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July 2019 Archives

July 1, 2019

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Supreme Court Strikes Down Law Barring Vulgar Trademarks

On Monday, the Supreme Court struck down a federal law that barred the registration of "immoral" or "scandalous" trademarks on the basis that the law violated the First Amendment. The case involved the trademark of a brand name "FUCT", which was argued by the government's attorneys to be the "equivalent of the past participle form of the paradigmatic profane word in our culture," but Justice Elena Kagan, writing for the majority, found that the law was unconstitutional because it "disfavors certain ideas."


Supreme Court Set to Rule Whether Congress Appropriately Abrogated State Sovereignty Immunity for Copyright Claims

On June 3rd, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Allen v. Cooper, which asks whether Congress appropriately acted when it relied "upon its powers under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to abrogate state sovereign immunity against federal copyright claims by passing the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act." The action emanates from the State of North Carolina using video footage that Allen had recorded, prompting him to bring an infringement action against the state's governor, cultural resources department, and six officials. The defendants brought a motion to dismiss based on sovereign immunity, which the district court denied finding that the Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity was validly abrogated by Congress through its enacting of the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act.


Opinion: No One Owns the Law, and No One Should Be Able to Copyright It

Before the Supreme Court will soon come a case that will be the first in over 100 hundred years to make it to the high Court on the issue of whether a state may assert a copyright claim over its laws. The case involves a nonprofit organization, Public.Resource.Org, which uploaded all 186 volumes of the annotated code to its website, prompting Georgia to sue to have it removed. The website has faced lawsuits over its publication of "fire and electrical safety standards, air duct leakage standards, nonprofit tax returns, and European Union baby pacifier regulations," and many have viewed the website as not only "an act of roguery" but an important demonstration of the "principle of self-governance."


William Morris Endeavor Hits Back in Fight With Hollywood Writers

The legal fight between 7,000 television and movie writers and their talent agents at William Morris Endeavor has escalated after Endeavor filed an action in federal court in California arguing that the unions representing the writers had engaged "in an unprecedented abuse of union authority" that brought the writers to commit an act of "unlawful group boycott" when they cut off their representatives at the talent agency. Last week, the two sides had been negotiating a resolution to the dispute, but when the writers rejected a proposal from Endeavor, the filing of the action became inevitable.



Target Pulls New Thread in Bikini Yarn

The big-box retailer Target has found itself ensnarled in a dispute involving a bikini with a long history of litigation. The bikini was originally designed over 20 years ago and was sold for about $2.50, but the creator of it now charges $75 for a handmade original, and other companies have begun to sell similar bikinis, which has raised questions about whether any one person can own a design. A case involving the bikini has not brought in companies such as Victoria's Secret and Neiman Marcus and has become even more complicated as the original designer of the bikini obtained a copyright earlier this year.


San Francisco to Cover Controversial George Washington Murals

The San Francisco Board of Education approved covering a series of murals about George Washington High School, including those depicting dead Native Americans and slaves working. While the 13 Works Progess Administration murals from the 1930s have been debated for over 50 years, the board's decision came after the debate intensified in the past several years. Some have favored keeping the murals by Victor Arnautoff, a "social realist and Communist who was critical of the country's first president," but those in favor of covering the murals won out given the offensiveness of the murals.


What Happens After Amazon's Domination is Complete? Its Bookstore Offers Clues

With Amazon taking over half of the book market in the United States, it has permitted itself to be a third-party seller of publishers that have put into the marketplace low quality counterfeits and reproductions. One egregious example is the sale of a medical handbook that recommends dosage amounts for treating ailments related to bacterial pneumonia as a poorly printed counterfeit made unclear whether there was a "1" or "7" in the dosage amount; a discrepancy that could endanger the lives of patients. Given that Amazon has taken a "hands off" approach to the business, it is not expected that the company will remove the counterfeits or attempt to mitigate the damage that the counterfeits may do to purchasers.


Two Big Book and Magazine Printers Face Suit to Block Their Merger

LSC Communications and Quad/Graphics are two of the largest companies in the printing and distribution business and have sought to merge in the coming months, but the Justice Department filed an action in federal court in Chicago asking to stop the merger from proceeding, as it "would decrease competition and drive up prices." The Authors Guild and PEN America allied with the Justice Department and noted that the "lack of competition among book printers has already caused a bottleneck and increased publishing costs" and the merger "could exacerbate this situation by creating a monopoly."


IMDb Lists Transgender Stars' Birth Names; Hollywood Coalition Protests

The website IMDb has come under fire from Hollywood workers and gay rights advocates for publishing the birth names of transgender performers without those performers' consents (in a practice that is called "deadnaming") which those advocates say "perpetuates discrimination," invades privacy, and even places individuals at risk of violence. Earlier this year, it was reported that after months of effort, other individuals had been unable to remove the transgender people's birth names from the site.


Patriotic Movie Apparently Falls Afoul of China's Censors

While it is common for China's censors to take out parts of foreign films, such as those in "Bohemian Rhapsody" that depict Freddie Mercury's homosexuality, it is less common for a Chinese film to be censored. A new movie, "The Eight Hundred", has had its opening canceled according to a statement on the film's official social media account. While no reason was given, it coincides with a broader crackdown by China's leader, Xi Jinping, on cultural works that do not resonate with the government's cultural spirit.



Italy Is Chosen to Host 2026 Winter Olympics

The city of Milan and the ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo have been announced as the hosts of the 2026 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee chose the duo as opposed to the other option, Stockholm, Sweden and the ski resort of Are, Sweden, in an effort to "curb waning interest, spiraling costs, and white-elephant competition venues associated with the Games." Although some critics of the Winter Olympics have viewed it as an event that has wasted resources to build facilities that will not be used beyond the Games, some have suggested (such as Rome's Mayor Virginia Raggi) that local sports facilities be renovated to accommodate them.


U.S. Gives Advanced Class in Cool in Advancing in World Cup

In its performance on Friday, the United States women's soccer team showed a calmness in bringing down the host, France. The confidence has been oozing for weeks and has been evident not only in the actions of the team but also the words, including those of Ali Krieger, who said after the team's 3-0 victory over Chile that the country could field not only the best team in the world but also the second best team. In the semi-final, the Americans will face England. All of this while being involved in a lawsuit for equal pay.


U.S. Soccer, Amid Outcry, Announces New System for Employee Complaints

U.S. Soccer has announced that it is creating an anonymous, third-party reporting system that will handle complaints from employees. This move comes after more than a dozen employees complained about the environment of the Chicago headquarters being "toxic". The head of the organization, Carlos Cordeiro, notified employees that the changes were being implemented and that more details would be revealed as to the mechanics of the system in the coming weeks.


The Knicks Receive $50,000 Fine for Barring The Daily News

After the New York Knicks did not permit a New York Daily News reporter to attend a news conference, the National Basketball Association (NBA) fined the Knicks $50,000 for violating its rules about "equal access for the news media." The NBA reported that the Knicks pledged to abide by the rules going forward, but the feud between the Knicks and the newspaper has existed for years as the coverage from The Daily News has been known to be "gratuitously negative." The Daily News has simply asserted that its coverage is reflective of the team's poor record.


Why So Many Horses Have Died at Santa Anita

The past six months at Santa Anita have been dramatic: 30 horses have had to be euthanized after suffering fractures, and there has been clear evidence that on race day, at least one horse was receiving a performance-enhancing drug. Despite the fact that advances in veterinary care should mean a lower rate of horses dying, many have blamed the Canada-based Stronach Group, which has owned the track for over 20 years, for the deaths as they have put in place policies that maximize profits rather than value the horses' lives.


Girl Hit by Foul Ball in Houston Had Serious Head Injuries

A foul ball on May 29th struck a 2-year-old girl in the crowd in Houston, and the lawyer for the girl's family has announced that she "sustained a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and seizures." Players and safety advocates, following the incident, had urged Major League Baseball (MLB) to do more to protect fans, particularly as pitchers continue to up their pitch speeds and batters continue to hit the ball harder every year. Previously, the MLB had deferred to individual teams to develop their own safety plans, and it is unclear whether this latest incident will change its policy.


Move Over Nevada: New Jersey Is Sports Betting Capital of the Country

In May, bettors wagered more in New Jersey than any state in the country, including Nevada. It saw $318.9 million in bets, while Nevada took in $317.4 million. This is the culmination of steps that former Governor Chris Christie took to legalize sports betting, which was approved in the Supreme Court's approval of the practice.



Facebook to Help French Police Identify Hate Speech Suspects

The social media giant Facebook has announced that it will help French police to identify hate speech suspects by providing authorities with the IP addresses of those who publish hateful content. Facebook released a statement vowing to "push back if (the request) is overbroad, inconsistent with human rights, or legally defective."


Twitter to Label Abusive Tweets From Political Leaders

Twitter announced that it would be hiding tweets from "major political figures who break the company's rules for harassment or abuse behind a warning label." The labels are intended to warn users as to which tweets break the rules against harassment without entirely barring the messages. This step illustrates the difficulty that tech companies have had in balancing free speech with their own ideas and policies as to what content to permit.


