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Week In Review

By Leslie Berman
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Supreme Court Takes Eight Cases, but Doesn't Act on Some Big Ones

The Supreme Court added eight cases to its docket, including how gun laws apply to undocumented immigrants and whether the police may have blood drawn from unconscious motorists suspected of drunken driving. However, the court took no action on an unusually large number of pending petitions on significant issues, including President Trump's efforts to shut down a program that shields 700,000 young undocumented immigrants from deportation and to bar most transgender people from military service. Other petitions under consideration concern an Indiana abortion law, a New York City gun control ordinance, a New Jersey ruling barring government grants to repair churches, and whether a federal civil rights law prohibits job discrimination against gay, lesbian, and transgender workers.


Supreme Court Stays Out of Secret Case That May Be Part of Mueller Probe

The Supreme Court refused to intercede in a fight over a sealed grand jury subpoena to a foreign corporation issued by a federal prosecutor who may or may not be Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating the Trump-Russia affair. The Court's action means that the corporation, which has not been identified, must provide information to the prosecutor or face financial penalties. The Court's two-sentence order gave no reasons and provided no details.


Justice Kavanaugh Issues First Opinion in Arbitration Case

Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued his first written opinion in a unanimous ruling that lower courts may not override companies' abilities to use arbitration to resolve disputes with customers or other businesses. Newly appointed justices are generally assigned non-controversial, unanimous cases as their first opinions. Justice Kavanagh's first vote was with the majority ruling that Louisiana and Kansas may not end funding for Planned Parenthood through their Medicaid programs.


Supreme Court Won't Intervene in Case of Kennedy Cousin Skakel

The Supreme Court denied prosecutors' attempts to revive the overturned conviction of Michael C. Skakel, a cousin of the Kennedys, who was charged with murdering a neighbor when he and she were teenagers. Prosecutors sought to appeal a decision by the State Supreme Court to overturn Skakel's conviction, which reversed the Court's own prior decision.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Misses Supreme Court Arguments

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg missed the Supreme Court's post-holiday break opening arguments as she recuperated at home from cancer surgery. This was the first time Justice Ginsberg has missed an argument in 25 years on the Court, but was announced to be working from home. The Justice will take part in the consideration of those cases based on briefs submitted by the parties and transcripts of the arguments.


Court Rejects Trump's Cuts in Payments for Prescription Drugs

Federal Judge Rudolph Contreras rejected President Trump's effort to cut payments for prescription drugs, saying that the administration went far beyond its legal authority. The Court's ruling states that the Trump administration made a "drastic departure from the statutorily mandated rates" when it reduced payments to hospitals for drugs given to Medicare beneficiaries in outpatient clinics. The secretary of health and human services may not "end-run Congress's clear mandate."


Ocean Warming Is Accelerating Faster Than Thought, New Research Finds

Scientists say that the world's oceans are warming far more quickly than previously thought, a finding with dire implications for climate change, because almost all the excess greenhouse gas heat absorbed by the planet -- about 93% of it -- ends up stored in the oceans. A new analysis found that the oceans are heating up 40% faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago.


Trump Storms Out of White House Meeting With Democrats on Shutdown

President Trump stormed out of a White House meeting with congressional leaders when Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she would not fund a border wall even if he agreed to reopen the government. Democrats present at the meeting said the President had thrown a "temper tantrum" before leaving abruptly. The President's exit left the negotiation in disarray, and congressional leaders without a plan for next steps.


Federal Aviation Administration Unions Highlight Potential Risks to Air Safety From Shutdown

Union leaders representing air traffic controllers and aviation safety inspectors warned that the partial government shutdown was hurting the safety of the nation's air travel system. Their rally outside the Capitol was one of many efforts by the labor movement to press Washington to put federal employees back to work.


Government Shutdown Curtails Food and Drug Administration Food Inspections

The government shutdown has caused the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many others at high risk of contamination. FDA inspectors normally examine operations at about 160 domestic manufacturing and food processing plants each week. Nearly one-third of them are considered to be at high risk of causing food-borne illnesses. The FDA oversees the safety of about 80% of the U.S. food supply, as well as most overseas imports.


