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September 3, 2018

Week In Review

By Nick Crudele
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

United Nations Says Rohingya Purge Is Genocide

The United Nations (UN) declared that the mass killing of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar is genocide. The Myanmar army generals and commanders carrying out the genocide should face trial for their actions, according to an investigation by UN experts. More than 700,000 Muslims have fled their homes as the government's Buddhist-majority security force has waged a military campaign against what the government claims are Rohingya militants.


Judge Blocks 3D Gun Blueprints From Being Released

A federal judge extended an earlier ruling that the blueprints for a 3-D printed gun cannot be published over the internet until a lawsuit trying to stop its publication is resolved. Nineteen states attorney generals and Washington, D.C. argue that 3-D printed guns are difficult to detect and trace and are a threat to national safety. Judge Robert S. Lasnik of the District Court in Seattle wrote that First Amendment rights "are dwarfed by the irreparable harms the states are likely to suffer if the existing restrictions are withdrawn and that, over all, the public interest strongly supports maintaining the status quo through the pendency of this litigation." Despite the judge's orders, the self-described crypto-anarchist who owns the plans said that he would instead send them to buyers in the mail for whatever they are willing to pay.


Senate Confirms Justice Department Veteran to Lead Civil Division

Joseph H. Hunt was confirmed by the Senate to lead the Justice Department's civil division. Hunt, who has served as an attorney in the Justice Department for nearly 20 years, was confirmed despite the fact that he had served as chief of staff to the embattled attorney general Jeff Sessions. Hunt helped guide the Trump administration through the firing of James Comey as the F.B.I. director and the drafting of the president's travel bans.


Hurricane Maria Death Toll Raised in Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rican government raised its official Hurricane Maria death toll to 2,975, which is 46 times larger than described previously. The new toll includes people who died from storm related deaths, as well as those killed during the storm.


Senate Considers Renaming Building After McCain

The Senate is weighing whether it should rename the Russell Senate Building to honor the late Senator John McCain. McCain's name would replace Senator Richard B. Russell Jr's name. Russell, a New Deal Democrat, led the filibuster that almost killed the Civil Rights Act, a show of defiance that underscored his strident support of racial segregation and white supremacy.


Trumps "Flippers" View Not Allowed at Trial

A defense lawyer, during his closing arguments in a routine drug trial in Federal District Court in Manhattan, questioned the credibility of
one of the government's cooperating witnesses by referring to Paul Manafort's conviction and President Trump's "flippers" comment about cooperating witnesses. The attorney said the witness' testimony "should be disregarded because it's not true....You know what's funny? Yesterday, Manafort was convicted." The comment drew an immediate "objection" from the prosecutor. At a sidebar, the lawyer explained that he wanted to tell the jury about President Trump's criticism of cooperating witnesses when he called them "flippers." The judge did not allow the comments, as they were not evidence presented in the case.


Companies Feel the Squeeze of New Immigration Limits

The Trump administration is constricting the flow of foreign workers into the country by limiting the number of legal arrivals. The government is denying more work visas, asking for additional information, and delaying approvals more frequently than in the past, which hospitals, hotels, technology companies, and other businesses say are hindering them from filling jobs with the foreign workers they need.


Unions Still Fear Tighter Labor Rules

While the Trump administration seemed to suffer a setback when a judge rebuffed its efforts to impose tighter labor rules in federal agencies, the judge largely found fault with the means by which it had acted, and not with the ends it was pursuing - that is, to make it easier to fire federal employees and limit the power of their unions. Workers and union officials are therefore bracing for the administration's next legal moves.


Internet Companies Try to Make Privacy Laws On Their Own Terms

In the face of mounting regulations on privacy from Europe and California, Internet companies are lobbying Washington to have a say in any U.S. federal privacy laws. Companies like Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft are lobbying the Trump administration and other policy makers to draft legislation to overrule California's law and put into place a friendlier law.


Tariffs on Canadian Paper Overturned

The U.S. International Trade Commission, an American government agency that reviews unfair trade practices, overturned tariffs on Canadian newsprint, saying that American paper producers are not harmed by newsprint imports. The decision eliminates tariffs that have been in effect since January. The Commission said it "determined that a U.S. industry is not materially injured or threatened with material injury by reason of imports of uncoated groundwood paper from Canada."


China Withholding Deadly Influenza Samples

The Chinese government is withholding samples of a rapidly evolving and potentially deadly influenza virus which the United States could use to develop vaccines and treatments. Normally, such exchanges are routine under rules established by the WHO, but as the US and China spar over trade, there are worries that the exchange of medical supplies and information could slow or stop, threatening the preparedness for the next biological threat.


Nicaraguan Government Accused of Rights Violations

The United Nations accused Nicaragua's government of turning a blind eye while armed mobs rounded up, raped and tortured protesters. The report cited disproportionate use of force and extrajudicial killings by the police, disappearances, widespread arbitrary detentions, and the use of torture and sexual violence in detention centers. Nicaragua said the report ignored violence aimed at overthrowing a democratically elected government.


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


Ninth Circuit Dismisses Copyright Infringement Claim

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against Thomas Gonzales by a company that holds the copyrights to the 2015 Adam Sandler movie "The Cobbler". The company accused Gonzales of downloading the movie illegally. The court said Cobbler's direct infringement claim failed because the only connection between Gonzales and the infringement was the internet service subscription. Although Cobbler's allegations fit the definition of infringement, they weren't supported by an independent investigation and were not "enough to raise a right to relief above a speculative level." The court said that Cobbler had to prove that Gonzales actively encouraged or induced copyright infringement.


Hollywood Strives for Diversity Among its Writers

Television executives are trying to diversify their writers' rooms amid heightened scrutiny and in the wake of #OscarsSoWhite and other controversies. Diverse shows and storylines have also stoked demand because many of these new series have people of color and women as lead characters and a desire to find the next "Empire" or "Jane the Virgin".


Disney Reaches Deal for $15 Minimum Wage

Disney reached a deal with its Walt Disney World Resort unions to hike the minimum wage for workers to at least $15 an hour by 2021. The deal, expected to be approved by the union members, would also retroactively pay workers the greater of an additional 50 cents an hour or 3% for all hours worked since September of 2017.



Shakeup at City Ballet

The New York City Ballet announced that male principal dancers Chase Finlay, Amar Ramasar, and Zachary Catazaro, would not be performing in the coming season. A statement by the Ballet's board said the company had "received a letter alleging inappropriate communications made via personal text and email by three members of the company." After an investigation by the company it was "determined that each man had violated the norms of conduct that New York City Ballet expects from its employees."


Carnegie Library Archivist Accused of Stealing $8 Million Worth of Books

An archivist in charge of the rare books collection at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh was arrested on charges that he and a book dealer stole about 300 books and other artifacts worth about $8 million over two decades. Their arrests last month sent a shudder across the rare books industry, a niche world based on trust, where confidantes are currency and handshake deals are commonplace.


"Queer Museum" To Reopen in Brazil

The "Queer Museum" exhibition, which closed last year after much controversy and heated debates, will reopen in a public park in Rio de Janeiro. The exhibit featured such works as a painting of the Virgin Mary cradling a monkey and sacramental wafers with words like "vagina" and "penis" written on them, and sparked national debates about freedom of expression and what qualifies as art.


Jewish Heirs Challenge Lost Art Foundation

The German Lost Art Foundation, a database of art likely looted by the Nazis, is being criticized by the heirs of a Nazi victim for removing from public view some of the databases work after lobbying from several dealers. The database removed works by Austrian artist Egon Schiele, which were believed to be owned by Viennese performer Fritz Grunbaum and confiscated by the Nazis after he was sent to a concentration camp.


Erdogan Statue Removed in Germany

A golden statue of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan installed in a square in the German city of Wiesbaden has been removed after outcries and security concerns. The 4-meter-tall statue depicted Erdogan with his right hand up in the air, drawing comparisons to a statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The statue was erected as part of the Wiesbaden Biennale art festival. Germany has a significant Turkish minority and some people tried to deface the statue, vandalizing it with an expletive and the words "Turkish Hitler."



3 Killed at Madden Video Game Tournament

A video game tournament in Miami turned deadly when one of the contestants killed two other contestants and himself. The Madden Tournament
turned deadly when David Katz shot fellow contestants Taylor Robertson, Eli Clayton, and 11 other contestants after he was eliminated from the tournament.


Arbitrator Denies the National Football League's Request to Dismiss Kaepernick's Collusion Case

An arbitrator declined to dismiss Colin Kaepernick's collusion case against the National Football League after the latter's request for a summary judgment.