General News

Supreme Court Limits Agency Power, a Goal of the Right

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that has the effect of cutting back the power of administrative agencies; a goal for which the conservative legal movement has long been calling. However, Chief Justice John Roberts joined the Court's four-member liberal wing in maintaining two key precedents that preserve the deference that judges must give agency officials (which came from Bowles v. Seminole Rock & Sand Co. in 1945 and Auer v. Robbins in 1997). The Court was unanimous in its decision to send the case back down to the lower court to be heard again.


Supreme Court Bars Challenges to Partisan Gerrymandering

On Thursday, the Supreme Court held that "federal courts are powerless to hear challenges to partisan gerrymandering" in a 5-4 vote that showed the conservative wing of the Court's power. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that the drafters of the Constitution knew that politics would play a part in drawing districts and judges cannot "second-guess lawmakers' judgments" as to drawing those districts.


Supreme Court to Resolve the Fate of the Dreamers

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear an appeal regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. While Trump attempted to end the program, lawmakers have grappled with how to deal with the approximately 800,000 individuals who DACA protects as people who came into the country illegally as children. In multiple appeals courts, Trump's attempt at ending the program was struck down as unconstitutional despite the fact that presidents have broad powers to shape their policies.


Bid to Revive Alabama Abortion Ban Fails

The Supreme Court has turned down an appeal asking for review of the Alabama law that would have banned abortion "in the vast majority of second-trimester abortions." The law had been blocked in the lower courts, and it would have affected 99% of abortions performed in the state after 15 weeks.


Democrats Diverge on Issues in Debates

Over two nights, 20 Democratic candidates debated various issues on the stage and reinforced a dynamic regularly observed in studies: "male candidates are free to interrupt, while female candidates face a double bind: stay silent and fail to be heard, or speak up and get judged as too aggressive." Several notable moments emerged during the debates, including Senator Kamala Harris calling former Vice President Joe Biden's comments about segregationist senators as "hurtful" and calling into question his votes regarding busing in decades past.



Donald Trump Jr. Shares, Then Deletes, Tweet Questioning Kamala Harris' Race

Donald Trump Jr. shared a tweet from Ali Alexander, a right-wing media personality, which stated: "Kamala Harris is implying she is descended from American Black Slaves. She's not. She comes from Jamaican Slave Owners. That's fine. She's not an American Black. Period." He posted the tweet and asked whether it was true, but by the end of the night, he had deleted the tweet. His spokesman announced to the media that "it had all been a misunderstanding" and that "Don's tweet was simply him asking if it was true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it's not something he had ever heard before and once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet, he quickly deleted it."


Trump's Iran Reversal Raises Allies' Doubts Over Tactics and U.S. Power, and Iran Greets Sanctions With Mockery

Following Iran's downing of an American drone and a dispute as to whether that drone was in fact in Iran's territory, Trump had vowed retaliatory action and apparently was prepared to launch missiles to take out several targets in Iran, only to call off the launch moments before it was to occur. Instead, he opted to use a more familiar weapon against the country: impose additional sanctions on Iran, which were greeted by Iran's leaders with mockery. Allies of the United States, particularly in Europe and the Middle East, questioned the tactics of the administration.




Trump and Putin Share Joke About Election Meddling, Speaking New Furor

In the first meeting between the two leaders since Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a report showing a "sweeping and systematic" operation to sway the results of the 2016 presidential election, President Trump laughed with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the interference and instead "warmly shook hands, smiled, and chatted amiably." A reporter asked whether Trump would tell Russia not to meddle in the elections, and both men smiled as Trump turned to Putin and told him, "Don't meddle in the election, President. Don't meddle in the election," as he playfully pointed at Putin and another official. This took place after Trump previously responded to a similar media question with, basically, "it's none of your business."


Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia as UN Expert Calls for International Investigation

Instead of critiquing the Saudi leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for his role in the killing of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump noted that he has done a "really spectacular job" and congratulated him. Trump ignored questions from reporters as to the role of the crown prince in the death of Khashoggi and made no mention of "the Saudi government's crackdown on dissent, including the prosecution of women's activists and the recent arrest of intellectuals and journalists." Meanwhile, the United Nations expert on extrajudicial killings has called for an international investigation into the killing of Khashoggi and excoriated the United Nations and Saudi Arabia for the handling of the case.




Trump Names Stephanie Grisham, Aide to First Lady, as Press Secretary

Melania Trump's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, has been selected to replace Sarah Huckabee Sanders as the White House press secretary. She will also work as the communications director, and with her elevation to press secretary comes confirmation that President Trump has chosen to ensure a loyalist remains "the public face of an administration that has been defined by its pugilistic relationship with journalists."


'She's Not My Type': Accused Again of Sexual Assault, Trump Resorts to Old Insult

This week in New York magazine, E. Jean Carroll, who had written for years at Elle magazine, accused President Trump of throwing her against a wall and forcing himself on her in the mid-1990s. His counter to her accusation was that he would not have assaulted her because "she's not my type." At a campaign event in 2016, in response to a woman's accusation that while on an airplane she put his hand on her skirt, he said, "That would not be my first choice. Check out her Facebook, you'll understand." While President Trump claimed that he has never met Carroll, the most recent accuser, there is a photograph of them together at a party in 1987 to which he responded, "Standing with my coat on in a line? Give me a break, with my back to the camera? I have no idea who she is."


Trump Wants to Cut Regulations That Block New Housing

On Tuesday, President Trump signed an executive order that creates a commission "that will recommend ways to cut regulations that stymie new housing construction, embracing an idea shared by affordable housing advocates on the left, and even by Barack Obama." However, the method that the commission is likely to use is to attack local and state restrictions, such as zoning and rent control or energy efficiency mandates, and recommend eliminating or circumventing them. The new White House commission will be led by Ben Carson, the secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and some analysts have expressed hope that Republicans and Democrats alike can agree to trim some of the more intrusive regulations.


Attacks Against the Chairman of the Fed Intensify: "I Made Him"

One day after the Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell asserted that he is independent from the White House, Trump said, "Here's a guy, nobody ever heard of him before, and now I made him and he wants to show how tough he is? O.K. Let him show how tough he is. He's not doing a good job." Powell has been a Fed governor since 2012 and had worked at the Carlyle Group as a partner prior. The source of the tension is the Fed's maintaining and slightly raising interest rates, which Trump has seen as an impediment to growing the economy at the sizzling pace he has been seeking.


U.S. Tech Companies Sidestep a Trump Ban and Keep Selling to Huawei

Despite the Trump administration issuing a ban on the sale of American technology to Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications company, American chip makers such as Intel and Micron continue to sell "millions of dollars of products to Huawei." The companies have "found ways to avoid labeling goods as American-made," and thus have been able to sell directly to Huawei within the past three weeks. This development illustrates the difficulty an administration can have in stopping companies from doing business with each other, as well as "the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world's electronics industry and global commerce."


Google and the University of Chicago Sued Over Data Sharing

On Wednesday, a class-action suit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois suing the University of Chicago and Google. The University of Chicago and Google entered into a partnership in 2017 to share patient data in an effort "to unlock information trapped in electronic health records and improve predictive analysis in medicine." The action alleges that the hospital shared hundreds of thousands of patients' records without removing date stamps or doctor's notes, invading those patients' privacy. The disclosure of this information violates the federal regulation, HIPAA, which does not permit any identifying information of a patient including admission and discharge dates.


Manafort Pleads Not Guilty to New York Charges Designed to Thwart Trump Pardon

Paul Manafort entered a New York courtroom to face state fraud charges that, if they stick, would guarantee that he faces prison time even if pardoned of the federal crimes with which he has been convicted. The 16-count indictment includes charges of falsifying business records and engaging in a conspiracy "to fraudulently obtain millions of dollars in loans for several residential properties." Manafort has begun serving his 7.5-year sentence for federal crimes, including tax and bank fraud, which stemmed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.


Democrats Strike Deal With an Obstruction Witness, but a Court Fight Looms While Mueller's Testimony Before Congress Sets Up a Political Spectacle

July will bring Robert Mueller before Congress to testify as to his investigation and report in what is sure to be a political spectacle on the Hill. The House Judiciary Committee has reached a deal with a key source of information in Mueller's investigation into obstruction of justice and will allow a delay in public testimony to obtain answers to written questions. It is expected that the White House will attempt to block the source, Annie Donaldson, from testifying, as she is a former White House lawyer and provided significant detail in the Mueller report as to what happened during meetings between White House counsel Don McGahn and President Trump.



White House Directs Kellyanne Conway Not to Testify Before House Panel; Subpoena Issued

The House Oversight and Reform Committee has voted to subpoena Kellyanne Conway for testimony after she failed to appear for a hearing. At the hearing, a special counsel advised the committee that she should be fired for "egregious, repeated, and very public violations" of federal ethics laws. The White House blocked her from testifying "about allegations of repeated violations of a federal ethics law that prohibits government officials from engaging in political activities at work," and a clash is sure to occur between the White House and Congress as to her appearing for testimony.



