« Week In Review | Main | Week In Review »

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Eleven Killed in Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting

A man shouting anti-Semitic slurs opened fire inside a Pittsburgh synagogue, killing 11 congregants and wounding six others. The attack is among the deadliest against the Jewish community in the United States and at least the third mass shooting in a house of worship in three years. Federal officials charged the assailant, Robert Bowers, with 29 criminal counts, including obstructing the free exercise of religious beliefs - a hate crime. Bowers had been spewing his anger in anger in numerous web posts, all marked by anti-Semitism and anti-refugee attitudes.



New York State Sues Exxon Mobil For Deceiving Investors About Risk of Climate Change Regulations

New York's attorney general filed a lawsuit against Exxon Mobil (EM) this week for allegedly defrauding investors by withholding information and downplaying the financial risk that future climate change regulations might pose to the company. Prosecutors say that EM kept two sets of books when accounting for the effects of climate change - the company told the public that it was prepared for the more stringent regulations that would inevitably be required to combat global warming, while in reality its internal estimates discounted the potential future costs of climate policies.


Justice Department Tells Supreme Court That Discriminating Against Transgender Workers Is Not a Violation of Federal Law

In a brief filed this week, Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the U.S. Supreme Court that a civil rights law banning sex discrimination in the workplace does not cover transgender bias. This position contradicts the Equal Opportunity Commission's (EEOC) interpretation of the law that it is tasked with enforcing. The brief is in connection with a lawsuit filed by the EEOC seeking to enforce Title VII's prohibition of sex discrimination against a funeral home employer in Michigan.


"Transgender" Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration

The Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading an effort to establish a legal definition of sex under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that bans gender discrimination in education programs that receive government financial assistance. The agency's proposal would narrowly define gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth, in an effort to roll back recognition and protections of transgender people.


President Trump is Considering Closing Southern Border to Migrants

President Trump is weighing an executive order to close the southern border to migrants, including asylum seekers, as part of push to rally supporters ahead of the midterm elections. He is expected to invoke the same section of immigration law used in last year's travel ban to bar certain foreigners from entering the U.S. on national security grounds.


Key Government Agencies Were Surprised by Administration's "Zero Tolerance" Immigration Policy

According to a report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, Congress's nonpartisan investigative arm, the Trump administration did not tell key government agencies about its "zero tolerance" immigration policy before publicly announcing it in April, leaving the officials responsible for enforcing the policy unprepared to handle the resulting separations of thousands of children from their families.


Florida Man Arrested in Attempted Bombing Spree; Suspect Found Identity in Political Rage and Resentment

Cesar Sayoc, a 56-year-old Florida man with a long criminal record, was arrested after a wave of crudely built explosive devices were sent to several prominent Democrats and Trump critics. Last week, the Time Warner Center was evacuated because of a pipe bomb sent to CNN. Sayoc was a fervent Trump supporter and posted frequently on right-wing social media groups, often railing against Democratic figures.




President Trump Proposes Big Reduction in Medicare Drug Prices

President Trump unveiled a plan to overhaul how Medicare pays for certain drugs. The proposal would bypass Congress by using a pilot program to test three ways to lower the cost of drugs, including benchmarking U.S. drug prices against 16 other developed nations where target drug prices are collectively 44% lower. The administration also wants to allow private sector vendors to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies. The proposals will only apply to drugs administered in doctors' offices and outpatient hospital departments and will not affect most prescriptions bought by patients at pharmacies.


Russia Issues Warning Following President Trump's Intention to Withdraw from 1987 Nuclear Treaty

Trump has announced that the U.S. intends to pull out of a 1987 agreement banning short- and intermediate-range missiles that are launched from land, accusing Russia of cheating on the deal and criticizing the deal from not including China as a signatory. Russian President Putin warned that European nations will be at risk of a possible counterstrike if the U.S. deploys new intermediate-range missiles in Europe after withdrawing from the treaty.



Microsoft to Sell Pentagon Artificial Intelligence and Other Advanced Technology

Microsoft said that it will sell the military and intelligence agencies advanced technologies to strengthen defense, just months after Google announced that it would not renew its Pentagon contract for artificial intelligence (AI) work. The debate about military AI among U.S. tech companies comes as the Pentagon is in a race with China to develop next-generation weapons.


Amazon Met with Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials Over Facial-Recognition System to Identify Immigrants

According to newly disclosed emails, Amazon pitched its facial-recognition system to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials this summer as a way for ICE to target or identify immigrants. The platform Rekognition faced scrutiny earlier this year after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that it was already being used by some local police departments, despite a disproportionate error rate for people of color.


Trump Refuses to Give Up His Unsecured Personal iPhone Despite Warnings That Russian and Chinese Spies Are Listening

President Trump reportedly continues to use his unsecured personal iPhone, despite being told that his communications are regularly monitored by Russia and China. White House officials are growing increasingly frustrated with the President's casual approach to electronic security. Reports say that China is relying on Chinese businessmen to reach others with ties to Trump's contacts, hoping that their views will eventually be delivered to the president by trusted voices.


