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Week in Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Over 450 Migrant Parents May Have Been Deported Without Children, but Feds Say They Met Deadline to Reunite Families

The federal government has admitted in federal court that more than 450 migrants parents may have been deported after having already been separated from their children. This is the first acknowledgement by the federal government that its policy of "zero-tolerance" had harsh consequences not foreseen when the policy was implemented. Nonetheless, it expected to meet its deadline of reuniting all "eligible" families by the deadline of Thursday night. There were significant questions as to what "eligible" meant, and also whether the government did in fact reunite the families by the deadline, as reports of failed reunifications emerged.



Lawmakers and Lobbyists Join Forces to Overhaul Endangered Species Act

The White House, lawmakers, and lobbyists are coming together to attack the Endangered Species Act. The 45-year-old law has protected wildlife by prohibiting "ranching, logging, and oil drilling in protected habitats," but bills are being floated in Congress that would erode those protections. Analysts see the bills as a "wish list assembled over decades by oil and gas companies, libertarians and ranchers" who have viewed federal regulations as impediments on their lives. Lobbyists and others have viewed the next six months as being the last chance to get the bills through Congress, as the midterm elections may see a wave of Democrats retake one or both chambers of Congress.


Democrats Will Not Meet with Judge Kavanaugh Until Deal is Completed On Documents

The Democrats in the Senate have requested volumes of documents related to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's past work in government. As they have not yet received those documents, and Republicans have not yet agreed to turn them over, the vast majority of Democratic Senators have agreed not to receive "courtesy visits" from Kavanaugh. Those meetings may commence, however, should the top ranking members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Grassley, come to an agreement as to which documents must be turned over for review.


In Ruling Against Trump, Judge Defines Anticorruption Clauses in Constitution for First Time

Judge Peter Messitte of the United States District Court in Greenbelt, Maryland has issued the first decision in American history on the Constitution's anticorruption clause being applied to a sitting president. He has allowed the lawsuit to proceed, the substance of which is centered on President Trump's potential violation of the clause based on his maintaining a financial interest in the Trump Organization's Washington hotel. The Department of Justice is expected to seek an emergency stay of the action and appeal Judge Messitte's ruling.


Trump Weighs Stripping Security Clearances from Critics

President Trump has threatened to strip security clearances from those who have been critical of his administration, including former CIA director John Brennan, and James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence. The pretext for the revoking of the clearances, according to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is that those individuals had politicized and monetized their security clearances after having been public servants. The stripping of their credentials would be a rare politicizing of the security clearances that many former public servants utilize.


Trump Orders $12 Billion in Aid for Farmers

Despite critics in the Republican Party calling it a policy more likely to come from a planned Soviet-like economy, the Trump administration has announced that it will provide up to $12 billion in emergency relief to farmers that have been hurt in the recent trade war. The move is seen as a way to shore up damage to the agriculture industry as well as to preserve Republican political capital in the heartland of the country, the very region that delivered Trump's electoral victory in 2016 and may play a significant part in the midterm elections in a few months' time. The relief package is also an indicator that Trump plans to continue the tariff wars, leaving open the chance for more emergency relief for damaged industries.


Judge Delays Start of Manafort Trial for Six Days

Next Tuesday, the trial of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is set to begin in United States District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. Judge T. S. Ellis III delayed the trial by six days to permit Manafort's lawyers to review tens of thousands of documents recently received that could play a critical role in his defense. Judge Ellis has advised prosecutors to keep the trial limited to issues of money laundering and tax evasion and not to wade into collusion with Russia as it may taint the jurors.


Judge Allows Lawsuit Trying to Block Citizenship Question From Census

In the Southern District of New York, Judge Jesse Furman gave the green light this week for a lawsuit to proceed seeking to block "the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census." The addition of the question is alleged to be an attempt by the Trump administration to discriminate against immigrants. The effect of the question, allege the plaintiffs, is to reduce the count of immigrants and reduce Democratic representation when districts are redrawn in 2021. One of Judge Furman's considerations in his decision to permit the action to proceed was President Trump's rhetoric, characterized by "racially charged" statements that have targeted immigrant minorities.


Sheldon Silver Gets 7-Year Prison Sentence

The former speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for federal corruption charges. His conviction comes after a career of being one of New York's most powerful politicians. Silver served as the speaker for more than two decades and had a significant influence on state politics. Judge Valerie Caproni characterized his actions as being "driven by unmitigated greed" as he used his "public position to richly line his own pockets." In a statement, Silver said that he prayed he "will not die in prison."


