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Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Attorney General Nominee Vows to Not Interfere With Mueller's Russia Investigation

Attorney General nominee, William P. Barr, vowed to let special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, complete the Russia investigation. Barr said that he is determined to resist any pressure from Trump to use law enforcement for political purposes. He has also pledged that he would refuse any order from Trump to fire Mueller without good cause.


Trump's "Mystery" Meetings with Putin

While Trump insists that there was "no collusion" with Russia during his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump and Putin have met five times since the former has taken office. However, in all five of the mystery meetings, little information emerged about what they discussed, even to many other American government officials. Many veterans of past administrations could not recall a precedent for a president meeting alone with an adversary and keeping so many of his own advisers from being briefed on what was said. When they meet with foreign leaders, presidents typically want at least one aide in the room -- not just an interpreter -- to avoid misunderstandings later.


Representative Steve King Stripped of His Seats on House Judiciary and Agriculture Committees

Iowa Representative Steve King was removed from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees in the Republicans' bid to appear tough on racism and contain damage from comments King made to The New York Times questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive. Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the minority leader, said that the Republicans are not removing King from the G.O.P. House conference itself, so he can still attend party meetings, but it's up to Iowans whether or not King should stay in office. King remained defiant after losing his committee seats, releasing a statement saying that he had been referring only to "western civilization" when he asked "how did that language become offensive," not "white nationalist" or "white supremacist."


Giuliani Backtracks on Statements Implying Collusion by Trump Aides

President Trump's personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani backtracked from an assertion he had made that left open the possibility that Trump campaign aides might have coordinated with Russia in its election interference in 2016. Giuliani was seeking to clarify an interview in which he stopped short of defending Trump campaign aides, drawing speculation that he might have inside knowledge of possible coordination with Russia. "I have no knowledge of collusion involving the campaign, nor does the president," Giuliani told The New York Times, "However, I only represent the president, and that's all I can speak for."


Pelosi Suggests No State of The Union Address in Light of Government Shutdown

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has asked President Trump to either delay or cancel the upcoming State of the Union Address in light of the ongoing partial government shutdown. Pelosi cited security concerns as part of her reason for her proposal; she wrote "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government reopens this week, I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has reopened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on Jan. 29." The letter has support from several other Republican senators, however, neither the White House nor the Secret Service, the lead agency coordinating security for the State of the Union address, had an immediate comment on Pelosi's letter suggesting that the shutdown push off the speech. However, Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, said in a tweet that her department and the Secret Service were "fully prepared to support and secure the State of the Union."


Trump and Pelosi Go "Tit for Tat" Over Pelosi's State of The Union Suggestion

The day after House speaker Nancy Pelosi had suggested that the president either cancel or delay his State of the Union address this month, citing security concerns amid a prolonged partial shutdown that has forced thousands of federal employees to work without pay, Trump responded by cancelling Pelosi's trip to visit to American troops in Afghanistan. Trump wrote: "In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate," and that "Obviously" Pelosi had the option to fly commercial for the trip. Although a White House spokesman said that all coming official visits by lawmakers, known as congressional delegations or "codels," would be canceled until the shutdown is over, Melania Trump, the first lady, kept her plans to fly on a military jet to West Palm Beach, Fla., to go to the family's Mar-a-Lago compound.


Trump to Make "Huge Announcement" re. The Shutdown

Trump is expected to make a "huge announcement" after House Democrats added more than $1 billion in border-related spending to a package of funding bills that would reopen most of the government. The proposal to include more spending on border measures is scheduled for a vote this week, according to two senior Democratic officials. About half the money, $524 million, would be for additional infrastructure at ports of entry on the border and the other $563 million more would be inserted to fund 75 immigration judges, who adjudicate the claims of migrants who make asylum claims at the border. Democrats are also considering a new funding bill for the department, which has $1.3 billion allocated for border security. The proposal would include additional border protection measures they have endorsed, such as more personnel and scanning technology to intercept illicit drugs.


More Than 3,000 Immigrant Children Were Separated from Families Under "Zero Tolerance" Policy

The federal government reported that nearly 3,000 children were forcibly separated from their parents under last year's "zero tolerance" immigration policy, under which nearly all adults entering the country illegally were prosecuted, and any children accompanying them were put into shelters or foster care. As of December, the department had identified 2,737 children who were separated from their parents under the policy and required to be reunified by a federal court order issued in June 2018. However, that number may not fully represent the scope of the separations, as more may have been separated during an influx that began in 2017, before the accounting required by the court. Thus, the total number of children separated from a parent or guardian by immigration authorities is "unknown," because of the lack of a coordinated formal tracking system between the Office of Refugee Resettlement, the arm of Health and Human Services that takes in the children, and the Department of Homeland Security, which separated them from their parents.


