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Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

The following articles are divided into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:

ENTERTAINMENT

Charges Dropped Against Jussie Smollet - Chicago's Mayor Is Not Pleased

Just a month after being indicted on 16 counts, prosecutors in Chicago have dropped all charges against Jussie Smollett, the "Empire" actor who was accused of staging a hate crime attack against himself. In January, Smollett told police that two men had jumped him and berated him with homophobic and racial slurs, yelling "This is MAGA country," a reference to Trump's "Make America Great Again" slogan. The assailants also allegedly tied a rope around his neck and poured a chemical substance on him. While Mayor Rahm Emanuel furiously referred to the case as a "whitewashing of justice", Joe Magats, the prosecutor who made the decision to drop the charges, stated that dropping the charges "didn't exonerate him."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/arts/television/jussie-smollett-charges-dropped.html

Music Publishers Sue Peloton for Unlicensed Use of Music

Publishers who represent artists like Drake, Lady Gaga, and Justin Timberlake, among others, are suing home fitness company, Peloton, for allegedly using music from their artists in the company's video-streaming platform without permission. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York and seeks more than $150 million in damages.

http://fortune.com/2019/03/19/peloton-music-lawsuit/

"Project Runway All Stars" Became an Ad for Nothing

On many episodes of "Project Runway All Stars" Season 7, host and judge Alyssa Milano has announced that the week's winning design will be sold on JCPenney.com the following day. However, JC Penney's website states that the collaboration has been discontinued, because legally, the company couldn't produce the designs. JC Penney announced in an email statement that "Season 7 of 'Project Runway All Stars' was taped well before our collaboration with the show ended, and we were unaware that the season would begin airing in January 2019...because of this unfortunate turn of events, J.C. Penney no longer had the agreement in place to produce or sell the winning looks." JC Penney's "ghost sponsorship" comes as a result of the Weinstein Company scandal. After the sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein were reported, Weinstein was fired by his board and the company went bankrupt. Lantern Capital Partners bought the Weinstein Company assets last year, and flipped the rights to "Project Runway" to NBCUniversal, leaving it unclear whether or not the latest "All-Stars" season would ever air, since it was taped during the summer of 2017. Despite the drama, Lifetime decided to air it anyway, as is, starting in January - 18 months after filming -- which is why Milano has been telling viewers most weeks about an outfit that they won't be able to buy.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/arts/television/project-runway-all-stars-jc-penney.html

Judge Dismissed Most of James Levine's Claims Against the Metropolitan Opera

Justice Andrea Masley of the New York State Supreme Court issued a ruling that dismissed all but one of the defamation claims that conductor James Levine made in a lawsuit he filed against the Metropolitan Opera (the Met) last year after it had fired him amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

The ruling came just over a year after the Met fired Levine, who had been its music director for four decades and recently assumed an emeritus position -- making him the biggest classical music star to lose his job during the national reckoning over sexual misconduct. Levine, who has denied any wrongdoing, sued the Met for breach of contract and defamation; the Met countersued him, accusing Levine of decades of misconduct and saying that he had violated his duties to the company and harmed the institution. Part of Levine's suit is proceeding; there is a conference scheduled for next month.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/arts/music/james-levine-met-defamation-claims.html

ARTS

Trump Proposes Elimination of National Endowment for the Arts - AGAIN!

Last week, the Trump administration released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2020, in which it proposed shutting down the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities by providing only $29 million in funding, stating that the administration "does not consider NEA activities to be core Federal responsibilities."

https://www.dance.nyc/news/2019/03/Trump-Again-Proposes-Elimination-of-NEA/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=National%20Endowment%20for%20the%20Arts%20logo&utm_campaign=Weekly%20Newsletter%203.25.19%20Advocacy%20Alert%20on%20NEA%202020%20Budget

Getty Accused of Slapping Copyrights on Public Domain Pics

Texas digital marketing company CixxFive Concepts LLC has filed a complaint against Getty Images, Inc. (Getty), accusing Getty of duping customers into buying copyrights to use images in the public domain that they can actually use freely. CixxFive allegedly brought the suit against Getty after it had paid Getty licensing fees last year to use images that were in the public domain - and for which copyright licenses were not necessary. CixxFive also alleges that Getty creates a "hostile environment" for those who want to use the images and that Getty "stakes a false claim of ownership" over public domain images.