National Security Agency Gathered Domestic Calling Records It Had No Authority to Collect

Newly revealed documents show that the National Security Agency (NSA) discovered in October 2018 that it was collecting information about domestic calls and messages and had no legal authority to do so. This revelation only further illustrates the "troubles the agency has had with using Americans' phone records to hunt for hidden terrorist cells." While the NSA blamed this particular incident on a telecommunications provider, the identity of which was not exposed, the incident may be a factor when Congress considers whether the renew the USA Freedom Act of 2015, which expires at the end of the year and sets the rules for how the NSA is to handle the large volume of Americans' phone records.


Rex Tillerson Says Kushner Bypassed Him and Mattis to Make Foreign Policy

In a closed-door meeting before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson disclosed that White House aide Jared Kushner had circumvented the State Department, Rex Tillerson, and then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis in several instances to advance Kushner's own agenda. In 2017, he talked with Saudi and Emirati leaders regarding a plan to impose a blockade on Qatar, and on a separate occasion, he had a dinner with the foreign minister of Mexico in a Washington restaurant. Tillerson shared with lawmakers that he had raised the issue of Kushner circumventing him with others in the administration but that it did not change Kushner's behavior.


Guantanamo Case to Test Whether Torture Can Be Put on the Docket

An Army judge is set to hear arguments from prosecution and defense attorneys starting on July 9th about whether a prisoner who endured torture and mistreatment while in CIA custody may have time taken off his prison term as a result of the CIA's actions. While he remains in the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, he has yet to be sentenced for his pleading guilty in 2012 to delivering $50,000 of al-Qaeda money that financed terrorist activity, as he has agreed to be a government witness in return for leniency. However, given the extent of the torture he experienced while he was in CIA custody, including hallucinations, prolonged isolation in wretched conditions, and harshly being forced to accept nutrition, advocates are hopeful that his test will show "whether the military commission will grapple seriously and fairly with the United States' legacy of torture."


Hundreds of Migrant Children Are Moved Out of an Overcrowded Border Station as Three Bodies Found Near Border

The issues of securing the border and holding intending immigrants in safe conditions continues to grow more complicated: the federal government found itself arguing in court that migrants should not be provided with basic hygienic equipment, such as toothbrushes and soap, while detention centers continue to grow more crowded. Then, a photograph of a father and his 23-month-old daughter drowned in murky water near the border emerged illustrating the humanitarian aspect of the crisis as well as the photograph of a three-year-old Syrian boy drowned in the Mediterranean Sea illustrated that crisis. Leaders in both political parties continue to struggle with how to deal in a bipartisan fashion with these issues.






House Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi

In a rare capitulation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brought the Senate bill for a $4.6 billion humanitarian package through to President Trump's desk for signature. In doing so, she dropped "her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters," and when she put the bill through, she noted that it was to "get resources to the children fastest." While the passage of the bill raised tensions between the liberal and centrist wings of the Democratic Party, the Senate being in Republican hands ensured that a more liberal bill would not have passed through both chambers.


Treasury's Watchdog to Look Into Tubman Bill Delay

The Office of the Inspector General is set to investigate why the redesign of the $20 bill to replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson with that of Harriet Tubman has been delayed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. While Mnuchin publicly claimed that the delay was due to first redesigning the $10 bill and $50 bill to enhance the security features of those bills, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for the investigation, as it "has not been credibly explained, and the inspector general's review must get to the bottom of this."


Senate Rejects Curb on Trump's Authority to Strike Iran

The Senate rejected on Friday a measure that "would have required President Trump to get Congress' permission before striking Iran, after Republicans balked at infringing on the president's war-making powers." In doing so, the Senate confirmed President Trump's statement that he had the power to launch a military strike on Iran without having the permission of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added that the president "made it absolutely clear that he is not interested in starting a war with Iran," but there has been growing unease about Congress ceding its war powers to the presidency.


Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Shift $2.5 Billion to Pay for Border Wall

In Northern California, a federal judge has permanently blocked the Trump administration from shifting $2.5 billion in funding "to build barriers along the United States' southwestern border, dealing a blow to the White House's efforts to fund a border wall without congressional approval." The judge, Judge Haywood Gilliam, called the shift of Defense Department funds "unlawful" and did not "square with fundamental separation of powers principles dating back to the earliest days of our Republic."


Reopened Legal Challenge to Census Question Throws Case Into Chaos

The Census Bureau, in order to conduct the 2020 census on time, must begin printing its questionnaires and forms today, and the federal government has informed an appeals court that it might be unable to meet the deadline just as the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling on whether a question regarding citizenship may be included in the 2020 census questionnaire. Last month, the case took a turn as a deceased Republican strategist's documents "revealed new details about the genesis of the question" and cast "additional doubt on the Trump administration's rationale for asking 2020 census respondents whether they are citizens."


Lone Missouri Abortion Clinic Can Stay Open in Dispute with State

A state commission in Missouri gave the only abortion clinic in the state more time "to resolve its licensing dispute with the state health department." If the conflict is not resolved, the state will be the first in about 45 years to not have an abortion clinic. Throughout the country, abortion restrictions have become popular for conservative-leaning state legislatures as 58 new abortion restrictions were signed into law this year, including seven states passing laws that ban the procedure during the early stages of pregnancy, a time "when women often do not yet know they are pregnant."


National Rifle Association Shuts Down Production of NRATV, and Its Number Two Official Resigns

The National Rifle Association's (NRA) second-in-command, Christopher Cox, has joined the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen in severing ties with the organization, and the NRA has shut down its live production media company NRATV. The NRA had implicated Cox in a scheme to oust the chief executive Wayne LaPierre, but these developments further complicate the tumultuous year that the NRA has had as it has struggled to stay financially afloat and faced investigations around the country into its activities.


Gender Gap Closes When Everyone is on the Ballot, Study Shows

The Reflective Democracy Campaign has released a report, after analyzing data from nearly 45,000 elected officeholders around the country, that showed that when women and people of color are on the ballot, they are as likely to win the election as white men. While white men continue to dominate politics disproportionately to their population, the director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign hopes that the report shows that white men's "electability advantage is a myth."


San Francisco Bans Sale of Juul and E-Cigarettes

San Francisco, never shy to use "ordinances to push progress causes," has previously banned plastic straws, the sale of fur, and facial recognition technologies, and now, the city has banned the use of Juul and other electronic cigarettes. The city is the first in the United States to ban electronic cigarettes and comes as experts warn that there is a nicotine epidemic in teenagers which is now wiping out decades of progress in decreasing tobacco usage among that age group. One doctor and professor of health opined that the move by the city is "really smart politics but dubious public health."


DeVos Repeals Obama-Era Rule Cracking Down on For-Profit Colleges

The Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has repealed a regulation that cracked down on for-profit colleges given their producing "graduates with no meaningful job prospects and mountains of student debt they could not hope to repay." DeVos has sided with the for-profit colleges, which had argued that "the Obama administration unfairly targeted" them and has promised to expand the College Scorecard, which provides information about 2,100 certificate-granting programs throughout the country. One of the keys of the regulation has been repealed, however--withholding federal aid from schools that promise to provide students with career skills but do not prepare them for the job market (and therefore leaving taxpayers to pay back the loans)--and the full extent of the consequences of this repeal are unknown.


2,495 Reports of Police Bias. Not One Was Deemed Valid by the NYPD

In the past four years, there have been about 2,500 formal complaints against police officers that have allegedly acted with bias. The NYPD has not found a single allegation of those to be substantiated, according to a report issued by a city watchdog agency. While some investigations had officers misclassifying complaints or failing to interview people that were involved in the incidents, the commission of the Department of Investigation announced that there must be an "effective and fair" process for investigating allegations as it is "a fundamental component of the Police Department's relationship with the public" and helps "to build trust and confidence."


Crisis Hits Dominican Republic Over Deaths of U.S. Tourists

A growing number of Americans vacationing in the Dominican Republic have died under mysterious circumstances and with autopsies showing heart attacks, septic shock, and pneumonia. The tourism minister of the country has insisted that there is no mystery about the deaths and that authorities have nothing to hide, but at least 10 American tourists have died in the past year, and there have been an alarming number of reports of Americans being assaulted at resorts. Nonetheless, Dominican officials have maintained that the number of deaths "is no greater than would be expected statistically in a country visited by more than 2 million Americans each year."


France Records Hottest Day on Record at Nearly 115 Degrees

A heat wave passed through France last week and brought temperatures in one southern village to 115 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest the country has seen on record. The heat wave brought wildfires to Spain and Germany, killing at least two people. The rise in temperatures fits into the global trend of higher temperatures and heat waves that "are hotter and last longer."


Council of Europe Restores Russia's Voting Rights

The parliament of the Council of Europe voted to end Russia's suspension, which began after Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The vote of 118 to 62, with 10 abstentions, was contentious and faced opposition from most former Soviet-bloc countries, as it effectively ratified the "illegal annexation of Crimea and Russia's support for separatist warfare in eastern Ukraine." While Russia will now resume paying its contribution to the Council, it will be reinstated in time to vote for a new secretary general.


UK Appeals Court Overturns Order for Mentally Disabled Woman to Have Abortion

A British appeals court overturned a decision from a lower court that required a developmentally disabled woman in her 20s who was 22 weeks pregnant to have an abortion despite the woman and her mother's wishes to have a child. While the circumstances of the pregnancy were unclear (and a police investigation is pending), the woman has the mental capacity of a six- to nine-year-old, and the appeals court found the case to be "heartbreaking" but had to act in the woman's "best interests, not on society's view of termination."


