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Week In Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Saudi Arabia Says Jamal Khashoggi Was Killed in Consulate Fight

Saudi Arabia finally admitted that its agents strangled Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist, during a fistfight inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. 18 men were arrested in the case, including some who were sent to confront the journalist, one driver, and two consular staff members. Saudi state media reported the dismissal of a close aide to the crown prince, the deputy director of Saudi intelligence, and
other high-ranking intelligence officials.


In Shift on Khashoggi Killing, Trump Edges Closer to Acknowledging a Saudi Role

Last week President Trump finally said that he believed the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was dead, and expressed confidence in intelligence reports from multiple sources that strongly suggested a high-level Saudi role in Khashoggi's assassination. The shift in the president's tone came shortly after a briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


In Break With U.S. Intelligence, Trump Says Saudi Explanation of Journalist's Death Is Credible

President Trump broke with U.S. intelligence agencies claiming that Saudi Arabia's explanation that the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by accident during a fistfight was a credible report, although the president said the killing of Khashoggi was "unacceptable." United States' spy agencies were increasingly convinced that Kashoggi was assassinated on high-level orders from the Saudi royal court.


Elizabeth Warren's DNA Results Draw Rebuke from Trump and Raise Questions

President Trump's unrelenting mockery of Senator Elizabeth Warren as "Pocahontas" -- questioning her claims about having Native American heritage -- prompted Warren to release the results of a DNA test that provided "strong evidence" that she has Native American pedigree "6-10 generations ago," according to a document she released from Dr. Carlos Bustamante, a renowned geneticist. The error rate is less than one-in-a-thousand, he said.


Trump Embraces Foreign Aid to Counter China's Global Influence

President Trump, in a significant reversal, has embraced a major expansion of foreign aid that will bankroll infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia, and the Americas, hoping that financial diplomacy will help counter China's growing global influence. A new foreign aid agency, the United States International Development Finance Corporation, has authority to provide $60 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to companies willing to do business in developing nations. Previously, the President harshly criticized foreign aid, proposed slashing $3 billion in overseas assistance, backed eliminating funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and took steps to gut the United States Agency for International Development, the State Department agency that dispenses $22.7 billion a year in grants around the world.


Ex-Senate Aide Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI About Contacts With Reporter

James A. Wolfe, a former Senate Intelligence Committee aide who was its director of security, agreed to plead guilty to lying to the FBI during an investigation into leaks of classified information related to coverage of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. Wolfe had been in charge of receiving and managing classified information provided to the oversight panel by the executive branch for 28 years.


Catholic Dioceses in Pennsylvania Face Federal Inquiry Into Sexual Abuse

Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania that are accused of covering up sex abuse for decades are being investigated by the Justice Department, which is a significant escalation of scrutiny of the Catholic Church. The investigation comes two months after the Pennsylvania attorney general's office released an explosive grand jury report charging that bishops and other church leaders had covered up the abuse of more than 1,000 people over a period of more than 70 years.


Homelessness in New York Public Schools Is at a Record High: 114,659 Students

Last year, one out of every 10 students lived in temporary housing during the school year, according to Advocates for Children of New York, a group that provides legal and advocacy services for needy students. The number of school-age children who are homeless has sharply increased in the last eight years, along with a rise in homelessness over all.


'Horseface,' 'Lowlife,' 'Fat, Ugly': How the President Demeans Women

Adding to his long list of demeaning language directed at women, President Trump referred to the pornographic film actress Stephanie Clifford as "Horseface" in a tweet last week. The President often attacks women by demeaning their looks, mocking their bodily functions or comparing them to animals. This gloating assault was prompted by a federal judge's decision to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Clifford, who is known professionally as Stormy Daniels.


What's at Stake in the Harvard Lawsuit? Decades of Debate Over Race in Admissions

A trial began last week to determine whether or not Harvard discriminates against Asian-American applicants, by setting a quota for acceptance of Asian-Americans, and holding them to a higher standard than applicants of other races. Asian-Americans are divided on the case, with some saying that they are being unfairly used as a wedge in a brazen attempt to abolish affirmative action.


A Conservative Group's Closed-Door 'Training' of Judicial Clerks Draws Concern

Recent law school graduates who would be clerking for federal judges were invited to an all-expenses paid training camp organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right. One caveat - participants were required to keep all teaching materials secret and "pledge not to use what they learned for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation." Now legal experts say that efforts by the Heritage Foundation to train and influence law clerks raises serious ethical questions and could undermine the duties the clerks have to the justice system and to the judges they will serve.


