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Week In review

By Angela Peco
Edited By Elissa D. Hecker


Federal Judge Suspends Deportations of Reunited Immigrant Families

A federal judge temporarily barred the United States government from the rapid deportation of immigrant parents reunited with their children. Many of these parents have final orders of deportation, meaning that they may be removed as soon as they are reunited. The judge sided with the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued that once reunited, immigrant parents who face deportation should have a week to decide if they want to leave their children in the U.S. to pursue asylum separately.


Physicians Say That Detaining Migrant Families "Poses High Risk of Harm"

Pediatricians are warning that detention puts children at risk for abnormal development. They note that even short periods of detention can cause psychological trauma and mental health risks, and that is true even if the children are accompanied by their families. In addition, minors may face a number of potential long-term health risks, such as cardiac disease, cancer, and behavioral problems. Doctors are also recommending use of alternative methods to custody, including placing families in a community-based setting as they await immigration court proceedings.


President Trump Questions U.S. Intelligence on 2016 Election; Invites Putin to Washington

President Trump publicly challenged the conclusion of American intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election during a press conference alongside President Putin. More specifically, he said that he had "confidence in both parties." Trump's words and demeanor at the press conference drew sharp criticism from Democrats and a few Republicans, with some individuals calling the president's behavior "treasonous." Trump plans to invite Putin to Washington this fall, an invitation that stunned the nation's top intelligence official, Dan Coats.



Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model

The New York Times reported that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is in possession of a recording Cohen made of Trump. The recording predates the 2016 election and in it the two reportedly discuss "payments" to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump. Trump called it "inconceivable" that the government would break into a lawyer's office [to seize the recording] and that a lawyer would tape a client.


The IRS Will no Longer Require Certain Non-profit Organizations to Disclose Donors

The U.S. Treasury will no longer require some politically active non-profit groups to identify their financial donors. The new rules will apply to organizations that do not receive tax-exempt funds, such as labor unions, veterans groups, and issue-advocacy organizations. Critics fear that the move will allow organizations such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) to receive "dark-money" contributions without scrutiny.


Judge Denies Paul Manafort's Request to Move Trial Away from Washington

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort requested to move his trial from Alexandria, Virginia to Roanoke, Virginia, citing alleged bias in the D.C. area, where his name is well known. Manafort argued that the media saturation would not allow him a fair and impartial trial, violating his 6th Amendment right. In denying the request, the federal judge wrote that "the mere fact that a case has drawn substantial media attention does not, by itself, warrant a change in venue" and that Alexandria is large enough to provide an impartial jury pool. Manafort faces bank and tax fraud charged related to his business dealings.


White House Withdraws Appeals Court Nominee after Opposition Over his Racially Insensitive Writing

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the judicial nomination of Ryan Bounds just before a confirmation vote this week. President Trump had nominated the assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon to be a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Bounds faced opposition over his writings in college, which included a column in which he railed against "race-focused groups" on campus and "race-think." Republicans had no room for error given the party's 51-49 majority. The Democratic caucus seemed united in opposition and at least two Republican senators, Tim Scott and Marco Rubio, announced they would not support the nomination.


Trump Administration Proposes Major Changes to Endangered Species Act

The Interior Department proposed sweeping changes to the Endangered Species Act. The proposed changes are anticipated to make it easier to gain approvals for roads, oil and gas drilling, pipelines and other construction projects. One change, for instance, would allow decision-makers to consider economic factors when deciding whether or not a species should be protected.


NRA Sues Seattle over 'Safe Storage' Gun Law

The NRA is suing the city of Seattle over its new gun safety law. It argues that the law violates Washington State law, which prevents cities from regulating guns. The new law carries escalating fines if a firearm is not locked, if an "at-risk person" accesses the weapon, or if someone uses the weapon to injure someone or commit a crime.


