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Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

After White House Tells the Federal Bureau of Investigation to Interview Anyone Necessary for Kavanaugh Inquiry, Then Trump Taunts Blasey, Senate Confirms Kavanaugh to Supreme Court

The Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court after a tumultuous week for his nomination. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBIS) completed its investigation into allegations that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted or harassed multiple women, and apparently its report sent to the White House and Senate satisfied enough senators to not block the confirmation. The investigation came at a time when even President Trump, a teetotaler, vacillated on his own nominee at times, questioning how Kavanaugh seemed to have forgotten many of the details surrounding his partying days during school. Regardless, Kavanaugh was sworn in as a Justice and set to preside over cases on Tuesday.





After Watching Kavanaugh Hearing, Woman Names State Senator She Says Raped Her

Following Christine Blasey Ford's testimony in Washington, a woman in Seattle, Candace Faber, announced that she had been raped by a Washington state senator in 2007. Senator Joe Fain represents a district south of Seattle and has denied the allegation. Faber credited Ford's bravery in testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee as giving Faber the courage to step forward with her own story.


Justices Appear Divided in First Case with Vacant Seat

The Supreme Court's term opened with a vacant seat, and the Court appeared to be split in a case concerning an application of the Endangered Species Act in Louisiana. The case involved a timber company suing the federal government over the government's designation of an area of timberland as critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog. It is unclear how the Court will rule. The Court also struggled to deal with a case of an inmate who cannot recall the 1985 murder that sent him to death row in Alabama. Nonetheless, the inmate understood the accusations and the punishment that the state has planned for him.



Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes

A blistering piece reveals the numerous ways in which Donald Trump's father, Fred Trump, organized transferring most of the family's assets to the former as the latter Trump was aging. The transfers began when Donald Trump was three years old and only grew with time, as he made himself the heir apparent to the family empire. The transfers were disguised through phantom ownership and management of properties throughout New York City, but more than anything, came through inflated prices on products and services that a "management company," owned by Donald Trump and his siblings, supposedly delivered to Fred Trump's properties. While criminal charges are unlikely given the statute of limitations, civil penalties may be a possibility.



Internal Revenue Service Tax Fraud Cases Plummet After Budget Cuts

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has pursued far fewer tax evasion cases now than it had 10 years ago. The chief of criminal investigations for the IRS admitted it to be a "startling number" of cases, as the cases are meant to recover lost money and also to shape taxpayer behavior for hundreds of millions of Americans. Analysts fear that the only reason for the lack of filing new cases is the budget cuts to the IRS, and the result is a tremendous loss in revenue, which may of course lead to additional budget cuts.


Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to Texas Tent City

A tent city in a West Texan desert has been the destination for cross-country journeys for hundreds of migrant children. Undocumented children typically were held in shelters throughout the country, but the tent city, where there is no school, has become the temporary home of the children until their cases are processed. Some have called the tent city an illustration of the broken immigration system as the conditions leave groups of 20 children sleeping in bunks, whereas in other facilities throughout the country children slept two or three to a room. The Department of Health and Human Services, however, has pointed out that the number of detained migrant children has grown fivefold since last year and has necessitated creating facilities like the one in West Texas.



U.S. Bans Diplomatic Visas for Foreign Same-Sex Domestic Partners

The Trump administration announced that it will no longer issue family visas to same-sex domestic partners of foreign diplomats. Advocates in the LGBT community quickly criticized the administration for its policy, even as it went into effect on Monday. To obtain a diplomatic family visa, proof of marriage must be provided now, but of the United Nations' 193 member states, few have legalized same-sex marriage.


Scientists Behind Cancer Immunotherapies Win Nobel Medicine Prize

American James Allison and Japanese Tasuku Honjo won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their work in using the immune system to fight cancer. The treatment that they created, known as immune checkpoint blockade, has changed the outcomes for advanced cancer patients, as it uses the body's main immune cells to attack tumors. The medicines that they created have reached sales of approximately $15 Billion this year, and analysts expect revenues to eventually reach $50 billion.


Nobel Prize in Physics Awarded to Scientists Who Put Light to Work

The Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to a trio of scientists, Arthur Ashkin, Gerard Mourou, and Donna Strickland, for their work in using pure light as a microscopic force that has been called "optical tweezers." The laser beam can manipulate microscopic objects, such as viruses and bacteria, and light can also be used to drill tiny, precise holes similar to that which is done in Lasik eye surgeries.