CixxFive Concepts LLC v. Getty Images Inc. et al., case number 2:19-cv-00386, in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. https://www.law360.com/ip/articles/1139909

Zillow's Copyright Infringement Case Remanded

VHT, Inc. (VHT), a real estate photography studio, sued Zillow Group, Inc., and Zillow, Inc. (Zillow), an online real estate marketplace, in a copyright infringement suit alleging that Zillow copied and unlawfully used thousands of photographic images owned by VHT on Zillow's Digs home-design website and on properties not actively listed for sale on Zillow's central listing website. A panel recently affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court's judgment after a jury trial and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings as to whether the VHT photos remaining at issue were a compilation, and held that substantial evidence did not show that was actually aware of its infringing activity, nor was it reckless or willfully blind to its infringement.

VHT, Inc. v. Zillow Group, Inc., No. 17-35587 (9th Cir. 2019) https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca9/17-35587/17-35587-2019-03-15.html

https://news.bloomberglaw.com/ip-law/case-copyrights-photography

Hudson Yards' "Vessel" Owns the Copyright to All of Your Visiting Photos

Hudson Yards just opened to the public in New York City and its centerpiece is a permanent art installation and giant public structure called "Vessel". Vessel is a 16-story landmark with 154 flights of stairs that visitors can climb; but by reserving a ticket to Vessel, you hand over your rights to any photos or videos shot within.

https://petapixel.com/2019/03/18/nycs-new-vessel-landmark-has-a-big-photo-copyright-grab/

Art Powerhouses Continue to Shun Sackler Family, Including the Guggenheim Museum

Although the Sackler family has generously supported museums (and other medical and educational institutions) worldwide for decades, several of the Sackler family's charities of choice are reconsidering whether they want to accept any money from the family at all, and others have already rejected any future gifts, concluding that some family members' ties to the opioid crisis outweighed the benefits of their six- and sometimes seven-figure checks.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was one who has announced that it does not plan to accept future gifts from the family of Mortimer D. Sackler, a philanthropist and former board member, whose family's pharmaceutical interests have been linked to the opioid crisis. The museum's statement said that members of the family had donated $9 million to the Guggenheim between 1995 and 2015, including $7 million to establish and support the Sackler Center for Arts Education. The spokeswoman said that the center's name was contractual and there were no plans to change it. Members of the Sackler family own Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of OxyContin, and the company currently faces hundreds of lawsuits over its links to the opioid crisis, and smaller lawsuits have been filed against individual members of the Sackler family.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/arts/design/sackler-museums-donations-oxycontin.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/22/arts/guggenheim-sackler-family-donations.html

MoMa PS 1 Settles Gender, Pregnancy, and Caregiver Discrimination Dispute with Curator

Nikki Columbus, who is an art editor and curator, has settled the claim she brought against the Museum of Modern Art, saying that it had rescinded a job offer upon learning she had recently given birth. While the financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Columbus has said that she made it a point that her agreement not bar her from discussing other details of the case, stating that being able to talk about the importance of the suit was "central" to her.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/arts/design/moma-ps1-settles-with-curator-who-said-giving-birth-cost-her-job-offer.html

Picasso Stolen in 1999 is Recovered in Amsterdam

Arthur Brand, an art crimes investigator in the Netherlands, claims to have recovered Pablo Picasso's 1938 painting "Portrait of Dora Maar", which was stolen from its owner in the south of France in 1999. Brand, who had been trying to track down the Picasso painting since 2015, said that he was contacted earlier this month by "two persons with good contacts in the underworld", who said that the painting was in the Netherlands. The two contacts, whom Brand declined to name, dropped the painting off at his house in Amsterdam in two plastic garbage bags, where the trio drank a toast to the painting and, after that, Brand hung the Picasso on his wall. The next day, a Picasso specialist from the Pace Gallery in New York flew to the Netherlands to check the painting, and verified its authenticity. The painting has since been turned over to an unnamed insurance company.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/arts/design/stolen-picasso-dora-maar-amsterdam.html

