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February 4, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Based on reader feedback, we're flipping the script and leading with EASL-related subjects. The General News category has been moved to the end.


Rapper 21 Savage Arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Atlanta, Faces Deportation

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 21 Savage, whose real name is Shayaabin Abraham-Joseph, in Atlanta this weekend. ICE alleges that he entered the U.S. legally in July 2015 when he was a minor, but subsequently failed to depart under the terms of his non-immigrant visa and became unlawfully present when his visa expired in 2016. He has been placed into removal proceedings before the federal immigration courts and is currently in ICE custody in Georgia.


"Empire" Actor Jussie Smollett Attacked in Chicago

Smollett was targeted by two men in Chicago in what his family is calling a racial and homophobic hate crime. According to the actor, the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs, tied a rope around his neck, and poured a chemical substance on him before fleeing the scene.


Gwyneth Paltrow Sued for $3 Million in Alleged "Hit and Run" on Ski Slope

A Utah doctor is suing the actress over an alleged hit-and-run ski crash that took place three years ago. The plaintiff alleges that he broke four ribs and suffered a brain injury after Paltrow crashed into him while approaching him from behind, and that her actions were the product of carelessness and cruelty.


Bill Cosby Accuser Settles Defamation Suit with Former Prosecutor

Andrew Constand reached a confidential settlement in the defamation lawsuit against Bruce Castor. Castor was the former prosecutor in Bill Cosby's criminal sexual assault case. Constand claimed that comments he had made to explain his decision not to prosecute Cosby had hurt her reputation by depicting her as a liar.


Thai Singer Apologizes for Wearing Swastika Shirt on Television

A member of Thailand's most popular girl band offered a tearful apology after wearing a swastika T-shirt to a televised rehearsal. Nazi imagery pops up with disturbing regularity in Asia, which critics attribute to a lack of knowledge or awareness of the horrors of the Nazi regime, and possibly prejudice.



Opera Star David Daniels Arrested on Charges of Sexual Assault

Countertenor David Daniels and his husband were arrested in Michigan on a warrant from the Houston police. They have been charged with sexually assaulting a 23-year-old singer. Both face extradition to Texas.


El Museo del Barrio Cancels Jodorowsky Show

New York City's El Museo del Barrio has cancelled a retrospective devoted to Chilean-born artist and filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. The move came following an assessment of his remarks "regarding an act of sexual violence he perpetrated" on his co-star Maria Lorenzio, who Jodorowsky said he raped during the making of his 1970 film "El Topo".


Young Adult Author Pulls her Debut Novel After Pre-Publication Accusations of Racism

Amelie Wen Zhao is pulling her young adult fantasy novel, Blood Heir, after readers raised objections over the novel's depiction of slavery. Her publisher, Delacorte Press, says that it supports her choice but did not urge her to cancel the book's June release. Children's book publishers have grown increasingly cautious when acquiring books that deal with charged subjects and now hire "sensitivity readers" to vet books and identify harmful stereotypes.


Singapore Weighs the Fate of its Brutalist Architecture

Brutalist landmarks in Singapore are on the verge of being sold to private developers and might face demolition. Architecture enthusiasts want to see the buildings protected under conservation laws, setting off a debate about whether this type of architecture is even worth saving. Some residents see them as important markers of national identity because they were designed by a generation of local architects who had their own take on the style, which evolved to reflect local sensibilities and a tropical climate.



National Football League Players Association Says Retiree Benefits Are a Priority

Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said that the union would push for more generous benefits for all retired players in the coming negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement. Though the union has long been criticized for not doing enough to improve pensions and health insurance for older retired players, more recently the president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame took a stand by refusing to attend the annual induction ceremony until all members of the Hall of Fame receive health insurance and a salary.


Missouri Vows to Appeal Stiff NCAA Penalties for Tutor's Academic Misconduct

The NCAA handed one-year postseason bans and other penalties to Missouri's football, baseball, and softball programs over academic misconduct. Tutor Yolanda Kumar told investigators that she had felt pressured to ensure that athletes passed certain courses and that she herself completed course work on their behalf.


Florida High School Baseball Players Sue District Over Alleged Harassment

Two former Florida high school players have filed a negligence suit against their district and the school board. The players allege that they experienced bullying, harassment, hazing, racial slurs, and sexual depravity from their teammates, and that coaches did nothing to stop it.


Who Owns the Ironman? The Four-Decade Legal Fight Over the First Ironman Triathlon

The Ironman Triathlon puts on more than 260 races in 44 countries and is valued at nearly $1 billion. When the race ballooned in popularity, John Dunbar, the runner-up in the two original races, started selling copies of the original trophy and continues to assert his role and his rights in the birth of the event.


Thailand Prosecutors Request to Extradite Detained Soccer Player to Bahrain

Thai prosecutors submitted a request for Thailand to extradite to Bahrain a detained soccer player who has refugee status in Australia. Hakeem al-Araibi was detained when he arrived in Bangkok for his honeymoon. Bahrain wants the player extradited to serve a 10-year prison sentence for vandalizing a police station. al-Araibi left Bahrain due to political repression and risks torture if he is sent back.



U.S. Court Finds Syrian Government Liable in 2012 Death of American Journalist

The Syrian government was found liable in a Washington, D.C. civil trial for Sunday Times war reporter Marie Colvin's death. The suit, filed by Colvin's sister, accused Assad's regime of targeting Colvin by tracking her satellite calls before ordering an artillery strike on her media center. The judge ordered $302 million in damages for what she said was a targeted attack intended to intimidate journalists.


Free Broadcast TV Streaming Service Locast Tests Legal Boundaries

Lawyer David Goodfriend has set up a streaming service that threatens to upend the media industry by making network programming available to subscribers via an app called Locast. The service launched in New York City in 2018 and has since added six other cities. By giving away TV, Locast is undercutting the licensing fees that major broadcasters charge cable and satellite companies, and is doing so as a non-commercial entity. The company insists that it operates under the copyright statute that allows non-profit translator services to rebroadcast local stations without receiving a copyright license from the broadcaster. Will its fate be similar to that of Aereo?


New York Settles with Company that Sold Fake Social Media Followers

Devumi, the firm that sold fake followers on social media platforms, has settled with the New York attorney general's office after an investigation found that its conduct violated the state's fraud and false advertising laws. Though the fine was only $50,000, the settlement is one of the first major efforts by regulators and law enforcement to investigate social media fraud.


Apple Paralyzes Facebook for Distributing a Research App that Monitored Online Activity

Facebook employees were unable to carry out basic work functions this week after Apple shut down Facebook's internal, custom built iPhone apps. The situation stemmed from Facebook breaching its agreement with Apple by publicly distributing a research app that was approved only for internal use and that allowed Facebook to monitor users' online activity.


Apple Slow to Act on FaceTime Bug that Allows Spying on Phones

New York state officials have opened a consumer rights investigation and others are raising questions about how long it took Apple to address a Group FaceTime bug that allowed iPhone users to hear through someone else's iPhone even if the person did not answer the call.


Tom Brokaw Apologizes for Comments About Hispanics and Assimilation

Former NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw apologized for comments he made on "Meet the Press" that Hispanics should "work harder at assimilation" into American culture. An alliance of Latino advocacy groups is calling on NBC to improve the diversity of bookings on "Meet the Press" and produce a series about the Hispanic community in the U.S. to address anti-Latino sentiment.


Russia's Playbook for Social Media Disinformation Has Gone Global

Twitter and Facebook have detected disinformation campaigns tied to various governments that follow a similar pattern to Russian efforts around the 2016 presidential election. The spread of these tactics is worrisome in a year when major elections are set to take place in India and Ukraine, among other countries.



Intelligence Chiefs Contradict President Trump on North Korea and Iran

The annual Threat Assessment Report stressed the growing cyberthreats from Russia and China. It also contradicted President Trump on two major issues. First, it concluded that North Korea is unlikely to give up its nuclear stockpiles. Secondly, it found that Iran is not currently taking steps to make a nuclear bomb, undermining the president's assertion that Iran was contravening the 2015 nuclear agreement. The intelligence report also found that American trade policies and unilateralism have strained traditional alliances and prompted U.S. partners to seek new relationships.


President Trump Signs Executive Order Aimed at Helping U.S. Manufacturers

The Executive Order will push for federal dollars spent on infrastructure projects to be put toward American companies. The presidential guidance expects agencies to examine ways in which American resources can be directed toward American products and people. The order will recommend but not outright require that about $700 billion in federal financial assistance go toward American-manufactured products. It will
also seek to tamp down on waivers that agencies have used to bypass American products in favor of foreign-made ones.


Senate Rebukes President Trump Over Middle East Troop Withdrawals

The Senate voted overwhelmingly to advance an amendment rebuking President Trump's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Syria. Majority leader Mitch McConnell drafted the amendment, warning that the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces could put at risk hard-won gains and national security. The amendment will likely pass next week as part of a bipartisan Middle East policy bill.


Senate Evidence Clarifies Mystery Calls Around Trump Tower Meeting

New evidence obtained by Senate investigators sheds light on whether President Trump knew that his son met with Russians offering information about Hilary Clinton in 2016. Phone records show that Don Jr. received calls from a blocked number around the time of the meeting, but that those calls were not from his father; rather, they were from two family friends who used blocked numbers.


Senate Supports End to Sanctions on Firms Tied to Putin Ally

The Senate blocked a Democratic bid to keep the Treasury Department from lifting sanctions on three Russian companies linked to Oleg Deripaska. The Treasury Department had already decided to remove financial restrictions on the companies following an agreement that reduced Deripaska's ownership stakes.


Steven Mnuchin Faces Conflict of Interest Claims in Decision to Lift Sanctions on Russian Companies

Democrats in Congress raised ethical concerns about Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and his decision to lift sanctions on Russian oligarch Deripaska's companies. The potential conflict of interest arises from Mnuchin's personal and professional relationship with a billionaire Republican donor who is a major shareholder in one of the delisted companies and who stands to benefit financially from the decision.


U.S. Suspends Nuclear Arms Control Treaty with Russia; Russia Pulls out of Pact in Symmetrical Move

The Trump administration has suspended one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia. The 1987 pact, known as the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, had banned ground-launched cruise missiles within a range of 500-5000 kilometers. The move comes after the U.S. accused Russia of violating the treaty with the development of a new missile. Critics say that the move has the potential to incite a new arms race, but the Trump administration is of the view that leaving the pact will allow the U.S. to counter the fear that China, not a signatory to the pact, has gained a significant military advantage. In response, Putin suspended Russia's observance of the pact and announced that Russia would build weapons previously banned under the treaty.



U.S. and Taliban Agree in Principle to a Framework for Peace Deal

American and Taliban officials have agreed in principle to a peace deal that could lead to a full pullout of American troops in return for a cease-fire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government.


U.S. Files Fraud Charges Against Chinese Tech Giant Huawei

The Justice Department unveiled charges against Chinese telecom firm and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, who the U.S. is seeking to have extradited from Canada. The indictments outline a decade-long attempt by the company to steal trade secrets, obstruct a criminal investigation, and evade economic sanctions on Iran.


Trump Properties Continue to Fire Undocumented Workers

The president's company has terminated dozens of undocumented workers at its New Jersey, Philadelphia, and New York locations. The revelations about the company employing immigrants who are in the country unlawfully has been an embarrassment for the Trump Organization, given the President's stance on illegal immigrants, and the company has often claimed that employees used false documents to get their jobs.



New York Legislature Passes First Major Gun Control Bills

New York lawmakers passed a comprehensive set of gun bills that include measures that would ban bump stocks, prohibit teachers from carrying guns in schools, and extend the waiting period for gun buyers who do not pass an instant background check.


Virginia Governor, Ralph Northam, Defies Calls to Resign Over Racist Photo

Northam initially acknowledged that it was he in a yearbook photograph that surfaced showing two men, one wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and the other appearing in blackface. The governor is now denying that he is in the racist photo and has so far refused calls to resign.