Chemistry Nobel for Using Evolution to Create New Proteins

Three scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work in creating new proteins using a "sped-up version of evolution." The proteins have been used in medications and biofuels and have had the impact of reducing the environmental impact of industrial processes. The method involved creating random mutations in DNA that were then injected into bacteria and further mutated, which allowed the result to be highly effective for making medications and other substances, like renewable fuels.


Nobel Peace Prize Awarded to Yazidi Activist and Congolese Doctor

Nadia Murad, who has been an activist in the fight against sexual slavery, and Dr. Denis Mukwege, who has treated thousands of women in the Congo, once called the rape capital of the world, have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their campaigns to end the use of mass rape as a weapon of war. They dedicated the prize to "woman of all countries bruised by conflict and facing everyday violence." Murad had been sold into slavery under ISIS, and since her liberation, had been leading a worldwide campaign against rape and sexual slavery.


U.S. Withdraws from 1955 Treaty with Iran

The United States announced that it is pulling out of a 1955 treaty with Iran that "provided a basis for normalizing relations between the two countries." The move came just hours after the International Court of Justice ordered the U.S. to ensure that its sanctions did not "prevent food, medicine and aircraft parts from reaching Iran." The withdrawal from the treaty, announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, is seen as the latest effort in reversing policies pursued under Barack Obama's administration. Much of the treaty's contents, such as its creating commercial relationships, tax structures, and access to each other's court systems has not applied since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran, but nonetheless some analysts say that the move hurts U.S. interests and unnecessarily escalates tensions between the U.S. and the Middle East.


American and Chinese Warships Narrowly Avoid Collision

As the trade war between the United States and China continues to grow, a massive collision nearly occurred between two warships in the South China Sea. The Pentagon has accused the Chinese Navy of an unsafe maneuver that brought a ship within 45 yards of an American destroyer that was in the middle of a "routine mission in international waters." The South China Sea has been a contentious area, as American ships being present in the sea are interpreted in China as a threat to sovereignty and security.


Senators Call for Investigation of Children's Apps

Senators Edward Markey and Richard Blumenthal have called for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether thousands of apps may "improperly track children and collect their personal information." The apps may have been labeled as "child-friendly", which is misleading, as the apps may have been mining data that was then used in a way that could violate users' privacy. The law requires that parents approve the collection of personal details about their children who are under 13 years old.


Four Arrested in Virginia Violence and Called 'Serial Rioters'

Four men from California have been arrested for being "serial rioters" part of Rise Above Movement, a militant white supremacist group. The men are alleged to have flown from California to Virginia last year and violently attacked counterprotesters in Charlottesville and also participated in violent rallies in California. Some of their violence had resulted in serious injuries, and each of them face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges of traveling to incite riots and conspiracy to riot.


How Sheldon Silver Manages to Brush Off Challenges, Including Prison

Sheldon Silver has had a career of surprising his enemies, and he pulled off another surprise as he avoided prison pending the appeal of his conviction on corruption charges. A federal appeals panel agreed to stay his surrender date and granted his request for bail. It is expected that the decision on appeal will come around the end of the year.


Women Assured a Win in New York Senate Races

New York's State Senate races may be making history this election cycle: there are 10 women running against another female candidate, the "highest number of two-woman races in recent memory, if not ever." This development is part of a nationwide movement of women running for public office. Many of the candidates have cited their own personal backgrounds for being the impetus to run, while others cite the result of the 2016 election as the main reason for running for office.


Russia Targeted Investigators Trying to Expose Its Misdeeds

Russian intelligence officers launched cyberattacks against organizations around the world that had been critical of Russia or its president, Vladimir Putin. Officers had hacked into "the British foreign ministry, antidoping agencies in Colorado Springs and Colorado, and investigators examining the shooting down of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine in 2014." Officials in Washington, London, and Amsterdam have released detailed accounts of how Russian officers executed their cyberattacks, and the Department of Justice announced its indictment of seven Russian officers.



Indonesia Tsunami Survivors are Burying the Dead and Desperate for Aid

Following the 7.5-magnitude earthquake and 20-foot tsunami that hit Palu, Indonesia, the community has been working to identify the dead and repair the widespread damage. At least 1,000 people died in the disaster, and the week since then has been filled with rescue efforts as well as securing the area and stopping looters.