SPORTS

Michael Avenatti Accused in Nike Extortion Attempt

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented porn star Stormy Daniels in her lawsuits against Trump, has been accused of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike in exchange for evidence he said he had of misconduct by company employees in the recruitment of college basketball players. Prosecutors said that Avenatti and a client, a basketball coach for a traveling youth team, had told Nike that he and the basketball coach, said to be Gary Franklin Sr. of the club team California Supreme in Los Angeles, had evidence that Nike employees had funneled money to recruits in violation of N.C.A.A. rules. Prosecutors further said that Avenatti and the coach had threatened to release the evidence in an attempt to damage Nike's reputation and market capitalization unless the company paid them at least $22.5 million.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/sports/michael-avenatti-extortion-nike.html

Connor McGregor Facing Sexual Assault Accusations

Conor McGregor, an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) star, is under investigation in Ireland after a woman accused him of sexual assault in December. Following the usual protocol in criminal investigations in Ireland and much of Europe, where a formal charge does not necessarily follow an arrest, McGregor was arrested in January, questioned by law enforcement authorities, and released pending further investigation. McGregor and the UFC have not commented on the allegations, but a publicist for McGregor did state that McGregor's recent retirement has nothing to do with the investigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/sports/conor-mcgregor-sexual-assault.html

Major League Baseball Suspends Baer Until July

Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that San Francisco Giants president and CEO Larry Baer will remain suspended until July. Baer has been on leave since March 4th, after footage showing him forcefully pulling something out of his screaming wife's hands at a public park surfaced. Baer's leave of absence will now be converted to an unpaid suspension.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/26/sports/baseball/26reuters-baseball-mlb-sf-baer.html

Kraft Seeks Jury Trial in Solicitation Case and Asks Judge to Suppress Video Evidence

New England Patriots' owner, Robert K. Kraft, has waived his arraignment for charges of soliciting prostitution and requested a jury trial. Prosecutors have offered to drop the two misdemeanor charges against Kraft, but the proposed deal required him to admit that he would have been found guilty at trial on the charges - Kraft refused the deal, insisting that he has done nothing illegal and that he wants to clear his name to protect his reputation.

Kraft has also asked the judge overseeing his case to suppress video evidence that the police have said shows him receiving sex from a masseuse at a spa in Jupiter, Florida. Kraft is asking that the evidence be kept private only until his case was finished. Kraft's lawyers said that the video recordings "are the fruits of an unlawful sneak-and-peek search warrant that the Town of Jupiter Police Department used to spy on Mr. Kraft and others, while they were in the private rooms of a licensed spa (the "Spa"), receiving treatment from licensed masseuses." His lawyers further described the video surveillance as a "governmental overreach" and maintained that the search warrant was filed under false pretenses because the human trafficking that the police contend was taking place in the spa has not been proved.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/sports/robert-kraft-arraignment-jury-trial.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/sports/robert-kraft-evidence-suppress-filing.html

MEDIA

Facebook Says It Will Ban White Nationalist Content

Facebook announced that it would ban white nationalist content from its platforms, a significant policy change that responds to vigorous demands from civil rights groups who said that the tech giant was failing to confront the powerful reach of white extremism on social media. The company previously saw white nationalism as a concept akin to ethnic pride and something different from and less dangerous than white supremacy. As part of its policy change, Facebook said that it would divert users who searched for white supremacist content to "Life After Hate", a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups, and would improve its ability to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to combat white nationalism.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/03/27/technology/ap-us-tec-facebook-white-extremism.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/business/facebook-white-nationalist-supremacist.html

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/27/technology/27reuters-facebook-hatespeech.html

Department of Housing and Urban Development Says Facebook Engages in Housing Discrimination With Its Ad Practices