Macron Calls Climate Change a 'Red Line' Issue at G20, Rebuking Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he will not sign any joint statement at the G20 summit in Japan unless the joint statement deals with the issue of climate change. He reiterated his support for the Paris climate agreement, from which President Trump has vowed to withdraw the United States, and said, "We cannot, at home, be under pressure from our youth, and rightly so. That some won't sign, that's their business. But we shouldn't collectively lose our ambitions."


Dutch Railway to Pay Millions to Holocaust Survivors

The Dutch railway, Nederlandse Spoorwegen, is set to pay tens of millions of euros to Holocaust survivors and their direct descendents as restitution for the railway's running "special trains to transit camps where Jews and other minorities awaited deportation to Nazi death camps." In a statement released Wednesday, the railway vowed to pay between $5,700 and $17,000 to the families of those in the Jewish, Roma, and Sinti communities. These payouts are the most recent "compensation offer by companies in Germany and other countries occupied by the Nazis for their roles in the Holocaust."


July 6, 2019

Center for Art Law Case Law Updates

The following case selection first appeared in this week's Center for Art Law newsletter:

Silver v. Gagosian Gallery, Inc., No. 652090/2018 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed Apr. 12, 2019). In April 2018, Hollywood Producer Joel Silver sued Gagosian, alleging that the gallery failed to deliver a Jeff Koons sculpture, Balloon Venus Hohlen Fels, which Silver purchased for $8 million in 2014 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/gagosian-sued-over-koons-sculpture-1276028?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). He sought the return of the $3.2 million he had paid to date, plus interest and fees. In June, the producer dropped his lawsuit after it was revealed that billionaire art collector Ron Perelman - who had previously sued the gallery in 2014 over artwork transactions valued at $45 million - was secretly paying Silver's legal fees (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/joel-silver-drops-gagosian-jeff-koons-lawsuit-1566214?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Gagosian and Silver reportedly reached a settlement in which Silver agreed to move forward with the purchase.

Ciccone v. Gotta Have It! Collectibles, Inc., 2019 Slip Op. 04333 (N.Y. App. Div. June 4, 2019). Last year, Madonna filed for an injunction to prevent Gotta Have It! Collectibles from holding a sale of her personal belongings, which were consigned to the auction house by Madonna's ex-art advisor, Darlene Lutz. While a temporary injunction was granted in July 2017 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/judge-halts-planned-madonna-auction-1027277?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), the Manhattan Supreme Court reversed in April 2018 (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/madonna-personal-items-auction-1272692?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), lifting the injunction and dismissing the case after finding that Madonna's claims were time-barred due to the passing of the three-year statute of limitations. On June 4th (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/madonna-loses-appeal-art-advisor-1565125?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8), the Appellate Division affirmed the decision (http://nycourts.gov/reporter/3dseries/2019/2019_04333.htm?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The sale of the contested items is scheduled to begin on July 17, 2019.

Shope v. Frida Kahlo Corporation, No. 1:19-cv-01614 (D. Colo. filed June 5, 2019). On May 27th, a third controversy arose surrounding the Frida Kahlo Corporation's (FKC) assertion of its trademark rights to the artist's name and likeness. FKC submitted a "notice of intellectual property infringement" to online arts and crafts retailer Etsy, against the work of folk artist Nina Shope, who creates dolls using the likeness and name of Kahlo. The artwork listings reported by FKC were removed by Etsy, though many more of Shope's Frida Kahlo dolls remain available for purchase. In response, Shope filed suit in the District of Colorado against FKC on June 5th seeking a declaratory injunction of non-infringement (https://artlawandmore.com/2019/06/10/artist-takes-on-frida-kahlo-corporation-in-copyright-spat/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Shope maintains that use of Kahlo's name and likeness for creation of dolls is not an infringing use.

Lam v. Mamacha LLC et al, Index No. 653320/2019 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. filed June 6, 2019). On June 6th, Dallas-based artist Dan Lam sued New York gallery The Hole and Mamacha Cafe for allegedly failing to pay the artist for her artworks following a 2018 exhibition. Lam claims that she has been paid only $6,000 out of a total of nearly $36,000 owed for 21 artworks. Eight of the artworks were sold, while the others were lost or damaged. The Hole claims that Mamacha is the only party in a fiscal relationship with Lam, but Lam maintains that her works were consigned with both parties and thus both are properly named as defendants in the suit (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/artist-sues-the-hole-mamacha-1567618?utm_content=from_artnetnews&utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Lehmann Maupin LLC v. Yoo, 1:18-cv-11126-AJN (S.D.N.Y. June 10, 2019). Last fall, Lehmann Maupin Gallery filed suit against former employee Bona Yoo for the latter's allegedly stealing trade secrets (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/lehmann-maupin-accuses-former-employee-of-data-theft-in-lawsuit-1443886?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The gallery accused Yoo of taking confidential client information when she left to become a Sales Director at Lévy Gorvy. In response, Yoo countersued on the basis that the gallery's suit was filed out of spite and it did not have exclusive rights to the data. On June 10, 2019, the District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed the case with prejudice (http://www.artnews.com/2019/06/12/lehmann-maupin-bona-yoo-lawsuit-dismissed/?mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). No comment has been made as to whether the parties reached an out-of-court settlement.

Philipp v. Fed. Republic of Germany, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 18188 (D.C. Cir. filed June 18, 2019). Last year, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the heirs of the art dealers who sold the Guelph Treasure may pursue their claims against the Federal Republic of Germany and the Stiftung Preussischer Kulturbesitz in U.S. Federal Court (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/17-7064/17-7064-2018-07-10.html?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). On June 18th, the court denied the defendants' petition for rehearing en banc (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/cadc/17-7064/17-7064-2019-06-18.html?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). The claims against Germany and the SPK were filed under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, on the basis that the forced sales were in violation of international law. This decision confirms last year's ruling that claimants do not have to exhaust all remedies abroad before pursuing their claims against sovereign defendants in U.S. courts (https://blog.sullivanlaw.com/artlawreport/guelph-treasure-claims-to-go-forward?utm_campaign=Art&utm_content=94435043&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lis-cbH6xaIu5y&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Moi v. Chihuly Studio, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103576 (W.D. Wash. June 20, 2019). In May 2017, Michael Moi brought suit against Dale Chihuly, claiming that Moi co-authored certain artworks and was thus owed over $20 million dollars from the sales. On June 20th, Chihuly's motion for summary judgment was granted, thereby dismissing all claims brought by Moi (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/dale-chihuly-lawsuit-dismissed-1582921?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). The District Court for the Western District of Washington held that Moi could not prove joint authorship, independent copyrightable interest, nor did he have a claim under promissory estoppel, and, finally, Moi's claims were time barred by the three-year statute of limitations for copyright claims.

Accent Delight Int'l Ltd. v. Sotheby's, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105864 (S.D.N.Y. June 25, 2019). In October 2018, Russian billionaire and art collector Dmitry Rybolovlev brought suit against Sotheby's, alleging that the auction house materially assisted art advisor Yves Bouvier in defrauding Rybolovlev of approximately $1 billion by overcharging the collector on 38 works of art (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/russian-billionaire-rybolovlev-sues-sotheby-s-for-usd380m-in-fraud-damages?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). Sotheby's was involved in the sales of 14 of the artworks in question, for which Rybolovlev seeks $380 million in damages. Sotheby's filed a motion to dismiss the New York lawsuit and to keep certain records sealed. On June 25th, the district court for the Southern District of New York largely denied the motion to dismiss and denied in part and granted in part the motion to seal, meaning that this suit can proceed despite the fact that the parties also have ongoing litigations internationally (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/sotheby-s-denied-dismissal-of-rybolovlev-s-usd380m-lawsuit-by-new-york-judge?utm_source=The+Art+Newspaper+Newsletters&utm_campaign=943935b930-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_06_26_02_56&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c459f924d0-943935b930-61254873&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Zuckerman v. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19057 (2d Cir. June 26, 2019). The Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) has prevailed against the heirs of German Jewish businessman Paul Leffman in its claim to the painting The Actor by Pablo Picasso. Leffman sold the painting in 1938 for $12,000, in order to fund the family's escape from fascist Italy to Switzerland after they had fled Nazi Germany the prior year. The painting was donated to the Met in 1952, but the family did not bring a claim to the painting until 2010. Previously, the District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that the family failed to demonstrate that the painting was sold under duress (https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/new-york/nysdce/1:2016cv07665/463416/36/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625). On appeal, the Second Circuit again dismissed the case, this time on the basis that the plaintiff's claim was time barred under the equitable defense of laches (https://www.timesofisrael.com/picasso-painting-sold-by-family-escaping-the-nazis-can-remain-at-the-met/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

The Andy Warhol Foundation For The Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al, No.1:17-cv-02532 (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2019). The District Court for the Southern District of Manhattan ruled on July 1st that Andy Warhol's use of Lynn Goldsmith's 1981 photograph of iconic pop singer Prince was fair use, based on a finding that Warhol's series was "transformative." The Andy Warhol Foundation's motion for declaratory judgment was granted and Goldsmith's countersuit was denied, concluding the litigation that began in 2017. The case is being appealed. Read our Case Review (https://itsartlaw.org/2018/12/05/case-review-warhol-v-goldsmith/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8https://itsartlaw.org/2018/12/05/case-review-warhol-v-goldsmith/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