Judge Blocks Citizen Question From 2020 Census

Judge Jesse M. Furman of the United States District Court in Manhattan has blocked the Commerce Department from adding a question about American citizenship to the 2020 census. Despite testimony to the contrary, internal documents showed that Justice Department officials had not initiated a request for a citizenship question, and in fact had rejected an initial plea from the Commerce Department to do so in the summer of 2017. The 14th Amendment requires the House to be apportioned based on "the whole number of persons in each state," and the Supreme Court has long ruled that the "whole number" includes noncitizens. The Census Bureau itself had recommended against adding a citizenship question, estimating in an analysis last January that at least 630,000 households would refuse to fill out the 2020 questionnaire if such a question were included.


New York Seeks to Overhaul Its Voting System

After years of lagging behind other states, New York seeks to overhaul its system of voting and elections, by passing several bills that will include, among others, allowing for early voting and pre-registration of minors, which will place the state among the most liberal.


Laquan McDonald Cases Set an Important Precedent, but Chicago Activists Still Call for Political Action

Former Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke became the city's first patrolman in almost 50 years to be convicted of murder when he was sentenced to just shy of seven years in an Illinois prison for second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, one for every bullet he fired when killing Laquan McDonald in October 2014. The killing, captured on a dashboard camera, made McDonald a national symbol of police brutality, after Van Dyke, a white police officer, opened fire on him on a stretch of road outside a Burger King. Van Dyke's sentencing comes only one day after the acquittals of three fellow police officers who were accused of attempting to cover up the crime.




Minorities Make Progress on Boards of Big U.S. Firms - but Not Much

The Alliance for Board Diversity, which advocates for broader demographic inclusion in boardrooms, and the professional services firm Deloitte, shows that women and minorities occupied 38.6% of board seats at Fortune 100 companies last year, compared with 35.9% in 2016. At Fortune 500 companies, the figure rose to 34% in 2018 from 30.8% in 2016. Still, the gains fell short of the alliance's target.


Britain is Paralyzed Over Brexit

The British Parliament's long-anticipated vote on a plan to withdraw from the European Union -- also known as Brexit -- came to its expected conclusion when lawmakers weighed in on a deal proposed by Prime Minister Theresa May. May's Brexit deal was rejected by a vote of 432 to 202. Following the vote, European Commission leaders issued a response stating, "We regret the outcome of the vote, and urge the U.K. government to clarify its intentions with respect to its next steps as soon as possible", noting that May's is the only deal on the table right now. Even still, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, refused to join discussions until May ruled out the option of Britain leaving the bloc without any agreement, something that analysts fear would lead to significant economic damage.



Germany to "Formally Observe" Far-Right Party

Germany's domestic intelligence agency announced that it would formally observe the far-right Alternative for Germany party. The warning was issued by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, an agency whose founding mission when it was established after World War II was to protect against the rise of political forces -- primarily another Nazi party -- that could once again threaten Germany's democracy.


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


#MUTERKELLY Movement May Face Some Challenges

After the shocking six-part documentary series "Surviving R. Kelly" aired on Lifetime, prosecutors in Illinois and Georgia are gathering information on R&B star R. Kelly, and urging potential victims/witnesses to come forward in connection to a plethora of accusations of sexual abuse. Even still, a case against Kelly may be difficult, as it generally takes people many years to come forward, by which time memories have faded and records have vanished. Kelly has been the subject of similar accusations for the past two decades, but he has never been convicted of a crime, and his career continued to thrive in the midst of the allegations against him.


R. Kelly Dropped by Label - What Does That Mean for His Music?

R. Kelly is now the music industry's highest-profile casualty of the #MeToo era, as he has been dropped from his label, RCA, after the documentary series, "Surviving R. Kelly", drew wide attention for its visceral testimonials by women who said that as underage girls they had been lured into sexual relationships with him, and were abused by him mentally and physically. Terms of Kelly's exit deal -- including what, if anything, RCA paid him to terminate the contract -- were not disclosed, however, and what will become of his career is unclear. Kelly's music remains available on streaming services, and his valuable back catalog -- with hits like "I Believe I Can Fly" and "Ignition (Remix)" -- will remain the property of RCA. Kelly was also quietly dropped last year by the Universal Music Publishing Group, yet that company still controls the songwriting rights for his past songs. Kelly will most likely earn royalties off his past hits for years.