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has sued Facebook, claiming that it engages in housing discrimination by allowing advertisers to restrict who can see ads on the platform based on characteristics like race, religion, and national origin. In addition, HUD claims that Facebook uses its data-mining practices to determine which of its users can view housing-related ads. It claims that on both counts, Facebook is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/facebook-housing-discrimination.html

Chinese Professor Suspended After Criticizing China's President Xi

Professor Xu Zhangrun, of Tsinghua University in Beijing, shot to prominence last year when he published a series of essays that denounced President Xi Jinping's authoritarian tendencies as driving China back to closed, repressive politics that could prove disastrous for the country. He has now been suspended and placed under investigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/world/asia/chinese-law-professor-xi.html

Australian Journalists Charged With Violating Gag-Order

Dozens of Australian news outlets and journalists have been ordered to appear in court to answer allegations that they violated a gag order barring coverage of the trial of Cardinal George Pell, a former Vatican official who was convicted in December of molesting children. Chief Judge Peter Kidd, who presided over Cardinal Pell's trial, had imposed a suppression order on journalists who were covering it, on the grounds that news reports could prejudice a jury. The order was lifted in February and Australian news outlets were free to report that the Cardinal had been found guilty months earlier. He was sentenced this month to six years in prison. The summons sheet does not specify how the accused journalists and news organizations are alleged to have violated the order.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/world/australia/media-suppression-cardinal-pell.html

Leaders of Vatican Women's Magazine Quit

In a letter of resignation to Pope Francis, Lucetta Scaraffia, the founder and editor of Women Church World, a magazine that drew international attention for exposing the abuse of nuns, wrote that the editorial board members, all women, felt in the last few months that a hierarchy dominated by men was marginalizing them and did not value their work. The women cited a "climate of distrust and progressive delegitimization" of their work inside the Vatican's Communications Office as their reason for quitting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/world/europe/women-vatican-magazine-quit.html

GENERAL NEWS

New Law Bolsters Copyrights in Europe

The European Parliament has adopted a copyright law that requires technology platforms like Google to sign licensing agreements with musicians, authors, and news publishers in order to post their works online. The measure, approved by a vote of 348 to 274, gives each country in the European Union two years to turn the Directive into law.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/business/eu-article-13-copyright.html

Supreme Court Refuses to Block Ban on Bump Stocks

The Supreme Court has declined to stop the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on bump stock devices, which allow semi-automatic weapons to fire like machine guns. The ban, which followed the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas in which a gunman attached bump stocks to assault-style rifles he used to shoot concertgoers from his hotel room, went into effect last week. It requires owners either to destroy their bump stocks or surrender them.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/supreme-court-bump-stocks.html

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/03/28/us/politics/ap-us-supreme-court-bump-stock-ban.html

Supreme Court Stays Execution to Allow Buddhist Advisor's Accompaniment

Patrick Murphy, an inmate who was part of a murderous band of prison escapees dubbed the "Texas 7", was granted a stay of his death sentence as the Supreme Court ordered the state of Texas to allow a Buddhist spiritual adviser to accompany him to the execution chamber. As the ruling came after the expiration of the death warrant, the case will be returned to the district court level, and the execution rescheduled.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/28/us/28reuters-texas-execution.html

Trump Signs Proclamation Formally Recognizing Israel's Authority Over Golan Heights

Trump has signed a proclamation recognizing Israel's authority over the long-disputed Golan Heights --two weeks before Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu faces indictment in Israel on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. In addition to his decision on the Golan Heights, Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal, which Netanyahu had long reviled, and moved the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/us/politics/benjamin-netanyahu-donald-trump-meeting.html

Interior Nominee Intervened to Block Report on Endangered Species

After years of efforts, scientists at the Fish and Wildlife Service have wrapped up a comprehensive analysis of the threat that three widely used pesticides present to hundreds of endangered species. Their analysis found that two of the pesticides, malathion and chlorpyrifos, were so toxic that they "jeopardize the continued existence" of more than 1,200 endangered birds, fish, and other animals and plants, a conclusion that could lead to tighter restrictions on use of the chemicals. Scientists had planned to make the findings public back in November 2017, but political appointees of the Interior Department, which oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, blocked the release and set in motion a new process intended to apply a much narrower standard to determine the risks from the pesticides. Leading the intervention was David Bernhardt, then the Deputy Secretary of the Interior and a former lobbyist and oil-industry lawyer. Bernhardt is now President Trump's nominee to become Interior Secretary.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/endangered-species-david-bernhardt.html