Israel Can't Deport U.S. Student Over Past Support for Boycott

Israel's Supreme Court ordered the government to admit Lara Alqasem, an American woman, into Israel on her student visa, over objections by the Interior Ministry, which sought to deport her for pro-Palestinian rights advocacy she was involved in as an undergraduate at the University of Florida. Alqasem had been held in a cell at Ben Gurion Airport for more than two weeks while she fought deportation. She will now be allowed to follow through on her plans to enroll in the law school at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she hopes to study for a master's degree in human rights and transitional justice.


McGahn, Soldier for Trump and Witness Against Him, Leaves White House

Donald F. McGahn II departed as White House counsel last week, after leading some of President Trump's most significant political accomplishments, including two appointments to the Supreme Court, while juggling often conflicting roles of counselor to the President, protector of law enforcement officials such as Robert S. Mueller III, and witness in the investigation into whether the President obstructed justice. He has told associates that he stopped Trump from firing Mueller and from forcing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to retake control of the Russia inquiry after he recused himself from oversight of it.


Liberal Upper West Siders Get Their Revenge: Trump Place Sign Comes Down

Condo owners in the TrumpPlace residential complex joined with three neighboring buildings in a successful bid to remove the offensive lettering on their building, which will now be known simply as 200 Riverside Boulevard. Residents at other Trump-branded condominiums have considered taking similar actions, but were stymied by a lack of support and fears of costly litigation or a drop in the value of their homes.


'Cavalier With the Truth': Report Finds City Watchdog Abused Authority

Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aides are reviewing a report prepared as part of an independent whistle-blower inquiry that portrays City watchdog Mark G. Peters as a bully who abused his authority, raged at underlings, and may have given intentionally misleading testimony to the City Council.


Jared Kushner Paid No Federal Income Tax for Years, Documents Suggest

Confidential financial documents indicate that President Trump's son-in-law and senior White House advisor Jared Kushner paid almost no federal income taxes for the years 2009 through 2016, while his family company spent billions of dollars buying real estate and his personal stock investments soared to a net worth of almost $324 million. He was able to avoid paying taxes by losing money - on paper - as his real estate has depreciated in amounts far in excess of his personal cash earnings.


Justice Dept. Accuses Russians of Interfering in Midterm Elections

Federal prosecutors have accused Russians working for Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, a Russian oligarch and close ally of President Vladimir Putin, of waging an elaborate campaign of "information warfare" to "sow division and discord" in America's midterm elections. Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova of St. Petersburg has been charged as the accountant of the project, of managing a multimillion-dollar budget to buy internet domain names, Facebook and Instagram ads, Twitter accounts, and paying to promote divisive posts on social media. Prigozhin was one of 13 Russians indicted in February by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, on charges of interfering in the election two years ago.


Ex-Minneapolis FBI Agent Is Sentenced to 4 Years in Leak Case

Terry J. Albury, an African-American field agent for the FBI, has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty last year to unauthorized disclosures of national security secrets for sending several documents about FBI recruitment of potential informants in Minnesota's Somali-American community to The Intercept, which published the files with a series titled "The F.B.I.'s Secret Rules." Albury who is the son of an Ethiopian political refugee, became disillusioned about "widespread racist and xenophobic sentiments" in the FBI and "discriminatory practices and policies he observed and implemented" while working for the Bureau.


Senate Truce Collapses as G.O.P. Rush to Confirm More Judges Begins Anew

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee convened another hearing to consider more conservative federal court nominees while the Senate was technically in recess. Democrats boycotted the proceedings, but that did not prevent candidates for the bench from taking a crucial step toward confirmation. This action ended the attempted peace-making bipartisan agreement entered into after the bloody battle of Justice Brett Kavanagh's seating.


After Dismissal of Stormy Daniels Suit, Trump Lawyers Target 'Apprentice' Contestants

Soon after Stormy Daniels' defamation lawsuit was dismissed, President Trump's lawyers appeared before the New York Supreme Court's Appellate Division to argue that the president could not, while he is in office, be sued for defamation by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump's show "The Apprentice," who said that Trump had made sexual advances to her. In March, a trial court judge in New York ruled Zervos's case could go forward because President Trump's comments had nothing to do with his official duties. The ruling set up the possibility that the president might be deposed under oath about allegations he sexually harassed Zervos and several other women.


The Latest: Judges Weigh State Court's Power Over Trump

Appeals court judges weighing President Donald Trump's bid to shut down a former "Apprentice" contestant's defamation suit against him are asking a hypothetical question: Could a New York court order the president to jail if he were to buck an order in the case? Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz said the hypothetical scenario illustrated his argument that a sitting president can't be sued in a state court over non-official conduct. Zervos attorney Mariann Wang said that it's unlikely the hypothetical would ever happen and the case should proceed.


