majority of videos removed from YouTube toward the end of last year for violating the site's content guidelines had first been detected by machines instead of humans. YouTube said that it took down 8.28 million videos during the fourth quarter of 2017, and about 80%
of those videos had initially been flagged by artificially intelligent computer systems.


Facebook Replaces Lobbying Executive Amid Regulatory Scrutiny

Facebook replaced its head of policy in the United States, Erin Egan, as the social network scrambles to respond to intense scrutiny from federal regulators and lawmakers. Egan, who is also Facebook's chief privacy officer, was responsible for lobbying and government relations as head of policy for the last two years. She will be replaced by Kevin Martin on an interim basis. Martin has been Facebook's vice president of mobile and global access policy, and is a former Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Egan will remain chief privacy officer and focus on privacy policies across the globe.


Peter Madsen, Danish Inventor, Is Convicted of Killing Kim Wall

A Danish inventor who admitted to dismembering a journalist and discarding her body from the submarine he built was convicted of killing her, in one of the most gruesome and closely watched cases in Scandinavian history. A court in Copenhagen found the submarine inventor Peter Madsen, 47, guilty of premeditated killing -- equivalent to murder -- in the death of Kim Wall, 30, whom prosecutors said he bound, tortured, sexually assaulted and stabbed repeatedly after she went on his submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, to interview him.


In Berlin, a Show of Solidarity Does Little to Dampen Jewish Fears

After an attack on a young man wearing a kipa (yarmulke, skullcap) in a trendy Berlin neighborhood, the leader of Germany's largest Jewish organization urged Jews to wear baseball caps instead. It was just too dangerous, he said, to walk around openly with a kipa, a sign of devotion. In response, Berliners, including the mayor and other Jewish groups, participated in demonstrations on Wednesday in which people of all faiths donned skullcaps in solidarity. Despite the demonstrations, however, many among the more than 100,000 Jews who now call Berlin home worry that the outward display of solidarity will remain largely symbolic. They do not expect it to change the threats they face daily, in a political climate in which the far-right has been resurgent and incidents of antisemitism and racism have increased, even in a city that celebrates diversity as key to its modern identity.


Apple's Deal for Shazam Is Delayed in Europe Over Data Concerns

At what point does a company have so much data that it becomes unfair? Antitrust cases, particularly in the United States, are typically argued over the impact a deal will have on consumers, such as the price of a product or service. Margrethe Vestager, the European Union's top antitrust official, has argued data should become more of a factor. She argues that with free services, customers pay with their data, and are not always getting a fair deal. This broader interpretation of antitrust law would have important consequences for future acquisitions made by companies such as Amazon, Facebook and Google.


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 April 30, 2018 9:30 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Week in Review.

The next post in this blog is Week in Review.

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