U.S. Expands Anti-Abortion Policies

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the Trump administration will withhold funding from foreign nongovernmental organizations that give money to foreign groups that perform abortions. Pompeo also said that the government was "fully enforcing" a law that prohibits groups from using United States aid to lobby on abortion issues. This comes after American officials had allegedly become aware that a group under the Organization of American States had engaged in abortion rights advocacy. The State Department will now stipulate in assistance agreements that the diplomatic body must promise that no American funds will be used to lobby for or against abortion and the U.S. will reduce funding to the organization as punishment.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/state-department-abortion-funding.html

Trump Administration Detains Palestinian After Sentence Ends

Adham Hassoun, a Palestinian computer programmer who lived in Florida, served 15 years in prison for sending support to Islamist militants abroad in connection with the September 11th attacks. Once his sentence was completed, he then waited in immigration detention for more than a year and a half while the government searched for a place to deport him (Hassoun is difficult to deport because he is stateless - he was born in Lebanon, which has declined to take him, and the Palestinian Authorities said that he may go to the West Bank, but Israel and Jordan have not consented to passage to go there). Finally, a judge ordered him temporarily released in the United States, but the Trump administration, citing a little-used immigration regulation issued after September 11th, notified Hassoun last month that he was being declared a security risk and would be kept locked up indefinitely. Hassoun is now suing the government.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/adham-hassoun-indefinite-detention.html

12 Plead Not Guilty in U.S. College Admissions Scandal

Twelve people, including several ex-coaches, plead not guilty in the college admissions scandal that has seen upwards of 50 people charged with participating in the scheme headed by California college admissions counseling service operator Rick Singer. Among those charged include actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, both of whom allegedly paid bribes and falsified documents/photos to get their children into top colleges.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/25/us/25reuters-usa-education-cheating.html

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/28/us/28reuters-usa-education-cheating.html

U.S. Trying to Force Grindr Sale

Seeking to expand its efforts to block Chinese acquisitions in the U.S., the Trump administration is attempting to force the Chinese firm that owns Grindr, the gay dating app, to relinquish control over concerns that Beijing could use personal information to blackmail or influence American officials or contractors if China threatened to disclose their sexual orientation, or track their movements or dating habits.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/grindr-china-national-security.html

Boeing Jet Flight Simulation Reveals That Pilots Had Only 40 Seconds to Avert Crash

During flight simulations recreating the problems with the Lion Air plane, pilots discovered that they had fewer than 40 seconds to override an automated system on Boeing's new jets and avert disaster. The automated system, known as MCAS, is the focus of investigation as authorities try to figure out what went wrong in the Lion Air crash in October and the Ethiopian Airlines crash of the same Boeing model this month.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/business/boeing-simulation-error.html

Checkpoints in New Mexico and West Texas Closed Amidst Continued Rise in Immigration

Border Patrol is shutting down several of its checkpoints across New Mexico and parts of West Texas as officials scramble to respond to a surge in families requesting asylum along the Southwest border. A Border Patrol spokesman said that the closings are a "temporary measure... intended to help provide 'appropriate care' for migrants apprehended at the border", as the number of migrants entering the country, which in February reached an 11-year high, continues to climb. The closed checkpoints span across Border Patrol's El Paso sector, which includes 121,000 square miles in New Mexico and 4,500 square miles in Texas.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/us/border-checkpoints-texas.html

Calls for Disclosure of Safety Risks of Breast Implants

Several women with illnesses linked to breast implants met with plastic surgeons, regulators and implant makers at the Food and Drug Administration's general and plastic surgery panel and demanded more information about the risks of breast implants and called for a ban on one that is associated with an unusual type of cancer. While the panel took no formal votes, its members are to consider further steps for the agency to take in exploring the growing scientific evidence about both breast implant-associated lymphoma and a constellation of debilitating symptoms generally referred to as breast implant illness.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/health/breast-implants-cancer.html