U.S. Begins First Cyberoperation Against Russia Aimed at Protecting Elections

In the first known overseas cyberoperation to protect American elections, the U.S. is targeting Russian operatives to try to deter them from spreading disinformation to interfere in the midterm elections.


Judge Rules That Trump Does Not Have to Answer Questions About Multiple Sexual Harassment Claims

A state judge in Manhattan denied Summer Zervos's request to force Trump to turn over evidence related to other women towards whom he allegedly made unwanted sexual advances. Zervos alleges that Trump defamed her when he denied her allegation during the 2016 election. Judge Schecter said Trump must respond to questions directly related to Zervos's allegations, and that the evidence about the other women's claims was not needed to show that he knowingly made a false statement about her.


Sandra Day O'Connor Leaves Public Life with Plea for Bipartisanship

Sandra Day O'Connor, the retired justice who was the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, announced in a letter that she has the beginning stages of dementia and is no longer able to participate in public life. In her letter, O'Connor called for a renewed commitment to nonpartisan values, one that requires putting country and the common good above party and self-interest.


The #MeToo Movement Brought Down 201 Powerful Men and Nearly Half of Their Replacements Are Women

A New York Times analysis found that since the publishing of the Weinstein exposé, at least 200 prominent men lost their jobs after public allegations of sexual harassment. Nearly half of the men were succeeded by women and the #MeToo movement is still shaking power structures in society's most visible sectors.


Saudi-led War is Pushing Yemenis to the Brink of Starvation

Saudi airstrikes have killed thousands of civilians in Yemen and a harsh economic war risks tipping the country into famine. The Saudi-led coalition and its Yemeni allies have also imposed punitive economic measures aimed at undercutting the Houthi rebels who control northern Yemen, destroying food production and distribution and displacing about a million Yemenis.


Saudi Arabia Rejects Turkey's Extradition Request in Khashoggi Killing

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister rejected a call by President Erdogan of Turkey to try the suspects in the killing of dissident commentator Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, saying that the men arrested would be prosecuted in Saudi soil. Erdogan argued that Saudi rulers face a conflict of interest in overseeing any trial because the killing was ordered and directed from within the Saudi government for political reasons. Saudi Arabia's public prosecutor acknowledged for the first time this week that the killing was premeditated.





NBC Cancels Megyn Kelly's Morning Show Following Controversial Blackface Comments

NBC confirmed that Megyn Kelly's Today show hour has been cancelled following Kelly's offensive comments regarding blackface Halloween costumes. A major outstanding question is what will happen to Kelly's $69 million, 3-year contract.


Bill Cosby's Bid for a New Trial is Rejected by Pennsylvania Judge

Bill Cosby continues to shuffle his lawyers, hiring his 12th firm and 20th lawyer. In its latest move, Cosby's legal team requested a new trial on the grounds that the prosecution had not proved the assault took place within a 12-year statute of limitations, and that a tape recording introduced as evidence had been tampered with. Cosby also asked for reconsideration of his 3-to-10-year prison sentence, arguing that the court erred in imposing the sentence on the basis of finding an undue risk that Cosby would reoffend, even though his actual risk of
reoffending, he argued, was near zero. Both requests were denied.



Tracy Chapman Files Suit Against Nicki Minaj for Copyright Infringement Over Unauthorized Sample

Tracy Chapman has sued rapper Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in California. Chapman calls for a jury trial, seeking injunctive relief and damages, over Minaj's use of an unauthorized sample. Chapman has a blanket policy against allowing her work to be sampled and had previously denied Minaj's sample request.


Rapper Tekashi69 Sentenced to Probation in Sex Video Case

Rapper Daniel Hernandez was sentenced to four years' probation and 1,000 hours of community service for violating a 2015 agreement in which he admitted to taking part in making and disseminating videos that featured a 13-year-old girl having sex.



Harassment Reports Tarnish London's King of Retail Fashion, Philip Green

Green has used nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) to silence five former employees who accused him of sexual harassment and racist abuse. He also secured an injunction to block publication of a months long investigation of those charges by a newspaper. Strong privacy laws in England have long allowed public figures to block negative reporting in the press, but the revelations about Green come at an important moment in Britain, as Prime Minister Theresa May is considering banning the legal practice of issuing NDAs in such cases.


First Artificial Intelligence-Made Painting is Sold for $432,500 at Christie's Auction

The painting, named "Edmond de Belamy," is the creation of a Paris-based collective called Obvious. The signature of the "artist" at the bottom of the canvas is the actual algorithm used to create it. A set of 15,000 portraits painted between the 14th and 20th centuries were fed through the algorithm to produce the portrait.


Hungary Turned Far Right and That's Meant Millions for Its Opera

Hungary's rightward turn has led to the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars into the arts by the increasingly autocratic right-wing government of Prime Minister Orban, who has descried Hungary's theaters, opera houses, and concert halls as "temples of national culture." This investment brings with it growing political influence on the performing arts. The governing party sees culture as an important component of national identity and has moved to exert more control over cultural appointments in recent years.