Morgan Art Found. Ltd. v. McKenzie, No. 1:18-cv-04438-AT (S.D.N.Y. July 1, 2019). Heated legal action has surrounded the estate of Robert Indiana since the day before his death last May. As we reported, the suit was initiated by the Morgan Art Foundation, Indiana's agent for the past 20 years, against American Image Art, its founder Michael McKenzie, and Indiana's employee Jamie Thomas, alleging copyright and trademark infringement among other claims (https://us2.campaign-archive.com/?e=88512bac9d&u=78692bfa901c588ea1fe5e801&id=1828a75f39&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8). American Image Art and McKenzie filed counterclaims, alleging that the Morgan failed to fully pay Indiana royalties and that it fabricated unauthorized reproductions of his famous sculptures. On July 1, 2019 the District Court for the Southern District of New York largely dismissed the counterclaims against the Morgan. Then, on July 2nd, attorneys for American Image Art and McKenzie filed to withdraw as counsel (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/robert-indiana-latest?fbclid=IwAR1fUZQHl_EtgBTi7bRd1nqIOMnaZJ8e7uob1Gfp34RvWJa5cT3ECEqVaKk&utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=706f521ea9-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-706f521ea9-346773625&mc_cid=706f521ea9&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8).

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July 8, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Taylor Swift's Public Feud With Scooter Braun Spotlights Artists' Fight for Control Over Master Recordings

The issue of master recordings and the copyrights associated with them gained media attention this week after Swift responded to her former label, Big Machine, being sold to a company run by Scooter Braun. Big Machine had rights to her first six albums. The owner of a master - the original copy of an artist's work, controls all rights to exploit it, including selling albums or licensing songs. Artists like Janet Jackson and Jay-Z have insisted on deals that gave them ownership of their recordings.


Diversity in the Ranks: Minorities Make Up Nearly a Third of New Oscar Voters

The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has increased its Oscar voting pool to nearly 9,000 people as part of an effort to make good on its 2016 pledge to double female and minority membership by the end of 2020. About 50% of the film industry professional invited this year are women; 20% are minorities.


Jussie Smollett Case: What Do We Know and What is Left to Investigate?

The New York Times provides a comprehensive summary of the Smollett case: the evidence, the main actors, why prosecutors dropped the charges, and what is expected next by the special prosecutor appointed to take a look at the allegations that the actor staged a hate crime.


Former Executive Director of Manhattan's Friars Club is Accused of Abusing his Position

In a sentencing memo related to his tax matter, federal prosecutors also described other, non-criminal misconduct that shows Michael Gyure took advantage of the club's lax financial oversight to enrich himself at the expense of the organization. He faces possible prison time for filing false tax returns for four years. The comedy club, known for hosting risqué celebrity roasts, lost its tax-exempt status as a fraternal organization in 2010.


French Michael Jackson Fans Sue "Leaving Neverland" Accusers in French Court

Two Michael Jackson fan clubs filed a lawsuit in Northern France, seeking symbolic damages of 1 euro each from two of the musician's alleged abuse victims for "sullying his image" in the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland". French defamation laws extend libel protections beyond death. The court said a judgment would be delivered on October 4th.


"Wolf of Wall Street" Producer Faces Charges in Malaysia

Riza Aziz, whose Red Granite Pictures produced the film, pleaded not guilty to five counts of laundering money misappropriated from a Malaysian government investment fund. The stepson of Malaysia's former prime minister joins other members of his family in facing charges in the disappearance of as much as $4.5 billion from a government investment fund.


Hong Kong Celebrities Pay a Professional Price for Supporting Protesters

Entertainers who are publicly supporting Hong Kong's recent protests are finding themselves blacklisted from the mainland Chinese market, barred from performing and their music removed from streaming websites. Others are subjected to online attacks after showing support for the anti-extradition protests on social media. The story of the cost of social activism for Hong Kong celebrities.



Lockout Continues at Baltimore Symphony

Last month, the orchestra's management locked the musicians out after they refused to agree to a contract guaranteeing fewer weeks of work (from 52 weeks to 40). The orchestra, though, is both a reflection of the city's resilience and a product of its surroundings. Much of the area's philanthropy is directed to education, health, and economic issues in a city where residents face poverty and lack basic needs; and while the orchestra will not receive much support from the cash-strapped city, it has tried to connect with the community by offering music instruction and meals to more than 1,300 children. The players warn that the proposed cuts will lower their base pay and weaken their ties to the community.


Andy Warhol's Prince Series is Fair Use, Court Rules

At issue was whether Warhol made fair use of a 1981 photograph of Prince when he created 16 artworks that are known as the "Prince Series". The ruling said Warhol transcended photographer Lynn Goldsmith's copyright by transforming a vulnerable Prince in the original photo into an artwork that made the singer look iconic, larger-than-life. Goldsmith is appealing the decision.


Kim Kardashian West Drops Name from Shapewear Line, Kimono

Kardashian will change the name of her line after internet backlash led to the mayor of Kyoto, Japan writing an open letter asking her to reconsider the name and saying that kimonos are part of "a culture that has been cherished and passed down with care."


Non-profit Group Brings Children's Books to Barbershops and Laundromats

A movement supported by non-profit groups, libraries, and community fund-raising, is creating literary spaces by bringing children's books to places where children most often get bored - laundromats, salons, and barbershops. National programs that promote childhood literacy are among those contributing books.


Theatrical Productions for Seniors

Licensing company Music Theater International is partnering with community centers and nursing homes to tailor productions for older actors, the first of which is "Into the Woods Sr.". The initiative recognizes that there are both social and health benefits to performing, as a 2014 study found that seniors can experience an improvement to their physical and mental well-being from participating in productions.


Mad Magazine is Leaving Newsstands After 67-Year Run

After the next two issues, Mad Magazine will no longer include new materials, except in year-end specials. A creation of the 1950s, the publication hit a circulation peak of 2.8 million in 1973. Since then, however, it has steadily lost readers and relevance. The New York Times calls the baby boomer humor bible a "victim of its own success," as its "skeptical, smart-alecky sensibility" became dominant in American popular culture.


Suspect Linked to Mackenzie Lueck Case Wrote a Novel With Two Burning Deaths

Authorities investigating the murder of Utah student Mackenzie Lueck became aware of a book published under the suspect's name last year. The book included the burning deaths of two people. Police say charred remains were found in his backyard, where a neighbor recently observed him burning something with the use of gasoline.


Idris Elba Denies Plagiarism in Dispute with British Playwrights

Two playwrights who worked with Elba to create the theatrical production "Tree" say they are not being acknowledged as members of the creative team despite the play, as described on a festival website, having similarities to their script. The playwrights wrote a script outline for "Tree" and signed a "deal memo" with Elba's production company, but both voluntarily stepped back from the project after they were told that it needed to go in a different direction.


British Artists Call on National Portrait Gallery to Cut Ties with BP

Leading British artists and activists say that arts organizations should not be accepting oil and gas money. More specifically, they are calling on the National Portrait Gallery in London to cut ties with BP, whose role in furthering climate crisis they say makes it unacceptable to accept new sponsorship from the company. The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal Opera House have also come under criticism lately for their ties to BP.


Germany City Rejects Claim for Mondrian Paintings by Artist's Heirs

Dutch abstract artist Piet Mondrian's heirs say that four of his works had been lent, not given, to the museum in the German city of Krefeld. Mondrian's heirs say that the artist lent several works to the museum 90 years ago for an exhibition that never took place and left them behind when he fled Europe during World War II. While neither side has definitive proof, the museum's position is that the works could have been acquired by one of the museum's benefactors and then given to the city.


Tutankhamen Head Sells for $6 Million, Despite Protests from Egypt

Egypt's government says that the stone head of pharaoh Tutankhamen was looted and should be returned to the country, while Christie's auction house maintains that the sale was legal. A former Egyptian minister of antiquities believes the sculpture was taken from the temple of Karnak and illegally exported in 1970, the year when Unesco instituted an international convention to prohibit and prevent the illicit trade in cultural property. The provenance published by Christie's states that the stone head was acquired in 1973 or 1974 by the director of a Vienna gallery from the collection of a German prince who acquired it by the 1960s.



Rays and Giants Sign Supreme Court Brief Supporting LGBTQ Rights

The Rays joined more than 200 major American corporations signing on to an amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that calls for the court to rule that current federal civil rights law bans job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Nike Pulls Patriotic Sneaker After Kaepernick Raises Concerns

The heel of the shoe featured a U.S. flag with 13 white stars in a circle, a design created during the American Revolution and commonly referred to as the Betsy Ross flag. Sources say that Nike pulled the shoe after Kaepernick reached out to company officials and identified the flag as an offensive symbol because of its connection to an era of slavery.