House Fails to Override Trump's Veto

In a 248-to-181 vote, the House has failed to overturn Trump's first veto, leaving the declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border intact despite bipartisan passage of a resolution attempting to nullify the president's circumvention of Congress to fund his border wall.

https://www.nytimes.com/search?query=house+fails+to+override+trump%27s+veto

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/26/world/americas/26reuters-usa-trump-congress-emergency.html

Democrats Intensify Demand for Big Institutional Changes

Liberal groups are encouraging Democrats running for president and the Senate to commit to enlarging the Supreme Court and scuttling the Senate's famous procedural weapon - the filibuster. The intensifying push for changes could add an explosive element to the 2020 campaign, as candidates are forced to take a stand on structural changes in how government works.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/us/politics/democrats-filibuster-court-packing.html

National Security Agency Contractor Arrested in Biggest Breach of U.S. Secrets Pleads Guilty

Harold T. Martin III, who worked in the National Security Agency's Tailored Access Operations hacking unit, plead guilty to taking classified documents home in what may be the biggest breach of classified information in history. Investigators have never found proof that Martin had shared the stolen secrets with anyone else, though there is evidence he may have considered doing so. Martin plead guilty to one count of willful retention of defense information and he is due to be sentenced in July.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/hal-martin-nsa-guilty-plea.html

Federal Judge Finds Trump's Order to Open Arctic Waters to Oil Drilling Was Unlawful

Judge Sharon L. Gleason of the United States District Court for the District of Alaska concluded Trump's order to lift an Obama-era ban on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic Ocean and parts of the North Atlantic coast was unlawful. Judge Gleason declared that President Obama's 2015 and 2016 withdrawal from drilling of about 120 million acres of Arctic Ocean and about 3.8 million acres in the Atlantic "will remain in full force and effect unless and until revoked by Congress." The decision will force the Interior Department to immediately withdraw the waters of the Arctic Ocean from its forthcoming plan detailing where the federal government intends to lease federal waters to oil companies for offshore drilling.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/climate/trump-oil-drilling-arctic.html

Trump Turns U.S. Policy in Central America on Its Head

Trump, angered by the growing numbers of families arriving at the southern border asking for asylum, plans to cut off aid to three Central American countries for failing to stop the flow of migrants toward the United States. The Trump administration notified Congress that it intends to reprogram $450 million in aid to Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador and has already sent instructions to embassies in the region. Trump told reporters that: "No money goes there anymore...we're giving them tremendous aid. We stopped payment." Advocates argue that stopping aid will only aggravate the root causes (i.e. gang violence and poverty) that drive migrants to leave the three countries in the first place.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/30/world/americas/trump-turns-us-policy-in-central-america-on-its-head.html

Trump Tweets About "Total Exoneration" From Mueller Probe

After special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Trump tweeted that he was "totally exonerated" of any collusion with Russia. However, Mueller's exact words in the report, as quoted by the attorney general, say otherwise: "While this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him." In other words, there is no clear answer to the collusion question.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2019/03/24/us/politics/ap-us-trump-russia-probe-fact-check.html

Mueller's Inquiry Erases Line Drawn After Watergate

Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's inquiry into Trump made clear that the latter had successfully thrown out the unwritten rules that had bound other chief executives in the 45 years since President Richard M. Nixon resigned. Mueller's decision to not take a position on whether Trump's many interventions in the law enforcement system constituted obstruction of justice means that future occupants of the White House will feel entitled to take similar actions. Trump's critics say that this represents "a dangerous degradation of the rule of law", giving a president monarchy-type power.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/26/us/politics/mueller-investigation-watergate.html

Disney Bans Smoking and Larger Strollers at Theme Parks

Starting in May, Disney parks in Florida and California will become smoke-free, requiring guests who wish to smoke to do so only in designated areas. The new policy, which does not apply to Disney parks in France, China, and Japan, comes ahead of the public opening of Star Wars attractions that are expected to draw throngs of tourists and has been greeted with widespread praise.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/business/disney-smoking-ban.html