The Leaders Who Unleashed China's Mass Detention of Muslims

Communist party officials, including a local propaganda official and a party functionary in China's Xinjiang region, warned colleagues to steel themselves for the task of detaining large numbers of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities of which they were secular members. The government's goal was stated as a purge of "extremist" ideas, they were warned they must support the detention campaign for the good of their people.


Philippines Wins New Term on U.N. Rights Council, Drawing Outrage

The Philippines has won a three-year term on the United Nations Human Rights Council, despite condemnation by international groups and officials outraged by President Rodrigo Duterte's brutal drug war. It will be one of 18 member states to join the 47-seat council through 2021. Human Rights Watch accused president Duterte of overseeing a "killing frenzy" and said the vote for the country to retain its seat on the council risked undermining the body's credibility and effectiveness.


Poland Ordered to Reverse Purge of Supreme Court

The European Court of Justice, in an interim judgment, demanded that Poland's leaders reinstate more than two dozen judges who had been removed by the ruling party without warning, posing a fundamental threat to the rule of law, and compromising the independence of the judiciary. The Court also ordered suspension of a new law that allows a sweeping purge of the nation's Supreme Court. Poland's government has placed reshaping the courts at the center of its agenda and had vowed to defy any efforts by the European court to interfere.


The following stories have been divided into categories Entertainment, Arts, Sports, and Media, for your convenience.


Chinese Internet Star Detained for 'Disrespectful' Version of National Anthem

Yang Kaili, a Chinese live-streaming star with tens of millions of followers, was detained for five days for singing the national anthem in a "disrespectful" manner while broadcasting live. According to the police, Yang was detained under China's National Anthem Law, implemented last year, which threatens up to three years of detention for people who disrespect the anthem.



Strike Over, Lyric Opera of Chicago Can Resume Business

Less than a week after going out on strike, the musicians in the Lyric Opera orchestra ratified a new labor agreement that would reduce their guaranteed weeks of work and the size of the orchestra but increase their weekly salary. The ratified agreement reduces the number of guaranteed weeks of work for the players in the orchestra to 22, from 24, and reduces the number of full-time orchestra members through attrition to 70, from 74. These terms were substantially in line with what management was asking for.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum Will Not Use Saudi Money for Programs on the Middle East

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met)nand the Brooklyn Museum would not use Saudi money for programs on Middle Eastern art that had originally been supported by groups tied to the Saudi government. The programs, a three-month exhibition about Syrian refugees at the Brooklyn Museum, and a seminar at the Met next week about curating Middle Eastern art, are part of a yearlong "Arab Art & Education Initiative." After Turkish officials accused Saudi operatives of killing the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, some participants in the initiative began reconsidering their involvement.


Anna Burns Wins the Man Booker Prize for 'Milkman'

The Man Booker prize was awarded to Anna Burns for her novel "Milkman," which is set in an unnamed city during "the Troubles," a prolonged civil conflict in Northern Ireland that gave rise to sectarian violence and guerrilla warfare. The judges, chaired by New York Times ethics columinist, writer and philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah, cited Burns's use of dark humor to explore weighty themes like the perils of tribalism, state-sponsored terrorism, social division and the ways that sexual and political oppression often overlap. "None of us had ever read anything like this before," said Appiah in a statement. "It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humor."



USA Gymnastics Interim CEO Quits After Anti-Nike Tweet

Mary Bono resigned as interim chief of USA Gymnastics only four days into the job, after she drew fire for a tweet she sent criticizing Nike Inc's use of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign. In a letter posted on Twitter, Bono said she stepped down after "personal attacks" and defended her First Amendment right to tweet a photo of her marking over the Nike logo on her golf shoes at a benefit tournament for armed service families.


Simone Biles Criticizes Anti-Nike Tweet by Mary Bono, New U.S.A. Gymnastics Leader

Simone Biles, who won four gold medals and a bronze at the 2016 Olympics and who will compete for the United States in this year's world championships, resurfaced Mary Bono's September anti-Nike tweet with a critical post of her own.


Steve Penny Asked FBI to Help Protect U.S.A. Gymnastics' Image During Sex Abuse Case

Steve Penny, former president of U.S.A. Gymnastics, discussed the possibility of a top security job at the United States Olympic Committee with an FBI agent who was investigating Dr. Lawrence Nasser, the national team's doctor, on charges of widespread sexual abuse over many years. Penny worried about the organization's image and also sought advice from federal investigators on the wording of public statements about the investigation. Penny's lawyer confirmed that the U.S.O.C. position had been discussed with the investigator but insisted there was no conflict of interest.