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


Music Modernization Act to be Signed Into Law

A bill promoted as "the most significant improvement of music copyright law in more than a generation," entitled the Music Modernization Act, is ready to be signed by President Trump. It is expected that the act will speed up royalty payments and lead to increased revenues for creators and copyright owners. Additionally, it will open up music royalties for pre-1972 songs and allow royalties for music producers and engineers.


Cardi B Charged with Misdemeanor Assault

Belcalis Almanzar, known by her stage name Cardi B, turned herself into the police and faces one charge of assault and two charges of reckless endangerment for her role in a fight at a New York strip club. She has no prior arrests, and her attorney told reporters that she did not cause "anybody any harm" in the fight. The fight was suspected to be part of a feud between Cardi B and her two sisters who work at the strip club, one of whom may have had an affair with Cardi B's husband.


'Jersey Shore' Star Sorrentino Sentenced to Eight Months for Tax Evasion

Star of the reality television show "The Jersey Shore", Mike Sorrentino, has been sentenced to eight months in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion. Prosecutors charged that he and his brother, Marc, had avoided taxes on $8.9 million by trying to classify purchases of clothes, vehicles, and personal items as business expenses.


CBS Fires Brad Kern After Accusations Emerge of Misconduct

CBS fired the former producer Brad Kern after he was accused of misconduct "ranging from mistreatment of women to racially insensitive comments." More broadly, CBS is going through a cleansing process the likes of which the company has not seen. It has had a recent shakeup in its board of directors and a series of high-profile people in the organization dismissed, from chief executive Leslie Moonves, to executive producer of "60 Minutes" Jeff Fager, to host of "CBS This Morning" Charlie Rose.


China's Most Famous Actress Facing Huge Fines in Tax Evasion Case

China has accused Fan Bingbing, the country's most famous actress, with evading millions of dollars in taxes. The move comes as it is suspected those in the television and film industry may also be avoiding taxes as well. Fan faces a fine of nearly $70 million comprised of unpaid taxes and penalties after finding that she under-reported her earnings from films. She has pledged to pay the fine and has dropped from public view since the announcement of the evasion.



Central Figure in Nobel Scandal Jailed for Rape

Jean-Claude Arnault has been found guilty of raping a woman in 2011 and will be imprisoned for two years. Arnault was at the center of the scandal that resulted in cancelling the Nobel Prize in Literature. As a French photographer, he had an established career in the arts, but was found to have forced a woman into oral sex and intercourse in 2011. There will be no literature prize for the first time in nearly 70 years because of his conviction.


Judge Rules That Cafe Must Change Its Name

MoMaCha, a cafe and art gallery, has had to change its name, logo, and website after the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) filed suit against it and obtained a preliminary injunction from Judge Louis Stanton of the United States District Court. MoMA alleged that the use of the name MoMaCha diluted and infringed the museum's trademarked name. The preliminary injunction prohibits the cafe from using MOMA or MOMACHA marks, and since the ruling, the cafe has changed its name to MAMACHA.


Vulgar Texts and Dancer Turmoil Force City Ballet to Look in the Mirror

The New York City Ballet has been the premier ballet in the country, and it is now grappling with the era's #MeToo movement. Its leader retired amidst allegations of physical and emotional abuse, and three of its 14 principal male dancers have been accused of sharing sexually explicit photographs of women. Whereas more corporate industries have already put safeguards in place to prevent such occurrences from happening, the performing arts, "where autocratic personalities often hold sway," is beginning to move toward more safeguards including terminating relationships with those who have committed wrongful acts.


Statue in California, Icon or Insensitive Relic, Is On Its Way Out

On the campus of California State University, Long Beach, sits a statue named Prospector Pete, harkening back to 1849 when prospectors came looking for gold and land. Many find the statue to be a harmless figure of that time, while others find it to be approval of the brutal treatment of indigenous people during that era. The university's president has announced that the statue will be moved.


Kuwait Steps Up Book Burning

Kuwait's government has literary censors that have banned the most surprising books, including an encyclopedia with a picture of Michelangelo's David and a Disney version of "The Little Mermaid". While some Kuwaitis view their country as a bastion of freedom in a region not known for such, critics point to the bans on books as a prime example of why the country is more regressive. Since 2014, the government announced that at least 4,390 books have been banned, including major works of literature. While demonstrations have showed the outrage, it has not slowed the pace, as hundreds of books were already banned in 2018.