Pacific Gas and Electric Files for Bankruptcy After Billions in California Wildfire Claims

California's largest power company, Pacific Gas and Electric, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after being pursued for billions of dollars in damage claims. The company was linked to a series of wildfires in California, including the Camp Fire, which caused 86 deaths and destroyed 14,000 homes. It now needs to use the bankruptcy process to shed some of its debt, pay for $7 billion in damages, and stay in business.


Speaking Black Dialect in Courtrooms Can Have Striking Consequences

A soon-to-be published study found that court reporters in Philadelphia regularly made errors in transcribing sentences that were spoken in a dialect that linguists term African-American English. The findings could have far-reaching consequences as errors or misinterpretations in courtroom transcripts can impact the official court record in a way that is harmful to defendants.


Elite Law Form's All-White Partner Class Stirs Debate on Diversity in Big Law

A LinkedIn post announcing the latest class of partners at Paul, Weiss prompted social media criticism over its overwhelmingly white, male profile. In an open letter, general counsels at major companies called on large firms to reflect the diversity of the legal community or they would send their business elsewhere. Paul, Weiss has since released a statement that it regrets the gender and racial imbalance of its 2019 class, and that the class was an outlier.


Davos Elites Express Fears About Mentoring Women in the Age of #MeToo

In an unintended consequence of the #MeToo movement, companies are seeking to minimize the risk of sexual harassment and misconduct seem to be minimizing contact between female employees and male executives, effectively depriving women of valuable mentor opportunities.


Charles Hynes, Former Brooklyn District Attorney, Dies at 83

Hynes spent 24 years as Brooklyn district attorney and won praise for his approach to public corruption and nonviolent drug cases.


Iran Takes an Interest in Bitcoin in Effort to Undermine U.S. Sanctions

Transactions in Bitcoin could allow Iranians to make international payments and bypass banking restrictions brought on by U.S. sanctions. Certain Iranian industries, including mining, are relying on these transactions because they are difficult to trace and can be made anonymously. In response, the U.S. Treasury has warned digital marketplaces that buy and sell Bitcoin that they should not provide services to Iranian clients.


Pakistani Court Upholds Blasphemy Acquittal of Christian Woman

Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who spent years eight years on death row after she was accused of insulting Islam's prophet in 2009. Islamists in the country had filed a petition calling for her execution. Bibi is expected to join her daughters who were granted asylum in Canada


How Cold Weather and Climate Change are Connected

A popular question seems to be that if global warming is occurring, why are we being subjected to harsher winter weather? In a series of reports, The New York Times takes a global view and unpacks a number of studies linking climate change to extreme weather.


Government Inquiry Exposes Widespread Bribery Among South Africa's Leaders

South Africa's senior ruling politicians, including former President Zuma, have been publicly accused of taking bribes as the commission of inquiry on state corruption continues to hear from key witnesses. The chief operating officer of a South African logistics company has provided the most explosive testimony about cash bribes given to senior officials to secure government contracts.


Theresa May Survives Critical Brexit Vote

British Prime Minister May survived a critical vote in Parliament that could have delayed Brexit and undermined her strategy for leaving the European Union. Legislators failed to approve an amendment that would have given Parliament the power to instruct her to essentially postpone the March 29th Brexit if there is no agreement on a Brexit plan.


Opposition Leader and Oil Become Focus of Venezuela - U.S. Diplomatic Struggle

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, which the U.S. considers to be a vehicle for embezzlement for President Maduro's regime. President Trump also threw his support behind opposition leader Juan Guaido earlier this week. As Venezuelans try to gauge the full impact of the sanctions and are wary of how they might affect their already limited access to basic goods, Maduro's opponents believe the restrictions will hasten Maduro's exit.



Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Sentenced to 4.5 Years in Prison

The lawyer was found guilty of "subversion of state power" and is the latest to be prosecuted among hundreds of legal activists who were arrested during the 2015 government crackdown of individuals it believes were organizing political challenges to Xi Jinping's regime.


Center for Art Law Case Law Updates

The following case selection first appeared in this week's Center for Art Law newsletter:

Schmitt v. Artforum Int'l Magazine, Inc., 2018 Slip Op 33345(U) (N.Y. Sup. Dec. 20, 2018). The New York Supreme Court has dismissed Amanda Schmitt's retaliation claim (https://www.google.com/url?q=https://itsartlaw.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u%3D78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801%26id%3D5b9147accf%26e%3D8a2eda70d8&source=gmail&ust=1549377238751000&usg=AFQjCNGbFmbVpMIT_XQGYofsZw1mWDCxSw) against her former employer and publisher of Artforum Magazine, Knight Landesman. Schmitt claimed that Landesman had harassed her and other women while working at the magazine. However, the statute of limitations on workplace sexual misconduct had expired and Schmitt proceeded under a retaliation claim. Judge Nervo nevertheless dismissed the case, finding that the five-year gap between Schmitt's employment at Artforum to the confrontation in question had removed the requisite nexus to sustain her claim. https://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2018/2018-ny-slip-op-33345-u.html?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=5b56733dfc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-5b56733dfc-346773625

De Csepel, et al. v. Republic of Hungary, et al., No. 17-1165 (U.S. Jan. 7, 2019). On January 7, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States denied (https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/17/17-1165/74114/20181204152445106_17-1165%20De%20Csepel.pdf?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=4a99c9828a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-4a99c9828a-&mc_cid=4a99c9828a&mc_eid=%5bUNIQID%5d&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=5b56733dfc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-5b56733dfc-346773625&mc_cid=5b56733dfc&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) the Herzog family's petition for certiorari, which proposed that the Supreme Court examines questions of jurisdiction (http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/01/07/us-supreme-court-hungary-art-lawsuit/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=4a99c9828a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-4a99c9828a-&mc_cid=4a99c9828a&mc_eid=%5bUNIQID%5d&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=5b56733dfc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-5b56733dfc-346773625&mc_cid=5b56733dfc&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The Herzogs are heirs of Baron Mor Lipot Herzog, a Jewish art collector, whose artwork was stolen during WWII. The heirs have been unsuccessfully attempting to reclaim the works from Hungary.

Lehman Maupin v. Yoo, No. 1:18-cv-11126 (S.D.N.Y. filed Nov. 29, 2018). The Lehmann Maupin Gallery filed suit against its former director, Bona Yoo, who jumped ship to join Lévy Gorvy after giving her employer one day's notice. The complaint seeks to "prevent Yoo from gaining an unfair competitive advantage and recover damages it says it incurred when Yoo corrupted or deleted confidential information." The updated complaint is available upon request.

U.S. v. Mary Boone, No. 1:18-cr-00634 (S.D.N.Y. filed May 9, 2018). Mary Boone, the New-York based art dealer who pleaded guilty in September to two counts of tax fraud, is now seeking leniency because of "childhood trauma". The prosecution nonetheless seeks a three-year-sentence (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/mary-boone-tax-fraud-trial-1438561?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=5b56733dfc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-5b56733dfc-346773625&mc_cid=5b56733dfc&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Sentencing was initially scheduled for January 18th, but has been postponed to February 14, 2019.

Dawson v. Stoko Gallery LLC, No. 1:2019cv00824 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 28, 2019); Dawson v. Sperone Westwater Gallery LLC, No. 1:2019cv00825 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 28, 2019); Dawson v. Pace Editions, No. 1:2019cv00681 (S.D.N.Y. filed Jan. 23, 2019). Deshawn Dawson filed more than 23 lawsuits before the Southern District of New York against various galleries in the last month (https://hyperallergic.com/482319/more-than-75-new-york-galleries-hit-with-lawsuits-alleging-ada-violations/?fbclid=IwAR0jIiYgOYMQ169rJJ089OhVhRvnM70dr4r8_cGG3nutW2IKY1EdQ2WoGOI&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=4a99c9828a-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-4a99c9828a-&mc_cid=4a99c9828a&mc_eid=%5bUNIQID%5d&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=5b56733dfc-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-5b56733dfc-346773625&mc_cid=5b56733dfc&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), alleging that they have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to make their websites accessible to blind or visually impaired people. Apparently, these websites lack a code that would enable screen-reading software in browsers to describe images via audio translation.

*Erratum (newsletter June 2018): Shagalov v. Edelman, 6449N 655576/17 (N.Y. App. Div. May 3, 2018). The New York State Appellate Division affirmed a lower court order granting a preliminary injunction to enjoin defendants Asher Edelman et al. from "transporting, transferring, disposing, alienating, pledging, assigning, or otherwise encumbering or moving Keith Haring's 'Untitled (March 5, 1984)' and Frank Stella's 'Guifa E La Berretta Rossa' and 'La Scienza della Fiacca.'" The plaintiffs, represented by Barton, LLP, successfully demonstrated that they would be "irreparably harmed absent the requested preliminary injunction" and met their burden of "establishing a reasonable probability of success on the merits of their claim that defendants violated their UCC Article 9 rights." (https://www.law.cornell.edu/ucc/9?mc_cid=1828a75f39&mc_eid=88512bac9d) The decision is available here https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4494991/shagalov-v-edelman/?mc_cid=1828a75f39&mc_eid=88512bac9d.

The Center for Art Law strives to create a coherent community for all those interested in law and the arts. Positioned as a centralized resource for art and cultural heritage law, it serves as a portal to connect artists and students, academics and legal practitioners, collectors and dealers, government officials and others in the field. In addition to the weekly newsletter (http://cardozo.us2.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801&id=022731d685), the Center for Art Law subscribers receive updates about art and law-related topics through its popular art law blog (http://itsartlaw.com/blog/)and calendar of events (http://itsartlaw.com/events/). The Center for Art Law welcomes inquiries and announcements from firms, universities and student organizations about recent publications, pending cases, upcoming events, current research and job and externship opportunities. To contact the Center for Art Law, visit our website at: www.itsartlaw.com or write to itsartlaw@gmail.com.

February 10, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Rapper 21 Savage Arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agents

On Sunday,agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 21 Savage, a rapper from England. According to his attorney, 21 Savage, named She'yaa Bin Abraham-Joseph, arrived in the United States at age seven and has stayed in the country since then except for a one-month period in 2005. He re-entered the country on an H-4 visa, but the visa expired in 2006, and he has not left the United States since then. He is one of the highest profile immigration detainees, and a petition asking for his release has already gathered over 200,000 signatures.


Scouring Hollywood's Background, Before Someone Else Gets There First

In the age of celebrities being named for presenter roles, such as hosting the Oscars, only to be pulled from the roles when their pasts are scoured and prejudiced or discriminatory comments resurface, a new company, Foresight Solutions, now offers to scrutinize the backgrounds of such figures as part of the hiring process. Some view it as a logical step in Hollywood, but others see it as an "overly intrusive" service.



Landmark Broadway Deal Gives Actors a Piece of the Profits

A groundbreaking agreement was reached on Friday between commercial producers and the actors and stagehands in Broadway shows: one percent of a Broadway show's profits will now go to actors and stage managers who were involved in the development of the show with the producers. The profit-sharing lasts for ten years and also includes profits from productions that go on tour. It is the first time that financiers have acknowledged that "performers are contributing ideas, not just labor, to shaping new musicals and plays."


The Museum of Modern Art to Close and Reopen with More Expansive View of Art

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is set to close for four months this summer and undergo a $400 million overhaul. The renovation will result in a reconfiguration of the galleries and a 40,000 square foot addition to the museum that will bring more attention to women, Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and "other overlooked artists". Its last renovation was in 2004, when it temporarily moved to a space in Queens for two years, and because the planned renovation this year is set to last four months, MoMA has opted to close for that time period rather than to relocate.