Text Messages Raise New Questions About Robert Indiana's Final Works

Private text messages entered as evidence in a legal dispute raise new questions about whether Robert Indiana fully designed his final works, as two of his close associates were brainstorming just what sort of art might be sold under the Indiana brand during his last years. To what extent Indiana participated in these discussions, if at all, is now part of a continuing dispute in federal court in Manhattan, where the company that has the rights to create and sell works based off the LOVE design has sued the two men. The company, Morgan Art Foundation, a for-profit entity, has accused the pair of taking advantage of Indiana's advanced age and isolation on a remote island off the coast of Maine to produce a bunch of inauthentic works that they sold under Indiana's name. While the use of assistants in the creative process is not new to the art world, the text messages suggest that Indiana may not have been fully aware of the art being designed under his name.


American Alliance of Museums Announces Multimillion-Dollar Diversity Initiative

The American Alliance of Museums has announced a multimillion-dollar initiative to diversify museum leadership across the country. The project, called "Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion," will be supported by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. The project comes after a recent survey by the alliance found that nearly half of all museum boards in the United States are all white, despite the fact that the majority of museum directors believe that diverse and inclusive institutions connect better with the general public. "To make real and lasting change, work needs to be done at the top where the tone and priorities for each museum are established," Laura Lott, the president and chief executive of the Alliance, said in a statement. "Museum trustees and leaders can and must do more."


Catholic Residents Outraged by "Devil" Statue as Tourist Attraction

The Devil (in the form of a five-foot bronze statue created by a local artist, José Antonio Abella) was set to come to the city of Segovia, Spain after the local council commissioned the statue, inspired by a local legend, to lure tourists to a less-popular part of Segovia's Old Town, a Unesco heritage site. Abella gave his statue the requisite two horns and made him explicitly nude. He also made the Satan statue relatively paunchy and wearing a benign smile while taking a selfie with a bronze mobile phone. The statue was to be placed on a wall above the Old Town, as a symbol of the marriage of modern culture and an ancient myth. However, many Catholic residents were outraged, objected to those plans and began a legal challenge to run Satan out of town, saying that a friendly Devil amounted to "glorifying evil" and would be deeply offensive to Catholics.



Turkey Seeking to Arrest Knicks' Center in Connection With Terrorist Group

Turkish prosecutors are seeking an international arrest warrant for Knicks center Enes Kanter, accusing him of participation in a terrorist organization. prosecutors are seeking an Interpol "red notice", citing Kanter's ties to Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Muslim cleric who is blamed by the Turkish government for a failed coup in the country in 2016. The prosecutors also accused Kanter of providing financial support to the so-called Gulen movement. Kante responded on Twitter, saying that the Turkish government could not present "any single piece of evidence of my wrongdoing." In subsequent tweets, he said, "I don't even have a parking ticket in the U.S.," and he posted an image of himself dunking and wrote, "The only thing I terrorize is the rim."


World Anti-Doping Association to Consider Recommendations on Russia

The World Anti-Doping Association's (WADA) compliance review committee will meet in Montreal to discuss Russia's anti-doping laboratories, and what to do about the country missing a key end-of-year deadline. Russia's drug-testing agency had been banned since 2015, after a state-sponsored doping scheme was uncovered, but in September, about four years after Russia's corruption of the drug-testing process first came to light, WADA's executive committee voted 9 to 2 to allow Russia to resume testing its own athletes for performance-enhancing drugs, even though it had not fulfilled every requirement of a compliance agreement.


Russia is Still Not in Compliance With Key Requirements Of A Compliance Agreement

Back in September, when WADA's executive committee voted to reinstate Russia's corrupted anti-doping laboratories, its own athletes committee warned of what might come. Two weeks into the new year, the athletes' concerns look prescient, as Russia has yet to turn over the data it said it would.



News Business Veterans Fighting "Fake News"

A small start-up, NewsGuard, led by Steven Brill, an author and the founder of the magazine The American Lawyer, and Gordon Crovitz, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, has created the equivalent of nutrition labels for news organizations, rating more than 2,000 news and information sites with tags: red for unreliable, green for trustworthy. The service, free to readers, offers a browser extension that shows a news operation's rating when a reader lands on its site. The start-up hopes to become a regular part of the reading experience on the web. Its premise is that it is more efficient to rate news organizations than the endless stream of articles rolled out each hour.


#10YearChallennge May Not Be All Fun and Games

The #10YearChallenge, which gained widespread traction on social media this month, calls for posting two photos of yourself side by side -- one from today and one from a decade ago -- to show how you've changed. However, one post went viral without featuring any side-by-side photos at all. It was written by Kate O'Neill, the author of the book "Tech Humanist: How You Can Make Technology Better for Business and Better for Humans." O'Neill tweeted "Me 10 years ago: probably would have played along with the profile picture aging meme going around on Facebook and Instagram," "Me now: ponders how all this data could be mined to train facial recognition algorithms on age progression and age recognition." The post hit a nerve as people began to wonder if the challenge was really all fun and games or actually aiding law enforcement.



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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 22, 2019 8:06 AM.

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