First Black Woman to Cover White House to Be Honored

Alice Allison Dunnigan, the first African American Women to report on the White House, will be honored with a bronze statue at the Newseum in Washington D.C. Dunnigan was the first accredited black women to cover the White House, later became the head of the Associated Negro Press Washington Bureau, and spent 14 years filing stories for 112 African American newspapers.


Ally of South Korea's Moon Conspired to Rig Opinion

A special counsel in South Korea found that a political ally of President Moon Jae-in conspired with online bloggers to illegally influence public opinion ahead of Moon's election last year. However, the special counsel found no evidence that Moon was involved.


September 4, 2018

The Real Reason Why Artists Like Prince And Aretha Franklin Die Without A Will

By Daniel Scott
Daniel Scott

As if the death of the Queen of Soul was not tragic enough, then came the news that Aretha Franklin died without a will. How could this happen, again? Franklin did not die suddenly or unexpectedly -- she was 76 years old and her health had been declining for some time. Further, another music icon, Prince, died only two years earlier without having any will or estate plan, and his estate has been a mess ever since. Shouldn't she have learned her lesson and prioritized getting her affairs in order?

The reality is, there is a long list of famous people who died without having a will, and a recent study shows that 60% of all Americans currently do not have wills. Why? Some will say that the reason is simply that artists do not want to think about their deaths, that they feel a sense of immortality, and that in terms of priorities, planning for death is just not at the top of the list and feels like it can always be taken care of tomorrow. While there is some truth to these assertions, the problem is actually much more complex. In fact, the real reason why artists like Prince and Franklin die without wills has less to do with the artists failing to act and more to do with how we -- legal, tax and financial experts, as well as other professional advisors -- are addressing the issue. To see the three things "we" are doing wrong, visit: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielscott1/2018/08/29/the-real-reason-why-artists-like-prince-and-aretha-franklin-die-without-a-will/#7e41b9597c05

September 10, 2018

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Kavanaugh Hearings Draw Controversy

President Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, has faced pointed questions regarding the power of presidents to obstruct investigations and the issue of a president being indicted or being subpoenaed by special counsel Robert Mueller. The opening of his confirmation hearing was disrupted by several protesters shouting, each of which was arrested and removed from the hearing room. Throughout the questioning, he declined to answer "hypothetical questions", as he claimed that it would be inappropriate to offer public views on cases that may come before the Supreme Court if he were approved.





Trump's Justice Department Redefines Whose Civil Rights to Protect

The Justice Department's civil rights division has focused on protecting classes of people often the subject of discrimination or mistreatment: immigrants, African-Americans, and the LGBTQ communities. Under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department has switched its focus to supporting state laws that remove thousands of people from voter rolls and eased its supervision of police departments that have a record of violating citizens' rights. The Trump administration has framed this shift as part of the changing notion of equality and protection of civil rights.


In Immigration Courts, It is Judges vs. Justice Department

The Trump administration has found an unexpected opponent in its policy on immigration: immigration judges. Immigration judges have objected to the changes that have come from the Justice Department as the backlog of cases has exponentially grown, since the Trump administration began implementing its hard-line policies on immigration. While sitting judges are prohibited from speaking about political issues, retired judges are not, and retired immigration judges have come out against the Trump administration's policies as not being "outcome-oriented."


Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans with Rebel Venezuelan Officers

According to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander, the Trump administration held secret talks with military officers who were planning to overthrow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government. For many countries in Latin America (Brazil, Chile, Nicaragua, and Cuba included), the actions by the Trump administration fit into a long history of American intervention in the region. The White House declined to answer detailed questions about the talks with the rebels, but did disclose that it is important to engage in "dialogue with all Venezuelans who demonstrate a desire for democracy" and it wants to "bring positive change to a country that has suffered so much under Maduro."


Stirred by Sexual Abuse Report, States Take On Catholic Church

Attorneys general throughout the country are beginning to open inquiries into Catholic dioceses in the wake of the grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailing abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of priests over the course of decades. Catholics are demanding more transparency from the church, and attorneys general in Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, and New Mexico have announced that they will investigate sex abuse by Catholic priests in their states and have already began asking dioceses for records. These actions come as Pope Francis is dealing with a crisis playing out around the world of abuse by priests.


DeVos Punts to Congress on Federally Funded Guns for Schools

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has punted to Congress the issue of whether states may use federal funds to purchase firearms for schools. Conservatives applauded the decision, as it allows local school districts to make the determination, but Democrats have come out against the decision and characterized it as an "abdication of the department's core function to help districts navigate the federal bureaucracy." It is expected that the budget negotiations in Congress will have an amendment dealing with the funds for firearms.


Trump Blasts Sessions for Charging GOP Members Before Midterms

On Twitter, President Trump has chastised Attorney General Jeff Sessions after the Justice Department indicted two Republican congressmen, as the indictments may endanger the Republicans' chances of holding the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections. Some analysts and Republicans have found the tweet by Trump to be not commentary, but an order, and one that may become part of an impeachment proceeding against the president.



Democrats, Eyeing a Majority, Prepare an Investigative Onslaught

Senior Democrats, rather than posture toward impeaching President Trump, have sought to pursue investigations into the Trump administration, including the potential of collusion with Russia, obstruction of justice, and what role Trump may have played in silencing two women that accused him of affairs. Congressional Republicans are fearful that the results may lead to impeachment of Trump or a referendum on Trump's policies and a Democratic wave in Congress in the midterm elections in November.


Mueller Will Accept Some Written Answers From Trump as Roger Stone Associate Subpoenaed

A political commentator and conspiracy theorist, Jerome Corsi, has received a subpoena from special counsel Robert Mueller. It is expected that Corsi will be questioned regarding his discussions with Roger Stone relating to the publication in 2016 from WikiLeaks of material damaging to Hillary Clinton's campaign. Mueller's team has announced this week that they will accept some written answers from President Trump's team relating to the issue of collusion with Russia. It remains unclear whether or when Trump may sit with Mueller's team for an interview.



In 'Fear,' Bob Woodward Pulls Back the Curtain on the White House

Noted journalist Bob Woodward's new book, "Fear: Trump in the White House," is set to be released tomorrow. Extensive details in the book have already found their way to the pages of The New York Times and other major newspapers and magazines, and the details have been lurid. There have been reports of the back-stabbing among staffers and the unusual habits and statements of the President. Woodward's book delivers the background expected from one of the top journalists who is known for his extensive fact-checking.


Trump Lashes Out After Reports of 'Quiet Resistance' By Staff

Following a bombshell Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, President Trump has lashed out and vowed to find the person who sent it. The author of the Op-Ed stated that he or she is a senior Trump administration official, is part of a "quiet resistance" to the President's more dangerous policies, and is actively taking steps to stop the President from effectuating his agenda. Several top officials in Trump's cabinet have denied authoring the Op-Ed, including Vice President Mike Pence, who some suspected given his previous use of the word "lodestar," which appeared in the Op-Ed piece.



Ex-Trump Campaign Advisor Sentenced to 14 Days in Prison

A former Trump campaign advisor, George Papadopoulos, has been sentenced to 14 days in prison on charges of lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians throughout the campaign. During his sentencing, he said he was "deeply embarrassed and ashamed" of his actions, but vowed that he is "a good man who is eager for redemption." Prosecutors sought a maximum sentence of six months, but the 14 days is more than probation, which was the sentence Papadopoulos and his attorneys sought.


Michael Cohen Offers to Rip Up Deal for Stormy Daniels' Silence on Trump

Late Friday night, Michael Cohen made an offer to tear up a nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels. This would free her from the contract and allow her to speak about the affair without fear of financial penalty, but it would also free President Trump from having to testify at a deposition about it. Michael Avenatti, the attorney representing Stormy Daniels, accused Cohen of "playing games and trying to protect Donald Trump."


Court Says No Time to Redraw North Carolina Maps Before Election

A court has ruled that there is insufficient time to redraw North Carolina's congressional maps ahead of the November midterm elections, even though the districts as currently drawn are illegal. The district lines were drawn by Republicans following the 2010 census. The court's ruling comes at a time when Democrats are campaigning throughout the country to pick up at least 23 seats in the House of Representatives and gain a majority in that chamber of Congress. The three-judge panel ruled that imposing a schedule for redrawing the districts would "unduly interfere with the State's electoral machinery and likely confuse voters and depress turnout."