Anti-Sackler Opioid Activists Take Fight to Guggenheim, Metropolitan Museum of Art

On Saturday, dozens of protesters stormed the Guggenheim museum and brought leaflets raining down in the central rotunda. The leaflets contained the words of Richard Sackler, who was the president of Purdue Pharma (Purdue), the creator of the drug OxyContin, when he said that the industry must target abusers "in every way possible." Those words were in a 2001 email that recently surfaced in an ongoing lawsuit in Massachusetts, which alleges that Purdue and its owners "profited by misleading those who prescribed and took the drug about its potential dangers." At the Guggenheim sits the Sackler Center, a gift from the family of Mortimer Sackler, one of the owners of Purdue until his death in 2010. After leaving the Guggenheim, the protesters made their way down Fifth Avenue to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met), which has its own Sackler wing. The wing opened in 1978 and was funded by Sackler brothers Arthur, Raymond, and Mortimer. Activists shouted on the front steps of the Met, with one noting, "We're here to call out the Sackler family, who has become synonymous with the opioid crisis."


Architects Wanted: Design These Odd Lots

The Department of Housing Preservation and Development has announced that it is beginning a design competition for architects to submit ideas of how to develop affordable housing on 23 "small, irregular lots" spread throughout New York City. The program, called Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC, will bring designs to the city to fill lots "as narrow as 13 feet wide, with areas as small as 1,008 square feet." In all, the city and its agencies own over 1,015 acres of vacant land, and this program is only a portion of it, but is expected to have "an outsize effect on neighborhoods."


Egypt Unveils Dozens of Newly Discovered Mummies

The Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of dozens of mummies from the Ptolemaic era, and the government is set to announce additional sites where antiquities have been uncovered. One analyst viewed the announcement of the finds as an attempt to encourage tourism in Egypt, which has suffered since the Arab Spring revolution in 2011, and noted that one of the biggest issues the country has is maintaining the antiquities.


Nuremberg Prosecutor Seizes 63 Hitler Works From Auction House on Forgery Suspicions

A Nuremberg prosecutor has moved to seize 63 paintings, watercolors, and drawings that are attributed to Adolf Hitler and were being prepared to be sold at Auktionshaus Weidler. The prosecutor's press officer has said that there is a suspicion that the works are forgeries. There were five works not seized that were attributed to Hitler and thought to be genuine. Selling such works is not illegal in Germany unless those works contain Nazi symbols, but prosecutors are working to identify who may have "knowingly introduced forged works into the market."



Family of Fan Killed by Foul Ball Calls for More Safety

In August 2018, a fan at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles was struck by a ball and died from a traumatic head injury four days later. Since then, her family has lobbied for higher nets at the stadium to permit the trajectories of foul balls to be more manageable to catch. The death of the fan, Linda Goldbloom, came during the "first season in which all 30 stadiums in Major League Baseball had netting" extending "to the far edge of each dugout." Major League Baseball has defended the safety of its ballparks, citing the increase of "inventory of protected seats". However, it conceded that teams were "constantly evaluating the coverage and design of their ballpark netting."


Cubs Family Patriarch Apologizes for Racist Emails

Joe Ricketts, the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs, has come under fire for comments he made in emails. These include Islamophobic comments, such as "Islam is a cult and not a religion." He also supported "conspiracies about former President Barack Obama's birthplace and education." Ricketts, the founder of TD Ameritrade, has apologized for the emails and said that they did not reflect his value system.


Ex-Penn State Assistant Coach Sandusky Gets New Sentencing

The former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is set to attend a resentencing hearing seven years after being convicted of child molestation and sentenced to 30-60 years in jail. A Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that his sentence "included the improper application of mandatory minimums," and although Sandusky's attorney sought a new trial, the appeals panel struck down all of the arguments except for the resentencing.



Attacking a Pay Wall That Hides Public Court Filings

A lawsuit is pending in the Southern District of New York that is challenging the federal judiciary's Pacer system for accessing documents. Although the cost of accessing court documents is estimated to cost "one half of one ten-thousandth of a penny per page," the system charges 10 cents a page for "electronic access to what are meant to be public records." The lawsuit has alleged that the fees are used as a "slush fund," leading the judicial system to use the money "to buy flat-screen televisions for jurors, to finance a study of the Mississippi court system, and to send notices in bankruptcy proceedings."


General News

In State of the Union, Trump Asks for Unity but Presses Hard Line

In the State of the Union, President Trump delivered a message calling for unity in Congress and government. He followed the message of unity with a call to come together behind his "hard-line immigration policies that have polarized the capital and the nation," including the funding and building of a wall along the southern border with Mexico. While the State of the Union address was filled with the political theater that has come to characterize the speech, such as commemorating heroes, the audience had changed from years past: there were more Democrats and women than during any of President Trump's previous speeches to Congress. More controversially, while Trump did not refer specifically to the probe led by Robert S. Mueller III, he called for an end to "foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations" as they endanger the flourishing economy.


Virginia Political Crisis Grows for Democrats and Republicans

Virginia's political leaders are facing a crisis: Governor Ralph Northam apologized for being in a photograph showing one person in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and a second person wearing blackface but then reversed course and said that he was not in the picture, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexually assaulting multiple women in the past, Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted that he once wore blackface, and the majority leader in the State Senate Thomas Norment has admitted that he was the top editor of a yearbook that had several racial slurs and photographs of students in blackface. None of the four officials has resigned his office, but the calls for resignation and impeachment have been growing and are expected to come to a head.



Trump Inaugural Committee Ordered to Hand Over Documents to Federal Investigators

Prosecutors have subpoenaed President Trump's inaugural committee asking for all "documents about donors, finances and activities." The subpoenas indicate that investigators are focusing on whether foreign nationals "illegally donated to the committee," and "whether committee staff members knew that such donations were illegal." The requests are just the latest investigation into the Trump campaign and presidency that have touched nearly all aspects of his adult life including "his business, his campaign, his inauguration and his presidency."


Trump Chooses David Bernhardt, Former Oil Lobbyist, to Head Interior Department and David Malpass, Critic of World Bank, as Head of World Bank

President Trump has appointed two individuals to lead organizations of which those individuals have been most critical: David Bernhardt, a former oil lobbyist, is set to take the reins at the Department of Interior and David Malpass, a critic of the World Bank, will become the head of that organization. The vacancy at the Department of Interior came after Ryan Zinke faced extensive investigation and allegations of ethical violations, and the open position at the World Bank came after Jim Yong Kim, the previous president, announced he was resigning from the post three years before his term expired. Both Bernhardt and Malpass have endeared themselves to the Trump administration and are expected to carry out Trump's policies at both organizations.



Trump Seeks to Reassure Allies on ISIS Fight as Syria Withdrawal Looms

Facing significant backlash after his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, including from military generals that have warned of dire effects resulting from the pullout, President Trump has attempted to reassure the country and its allies that the administration would continue fighting ISIS "for many years to come." The Trump administration has also announced that it is planning a withdrawal from Afghanistan pending negotiations with the Taliban. However, his comments this week are a reversal from those he made in December about ISIS being already defeated, and he has left a question as to what role, if any, American troops will have in Iraq following the planned withdrawals in the region.


Amazon Deal Meets New Resistance as Cuomo and State Senate Clash

The State Senate has chosen Senator Michael Gianaris of Queens to represent them on a state board that is expected to have a vote on approving or rejecting the development plan that would bring Amazon's second headquarters to New York City. The plan has faced increasing resistance and may be in danger of falling through, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed to fight for the $3 billion deal, as he has consistently argued that it will serve as a boost to the economy. In a recent City Council hearing, Amazon executives faced "intense criticism" and indicated that Amazon may "reconsider its commitment to New York."



European Countries Recognize Guaido as Venezuela's Leader

Countries throughout Europe, including Austria, Great Britain, Denmark, France, Germany, Spain, and others have joined the United States, Canada, Australia, and much of Latin America in recognizing Juan Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. The recognition strikes a blow at the fragile regime in place under President Nicolas Maduro, which won re-election last year, despite the "collapsing economy, endemic corruption and repression" that the country has faced. His opponents and international vote watchers saw the election as "heavily rigged," and a group of European countries had called the previous week for Maduro to schedule "a new, free and fair presidential election." When he did not follow through, their recognition of Guaido became official.


Rights Group Seeks United Nations Inquiry Into China's Mass Detention of Muslims

The United Nations Human Rights Council is facing pressure to investigate China's policy of detaining Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang en masse under the pretense that it is done to crackdown on the threat of terrorism. Officials have "banned beards, religious instruction of children and even the granting of names with religious connotations to children," but the mass detention of individuals goes further by forcing the Muslims to abandon their religion and culture altogether. The Chinese government has said that the allegations of abuse and mass detentions are politically motivated as the camps are "vocational training centers designed to improve the economic prospects and living standards of China's minorities."


Nobel Winner Accused of Assault by Fourth Woman in 48 Hours

The former president of Costa Rica and winner of the Nobel Prize in 1987 for his work in bringing peace to Central America, Oscar Arias Sanchez, is now facing accusations of sexual assault. Throughout Latin America, Arias was a respected figure, but a formal criminal complaint was filed four years ago against him alleging that he sexually assaulted her. Now, a total of four women have come forward with allegations of sexual assault, all of which Arias has "categorically" denied, "saying that he never acted in a way that disrespected the will of any woman."


February 12, 2019

PACER Fees - Class Action Update

By Barry Skidelsky, Esq.
Chair, NYSBA Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Section
bskidelsky@mindspring.com or 212-832-4800

You might be interested to know (if you don't already) that in National Veterans Legal Services Program v. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is currently considering whether the federal government violates the E-Government Act of 2002, when it charges fees to access federal court documents that exceed the marginal cost of providing those documents.

The costs for providing digital copies of those court documents are arguably close to, if not at, zero. Query the possible utility of that nominal cost argument to other matters, such as those involving digital copies of media and entertainment files. In any event, various party and amici briefs were recently filed in this appeal, including an amicus brief from several judges who are expressly neither for nor against the plaintiffs. Oral argument has yet to be scheduled.

The Public Access to Court Electronics Records (PACER) system is a decentralized system of electronic judicial-records databases. Under federal law, the government is permitted to charge people fees to access records on PACER. Today, those fees are set at 10 cents per page (with a maximum fee of $3.00 per record) and $2.40 per audio file.

In April 2016, three nonprofit organizations - National Veterans Legal Services Program, National Consumer Law Center, and Alliance for Justice - filed a class action complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleging that today's PACER fees violate federal law because the fees charged exceed the government's costs of providing federal court documents on PACER.

In March 2018, the district court agreed (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2016cv00745/178502/105/), ruling that PACER fees violate the E-Government Act of 2002. The government appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Amici briefs filed in support of the plaintiffs generally agree that the government's practice of charging fees that exceed the costs of providing access to these court documents is at odds with the text and history of the E-Government Act, as well as contrary to Congress' intent in passing that federal law. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1913 the government is allowed to charge fees "only to the extent necessary" "to reimburse expenses incurred in providing [PACER records-access] services."

Plaintiffs and their supporters elaborate not only that PACER fees today are higher than the marginal cost of disseminating the information, but also that some of these fees are used to fund projects or services other than providing document access on PACER, and federal law prohibits imposition of PACER fees to fund them.

They further argue that excessively high PACER fees impose a serious financial barrier to members of the public who wish to access court records, and these fees thereby create a system in which rich and poor do not have equal access to important government documents. Recognizing both the inequity of such a system and the importance of public access to court documents, they note that Congress wrote the relevant statutory language to include the phrase limiting fees "to the extent necessary" thus intending to make this information freely available to the greatest extent possible.

Makes sense to me.

Sports Wagering in New York: What Can New York Learn from the 2018 New Jersey Experience?

Bennett Liebman
Government Lawyer in Residence, Government Law Center, Albany Law School

When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed budget for the New York State 2019-2020 fiscal year was announced last month, it was accompanied by the news that the state's four upstate private casinos would be authorized to take sports wagers. Sports wagering would be authorized once the state's Gaming Commission finalizes its rules governing the subject.

The Gaming Commission took the first steps to promulgating these rules at its January 28, 2019 meeting, where it gave first passage to the sports wagering rules. These rules are now subject to the public comment and publication procedures established under the State Administrative Procedures Act. Final passage of such rules would be expected to come in mid-spring, and sports wagering would need to be approved at each facility.

Who Gets Sports Betting in New York?