New York State Senators Ordered to Return Campaign Money

Eight Democratic state senators are in the process of returning hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations after New York's top election enforcement officer, Risa Sugarman, determined that the group had received donations "far in excess of statutory contribution limits." The senators belonged to a group called the Independent Democratic Conference, which was known for its closeness with the Republicans in the State Senate. Several of those who have been ordered to return the funds are facing primary challenges in the next several months.


Ivanka Trump Shuttering Fashion Brand

President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump announced that she is shutting down her namesake fashion brand, citing her work in Washington and the uncertainty of when she will be able to return to operating the business. A spokesman for the brand announced that its 18 employees will began leaving in the coming weeks and the business will begin winding down, with products being sold through next spring.


No Break for Nestlé in Trademark Dispute

Despite Nestlé's arguments, the European Court of Justice found against the company in its ruling that the Kit-Kat candy cannot be protected by trademark laws. The signature four-fingered wafer has many competitors throughout Europe, including Norway's Kvikk Lunsj, which is a wafer that has been popular in that country for over 80 years. The lower court determined that Nestlé had to prove that Kit-Kats could be recognizable in every country in the European Union, but no evidence was submitted for that being the case in Belgium, Ireland, Greece, or Portugal. Ultimately, because Nestlé did not show that the snack was iconic in all markets of the bloc, it could not prevail on its trademark claim.


Visa Restrictions for Chinese Students Alarm Academia

American academic and research institutions have had the benefit of Chinese citizens contributing to their programs for years, but President Trump's cracking down on China has raised concerns that the era of cooperation may be coming to an end. Under the Obama administration, Chinese students were routinely given five-year student visas, but the State Department on June 11th rolled back the policy and require reapplying each year for graduate students in sensitive research fields. This move comes after a study was published last year that found that in a 10-year period, nearly 90% of Chinese students who earned Ph.D.s in the United States intended to remain in the country for work.


Russian Hackers Appear to Shift Focus to U.S. Power Grid

Intelligence officials and technology company executives have announced that Russian hackers appear to be targeting the domestic utility grid rather than institutions that may affect the midterm elections. The state-sponsored hackers appear to be focused on installing malware into the electric grid to cause disruptions of service, and the Department of Homeland Security has confirmed that there have been "hundreds of victims" thus far. The hackers are believed to have been involved in hacking into the electric grid in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016.


Despite Egypt's Dismal Human Rights Record, U.S. Restores Military Aid

Egypt, under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has a reputation for being harsh: it has arrested a tourist who complained about Egypt on Facebook, an activist who spoke out about sexual harassment, and a student who was researching the judiciary. Nonetheless, the State Department, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, has lifted restrictions on $195 million in military aid. The restriction was placed on Egypt last year because of its human rights record and relationship with North Korea, and its lifting has prompted outrage from human rights groups. It also raised concerns about what el-Sisi's regime may do next, now that it has no incentive to back down from its harsh policies.


Cubans Approve New Constitution

Cuban lawmakers have approved a new Constitution that would recognize the right to own private property and potentially pave the way for other rights, such as same-sex marriage. The Constitution would also divide power between a president and prime minister in contrast to the Soviet-era Constitution currently in place. The Constitution is set for a national referendum, which is expected to take months to complete.


Pakistan's Next Leader Set to Take Power

Imran Khan, a former cricket star and man of many hats, is set to take power as prime minister of Pakistan. He has vowed to fight corruption, become closer to China, and to achieve a "mutually beneficial" relationship with the United States. He has been known for his charm and looks, but has turned to politics in an effort to fight corruption and to restore faith in the government. His path to becoming prime minister opened up with the publishing of the Panama Papers, as the actions of the incriminated then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif reinforced the suggestion of a government that was plagued by corruption and ripe for cleansing and reinvention.


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


Panel Finds Bill Cosby to Be Sexually Violent Predator

Following Bill Cosby's trial in Pennsylvania for sexual assault, a Pennsylvania state board has determined that he is a "sexually violent predator." This determination may affect his sentence for the crime, which is scheduled for September in Judge Steven T. O'Neill's courtroom in Montgomery County. There is a possibility that Cosby will be sentenced up to 30 years in prison.


Fyre Festival Organizer Pleads Guilty to Selling Fraudulent Tickets

In the Southern District of New York, Billy McFarland pleaded guilty to a new set of federal charges related to a fraudulent ticket-selling scheme that he ran. Up until the new charges were announced, McFarland was facing wire fraud charges in relation to the Fyre Festival, but the federal prosecutors also charged him with selling fictitious tickets to Burning Man, the Super Bowl, and Coachella. The government alleged that he duped over 30 people out of $150,000 for the tickets.