California Supreme Court Holds That Conflict Invalidates Firm's Engagement Letter But Not Ability to Get Paid

The Supreme Court of California has voided an attorney's retainer agreement that contained a conflict waiver and an arbitration clause but opted not to disgorge the attorney of the fees earned through representing the client, J-M Manufacturing Company. The attorney Sheppard Mullin entered into an attorney-client relationship with J-M Manufacturing Company and put in a waiver of conflicts provision in the retainer agreement. While representing his client in a qui tam action, a company, South Tahoe, reported that Mullin had a conflict of interest and demanded his withdrawal from the case. Litigation ensued, and the Supreme Court of California has remanded the matter to the trial court for a determination of the appropriate amount of attorneys' fees that Mullin earned in his representation of J-M Manufacturing Company.


Lawyers Say They Face Persistent Racial and Gender Bias at Work

On Thursday, the American Bar Association released the results of a study showing that women and people of color continue to face barriers in the legal profession when it comes to being hired, promoted, and compensated. Women of color in particular reported the highest levels of bias and that they were not given equal access to the "high-quality" assignments that white men received. Women of all races reported having to "walk a tightrope" in their behavior, as they faced pressure to act a certain way and to do more of the "office housework", such as taking notes during meetings and ordering lunch for colleagues; hours that are not billable.


Amazon's Antitrust Antagonist Has Breakthrough Idea

Lina Khan may be one of Amazon's greatest menaces. She had an article published in the Yale Law Journal last year focusing on the antitrust aspects to Amazon's business. Khan wrote that Amazon is amassing power in numerous industries, increasing control over the economy, and is allowed to by antitrust standards of the 1970s, which valued prices and consumer happiness above all else. Khan's article became renowned for its new take on antitrust law and has spawned a flurry of articles in response. Whether antitrust laws will change remains to be seen, particularly as Amazon and other technology companies have extraordinary influence in Congress and lobbyist circles.


Bloomberg Forum in Beijing is Cancelled

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire media executive and former New York City mayor, has cancelled an event that was set to be held in Beijing in November. The event has apparently moved to Singapore because of the trade dispute between China and the United States, but the China Center for International Economic Exchanges chalked up the move to a conflict with "a number of large-scale events." The Trump administration is still considering enacting another round of tariffs this week.


Two Russians Named in Spy Poisoning

British detectives have announced that they identified two Russians who came into England under fake names and appear to have been involved in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Britain has one of the most extensive surveillance networks in the world, and detectives with the help of "super-recognizers," humans with a gift for recognition, reviewed hour after hour of surveillance footage to find the two suspects. The men are believed to have returned to Russia after the poisoning.


Greek Court Rules for Russia in Fight Over Cybercrime Suspect

The Greek Supreme Court has ruled that Aleksandr Vinnik, a Russian, may return to Russia rather than be extradited to the United States as a potential witness in the investigation into Russian hacking in the 2016 presidential election. The federal government has accused him of running a Bitcoin exchange that laundered potentially as much as $4 billion in illegal funds. He has been in a Greek jail since July 2017 after having being arrested while on vacation.


India Gay Sex Ban is Struck Down

On Thursday, India's Supreme Court struck down a colonial-era law banning consensual gay sex. The eloquent, far-reaching decision is a monumental victory for gay rights, as the Justices of the Court went further than to decriminalize gay sex: they ruled that gay Indians must be accorded all the protections in India's Constitution. While swaths of India's population are extremely conservative, activists hope that this victory will lead to more progress.


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


U.S. Accuses North Korea of Plot to Hurt Economy as Spy Is Charged In Sony Hack

The Justice Department has charged one North Korean, Park Jin-hyok, for computer fraud and wire fraud in relation to the 2014 hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment. While the charges were just unsealed, they were filed under seal in the days leading up to Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jung-un in June. While he was the only one charged in the hacking, the complaint described a team of hackers that are part of North Korea's intelligence agency and may have operated out of China or other Asian countries to hack into Sony, Britain's health care system, and Bangladesh's central bank to steal $81 million.


Showbiz Lawyers Question 'Handshake' Contracts

Gentlemen's agreements pervade Hollywood, and talent lawyers are known by those agreements to receive 5% of their clients' pay. Johnny Depp won a recent court battle against his former attorney, Jake Bloom, by having a judge rule that he may void the oral agreement with his Bloom. Now, Depp is seeking a full refund of the approximately $30 million he paid Bloom since 1999. This development is leading many lawyers in the industry to question whether they should seek a retroactive written agreement from clients despite the industry norm. It is likely that the matter between Depp and Bloom will go to trial next year and that Bloom will be able to recover, according to quantum meruit, a reasonable fee for his services.


Les Moonves Said to Be Negotiating Possible Exit From CBS

The chief executive of CBS, Les Moonves, is exiting the corporation and may be getting a payout while going out the door. There have been multiple allegations of sexual harassment against him, many of which were recounted in detail in the New Yorker magazine through reporting by Ronan Farrow. His departure is likely to change the face of the CBS Corporation, as he was also part of a boardroom battle over the control of CBS. With his departure, it is unclear who will take his place and how merger discussions may be affected.


Dorothy's Ruby Slippers Were Stolen 13 Years Ago and Have Been Found

The FBI announced on Tuesday that it recovered a pair of stolen ruby slippers that Judy Garland wore in "The Wizard of Oz" 13 years after the slippers were stolen from the Judy Garland Museum. A private donor offered a $1 million reward for locating the slippers, and leads came pouring into the FBI regarding the whereabouts of the slippers, but they were recovered in a sting operation in Minneapolis.


Prosecutors Decline to Charge Kevin Spacey and Steven Seagal in Sex Abuse Cases

Prosecutors at the Los Angeles County district attorney's office have announced that they will not file criminal charges against actors Kevin Spacey, Steven Seagal, and Anthony Anderson after sexual abuse allegations arose separately for the three actors. The office has declined to file charges against the three based on the statute of limitations. While California has removed the statute of limitations for some sex crimes, it is not retroactive and only applies after January 1, 2017.


New Spotify Initiative Makes the Big Record Labels Nervous

Spotify has begun experimenting with a novel arrangement with artists: direct licensing deals that give the artists a way onto the platform without having to go to a major label. Thus far, the deals have been mostly with less famous artists, but big record labels are concerned, as it may lead to a change in an industry that they have dominated for decades. Spotify would offer artists a bigger financial cut, ownership of their recordings, and allow them to license their songs to other streaming companies.


WarnerMedia Unveils New Diversity Protocols for Movies and Shows

With AT&T as its new parent company, WarnerMedia has pledged that all divisions of the company would use their "best efforts to ensure that diverse actors and crew members are considered for film, television and other projects, and to work with directors and producers who also seek to promote greater diversity and inclusion." The policy does not require Warner filmmakers and show runners to meet diversity benchmarks with cast and crew, which advocates had encouraged, but the policy is meaningful, as it is a commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in an industry that has been slow to embrace those principles.


Roy Moore Sues Sacha Baron Cohen and Showtime Seeking $95 Million

Following Roy Moore's appearance on the Showtime show, "Who is America?" starring Sacha Baron Cohen, he has filed suit against the network and actor for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud. He accused Cohen, CBS, and Showtime of leading him to be interviewed and be "falsely painted, portrayed, mocked and with malice defamed . . . as a sex offender, which he is not." However, he conceded in the complaint that he did sign a release to his rights in being interviewed but that the release was obtained through fraud and was void and inoperative.


Dolores O'Riordan of Cranberries Died Accidentally

The lead singer of the group The Cranberries, Dolores O'Riordan, died from drowning after heavy drinking. She was found with no evidence of self-harm or injuries, but her blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit for driving in Britain, according to a London coroner.


Modeling in the #TimesUp Era

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, ahead of New York Fashion Week, released a pre-show missive calling for models to be protected in the #TimesUp era as never before. The missive calls for private changing areas to prevent predators from approaching models while they are changing or naked. There have been multiple scandals involving sexual assault and harassment in the fashion industry from photographers to stylists, and the #TimesUp movement has sought to protect models.


'Crazy Rich Asians' May Not Fly in China

As the first major Hollywood release in 25 years with an all-Asian cast, "Crazy Rich Asians" was a hit in the United States and topped the box office in North America for three consecutive weekends. It is unclear whether it will become a hit in China, however: China's strict quota system permits only a limited number of foreign films to be imported each year. Given China's "core socialist values," some analysts expect that the government will not permit the film to be imported because it depicts "profligate spending and vast wealth inequality."



