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Week In Review

By Lisa Ornest
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Sanctions Against a Chinese Video-Sharing Company

Pursuant to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok (formerly Musical.ly), has agreed to pay $5.7 million to settle allegations that it illegally collected personal information, such as names, email addresses, names, and schools, from children under the age of 13. No parental permission was required. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the TikTok fine is a record for a child privacy case.


The Rudin/Sorkin Compromise

To recap, the rights of Scott Rudin and Harper Lee's estate, in the new "To Kill a Mockingbird" adaption by Aaron Sorkin, have superseded the rights of the old ones, which were based on a dramatic version by Chrisopher Sergel. Rudin et al. have been exercising their rights aggressively, and productions "across America," based on the old script, have received cease and desist letters. These potential "infringers" are high school and middle school or other local productions. The original article discussed the closing of a British touring production, but now the focus is on the United States. For example, a production in Buffalo, with advance sales of 3,000 seats, a cast of 19 actors, including six children, had been rehearsing, and the set had been built.

After some backlash, like #BoycottRudinPlays, Rudin et al. have decided to offer a compromise to the local theater and school groups that were forced to cancel their productions. These productions can now go ahead, using the Sorkin script. No charge. Some theaters are grateful, while some lament that it's a whole new script to learn, and they don't have enough time.



R Kelly Out on Bail

R Kelly was having trouble making the bond, but a woman "friend" from Chicago paid the $100,000, the 10% bail fee, to get him released, and he drove away in a Mercedes. Maybe he should get some advice from Robert Kraft. They have the same initials.


Them Bones

This is a lawsuit about creative accounting practices in the entertainment industry, or at least in one particular production, whereby the studio "breaks even" and there is no back end left for anyone else. The Fox executives apparently also lied under oath. The private arbitrator ordered $50 million in damages and $128 million in punitive damages, the latter of which Fox is contesting.


I'm Bad

Michael Jackson's sales increased wildly after his death. Now Wade Robeson and James Safechuck are featured in a two-part, four-hour documentary about their childhood time spent at Neverland, and the alleged sexual molestation they suffered from Jackson during those visits. Oprah supports them. The Jackson family have filed a lawsuit against HBO. Robeson and Safechuck have a lawsuit against the estate, but they may have statute of limitation problems. In addition, they previously testified that there was no sexual abuse.



I Heard it At the Washington Post

In December 2018, Amber Heard, a former spouse of Johnny Depp, wrote a Washington Post op-ed about being the victim of domestic abuse. She did not name names, but Depp is now suing her for defamation, claiming that the piece insinuated that he was the perpetrator and that this insinuation has negatively influenced his career. Heard's lawyer claims that it's a frivolous lawsuit. The problem is, whether he did or not, the parties signed an NDA.


Peter Martins Not Entirely Replaced by a Woman

Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford, both long-time former principal dancers, will replace Peter Martins, who was accused of sexual and physical misconduct. However, while Stafford will be the artistic director of both NYC Ballet and the School of American Ballet, Whelan will only be the associate artistic director of NYC Ballet. So while it was great that they appointed a woman, and she is the first woman in such a powerful artistic role at NYC Ballet, they just couldn't go all the way, and Whelan does not have power equal to her male counterpart.


Stars Surprised That Oscars Were Not Radical

Many people are upset because the mainstream, feel-good, studio-backed, box office success "Green Book" received the Best Picture over other more serious and profound films, like "Black Panthers" and "BlacKkKlansman". So what's new? It's not the first time, and it won't be the last.



Martha and Mary

Art dealer Mary Boone began her career in 1970, becoming a champion of artists like Basquiat and Julian Schnabel. More recently, she received a two and a half year jail sentence for filing false tax returns. She paid no taxes at all in 2009 and 2010, and about $300 in taxes in 2011, when the total should have been more like $1.2 million. She did it by doing things like counting personal expenses as tax deductible business expenses. Assistant United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman called the tax returns "more a work of impressionism than realism." Boone made restitution of about $6 million, and there were at least 100 letters from artists in her support, so there were no further penalties. Boone is calling herself the "Martha Stewart of the art world," but it's not clear if she will get Stewart's old digs at Danbury.



Masterpiece or Mistake?