Third Arrest Made in Killing of Rapper XXXTentacion

Robert Allen of Florida has been arrested in connection with last week's killing of 20-year-old rapper XXXTentacion in what appeared to be a robbery in broad daylight. Four men thus far have been indicted in relation to the killing, and Allen is the third of those four to be arrested.


Disney and Fox Shareholders Approve Deal

Shareholders for both Walt Disney Company and 21st Century Fox have agreed to a $71.3 billion plan that would give Disney the bulk of Rupert Murdoch's media empire. The deal still must be approved by regulators in over a dozen countries, but if approved, it will be a massive shift in the media industry. Some in Hollywood fear that this deal will set off more mergers in the film business, an industry where the last major consolidation was in 1935, when 20th Century Pictures and Fox Film merged to become 20th Century Fox.


Matt Lauer's New Zealand Ranch in Battle for Access Over Nearby Park

The former "Today" show co-host, Matt Lauer, is embroiled in a fight in New Zealand. He has requested the New Zealand government to pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars if hikers are permitted to use his property to access a nearby park. He has a 16,000-acre ranch that borders the Hawea Conservation Park, known as "one of the jewels of the New Zealand landscape." This fight comes after his firing earlier this year amidst allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior working on the "Today" show.



House Rejected Amendment to Cut National Endowments for the Arts Funding, With Senate's Vote Imminent

The House of Representatives rejected the Grothman Amendment, which proposed funding reductions to both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Senate was scheduled to vote shortly on the issue of funding as well.


U.S. Art Dealers Move Against Trump's Proposed 10% Tariff On Chinese Art and Antiques

President Trump's trade war with China has found its way to art and antiques, raising concerns among art dealers. Art and antiques are typically not subject to customs duties, with the public policy being that there is a widespread interest in having open access to foreign arts, but some dealers have said that the tariffs would have the opposite effect, as they are more likely to reinforce the Chinese government's "dominance and monopoly on Chinese art."


Judge Orders Return of Ancient Limestone Relief to Iran

A New York State Supreme Court judge has ordered that Iran should receive a bas-relief dating from 500 B.C. The relief, which has a Persian guard, was found for sale at an art fair and investigators seized it. The work was stolen decades ago, and the district attorney then argued that any subsequent holder of the art could not be a legitimate owner. Consequently, the work must be returned to from where it was stolen seven decades ago.


Cleveland Orchestra Suspends Star After Accusation of Assault

Violinist William Preucil of the Cleveland Orchestra has been suspended after allegations emerged that he sexually assaulted a student in 1998. The student disclosed to the Washington Post that he aggressively kissed and pushed her onto his hotel bed, and after she fled, he called her to threaten to blacklist her if she told anyone. The Cleveland Orchestra has vowed to conduct an independent investigation and maintain the suspension in the meantime.



Ohio State Abuse Scandal Widens

At least 100 former Ohio State University students have reported sexual misconduct from at least 1979 to 1997 by Dr. Richard Strauss, who was a team doctor. The university has investigators working on the case, but it also has other scandals exploding: this month, a student filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the school, claiming that an assistant coach, Will Bohonyi, forced her to have sex with him starting in 2014. The scandals are part of a flurry of sexual misconduct cases in sports and universities, which include Dr. Larry Nassar's molestation of more than 200 girls and women at Michigan State and Dr. George Tyndall abusing hundreds of patients at the University of Southern California (USC).


50 More Women Sue USC as Accusations Grow Against Gynecologist

More than 50 women have sued USC, alleging that it failed to protect them from a former gynecologist, Dr. George Tyndall, who sexually abused and harassed them. Tyndall had worked for the university for over three decades in its student health center and had seen thousands of student patients. His lawyer said that Tyndall's "practice of medicine was consistent with the standard of care," and no criminal charges have yet been filed against Tyndall, even though the Los Angeles Police Department has received dozens of potential cases regarding his actions from 1990 to 2016.


Larry Nassar Wants New Sentence From a New Judge

The disgraced former USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar, is now seeking to have his conviction for sexually abusing numerous young women reviewed, as he claims that the judge overstepped her bounds in sentencing him to 40 to 175 years in prison. The sentencing hearing lasted seven days and had over 150 young women testify as to the impact of Nassar's actions, and since Nassar has been imprisoned, he has been physically attacked at least once.