Double Blow to Brazil Museum: Neglect, Then Flames

Many Brazilians had feared that the worst would happen one day, given the flammable plastic on the room, the uncovered wires, and the evidence of jury-rigged wiring. On Tuesday, a fire broke out at the National Museum of Brazil and destroyed the 200-year-old institution, leaving little left of the 20-million-item collection and serving as a symbol of a nation in disrepair. As recently as in July, citizens filed a complaint with the federal prosecutor's office noting the disrepair of the building, but what steps the museum took, if any, are not known. Prosecutors had warned the museum and two different federal government agencies of the risk of fire a month before the fire broke out, but there was no immediate action.



City Ballet and Chase Finlay Sued by Woman Who Says Nude Photos Were Shared

Alexandra Waterbury filed a suit in New York State Supreme Court against the New York City Ballet and her ex-boyfriend Chase Finlay for sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of her taken without her knowledge or consent. Finlay resigned when the company began questioning him regarding Waterbury's allegations. Her lawsuit also claims that she was not alone in being victimized: other female dancers were the subject of text exchanges that included lewd and misogynistic language among members of the company and a least one patron.


Gallerist Pleads Guilty to Filing False Tax Returns

Mary Boone, a veteran gallerist in the New York art world, pleaded guilty to filing false federal income tax returns, according to law enforcement officials. She used business funds to pay for personal expenses, including remodeling her apartment, and then claimed those personal expenses as business deductions, making her profit of $3.7 million appear to be a mere $52,000 profit in 2011. The United States Attorney called it a shell game "with bank accounts to hide her true assets." She agreed to pay restitution and is scheduled to be sentenced in January.


Contractor Sues Glenstone Museum Foundation for $24 Million

One month before the unveiling of the revamped Glenstone Museum, a contractor has sued the foundation that runs the institution and is seeking over $24 million in damages. The contractor has accused the foundation of breach of contract and mismanagement, as it added a "torrent of changes" causing disruptions and delays for the work. The museum is set to open on October 4th, and the foundation has not commented on the pending litigation.


The Paul Taylor Company Without Paul Taylor

The modern dance visionary Paul Taylor has died, but he had meticulously planned how his company would proceed after his death. The organization now is comprised of two dance companies, an archive, and a school, and Michael Novak is at the head of the foundation. In May, Taylor began training Novak to head the foundation in his stead. This differs from the approach of others, such as Merce Cunningham, who made plans to dissolve the dance company after a final, two-year tour, and Martha Graham, whose legacy ended up in litigation.


Frank Lloyd Wright House for Sale

A Frank Lloyd Wright home in Phoenix is now for sale for nearly $13 million after being saved from demolition and a promise to become an architectural school. The plans fell through for the conversion into an architectural school based on fund-raising concerns, but neighbors had expressed concerns about having a nonresidential use of the property in a neighborhood.


New 'Popular' Oscar Scrapped by Film Academy for 2019

A recent decision by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been reversed. There will not be a category for achievement in "popular" films, but the Academy is likely to explore other options for how to "honor excellence across a wider scope of films" than is currently happening with the awards. When the decision was initially announced, it prompted backlash, as there was no detail as to what would constitute a "popular" film.


Burberry to Stop Burning Clothing and Other Goods It Cannot Sell

This summer, Burberry disclosed that it had burned tens of millions of dollars of unsold goods to maintain "brand value." On Thursday, it announced that it would no longer burn unsold goods. This is despite the fact that burning unwanted items is widespread in the retail and consumer industry to preserve high-end prices. Burberry's actions may be to meant to impress its younger shoppers, as they tend more than older generations to make purchasing decisions based on ethical and environmental concerns.


Church Statues Get an Eye-Popping Paint Job

In the Asturias region of Spain, a recent repainting of figures has drawn unwanted attention. A local shopkeeper obtained permission from the clergy to repaint several figures from the 15th Century in a chapel, and the result: St. Anne has fuchsia lips, black eyeliners, and a bright dress. The Virgin Mary has turquoise hair, and baby Jesus looks akin to a Playmobil figure. It is not yet known whether the new paint can be removed and the original paint recovered.



USA Gymnastics Chief Forced Out

The head of USA Gymnastics, Kerry Perry, was forced to resign over the weekend by the United States Olympic Committee after holding the job for less than a year and after having dealt with the recent sexual abuse scandal. Senator Richard Blumenthal released a statement, admonishing Perry for her "willful and heartless blindness to the concerns of survivors who were abused by Larry Nassar." USA Gymnastics is expected to find an interim chief executive while a search committee looks for a permanent replacement.


The National Football League Struggles to Handle Issue of Tackling

The National Football League (NFL), in an effort to reduce concussions, adopted a new rule prohibiting any player from lowering his head to make contact with an opponent. Violation of the rule may lead to a 15-yard penalty, an ejection, a fine, or a suspension. The new rule comes as the NFL struggles to deal with the fact that players crashing into each other is both a reason many enjoy watching the sport and apparently a proximate cause of the brain disease known as CTE that has led to the death of several players.


Nike Returns to Familiar Strategy With Kaepernick Ad Campaign

Nike has long relied on controversy in keeping an image of "edgy youthfulness," and that has continued with the revealing of its new ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick, the polarizing former NFL quarterback. The controversy surrounding Kaepernick began in 2016, when he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games to protest "racism, police brutality and social injustice." The latest ad campaign has prompted some to burn or discard their Nike equipment, presenting a problem for the NFL, as it is a major partner of Nike's and is being sued by Kaepernick for colluding not to give him a contract because of his actions during the national anthem.



New Yorker Festival Pulls Steve Bannon as Headliner Following High-Profile Dropouts

President Trump's former strategist Stephen Bannon will not appear at this year's New Yorker Festival. The magazine announced this change to its staff by email last week after several high-profile headliners vowed not to appear if Bannon was going to be invited, including John Mulaney, Judd Apatow, Jack Antonoff, and Jim Carrey.


NBC News and Ronan Farrow Trade Jabs Over Weinstein Reporting

NBC News and Ronan Farrow, the reporter who broke the Harvey Weinstein story in The New Yorker magazine, traded jabs last week. Farrow accused the news network of impeding the reporting of the story, which caused him to go to The New Yorker magazine for publication of an award-winning series centered on Weinstein's decades of sexual abuse and harassment in the industry. Farrow called NBC's handling of the matter "a massive breach of journalistic ethics", as he claims it attempted to kill the investigation into Weinstein.


'Five Eyes' Nations Quietly Demand Government Access to Encrypted Data

The Trump administration has warned technology firms that it and Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (the "Five Eyes" nations) will demand "lawful access" to "encrypted emails, text messages and voice communications," and even threatened to compel compliance if the technology companies refuse to provide access. The issue has been a carry-over from the Obama administration, as criminals have taken to communicating in encrypted formats that are not easily accessed by intelligence agencies. On this issue, Congress has not shown that it is ready to take on technology companies and legislate on the issue of whether companies, such as Apple, Facebook, and Google, should be required to provide government investigators to all communications in their products and services.


Facebook's Private Groups Offer Refuge to Fringe Figures

Alex Jones, the founder of InfoWars and someone who obtained fame through spreading conspiracy theories has not been banned from Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Facebook. Facebook groups have allowed fans of his and others who operate on the fringes of political discourse to gather. The groups, which are private, are safer for them to communicate, as the private groups' conversations do not disseminate into the broader Twittersphere, where it could be violating the company's policies, as happened with Twitter.



A Facebook War: Libyans Battle on Streets and Screens

Facebook has become one of the strongest tools in the arsenal of Libya's fighters. It has served as a platform for fighters to post maps and suggestions for battle plans. In July, Facebook began removing misinformation from its pages in relation to events happening in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and India as online rumors were leading to violence against ethnic minorities. Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, has defended Facebook's efforts to limit disinformation and hate speech, and it has a team of Arabic-speaking content reviewers that review posts and remove prohibited content.


What Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg Taught Congress and Vice Versa

When Jack Dorsey, the head of Twitter, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, testified before the House and Senate, they touched on some of the "deepest tech policy issues" rather than delve into apologies like some analysts feared. Their testimony highlighted the difficulty that legislators have had in dealing with the tech issues that have arisen in the past several years with Twitter, Facebook, and other social media having an outsized influence on American lives. Dorsey's testimony earned plaudits for his candor, by not appearing for the hearing appeared to be tone-deaf on the debate of how and why tech companies should be regulated.



Myanmar Sentences Reuters Journalists to Seven Years in Prison

Myanmar has sentenced Reuters journalists to seven years in prison for documenting the genocide of the Rohingya minority. The International Criminal Court ruled that it was empowered to exercise jurisdiction to investigate the deportation of the Rohingya Muslims as a crime against humanity. The United Nations has estimated 10,000 deaths, gang rapes, and widespread destruction in the 700,000 Rohingya men, women, and children traveling from Myanmar into Bangladesh beginning in 2017. Myanmar's de facto leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has not held the nation's military leaders accountable for their role in deporting the Rohingya.




