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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:


The Little Dutch Boy

If you want to see Louis C.K. (LCK) perform live, besides paying the consideration of money, you are now also party to a contract that states that he owns every single aspect of his performance, and you'd better not attempt to record the performance, commit any form of infringement, or else. The question is, or else what? While it's not only understandable but legally and morally correct to want to control the dissemination of one's art, it's also not clear the extent to which the "contract" would be enforceable. Further, is LCK really going to pay an average of $400 an hour for around the clock lawyers to chase alleged "infringers" against whom he can't prevail? Apparently many other comedians have already banned cell phones; LCK is just going a step farther.



Art with a Conscience

The Turner Prize, Britain's most "high-profile" award, has canceled the sponsorship of the Stagecoach Company, whose chairman is apparently a big homophobe. The Tate Museum has already stopped accepting financial donations from the Sacklers, of big pharma. They will have to make up the money elsewhere.


Artifact Repatriation

In 1958 repairs were done at Stonehenge to raise up one of the "trilithons" (a standing stone), that had fallen. In order to do this, they drilled ring-shaped holes in the stone, resulting in three three-foot cylinders. One of the guys working there took his home to Florida. Some time later, on the eve of his 90th birthday, he called England, and they sent someone to pick it up. England would love to get the other two back as well, if you know anything.


The Gilded Ages

The museums were started by the robber barons, not by the starving artists, and subversion has never been well funded. The art and artifact world is all about cutthroat craziness and obsession. Can it also be socially aware?


Our Lady

Some things can be put back together again; the question is, how?


Public Service

Gucci, whose corporate owner pledged €100 million to help rebuild Our Lady, has also agreed to pay €1.25 billion to settle its tax bill with Italy. But I guess they had to reduce their income a little first.



New Rules for Intersex Athletes

In "women's" races, the Court for Arbitration of Sport (CAS) has ruled that women whose bodies produce excessive testosterone must regulate their testosterone levels for six months prior to and at the time of a race. They are tested. Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya is fighting this ruling, claiming that it hurts intersex athletes. She was born female and identifies as a woman, but her body produces more testosterone than most women. The CAS agrees that the ruling is discriminatory, but believes that such a rule is necessary for ultimate fairness. Semenya feels that the CAS has done nothing but try to impede her. However, it's not clear what her next legal step will be.



Maximum Security Breached

There were too many horses on the field. Twenty instead of fourteen. So Maximum Security got in another horse's way, they say. It was declared a foul, and for the first time in 145 years, they stripped a horse of its win. The owners, Gary West and his wife Mary, appealed, but the judges did not change their minds. The horse who ran second, Country House, was given the win at 65-1. There are photos, but it's hard to tell. The Wests may sue.


A New World Record

Originally Guinness was not going to give it to Jessica Anderson because she was wearing nurse's scrubs, and not a dress as stated in the rules, but it changed after protests ensued. Guinness has now awarded Anderson "fastest marathon wearing a nurse's uniform" for her time in the London Marathon on Sunday April 28th (3 hours, 8 minutes and 22 seconds). You see? People can change their minds.


Throw Back the Big Ones

An aspiring sports agent and an Adidas employee were convicted of conspiring to commit bribery, by paying college basketball coaches to funnel promising players to them. However, these guys were very small potatoes, hardly even in the business.


Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods

Appearance of rewarding a business partner? Some people think so.


The Rain in Spain

It's one thing to teach new minor-league players English. It's another thing to make the big league players learn Spanish. Nevertheless, Derek Jeter has instituted Spanish lessons for his team, the Florida Marlins, which he also attends. It's making everyone like each other a little better. Jeter has also introduced life skills classes, like cooking and financial planning. They should give him Betsy Devos' job.


I'm Late!

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA who has been banned from soccer for six years, apparently left about 200 watches in his office, which he wants them back. FIFA won't give them to him; or rather, it gave back only about 120. The watches are worth from $5,000 to $20,000 each. Blatter kept them there because, he says, he thought they would be safer in the well guarded FIFA offices than at his apartment in Zurich. FIFA claims that it gave back everything and that Blatter signed a receipt to that effect. Apparently there is also a vintage Mercedes in the downstairs parking garage left there by Chuck Blazer, who is now deceased. Blatter says that FIFA owes him $12 million, but he'll forego that if it returns his watches. Watches seem to be a lingua franca of bribery, and players have been forced to return them to the gifters.



Federal Trade Commission Wants to Protect Privacy

The Federal Trade Commission wants Congress to regulate tech companies' mining of our private data for their own financial gain. Hah.