Steve Penny, Former U.S.A. Gymnastics Chief, Arrested on Evidence Tampering Charge

Steve Penny, the former president and chief executive of U.S.A. Gymnastics, was arrested Wednesday on a felony charge of evidence tampering in a Texas investigation into sexual abuse by Lawrence G. Nassar, the imprisoned former doctor for the national gymnastics team. A grand jury in Walker County, Tex., indicted Penny on allegations that he had ordered the removal of documents from a national team training center after learning that an investigation had begun into Nassar's behavior.


N.B.A. G League to Offer Prospects $125,000 as Alternative to 'One and Done'

When the N.B.A. raised the minimum eligibility age for basketball players from 18 to 19 years old in 2005, players such as Kobe Bryant and
LeBron James who would have gone into professional basketball straight from high school began to join N.C.A.A. ranks for a "one and done" year at college, declaring for the N.B.A. draft after their first years in school. Now the N.B.A. has announced that, beginning next year, select players will have an alternative to "one and done" - they would be able to earn $125,000 to play in the N.B.A.'s development league, the G League, for a year before entering the draft.


Racial Abuse, Then a Beating, on a French Soccer Field

Current and former players of France's multicultural world champion men's national soccer team say that amateur soccer in France is marred by racism and discrimination. A month before the World Cup, Kerfalla Sissoko, an amateur soccer player from Guinea, was brutally attacked after a fight broke out during a league match near the northeastern city of Strasbourg. Sissoko and several black teammates said that rival players and fans had directed racist insults at them during the game. Sissoko was cornered as he tried to leave the field, and was beaten by players and fans, who broke his cheekbone. Then league officials suspended him for 10 games for provoking the melee.



New York Attorney General Expands Inquiry Into Net Neutrality Comments

New York's Attorney General, Barbara D. Underwood, is investigating whether telecommunications trade groups, lobbying contractors, and Washington Advocacy organizations submitted millions of fraudulent public comments to sway a critical federal decision on internet regulation. The regulations, made under President Barack Obama, were meant to guarantee full and equal access to the internet, a principle known as net neutrality. The telecommunications industry bitterly opposed them and enthusiastically backed a repeal under President Trump. The fake comments appear to have favored the telecommunications industry, while all of the unique comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission opposed repeal of net neutrality.


A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar's Military

A systematic campaign was waged on Facebook by members of the Myanmar military targeting the country's mostly Muslim Rohingya minority group, inciting murders, rapes, and widespread migration of Rohingya. Facebook took down the official accounts of senior Myanmar military leaders in August, but the breadth and details of the propaganda campaign hidden behind fake names and sham accounts went undetected.


Facebook's WhatsApp Flooded With Fake News in Brazil Election

Facebook efforts to crack down on misinformation on its main platform ahead of the October 28th Brazilian presidential run-off between right-winger Jair Bolsonaro and leftist Fernando Haddad have been unsuccessful, as their popular messaging application WhatsApp has been flooded with falsehoods and conspiracy theories. Haddad alleges that businessmen supporting Bolsonaro have been paying to bombard voters with misleading propaganda in violation of electoral law, which Bolsonaro denies.


Julian Assange Says That He is Suing Ecuador for 'Violating His Fundamental Rights'

Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who has taken asylum at the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012, announced that he was suing the Ecuadorean government for "violating his fundamental rights," claiming that his longtime hosts at the country's embassy in London are limiting his contact with the outside world and censoring his speech.


Saudis' Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider

Before he was murdered in a Saudi embassy in Istanbul, the Washington Post reporter Jamal Khashoggi woke each morning to reach the words of Twitter trolls who had been ordered to attack him and other influential Saudis who had criticized the kingdom's leaders. Khashoggi's online attackers were part of a broad effort dictated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and his close advisers to silence critics both inside Saudi Arabia and abroad. Hundreds of people work at a so-called troll farm in Riyadh to smother the voices of dissidents. The vigorous push also appears to include the grooming -- not previously reported -- of a Saudi employee at Twitter whom Western intelligence officials suspected of spying on user accounts to help the Saudi leadership.


Khashoggi Warns in Last Column of Free Rein to Silence Media

The Washington Post published a column by Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi in which he warned that governments in the Middle East "have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate." Khashoggi first began writing for the Post's opinion section in September 2017, and his columns criticized the prince and the direction of the Saudi kingdom. In the op-ed, titled "Jamal Khashoggi: What the Arab world needs most is free expression," Khashoggi recounted the imprisonment of a prominent writer who spoke against the Saudi establishment, and cited an incident in which the Egyptian government seized control of a newspaper.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 22, 2018 1:36 PM.

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