As Germans Seek News, YouTube Delivers Far-Right Tirades

In more conservative parts of Germany, such as Saxony, a far-right fringe group has been growing in numbers, and many have taken to going on social media to get their news and correspond with like-minded people. YouTube has been an unexpected place for them to gather, as the platform has a recommendation system that allows it to get people to watch more videos and thus increase the company's advertisement revenues, but also brings those on the far-right together in a way that other social media platforms do not. Users looking for news may be drawn to a far-right video and be "sent down a rabbit hole of misinformation and hate," which was shown when in Germany false reports emerged that a man died trying to stop asylum seekers from molesting a local woman.


September 13, 2018

New Federal Law Imposes Reporting Requirements for U.S.-Based Foreign Media Outlets

By Barry Skidelsky, Esq.

The recently enacted John MCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 (NDAA) adds §722 to the Communications Act. It requires the filing of reports with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) by statutorily defined U.S. based foreign media outlets, including details of their legal structures and relationships, as well as of their funding sources.

All media outlets in the United States owned or controlled by foreign principals (see definitions of foreign principals and agents in the Foreign Agents Registration Act or FARA, 22 USC § 611 et seq.), including those physically located outside the U.S. who produce or distribute video programming transmitted (or intended for transmission) by a multi-channel video program distributor (MVPD) within the U.S., such as cable system operators or satellite service providers, should confirm their obligations under (and timely comply with) the new reporting obligations.

The new law responds to concerns that certain foreign governments and organizations have been using FARA's journalism or news reporting exception, which allows avoidance of otherwise applicable federal agent registration requirements that relate back to pre-World War II fears of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Soviet Union, as a mask or subterfuge to instead promote their own political agendas and to otherwise unfairly influence the American public.

Some critics of the new law, while nonetheless acknowledging legitimate American concerns, cite First Amendment free press implications and raise related fears that President Trump often seems hell-bent on labeling as "fake news" all coverage by any domestic or foreign media with which he disagrees.

Prompted by more serious and potentially subversive threats from, inter alia, Russia's RT America, China's Central Television, and Qatar's Al Jazeera -- the last of which was recently designated by the Department Of Justice (DOJ) under FARA as a foreign agent, and which faces calls for investigation into its positive promotion of terrorist organizations, such as Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as other foreign state sponsored anti-Semitic and anti-America propaganda -- the new law effectively adds the FCC (under NDAA) to the DOJ (under FARA) as another way for our federal government to require reporting from, and to monitor domestic influence by, U.S. based foreign media outlets.

The deadline for affected media outlets to submit their first reports is October 12, 2018, with subsequent reports due no less frequently than every 6 months thereafter. In turn, the FCC will make those reports available to the public and summarize them in the FCC's own periodic reports to Congress. For more information, see FCC Public Notice DA 18-911 (rel. 9/4/18) at https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-18-911A1.pdf or contact the author of this note.

Barry Skidelsky is a NYC based attorney and consultant with a diverse national practice and expertise in entertainment and media. Currently Chair of EASL, Barry is a former broadcaster, former chair of the Federal Communications Bar Association's NY chapter, and former chair of EASL's Television and Radio Committee. He can be reached at bskidelsky@mindspring.com or 212-832-4800.

September 16, 2018

Week In Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Letter Claims Attempted Assault by a Teenage Brett Kavanaugh and Kavanaugh's Accuser Comes Forward, Saying He Pinned Her on Bed and Groped Her

A letter claiming Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh assaulted a teenage girl while he was at a party in prep school was shared with Senators and federal investigators. Although the woman who wrote the letter asked that its contents not be made public, it has been learned that she claimed that Kavanaugh, who had been drinking during a high school party, pinned her on a bed, groped her, and covered her mouth to keep her from screaming. A second boy was in the room with them, and the door was locked and music turned up louder during the attack. The woman managed to get free from Kavanaugh andl left the room without further harm. Saying she thought Kavanaugh might inadvertently kill her, Christine Blasey Ford, research psychologist at Palo Alto University in Northern California, told the Washington Post that Kavanaugh "was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."



Paul Manafort Agrees to Cooperate With Special Counsel; Pleads Guilty to Reduced Charges

Paul Manafort's agreement to plead guilty to reduced charges in exchange for his full cooperation - an open-ended arrangement that requires him to answer "fully, truthfully, completely and forthrightly" questions about "any and all matters" the government wants to ask - leaves speculation open about where Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation is headed.


United Nations Chief Warns of a Dangerous Tipping Point on Climate Change

United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, claiming that climate change is the defining issue of our time, called on global leaders to rein in climate change faster than they have been. "If we do not change course by 2020," he said, "we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change." Guterres pointed to decades of studies by scientists warning that climate change will reach a point of no return, which have not yet motivated world leaders to make stronger and faster changes to their national climate policies. The next round of climate negotiations is scheduled for this year in Poland.


As Trump Embraces More Tariffs, U.S. Business Readies Public Fight

More than 85 U.S. industry groups launched a coalition - Americans for Free Trade - to mount a campaign against tariffs imposed by President Trump on billions of dollars worth of goods sold to the U.S. by the industries' overseas trading partners, which has promoted retaliation against U.S. exports. As a result, the top lobbyist for the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Nicole Vasilaros, said the group's members are weighing layoffs after costs have risen as much as 35% due to the tariffs. The anti-tariff lobbying group is headed by the National Retail Association and Farmers for Free Trade, which are placing television advertisements, hosting rallies in targeted congressional districts, and devising online persuasion communiques.



The Food and Drug Administration Targets Vaping, Alarmed by Teenage Use

The Food and Drug Administration has declared teenage "vaping" - use of electronic cigarettes - an epidemic, and is cracking down on manufacturers of the devices, as well as shops that distribute them to teenagers, such as 7-Eleven, Walgreens, Circle K, and Shell gas stations. The manufacturers have been given 60 days to prove they can keep the devices from minors, while the retailers have been fined for sales of the devices to minors.





Federal Trade Commission Hearings Add to Efforts That Threaten Tech Industry

While Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have fought regulators in Europe on privacy, antitrust, and taxes over the last decade, they have had relatively benign relations with regulators in the United States. However, the Federal Trade Commission has now opened a series of up to 20 hearings to discuss whether the agency's competition and consumer protection policies should change to limit the expansion and power of tech companies. Later this month, Congress will bring executives from top tech companies to testify on proposals for privacy laws. The Justice Department has warned it may start investigations into whether Google and other social media sites are biased against conservative voices.


Protection of Voting Rights for Minorities Has Fallen Sharply, a New Report Finds

Five years ago, the United States Supreme Court struck down the core of the 1965 Voting Rights Act (VRA). The Federal Commission on Civil Rights has now published a nearly 500-page report on voting issues, and concludes that even those parts of the VRA that remain in force have barely been enforced. Catherine E. Lhamon, who heads the Commission, called the present state of discrimination against minority voters "enduring and pernicious," and said that the report was unanimously endorsed by the Commission. There are six democrats who voted unanimously, and two republications who did not vote or left the room when voting was taking place.


As a New Hurricane Roars In, Trump Quarrels Over the Last One

While attempting to reassure Americans living along the eastern coast that the affects of Hurricane Florence would be alleviated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other government agencies' responses, President Trump first congratulated himself on the government's response to Hurricane Maria that devastated Puerto Rico in 2017. Trump then claimed that the official death toll of 3,000 from the Puerto Rican storm was a false overcount perpetrated by Democrats to make him look bad. A tweet storm of scorn was heaped on the President, news media and government officials "fact checked" the President's claims, and many pushed back at his count of 16 to 18 deaths.




$10 Million From FEMA Diverted to Pay for Immigration Detention Centers, Document Shows

Nearly $10 million from FEMA's budget was shifted to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as part of a transfer of more than $200 million from the budgets of other agencies to ICE's detention and removals use. The budget document was released by the office of Senator Jeff Merkley (D.OR), and shows that the money would come from FEMA's operations and support budget, as well as from accounts at Customs and Border Protection that pay for border fencing and technology. FEMA denies there will be any negative effect on rescue and other operations during this hurricane season.


Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever

Despite the release of hundreds of migrant children, the federal detention centers for children separated from their families grew fourfold to 12,800 in the last month, because fewer children are being released to live with sponsors or families. Many of those detained are teenagers who crossed over the border into the U.S. without their parents.


