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Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

General News

Nancy Pelosi Elected Speaker as Democrats Take Control of House

The House of Representatives changed hands this week, and for the first time in decades, a former Speaker of the House has returned to the post after having lost it. Nancy Pelosi, formerly the Majority Leader of the Democrats in the House and a representative from California, has retaken the gavel and already sent a message to Republicans and President Trump. She began the day by suggesting that a sitting president may be indicted and reiterating that Democrats would not pass a bill that approved funding for a border wall.


Government Shutdown Leaves Workers Reeling: 'We Seem to Be Pawns'

The federal government is now in its third week of being shut down, making it the longest shutdown in United States history. While members of Congress expressed hope that it would be over in a matter of days or weeks, bringing hope to the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are being docked pay, President Trump took to the Rose Garden to announce that the shutdown could last months or even years if the demand for the border wall funding is not met. The consequences of the shutdown go beyond paychecks: the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission announced that the agency would "suspend most operations," and many government lawyers are beginning to ask federal judges for stays in actions, given the limited government resources during the shutdown.


Undocumented Worker Says That Trump Resort Shielded Her From Secret Service

The Trump National Golf Club, Bedminster has recently terminated workers who were not eligible to work in the country, and a former employee of the New Jersey golf course has said that her name was removed from a list of workers that the Secret Service vets. These reports are the latest indication that the resort knew it was hiring undocumented workers. Several of the workers have been cooperating with the New Jersey Attorney General's office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as there may be evidence of managers knowing that workers were illegally working and potentially one supervisor helping an employee obtain forged working documents.


Elizabeth Warren Announces Iowa Trip as She Starts 2020 Presidential Run

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has announced that she is entering the 2020 presidential race, becoming the first major candidate in what is likely to be a crowded Democratic primary. She is planning to visit Iowa in the coming days, as it is the first state to vote in the primary in February 2020. The fight for the Democratic nomination is expected to be as wide open as in 1992, and other top-tier candidates, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, are expected to announce their runs in the coming weeks.


U.S. Ambassador Visits American Arrested in Russia on Spying Charge

Following Russia's arrest of an American (and Canadian, British, and Irish) citizen, Paul Whelan, for charges of espionage comes Ambassador Jon Huntsman's visit to Whelan. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, at a news conference, announced that the State Department is learning more about the charges and the circumstances surrounding Whelan's visit to Russia, and he has vowed that if the detention is not appropriate, "we will demand his immediate return." Whelan's family has said that he was in Moscow for the wedding of a friend.




Chief Justice Pushes for Tougher Measures to Shield Court Workers From Harassment

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts wrote this week that the federal court system "must do more to protect law clerks and other employees from abusive conduct." His statement comes approximately a year after allegations from 15 women surfaced that Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had sexually harassed them over the course of three decades. Many had served as his law clerks and have detailed his inappropriate comments and touches. In response, Judge Kozinski stated that he had a "broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female clerks alike." Chief Justice Roberts observed that the very qualities that make the law clerk position attractive, close proximity to senior members of the legal profession, "can create special risks of abuse."


$15 An Hour Wage Seemed Impossible and Is Now Reality for a Million New Yorkers

On Monday, the the minimum wage rose to $15 an hour in New York City for most companies that employ more than 10 workers. The two dollar increase comes six years after fast-food workers in New York City, who were then earning as little as $7.25 an hour, joined together to demand a seemingly preposterous $15 minimum wage. Their effort led to a movement in New York City and several cities on the West Coast, including San Francisco and Seattle, and in New York, several labor leaders and unions led the effort to raise the minimum wage.


China's Moon Landing: Lunar Rover Begins Exploring

A 300-pound Chinese rover landed on the far side of the moon. It began transmitting images to Earth of a side of the moon less known than the one constantly facing Earth and is traveling toward a crater near the landing site. The reaction within China to the landing of the rover has been muted, as many find the slowing economy and trade war with the United States to be of greater importance. It has caused some Chinese to wonder how much money the government is spending on the country's space missions at a time when the economy needs boosting.



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


Twisted Sister Clashes With Australian Politician Over Use of Rock Anthem

The rock band Twisted Sister has told an Australian politician, Clive Palmer, to stop using its song "We're Not Gonna Take It" in his advertising campaign. The ads that the campaign has aired changed the words to "Australia ain't gonna cop it" and criticizes the spending and delays related to an infrastructure project. Dee Snider, the lead singer of Twisted Sister, said that he was incensed by the "butchering" of the song and that the band was considering legal action against the politician.


Offered Free Tickets for 'Schindler's List,' Germany's Far Right Sees a Provocation

Steven Spielberg announced that he would bring the film "Schindler's List" back to theaters around the world in a hope to provoke discussion. An independent movie theater in western Germany offered free tickets to members of the far-right party Alternative for Germany to screen the film on Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27th. Some leaders of the party have seen the screening as a "senseless provocation," and the screening theater has released a statement: "We see ourselves as a meeting place; films are windows on the world and initiate discussion in society."


Fewer Women Directed Top Films in 2018, Study Finds

Even as women in Hollywood had a more prominent voice in advocating for their rights in the industry, new research finds that this has not translated into women making "headway securing key positions in top films." Women comprised 8% of directors in the top 250 films at the domestic box office last year, down from 11% the year before and even below the 9% figure in 1998. Behind the scenes positions were more positive, such as producers, executive producers, writers, and editors.