USA Gymnastics' Talk of Reform Falls on Skeptical Ears in Senate

Following the revelation of the sexual abuse that Dr. Larry Nassar perpetrated at Michigan State, some immediately blamed USA Gymnastics for not protecting the athletes. The organization appeared before the Senate and promised that the USA Gymnastics is now athlete-centric and has made it easier to report abuse, but skeptics abound. Former and current athletes said to The New York Times that nothing has changed since the abuse scandal erupted, and that they are fearful someone else could perpetrate abuse without consequence in the way that Nassar did for a period of years.


In National Hockey League Concussion Lawsuit, Gary Bettman Opts to Fight

Several retired National Hockey League (NHL) players have sued the league for damages they sustained while playing the game. The NHL has not dealt with the issue in the same way as the National Football League (NFL), the latter of which has settled cases and kept the allegations from developing: the NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has opted to not settle, but to "vigorously question the growing evidence linking head hits and brain trauma." Thus far, the strategy has worked, as the NHL has paid out less than the NFL and has prevented a case pending in federal court from getting class-action status.


Ryan Lochte Suspended 14 Months for Getting an IV

American swimmer Ryan Lochte, who has won six Olympic gold medals, has received and accepted a 14-month suspension for posting a photo on Instagram showing him receiving an intravenous infusion. While the substance he was receiving was not illegal, the United States Anti-Doping Agency does not permit any athletes to receive IVs unless they have been hospitalized or have received an exemption to receive the IV.


Nike Set to Raise Wages After Outcry

Nike's internal review of pay practices has concluded and the result is that over 7,000 Nike employees will be getting raises. Earlier this year, top executives departed in protest of the pay practices and workplace misconduct, and the chief executive, Mark Parker, pledged the review of the pay practices and apologized for missing the "signs of discontent" in the company. Nike's actions are rare in the corporate world and illustrate how other companies can tackle issues in their pay practices and address problems in the workplace.


National Basketball Association Power Brokers Gather with No Men Allowed

A recent study found that the National Basketball Association had "the highest percentage of women working at the league office and with individual teams," placing it ahead of the NFL and Major League Baseball. This was evident when a group of more than 60 executives met in Las Vegas this month who were all women. Women are not just working in the league office, however; in the summer league, women have been refereeing games, drawing up plays as assistants, and crunching the numbers as statisticians for teams. The spirit of the women in the NBA has been one of bringing everyone together in the industry, helping, and empowering each other.


Jones Says Cowboys Will Require Players to Stand for Anthem

The owner of the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones, announced that he will require all of the Cowboys to stand during the national anthem, regardless of the NFL's policy on the issue. The NFL in May announced that if a player was not going to stand for the national anthem, that player could remain in the locker room until just before the beginning of the game, but the NFL rescinded the policy last week after the players filed a grievance and threatened legal action. While negotiations remain ongoing, Jones was not going to wait for the players and the NFL to strike a deal.


International Olympic Committee Tells US to Clean Up Doping

On Thursday, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told the United States that it must fight against doping before "putting athletes from other countries under threat of punishment for breaking U.S. law." The IOC told Congress to pass a bill to crack down on performance-enhancing drugs and name it after Grigory Rodchenkov, a former anti-doping chief in Russia, who became a whistleblower as depicted in the film "Icarus". The IOC also encouraged the United States government to join The International Partnership against Corruption in Sport, where the IOC has worked with other major governments to stop doping and corruption in all sports.


Mesut Ozil Quits German National Team, Citing Racism

One of Germany biggest soccer stars, Mesut Ozil, has quit the national soccer team. He claimed that it was due to racism and "double standards in the treatment of people with Turkish roots," and also comes just weeks after he posed for a picture with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a strongman president that has consolidated power in recent years in Turkey. Following the publication of the picture, some in Germany questioned Ozil's loyalty to Germany. Ozil, however, noted that he was not being treated equally with Germans, as former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus met with Russian President Vladimir Putin with little attention.


Ethiopia and Eritrea to Play First Soccer Match in Two Decades

In August, in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, Ethiopia and Eritrea are set to play a friendly soccer match just weeks after the 20-year-old war between the two east African states came to an end. The match is part of an effort to bring the countries peacefully together, which was furthered last week when Ethiopia's national carrier Ethiopia Airlines made its first flight to Asmara in two decades and was received by dancers waving flags and flowers.