Former U.S. Olympics Chief Executive Received $2.4 Million Severance Amid Scandal

Scott Blackmun resigned under pressure and was heavily criticized for failing to protect gymnasts from sexual abuse in the Larry Nassar case. The severance payment of $2.4 million was revealed in a financial report made public this week, and defended by the chairman of the board of directors, who cited Blackmun's serious health challenges and the fact that the separation agreement was provided for in his contract.


Former Rio Governor Describes Bribery in Bid for 2016 Olympics

A former governor of Rio de Janeiro state, already jailed for fraud and corruption, told a judge that he paid about $2 million for the votes of International Olympic Committee members to award Brazil the 2016 summer games. He implicates countless others, including the former head of the Brazil Olympic Committee, and the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations.


Israel Folau and Rugby Australia Fail to Reach Agreement in a Case That Has Sparked National Debate Over Religious Freedoms

Israel Folau is taking his unfair dismissal case to Federal Court after failing to reach an agreement with Rugby Australia. The evangelical Christian rugby star was removed from the national team for breaching his employment contract by posting homophobic messages online. He argues that he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds, is seeking $10 million in damages, and wants his contract reinstated.




Germany Fines Facebook $2.25 Million Under Hate Speech Law

German authorities imposed the fine under a law designed to combat hate speech after finding that Facebook had "failed to meet transparency requirements for its handling of hate speech complaints." More specifically, Facebook's report for the first half of 2018 did not reflect the actual number of complaints about suspected illegal content, which includes insults and material designed to incite hatred against persons based on their religion or ethnicity.


Government-Mandated Internet Blackout Plunges Myanmar into Darkness

There have already been instances of internet or social media shutdowns in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Sudan, a measure that is increasingly being used to silence and isolate local populations. Myanmar has now shot down the internet in conflict areas, prompting a UN expert to warn of potential human rights abuses during the suspension.


The Internet's Darkest Concerns Resist New Zealand's Efforts to Fight Online Hate

The level of disturbing online activity in New Zealand following the mosque shootings underlines the immensity of efforts on the part of both companies and governments to try to restrict the spread of hateful ideology.


General News

Court's Ruling on Gerrymandering Heats Up Bid for Control of Election Maps at the State Level

The Supreme Court's gerrymandering ruling has raised the stakes for state legislative races. The party that wins control of the state legislature will gain the power to draw once-a-decade maps setting district boundaries for state and congressional elections after a new census count. In states where Republicans are firmly in control of the legislature and seem unlikely to lose it, Democrats are pushing to remove mapping power from the politicians in favor of nonpartisan redistricting committees.


Armed Forces-Themed Ceremony Marks July 4th in Washington

President Trump used the Lincoln Memorial as the backdrop for his tribute to the country's five branches of the military, avoiding giving an
overly political speech. Trump later blamed a teleprompter outage for his sometimes puzzling, historically non-linear speech that was marked by anachronistic references to airports in the context of the Revolutionary War. Critics said the celebrations turned the day into a Trump-branded rally for America, with the president using the troops and military gear as political props.




Trump Administration Drops Efforts to Put Citizenship Question Back into Census

In a series of mixed messages this week, the Trump administration initially abandoned its quest to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, but the Justice Department then reversed course and said it was looking for a way to restore the question, on orders from the president. Officials now believe there could be a "legally available path" to restore the question.



House Democrats File Lawsuit to Obtain Trump Tax Returns

The House Ways and Means Committee filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury and the IRS for access to the president's tax returns. The Committee had previously requested and then subpoenaed the returns. The dispute now moves into the federal courts as the House argues that the administration's defiance of its request amounts to an "attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the IRS and tax laws" and asks a judge to order the defendants to comply.


Inspector General Reports Squalid Conditions at Border Detention Centers

Inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security visited five facilities in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in June, reporting severe overcrowding, standing-room-only cells, and children without showers and hot meals. The report corroborated some of the Democratic lawmakers' own findings after visiting migrant holding centers this week, where migrants spoke of limited or no access to showers, medications, and sometimes, drinking water. These disturbing accounts were exacerbated by reports of a secret Facebook group where current and former Border Patrol agents joked about migrant deaths and threats to members of Congress.



Inside the Migrant Detention Center in Clint, Texas

A group of reporters profile the border station in the desert outside of El Paso after lawyers reported seeing filthy, overcrowded conditions for migrant children.


President Trump Says Migrants Are "Living Far Better" in Border Facilities than in Home Countries

In a series of tweets this week, President Trump said that the migrants are living in far safer conditions than where they came from, despite government reporting of difficult conditions at border facilities and overcrowding that poses an immediate risk to both agents and migrants.


Migrants Who Have Been Ordered Deported and Stay Now Facing Fines from Immigration and Customs Enforcement

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is now issuing fines of hundreds of thousands of dollars to unauthorized immigrants who refuse to comply with deportation orders. One woman was sent a fine of nearly half a million dollars. ICE officials said that the agency has the right to impose civil fines of up to $799 day on those who are undocumented and who have been ordered removed or have failed to leave the country.


Federal Judge Blocks Attorney General Barr's Attempt to Deny Bail to Asylum Seekers

A federal judge in Seattle ruled that the order, which would have denied migrants a bail hearing and kept them detained indefinitely, was unconstitutional. Judge Pechman said that the plaintiffs had established a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process, and that they must be granted a bond hearing within seven days of a request or be released if they have not received a hearing in that time.


Opinion: The Immigration Crisis is Corrupting the Nation

The editorial board of The New York Times says the realities of the crackdown on migrants and asylum seekers have created conditions that Americans would condemn if they saw them happening in another country. Only a desensitized nation could continue to allow the separation of children from their parents, and their detention in squalid conditions, as a morally acceptable form of deterrence.


Ivanka Trump's Role as Unofficial Diplomat

Ivanka Trump tried to assert herself at a few diplomatic events in recent weeks, including the G20 Summit and President Trump's visit to the Demilitarized Zone to meet with the North Korean leader. Critics say that her presence undermines the professional look of the Trump delegation, both to other countries and to national security professionals who serve in the administration.


Department of Housing and Urban Development Hires Trump Aide Who Resigned Over Racist Blog

Senate Democrats are criticizing the hiring of Eric Blankenstein, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official, who resigned after blog posts he wrote in 2004 surfaced in which he repeatedly used a racial slur. In a more recent exchange, he also defended the birther movement as "not racist". In their letter to the housing department, the senators question what the department knew of the previous investigation into his blog posts, and ask whether anyone in the executive office of the president pushed for the hire.


Prominent Republicans File Brief to Support LGBT Rights in Legal Case

A group of prominent Republicans is urging the Supreme Court to declare that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT persons. They argue that their view about how the law should be interpreted represents "a common sense, textualist approach." They do concede that Congress and the American public may not have anticipated the law would apply to LGBT persons, but they argue that the text of the law is clear when it explicitly forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.


Judge Says Teenager Accused of Rape Deserves Leniency Because He's From a "Good Family"

A Monmouth Country judge earned a sharp rebuke from an appeals court for saying that the 16-year-old teenager accused of rape came from a good family and had good grades. He had also questioned the charge and defined rape as something reserved for an attack at gunpoint by strangers, and said that prosecutors should have explained to the complainant that pressing charges would destroy the accused's life.



The Supreme Court Agreed to Hear an Appeal of the Defendants in the "Bridgegate" Scandal - Here's Why It Could Backfire on Prosecutors

Last week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal of the corruption convictions in the "Bridgegate" scandal. Both defendants were top aides to Governor Christie and were found to have blocked access lanes to the George Washington Bridge to "punish" a mayor who refused to offer a campaign endorsement.

A number of Supreme Court cases have recently limited prosecutorial discretion and authority in corruption cases. Legal experts think this latest appeal has the potential of continuing that trend by testing another aspect of federal corruption law - what happens when the alleged conduct was not about personal gain, in a strict monetary sense? The defense in this case argues that even if the defendants hatched a scheme (which they still deny), it was nothing more than political gamesmanship and does not constitute a crime because there was no personal financial or material gain.


Family of Las Vegas Shooting Victim Sues Gunmakers of AR-15

The lawsuit targets gun manufacturers for the ease with which their products can be converted into fully automatic weapons, which are heavily restricted under state and federal laws. It argues that the AR-15 rifles are illegal because they are one modification away from becoming a fully automatic rifle, and are often designed for customization. The lawsuit comes at interesting time. The vast immunity offered by a 2005 federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability began to give way earlier this year, when the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that families victimized in the Sandy Hook shooting could sue gun companies over their marketing practices.


Trump Administration Says the Prospective Threat of Chinese Spying Justifies Huawei Ban

The government's court filing in the federal case involving Huawei suggest that the Trump administration believes that it may not have to produce conclusive evidence of past wrongdoing by Huawei to uphold the law that was passed last year restricting federal agencies' business with the company. Instead, the government takes the position that the mere potential for Beijing to influence the Chinese technology giant is enough to justify last year's spending bill, whose purpose was not to punish Huawei, but to protect American networks from Chinese cyberattacks.


Opinion: Police Body Cam Company, Axon, Bans Use of Facial Recognition On Its Devices

Axon supplies 47 out of the 69 largest police agencies in the United States with body cameras and software. The company's ethics board now says that facial recognition technology is not reliable enough to justify its use and is especially prone to inaccuracy when used with police body cameras, which often operate in low-light conditions and produce shaky footage. At the state level, California lawmakers recently announced that they are considering a statewide ban on facial recognition in police body cameras.