Sports wagering was authorized for the commercial casinos under the Upstate NY Gaming Economic Development Act, which passed in 2013 as the accompanying legislation to the state's Constitutional amendment authorizing casino gambling. The 2013 legislation authorized sports wagering at casinos if federal legislation banning sports gambling was either amended or found to be unconstitutional. In May of 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992, which had banned sports gambling in most of the United States, outside of Nevada. Based on this decision, the states of Rhode Island, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and West Virginia all began sports gambling in 2018. New York State did not need new authorizing legislation, since the 2013 legislation already legalized sports wagering.

The four private casinos in upstate New York that could be licensed to conduct sports wagering are del Lago in Seneca County, Rivers in Schenectady County, Resorts World Catskills in Sullivan County, and Tioga Downs in Tioga county. Besides the four privately owned casinos, there is the potential -- depending on the wording of the individual compacts -- for the New York tribes with casinos; the Seneca, Oneida, and St. Regis Mohawks, to operate sports wagering facilities at their casinos. Currently, there are seven tribal casinos in New York State, with the Oneidas and the Senecas running three apiece.

The New Jersey 2018 Experience

The experience in New Jersey should be instructive as to how the casinos in New York might fare. It is a neighboring state in the Mid East Coast region, which made the full dive into sports gambling in 2018. New York sports gamblers could reasonably travel and bet at the New Jersey facilities at the Meadowlands Racetrack and at Monmouth Park. New Jersey began sports wagering in June of 2018 and has sports wagering onsite at two racetracks and at seven of the nine Atlantic City casinos. Five of the casino licensees and the two racetrack licensees offer sports wagering to New Jersey residents through the Internet.

The 2018 calendar year numbers for New Jersey show sports wagering gross revenues of $94 million for a period of 6 ½ months. (This revenue is somewhat overstated, since New Jersey currently considers gross sports wagering revenues as including the gross dollar amount of wagers subtracted by payouts to bettors. Thus, wagers placed in 2018 on future sports events, such as those placed on the 2019 Super Bowl, would be considered 2018 gross revenue. The actual revenue on completed sports events in New Jersey in 2018 was $72 million.)

The tax revenue return to New Jersey from sports wagering in calendar year 2018 was $10.4 million. Using the December 2018 monthly numbers (which are more reflective of a more mature market and assuming based on Nevada sports wagering numbers that December wagering constitutes about 11% of annual sports wagering handle), the anticipated annual New Jersey tax revenue would be $21.8 million. The tax revenue numbers ought to be considered a disappointment. New Jersey officials have been using the number of $100 million as the estimated tax revenue from sports wagering for more than a decade, well before any thought had been given to the potential of Internet sports wagering. A $20 million number is hardly what was anticipated. While there clearly is room to grow, it is a long way from $100 million.

Sports wagering constituted 3.2% of the general casino wagering market in New Jersey for 2018. In Nevada, where sports wagering revenues increased by more than 20% in 2018, it only constitutes 2.5% of casino revenue.

62.5% of New Jersey's sports wagering handle in 2018 was placed through the Internet. In order to place a legal Internet wager, the bettor needs to be physically situated in New Jersey. In December of 2018, the percentage of Internet bets reached 75.5%. The Internet sites in New Jersey did not begin operation until August, with all sites in operation by the commencement of the National Football League season in the first week of September. It is certainly likely that in the future, the Internet handle will continue to be at least 3/4 of the total sports wagering handle. Starting in December of 2018, Pennsylvania began its sport wagering operation. Thus, bettors in the Philadelphia area no longer needed to travel to the to the Atlantic City casinos to place legal sports wagers.

Of the on-site gambling, much of it was conducted at the Meadowlands Racetrack, the site closest to New York City. In December of 2018, 58% of the on-site sports wagering wins were at the Meadowlands. 16.7% was at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey, leaving 25.3% to be shared by the seven Atlantic City casinos that conduct on-site sports gambling. Using the December 2018 sports wagering statistics as the basis for an annual projection for sports wagering revenue, on-site sports wagering annual revenue in New Jersey would be $14 million for the Atlantic City casinos, $9.3 million for Monmouth Park, and $32 million for the Meadowlands.

Lessons for New York

The obvious lesson for New York is to not anticipate much revenue for the casinos from sports gambling. The New Jersey onsite numbers are not particularly encouraging, and the New Jersey sites are generally in more populated areas than the four upstate casinos. Tioga Downs is in a rural area on the Pennsylvania border. Pennsylvania now has Internet wagering on sports. There is little reason to expect much sports gambling revenue there. The same should hold true for del Lago, which is located between Syracuse and Rochester. It is not a big population center, and if the Senecas and the Oneidas Nation offer sports wagering, del Lago could find itself in a difficult commercial environment.

Rivers Casino would not have much nearby competition, but it is not in a more desirable location than Monmouth Park in New Jersey, or Charles Town in West Virginia, both of which are doing modest in-person sports wagering business. Monmouth Park, as stated previously, could be presumed to have in-person sports gambling revenue of less than $10 million. Assuming that Rivers did bring in that much revenue, it would increase its current total gaming revenue by about 6% or 7%. It would be helpful, but not a game changer.

Resorts Worlds Catskills would be the closest sports wagering facility in New York to the New York City market, and it would have good access to the northern suburbs of New York City. However, it would compete with the Meadowlands for in-person gambling, and the Catskill region has proven a disappointing area, thus far both for video lottery gambling and for casino gaming. It could potentially perform better than Rivers, but it is unlikely to do much better than that.

The Seneca Nation has the best opportunity for in-person sports wagering. It has the greatest exposure to a population center, with a facility in downtown Buffalo. Its Niagara Falls facility is on the Ontario border and ought to be able to attract Ontario sports bettors as well. Currently, Ontario sports bettors only can legally wager on sports through the Pro-Line lottery offered through the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, which offers only parlay wagers and less than desirable odds. The Niagara Falls casino could attract Ontario sport bettors.

The Mohawk Akwesasne Mohawk Casino, operated by the St. Regis Mohawks, is near the Canadian border in northern Franklin County. While it is close to a potential sports betting market in Canada served by the sub-optimal Pro-Line game, it is basically not near any area that can be considered a center of population. Unless people will drive about an hour and a half from Ottawa, there ought to be limited St. Regis Mohawk revenue from sports betting.

The three Oneida Nation gambling properties are between Utica and Syracuse. Again, this is hardly the most desirable environment for sports gambling. The most interesting issue is whether the Oneida Nation will take wagers on games played by Syracuse University. New York law bans the private commercial casinos from taking bets on New York university and college sports teams, but the tribes would not be bound by this rule. If the Oneidas take wagers on Syracuse games, they could potentially have a market for sports betting in New York.

Tax Revenue in New York

If one optimistically assumes that the four commercial casinos in New York would bring in at most $25 million in sports gambling revenue, the tax revenues to the state-- with a tax rate of 10% on sports wagering revenues -- would be $2.5 million. It is hardly a large amount of revenue and is actually half the amount that the state receives from daily fantasy sports.

What if New York Went Full New Jersey?

What would happen in New York State following the lead of New Jersey - besides allowing sports wagering at its four commercial casinos -- passed legislation allowing these casinos to use the Internet to take wagers from everyone residing in New York? One could assume that the state would claim that the situs of the wager would be a server located on the casino property and thus would be open to everyone geographically located inside the state.

New Jersey has 45% of New York's population and would (using December 2018 figures) likely have $187 million in annual sports wagering revenue. That number in New York State would equate to $416 million in sports wagering revenue. New York's current 10% tax rate would yield $41.6 million in tax revenue. Under the bills that have been introduced on sports wagering in the state in 2018 and 2019, the tax rate would be set at the lower rate of 8.5%. At an 8.5% tax rate, the yield to the state would be $35 million.

The initial $35 to $41 million dollar amount does provide some tax revenue. It is more than the $5 million that New York State receives from daily fantasy sports and the $15 million it receives annually from pari-mutuel taxes. Yet it is a drop in the budget -- not only compared to the overall state budget - but to the $2.4 billion the state receives from the traditional lottery and from the $950 million from video lottery terminals. To put this in perspective, it is considerably less than what the state receives from video lottery proceeds at the racinos at Saratoga Harness ($62 million in FY 2018) and at Finger Lakes ($48.7 million in FY 2018). A game changer, this isn't.

What ought to be most troublesome for New York is the potential claims from the Indian tribes. The most recent state budget indicates that the tribes, from their exclusivity fees -- the tribes pay fees to New York based on the state agreeing to keep areas near the tribe's casinos free from casino gambling -- are scheduled to pay about $212 million annually to the State. If there is Internet betting authorized in New York State, the tribes are certain to argue that a bettor placing a sports wager from inside their exclusivity zone to a commercial casino is violating their exclusivity rights. In the case of the Seneca Nation, the exclusivity rights include much of western New York, from the suburbs, to the east of Rochester, to the state's southern and western borders with Pennsylvania. The Oneidas have exclusivity in 10 counties in central New York. If New York authorizes Internet sports wagering, the tribes will certainly put that $212 million into question. The state might not be willing to take any action that would threaten the exclusivity payments. If New York sports wagering, even assuming significant growth in the wagering market, could produce a maximum of $100 million in government revenue, it will not come close to making up for a loss of the exclusivity payments. The state will need some arrangement with the gaming tribes before it can reasonably decide to make any significant expansion into the field of Internet sports wagering.

Current New York Loss of Sports Gambling Revenue to New Jersey

This issue should be a non-starter. New York is not losing significant revenue to New Jersey due to sports betting. It would be likely that the one site that New York bettors would be wagering at in New Jersey would be the Meadowlands. If New Yorkers constituted 1/3 of the in-person sports bettors in the Meadowlands in December of 2018, that would account for $1.2 million in gross revenue. Assuming again that December accounts for about 11% of overall sports gambling, that would equate to about $10.9 million of gross sports wagering revenue annually from New Yorkers. Under New York's current 10% tax rate for sports wagering, that would be a loss of $1.09 million annually. Under the bills that have been introduced on sports wagering in the state setting the tax rate at 8.5%, that would make the lost tax revenue $926,000. That is not a large amount of money that New York has arguably lost to New Jersey on account of sports wagering. It really should not merit any discussion. The share of toll revenue paid to the Port Authority from New Yorkers using the Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge (with a $12.50 toll for EZ pass users in peak times) to get to the Meadowlands might by itself make up for this minimal loss of revenue.


In short, there ought to be one simple lesson to New York from the New Jersey experience: Don't get your hopes up too high. There will be no financial windfall for either the casinos or the state from in-person sports betting conducted at the four upstate casinos. Expansion of sports wagering to the Internet would be needed to make sports wagering a significant success. Even with Internet sports wagering, tax revenues to New York would not increase markedly, and the expansion to Internet sports wagering could lead to significant issues -- and potential revenue losses -- in dealings with the tribes that have gambling facilities in New York.

The one thing not to worry about is New Yorkers driving to New Jersey to bet on sports. This is probably not costing New York State anything.

February 18, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


21 Savage to Be Released From Immigration and Customs Enforcement Custody

British-born rapper 21 Savage's attorney announced that the artist is being released on bond after more than a week in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). He was arrested on February 3rd "during an operation by federal and local law enforcement authorities in Atlanta" after having been illegally in the country for over 10 years. ICE announced that he had a prior conviction of felony drug charges in Georgia from 2014, but his attorney said that the conviction was vacated and the charges were dismissed in 2018.


Ryan Adams Dangled Success, and Women Say They Paid a Price

A "prolific singer-songwriter", Ryan Adams, has been accused by seven women of using manipulative behavior to help advance careers in exchange for sex. His tactics included turning "domineering and vengeful, jerking away his offers of support when spurned, and subjecting women to emotional and verbal abuse, and harassment in texts and on social media" when the women did not comply with his demands. One such artist was Mandy Moore, who is also his ex-wife. Adams is also reportedly under investigation by the FBI for having communications of a sexual nature with an underage girl.