No Last Call at Trump Hotel: D.C. Board Rejects Liquor License Challenge

President Trump's International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and near the White House has been a focus of an angry protest against the President. A citizens' group with financial backing from Jerry Hirsch, an Arizona-based Republican and chairman of the Lodestar Foundation, asked the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board of the District of Columbia to review whether the president met the city's "good character" test for holding a liquor license, citing ethical breaches and "lies . . . too long to list." Ultimately, the ABC Board declined to pursue the complaint.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo Easily Defeats Cynthia Nixon in New York Primary

Governor Cuomo beat first-timer candidate actress and activist Cynthia Nixon by more than 30% points, paving the way for his election as a third term Governor. Nixon had positioned herself and her supporters as the new direction for the Democratic Party in New York and beyond.



Letitia James Makes History by Winning Attorney General Primary in New York

Letitia James, the New York City public advocate who received Governor Andrew Cuomo's endorsement, won the Democratic Primary for New York State Attorney General against three other progressive Democratic candidates. That makes her the first black candidate to win a statewide democratic primary.


Kathy Hochul Beats Back Challenge From Jumaane Williams in Lieutenant Governor Race

Kathy Hochul, the present lieutenant governor of New York, prevailed in the Democratic primary over a challenge from Jumaane Williams, a three-term New York City councilman. For the last four years under Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hochul has worked on women's rights and family issues, largely playing a ceremonial role under Cuomo, pressing and amplifying his message.


Russian Suspects in Poisoning: We Were in UK as Tourists

Two Russian men who claim to have come to Britain to visit Salisbury's Cathedral are accused by that country of actually being highly trained military agents who were sent by the Kremlin to Salisbury to smear a deadly nerve agent on the front door of a former Russian spy. Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov were both charged in absentia by Britain for trying to kill Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, with the nerve agent Novichok. The pair went on the Kremlin-funded RT satellite channel to proclaim their innocence, deny they were agents of the military intelligence service widely known as the GRU, and say they were merely tourists in the city southwest of London.


Russia Accuses Britain of Using Skripal Affair to Rally EU Allies

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Britain was using the case of poisoned former double agent Sergei Skripal to rally its European partners behind it at a time when Brexit was isolating London.


Pussy Riot Activist Hospitalized in Moscow as Fellow Members Suspect Poisoning

Pyotr Verzilov, the Pussy Riot activist who ran onto the field during the World Cup final, has been hospitalized in Moscow in what the protest group suspects was a poisoning attack. Verzilov's partner and a member of Pussy Riot herself, Veronika Nikulshina, told the Meduza website that Verzilov lost his sight, speech, and mobility, and was being treated in the toxicology wing of a hospital.


Rohingya Crisis 'Could Have Been Handled Better,' Aung San Suu Kyi Says

Since August of last year, more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring Bangladesh amid a frenzy of executions, rapes, and village burnings in the north of Rakhine State in Myanmar. International human rights groups have extensively documented the way Myanmar's military organized the bloodshed, in which at least 10,000 people were killed, according to a United Nations estimate. Speaking at an international forum in Hanoi, Vietnam, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's civilian leader, sidestepped widespread accusations that her country's military had unleashed ethnic cleansing on Rohingya Muslims. The campaign documented has been so brutal that the United Nations has recommended that top commanders be tried for genocide.


Lawmakers, Citing Muslim Camps, Ask Commerce Dept. to Limit Technology Sales to China

China has built internment camps to contain ethnic Uighurs - a Sunni Muslim Turkic-speaking minority, that are said to house more than a million members of Muslim minorities. Senator Marco Rubio (R.FL) and Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R.NJ) have asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to impose limits on sales by U.S. companies of technology that might be used by Chinese security forces for surveillance and human rights abuses against the Muslims. This would be one of the first sanctions by the Trump administration against China for its human rights abuses.




Hungary's Democracy Is in Danger, European Union Parliament Decides

European Union (EU) lawmakers voted to take action against Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, for "breaching democratic norms", citing his autocratic tendencies and his shift toward more extreme positions on European identity, migration, and integration. The two-thirds majority vote needed for sanction was reached when members of his conservative alliance broke faith and voted to begin punishment proceedings.


Czech Prime Minister Says He Stands Behind Hungary After EU Parliament Vote

The Czech government stands behind Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban after a European Parliament vote to sanction the country for flouting EU rules, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis announced.


Around 1,000 Hungarians Protest Against Orban at Pro-EU Rally

Around 1,000 Hungarians protested against Prime Minister Viktor Orban at a pro-EU rally organized by leftist opposition parties, demanding that the government respect democratic rights and other EU values.


For your convenience, the following are divided into ENTERTAINMENT, ARTS, SPORTS, AND MEDIA


Cosby's Lawyers and Wife Seek Judge's Recusal Before Sentencing

Bill Cosby's sentencing for sexually assaulting a former Temple University staff member is scheduled for September 24th and 25th. Cosby's legal team have now asked that Judge Steven T. O'Neill, who presided over the case, recuse himself from the sentencing. They allege that Judge O'Neill is prejudiced by a feud he had with a key witness, former District Attorney Bruce Castor, who testified at a pre-trial hearing that he had decided not to prosecute Cosby for this same assault. The feud took place more than 20 years ago, when both men were vying for the Republication nomination for Montgomery County (PA) district attorney. Montgomery County Prosecutor Kevin Steele, who brought the case against Cosby, says the Judge should not recuse himself.



A Lady Vanishes: In China, a Movie Star Disappears Amid Culture Crackdown

Beijing is tightening the reins on popular culture, looking to stamp out behavior seen as antithetical to the ruling Communist Party's ideological line, and co-opting movie stars, pop bands, and online celebrities to endorse socialist values. A new movie promotion law requires entertainers to pursue both professional excellence and moral integrity. Amidst this political-cultural regime change, a popular Chinese Actress, Fan Bingbing, who has appeared in western movies, including "Iron Man" and "X-Men", vanished after suggestions were made online that there were some questions about tax payments on income from her films. Questions about her whereabouts go unanswered.



Oldest Known Drawing by Human Hands Discovered in South African Cave

An ancient drawing of nine red lines was unearthed in Blombos Cave, about 200 miles east of Cape Town, South Africa. The artifact reminiscent of a hashtag has been found on a small stone flake. Other archaeological deposits at the site include: Homo sapiens' teeth, spear points, bone tools, engravings, and beads made from seashells. The red lines are dated approximately 73,000 years old, more than 30,000 years older than previous finds.



Jewish Collector's Descendant Gets Nazi-Looted Renoir Back

Sylvie Sulitzer, the only living descendant of a Jewish family whose artworks were stolen by the Nazis, saw Renoir's "Two Women in a Garden" for the first time when she unveiled it at New York's Museum of Jewish Heritage at a ceremony that included law enforcement officials representing the offices that helped return her grandparents' painting back to her. Sulitzer will likely auction off the painting to pay back compensation she previously received from France for missing artworks.


Loss of Indigenous Works in Brazil Museum Fire Felt 'Like a New Genocide'

A handful of indigenous activists and researchers were outside celebrating a birthday huddled around a small pit fire when they noticed flames devouring a building a few dozen yards away. The fire was raging at Brazil's National Museum, and the group raced toward the building to try to put the fire out with buckets. By the time they reached the centuries-old palace, which had been home to the world's largest archive of indigenous Brazilian culture and history, the building's core had been gutted by fire, burning hundreds of thousands of documents, artifacts, and artworks.


How Much to Unload a Painting Off a Plane? Brazil Museum Got $320,000 Bill

Officials at an airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil have been holding hostage six 20th-century paintings from the Tate Modern in London until a $320,000 bill for unloading and storage -- triple the total budget to mount the exhibition -- is paid. The cargo fee for paintings had been assessed according to their weight. Now, some of Brazil's main international airports have begun charging a percentage of the paintings' values, which increased cargo fees from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars.



The World Anti-Doping Agency Panel Recommends Reinstatement of Russian Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) stated that its compliance review committee was satisfied with Russian promises to fulfill two key criteria for RUSADA's reinstatement: First, that authorities must provide access to data that could help corroborate positive tests uncovered during the investigation into the doping scandal, and second, that Russian sports entities publicly accept that there was a widespread, government-directed effort to manipulate drug tests in order to win medals. However, the compliance committee's recommendation came a day after the BBC published a WADA document that was to be distributed at next week's executive committee meeting, which says that neither of the criteria had been satisfied and that it would not recommend reinstatement.