Shutdown Means Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Inspectors Aren't on the Job

The federal government's inspections of chemical factories, power plants, oil refineries, water treatment plants, and of thousands of other industrial sites for pollution violations is suspended during the government shutdown. The Environmental Protection Agency has furloughed most of its 600 pollution inspectors and workers who monitor compliance with environmental laws, increasing chances that, either by design or by accident, companies might emit illegal levels of contaminants into the air or water without detection, potentially contaminating streams and rivers.


White House Considers Using Storm Aid Funds as a Way to Pay for the Border Wall

Under constant bombardment from President Trump about tying funding to build a border wall with ending the federal government shutdown, White House officials considered diverting emergency aid from storm- and fire-ravaged Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and California, perhaps under an emergency declaration. Some Senate Republicans tried to work out a deal to reopen the government while Congress worked toward a broader agreement tying wall funds to protection for some undocumented immigrants and other migrants. But those negotiations had not really begun when Vice President Mike Pence and other members of Mr. Trump's team let it be known privately that the president would not back such a deal.


Trump Pulls Back From Declaring a National Emergency to Fund a Wall

President Trump has stepped back from declaring a national emergency to pay for a border wall under pressure from congressional Republicans, his own lawyers and advisers, who say using it as a way out of the government shutdown does not justify the precedent it would set and the legal questions it could raise. The President has grown increasingly frustrated by his inability to bend the Democrats to his will; but just as he stated that declaring a national emergency was not in the offing, he contradicted himself, saying that he would declare a state of emergency if he had to.


Manafort Accused of Sharing Trump Polling Data With Russian Associate

Paul Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence while in his position in the Trump campaign. An unsealed court filing provided the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race. Manafort's lawyers made the disclosure by accident, through a formatting error in a document filed to respond to charges that he had lied to prosecutors working for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, after agreeing to cooperate with their investigation into Russian interference in the election. The document also revealed that during the campaign, Manafort and his Russian associate, Konstantin V. Kilimnik, discussed a plan for peace in Ukraine.


FBI Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as FBI director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence. The FBI's investigation also had a criminal aspect, as to whether the President's firing of Comey constituted obstruction of justice.


Trump's Efforts to Hide Details of Putin Talks May Set Up Fight With Congress

President Trump's efforts to hide his conversations with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and new details about the FBI inquiry into his ties to Moscow have intensified debate over his relationship with Russia, adding fuel to Democrats' budding investigations of his presidency and potentially setting up a clash between the White House and Congress. Trump has repeatedly withheld details of his conversations with
Putin, according to current and former American officials, a practice that has left officials blind to the dynamic between the two leaders and intensified questions within the administration over the president's actions.


Michael Cohen, Trump's Former Lawyer, Agrees to Testify to Congress

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump's former personal lawyer who implicated the latter in a scheme to pay hush money to two women claiming to have had affairs with him, has agreed to testify before a House committee and give "a full and credible account" of his work for Trump in a televised hearing that threatens to further damage the president's image and could clarify the extent of his legal troubles.


Prosecutors Examining Ukrainians Who Flocked to Trump Inaugural

President Trump and his wife Melania danced at the Inaugural Liberty Ball in company with hundreds of their wealthiest and most influential supporters, including a dozen or more Ukrainian political and business officials. Those Ukrainians attended meetings and had encounters at Trump International Hotel with influential Republican members of Congress and close allies of President Trump while in Washington D.C. for the celebration.


Democrats Start Investigative Gears, but Slowly

Democrats have quietly sent dozens of letters in recent weeks seeking documents and testimony from President Trump's businesses, his campaign, and his administration, setting the table for investigations that could reach the center of his presidency. Clear targets have emerged in the process: Family separation and detention policies at the border and the acting attorney general's oversight of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. However, Democrats do not plan to reopen a full-scale Russian interference investigation, and are holding off on an immediate request for Trump's tax returns.


Bolton Puts Conditions on Syria Withdrawal, Suggesting a Delay of Months or Years

National Security Adviser John R. Bolton rolled back President Trump's decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave American forces there for months or even years. During a visit to Israel, Bolton told reporters that American forces would remain in Syria until the last remnants of the Islamic State were defeated and Turkey provided guarantees that it would not strike Kurdish forces allied with the United States. He and other top White House advisers have led a behind-the-scenes effort to slow Trump's order and reassure allies, including Israel.