Woody Allen Sues Amazon Over Canceled $68 Million Deal

Woody Allen has filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York against Amazon, alleging damages of $68 million as a result of Amazon's streaming service backing out of a "four-movie deal because of a renewed focus on allegations of sexual abuse on Allen's part." The reference was to the public accusation that he molested Dylan Farrow, his daughter, in 1992, and Allen has vociferously denied the allegation. Allen and Amazon have done business going back to 2016, as Amazon has distributed multiple Allen films.


Authorities Said to Have R. Kelly Sex Video

Celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti said that he has provided authorities with a videotape that shows musician R. Kelly "having sex with a girl who may have been underage." In 2008, R. Kelly was acquitted of child pornography charges related to a videotape allegedly showing Kelly having sex with an underage girl. While Kelly has had a long history of allegations, he has not been convicted of any crimes in relation to these allegations. However, there has been a growing wave of dissent that has led to the #MuteRKelly campaign.


Burning Man Seeks to Change Its 'Convenience Culture'

The chief executive of the music festival Burning Man has disinvited a camp for wealthy attendees, as the festival is trying to return to its "egalitarian roots." The festival is made up of camps, and the disinvited camp had been cited for "not complying with the organization's requirement to not foul the environment," and 12 other camps have received warnings. Approximately 70,000 participants go to the festival every August, and the organization has sought to ensure that ticket prices are affordable for everyone so that the audience is as diverse as possible.


Michael Jackson Estate Cancels Chicago Musical Run

With a new documentary set to detail "abuse allegations" against Michael Jackson, Jackson's estate has announced that it is canceling a "planned Chicago tryout of a new jukebox musical about him." The estate had been working with a producing partner, Columbia Live Stage, to bring the show to Broadway in the summer of 2020, and producers have said that a labor dispute resulting from "scheduling difficulties," not the release of the documentary, is the reason for the change of plans.


Carlton Dance Not Eligible for Copyright, Government Says

The United States Copyright Office has said that Alfonso Ribeiro, the actor in "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" who was known for doing "the Carlton Dance", does not have a protected right in the dance. Ribeiro has sued several video game makers alleging that they stole the dance from him in allowing characters in games, such as Fortnite Battle Royale, to perform the dance. One analyst from George Washington University Law School said that it was not surprising, as it is equivalent to attempting to copyright a word or short phrase, which no matter how often it is repeated, it cannot be protected so easily. While courts are not bound to the Copyright Office's decision, it is likely that a judge will take its position into consideration.


A Rap Challenger to the Thai Military Junta

Nutthapong Srimuong, a Thai rapper known as Liberate P, collaborated with a group of musicians and released a song in October, "What My Country's Got", a video of which has collected over 50 million views in the country containing 70 million people. He notes that while Thais have been taught to disconnect politics from their lives, he wants his music to show people that "they have rights to elections and democracy." The country's government, which has been known to place its own citizens in "attitude adjustment" camps, released a song in response to Liberate P's called "Thailand 4.0", containing a lyric stating: "There are lots of talented Thais if we work together."


Saudi Arabia Hosts Music Festival Near Ancient Tombs

Next to ancient tombs in the Saudi Arabian desert sits a new "Italian-designed concert hall" with "walls of mirror reflecting the golden sandstone hills and cliffs." While the Saudi government has fought against accusations that its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, officials have been trying to promote events that increase tourism to the country. At the heart of the strategy has been to promote entertainment and loosen restrictions on "expressions of popular culture".



Gucci Creative Head Breaks Silence Over 'Blackface' Sweater

The creative director of Gucci, Alessandro Michele, who had designed an $890 sweater that resembled blackface for the fashion house, has said that he never intended for the piece to be racist. He said he lamented "his own pain and 'that of the people who saw in one of my creative projects an intolerable insult.'" Michele said that the inspiration for the sweater was the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist who often had "flamboyant face makeup and costumes", but that he takes "full accountability" for the sweater.


London's Tate Modern Wins Privacy Fight

A judge has ruled that people living near the Tate Modern art gallery cannot force the museum to erect a wall blocking the view of visitors to see into their homes. The homeowners' attorney had argued that a platform at the museum constituted a "relentless" invasion of privacy, as some visitors were seen using binoculars and zoom lenses to look into their homes. Judge Anthony Mann dismissed the action, noting that the homeowners chose "to live in apartments with floor-to-ceiling windows."


Art Dealer Sentenced to Prison for Tax Fraud

A veteran New York gallerist once titled the "Queen of the Art Scene", Mary Boone, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for tax fraud costing the government $3 million in revenue. She begged Judge Alvin Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York for leniency and "a second chance," but the judge noted that the crimes had a "long and studied nature" requiring a prison term as "all must pay their taxes." For years, Boone had falsely claimed personal expenses as business deductions, including a remodel of her apartment and expensive luxury purchases.


Trump Tweeted a Photo of Iranian Protest Without Asking Journalist Who Took It

Iranian photojournalist Yalda Moayeri is now tangling with President Donald Trump after he used a photograph that she took without permission and for his own political motivations. The photograph showed a demonstrator with her left fist raised and surrounded by smoke during a protest in 2017, and Trump tweeted the image with a hashtag #40YearsofFailure regarding the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Trump administration officials have not immediately responded to emailed requests for comment.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to Sell 1960 Rothko

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has announced that it plans to sell Mark Rothko's "Untitled" work from 1960 to "address art historical gaps", such as works by women and people of color. The painting is expected to net anywhere from $35 million to $50 million at Sotheby's when it is sold in New York in May.


City Opera Faces Biggest Challenge Since Bankruptcy

There is "substantial doubt about New York City Opera, Inc.'s ability to continue," according to its own financial report. Its departing chairman said that he was leaving the board for personal reasons, but there is a list of troubles for the company just three years after it emerged from bankruptcy. The company had to cancel a production, "The Crucible", in an effort to halve the operating budget. It has nearly exhausted the $5 million in bequests it received after emerging from bankruptcy, and its modest endowment is shrinking. The new interim board chairman, Kenneth Rosen, remains confident that City Opera will add more board members and woo more donors.



Corey Maggette Accused of Rape by Fairfax Accuser

The woman who has accused Virginia's lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax of raping her has said that the former National Basketball Association player Corey Maggette raped her at Duke University 20 years ago. The revelation comes through a childhood friend of the accuser, and it is claimed that the university officials did not investigate the matter. Through a spokesperson, Maggette has denied the accusations and claimed that he has "never sexually assaulted anyone."


Colin Kaepernick and National Football League Settle Collusion Case

The National Football League (NFL) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick have settled a case two and a half years after its initiation. The lawsuit came after Kaepernick began kneeling during "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to games in an effort to bring attention to police shootings of black men, which was soon followed by his inability to land a job within the NLF. Kaepernick and a former teammate, Eric Reid, brought the suit alleging that the NFL had colluded to keep them from getting jobs. The settlement of the matter came with a confidentiality agreement that ensures "there will be no further comment."


Soccer Player Who Faced Extradition From Thailand to Bahrain Is Back in Australia

Hakeem al-Araibi, a soccer player that had played for the Bahrain national soccer team but fled in 2011 during the Arab Spring, has arrived back in Australia, where he has refugee status. He had previously been jailed in Thailand and was facing extradition to his native Bahrain, where he would face imprisonment and torture. Thai prosecutors dropped the extradition case after having arrested him since November while he was on his honeymoon with his wife.



The Washington Post Finds Itself in Middle of Jeff Bezos Story

Following revelations regarding Jeff Bezos, the owner of The Washington Post (the Post), being subjected to an extortion attempt by The National Enquirer, the Post finds itself in the odd position of covering its owner's love life. Predictably, the editorial page has sided with its owner, but one analyst noted that the rules of journalism must be followed regardless of Bezos' interest. Even with the Post adding to its team in Silicon Valley and having one journalist focused on Amazon, the Post's Marty Baron noted that there have never been reports of Bezos explicitly or implicitly "exerting influence" on the paper.



Sandy Hook Families Gain in Defamation Suits Against Alex Jones

Families of the Sandy Hook school shooting victims have been given the green light to proceed with obtaining the owner of radio show and website Infowars Alex Jones' business records and compelling him to testify in their lawsuits. At the heart of the lawsuits is Jones' peddling of bogus claims about the shooting including that the "families were actors in a plot to confiscate firearms from Americans," which has led to "death threats, stalking, and online abuse" targeting the families. Jones' lawyer, Marc Randazza, said of the judge's decision: "If you're keeping score here, this is just the coin toss."


BuzzFeed News Employees Plan to Form a Union

On Tuesday, the employees at BuzzFeed News announced that they were planning to form a union, which comes just one month after BuzzFeed laid off over 220 employees. The organizing committee for the union released a statement: "Our staff has been organizing for several months, and we have legitimate grievances about unfair pay disparities, mismanaged pivots and layoffs, weak benefits, skyrocketing health insurance costs, diversity and more." There have been rumors of unionization since 2015, but the impetus for organizing now appears to be that BuzzFeed's revenue grew by more than 15% in 2018 but still resulted in the significant layoffs that hit bureaus in New York, Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.


Vogue Brazil Fashion Director Resigns Over Photos Evoking Slavery Era

Vogue magazine's Brazil edition published photographs from a fashion director's 50th birthday party that critics saw "as an allusion to race relations during the colonial era." The executive, Donata Meirelles, sat for one photograph in an "ornate chair flanked by two black women wearing elaborate white dresses." Meirelles stepped down on Wednesday and noted that she hopes these actions will lead to more discussion about race in a society that was the last country in the Americas to abolish slavery, which occurred in 1888.


Dan Mallory's New Novel Raises Question of Plagiarism

A recent exposé in The New Yorker detailed Dan Mallory, the author of The Woman in the Window, having a history of lying about fatal illnesses and family history tragedies, but now there is a question of whether his book may be a work of plagiarism. The book is "strikingly similar" to Saving April by Sarah Denzil, which was published in March 2016. Mallory sold his novel to William Morrow for publication just months after the publishing of Denzil's book, and the books have the same "middle-aged female narrators who are afraid to leave their homes" with the same "back story". However, analysts note that plagiarism is difficult to prove in fiction and it rarely leads to copyright lawsuits, as so many writers draw inspiration from each other.


Former New York Times Editor Abramson's Book Facing Allegations of Plagiarism

The former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson has released her book, Merchants of Truth, to disappointing sales and accusations of plagiarism. Vice News correspondent Michael Moynihan accused her of lifting passages without proper credit, and Abramson has promised to amend the text in future editions, but noted that she would not have fired a subordinate for making the same mistake when she was executive editor.


Cliff Sims, White House Tell-All Author, Sues Trump

The former White House communications aide Cliff Sims has sued the president in his official capacity alleging that President Trump used the campaign organization as a "cutout" to seek retribution against former employees "and keep them from invoking their First Amendment rights". The campaign organization filed an arbitration claim against Sims last week, accusing him of violating a nondisclosure agreement by publishing his tell-all book Team of Vipers in January. Sims has noted that he did not recall signing a nondisclosure agreement, and there is a significant question as to whether the agreements, which dozens of people signed, are enforceable.


Administration Readies Order to Keep China Out of Wireless Networks

The Trump administration is working on an executive order that would "ban telecommunications companies in the United States from using Chinese equipment" when building the next-generation networks. The language of the order does not refer to China specifically, but rather "adversarial powers," however, the intent is clearly aimed at firms like Huawei, which could have been hired to construct 5G wireless networks in the United States. The order comes in the middle of trade tensions between China and the United States, but American officials are quick to point out that the two issues are separate.


Facebook Fine Could Total Billions if Federal Trade Commission Talks Lead to a Deal

Facebook and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have discussed a settlement over privacy violations that would amount to a multi-billion dollar fine. The violations relate to Facebook entering into a 2011 privacy consent decree with the FTC, wherein Facebook promised to take measures to protect users' privacy. The FTC's investigation began after the revelation in March 2018 that information from 87 million Facebook users had been harvested without authorization or permission by British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The FTC can seek up to $41,000 for each violation, but the highest fine by the FTC so far has been $22.5 million to Google for violation of an agreement to protect consumer data.


