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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."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 10, 2019 11:04 PM.

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