Minority Women Are Winning the Jobs Race in a Record Economic Expansion

Hispanic women have emerged as the biggest job market winners in an economy that has reached its longest expansion on record - 121 straight months. Employment rates for Hispanic workers between 25 and 54 increased by 2.2 percentage points since 2007, while black women came in second, adding 1.6 percentage points.


Jeffrey Epstein Charged with Sex Trafficking

Billionaire New York financier Jeffrey Epstein has been charged with sex trafficking after years of accusations that he had molested dozens of young girls. Epstein avoided criminal charges in 2007 and 2008 after pleading guilty to lesser state charges of soliciting prostitution.


Boeing Pledges $100 Million to Those Affected by 737 Max Crashes

Boeing said the investment would be made over multiple years to "support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities." The two 737 Max crashes killed 346 people over the past year.


Beverage Companies Embrace Recycling as Long as It Isn't Too Costly

The beverage industry lends its support to many recycling programs, except for one approach that has been proved to work - container deposit laws, known as "bottle bills". In the 10 states where consumers can collect a few cents when they return plastic containers, recycling rates are significantly higher, sometimes twice as high as in other states. However, beverage companies and retailers have lobbied against these measures, saying that they function like a tax and allow governments to collect millions in unclaimed deposits. Critics say the industry's true rationale for opposing these laws is that they cost money, but one of the industry's other criticisms of bottle bills is that they deprive municipal recycling programs of valuable scrap materials that they can sell to offset the cost of processing other items.


What Should Cities Do If Hit by Ransomware?

The column runs through the options available to cities that are victims of cyberhacking. The FBI-endorsed approach is to take a principled stand, refuse to pay, and then repair the damage. This was Baltimore's preferred approach following the ransomware attack of May 2019. The "post-Baltimore mind-set", however, is to pay to recover the system, which could be cheaper and faster, but encourages more attacks. This leads to the ideal option: cities are encouraged to be proactive, improve security, have contingency plans in place, and take out cyber insurance.


Iran Will Accelerate Uranium Enrichment Barred by Nuclear Accord

Iran has announced that it will be enriching uranium beyond the limit allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal. The foreign minister said that the Europeans have failed to fulfill their promise of protecting Iran's interests by compensating for billions of dollars in losses to the economy caused by American sanctions.


Iran Breaches Critical Limit on Nuclear Fuel Set by 2015 Deal

International inspectors confirmed Iran had exceeded the limit set by the 2015 agreement on how much nuclear fuel it can possess. Since the move does not give Iran enough material to produce a single nuclear weapon, many see it as a strategy to gain a diplomatic advantage for future negotiations.


Afghan Peace Negotiations Show Signs of Progress

The Afghan government plans to meet with Taliban representatives in Qatar. The discussions are expected to lead to direct negotiations for a peace deal. The U.S. is currently in the seventh round of its peace negotiations with the Taliban, which do not include any Afghan government representatives.


Christine Lagarde is Nominated to Be President of European Central Bank

The former head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde is the first woman to be chosen for the post at European Central Bank. She will have a leading role in steering the world's second-largest economy.


Germany's Defense Minister is Next President of the European Commission

Ursula von der Leyen will hold the top job in the 28-nation bloc if confirmed by the European Parliament later this month. Building expertise in national security, she served 14 years alongside Chancellor Angela Merkel and is described as someone with a unique mix of conservative and liberal values.


A Heat Wave Tests Europe's Defenses

A growing field of research called "attribution science" lets experts assess the role of global warming in the occurrence of any given weather event. A rapid analysis of the most recent heat wave in France found that human-induced climate change made it at least 5 times more likely and 4 degrees Celsius hotter than it would have otherwise been.


China Has Been Installing Spyware on Tourists Phones in Xinjiang Region

Visitors entering the Xinjiang region of China are being forced to install a piece of malware known as BXAQ or Fengcai on their phones that gathers personal data from phones and scans for material considered objectionable. It is one of several high-tech surveillance measures employed by the Chinese government to monitor and subdue the area's predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities, but the first of its kind to target tourists and other visitors.


Alitalia Pulls Video with Actor in Blackface as Barack Obama

The Italian airline has now removed an ad it released on social media that featured an actor wearing blackface playing former President Barack Obama. The ad was one of four Italian-language videos made to promote non-stop flights from Rome to Washington. Alitalia is just the latest in a line of international brands whose ads and products were recently criticized as racist, including Gucci, Prada, and H&M.


Indonesian Woman is Jailed for Recording and then Sharing Her Boss's Lewd Phone Calls

Indonesia's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by a woman who was sentenced to six months in prison for recording and sharing a phone conversation she had with her boss to prove that he was sexually harassing her. The court ruled she was guilty of spreading "indecent" material.


July 9, 2019

An Unsigned Contract May Still Be Binding On Both Parties

By Marc Jacobson

A New York court recently decided that even though the defendant employer didn't sign the plaintiff's employment contract, a claim against the employer for unpaid severance embodied in the agreement was validly presented. Lord v. Marilyn Model Management, Inc., 2019 Slip Op 05093 (App. Div. 1st Dept. June 25, 2019).

The plaintiff, an experienced model scout, was asked to leave his current job and join the defendant, with an annual salary of $190,000, plus discretionary bonuses and profit sharing. An agreement that provided for six months of severance pay if the plaintiff was terminated without cause, was negotiated, signed by the plaintiff, and sent by email to two members of the board of directors of the defendant. One of the board members replied by email, saying: "Welcome aboard. We'll countersign over the next few days."

The parties both began performing under the agreement, with the plaintiff relocating to Paris from New York, from September 1, 2015 to March 1, 2016, when the plaintiff was terminated without cause. The plaintiff filed suit to recover severance. The defendant rejected that, asserting the agreement was never signed and moved to dismiss the complaint, without even answering the complaint.

There was no recitation in the agreement that it would not be binding until signed by both parties. There was no statement that the parties may only assent to the contract by signing it. The agreement did state that it could be signed in counterparts.

The court held that severance may still be due. The claims for promissory estoppel and severance for unpaid wages under the Labor Law survived. A claim for unjust enrichment for the value of the severance was dismissed.

For film production companies, we frequently provide that the effectiveness of the agreement is subject to a condition precedent, which is the full execution and delivery of the agreement. For employers, we typically insert a clause in the "boilerplate" at the end of the agreement stating that the agreement is not binding until it is signed and returned by both parties. We usually provide for signature by counterparts as well.

If you are preparing agreements on your own without a lawyer, consider whether you want the agreement to be binding even if the agreement is not signed. Best practices would suggest that payment and performance not begin until the fully signed agreement is signed and returned to both parties.

July 16, 2019

Week In Review

By Chantelle A. Gyamfi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Spotify Settles Copyright Suits Brought by Songwriters

In 2017, streaming giant Spotify was sued for copyright infringement. The suits were brought against Spotify separately by Bob Gaudio, a songwriter and founding member of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, and Nashville-based publisher Bluewater Music Services Corporation. The suits claimed that Spotify had failed to obtain licenses to stream works from the plaintiffs' catalogs; Gaudio's suit alleged that the streaming service wrongfully used 106 of his songs. The case was settled recently for an undisclosed amount. The settlement came just as the House Judiciary Committee was preparing to hold a hearing on oversight of the U.S. Copyright Office and updates came as to the development of the formation of the Mechanical Licensing Collective before a July 8th deadline. Among the big topics is the true amount of money in unmatched royalties held by on-demand digital services, like Spotify and Apple Music.


Federal Prosecutors File New Charges Against R. Kelly

R. Kelly, already under indictment in Chicago on state charges of aggravated sexual assault and abuse, was arrested by federal agents on charges related to child pornography and other federal crimes. Kelly was taken into custody over a 13-count indictment that includes enticement of a minor and obstruction of justice, in addition to the child pornography charges, said Joseph D. Fitzpatrick, an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn also unveiled a separate indictment charging
Kelly with one count of racketeering and four counts of violating the Mann Act, which prohibits transporting people across state lines for the purpose of prostitution.


R. Kelly Gave "Hush Money" to Teen in Sex Tape

A new indictment accuses R. Kelly of bribing the family of the girl at the center of a 2000 case so she would not testify. Kelly was under investigation in late 2000 for making a videotape that purported to show him having sex with and urinating on a teenage girl. To prevent her from testifying, Kelly and his associates allegedly gave the girl and her family gifts and money over more than a dozen years. The gifts ranged from payments of thousands of dollars, a car given to the girl, and ,a trip abroad to make them unavailable to law enforcement but were attached to instructions that they lie to investigators to protect him. Kelly was indicted by a federal grand jury in Chicago on 13 counts, among them conspiracy to obstruct justice and producing child pornography, including four videos that included the girl whose family he is accused of paying. A grand jury in Brooklyn also indicted Kelly on five counts, including racketeering and violations of the Mann Act. Kelly's lawyer, Steven Greenberg, characterized the federal charges as "decades old" and "piling on".