Cristiano Ronaldo Settles Tax Dispute With Spain

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has agreed to pay $22 million in back taxes and fines after reaching a deal with Spanish tax authorities on the undeclared earnings that he received from advertising contracts. The settlement comes as he is switching from playing Spanish soccer at Real Madrid to Italian soccer in Torino at the team Juventus. His transfer from club to club earned him a fee of $110 million. As part of the deal with Spanish tax authorities, he agreed to serve a two-year prison sentence, but Spanish law waives the prison time if the offender is a first-timer. Ronaldo is not the only player to have a run-in with the Spanish tax authorities: Lionel Messi of Barcelona was sentenced to 21 months in prison (first-time offender as well) and had to pay back taxes plus interest to the government in 2016.



Daily News Cuts Newsroom in Half

Tronc, the media company that bought The Daily News last year, laid off half the newsroom staff and the editor in chief this week. The Daily News, which was once the largest-circulation paper in the country, is undergoing significant changes: Robert York, a media executive who has worked in San Diego for most of his career, is prepared to replace the chief executive of the newspaper. The Daily News had lost millions of dollars in recent years, as fewer people bought the paper form of the newspaper, cutting into the advertising revenues and leading the paper to also adopt a subscription digital service.


White House Bars CNN Reporter From Presidential Event

CNN journalist Kaitlan Collins was barred from attending a public appearance in the Rose Garden by President Trump. The administration announced that her exclusion was owing to her asking "inappropriate" questions earlier in the day at the end of a photo opportunity at the White House. She was heard asking after a photo opportunity, amidst the other questions from reporters: "Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?" Then: "Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors?" Journalists roundly criticized the administration's move, citing it as a hallmark of authoritarianism.


Les Moonves Faces Inquiry Over Misconduct Allegations

One of the most powerful people in the media business and chief executive of the CBS Corporation, Leslie Moonves, is facing an investigation after reports emerged of him sexually harassing six women. CBS shares fell by more than 6% on Friday after reports came out that The New Yorker's Ronan Farrow was going to publish an article detailing the allegations. The board of directors has vowed to conduct an investigation. Moonves, who collects $69.3 million a year, has been known as the one person that transformed CBS from last place in the ratings to being the most-watched television network. He acknowledged that he may have made advances that made some women uncomfortable, but always abided by the principal of "'no' means 'no'" and never misused his "position to harm or hinder anyone's career."


Anti-Breitbart Twitter Account Operators Revealed

A Twitter account called Sleeping Giants began shortly after the 2016 election. It urged people to collect screenshots of advertisements on Breitbart's website and question brands about their support of the conservative website. While the account was anonymous, conservative news and opinion website The Daily Caller has revealed the identity of the founder to be Matt Rivitz, a freelance copywriter in San Francisco. He acknowledged publicly that he operates the site with another freelance copywriter and marketing consultant, with the aid of anonymous contributors. The aim of the site was to undermine support for Breitbart by pressuring advertisers, but the site's effectiveness led to scrutiny and attention from conservatives, making his anonymity harder to preserve.


Google Shrugs Off $5.1 Billion Fine with Big Quarter

Alphabet, Google's parent company, announced that in the most recent quarter, it made $3.2 billion in profits even after paying a record $5.1 billion fee to the European Union for "abusing its dominance in the smartphone market." Its stock rose 3.5%, and Google has said that it is going back to focusing on selling advertisements across the internet. This quarter echoes one from last year when the European Union fined Google $2.7 billion for "unfairly favoring its comparison-shopping service in its search results", but Google still made a profit of $3.5 billion.


Amazon's Facial Recognition Wrongly Identifies 28 Lawmakers

Amazon had received scrutiny in recent weeks as news organizations reported that the company had developed facial recognition software and provided it to police departments and other organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reported that the facial recognition technology incorrectly identified African-American and Latino members of Congress as being people in 25,000 publicly available mugshots. The error rate was a staggering 5% among legislators. By the afternoon that the ACLU announced its findings, Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon, had received a letter from legislators stating that there were serious questions about whether law enforcement should be using the software at this time.


New York Moves to Kick Spectrum Out of State

New York State's Public Service Commission, at the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, has ordered Charter Communications to leave the state and hand its business over to a different company after it failed to comply with the terms of its 2016 merger with Time Warner Cable. The company has said that Cuomo's actions are politically motivated, given that the election is approaching, and he wants to be seen as tough on big business. The Commission has ordered that Charter must file a plan within 60 days to find a replacement provider. It is expected that Charter will challenge the order.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 29, 2018 2:11 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Center for Art Law Case Updates.

The next post in this blog is 'Blurred Lines' Verdict Affirmed: Has the Sky Fallen?.

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