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/28/business/28reuters-disney-parks.html

McDonald's Will No Longer Fight Minimum Wage Increases

McDonald's has announced that it will no longer lobby against minimum-wage increases at the federal, state or local levels. The announcement was included in a letter that McDonald's vice-president, Genna Gent, wrote to officials at the National Restaurant Association. Gent said that the company would "not use our resources, including lobbyists or staff, to oppose minimum wage increases" at any level, and that it would not "participate in association advocacy efforts designed expressly to defeat wage increases."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/business/mcdonalds-minimum-wage.html

New York Sues Sackler Family Members and Drug Distributors

New York Attorney General Letitia James announced New York's suit against Perdue Pharma (the maker of the opioid painkiller OxyContin) and the Sackler Family (the family that owns the company). The suit seeks to recover the state's costs for unnecessary prescriptions and related health care expenses, as well as issue financial penalties. It alleges that the Sacklers began shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from the business to themselves through offshore entities, in efforts to shield the assets from litigation.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/health/new-york-lawsuit-opioids-sacklers-distributors.html

Judge Blocks Health Care Law 'End Run'

Judge John D. Bates of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia struck down a Trump administration rule that allows small businesses to band together and set up health insurance plans that skirt requirements of the Affordable Care Act, calling the rule "an end-run around the A.C.A."

The case is New York v. United States Department of Labor

https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/complaint_as-filed.pdf

https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/district-of-columbia/dcdce/1:2018cv01747/198818/79/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/us/politics/trump-judge-health-care.html

New York to Ban Plastic Bags

New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales. The ban, which would begin next March, will forbid stores from providing customers with single-use plastic bags, which have been blamed for everything from causing wildlife deaths to thwarting recycling efforts. The ban is to include food takeout bags used by restaurants, bags used to wrap deli or meat counter products, bags for bulk items, newspaper bags, garment bags, and bags sold in bulk, such as trash or recycling bags. The plan will also include a carve-out allowing counties to opt in to a 5-cent fee on paper bags, revenue that would go to the state's Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/28/nyregion/plastic-bag-ban-.html

New York "Congestion Tax" Close to Being Approved

New York is about to become the first city in the United States to introduce congestion pricing, which would put new electronic tolls in place for drivers entering the busiest stretches of Manhattan. The proceeds from the tax are expected to go to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to raise billions of dollars in bonds to modernize the subway system.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/nyregion/congestion-pricing-nyc.html

Parliament Rebukes May's Brexit Deal

Parliament passed an amendment giving itself the power to vote on alternatives to the government's Brexit plan right as Prime Minister Theresa May prepared for a last-ditch effort to persuade lawmakers to support her withdrawal plan. Parliament's commandeering of May's plan, which has already been rejected twice by huge margins, is being described as "the government playing Russian roulette with the lives and livelihoods of the vast majority of people...."

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/world/europe/brexit-parliament-theresa-may.html

May Offers to Step Down

Prime Minister Theresa May offered to step down and allow another prime minister who has the confidence of her party and lawmakers to negotiate the final details of her plan for Britain to leave the European Union (EU). If May's plan is approved, the battle over the details of Brexit will be fought first in a leadership struggle in the Conservative Party and then by all the other parties and factions that have scrapped with one another throughout the last two years. May did not specify when she would step down, but the EU has approved an extension in the Brexit process to May 22nd, if her plan gained approval, and that date could become the start of the leadership contest, which has been unofficially underway for some time already.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/27/world/europe/theresa-may-resignation.html

India Shoots Down One of Its Own Satellites in Quest to Establish Its Military Space Power

India shot down one of its own satellites in low-Earth orbit with a ground-to-space missile in the country's first test of such weaponry. The test, conducted from an island off India's east coast, was aimed at protecting the country's assets in space against foreign attacks. India will be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia, and China.

https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2019/03/27/world/asia/27reuters-india-satellite.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 1, 2019 12:43 PM.

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