U.S. Downgraded European Union's Diplomatic Status (but Didn't Say Anything)

The President has been critical of multinational organizations like the United Nations and the European Union (EU), and has suggested that the Brussels government has not been good for its member nations. However, it was a shock to the EU to discover that the Trump administration had downgraded the diplomatic status of its delegation to the United States last year, from member state to an international organization, without making a formal announcement or informing the EU about the change. This was discovered during President Bush's funeral, when the EU ambassador was introduced out of protocol order, at the end of all other introductions. After protest from Brussels and talks between the EU and the Trump administration, the reclassification is believed to have been reversed, at least temporarily.


Iran Has Held U.S. Navy Veteran Since July, Family Says

An American Navy veteran has been held in an Iranian prison on unspecified charges since late July, when he was seized while visiting an Iranian girlfriend. This could further complicate relations between the United States and Iran. Tension between the countries worsened substantially after President Trump renounced the nuclear accord with Iran last May and reimposed severe sanctions. At least three other American citizens, two of them of Iranian descent, have been incarcerated in Iran for years. Another American has been missing in Iran for more than a decade.


Clemency Decision Sparks Praise, Political Questions

Outgoing Republican Governor Bill Haslam of Tennessee granted clemency to a woman who killed a man when she was 16. The governor quietly issued his decision on Cyntoia Brown, who says she was a sex-trafficking victim, but the news quickly spread among criminal justice advocates, celebrities and other supporters who had been fighting for years to help Brown (such as Kim Kardashian West and Rihanna). Law enforcement officials had opposed clemency, arguing that Brown was not justified in killing a 43-year-old man who authorities said had paid to have sex with her. The governor's office received an estimated 100,000 phone calls and emails from supporters pleading for mercy.


Saudi Woman Who Fled Family Is Granted Refugee Status

A young Saudi woman who escaped from her family in Kuwait by boarding a flight to Bangkok, and barricaded herself in a Bangkok airport hotel room to avoid deportation, was granted refugee status by the United Nations refugee agency, clearing the way for an asylum request. The woman said she feared her relatives would kill her if she was forced to return to them. She escaped from her family in Kuwait intending to fly to Australia and apply for asylum, but Thai immigration officials blocked her from entering the country and threatened to deport her. After a tense standoff that was followed on social media, the Thai Immigration Bureau agreed to let her leave the airport under the protection of the United Nations agency, and Canada granted her asylum.


Veselnitskaya, Russian in Trump Tower Meeting, Is Charged in Case That Shows Kremlin Ties

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya, the Russian lawyer who met with Trump campaign officials in Trump Tower in 2016, and is a pivotal figure in the
investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign, was charged in a separate case with seeking to thwart an earlier investigation into money laundering that involved an influential Russian businessman and his investment firm.


Board Sued Over Google's Exit Package for Accused Executive

A shareholder lawsuit filed in California Superior Court says that the board of directors of Google's parent company, Alphabet, played an "active and direct role" in approving a $90 million exit package for Andy Rubin, a senior executive, even though an investigation into a sexual harassment claim against him was deemed credible.


Facing Legal Action, Insurer Now Will Cover People Taking Truvada, an H.I.V.-Prevention Drug

Settling allegations of discrimination filed by the Massachusetts attorney general's office, Mutual of Omaha has agreed not to deny insurance to people who use medications to prevent H.I.V. infection. The insurer also settled a lawsuit brought by an unidentified gay man in Massachusetts who was turned down for long-term-care insurance after acknowledging that he took an H.I.V.-prevention drug called Truvada. Mutual of Omaha became the focus of discrimination complaints after applicants, mostly gay men, said they were denied disability, long-term-care or life insurance solely because they were taking Truvada to protect themselves from H.I.V., a practice called PrEP (short for pre-exposure prophylaxis).


As Supreme Court Shifts Under Trump, Cuomo Vows to Expand Abortion Rights

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo promised to protect women's reproductive rights by expanding New York state's abortion laws within the first 30 days of the new legislative session. "The Republican Senate said, 'You don't need a state law codifying Roe v. Wade. No administration would ever roll back Roe v. Wade,'" Cuomo said at the event at Barnard College, describing why previous efforts had languished for so long. "So help me God, this was the conversation." Cuomo's action is in reaction to the appointment of a conservative majority on the United States Supreme Court, which might imperil women's reproductive rights.