Deep Throat

A U.S. intelligence analyst is being prosecuted in the U.S. for leaking alleged secrets to the press. The article doesn't specify what information, just that this is the third case where someone was prosecuted since George W. Bush, and that the number of leaks accelerated under Obama. Although it doesn't quite say the prosecution of leak cases. Daniel Everette Hale is the Air Force officer at issue. He must have been deeply concerned about something.


War is Peace

"'Privacy is for everyone,'" says Google. It is touting "incognito mode," which limits the amount of shared information of browsers, but incognito mode was actually added about a decade ago, and will not be the default. Users have to work to get it. It's really not clear that anything will change except the user's impression of having more privacy.


Europe Policing Online Speech

It's a slippery slope. At what point does legitimate dissent become characterized as hate speech or terrorism and intellectuals and other non-violent protesters end up in jail?


Not As I Do

Aung San Suu Kyi was the daughter of Myanmar's founding general and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 while under house arrest, making her a symbol of "resistance to tyranny". Now she is the country's "civilian leader", and she herself is trying to eradicate dissent by jailing anyone who disagrees with her (as well as committing other atrocities). The Nobel Committee may want to demand its prize back. Anyway, I'm glad the two released reporters look healthy, but this is not likely to remove the dangers facing journalists in that country.


Madame X

Geoffrey Rush won his defamation action against Murdoch's Nationwide News. He's already been awarded $600,000 and could be in for a few millions more. Nationwide is now appealing on the basis that testimony from the actress Yael Stone was not heard, and that she wasn't even identified, but only referred to as "witness X." She has a few things to say. Sounds like Rush was a jerk. Stay tuned.



A 22 year old man was arrested in Kazakhstan for holding up a blank sign. He was released, but this was despite the fact that the law supposedly grants the right to "'peacefully and without arms assemble, hold meetings, rallies and demonstrations,'" etc. In the U.S., if he was black, he would likely be dead.


What Orwell Didn't Know

There is a book with the above title. As I recall, it was kind of beside the point, like supercilious graduate students who try to dis Einstein. Yet there is one thing Orwell really didn't know, which was that the government wouldn't have to install surveillance, that we would just bring it into our homes, and then buy whatever soap powder it told us to. Now so many of us have installed Alexa and her ilk, whose electronic memory of every single thing about us is available to law enforcement, not to mention the aforementioned soap powder manufacturers.


General News


Trump asked Comey to "go easy," and that didn't work. Now the President of the United States has ordered other White House "officials" to ask Donald F. McGahn II, Trump's first White House counsel, to state publicly that he never believed that Trump obstructed justice, as he supposedly did in testimony to Mueller's office. That isn't working either. Even after they "asked" a second time, and now Giuliani is bad-mouthing McGahn. The thing is, it doesn't matter what anyone, even McGahn, believes. What matters is evidence. So, pursuant to the White House's advice, McGahn is also refusing to turn over documents demanded under one of the House subpoenas.


The Three Branches

Spurned when they tried to be polite, and unsure of prevailing on the Teapot Dome scandal-time provision (Section 6103), five House committees have now simply served subpoenas. The response (or lack thereof) to those subpoenas can be addressed by the courts. I wonder if it would have been more effective to have a particular, uh, irregularity in mind prior to issuing process. Courts don't usually approve of fishing expeditions. Anyway, we'll see.


Pass the Buck

First Trump said Mueller should not testify and Barr said he could. Then Don Jr. was subpoenaed. Then Trump said that he had no objection and that it would be up to Barr, the same Barr whom the House Judiciary Committee has voted to hold in contempt. The House also does not believe that who testifies is up to Barr. It is up to the House, whether Barr is Mueller's "boss" or not. Democrat Jamie Baskin (a former law professor) has suggested that Trump doesn't really understand about separation of powers. Republican Steve Scalise accuses the Democrats of running a "kangaroo court". Speaker Pelosi agrees with Jerry Nadler that the country is in a "constitutional crisis". It would be a joke, if only it weren't so real.


Blame Obama

If the House votes to hold Barr in contempt, the Justice Department will advise Trump to invoke executive privilege over the redacted portions. It's Rosemary Woods all over again, except that in those days, Congress was not also a bunch of wanna-be Nixons. McConnell blames it all on Obama for allowing an "emboldened" Kremlin.


Nyeah Nyeah (or is it Nyet, Nyet)

The House voted to hold Barr in contempt, so Trump invoked executive privilege regarding the redactions. Politics at a very sophisticated level.


Remedial Classes

Barr accuses the FBI of "spying" on the Trump campaign. The FBI director, Christopher Wray, has offered to give Barr a private seminar in the origins of the investigations and the lawful wiretap of Carter Page, and the difference between spying and investigating.