New York and New Jersey Are Among Four States Suing the Trump Administration Over Tax Plan

A lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on the grounds that Trump's tax overhaul is an "unconstitutional assault" on state sovereignty. Governor Cuomo called the limits on state and local tax deductions an "economic missile" in an "attempt to hurt Democratic states." At issue is the interpretation of the 10th and 16th Amendments - states' rights and the establishment of federal powers of income taxation. The states argue that the new law overturns longstanding precedent that "the federal government's income tax power was and would remain subject to federalism constraints." They also argue that limits on the deduction "deliberately seek to compel certain states to reduce their public spending."


New York City and State File Suit Over Grants Linked to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Cooperation

New York City and State officials, along with other "sanctuary" jurisdictions, are suing the Justice Department over public safety grants that are conditional on cities cooperating with immigration authorities. The state views these conditions as illegal and coercive, and it has yet to receive federal justice assistance money. Chicago won a nationwide injunction that would have required the Justice Department to disburse money, despite the city's sanctuary status, but an appeals court narrowed that ruling to apply only to Chicago.


New York State Launches Inquiry Into Trump Foundation

Tax authorities in New York are investigating the Donald J. Trump Foundation for possible violations of state tax law. It could lead to a criminal referral if any evidence of illegal activity is uncovered. It could also reportedly lead to the release of Trump's tax returns. It is not clear what activities are under review, but last month, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood accused the Donald J. Trump Foundation of violating campaign finance laws and illegally coordinating with Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.


Former New York State Senate Leader Dean Skelos is Convicted of Corruption in Retrial

Dean Skelos was found guilty of bribery, extortion, and conspiracy following three days of jury deliberations. Prosecutors said that Skelos, the former leader of the Senate's Republican majority, had used his political clout and control of lucrative state contracts to pressure business executives into sending his son about $300,000 for no-show or low-show jobs. Skelos had been granted a retrial after winning an appeal of his conviction last year in the wake of a 2016 Supreme Court decision that limited the definition of public corruption.


Iran Sues the United States Over Nuclear Deal and Reimposed Sanctions

Iran has sued the United States at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a new strategy to nullify the nuclear sanctions reimposed by the Trump administration after the U.S. withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement. The lawsuit is based on the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, signed by Iran and the U.S. in 1955. The lawsuit asks the ICJ to order the U.S. to terminate the sanctions and demands that the U.S. compensate Iran for financial damage caused by the reimposed sanctions.


Theresa May Survives Parliamentary Test by Six Votes

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a close vote in Parliament following a pro-European Union coup that would have thrown her Brexit
strategy into disarray. The conservative government defeated a proposed amendment to a trade bill introduced by its own backbenchers that would have kept Britain in a customs union with the EU if Britain fails to agree to a free trade deal.


Europe Cultivates New Partners with Japan Trade Deal

The European Union signed its largest trade deal ever, a pact with Japan that will reportedly cover a quarter of the global economy. The move comes as European officials intensify efforts to strike trade agreements with other countries and Europe grows more assertive as it looks past a frosty relationship with the United States, still its largest trading partner.


Eritrea Names First Ambassador to Ethiopia in Two Decades

The appointment comes after the countries signed an agreement earlier this month to restore ties. They continue their rapprochement after the Ethiopian prime minister announced in April that he wanted to implement a peace deal between the two neighboring countries.



Disney Fires 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Director Over Offensive Tweets Days After Paramount TV President Is Fired Over Inappropriate Comments

Disney fired James Gunn after jokes he wrote on Twitter several years ago involving pedophilia and rape resurfaced this week. Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan F. Horn said that the offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James's Twitter feed were indefensible and inconsistent with the studio's values. Paramount Pictures used similar language on Thursday to describe its reasoning for firing the president of Paramount Television, Amy Powell, over insensitive racial remarks she had made while on a conference call.



British Pop Star, Cliff Richard, Wins Privacy Suit against the BBC

Cliff Richard was awarded $280,000 in damages for invasion of privacy after the BBC used a helicopter hovering over the singer's apartment to report on a police raid on his home in 2014. The raid followed a sexual allegation against Richard relating to a teenage boy in the 1980s. No charges were brought against him. British journalists are concerned by the ruling because it could make it illegal to identify suspects before they are formally charged by the police.