He's called "The Island Eater," and he's a cute little intricately carved wooden statue of a Hawaiian war god. In 2018, he was auctioned by Christie's, which claimed that he was seriously old. He was bought by the tech billionaire Mark Benioff, now the owner of Time Magazine, for $7.5 million. Benioff donated the statue to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum of Honolulu, in a tax deductible act of repatriation. Now, however, apparently, even Christie's is saying the statute is worth only about $5,000, maybe. Others say that there is a very similar one, made of the same wood, in the British Museum, which was acquired in 1822. Still others say that it's the kind of thing one can find at a tiki bar. Apparently the provenance is not airtight. This is a problem for Benioff's tax deductions as well as for the high-ticket paying museum-goers. Carbon dating can tell the age of the wood, but not when it was carved. Paging Lovejoy.



Robert Kraft Charged with Solicitation

Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, has been charged with two counts of soliciting prostitution. He was one of 25 men caught in a sting operation at a spa called "Orchids of Asia", run out of a strip mall in Jupiter, Florida. Originally the charges were classed as a second-degree misdemeanor, but they were escalated to first degree. Kraft could get up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, 100 hours of community service, and some sort of slap on the wrist from the National Football League. He was not physically arrested, booked, or photographed, and basically just received a summons in the mail. Just like a traffic ticket.


Kraft pleaded not guilty to solicitation, a similar charge to nearly 300 men in multiple jurisdictions.


Strip mall massage parlors and indentured servitude. Apparently the "epicenter" of it all is Flushing, Queens. The women arrive at the airports, learn the trade, and are sent out nationally, like to Jupiter, Florida. Their passports are confiscated. They keep only a tiny portion of the fee for the "massage", and have to make the rest in tips. They are charged for "room and board", usually sleeping on their massage chairs.


Guys and Their Jerseys

The clothing company Coogi is suing the Nets, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Nike over their Notorious B.I.G. (Chris Wallace) -inspired jerseys. The jerseys are manufactured by Nike and have a multicolored striped pattern down the sides. The Nets call the pattern "Brooklyn Camo". Coogi claims that the pattern is similar to patterns it has been using for years, and for which it claims to have over 300 design copyrights. Coogi is also associated with Wallace, who has been photographed wearing the brand. He also mentions Coogi in two of his songs (talk about product placement). Coogi claims that one of the defendants purchased ads on Google so that searches for Coogi items will direct users to the Nets merchandise. The NBA denies any merit to the claims. It's the usual back and forth. On Friday, the first 10,000 fans in attendance for the Nets against the Charlotte Hornets will receive a Notorious B.I.G. bobblehead.


Advances in Gaming Accessibility

There are, perhaps, 30 million disabled videogame players in the U.S. In 2010, Congress passed the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act, which requires companies to make laptops, tablets, smartphones, gaming consoles, and other tech useable by people with disabilities. Since then, many companies have been increasing the accessibility of their tech toys. However, there were still problems. If a disabled person could play a game, he or she did, if not, he or she would try another game. (One can see the economic ramifications.) One fix was "switches", devices that allowed play with different parts of the body; but the switches are expensive and clunky. So now, Microsoft, through a company called AbleGamers (and others), has developed the "Xbox Adaptive Controller", which works on all X-Box titles and Windows 10. It allows the user to plug in foot pedals, for example, or a paraplegic to "sip" or "puff" with the mouth in order to control onscreen movement. Other companies will be keeping up.



Thirteen Year-Old Female Soccer Player Turns Pro

At the age of eleven, Olivia Moultrie accepted a scholarship to play soccer at the University of North Carolina. Now, two years later, at the ripe old age of 13, Moultrie is turning pro. She got herself an agent and a "multiyear" endorsement with Nike, which, as the agent points out, will be much more remunerative than the scholarship. Of course, her young age may prevent her from getting into a league. The N.W.S.L., for example, requires players to be at least 18.



No Comment

YouTube has decided to ban comments on videos that "prominently feature" children under 13, and also on those between 13 and 18 if the content seems like it might attract predators. It claims that this will deter pedophiles. My guess is users are going to be furious. Advertisers already are. Why did anyone ever think that the internet would be different from the world at large?


General News

War Memorial Cross Subject of Controversy

Supreme Court Justice Kagan says that the memorial cross has been there for a long time and was erected at a time when crosses were a common way to memorialize the fallen, and that it's not that big a deal. Justice Breyer agrees that it is historical, although obviously we could not erect it now. Justice Ginsberg says that she doesn't really think it can survive constitutional scrutiny, as crosses show devotion to the Christian faith.


