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Week in Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Republicans Join Democrats in Pushing Trump to Halt Family Separations

As the extent of the Trump administration's policy of separating children from parents at the border pending immigration proceedings, the outrage grew this week into a fever pitch. Mayors from cities around the country and First Lady Melania Trump visited the border, but Republicans joined Democrats in denouncing the policy and resulting in President Trump issuing an executive order stopping the practice. However, by the time the order was issued, thousands of children had already been separated and placed into facilities throughout the country stretching the capacity of those facilities to the point that the federal government has explored keeping children unused military bases.


Trump Administration Plans to Overhaul Government

The Trump administration has put forth a proposal to rehaul the structure of the federal government. It plans to merge the Department of Education and Department of Labor in an effort to consolidate workforce programs but may have a "profound effect on millions of poor and working-class Americans." The proposal is music to the ears of "small government" conservatives who resent the expansion of the federal government in the past several decades. President Trump, speaking to the media on Thursday, joked that the plan was "extraordinarily boring."


Supreme Court Widens Reach of Sales Tax for Online Retailers

The Supreme Court held this week that internet retailers can be required to collect sales taxes even in states where those retailers do not have a physical presence. This decision is a victory for the brick-and-mortar businesses that have taken a hit in the Amazon era of retailing, and it is also a victory for states that claim to be missing out on billions of dollars in tax revenues. This decision is essentially a full reversal of the Court's previous decision in 1992 in the case Quill Corporation v. North Dakota, which held that businesses could not collect sales tax unless there was a substantial connection to the state.


Securities and Exchange Commission Judges Were Appointed Unlawfully, Justices Rule

The Supreme Court held that administrative law judges working within the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) were not properly appointed and were deciding cases without constitutional authorization. Staff members appointed the administrative law judges, and the Court held in a 7-to-2 decision that the judges must have been appointed by the five-member SEC for them to be lawfully deciding cases. This was true even though the decisions by the administrative law judges were reviewed by the SEC itself.


Supreme Court Rules on Digital Privacy

The Supreme Court has held that the government must have a warrant to collect location data from customers of cellphone companies. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the majority that there is no right for the state to have unrestricted access to the database of physical location information, which contain "deeply revealing" records for 400 million devices. There are a handful of exceptions to the rule, however, such as bomb threats or child abductions.


Supreme Court Avoids Answering Issue of Partisan Gerrymandering

The legislature in Wisconsin had its redistricting plan challenged, and the Supreme Court ruled on the challenge this week, declining to answer the issues of gerrymandering. In Justice Kennedy's concurring opinion in a similar case in 2004, he explained that there is no clear standard on how to deal with the issue of gerrymandering, and accordingly, the Court would not make any determination on the standard. In its decision this week, the Supreme Court continued to punt the issue, finding that it "is not responsible for vindicating generalized partisan preferences" and instead only decided the issue of standing.


New Charges in Huge C.I.A. Breach

A software engineer is at the center of a breach and has been accused of stealing classified information and government property, and then lying to the F.B.I. about the theft. If the allegations are true, it would be one of the worst losses of classified documents in the C.I.A.'s history, and there is the potential for the stolen information to be published, as it is suspected that the engineer, Joshua Schulte, provided the information to WikiLeaks, the anti-secrecy organization. His case is set to be prosecuted in New York, although the crimes are alleged to have occurred in Virginia, where the C.I.A. is based.


Trump Threatens Further Tariffs on Chinese and European Goods

President Trump has escalated the confrontation with China and Europe by threatening to impose tariffs on additional products worth hundreds of billions of dollars. It is a gamble by the White House, as China and Europe may retaliate by imposing additional tariffs on American goods and increasing the likelihood of a full-scale trade war, which may disrupt markets. Markets toward the end of the week dropped on the news of additional tariffs, and members of Congress raised concerns over the administration's stance, as those tariffs may affect agriculture and businesses in the middle of the country; a section that was crucial to Trump's victory in 2016.


Senate Votes to Reinstate Penalties on ZTE, Setting Up Clash with White House

A showdown between the Senate and President Trump looks likely on the issue of penalties against ZTE, a Chinese telecom company. President Trump agreed that it would allow ZTE to remain in business in exchange for paying a $1 billion fine after the company was found to violate American sanctions, but the Senate voted 85 to 10 to reinstate the penalties against ZTE partly because President Trump's decision would put national security at risk. The White House has announced that it will not allow the bill to become law.


Trump Administration Withdraws U.S. From U.N. Human Rights Council

This week, the United States withdrew from the United Nations Human Rights Council, joining Iran, North Korea, and Eritrea as the only countries in the United Nations that refuse to participate in the Council's meetings and deliberations. Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, explained that the U.S. withdrew because of hostility toward Israel with the Council having passed five resolutions against it evidencing motivations "by political bias, not by human rights."