Artist Sues General Motors for Using his Graffiti in Ad Campaign

The law is struggling to address the issue of when graffiti, an ephemeral form of art, deserves the safeguards of a copyright. At the center of the latest lawsuit is a mural originally commissioned by businessman and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert for a Detroit garage that doubles as a public art gallery. General Motors used the mural in photos for a Cadillac ad campaign, posting the images to social media without the artist's knowledge or consent. Although federal copyright law grants broad safeguards to graffiti as an original creative work that is "fixed in a tangible medium of expression," this lawsuit could determine if graffiti wins new protections, or if companies can use it for commercial purposes without having to compensate the artists.

Falkner v. General Motors Company: http://www.autonews.com/assets/PDF/CA114075125.PDF


Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Reverses Holding Regarding Private Standards

The D.C. Circuit reversed a district court's holding that privately created standards that are subsequently incorporated into law can be owned and enforced as the copyright property of the private creators. The Circuit ducked the "far thornier question of whether standards retain their copyright after they are incorporated by reference into law" and limited its ruling to detailed analyses of "fair use" under the Copyright Act and "nominative fair use" under the Lanham Act. The Court remanded the case for further consideration of both issues.


Claim for the Guelph Treasure, a Collection of Medieval Works, Can Now Go To Trial in U.S. Federal Court

An appeals court in Washington, D.C. has ruled that a claim for the Guelph Treasure can go to trial in the United States. The Guelph Treasure is a group of 42 medieval and religious works from the 11th to the 15th centuries housed in a Berlin museum. Heirs of the Jewish art dealers who owned the works argue that the objects were sold under duress due to Nazi persecution, and at only 35% of the works' value. The heirs brought the case in the U.S. in 2015 after a German advisory board set up to facilitate the return of Nazi-looted objects turned down their request. They demanded the return of the objects or $250 million.

The case is one of the first affected by America's recently enacted Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery (HEAR) Act, which makes it easier for the heirs of victims of the Nazi regime to file restitution claims in the U.S.. Both Germany and the Prussian Cultural Foundation, which oversees the Berlin museum, argued that: 1) this was not a forced sale; 2) U.S. courts had no authority over the dispute; and 3) private litigation interfered with foreign policy between Germany and the U.S..


Indian Supreme Court Tells Government to Demolish or Restore Discoloured Taj Mahal

The court directed the environment ministry to either demolish the Taj Mahal or restore it after noting that the white marble monument is changing color due to pollution and insect dung. It subsequently requested an action plan to save the UNESCO World Heritage site. The Taj Mahal was built in the 17th century by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum to his wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child.


President Trump Has Not Awarded National Arts Medals Since 2016

The White House says a plan is underway to distribute the medals and they are currently evaluating candidates. It appears that the delay is administrative and not a policy decision, but the holdup around the arts medals is notable because of President Trump's rocky relationship with the National Endowment for Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His first proposed federal budget would have eliminated these agencies that recommend candidates for the national medals to the president.



Judge Overseeing the National Football League's Concussion Settlement Finds Evidence of Fraud; Estimated Payout Could Jump by $400 Million

A federal judge in Philadelphia said that she found "sufficient evidence of probable fraud" from those seeking payouts to "warrant serious concerns." The settlement, which took effect in January 2017, resolved thousands of lawsuits that accused the National Football League (NFL) of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions.

Judge Anita Brody, however, denied the NFL's request to appoint a special investigator to look into what the NFL said are extensive fraudulent claims against the settlement fund. Fraud poses a particular worry to the NFL because the total amount of the settlement is not capped. Lawyers representing former NFL players estimated that payouts could jump by $400 million.



NFL and NFL Players Association Halt Enforcement of Anthem Policy After Dolphins Float Suspensions Among Punishments for Player Protests

The NFL and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) issued a joint statement noting that "no new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks" while both sides continue to hold discussions. In effect, they have also come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA's grievance filed against the NFL just last week. The move comes as the Miami Dolphins submitted required paperwork to the NFL that included potential disciplinary measures for player protests during the national anthem. This was in line with the new anthem policy, which left the punishment of players up to the team. With teams about to report to camp, the NFL would have been up against another PR mess as the focus would turn toward the other 31 teams making similar filings on player discipline.