Jailed Ukrainian Film Director to End Hunger Strike

Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov has vowed to end a hunger strike that lasted 144 days as he faced force-feeding due to his health condition. In 2015, he was sentenced to 20 years in a Russian jail for charges of conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism. He had been an outspoken critic of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea. Before his imprisonment, he achieved notoriety for his film, "Gamer", which was shown at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2012. He began his hunger strike to demand the release of Ukrainian political prisoners held in Russian jails.


The Nazi Downstairs: A Jewish Woman's Tale of Hiding in Her Home

Elsa Koditschek, a Jewish resident of Vienna, fled the city after receiving a deportation edict telling her to go to a Polish ghetto. While she instead chose to flee to homes of non-Jewish friends, she left behind in her home a landscape by Egon Schiele. She eventually returned in secret to her home where she found herself hiding from a tenant, an SS officer, Herbert Gerbing. The painting was sold during the war, and now her heirs will share in the proceeds with the current owners of the painting when it goes up for auction at Sotheby's for an estimated $12 million to $18 million.



Las Vegas Police Reopen Investigation Into Ronaldo Sexual Assault

Kathryn Mayorga filed a lawsuit against football star Cristiano Ronaldo in Nevada, claiming that she received $375,000 to settle her claims against him relating to a 2009 rape that he is alleged to have committed against her. On the day of the alleged rape, she reported the incident to police but did not name the perpetrator at that time. The Las Vegas police have announced that she requested last month for the case to be reopened, and the police department has so done. When the story first made headlines, Ronaldo said in an Instagram video that it was "fake news".


Ivy League Football Saw Large Reduction in Concussions After Rule Change

In 2016, the Ivy League changed its rules regarding kickoffs: the lines for kickoff and touchback were moved by five yards. Those five yards led to a fall in concussions from 11 per 1,000 kickoffs to just two per 1,000 kickoffs. This study result was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and has identified that kickoffs lead to an outsized number of concussions as opposed to other plays. The results of the study are likely to bolster the push to adjust kickoff rules at all levels of football.


Family of Junior Seau Settles Case Against the National Football League

Junior Seau, the Hall of Fame linebacker who committed suicide and was found to have CTE, the degenerative brain disease linked to repeated hits to the head, had his family succeed him in fighting the National Football League (NFL). This week, the parties settled the matter and ended a six-year legal drama. After his death in 2012, the family filed a wrongful death action against the NFL, and this week dismissed the lawsuit, as it reached a confidential settlement with the NFL for an undisclosed sum.



Facebook Hack Puts Thousands of Sites at Risk

Facebook announced that it recently experienced the largest hack in the company's history. Hackers obtained account entry keys of over 50 million Facebook users, and those credentials (which are part of Facebook Connect) may have compromised those users' accounts on other sites, as the credentials were shared between Facebook and external sites. Facebook forced 40 million users who had been hacked to log out and reauthenticate their credentials, but it remains unclear the extent of the hack, as Facebook has not disclosed whether related sites were accessed by hackers.


Facebook Post May Haunt $5 Million Donor Ole Miss Alumnus

Ed Meek, an alumnus of Ole Miss, posted on Facebook a photograph of two young black students and wrote that the students or people who look similar "were responsible for the problems on campus and in town." While many in the community and around the country expected that The University of Mississippi would struggle to deal with the situation, given that Meek has a building named after him, the Chancellor of the university announced that he would expedite the process of removing Meek's name from the building.


Hong Kong Plans to Expel a Financial Times Editor

The Financial Times has disclosed that the Hong Kong government declined to renew the visa of one of its journalists, resulting in his expulsion and raising concerns about the "deterioration of media freedom in the semiautonomous Chinese city." The newspaper noted that this was the first instance of a visa denial, and the government did not give any reason for the denial. The government has refused to comment on the case. These actions are more in line with what occurs within mainland China and that resemblance has concerned others in the media, such as The New York Times, which has an office in Hong Kong.


Pakistani Journalist Treason Trial Signals New Pressure on Media

As part of the new government's effort to intimidate the news media, a Pakistani journalist has been ordered to face accusations of treason in court. The journalist, Cyril Almeida, wrote an article about the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his potential involvement in aiding militants who attacked Mumbai in 2008 and left more than 160 dead. Analysts see the government's approach to Almeida's article as in line with the military's actions leading up to the July election, when the military censored the news media and pressured candidates to have its favored candidate, Imran Khan, win the election. The president of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, Afzal Butt, called this era "the darkest period of journalism in the country's history, no doubt about it."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 8, 2018 10:14 PM.

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