Probst Leaves Complex Legacy After 10 Years as U.S. Olympic Committee Chairman

Larry Probst will step down as chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) at the end of the year, to be replaced by Susanne Lyons, a board member who recently finished serving as interim CEO of the USOC following the resignation of Scott Blackmun. Although Probst restored the federation's international reputation and repaired relationships that had fractured from decades of financial issues, and gave the U.S. a win by bringing the Olympics to Los Angeles in 2008, he leaves Lyons and new CEO Sarah Hirshland with the task of restoring credibility where the organization has been widely criticized for its slow response to mushrooming sex-abuse scandals in Olympic sports.



New Mexico Sues Mobile App Makers Over Children Privacy Concerns

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas is suing Google, Twitter, and other companies that develop and market mobile gaming apps for children, saying that the apps violate state and federal laws by collecting personal information that could compromise privacy. "These multi-million-dollar tech companies partnering with app developers are taking advantage of New Mexican children, and the unacceptable risk of data breach and access from third parties who seek to exploit and harm our children will not be tolerated in New Mexico," he said.


How Game Apps That Captivate Kids Have Been Collecting Their Data

Without explicit, verifiable permission from parents, websites and apps aimed at children are prohibited from collecting personal details including names, email addresses, geolocation data, and tracking codes, like "cookies", if they're used for targeted ads under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Yet academic researchers who analyzed nearly 6,000 free children's Android apps reported that more than half of the apps shared details with outside companies in ways that may have violated the law. A much smaller New York Times sampling saw sites from both Android and iOS platforms that collected data that could potentially track children using those apps.


CBS Chief Executive Les Moonves Steps Down After Sexual Harassment Claims

Leslie Moonves, the longtime chief executive of the CBS Corporation, stepped down from the company he led for 15 years after the publication of new sexual harassment allegations against him. A New Yorker article by investigative journalist Ronan Farrow that was published last July included interviews with six women who accused Moonves of sexual harassment. On Sunday, the magazine published another article by Farrow in which six more women detailed claims against Moonves.


Threats and Deception: Why CBS's Board Turned Against Leslie Moonves

Leslie Moonves, chairman and chief executive of CBS, was accused of sexual harassment and assault, but told the CBS Board of Directors that there were no such incidents and that he was innocent. The Board agreed to keep him on with a strong show of support, despite opposition by Sharon Redstone, the corporation's largest shareholder. Meanwhile, Moonves was trying to find a job at CBS for one of his accusers, and he failed to let the Board know that she was threatening to go public with her allegations. When the Board found out that Moonves had suppressed this information and lied to them, they changed their minds about an ouster.



'60 Minutes' Chief Ousted for a Threatening Text as Upheaval at CBS Continues

Jeff Fager, only the second producer in the 50-year history of the award-winning news analysis and features television show, "60 Minutes", was fired for sending a text message threatening the career of a CBS reporter who was researching the sexual misconduct allegations against Leslie Moonves, Chairman and Chief Executive of the CBS network, which allegations Fager claimed were untrue.


September 24, 2018

Week In Review

By Jana S. Farmer
Edited By Elissa D. Hecker

European Union Takes Steps Towards Copyright Reform

The European Parliament approved a measure updating European Union (EU) copyright law and voted to begin negotiations with the European Commission and the Council.


Kavanaugh's Accuser Set To Testify Before Congress; President Takes To Twitter To Express His Doubts

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who accused Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her, is set to testify before Congress. President Trump appeared to express in a Tweet that he doubts her story.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/22/us/politics/kavanaugh-senate-blasey-ford-testify.html; https://gulfnews.com/news/americas/usa/in-tweet-trump-shows-he-doubts-accuser-s-story-1.2281653


White House Moves To Declassify Russia Investigation Records, Then Reverses Course

The Trump aAdministration ordered law enforcement and intelligence officials to declassify documents related to the Russia investigation, further alienating federal law enforcement officials. President Trump then reversed course and stated that the will not require immediate declassification, stating that the Justice Department will review the documents first.



U.S. Loosens Regulations On Ordering Cyberattacks

President Trump issued classified orders that appear to give United States Cyber Command significantly more latitude to act with minimal consultation from other government agencies to conduct offensive cyberattacks.


Jeff Sessions Vows To Protect Free Speech On Campuses

The Attorney General stated that the Justice Department would oppose university officials around the country that try to stifle free speech on campus, including speech by conservatives.


Tesla's Leader Is Being Sued For Defamation

The British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth is suing Elon Musk over a Twitter fight, during which Musk allegedly implied that Unsworth was a sexual predator. The two men participated in a rescue of children trapped in a cave in Thailand this past summer.


Brooklyn Diocese Settles Sexual Abuse Case

The Diocese of Brooklyn and a local after-school program reached a $27.5 million settlement with four men who alleged that they were repeatedly sexually abused as children by a religion teacher at a local Roman Catholic church.


Poland's Judiciary Reform Draws Criticism From The EU

As Poland's government is transforming its judicial system, including mandatory judicial retirements at 65 years of age, the EU has moved to invoke Article 7 of its treaty for a potential breach of obligations as a member of the bloc, meaning that Poland could potentially lose its voting rights in the EU and millions of euros in EU subsidies. American diplomats have remained largely silent on the issue.


German Doctors Say That Pussy Riot Activist Was Possibly Poisoned In Moscow

German doctors treating Pyotr Verzilov, a Pussy Riot activist, say that it was "highly plausible" he had been poisoned, considering that he was not suffering from any long-term illness. Verzilov lost his speech, sight, and mobility after attending a court hearing in Moscow. He was flown to Germany for emergency treatment. Pussy Riot is known for its demonstrations against the Russian government, including when its members ran onto the field during the World Cup final.


Below, for your browsing convenience, are summaries of news reports in categories divided into Entertainment, Art, Sports, and Media


Bill Cosby To Be Sentenced Next Week; Judge Refuses To Recuse Himself

When Bill Cosby appears in court to be sentenced for sexual assault after the guilty verdict this past Spring, prosecutors will seek a maximum sentence of 30 years. In the past five years, Pennsylvania courts typically sentenced sex offenders to two to five years in prison for similar crimes. Judge Stephen T. O'Neill denied as untimely and lacking merit the motion by Cosby's defense team that he rescue himself after an alleged quarrel with a key witness on the case.



The U.K. Investigates Eleventh Case Against Harvey Weinstein; His U.S. Lawyers Meanwhile Soldier On

British police are investigating a new sexual assault allegation against Harvey Weinstein, the American movie producer, who was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women. This is the eleventh case against Weinstein in the U.K. Meanwhile, in the U.S., his lawyers plan to argue in his defense that prosecutors withheld evidence from the grand jury and that the relationships were consensual, among other defenses.



Editor Leaves His Post Following Controversial #MeToo Essay

New York Review of Books editor Ian Buruma exited his post this past week after publishing an essay by Canadian ex-radio host Jian Ghomeshi, the latter of whom was accused of sexually mistreating women.


Suge Knight Faces 28-Year Jail Sentence

Marion "Suge" Knight, co-founder of rap label Death Row Records, faces 28 years in prison after he agreed to a plea deal that includes one count of voluntary manslaughter after allegedly running over a man and killing him in a restaurant parking lot three years ago.


Arts and Cultural Heritage

New York City Ballet Fires Dancers Accused Of Sexting

New York City Ballet dismissed two principal male dancers who were recently named in a lawsuit involving allegations of sharing sexually explicit photograph via text messaging applications. The American Guild of Musical Artists reportedly is planning to challenge the firings.


New Work Philharmonic Fired Two People

The New York Philharmonic fired two key players for unspecified misconduct. It was not reported whether the alleged misconduct was as part of the players' professional or private lives or whether sexual misconduct was involved. The musicians' union is reviewing the matter.


Did Robert Indiana Really Sign Off On the Bratwurst Artwork?

Amid the ongoing lawsuit that accuses two of the deceased artist's associates of exploiting Indiana's advanced age to sell fake artworks that they attributed to him, the focal point of which is the "BRAT" sculpture in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, a publicist who worked for Indiana, Kathleen Rogers, has come forward with some potentially damning evidence of a possibly doctored photograph showing the artist with a drawing of the artwork on question.


5Pointz' Artists Find A New Home At The Museum Of Street Art, Which Is Set To Open In October

Hotel CitizenM New York Bowery commissioned 20 aerosol artists who had painted at 5Pointz (Long Island City, Queens) to create artworks for a permanent exhibit at the Museum of Street Art. Starting next month, visitors will be able to take an elevator to the 20th floor of the hotel and walk down the stairs to see the artworks. Meanwhile, the 5Pointz artists' case against the developer who whitewashed their artworks remains on appeal.