U.S. District Court Judge Denies Class Action Status to Lawsuit Brought Against the National Hockey League

A federal judge in Minnesota denied class action status to a lawsuit brought by former National Hockey League (NHL) players. The players accuse the NHL of failing to protect them from head injuries and deliberately concealing information about the long term effects of concussions. The lawsuit proposed creating two classes of plaintiffs: one comprised of all living retired NHL players, and the other of those living and dead who were clinically diagnosed as suffering from neurological disorders linked to head trauma. She cited "widespread differences in applicable state laws" that govern the kind of medical monitoring the players sought as a remedy, saying that these disparities would pose "significant case management difficulties."


NHL and NHL Players Association Could Strike Informal Deal on Players' Marijuana Use

Leadership at the NFL Players Association (NHLPA) has signaled that Canada's legalization of marijuana has generated discussion internally and that it is possible that the NHL and the NHLPA could come to an informal understanding about marijuana usage among players, at least as far as medicinal and therapeutic use is concerned. The NHL is already the most "progressive" of the four major sports leagues in the way that it treats marijuana. Marijuana is currently not on its banned drugs list and it is not a drug that is tested under the collectively-bargained for drug policy. It is still difficult to imagine the two sides reaching a formal, explicit agreement on the recreational front.


USA Diving Has Been Sued over Sexual Abuse Claims

Two former divers are accusing the national governing body of ignoring or obstructing inquiries into allegations that a coach sexually abused them when they were young athletes. The suit alleges that diving coach Will Bohonyi, who had also coached at Ohio State and was fired by that school in 2014, coerced and forced divers into sex. Bohonyi has been on USA Diving's list of banned coach since 2015, but the lawsuit alleges that that did not occur until six months after Ohio State fired him, even though the school had provided USA Diving with its investigative report in 2014.


Two Lawsuits Claim That Ohio State University Ignored Repeated Complaints About Sexual Misconduct by Team Doctor

Allegations of sexual misconduct are now the focus of another investigation at Ohio State, with more than 100 former Ohio State students coming forward with allegations of abuse against team doctor Richard Strauss. The scope of the inquiry has widened beyond Strauss and the athletic department, to investigate whether school administrators knew about and failed to act on the complaints, and whether Strauss abused any high school students. One of the lawsuits implicates Representative Jim Jordan, Republican of Ohio, alleging that he ignored reports of sexual misconduct as an assistant coach for Ohio State's wrestling team.



Gamblers Bet on Sports for the First Time at New Jersey's Meadowlands Racetrack

Thousands of gamblers wagered on sporting events during the first day of sports betting at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadowlands has a clear advantage over other sports books in Atlantic City given its proximity to densely populated northern New Jersey and to MetLife Stadium. It also helps that it has no rivals near New York City, since New York State has yet to legalize sports betting after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longstanding ban.


World Cup Demonstrators Sentenced to 15 Days in Jail

The four protesters who ran onto the field at the World Cup final have been sentenced to 15 days in jail and are banned from attending sports events for three years. The protesters were members of the Pussy Riot punk collective. The outspoken critics of President Putin also posted a list of demands that included releasing political prisoners, putting an end to fabricated criminal accusations to keep people in prison, and allowing political competition in Russia.



Hulk Hogan Reinstated to World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Hall of Fame

World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) has reinstated Hulk Hogan to its Hall of Fame, calling it a "second chance" for Hogan and citing his numerous public apologies and volunteer work with young people. The move comes three years after Hogan was found to have used racial slurs in a conversation caught on a sex tape that became the subject of an invasion of privacy lawsuit settled with Gawker for $31 million.