Mayor de Blasio Says Wealth Is 'in the Wrong Hands,' Pledges to Redistribute It

Mayor Bill de Blasio used his sixth State of the City speech to present his tenure in New York City and his promises of things to come as the alternative. Earlier Mr. DeBlasio said that he would embark on a national tour to "preach the gospel" of liberal governance, trumpet his accomplishments in his first five years in office and argue that his new proposals -- such as requiring paid vacation for most private-sector employees -- are a model for the Democratic Party nationally. "{T}here's plenty of money in the world. Plenty of money in this city," the mayor said, flanked by screens with graphs of productivity outpacing compensation. "It's just in the wrong hands!"


Early Voting and Other Changes to Election Laws Are Coming to New York

During last year's midterm elections, New York was the only state in the nation that held separate state and federal primary elections, a division that almost seemed designed to suppress voter turnout. New York also has no early voting, no voting by mail, no same-day voter registration. Now the legislature is in control of both chambers of the State Capitol, and vote reform is on the way. Among the measures is preregistration of 16- and 17-year-olds, and consolidation of state and federal elections.


Texas Republicans Rally Behind Muslim Official as Some Try to Oust Him Over Religion

Republicans in the third-most-populous county in Texas voted overwhelmingly against the removal of one of their party leaders from his post. Shahid Shafi, a surgeon and longtime Republican who was appointed vice chairman of the Tarrant County Republican Party is a Muslim, and the disqualification vote was about whether his faith prohibited him from holding the job. The Republican Party's county chairman applauded the vote supporting Dr. Shafi 139 to 49.


U.S. Steel Companies Face Downturn Despite Trump Claims of Revival

President Trump has announced that he wants to use steel to build the wall along the southern border, using the occasion to praise himself for fulfilling two campaign promises at once: keeping out illegal immigrants and resuscitating a struggling manufacturing industry. In the 10 months since the Trump administration imposed 25% tariffs on steel imports, prices in the United States have now fallen back to levels last seen before the tariffs were announced last March.


Florida Felons Once Denied Rights Begin Registering to Vote

Last week, an amendment to the Florida Constitution restoring the voting rights of former felons went into effect, and nearly 1.5 million former felons became eligible to vote.


With Kim's Visit, China Shows U.S. It Has Leverage on Trade

China's leader, Xi Jinping, met with North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, during the second day of talks between midlevel trade negotiators from China and the United States. Though the government said that the events were unconnected, Kim's surprise visit was an unmistakable reminder that China could complicate the Trump administration's pursuit of other goals -- including ridding the North of nuclear weapons -- if the two powers fail to strike a deal on trade.


Turkish President Snubs Bolton Over Comments That Turkey Must Protect Kurds

President Trump's plan to withdraw the United States from Syria fell into further disarray after Turkey's leader rebuffed Trump's emissary, John R. Bolton, and angrily dismissed his demand that Turkey agree to protect America's Kurdish allies. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Bolton had made a "grave mistake" in setting that condition for the pullout of troops. "It is not possible for us to swallow the message Bolton gave from Israel," Erdogan said in Parliament, after refusing to meet with Bolton, the president's national security adviser, during his visit to Turkey.


A South Korean Ex-Chief Justice Faces Case-Rigging Accusations

Prosecutors in South Korea confronted a retired Supreme Court chief justice with accusations that he conspired to delay a case that could upset relations with Japan, interrogating him in a closed-door hearing that is likely to lead to an unprecedented indictment. No former or sitting chief justice in South Korea had ever been summoned as a criminal suspect until Yang Sung-tae, 71, presented himself to address allegations that he had manipulated the case on behalf of the nation's disgraced former president. The scandal involving Yang has drawn intense interest in South Korea, where a mistrust of the judiciary is a longstanding phenomenon. The depth of anti-judiciary sentiment is such that when a quixotic pig farmer angry over a court ruling threw a firebomb at the car of the current chief justice, Kim Myeong-su, the November incident received outsize news and social media coverage. Yang's scandal is also being closely watched by diplomats because of its connection to the growing diplomatic schism between South Korea and Japan, both key American allies.


India Finally Has Plan to Fight Air Pollution. Environmentalists Are Wary.