United States Joins Marrakesh Treaty Promoting Availability of Media for Those with Visual or Print Impairments

The United States has joined the Marrakesh Treaty as its 50th member. The Treaty promotes the availability of texts adapted "for use by persons with visual or print impairments." The United States has the largest number of English-language texts in accessible formats, and the Treaty is designed to ease the sharing of accessible texts throughout the world.


India Proposes Chinese-Style Internet Censorship

The Indian government has proposed giving itself power to "suppress internet content", which would bring the internet in that country to be more like China's, as it would permit officials to demand removal of specific content and require internet providers to screen "unlawful information or content". Civil liberties groups have objected, alleging that the policy "would violate constitutional protections for free speech and privacy", and there is a question of whether the proposal by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is designed to be used to silence his political opponents with an election looming.


Germany Restricts Facebook's Data Gathering

Germany's government agency has said that users can refuse to allow Facebook to combine their data from other sites with that belonging to Facebook. Regulators said that Facebook's terms of service "had unfairly forced people to make an all-or-nothing choice -- between submitting to unlimited data collection by the company or not using Facebook at all." The effect of the policy is to permit Facebook to collect data about users extending far beyond their use of Facebook. Regulators went a step further, however, ruling that Facebook could not combine information between its services, such as Instagram and WhatsApp, without permission from the user.


Facebook Group of French Journalists Harassed Women for Years

There have been rumors for years that a private Facebook group included French male journalists and had orchestrated waves of "online insult, mockery, and harassment aimed at women in the business." It has now been confirmed that such a group exists and is called the Ligue du LOL, and some of the men behind the group have apologized, while others have been suspended from their jobs. Some of their activities included making a pornographic photo montage of a woman writer public on Twitter and prank calling a woman pretending to give her a high level job offer. A female French journalist noted that the revelation is "similar to #MeToo, in the sense that victims speaking out are finally being heard."


Philippine Journalist Critical of Rodrigo Duterte Released After Arrest

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa has been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte, and this week brought her into the custody of the National Bureau of Investigation for a digital libel case involving her website Rappler. Duterte's government has not been shy about criticizing the country's media, but Ressa's arrest is "the most dramatic sign yet" of the crackdown on the media. Her attorneys secured her release by posting bail for her on Thursday morning.


Below is General News:

Trump Signs Budget Bills and Declares National Emergency to Build Wall

President Trump, an in extraordinary move, first signed the bills sent to him from Congress, which provided minimal funding for the building of a fence along the southern border with Mexico and then declared a national emergency to build the remainder of the fencing or wall. Analysts have raised questions as to the legality of the declaration of the national emergency, and on the day that Trump declared the emergency, the first court action was initiated challenging his declaration. The tool has been used historically to support sending aid to regions that required immediate relief, and Congress has the power within the law to challenge the President's declaration.





Justice Ginsburg Returns to Work

On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg returned to work at a private conference at which the justices would consider which cases to add to their docket for the term. It was her first appearance at work since she underwent cancer surgery in December, and it is expected that the 85-year-old will be on the bench on Tuesday when the Court returns from the four-week midwinter break.


House Democrats Begin Push to Secure Trump's Tax Returns

The Democrats in the House of Representatives have begun their quest to obtain President Trump's tax returns in what will certainly result in a showdown with President Trump. The Ways and Means oversight subcommittee has couched the decision to withhold his tax returns as "flouting modern political norms but also potentially hiding violations of federal tax laws and compromising the interests of the United States." There is little precedent for the Ways and Means Committee using the federal tax code to obtain one person's tax information, but if the Treasury Department releases the tax information to the committee, the information could be reviewed privately before going to a vote as to whether to make the information or findings public.


Manafort Lied After Plea Deal, Judge Says, As Mueller Seeks Up to 25 Years in Prison

Federal prosecutors are seeking Paul Manafort to serve up to 25 years in prison and pay $25 million in fines for a fraud scheme and for his lying after taking the plea deal. He utilized a fraud scheme to hide millions of dollars made from political consulting in Ukraine, and Judge Amy Berman Jackson noted that at times "he affirmatively advanced a detailed alternative story that was inconsistent with the facts." Manafort lied to prosecutors about his relationship with a Russian associate with ties to Russian intelligence, which "gives rise to legitimate questions about where his loyalties lie."



Matthew Whitaker Says He Has Not Interfered in Mueller Investigation

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker testified to Congress that he had "not interfered in any way with the special counsel's investigation" into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. While he refused to discuss specific details such as his conversations with President Trump or why he said that Robert Mueller's investigation "would soon wrap up", he otherwise gave fairly unremarkable testimony regarding his brief period of time at the head of the Department of Justice.


Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator, Resigns After Two Turbulent Years

The administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Brock Long, has announced his resignation. His time as administrator was heavily scrutinized, and he came under fire in September when it was revealed that he had used government vehicles to travel between his home and work. Peter Gaynor, the deputy administrator, is set to serve as acting administrator until a replacement has been named.


El Chapo Found Guilty on All Counts; Faces Life in Prison

The Mexican crime lord Joanquin Guzman Loera, known as El Chapo, was convicted on Tuesday after a three-month drug trial in New York that revealed the inner-workings of his cartel. The jury convicted him of all 10 counts of the indictment, and Guzman sat listening to a translator with a stunned look during the reading of the jury's charge sheet. Prosecutors presented the testimony of 56 witnesses, 14 of whom had worked with Guzman, and he now faces life in prison likely at a Colorado "supermax" prison known for never having had an escaped inmate.


Supreme Court Allows Execution of Muslim Death Row Inmate Who Sought Imam

The Supreme Court permitted the execution of an inmate who had requested and been denied having his imam be present. The majority offered little reason for its decision, but Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the four dissenters, said that the majority was "profoundly wrong" in its decision. Alabama's policy permits a Christian prisoner to have a minister of his or her faith into the execution chamber for last rites, but if the inmate is Muslim or Jewish, that prisoner cannot die with a minister of his or her own faith. Kagan noted that the treatment goes against the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, as it violates the denominational neutrality that is required.


Court to Hear Case on Census Citizenship Question

On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to take the case regarding the Trump administration's attempt to add a question to the 2020 census questionnaire regarding each person's citizenship status. Thus far, the Supreme Court's term has been "a fairly sleepy term", but the census question is expected to be a point of controversy, as the question has not been in the census question since 1950. As the deadline for printing the forms is in June, the Supreme Court has placed the case on an "unusually fast track."


Justices Block Louisiana Abortion Law

The Supreme Court, by a 5-to-4 vote, has blocked a Louisiana law that "could have left the state with only one doctor in a single clinic authorized to provide abortions." Chief Justice John Roberts joined the four-member liberal wing of the Court to form a majority, and the brief order gave no reasons for the decision, because it was only regarding a temporary stay, not the merits of the matter. It is expected that the Court will hear the challenge to the law on its merits in the next term, starting in October.


Canadian Diplomats Sue Their Government Over Mysterious Cuban Disease

A group of Canadian diplomats who were stationed in Cuba sued the Canadian government for failing to protect them from conditions that led to a mysterious illness that some call Havana Syndrome. The illness affected dozens of American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba, with symptoms ranging from memory loss to nosebleeds to sleep disturbance, after hearing a "strange high-pitched sound". The source of the sound and the symptoms remains unclear, but some speculated that it is a deliberate attack from an adversary using "some kind of microwave weapon."


European Union Rebuffs Theresa May's New Brexit Demand but Promises More Talks

The Prime Minister of Great Britain, Theresa May, has had "robust but constructive" talks with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, during a visit to Brussels. The talks were inconclusive on the details of the looming Brexit deal, but the dialog was necessary as the British Parliament overwhelmingly rejected the terms from the European Commission. One of the biggest points remaining is the "backstop", an arrangement that will guarantee no hard border between Britain and Ireland, as it would "keep Britain in the European Union's customs union indefinitely" and prevent it from entering into trade deals with other countries. European leaders have said that the 585-page withdrawal agreement, which includes the backstop, cannot be eliminated or "made time-limited."


United Nations Warns That Grain to Feed Millions in Yemen Could Rot

The United Nations has warned that grain sufficient to feed 3.7 million Yemenis is likely to rot in warehouses while nearly 10 million Yemenis are facing famine. With two out of three Yemenis not knowing where their next meals will come from, the grain came from the World Food Program as relief, but has been stranded because of its proximity to the ongoing war. Aid workers remain hopeful that a deal can be struck to allow for distribution of the grain.


Apple and Google Urged to Dump Saudi App That Lets Men Track Women

Public pressure has grown for Apple and Google to remove from their platforms an app that allows for men to track women and give approval according to their guardianship arrangements. In Saudi Arabia, guardianship laws give women a legal status comparable to minors where a male "guardian" must give permission for the woman to get a passport, receive medical procedures, or get married. The app allows for a man to remotely fulfill his role as guardian, but there has been growing opposition, as the app is accused of "facilitating gender discrimination".


Spy Betrayed U.S. to Work for Iran, Charges Say

A former Air Force sergeant, Monica Elfriede Witt, defected to Iran and provided names of double agents operating within the United States military intelligence system to the Iranian government. She was indicted on charges of providing American secrets to Tehran in documents made public this week, over five years after her defection. While intelligence officials took defensive measures once they learned of the defection, one analyst still saw the potential for damage to be a seven or eight out of 10, as she had access to intelligence sources and names of agents who were deeply embedded in counterintelligence missions.



NASA's Opportunity Rover Dies on Mars

For more than 14 years, NASA's rover named Opportunity had been on the red plains of Mars sending photographs and revealing much of the history of Mars. The rover was expected to last a mere three months, but it traveled over 20 miles on the surface of the planet and brought to scientists images that appear to showed preserved ripples of flowing water from billions of years ago. NASA has another rover, landed in 2012, called Curiosity that remains exploring the red planet, and NASA plans to send another rover in 2020.



Senate Confirms William Barr as Attorney General

The Senate has confirmed the nomination of William Barr to the post of Attorney General for the second time in his career. He comes into the Justice Department at time of turmoil, given the tenure of Jeff Sessions being characterized by a rocky relationship with President Trump and his replacement, Matthew Whitaker, having little relevant experience to manage the job. Barr will face the challenge of balancing the wishes of President Trump against maintaining the integrity of the department and ensuring the completion of Robert Mueller's investigation.


Senate Passes Land Conservation Bill

On Tuesday, the Senate, in a 92-to-8 vote, passed a public lands conservation bill that would designate more than a million acres of wilderness for environmental protection. The bill is a "rare victory for environmentalists" and a show of bipartisanship that comes at a time when the Trump administration has aggressively sought to strip protections of public lands so that they can be mined and drilled. At the heart of the bill is the permanent re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which takes fees and royalties from oil and gas companies drilling in federal waters and puts those funds toward "onshore conservation programs."


With Procedural Maneuver, House GOP Elevates Anti-Semitism as Political Issue

In a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives, a resolution condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms two days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi denounced Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota for her remarks that "American support for Israel is fueled by money from donors and pressure from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee." Pelosi noted that Omar has apologized for her remarks and that she continues to wait for Republicans to apologize for their 'Jew-S-A' chants that have pervaded Trump rallies.


House Panel Backs Bill Expanding Gun-Sale Background Checks One Year After Parkland Shooting

With one year elapsed since the Parkland shooting, the House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of sending a bill to the House floor that would be "the most significant gun-control legislation" in over a decade. The legislation would place restrictions on high-capacity magazines and "allow temporary removal of guns from people deemed an imminent risk to themselves or others." Republicans denounced the bill, but Representative Ted Deutch noted that if the legislation saved one life, then "it will be something we can be proud of."



Leader at Interior Department Pushes Policy Favoring His Former Client

David Bernhardt, set to take control of the Interior Department, has a history as a lobbyist and lawyer of stripping away rules such as those in the Endangered Species Act so that farmers have more freedom to work their land. President Trump has a history of nominating individuals that were once paid lobbyists: Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist now heads the Environmental Protection Agency and William Wehrum, the top clean-air regulator, is a lawyer whose previous clients included coal-burning power plants and oil companies. If confirmed as the Secretary of the Interior, Bernhardt would succeed Ryan Zinke, who left the post in January while being investigated for ethics violations.