Man Arrested Trying to Steal the Magna Carta From UK Cathedral

A man armed with a hammer tried to smash the glass display case surrounding the Magna Carta at Salisbury Cathedral. It is one of four surviving originals. The document, granted by King John in 1215, is considered the founding document of English law and civil liberties, compelling an English king to act according to the rule of law.



Former Adidas Employees and Sports Agent Found Guilty on Fraud Charges in College Basketball Recruiting Scheme

A jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts against two former Adidas employees and an aspiring sports agent. The three were found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a three-week trial. The defendants funneled money to the families of college basketball recruits in exchange for the prospects' commitment to teams sponsored by Adidas. Under the NCAA's amateurism rules, college players are prohibited from accepting payment beyond scholarship and related costs. There are still two other trials stemming from the charges to come, involving four assistant coaches accused of plotting to direct players to various agents in exchange for kickbacks.



Brother of Broncos Owner Pat Bowlen Files Motion to Remove Trustee from Power

Bill Bowlen, younger brother of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, asked a Colorado District Court on Thursday to remove the three-person trust in control of the team "due to their failure to uphold Pat Bowlen's wishes and act in the best interest of Pat Bowlen, his family and the Broncos." Bowlen was removed from power in 2014 due to his ongoing battle with Alzheimer's. The trustees are in charge of the team's future, including finding the next controlling owner.


Labor Dispute Could Put Start of National Lacrosse League Season in Jeopardy

The start of the regular season in the National Lacrosse League (NLL) is in jeopardy, with the players and owners battling over their Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). Average player compensation has not increased on a per game basis since 2012 and the NLL had promised players in previous CBAs to give a share of expansion fees.


National Basketball Association, Union Struggling to Agree on Lowering League's Minimum Age

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Basketball Players Association are struggling to reach an agreement on lowering the NBA's minimum age to 18. The NBA is pressing the NBPA to agree to conditions: 1) to ending the one-and-done NBA draft era, 2) that player-agents furnish all teams with medical information on draft prospects, and 3) that the NBA can mandate players' attendance and some level of participation in the pre-draft combine. Sources say that the league wants a mechanism where teams can minimally get pool doctor reports shared among several organizations, but the union has felt significant pressure from the agent community to resist the NBA's push on ceding control of medical information.


WNBA Players Vote on Whether to Opt Out of CBA

While the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) would not comment on whether it has considered opting out of the current CBA, the players' union has put the issue to a vote. WNBA players are growing dissatisfied with the widening pay gap and say they are not provided with the same platform and resources to succeed. The CBA went into effect in March 2014 and runs through October 2021. Both sides have the right to opt out until October 31st, which would terminate the CBA after the 2019 seasons.



Google Turns Over Identities of Bloggers on Portuguese Soccer Team Benfica

Google and other internet service providers have turned over confidential user information to a Portuguese soccer team that may help it identify anonymous bloggers who have written about allegations of wrongdoing against the team. The club filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in California, claiming that the details published online were "trade secrets," and issued subpoenas to Google and a handful of other companies. The suit is similar to others brought by large organizations confronting the public disclosure of damaging information - strategic lawsuits brought to silence activists, journalists, and critics.



Women Reluctant to Talk to CBS Harassment Inquiry

Investigators have spoken with more than 250 people in a probe to find out how a culture of sexual harassment was allowed to thrive at CBS, but some women say they are reluctant to talk because they do not trust the company. Others have chosen not to speak with investigators because of non-disclosure agreements they signed with the company. The latter group feels that it has not received sufficient assurance from CBS that the individuals will not be sued for talking.


Google Protected Android Creator Accused of Misconduct

Android creator Andy Rubin left Google in 2014 with a $90 million exit package after being accused of coercing a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair into performing oral sex in a hotel room in 2013. Google found the woman's claims credible and asked Rubin to resign. Following his departure, the company invested millions into Rubin's next venture. Google employees rebuked the company for protecting executives accused of harassment and offering massive payouts following claims of sexual misconduct.



Facebook Removes Iranian Network Found to be Spreading Disinformation

The company took down more than 82 pages, groups, and accounts followed by more than one million users in the United States and Britain. The Iran-linked accounts frequently posted about emotionally charged topics like race relations and President Trump.


Pakistan Supreme Court Reinstates Ban on Indian Television Content

Pakistan's Supreme Court restored a ban on the broadcast of Indian content on local television. The Chief Justice said the ban was satisfied as India was damming rivers that flow into Pakistan. More than 80% of irrigated agricultural land in Pakistan depends on the river Indus and its tributaries. The country first imposed a ban on Indian films following the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965. The ban was lifted in 2008 but has been sporadically reintroduced.


Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 29, 2018 8:25 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Week In Review.

The next post in this blog is Week In Review.

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