India has nine of the world's 10 most polluted cities, according to one World Health Organization measure, with choking urban smog that researchers estimate killed 1.24 million people in 2017. This week the government's National Clean Air Program unveiled a five-year plan that environmentalists welcomed as long overdue but criticized as lacking clear mechanisms or robust funding to achieve its aims, which include reducing air pollution in 102 cities by up to 30% from 2017 levels.



Judge Dismisses Part of Ashley Judd's Lawsuit Against Harvey Weinstein

A federal judge dismissed part of Ashley Judd's multipronged lawsuit against Harvey Weinstein, ruling that her allegations of sexual harassment do not fall within the scope of a California statute. The order does not end Judd's case, which is built around other claims, including defamation and unfair business practices. In a suit filed in May, she claimed that her career withered because Weinstein spread lies about her in Hollywood after she rejected his sexual requests.


Investigators Looking Into Accusations From R. Kelly Documentary

Prosecutors in Chicago and Atlanta are seeking information from any potential victims or witnesses after the airing of an investigative documentary about R. Kelly that detailed allegations of more than two decades of sexual and physical abuse by the R&B singer. The district attorney's office in Fulton County, Georgia began conducting interviews after the broadcast of "Surviving R. Kelly," a six-part series that aired on Lifetime, according to the lawyer for a couple who say that the singer is holding their daughter against her will.


Friars Club Director Pleads Guilty to Tax Fraud

The executive director of the Friars Club, a Manhattan institution long known for its celebrity roasts and as a hangout for entertainers like Frank Sinatra and Jack Benny, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to having filed false income tax returns. Peter Gyure pleaded guilty in Federal District Court in Manhattan to one count of filing false returns, and has agreed to pay $156,920 to the Internal Revenue Service. He could face a maximum of three years in prison.


Broadway Actors Pushing for Profit-Sharing in Creation of Shows

Broadway performers and stage managers are demanding a share of the profits from hit shows they help to create, setting off a labor dispute that is threatening to disrupt the high-stakes development of new musicals and plays. Actors' Equity (Equity), the national labor union, and Broadway League, a trade association of producers, are at an impasse in their negotiations, and Equity may hold a limited strike in which its members would be barred from participating in any developmental work with commercial producers.


John Lasseter, Ousted From Pixar in #MeToo Wave, Finds New Hollywood Home

John Lasseter, the Pixar co-founder who was forced to resign from the Walt Disney Company after complaints about unwanted touching in the workplace, has become one of the first men toppled in the #MeToo era to find a new Hollywood perch. David Ellison, a "Mission: Impossible" producer and founder of Skydance Media, a production company affiliated with Paramount Pictures, announced that Lasseter would become Skydance's animation chief. Lasseter will start this month at the company, which Ellison started in 2010 with money inherited from his father, the Oracle billionaire Larry Ellison.


Woodstock Returns Again on the Festival's 50th Anniversary

Michael Lang, one of the producers of the original Woodstock Festival, is at the center of a planned 50th anniversary reunion festival, sponsored by an arm of Japanese advertising giant Dentsu. Lang is hoping to foster social engagement by partnering with activist organizations, and is planning to keep this festival smaller (100,000 attendees), and more relevant, with films and speakers as well as music, on three large stages and three smaller stages in "neighborhoods" with their own services and focus. The festival will be held around the Watkins Glen, New York, racetrack, which has recently been the site of festivals by the jam band Phish.



Must Writers Be Moral? Their Contracts May Require It

Publishers don't like scandals that might threaten the bottom lines of the multinational media conglomerates of which most form a small part. Increasingly, publishers are demanding that authors sign contracts with a "morality clause." Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Penguin Random House have added such clauses to their standard book contracts and others may be debating going the same way. These clauses release a company from the obligation to publish a book if past or future conduct of the author is inconsistent with the author's reputation at the time the agreements are executed, comes to light, and results in sustained, widespread public condemnation of the author that materially diminishes the sales potential of the work.


Prosecutors: Art Dealer Mary Boone Should Go to Prison

Federal prosecutors are recommending that Mary Boone, a veteran art dealer, be sent to prison, saying that she deliberately defrauded the government by filing false tax returns and evading $3 million in taxes. Boone is to be sentenced on January 18th, having pleaded guilty last year to two counts of filing false returns, a charge that carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. Her lawyers had asked the court to spare her prison time because her offenses were the product of depression and anxiety brought on by childhood trauma. Prosecutors argued that Boone had achieved a measure of financial stability and comfort that "most people can only dream about" and should serve 30 to 37 months in prison.