New Life for Old Classics As Copyrights Run Out

With the first of the year came a number of works into the public domain. Works by several artists and writers, including Marcel Proust, Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, Rudyard Kipling, and Robert Frost, are losing their protected status. Serving as a boon to readers, who will have more editions from which to choose, the deluge of available works goes back to Congress' legislation in 1998, which extended copyright protections by 20 years. The law reset the copyright term for works from 1923 to 1977 and lengthened the period from 75 years to 95 years. Each January will now bring "a fresh crop of novels, plays, music, and movies into the public domain."


Star Conductors Faced #MeToo Allegations and Are Back

Conductors Daniele Gatti and Charles Dutoit faced sexual harassment allegations in 2017 and have already returned to conducting. This has raised questions of the effectiveness of the #MeToo movement in other parts of the world and industries. James Levine, the former music director of the Metropolitan Opera, was also fired following accusations of sexual misconduct, and some question whether and how soon he may return to the industry. Other performers who have been accused of sexual misconduct, such as stand-up comedian Louis C.K., have also been making inroads to resuming their careers.


Uffizi Prods Germans to Return Painting Stolen in World War II

The Uffizi Galleries in Florence, Italy have called on the German government to see that an 18th century piece, "Vase of Flowers" by Dutchman Jan van Huysum, be returned to the museum after having been stolen during World War II. The museum has taken to social media to create public pressure for the German government to respond, and the latter has not yet done so. Under German law, legal claims for stolen property cannot be made after more than 30 years, but there have been negotiations between Italian authorities and agents for the German family that has had the work for decades.


Archaeologists Find Pre-Columbian Temple of 'Flayed Lord'

Archaeologists in Mexico have discovered a temple dedicated to a deity known as the Flayed Lord, a god important to the Aztec Empire. The temple is located in the central state of Puebla at a site built by the Popoloca people and is estimated to have been built between 1000 and 1260 A.D. It is expected that when the Aztecs took over the area around 1450 A.D., it adopted the culture and language of the Popoloca people into its society.



National Basketball Association Assistant Is Paid As Much As An Intern

Kristi Toliver, a player in the Womens National Basketball Association (WNBA) for the Washington Mystics, hoped to continue her career in the role of an assistant coach in the National Basketball Association (NBA). She expected the move to be a positive one for her career, given the prestige of the NBA, but did not expect the issue in relation to pay: because the move would be to the Washington Wizards, a team with the same owner as the Mystics, her pay would be limited to $10,000. The WNBA places a $50,000 limit on what can be paid to its players for off-season work, and $40,000 had already been promised to Toliver's teammate, leaving her with the remainder for her work. Meanwhile, other NBA assistants make $100,000 or more a year for the same work. She agreed to take the job regardless of the measly pay and accepted "what amounts to a high-profile internship financially."


Firing of Several Black Coaches Puts National Football League Hiring Under Scrutiny

Several weeks ago, the National Football League's (NFL) 32 owners announced that it was strengthening rules "to obligate teams to consider minority candidates when hiring coaches." With the end of the regular season this week, coaches knew that they could be shown the door. The result has been five African-American coaches fired in 2018, leaving only two African-American coaches in a league where over 70% of players are African-American. With eight current coaching vacancies, analysts are waiting to see whether the NFL's hiring practices will in fact live up to the its words.


Russia Misses Deadline to Provide Doping Data

Russia has missed the deadline to provide doping data for its athletes, which was a condition of lifting penalties that had barred Russia from hosting or participating in international events. The country pledged in September to deliver the data to the regulator, the World Anti-Doping Agency, which would show whether the doping that occurred was part of a state-sanctioned program. Given the failure to provide the data, it is expected that Russia will continue to be penalized and its athletes not permitted to participate in sporting events around the world.


Top Qatari Soccer Official Barred From Tournament in United Arab Emirates

The sports world has again been the site of flaring tensions between Qatar and its Arab neighbors. A Qatari vice president of Asia's soccer confederation was not permitted to travel to the United Arab Emirates ahead of the region's top tournament as part of UAE's breaking diplomatic relations and severing all ties with Qatar in 2017. The Asian Football Confederation released a statement to the effect that it had received assurance "of visas and entry permits" for the organizing committee members and executives for the tournament. It is unlikely that many Qatari supporters will be permitted to travel to Abu Dhabi to see their country's team compete.



Facebook Takes on Tricky Public Health Role

In recent months, Facebook has been contacting police departments all over the world when its monitors have perceived threats of suicide from its users. In one case in Ohio, police located the woman and forced her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation at the hospital or otherwise be arrested. Facebook has emerged as "a global arbiter" of mental distress even as it has faced scrutiny for failing to properly deal with election interference and "ethnic hatred campaigns." Those who support Facebook say that it is an example of how Facebook's power can be used for good.


Los Angeles Accuses Weather Channel App of Covertly Mining User Data

The city attorney of Los Angeles has filed an action against the Weather Company, owner of the Weather Channel app, for its deceptive collection, sharing, and profiting from the location information of millions of American consumers. The app has been downloaded more than 100 million times and has 45 million active monthly users, and the lawsuit alleges that the data from users has been used "for unrelated commercial purposes, like targeted marketing and analysis for hedge funds." A previous report by The New York Times showed that at least 75 companies engaged in similar practices, with one company "logging a person's whereabouts more than 14,000 times in just one day." The lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $2,500 for each violation of the Unfair Competition Law based on its failure to disclose its data practices when obtaining users' permission to track location.


Censoring China's Internet For Stability and Profit

Chinese media companies employ thousands of censors to comb through online content and block anything the government considers dangerous, such as oblique references to "Chinese leaders and scandals, or the memes that touch on subjects the Chinese government does not want people to read about." Many of the censors begin learning their own history by doing so, as one graduate reported learning of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. The stakes are high for censors, as they are expected to not miss any content, as such "could cause a serious political mistake."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 6, 2019 5:44 PM.

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