Federal Judge Lifts Controversial Order Requiring the Los Angeles Times to Delete Part of a Published Article About Ex-Glendale Detective

The Los Angeles Times was ordered to remove information from an article about a plea Justice Walter had issued, citing concern for the safety of the detective and his family. As the plea had been sealed by the court, the judge had also been unable to confirm that the Los Angeles Times had obtained the document legally. The newspaper successfully appealed the order, arguing it was an unlawful violation of its First Amendment rights, and maintaining that it had published truthful information released by the government. It later became clear that the paper obtained the document after it had been erroneously posted on a publicly-accessible court database.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-balian-order-lifted-20180717-story.html https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/15/us/judge-los-angeles-times-delete-article.html

Federal Communications Commission Delays Sinclair's Tribune Media Deal

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously to delay Sinclair Broadcast Group's potential acquisition of Tribune Media by putting it through an administrative process. Chairman Ajit Pai said the $3.9 billion deal would put Sinclair in control of certain media stations in violation of the law. Sinclair is already the largest owner of local television stations in the U.S. and has emerged as a significant platform for conservative viewpoints. It has tried to placate federal regulators by proposing to sell 23 television stations after the deal was complete, but Pai has "serious concerns" with those planned divestitures.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/16/business/media/fcc-sinclair-tribune-pai.html https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/business/media/sinclair-

New Details Emerging in Contentious CBS-Viacom Lawsuit

In May 2018, CBS chose the "nuclear option" and sued its controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, to thwart her effort to push through a merger of CBS and Viacom Inc., the media company controlled by the Redstone family. The lawsuit followed weeks of tension between CBS Chairman and Chief Executive Leslie Moonves and Redstone. Citing interviews and court filings, the New York Times is now detailing how the two media moguls' once-warm friendship inevitably turned frigid.


Tabloid Company at the Center of Michael Cohen Investigation for Reportedly Aiding Trump Campaign

American Media Inc. (AMI) was recently subpoenaed by federal authorities investigating Michael Cohen. AMI reportedly arranged a $150,000 payment to a former Playboy model to silence the woman's claims of an affair with Donald Trump by buying the rights to her story and not publishing it. Cohen and Trump reportedly discuss the deal in the recording that authorities seized when raiding Cohen's office. Authorities believe that the company was not always operating in what campaign finance law calls a "legitimate press function." This may be why the Justice Department did not follow protocol when it subpoenaed AMI without advance warning. AMI's involvement raises the question of when coverage that is favorable to a candidate strays into overt political activity, and when First Amendment protections should apply.


US-Funded Broadcaster, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Directed Ads to Americans in Potential Violation of Domestic Propaganda Law

Radio Free Europe is a Prague-based organization funded by the US that typically broadcasts to audiences in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This past week it was uncovered that it bought several ads on Facebook targeting users in the US that were since removed. Its actions are a potential violation of the 1984 Smith Mundt Act that restricts U.S.-funded broadcasters from promoting its content in the US except on request. Radio Free Europe was formed during the Cold War as a counterforce to Soviet propaganda programs, and it is perhaps fitting that its recent ads on Facebook included stories about Russia and a graphic about NATO's popularity.


European Union Fines Google $5.1 Billion in Android Antitrust Case

Google will be fined a record $5.1 billion over its Android operating system. The tech giant's alleged anti-competitive behavior includes requiring Android handset manufacturers to set its search engine as the default and pre-installing the Chrome browser; preventing manufacturers from selling mobile devices powered by rival operating systems; and giving manufacturers financial incentives to pre-install its search service.


Facebook Will Start Removing Misleading Posts that Incite Violence

Facebook's new policy changes are meant to reduce "misinformation" on its platform by removing posts that are both misleading and created to incite violence. It has already implemented the policy in Sri Lanka, where Facebook posts falsely claimed that Muslims were poisoning food being sold to Buddhists. Similar posts spreading false stories about Muslims in Myanmar spurred violence against Rohingya Muslims.


Two Jailed Reporters in Myanmar Challenge the Prosecution's Version of Their Arrests

The trial of two Reuters reporters is now underway in Myanmar. Both have been charged with possessing documents that contained secret information and face up to 14 years in prison. The reporters were investigating violence against the persecuted Rohingya ethnic minority at the time of their arrests, when they claim that they were entrapped by local police at a restaurant. Tensions between the government and the news media are tense as the government continues to deny that the arrests were in connection with the reporters' coverage of the Rohingya issue.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2018 9:40 PM.

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