Jury Orders Mongols Biker Club to Forfeit Its Logo, the 'Holy of Holies'

A federal jury in California found that the Mongols motorcycle club must forfeit its rights to the trademarked Genghis Khan-style emblem that identifies the organization. The jury's verdict concluded the second phase of a wide-ranging eight-week racketeering trial in which jurors also branded the Mongols a criminal enterprise. The presiding judge, who in the past has ruled in favor of the Mongols, said he would not immediately order the club to forfeit the logo until he has a chance to review the club's arguments and consider their free speech rights.


Does It Pay to Be a Writer?

A recent study by the Authors Guild, a professional organization for book writers, shows that writing may no longer be a livable profession. According to the survey, median pay for full-time writers was $20,300 in 2017, and that number decreased to $6,080 when part-time writers were considered. The latter figure reflects a 42 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $10,500. These findings are the result of an expansive 2018 study of more than 5,000 published book authors, across genres and including both traditional and self-published writers. "In the 20th century, a good literary writer could earn a middle-class living just writing," said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, citing William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and John Cheever. Now, most writers need to supplement their income with speaking engagements or teaching. Strictly book-related income -- which is to say royalties and advances -- are also down, almost 30 percent for full-time writers since 2009. Writing for magazines and newspapers was once a solid source of additional income for professional writers, but the decline in freelance journalism and pay has meant less opportunity for authors to write for pay. Many print publications, which offered the highest rate, have folded.


Lin-Manuel Miranda and Friends Purchase Drama Book Shop

Lin-Manuel Miranda a composer, lyricist, actor and author is going to be a bookseller Miranda and three of his "Hamilton" collaborators have purchased the Drama Book Shop, a century-old theater district purveyor of scripts, sheet music, and other stage-related reading material. The move is an effort to sustain the store - a mainstay of New York's theater scene that was was recognized with a Tony honor for excellence -- but has struggled to survive the brutal Times Square real estate market and recently announced that it was being forced to move from its current location. The rescue plan is a joint venture between the "Hamilton" team and the city, which has pledged to find the store an affordable space in Midtown.


Warhol Foundation Overturns 8-Year Smithsonian Funding Ban

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (Foundation) has announced that it will award $100,000 to the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian -- ending an eight-year-old ban on providing money to the Smithsonian. The ban was instituted in 2010 when the National Portrait Gallery removed David Wojnarowicz's video "A Fire in My Belly" from its exhibition "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" due to political pressure. The Foundation had supported the show and saw the removal of the artwork as an example of "blatant censorship." In addition to licensing Warhol's work and supporting scholarly research, it also provides grants to arts organizations.


Female Composers Are Trying to Break Film's Sound Barrier

Male composers have been hired to score two forthcoming blockbusters about warrior women -- "Wonder Woman 1984," directed and co-written by Patty Jenkins, and "Mulan," directed by Niki Caro from a screenplay by three women. The announcements were simply the latest examples of women being unheard in film music. A 2018 study by the University of Southern California revealed that for the top 100 fictional films at the box office every year from 2007 to 2017, only 16 female composers were hired, compared with more than 1,200 men. Another report from the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film showed that of the top 250 films at the domestic box office in 2018, 94 percent were scored by men.



National Football League and Union Say Eric Reid's Repeated Drug Tests Were Random

The National Football League (NFL, League) and its players association defended their policy of random drug testing of the League's players on Wednesday, after Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid suggested that he had been subjected to a curiously high number of them this season. Reid, who joined the Panthers in Week 4, noted in December that he had been selected for a drug test for the seventh time in 11 weeks this season. In a joint statement, the NFL and players union said that the accusation that Reid had been subjected to an inordinate number of tests deliberately had been investigated by the administrator of the drug policy, and "that Mr. Reid's tests were randomly generated via computer algorithm and that his selection for testing was normal."


Netherlands May Have Given Nike Illegal Tax Breaks, EU Says

European authorities are investigating whether the Dutch government illegally allowed sportswear giant Nike to avoid paying taxes on profits from sales in the region, potentially exposing the company to huge penalties similar to those imposed on Apple and Amazon. The inquiry is part of a broader European Commission crackdown on countries like Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands over accusations that they gave questionable tax breaks to multinational companies, many of them based in the United States, as a way of attracting corporate headquarters and white-collar jobs. Prior investigations fined Apple $16.5 billion to be paid to Ireland and made Amazon pay €283 million to Luxembourg. Starbucks paid €25.7 million to the Netherlands in 2015, and an investigation into Ikea is underway.


