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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:


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.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 18, 2019 5:40 PM.

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