Secrets of 1946 Mass Lynching May be Revealed After Court Ruling

The Moore's Ford lynchings are considered to be the "last mass lynching in American history," when two black couples were pulled from a car, tied up, and shot and killed at close-range. President Harry Truman ordered an investigation into the matter, but no one was ever charged, and the case is unsolved. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit has ruled that the transcripts from the grand jury proceedings should be released because they are of "exceptional historical significance."


Videoconferencing in Immigration Court: High-Tech Solution or Rights Violation?

Federal authorities in New York have adopted a procedure that allows immigrants to be kept in detention centers even for their legal proceedings as they appear before judges by video conference. A newly filed lawsuit alleges that the policy "infringes upon immigrants' constitutional rights in a deliberate attempt to speed up and increase deportations." The lawsuit alleges that immigrants are not being permitted to "fully communicate with their lawyers" and cites several instances of where videoconferencing had a harmful effect on immigrants and the integrity of the hearings.


Sexual Assault Claims Roiled Governor Phil Murphy's Administration, but Questions Remain

Five months ago, a woman accused an official in Philip Murphy's campaign for New Jersey governor, Albert Alvarez, of having sexually assaulted her. Despite her demands that he be suspended, he stayed in the job for months before resigning his position, which has raised questions of why it took so long for action to be taken and why Alvarez was hired to work for the state. Even though he had already been accused of sexual assault, he was brought on as the chief of staff at the Schools Development Authority, and questions have been raised about the hiring practices of Murphy's transition team. These issues continue to be investigated in the state's senate.


How Seven Women Put Sexual Harassment on New York's Agenda

Last Wednesday, state lawmakers in Albany held the first public hearing on the issue of sexual harassment since 1992. The Sexual Harassment Working Group, made up of seven former legislative employees, lobbied for the hearing based on their experiencing or reporting sexual harassment during their time in Albany. While some have congratulated the women for getting a public hearing on the issue, one wondered why it required so much lobbying to get a public hearing in the first place.


New York City Public Schools Should Be Evaluated Based on Diversity, Panel Says

Mayor Bill de Blasio commissioned a high-level panel to review the city's schools, and the panel has announced that there should be diversity targets for all 1,800 schools to ensure that schools reflect the "racial and economic makeup of the surrounding areas." Until this point, although Mayor de Blasio has said that he is troubled by the racial makeup of the schools, he has not tackled the issue directly during his five years in office. Ultimately, for the last decade, the desirability of a school was based on its students' test scores and other academic markers, but the panel's findings make it likely that the metrics will soon change.


Amazon Retreats From New York Headquarters Deal

On Thursday, Amazon announced that, after securing nearly $3 billion in incentives from New York City and State, given the public backlash, it will not be building an "expansive corporate campus" in New York City. The retreat hit Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio the hardest, as they were vocal proponents for the deal, and the falling through only reinforces the fear that New York City has not presented itself as "an inviting location for the technology industry." At the heart of the opposition to the deal was the billions of dollars in government incentives, particularly amidst the report that New York City needs to raise additional revenue in the coming years to maintain its budget.


February 19, 2019

"Another One": Celebrity ICO Endorsement Failures

By Joshua Lahijani

In the past decade, with the rise of social media, celebrity social media endorsements and promotions have become a significant source of supplemental or primary income. Celebrities that engage in this business on social media are commonly referred to as influencers. Compensation per post may range from hundreds of dollars and, for some celebrities, up to $1 million.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issues a set of guidelines for "the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising" that significantly clarifies the rules for influencers (https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/ftcs-endorsement-guides-what-people-are-asking). For the purpose of the FTC guidelines, an endorsement is any advertising message that consumers are likely to believe reflect the opinion of the influencer. In doing so, the influencer must adhere to three basic principles: (1) The advertisement must be truthful and not misleading; (2) advertisers must have evidence to substantiate their claims; (3) and the advertisements cannot be unfair. In addition, if an influencer believes that "a gift or incentive would affect the weight or credibility [followers would] give to [a] recommendation," then they must clearly and conspicuously disclose the compensatory relationship. Here is where two celebrities, DJ Khaled and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have violated their duties, but not directly under FTC guidelines, rather, under § 17(b) of the Securities Act (anti-touting).

On November 1, 2017, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a public statement (https://www.sec.gov/news/public-statement/statement-potentially-unlawful-promotion-icos) and investor alert (https://www.investor.gov/additional-resources/news-alerts/alerts-bulletins/investor-alert-celebrity-endorsements) "[u]rging [c]aution [a]round [c]elebrity [b]acked ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings)."

In the statement, the SEC stated: "Any celebrity or other individual who promotes a virtual token or coin that is a security must disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion. A failure to disclose this information is a violation of the anti-touting [and potentially anti-fraud] provisions of the federal securities laws."

While not directly mirroring the FTC guidelines, they share the fundamental philosophy of disclosure. The federal securities laws go a bit further than the FTC, as they require disclosure of the amount of compensation.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. (AKA: Floyd "Money" Mayweather)

To call Floyd Mayweather Jr. "a well-known professional boxer" is an understatement, as he is one of, if not the, greatest boxers of all time. To have an endorsement by Mayweather has significant reach and influence. At the time of the violations, he had about 21 million Instagram followers, 7.8 million Twitter followers, and 13.4 million Facebook followers.

In 2018, a Miami-based company, Centra Tech, Inc. approached Mayweather with an endorsement deal. In exchange for $300,000, Mayweather would promote on social media the ICO based on the Ethereum Blockchain. An agreement was made and between September 2017 through January 2018, Mayweather made multiple posts and videos on social media promoting the ICO. These promotions occurred after the SEC warned that tokens sold in ICOs may be securities and are subject to federal securities laws. In addition, Mayweather promoted two other ICOs in August and July of 2017. However, Mayweather failed to disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion.

The SEC and Mayweather settled his violations of §17(b) of the Securities Act (without admitting or denying the findings) and agreed to the following sanctions:

1. Cease and desist of violating §17(b) of the Securities Act
2. Disgorgement: $300,000
3. Prejudgment Interest: $14,775.67
4. Civil Money Penalty: $300,000

In addition, Mayweather undertook to forgo any endorsement or promotional agreement with a securities participant for three years.

Khaled Khaled (AKA: "DJ Khaled") (https://www.sec.gov/litigation/admin/2018/33-10579.pdf)

Who doesn't know the signature "DJ KHALED! ANOTHER ONE!" on great hits such as "We Takin' Over", "Wild Thoughts", "I'm So Hood", and "All I Do is Win". Unfortunately, for Khaled, he lost against the SEC. Similar and related circumstances to Mayweather above, Khaled was approached by Centra Tech, accepted $50,000 and promoted its ICO in September 2017. At the time, Khaled held 12.4 million Instagram followers and 3.9 million Twitter followers. Khaled failed to disclose the nature, scope, and amount of compensation received in exchange for the promotion.

The SEC and Mayweather settled his violations of §17(b) of the Securities Act (without admitting or denying the findings) and agreed to the following sanctions:

5. Cease and desist of violating §17(b) of the Securities Act
6. Disgorgement: $50,000
7. Prejudgment Interest: $2,725.72
8. Civil Money Penalty: $100,000

In addition, Khaled undertook to forgo any endorsement or promotional agreement with a securities participant for two years.

February 25, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


R. Kelly is Charged with 10 Counts of Sexual Abuse in Chicago

Singer R. Kelly has been charged with 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse involving four victims, three of whom were underage. The events related to the charges spanned from 1998 to 2010. Aggravated criminal sexual abuse is a Class 2 felony with a sentencing range of three to seven years for each count and is probationable. Kelly is being held on a $1 million bond and has surrendered his passport.

The charges come after months of renewed scrutiny following the release of the "Surviving R. Kelly" documentary, the "Mute R. Kelly" campaign, two recent accusations of sexual misconduct and a video showing Kelly allegedly engaging in sexual acts with a 14-year-old girl. The singer, 52, was tried on 14 counts of child pornography and acquitted in 2008.




Jussie Smollett Arrested on Suspicion of Filing False Police Report, Will be Removed From Final Episodes of "Empire" Season

The "Empire" Actor was charged with felony disorderly conduct for allegedly filing a false report claiming that he was attacked by two men in Chicago last month. Smollett is accused of concocting and carrying out a false attack with racist and anti-gay details, perhaps capitalizing on concerns about hate crimes under President Trump. Police call it a publicity stunt because he was dissatisfied with his salary.
Although Smollett returned to the "Empire" set this week, producers later announced that he will not be appearing in the final two episodes of the season. Those familiar with Smollett's activism and outspoken support for social movements are baffled by his choices.





Time's Up, a Year Later

Now in its second year, the Hollywood-led initiative has had both prominent successes and disappointments. The organization's legal defense fund for lower-wage workers has secured $25 million in donations, $6 million of which has gone toward legal cases and investigations. Two talent agencies that answered the call and committed to reach gender parity in pay and leadership by 2020 say they are on track to reaching their goals. Despite its progress, there have been grumblings that the group is disorganized and some of its members self-serving.



The Public Theater Sues New York City's Public Hotel for Trademark Violation

The Public Theater filed a lawsuit against Ian Schrager and his company, claiming that the latter violated its trademark by using the name "Public" and a strikingly similar logo to advertise theater and musical performances. The Public Theater is known for its wide red building, while the hotel features a red-curtained performance space. The theater argues that the hotel's use of "Public" in marketing entertainment events is likely to confuse customers and cause some to assume that its performances are associated with the theater.


Art Galleries Are Being Sued Over Websites That are Inaccessible to the Blind

Dozens of Manhattan art galleries are being sued in methodical fashion, alphabetically, for operating websites that are unusable to the visually impaired. There are two schools of thought on the value of this strategy: some believe that a large number of lawsuits, filed in quick succession and then settled confidentially, may do more harm than good. They extract money from defendants and give a bad impression of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Others believe that the effort will get companies to change their practices.


Peter Martins' Influence Continues to be Felt at City Ballet

A year after his departure from New York City Ballet, Peter Martins continues to make his presence felt at the company by defying management's instructions, ordering last-minute cast changes and showing up backstage after a show. Martins left the company amid allegations of sexual harassment and physical and verbal abuse.


Star Flutist Settles Pay Equity Suit Against Boston Symphony

Elizabeth Rowe filed a gender pay discrimination suit against the ensemble in 2018, claiming that her compensation was about 75% that of her closest comparable colleague. She filed under a then-new Massachusetts law that required equal pay for comparable work. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.


Burberry Apologizes for Featuring a Noose in Fashion Week Design

Burberry has apologized for featuring a noose hoodie in one of its London Fashion Week designs. The piece sparked backlash after one of the show's models criticized the look on Instagram for evoking not only racist imagery tied to lynching, but also suicide. The fashion house removed the item from its collection and blamed its use on the show's nautical inspiration.


Fashion Brands are Using Prison Labor to Provide Inmates with Jobs and Training

Production of goods, clothing, and textiles behind bars has a long-established history, with most manufacturing programs being run by government bodies or correctional boards. More recently, small brands have started selling clothing made by inmates. Peru has become a case study on the ethics of prison labor and the question of aid versus exploitation. Over 5,000 women are incarcerated in Peru and over 50% of them are employed in producing fashion goods. While these brands claim that they can create a profitable and sustainable business model while providing prisoners with job opportunities and skills training, many still think that prison work connotes cheap labor and criticism of the model persists.


Dissident Artist Ai Weiwei Accuses Producers of Censorship After Being Cut from "Berlin, I Love" Film

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei contends that the segment he shot for an anthology film set in Berlin was cut by the producers out of fear of upsetting Chinese officials. Ai Weiwei directed the segment remotely, while under house arrest in China. The piece portrays the separation of a family and features his young son, who resides in Germany. While one of the producers conceded that investors, distributors and other partners had raised concerns about Ai Weiwei's political sensitivity in China, other producers cited created differences and blamed him for trying to politicize his exclusion.