Cristiano Ronaldo's DNA Sought by Las Vegas Police in Rape Investigation

Nevada law enforcement officials investigating a sexual assault accusation against the soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo have requested a sample of the player's DNA from the Italian authorities. Ronaldo, a Portuguese wing and five-time world player of the year, plays in Italy for Juventus. Investigators are seeking the DNA sample as part of a recently reopened investigation into accusations by an American woman, Kathryn Mayorga, who said that Ronaldo raped her in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009 and later paid her $375,000 for her silence.


In Alabama, a Girl's High School Hoop Dreams Are Restored

An Alabama girl's banishment from high school basketball came to an end on Friday morning when a circuit court judge ruled that she could return to competition pending a hearing. The judge will decide whether Maori Davenport deserved to be ruled ineligible for accepting a mistaken payment from the sport's national governing body for playing on a junior national team last summer.


Japan's Olympics Chief Faces Corruption Charges in France

The president of Japan's Olympic Committee, a former Olympian who is also the Chairman of the International Olympic Committee's marketing commission, has been indicted on corruption charges in France after an investigation into the bidding process that led to Tokyo's being awarded the Summer Games it is preparing to host next year. In a statement, Tsunekazu Takeda acknowledged that he had been questioned by the French authorities, but denied their accusations. The news is yet another blow to the credibility of the Olympic movement, which has been battered by a number of corruption cases linked to previous Olympic bids and the ongoing repercussions of a widespread Russian doping operation at the 2014 Winter Olympics.


Enes Kanter to Skip Knicks' Trip to London, Citing Fear of Turkish Retaliation

Knicks center Enes Kanter said that he would not travel with the team to play the Washington Wizards in London on January 17th because he feared retaliation for his public opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Kanter, who is Turkish, has been an outspoken critic of the president for years, and said that Turkish operatives could present a danger to him in London. An official at the Turkish Embassy in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity to abide by diplomatic protocol, dismissed Kanter's comments as baseless.



Legal Battle Between Sumner Redstone and Former Girlfriend Is Settled

Sumner M. Redstone, the aging media mogul, has settled a long-running legal battle with his former girlfriend Manuela Herzer, capping a dispute that challenged Redstone's mental capacity and sowed doubt over the future of his empire. The settlement includes Redstone's daughter, Shari E. Redstone, who has taken a leadership role in Viacom and CBS. The Redstones control both companies through their private theater chain, National Amusements. As part of the agreement, Herzer will pay back $3.25 million for the lavish gifts and monetary rewards Redstone had given her over the years.


The Exclusive That Wasn't? Publication Retracts Moonves Interview

A week before Christmas, Leslie Moonves, just been fired as the chief executive of CBS after multiple accusations of sexual misconduct, appeared to give an exclusive, on-the-record interview to a little-known publication in which he bluntly addressed his dismissal. Agenda, a news service owned by The Financial Times, quoted Moonves as saying: "How quickly the board forgets the job I did for CBS. They were a rudderless ship when I went there, when I took over." Moonves had shunned all interview requests since the publication of an article in The New Yorker last summer that included detailed, on-the-record accounts from women saying that he had assaulted them. For much of 2018, reporters at major outlets had aggressively sought to interview Moonves, with little success. The idea that Agenda, a niche outlet with 6,000 subscribers focused on corporate governance issues, had scored his first on-record comments since his firing struck many observers as implausible.


'She Literally Never Stops.' CBS News, in Need of Fixing, Turns to Susan Zirinsky

Susan Zirinsky is a legend in the world of television news. The stories about her exploits in the world of television news are legendary. She was the inspiration for Holly Hunter's high-strung and highly ethical producer in the Oscar-nominated movie "Broadcast News". Dan Rather once said that she was such a part of the network's firmament that she arrived in a yellow CBS shipping bag straight from the maternity ward. After more than four decades at CBS, Zirinsky has been named the first woman to lead CBS News, replacing David Rhodes as the division's president in the coming weeks. She will be leading a group that has been rocked by a string of executive changes and unsavory revelations about the broader corporate culture at CBS: Charlie Rose was fired from his roles at "CBS This Morning" and "60 Minutes" after being accused of sexual misconduct last year.