Faulty Memory Shouldn't Deter Death Penalty

A prisoner has had several strokes and can't remember his crimes, and Justice Kagan argues that the state seeks punishment for the crime, not the memory of the crime. "Moral values," she says, "do not exempt the simply forgetful from punishment." Justice Kagan thinks thinks it's possible for a criminal to understand, even if he has forgotten.


Trump-Kim Summit Failed

Surprise, surprise.



House Gun Bill Passes

The bill passed by the House of Representatives requires background checks for all gun purchasers, including guns shows and over the internet. Republicans wanted to add a provision requiring that Immigration and Customs Enforcement be alerted if an undocumented immigrant tried to obtain a firearm. The Senate will not introduce anything similar.


The Accountant is Going to Get It

Trump's "Money Man", Allen Weisselberg, is a humble, modest, and unassuming accountant (in contrast to the bombastic attorney Cohen), who began his career doing the books for Trump Sr., slaving away in a "dingy building" in Gravesend (hah!), Brooklyn. Now, Weisselberg is apparently privy to the goings-on of the entire enterprise. As such, Weisselberg may have known something about Trump's payments to Stormy Daniels. In addition, Weisselberg is becoming popular with the various executive and legislative bodies seeking to investigate the Trump circus. Trump asserts that Weisselberg is a "wonderful guy," who will remain loyal, not like that rat Cohen, and maybe he will, but who knows?


Trump Strong-Armed Kushner's Security Clearance

John Kelly was so concerned about Kushner that he CYA'd with an internal memo stating he had been ordered to give the security clearance. White House Counsel Donald F. McGahn II was also against it. These statements contradict Trump himself, who stated to the New York Times in January that he had no role in Kushner receiving the clearance. Sarah Huckabee Sanders was her usual forthcoming self: "We don't comment on security clearances." A spokesperson for Kushner's lawyer stated that it was a regular process with "no pressure from anyone," and that the fact that it was a regular process was conveyed to the media. Kelly was apparently asked to corroborate, and he wouldn't.


Fox in the Hen House

Trump has now appointed a man with no interest in preserving the environment to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Andrew R. Wheeler, a coal lobbyist, will take the place of Scott Pruitt, who had a number of ethics issues. The vote was basically partisan, with Susan Collins the only Republican in dissent.


Mexico Trying to Appease Trump, Maybe

Mexican authorities are now blocking groups of migrants at the border and intercepting unaccompanied minors.


Revenge Porn Law Passed

This is a bill that was introduced five years ago and finally passed in New York State. The penalty is up to one year in jail or three years probation, as well as a $1,000 fine. The statute also creates a private right of action for damages and injunctive relief (judges can now order that the websites be taken down), but apparently only when the victim is a family member. New York is one of 41 states that have outlawed revenge porn. Before that, there was nothing that could be done. Now at least there's something.



North Carolina Voter Fraud

It's so crazy that this kind of thing still goes on. It's so backwards.


It's in His Kiss

A Trump employee brought a lawsuit against him in Tampa, Florida, but it doesn't sound like Florida may be the best state to litigate these types of issues.


Subpoenas to Trump's Inaugural Committee

The subpoenas are based on allegations of illegal contributions by foreigners; violation of non-profit law; self-dealing; alter ego; and general, but unconstitutional corruption. Pass the popcorn.


Saudia Arabia to Try Women's Rights Activists

Seventeen activists, both men and women, have been arrested, interrogated, and tortured (beatings, electric shock, waterboarding, solitary confinement, threats), one so severely that she tried to kill herself. Their activism was about things like women driving or opening a shelter for abused women. They have been informally accused of treason. Officially, they have not been charged with anything. The trials come on the heels of Jared Kushner's meeting with Prince Mohammed.


Gender Inequality in the Legal Profession

This article was from September 2018, but I didn't see it then (even though it was covered in a September WIR). Apparently, in Florida, about 90% of this woman P.I. attorney's opponents are men, and each one of them files a pre-trial "'no-crying motion'" as a matter of course. The judges deny them, but that doesn't change how sexist the motions are. The article goes on to discuss how women must practice differently from men, from issues of personal grooming to styles of communication. Even in New York, according to NYSBA, as late as 2017, female attorneys accounted for only 25% of attorneys appearing in commercial and criminal cases. The more complex the litigation, the less likely that the lead attorney will be a woman, and the situation is much worse for women of color. It isn't just that there are more men in the courtroom; there are more men in positions of power. For example, 66 of Trump's 73 U.S. attorney nominates were men. Seventeen percent of elected prosecutors are women; 1% are women of color.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 4, 2019 6:08 PM.

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