Disability Applications Plunge as Economy Strengthens

New evidence shows the strength of the current economy, as the number of Americans seeking Social Security disability benefits has dramatically dropped. The extent of the drop has caused the Social Security Administration to revise its forecast as to how long the program could be funded: from 2028 to 2032. While some say that this drop is attributable only to the strength of the economy, some scholars and advocates say that the Social Security Administration has made it more difficult to qualify for benefits.


Cohen Said to Hire Former Prosecutor as New Lawyer as Executive Subpoenaed

Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal attorney and longtime fixer, has hired Guy Petrillo, an attorney that previously was senior in the federal prosecutors' office that has been investigating Cohen. The move is not uncommon, as it provides a defendant insight into how the case may be prosecuted and allow the defense to better formulate its strategy. However, prosecutors have tightened the pressure on the case, as they have subpoenaed the executive of The National Enquirer, David Pecker, who is expected to have knowledge about the money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. To the media, Pecker has denied any wrongdoing.


With Voting Deadlock, Few Signs of Legislative Action

The end of the legislative session has come for Albany, leaving much unresolved. The low-hanging fruit were thought to be reauthorization of speed safety cameras at New York City schools and extending some local governments' tax collection abilities, but the legislature showed it was not able to get the bills passed and on Governor Cuomo's desk. For that matter, while he expressed support for the speed cameras, he was remarkably quiet as the end of the session came as the gubernatorial primary comes in the next week.


Junot Diaz Cleared of Misconduct by M.I.T.

In May, writer Zinzi Clemmons accused Junot Diaz of "forcibly kissing her when she was a graduate student," causing Diaz to withdraw from public appearances and step down as the chairman of the Pulitzer Prize board. However, he remains part of M.I.T.'s faculty. The university concluded that there was no evidence of misconduct and thus no reason to restrict his role or stop him from teaching in the next academic year. Critics have called the decision a setback for the #MeToo movement that may discourage others from speaking out about sexual harassment.


Migrants Arrive in Spain After Being Shunned by Italy

Three ships containing approximately 600 migrants from Africa were shunned from Italy and Malta ended up in the port of Valencia, Spain. Italy's turning away of the migrants was part of the anti-immigration policies of Italy's new populist government, and the Spanish government agreed to hold the migrants for 45 days pending the review of the asylum cases.


Hopes for New Era of Malaysian Free Speech are High

In Malaysia, the ouster of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his replacement, Mahathir Mohamad, has raised hopes that the country will be a bastion of civil rights in the area. One artist, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, had nine sedition charges and was prohibited from leaving the country after he published cartoons targeting Malaysia's political elite, but he discovered that he is was free to travel. While there are laws that have been used to restrain criticism of the government or elite Malaysians, there are indications that Prime Minister Mohamad may lighten up the use of these laws (despite him having earned a reputation when he was Prime Minister between 1981 and 2003 for jailing his opponents and critics).


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


Video Game Addiction Tries to Move from Basement to Doctor's Office

The World Health Organization has announced that "gaming disorder" is a medical condition being added to the organization's International Classification of Diseases. This addition comes at a time when many are concerned about the harm that technology may bring, and video game developers have been known to study ways to keep gamers hooked on their newest releases so much so that some medical professions have found addictions to games as strong as a cocaine disorder.


Chris Hardwick's Show Yanked After Abuse Allegations

Chloe Dykstra, Chris Hardwick's ex-girlfriend, came forward with an essay detailing emotional and sexual abuse by Hardwick over a period of years. AMC has announced that Hardwick's show, set to air today for a second season, will not be aired after all until the allegations have been vetted. Dykstra detailed the trauma that he inflicted and disclosed that he created rules such as prohibiting drinking alcohol or her spending too much time with her friends. Then, after the couple split, Hardwick allegedly contacted companies with which she regularly worked and tried to get her fired. Dykstra said the effort was successful, as she has been effectively blacklisted. Regardless, Hardwick has denied the allegations against him.


ABC Plans a 'Roseanne' Spinoff Without Roseanne Barr

Less than a month after the network ABC canceled "Roseanne" because of Roseanne Barr's racist tweet, the network has announced that it will proceed with a spinoff series that does not include Barr. It is scheduled to be aired this fall on ABC under the name, "The Connors," with all of the cast members of the revival minus Barr, and is part of a gamble that ABC can still get significantly high ratings despite not having Barr on screen. Other shows, such as Netflix's "House of Cards," continued without key cast members, but the nature of Barr's tweet (which targeted former Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett in a rambling racist and prejudiced way) may prove to be too much for the show to overcome.