Frick To Take Over The Breuer Building

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) in New York and the Frick Collection announced last Friday that the Met will vacate the Breuer building on Madison Avenue in 2020 and make way for the Frick Collection while the latter's mansion undergoes a renovation. The Met has been leasing the Breuer building from the Whitney Museum of American Art since 2015.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/21/arts/design/met-breuer-frick-collection.html; https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/met-to-leave-breuer-building-making-way-for-the-frick

Trump Slaps New Tariffs On China But Art Is Spared ... For Now

Chinese art and antiques are not included in the latest round of tariffs imposed by the U.S. Administration on Chinese goods. It remains unclear whether art and antiques will be targeted in the future.

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/china-tariffs-1351112; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/19/us/politics/trump-china-trade-war.html

Gurlitt Task Force Discovers A New Trove Of Nazi Looted Art

A group of German researchers known as the Gurlitt Task Force, which was formed by the German government to research the provenance of the art confiscated from Cornelius Gurlitt, heir to an art dealer who worked with the Nazis, discovered a new trove of looted art and assisted with restitution of four of the artworks.


German Court Orders Art Restorer To Pay Damages After Details Of Paintings Were Removed During Cleaning

German art dealer Andreas Baumgartl won €26,000 in a court case against an art restorer, who was found to have damaged four oil paintings sent to him for cleaning. While the restorer claimed that the paintings were already in poor condition, the court relied on comparisons with high-resolution digital photographs to establish that the cleaning had removed detail from the paintings. The court noted that the restorer should have tested smaller quantities of the solvent on a tiny area of the paintings rather that doing a rush job.


Brazil Loses Part of Its National Story In Museum Fire

In the fire two weeks ago, Brazil's National Museum lost over 90% of its collection. Aside from priceless artworks, the museum lost documentation of indigenous languages for which there are no longer any living native speakers, literally destroying the last remnants of bygone civilizations.


Gulag Museum Is Being Shut Down By Russian Authorities

The Memorial National Museum of Gulag History in the city of Yoshkar-Ola, presently housed in the former headquarters and torture chamber of the OGPU state security police, is being forced to shut down by regional authorities. While the activists running the museum blame the changing political climate in Russia, the regional administration and some Moscow museum officials suggest that the museum's building requires reconstruction and the museum's collection is in serious need of professional attribution and conservation.


Eighteenth Century Secrétaire Restituted To Italy

A private Swiss collector restituted a secrétaire (cabinet/writing desk), created by the 18th-century Italian cabinet maker Pietro Piffetti, to Italian government. The piece was allegedly illegally exported in 1976. Interestingly, because the piece only had two front legs due to having been originally built into an alcove at Palazzo Chiablese, it is considered a fixture, not a chattel, under Italian law. This makes it inalienable state property pursuant to the division of royal possessions between the Italian state and the House of Savoy after the abolition of the monarchy in 1946.


Elon Musk Plans To Send Artists To The Moon

Elon Musk's space travel company, SpaceX, announced that it will launch Japanese billionaire art collector Yusaku Maezawa into space. Maezawa will be accompanied by a team of six to eight artists, including painters, sculptors, film directors, architects, and fashion designers, who will be asked to create new artworks based on their experiences once they return to Earth.



Mark Cuban To Donate $10 Million To Domestic Violence Organizations After Being Sanctioned By National Basketball Association Over Handling Of Sexual Harassment

The Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban pledged to donate $10 million to women's and domestic violence organizations after an agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) following a report detailing alleged widespread sexual misconduct within the Dallas Mavericks organization for over 20 years.


Adam Silver Encourages NBA Teams To Hire More Women

Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, asked teams to adopt some of the mandates given to the Dallas Mavericks after an investigation into their handling of sexual harassment claims. The proposed mandates include increasing the number of female employees, including in leadership and supervisory positions.


Hall Of Famers Will Boycott Induction Ceremony Unless Health Insurance and Annual Salary is Offered

A group of Professional Football Hall of Famers said they would not attend the annual induction ceremony until Hall of Famers receive health insurance and an annual salary that includes a share of National Football League revenue.



Russia Reinstated By World Anti-Doping Agency

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) voted to allow Russia to resume testing of athletes for doping, despite many claiming that Russia has not done enough to eradicate the alleged state-wide corruption and cheating in sporting events. This decision paves the way for Russia to return to the Olympics.


Charges of Racism Plague German Soccer Federation

As Germany seeks to host the European Championship in 2024, its soccer federation, known as the D.F.B., has to answer accusations of racism and discrimination following the departure this Summer of the celebrated German footballer of Turkish descent, Mesut Özil. "I'm a German when we win, but I am an immigrant when we lose," Özil wrote a week after the end of the 2018 World Cup, in which Germany performed exceptionally poorly. Germany's contester in hosting the 2024 Euro is Turkey.



First Fair Use Case In Two Decades Is Possibly Headed For The Supreme Court

Fox News previously prevailed, at the Second Circuit Court of Appeals level, in its copyright claims against TVEyes, which indexes television content from over 1,000 television channels and makes the content searchable. TVEyes has filed a petition with the Supreme Court, arguing that the fair use factors of the purpose and character of the use and the effect of the use upon the potential market weigh in their favor.



Female Job Seekers Accuse Facebook Of Bias Against Female Candidates

A group of job seekers, in collaboration with the Communications Workers of America and the American Civil Liberties Union, filed charges against Facebook with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that Facebook's targeting technology excludes women from the users that receive various employers' advertisements for job openings for positions such as truck driver and window installer.


Moonves Faces Sexual Assault Allegations and His Wife Leaves CBS Show

As Leslie Moonves, the former head of CBS network, continues to combat sexual misconduct allegations asserted against him, his spouse, Julie Chen, announced that she will leave the award-winning CBS show "The Talk", which she co-hosted for more than a decade. Moonves may still collect $120 million in severance pay, unless it is determined that he was fired "for cause."


Los Angeles Times's Chief Of Beijing Bureau Resigns Amid Misconduct Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct

Jonathan Kaiman resigned this past week from his position of the Beijing bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. He was suspended in May after two women accused him of sexual misconduct.


Google Under Scrutiny Over Targeting Children For Advertising

Google's chief executive, Sundar Pichai, was sent a letter from two congressmen expressing concern that YouTube, a Google subsidiary, may not be in compliance with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Meanwhile, Google was also named as a defendant by the New Mexico Attorney General in a lawsuit over how Google may be collecting children's location data and sharing it without their parents' permission.


Preparing For A Referendum On Changing Its Official Name, Macedonia Is Battling a Social Media Disinformation Campaign

Macedonia is scheduled to hold a referendum on September 30th, seeking its voters' opinion as to whether the country should rename itself North Macedonia. The change of name is sought to ease Greece's objections to introducing Macedonia into the Western fold. Russia, which has historically opposed Western geopolitical interests, is allegedly spearheading a social media disinformation campaign. Russian officials deny involvement.


September 26, 2018

By October 9, New York State Employers Must Revise Their Sexual Harassment Policies

By Kristine A. Sova

By October 9, every employer in New York State is required to adopt a sexual harassment prevention policy that meets or exceeds certain minimum standards. Specifically, the policy must:

-prohibit sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the New York State Department of Labor in consultation with the New York State Division of Human Rights;
-provide examples of prohibited conduct that would constitute unlawful sexual harassment;
include information concerning the federal and state statutory provisions concerning sexual harassment, remedies available to victims of sexual harassment, and a statement that there may be applicable local laws;
-include a complaint form;
-include a procedure for the timely and confidential investigation of complaints that ensures due process for all parties;
-inform employees of their rights of redress and all available forums for adjudicating sexual harassment complaints administratively and judicially;
-clearly state that sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct and that sanctions will be enforced against individuals engaging in sexual harassment and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue; and
-clearly state that retaliation against individuals who complain of sexual harassment or who testify or assist in any investigation or proceeding involving sexual harassment is unlawful.

It's important to note that these requirements go above and beyond language typically found in even the most robust "best practice" type sexual harassment policies. Therefore, all employers will want to review their policies for compliance.

Last month, the state issued a proposed model sexual harassment policy. A copy of the proposed policy is available at https://www.ny.gov/sites/ny.gov/files/atoms/files/StatewideSexualHarassment_PreventionPolicy.pdf. Employers have the option of adopting the final model policy in its entirety, or revising their policies to meet or exceed the new state standards (which may include adopting portions of the final model policy). The final policy is expected to be issued soon, but it is possible it may not be issued before the October 9 deadline.

About September 2018

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in September 2018. They are listed from oldest to newest.

August 2018 is the previous archive.

October 2018 is the next archive.

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