Egyptian Authorities Foil Mummy-Smuggling Attempt by a Belgium-Bound Passenger

The archaeological unit of Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced that it had worked with security and customs agents to foil a smuggling attempt of mummies' remains. The remains were found hidden inside a speaker packed in the suitcase of a passenger travelling to Belgium. The parts, which are now at the Egyptian museum for restoration, included two feet, two legs, one arm, and part of a torso.



Patriots Owner, Robert Kraft, Charged in Prostitution Sting

Robert Kraft has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution following a human trafficking and prostitution investigation in Florida. The charges stem from two separate visits to the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter, Florida. If Kraft is found to have committed a crime, all eyes will be on Commissioner Roger Goodell. The National Football League's constitution gives him broad powers to discipline owners and his exercise of that power will show the extent to which the league is ready to treat players and owners equally for conduct detrimental to the league or professional football.




College Basketball, Amateurism and the Role of Apparel Companies Laid Bare After Zion Williamson's Injury

Zion Williamson, college basketball's biggest star, will be sidelined for a number of weeks following a mild knee sprain after his shoe ripped apart on the court. The shoe "explosion" threatened to become a public relations nightmare for Nike and laid bare some of the persisting issues in college basketball: collegiate coaches and administrators reap the financial benefits of multi-million dollar contracts with apparel companies, while the NCAA defends limits on compensation to college athletes and players risk injury as the National Basketball Association (NBA) prohibits even prodigious talent from entering the league right after high school.

In Williamson's case, there is a reported $8 million loss of value insurance policy in place that protects a student-athlete's future contract value from decreasing below a certain amount due to a serious injury suffered during the coverage period.



Ole Miss Basketball Players Kneel During National Anthem

Eight players from the Ole Miss men's basketball team knelt during the national anthem in response to a pro-Confederacy march on campus. The school's athletic director, the team's coach, and the players reiterated that their stance had nothing to do with anything beyond the confederate groups' presence on campus.


Accusations of Body Shaming at a High School Cheerleading Banquet

To parents' surprise, cheerleading coaches at a Wisconsin high school handed out several unconventional awards, including the Big Boobie, the String Bean, and the Big Booty. While coaches described the mock awards as good-natured teasing, the ceremony drew the scrutiny of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is now asking the school district to discipline the coaches and institute mandatory anti-harassment training for all its employees.


USA Gymnastics Hires Li Li Leung as New CEO

Li Li Leung was named president and chief executive of USA Gymnastics earlier this week. Leung has worked for the NBA since 2015, including as its vice president for global partnerships. Herself a former gymnast, she said her priorities were for the federation to reach a fair and equitable resolution of lawsuits filed by victims of sexual abuse and to create an athlete-driven federation where safety is paramount. The US Olympic Committee removed USA Gymnastics as the national governing body for the sport, and the federation filed for bankruptcy last year.


Chelsea Banned From Signing Players After Breaking FIFA Transfer Rules

The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has banned Chelsea for a period of two transfer windows for violating rules related to the international transfer and registration of players under age 18. Chelsea can appeal the ban to the FIFA Appeal Committee and if the ban is upheld, it can then appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.



Justice Clarence Thomas Calls for the Supreme Court to Reconsider Landmark Libel Ruling in New York Times v. Sullivan

Justice Thomas called on the Court to reconsider the 1964 decision that made it difficult for public officials to prevail in libel suits by requiring proof of actual malice in any defamation or libel claim against the press. To prove malice under the Sullivan decision, a libel plaintiff must show that the writer knew that the disputed statement was false or had acted with "reckless disregard". Justice Thomas' statement comes in the wake of calls from President Trump to change libel laws to make it easier for public figures to sue for libel.


Major Companies Suspend Advertising on YouTube Over News of a Pedophile Network on the Site

Companies including Nestlé, McDonalds, and Disney have suspended advertising on the YouTube platform over child exploitation concerns. The companies' ads appeared on children's videos where pedophiles had infiltrated the comments section, leaving both inappropriate comments and timestamps for parts of videos where children appear in compromising positions. In response, YouTube removed or disabled comments on millions of videos featuring minors, but questions remain over its ability to moderate/monitor content and enforce its own policies.


Google Ends Forced Arbitration for all Employee Disputes

Google will no longer force employees to settle disputes in private arbitration, expanding on last year's announcement that it would abandon forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment or assault. The new policy will take effect on March 21st for current and future employees, but will not apply to former employees with unresolved disputes.


Consumer Groups Accuse Facebook of Duping Children

Children's advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate claims that Facebook violated consumer protection and child privacy laws by duping children into making in-app purchases, often without recourse for the parents. The FTC previously reached multi-million-dollar settlements with Apple and Google over similar accusations.


Alabama Newspaper Urges the Klan to "Night Ride Again"

In a shocking editorial, the publisher of the Democrat-Reporter stated that the Ku Klux Klan "would be welcome to raid the gated communities" of Washington, D.C., referring to the residences of Democrats and socialist-communists plotting to raise taxes in Alabama. State lawmakers have called on Goodloe Sutton to resign.


President Trump Singles Out the New York Times as a "True Enemy of the People"

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump railed against the press, claiming that certain stories have no basis in fact and writers do not ask for verification. He singled out the New York Times' reporting as false.


Egyptian Officials Detained a New York Times Reporter Before Forcing Him Back to London

As President el-Sisi's regime continues its crackdown against the news media, David D. Kirkpatrick, former Cairo bureau chief for the New York Times and the author of a recent book on Egypt, was detained on arrival at Cairo airport and then forced onto a flight back to England without explanation. Kirkpatrick's recent book covers the Arab Spring uprising of 2011 as well as the subsequent military takeover that installed el-Sisi as president in 2013.


Billionaire Wins Defamation Case Against Australian Media Group

Businessman Chau Chau Wing was awarded US$200,000 in damages after winning a defamation case against Fairfax Media. Chau claimed that a Sydney newspaper had wrongly linked him to an international bribery scandal involving Chinese political donors buying support at the United Nations.


New Legislation Bans Russian Soldiers from Using Smartphones

Russian lawmakers approved a bill to ban its troops from using smartphones or recording devices, or posting anything online about their military service. In recent years, soldiers' social media posts have contradicted and undermined official government positions that Russia played a limited military role in both Ukraine and Syria. Troops who violate the ban would face disciplinary measures or be fired from service.

The move was not without context - social media activity related to a recent NATO exercise allowed researchers to collect sensitive information and track troop movements. In 2018, fitness app Strava unwittingly revealed the locations and habits of U.S. military bases and personnel by sharing maps of users' activity.




House Expected to Block President Trump's Emergency Declaration

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scheduled a House vote on Tuesday on legislation that would end President Trump's emergency declaration. It would require Congressional Republicans to defend the power granted to Congress to control federal spending. If passed, it might force President Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency in order to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects to build the border wall.


Trump Administration Blocks Funds for Clinics Over Abortion Referrals

The Trump administration announced that it will bar organizations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money. The rule had been expected for months and is expected to strip millions of dollars of funding from Planned Parenthood, directing women toward religiously-based, anti-abortion groups.


President Trump Agrees to Leave 400 Troops in Syria

In a shift from his original position to withdraw all 2,000 American troops from Syria, President Trump has agreed to leave 400 troops in the country to support a multinational force operating south of the Turkish border and an outpost in the southeast. The move comes as European allies refused to send troops following Trump's abrupt announcement of an immediate pullout last year.


House Opens Inquiry into Proposed U.S. Nuclear Venture in Saudi Arabia

The White House is reportedly considering a plan to build nuclear power plants throughout Saudi Arabia. Documents obtained by the House Oversight Committee show the company backing the nuclear plan worked closely with Trump allies to discuss the export plan that would have allowed the company to built nuclear power sites abroad.


President Trump Nominates Ambassador to Canada, Kelly Knight Craft, for United Nations Post

If the Senate approves the nomination, Kelly Knight Craft will succeed Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations. Reports indicate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the president to nominate Craft, who along with her husband, was a major contributor to Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and Inaugural Committee.


New Election Ordered in North Carolina Race After the Original Vote is Nullified Over Fraud Allegations

The state's Board of Elections held a four-day hearing to investigate allegations of improper collection and completion of absentee ballots by an operative working for the Republican candidate's campaign. It has now unanimously ordered a new election in the Ninth Congressional District. It is the single undecided House contest from last year's midterms.


Supreme Court Curbs Civil Asset Forfeiture in Timbs v Indiana

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court struck a blow to aggressive civil forfeiture tactics by ruling that the federal prohibition against excessive fines applies on a state level. Justice Ginsburg, writing for the Court, explained that the Eighth Amendment's Excessive Fines Clause is an incorporated protection applicable to the states under the Due Process Clause. She later added that protection against excessive fines is a shield to protect other constitutional liberties. The decision will not stop civil forfeitures, which do not require a criminal conviction, but it will give people a chance to argue that the property seized was disproportionate to the crime.


Massage Parlor Sting Unveils Human Trafficking in Florida

Florida law enforcement agencies announced that arrest warrants were issued for 171 people following a crackdown on massage parlors in South Florida that police say were used for human trafficking and prostitution. Health inspectors reported that women were living in deplorable conditions at the day spas where they worked. The men who ran these parlors allegedly lured young women with the promise of legitimate work, then pressured them into prostitution.


President Trump's Two-Year War on the Investigations that Encircle Him

According to a recent New York Times report, President Trump's actions in response to a number of open investigations have exposed him to accusations of obstruction of justice. It has been reported that Trump asked then-Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker whether Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, could be put in charge of the investigation into Trump's role in making hush payments to women during the 2016 campaign. Berman is a Trump ally who had already recused himself from the investigation.


Michael Cohen is Providing Prosecutors With New Information on the Trump Family Business

President Trump's former lawyer is offering federal prosecutors information about the Trump Organization, including information about insurance claims, donations to the Inaugural Committee, and possibly other irregularities.


Roger Stone Placed Under Gag Order Over Instagram Post on Judge

A federal judge has barred Roger Stone from talking about his case or anyone involved in it. The order includes communication over social media. The ruling came after Stone posted a picture of Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Instagram with a crosshairs next to her head, criticizing her as an Obama appointee and claiming the legal process is rigged.


Pope Francis Opens Summit on Child Protection

Under great pressure from victims, Pope Francis opened a four-day meeting at the Vatican in which bishops and other participants will discuss the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis. Pope Francis offered a roadmap for discussion that disappointed many victims who demand a zero tolerance policy and automatic dismissal of priests and bishops who engage in misconduct or protect those who do.


Saudi Arabia Names Princess Reema as Ambassador to the U.S.

Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan is the first woman in Saudi Arabia to be appointed to such a post. She will replace King Salman's son as ambassador to the United States.


China Collected DNA of Minority Uighurs Under the Guise of Free Medical Check-ups

The Chinese government reportedly had nearly 36 million people submit to a program that collected DNA, recorded participants' voices, and took
fingerprints under the guise of providing free physicals to the Uighur community. To bolster their DNA capabilities and create a nationwide database of samples, Chinese officials used equipment from a Massachusetts company and relied on genetic material provided by a Yale geneticist.

Whether unwittingly or not, the global scientific community risks legitimizing this type of genetic surveillance by cooperating with the Chinese government. Chinese officials have also contributed the data of Uighurs to an online search platform, possibly violating scientific norms of informed consent if the Uighurs did not volunteer their samples.


Tensions Escalate as Venezuela Threatens to Close Borders with its Neighbors

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered that the country's border with Brazil be closed as part of an escalating fight over foreign humanitarian aid. Maduro insists that there is no crisis and has called the aid-delivery plans a publicity stunt orchestrated by the U.S. Shipping containers are also blocking much needed supplies from arriving from Colombia.


About February 2019

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in February 2019. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2019 is the previous archive.

March 2019 is the next archive.

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