Public Art Campaign Will Commission Political Billboards Across Country

The organization For Freedoms has announced that in the weeks leading up to this fall's midterm elections, its artists will display public artwork, such as billboards and lawn signs, in an effort to foster debate and political activism. The organization, originally founded as a super political action committee, has maintained its purpose of not being partisan but fostering political discourse in town halls and displays of artworks throughout the country.


Glasgow Artists Mourn After Fire Rips Through City's Creative Heart

The Glasgow School of Art has been at the center of Glasgow's creative scene for decades, but near the end of its restoration from a fire four years ago, the building caught fire again and was left nearly destroyed. The restoration that was underway had cost approximately $46 million, and there is now an investigation beginning into the cause of the fire. Some have compared the building's importance to that of the Chrysler Building to New York or the Eiffel Tower to Paris.


'Billy Elliot' Musical Branded Gay Propaganda in Hungary; Cancellations Follow

The musical "Billy Elliot" has had dozens of performances canceled by the Hungarian State Opera after a newspaper columnist accused the production of being "gay propaganda." The Hungarian pro-government daily newspaper Magyar Idok has "accused the production of corrupting young people", in that it encourages young people to take a direction in life and that they "would have taken this direction on their own." The Opera released a statement: "Just because something that is an undeniable part of life appears onstage at the opera, it doesn't mean we are promoting it."


Mass Shooting at New Jersey Arts Festival Leaves 22 Injured and 1 Dead

A New Jersey art festival in Trenton was the site of a shooting that left 22 people injured and one dead. Authorities have disclosed that the shooting appeared to be gang-related and occurred after several physical altercations in and out of the festival venue. There were also warnings of the shooting on social media. Regardless, the arts festival's disruption was unfortunate, as it serves as a centerpiece to revitalizing the Trenton area, which has had issues with crime and poverty.



Mexico's World Cup Captain Is on a U.S. Blacklist

The United States Treasury Department has Rafael Marquez, a prominent member of the Mexican World Cup soccer team, on its blacklist. Marquez has been suspected of laundering money for drug cartels, and his presence on the blacklist has led to him being separated from the rest of the roster. He does not stay at lodgings with American connections and has agreed to not receive wages, as it could complicate the bank's business dealings.


Semenya Will Challenge Testosterone Rule in Court

South African Olympic champion Caster Semenya has filed a legal challenge in the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a rule (promulgated by the International Association of Athletics Federations, track's governing body) that "seeks to limit the permitted testosterone levels in female athletes in races over certain distances." She has called the rule "discriminatory, irrational, unjustifiable" and a violation of the rules of sport as the rule would force some portion of women to receive hormone treatment to lower their natural testosterone levels.


Argentina Player Banned for Match-Fixing

Nicolas Kicker, a top 100 tennis player, is suspended for six years and fined $25,000 for fixing two matches. Last month, he was removed from the French Open when an anti-corruption hearing officer found that he fixed two matches in 2015, and he has since been found to be guilty of failing to cooperate with the Tennis Integrity Unit's investigation.


U.S. Open Will Revamp Seeding to Account for Pregnancy Leaves

The United States Open has announced it will change the approach for seeding players that are coming back from pregnancy leaves as critics were outspoken given Serena Williams' seeding in the French Open last month. In effect, the policies as they stand served as a penalty for those coming back from pregnancy. The U.S. Open organization has not made any specific promises in terms of seeding for Serena Williams, but it is expected that the U.S. Open's decision may influence other major tournaments' approaches to seeding for players coming back from pregnancy leaves. The critics have characterized the current seeding process as the equivalent in the business world of a top executive taking pregnancy leave and returning to an entry level position in the company.



The Los Angeles Times Names Norman Pearlstine Top Editor

On his first day, the new owner of The Los Angeles Times announced that the top editor would be Norman Pearlstine, a former member of Time Inc., Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal. Pearlstine's move comes as a surprise to some, as he has spent a significant amount of time away from daily journalism, but he is expected to develop a team with new talent capable of reviving the flailing newspaper's fortunes.


'Disastrous' Copyright Bill Approved

The European Parliament's Committee on Legal Affairs has approved a measure that would make major changes to European copyright law and change the nature of the internet, according to experts. The measure would put the burden of reviewing all material users upload to the websites that host those users, and the measure would also create a "link tax" that would require "online platforms to pay publishers a fee if they link to their news content." A non-profit in the U.S., Creative Commons, has called the measure a "dark day for the open web." The measure is set to be debated and voted on in July by the European Parliament.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 24, 2018 1:27 PM.

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