A Tisket, a Tasket

So apparently Trump didn't really lose a billion dollars, he was only pretending. It was just claimed business "losses" and "write-offs," you know, like all real estate developers pretend to have. "Over all, Mr. Trump lost so much money that he was able to avoid paying income taxes for eight of the ten years" from 1985 to 1994. Nice history with charts and graphs that itemize the losses.

Shanahan as Pentagon Chief

You know, the guy whose company put 737s in the air; whose "Dreamliner" plane may not be safe; who wants to use defense money to build a wall; and who wants to have his agency, the Pentagon, push for lower standards in the drinking water? Another brilliant appointment.


Bon Voyage Ukraine Trip

Well, he changed his mind.


The Scarlet Letter, Ban on Abortion After Six Weeks

This does not deserve rational discussion. It is irrationality, scapegoating, the politics of vengeance and vindictiveness, viciousness, resentment, hypocrisy, hysteria, and hatred, all cloaked in a veil of faux sanctity. It's about punishing women for their sexuality and that is all.




Admitting Privileges

The Center for Reproductive Rights is asking the Supreme Court to overturn a Louisiana law requiring every doctor performing abortions to have admitting privileges, like the law struck down in Texas three years ago. Louisiana is down to three clinics as it is, and it's difficult to get an appointment, especially since there is a 24 hour waiting period.


Women Who Actually Want Children Can't Even Obtain Sufficient Pre-Natal Care

In the U.S., African-American, Native American, and Alaska Native women die during pregnancy at a rate three times higher than white women. So says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Never Mind Coal: Plenty of Jobs in the Asbestos Industry

Despite memos from scientists, which deplored the Environmental Protection Agency's review as "seriously flawed" and urged an outright ban of asbestos, Trump's "EPA" has decided that asbestos is not really that bad, and if you have a legitimate business purpose and want to use asbestos, just ask. We're here to help. Asbestos is no longer manufactured in the U.S., but it is in fact imported to be used in making things like household bleach, bulletproof vests, and electrical insulation. I didn't know that. Pretty soon it will be back in our crawlspaces. Wanna bet?


Iran Sanctions

Trump is seeding wars everywhere.


China Trade Sanctions

These are going to hurt U.S. consumers pretty badly.


Venezuala Sanctions

Pompeo offering to lift sanctions against officials who abandon Maduro. Yet how would that work exactly?


Driving While Black

Traffic stop for failing to signal ends in the arrest and death of the driver, an African-American woman. The video apparently shows the officer acting like a hopped-up sadistic maniac.


No Soup for You/Let them Eat Chobani

Well, I think they've changed their minds by now and have decided not to publicly shame and humiliate students over the fact that their parents can't pay their lunch fees. From what I remember about school lunches, you couldn't give them away. Yet Chobani is going to pay the bill, which could start a trend.


The China Syndrome

They are shutting down the last still operating reactor at Three Mile Island, not out of social conscience and intelligence, but just because it's not earning its keep. Many jobs will be lost, but you know what? There are plenty of things that need doing in this country to keep everyone busy without having nuclear power plants. The plant will take "decades" to cool down, and the real dismantling won't begin until 2074.


Bring Your Sun Screen

The U.S. pressured the Arctic Council, a group made up of representatives from eight Arctic countries and regional indigenous groups, to issue a statement regarding the state of things in that neck of the woods that makes no mention of climate change or the Paris Agreement. This, despite the fact that a majority of the Council believes that climate change is actually a real problem, particularly in the rapidly heating Arctic. Nevertheless, when Pompeo spoke, it was regarding his concern about "expanding Chinese influence in the region," and not dying polar bears.


Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

A U.N. report finds that as many as one million species are currently in danger of extinction. The report also finds that nature "provides some $24 trillion of non-monetized benefits to humans each year," in the way of, e.g., absorbing carbon dioxide, purifying drinking water, and plants that are the source of medicines. Not to mention food and beauty. Things are so bad that "piecemeal efforts" won't be enough. BTW, ivory poachers killed nearly 7,000 elephants in Mozambique between 2009 and 2011 alone. It's all happening so fast.


Tyger Tyger Burning Bright

The polar bears and penguins are not going to make it, and neither are the few remaining Bengal tigers, whose native habitat is marshland where the sea level is inexorably rising. Of course, they may be hunted to extinction first.


Let Those Without Sin . . .

The Sultan of Brunei states that the government will not execute homosexuals and adulterers by stoning them to death, although there is still the possibility of whipping and amputation. The Sultan says the moratorium against such shenanigans will continue despite the fact that the laws were formally renewed last month. BTW, the Sultan owns the Dorchester in London, the Beverly Hills Hotel, and the Hotel Bel-Air, so plan your trips accordingly. The Sultan himself lives in a 1,788 room palace, and he runs the country as an "absolute monarchy". So, you know, he could change his mind at any time.


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