It's Final: Megyn Kelly and NBC Part Ways and She Will Be Paid in Full

After a drawn-out negotiation, NBC and former cable news start Megyn Kelly have formally agreed to part ways. The parties reached a final agreement nearly three months after Kelly wondered aloud on-air why it was inappropriate for white people to dress up in blackface for Halloween. NBC and a representative for Kelly declined to reveal the details of the exit package. At the time of the separation, Kelly was in the middle of a three-year, $69 million contract with the network.


He Disparaged the Police on Facebook. So They Arrested Him.

Robert Frese commented last year on a newspaper's Facebook page that a New Hampshire police officer who had given him a traffic citation was "a dirty cop." He also said the police chief was a coward who had covered up the matter. The police then arrested arrested Frese, saying he had committed criminal libel. About half of U.S. states have laws making libel a crime, and prosecutions are not uncommon. About 25 people were charged with violating New Hampshire's law from 2009 to 2017, according to a lawsuit filed last month on behalf of Frese by the American Civil Liberties Union. Nationwide, according to a preliminary count by Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, "it appears that they happen about 20 times per year, and often lead to convictions."


The Latest Smear Against Ocasio-Cortez: A Fake Nude Photo

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York whose outspokenness and progressive views have made her a target of conservatives, lashed out at the right-wing news site The Daily Caller after it posted an article on Monday showing a photo that had been falsely described as a nude selfie of the congresswoman with an emphasis on her feet. It was fake foot news. The photo that had been making the rounds showed a different woman's bare shins and feet.


Democrats Faked Online Push to Outlaw Alcohol in Alabama Race

The "Dry Alabama" Facebook page proclaimed alcohol to be the work of the devil, and urged the state to ban alcohol throughout the state. The Facebook page and a companion Twitter feed appeared to be the work of Baptist teetotaler supporters of the Republican, Roy S. Moore, a candidate in the 2017 Alabama Senate race. They were actually secretly created by progressive Democrats working to defeat Moore.


Twitter Users in China Face Detention and Threats in New Beijing Crackdown

One man spent 15 days in a detention center. The police threatened another's family. A third was chained to a chair for eight hours of interrogation. Their offense: posting on Twitter. The Chinese police, in a sharp escalation of the country's online censorship efforts, are questioning and detaining a growing number of Twitter users even though the social media platform is blocked in China and the vast majority of people in the country cannot see it. The crackdown is the latest front in President Xi Jinping's campaign to suppress internet activity. Wang Aizhong, a human-rights activist, said the police had told him to delete messages criticizing the Chinese government. In effect, the authorities are extending their control over Chinese citizens' online lives, even if what they post is unlikely to be seen in the country.


Netflix's Bow to Saudi Censors Comes at a Cost to Free Speech

Under Article 6, Paragraph 1 of Saudi Arabia's Anti-Cyber Crime Law, Production, preparation, transmission, or storage of material impinging on public order, religious values, public morals, and privacy, through the information network or computers is punishable by up to five years in prison. Recently, the Kingdom had alerted Netflix that it had violated this statute with an episode of its comedy show "Patriot Act", starring Hasan Minhaj, a comedian and American Muslim, when Minhaj questioned Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the CIA's conclusion that he ordered the murder of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi and for Saudi war atrocities in Yemen. The shock came with Netflix's compliance. After pulling the episode from its Saudi feed, the streaming service told The Financial Times that it was simply responding to "a valid legal request."


China Targets Prominent Uighur Intellectuals to Erase an Ethnic Identity

As a writer and magazine editor, Qurban Mamut promoted the culture and history of his people, the Uighurs, and that of other Turkic minority groups who live in far western China. He did so within the strict confines of censorship imposed by the Chinese authorities, who are ever wary of ethnic separatism and Islamic extremism among the predominantly Muslim peoples of the region. Then last year, the red line moved. Suddenly, Mamut and more than a hundred other Uighur intellectuals who had successfully navigated the worlds of academia, art and journalism became the latest targets of a sweeping crackdown in the region of Xinjiang that has ensnared as many as one million Muslims in indoctrination camps.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 16, 2019 10:16 PM.

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