Judge May Dismiss Spacey's Sex Case

Judge Thomas S. Barrett of Nantucket District Court said that a sexual assault case against actor Kevin Spacey could be dismissed after the young man who accused Spacey of fondling him invoked the Fifth Amendment during a hearing over his missing phone. The man was asked to testify regarding text messages he sent and received on the night in July 2016 that he encountered Spacey at a Nantucket restaurant. Spacey's lawyer, Alan Jackson, contends that the young man had deleted text messages that could back up Spacey's assertion that whatever happened that night was consensual flirtation. After Jackson told the man that he could be charged with a felony for deleting evidence, the man invoked his constitutional right to protect himself from self-incrimination. Judge Barrett then said that the case "may well be dismissed" if the accuser continues to refuse to testify.


No Prison for Friars Club Boss

Michael Gyure, a former executive director of the Friars Club, was sentenced to one year of supervised release after pleading guilty to having filed false tax returns in January. His guilty plea covered tax returns for four years ending in 2015. He was charged with failing to include hundreds of thousands of dollars in supplemental income, including personal expenses covered by the club.



Court Says Heirs of Holocaust Victim Can Keep Nazi-Looted Works

A New York appellate court has unanimously upheld a ruling that returned two prized Egon Schiele drawings to the heirs of Fritz Grünbaum, a Viennese cabaret singer, whose large art collection was confiscated before he was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp in 1941. The two works had been bought by a London art dealer, Richard Nagy, six years ago, but were returned to the heirs last year after a ruling by New York state court judge Charles J. Ramos. In upholding the ruling, Appellate Division judges for Manhattan and the Bronx wrote that their decision relied principally on the finding that the heirs had a better claim to the works because the evidence indicated that Grünbaum had clearly owned them before the war and had never voluntarily transferred title.


Art Dealer Charged with Theft of Artifacts

Subhash Kapoor, a former Manhattan art dealer, was charged last week with running a multinational ring that trafficked in thousands of stolen objects, valued at more than $145 million, for over 30 years. Kapoor is currently jailed in India, where he has been awaiting trial on similar charges for nearly eight years. Authorities say Kapoor is one of the world's largest smugglers of antiquities. So far, around 2,600 antiquities, valued at more than $107 million, have been seized from storage locations Kapoor controlled in Manhattan and Queens during a decade-long investigation. The smuggling ring harvested objects from Afghanistan, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Thailand, and it created false paper trails that gave the items a patina of legitimacy, then sold them globally for large profits to collectors, art dealers, and museums.


Guggenheim Museum Added to World Heritage List

The Soloman R. Guggenheim Museum is now among eight buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that have been added to Unesco's World Heritage List, the first recognition by the United Nations cultural organization of American modern architecture. The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, an organization that works to preserve the nearly 400 remaining buildings Wright designed, embarked on the nomination process more than 15 years ago, after a suggestion from the International Council on Monuments and Sites, which advises Unesco. The designation of the Wright properties follows the United States' withdrawal from Unesco at the end of 2018. The move means that the United States can no longer be represented on the World Heritage Committee, which determines which sites are added to, or removed from, the World Heritage List.


Sadie Roberts-Joseph, Founder of African American Museum, Found Dead in Trunk

Activist and museum founder Sadie Roberts-Joseph was found dead in the trunk of a car. Roberts-Joseph was the founder and curator of the Baton Rouge African American Museum. The museum features African art, exhibits on growing cotton and black inventors, as well as a 1953 bus from the period of civil rights boycotts in Baton Rouge. It also has prominent exhibits on President Barack Obama, whose presidency Roberts-Joseph cited as an inspiration to children.



Hello Kitty's Parent Company Fined $6.9 Million by E.U.

The European Commission has fined Sanrio, the Japanese company that licenses Hello Kitty and a range of other characters, 6.2 million euros, or around $6.9 million, for illegally restricting where manufacturers can sell the licensed toys, bags, and other products. The fine was announced after a two-year investigation by European antitrust regulators. The Commission said that Sanrio barred businesses that had purchased the right to make Hello Kitty merchandise from selling the items outside their home countries. Sanrio also restricted the languages used on the products. Sanrio's restrictions were in force for about 11 years through December. The company did not contest the penalty.



World Cup Title Worth Six Figures and Counting for the Women - Still Thousands Less Than the Men

A United States women's player will receive a guaranteed payday of about $250,000 for qualifying for the World Cup, making the final roster and then winning the tournament, based on enhanced bonuses included in the team's collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Soccer and a payout schedule for the finishers published by FIFA earlier this year. However, those FIFA bonus figures continue to pale in comparison to the far larger payouts for teams who compete in the men's World Cup - for example, France's men split $38 million for winning the men's tournament in Russia last summer. Those payments, and comparisons to FIFA-fueled payouts to the United States men's team after its participation in recent World Cups, are part of a broader and perpetually contentious debate about pay equality for women's soccer.


Women's Soccer Team Wins World Cup, Aiding Their Fight for Equal Rights + Pay

The U.S. women's soccer team clinched their second consecutive World Cup trophy by defeating the Netherlands 2-0 in the tournament's final match. The victory, which gave the United States a record four titles over all, was secured with goals from Rose Lavelle and best player honoree Megan Rapinoe. Almost immediately after the final whistle, Nike, one of the team's sponsors, released a stirring advertisement portraying the players not merely as soccer champions, but as champions of equal rights. This win was crucial for the champs, as the team's players filed a lawsuit in federal court in March against the United States Soccer Federation, accusing it of engaging in illegal workplace discrimination -- in areas such as pay, medical treatment, and workplace conditions -- on the basis of their gender. The heart of their argument for better compensation was their stellar performance over the years - therefore winning in France would help them make their case.


The U.S. Women Won, the Men Lost, and the Equal Pay Fight Tied Them Together Again

On the day the American team won the Women's World Cup, the U.S. men lost in a regional final, and how to compensate the players has caused tension and division. The results further highlighted a contentious battle about pay equality featuring the men's teams and women's teams, the different media and financial ecosystems in which they compete, and the often unequal rewards for success for male and female athletes. All of it was brought to the fore again by the women's team's latest world championship, and by the chants of "Equal Pay!" that serenaded the players after they won.


Agent Bets on Female Athletes Increase After World Cup Win

Sports and talent agency Wasserman, which represents more than half the members of the United States women's national team, including Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, is creating the Collective, a unit whose goal is to connect major companies, consumers, and fans of every gender with some of the country's best-known female athletes. Wasserman is hoping that the Collective can help remedy the inequities between women's and men's pay and other gender inequalities.


Chess Player Caught Cheating with Phone During Tournament

The International Chess Federation has suspended Igors Rausis, a Latvian-Czech player who won the grandmaster title in 1992 and has over the years represented Latvia, Bangladesh, and the Czech Republic. Officials say he was "caught red-handed using his phone during a game" in France last week.



Judges Rule That Trump Can't Block Critics from His Twitter Account

A three-judge panel on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit unanimously held that because Trump uses Twitter to conduct government business, he cannot exclude some Americans from reading his posts -- and engaging in conversations in the replies to them -- because he does not like their views. The court further held that Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following his Twitter account because they criticized or mocked him. The ruling was one of the highest-profile court decisions yet in a growing constellation of cases addressing what the First Amendment means in a time when political expression increasingly takes place online.


AOC Also Sued for Blocking Twitter Critics

A federal appeals panel unanimously held that Trump has been violating the Constitution by blocking people from following him on Twitter because they criticized or mocked him. That ruling is now the basis of two lawsuits filed against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her of blocking people because of their opposing political stances. The Twitter account in question is not her official congressional account - AOC has 4.7 million followers on her personal Twitter account, @AOC, and her official congressional account, @RepAOC, has 172,000 followers - but she frequently uses her personal account to discuss policy and advocate her proposals, such as the Green New Deal and her belief that the camps holding children and other undocumented immigrants seeking asylum at the Texas border are "concentration camps".


Expansion of Secrecy Law for Intelligence Operatives Alarms Free Press Advocates

The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is pushing for Congress to significantly expand the scope of a 1982 law, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, that makes it a crime to disclose the identities of undercover intelligence agents who have served abroad in the past five years, raising alarms among advocates of press freedoms. Under the CIA's plan, the law would instead apply perpetually to people whose relationships with the intelligence community are classified -- even if they live and operate exclusively on domestic soil. The CIA wants the law to protect the identities of more covert officers and informants, citing its defunct torture program and groups like WikiLeaks.


Federal Trade Commission Approves Facebook Fines of $5 Billion

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has approved a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users' personal information, in what may be a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country's most powerful technology companies. While the settlement still needs final approval in the coming weeks from the Justice Department, if approved, it would be the biggest fine by far levied by the federal government against a technology company.


Newsrooms Are Facing a Changing Climate Too

As temperatures continue to rise, many news organizations are devoting more resources to climate change as they cover the topic with more urgency. In Florida, for example, six newsrooms (The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, The South Florida Sun Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times, The Orlando Sentinel, and WLRN Public Media) have taken the unusual step of pooling their resources and sharing their reporting on the issue. They plan to examine how climate change will affect the state's enormous agriculture sector as well as "the future of coastal towns and cities -- which ones survive, which ones go under". Several other news outlets, including The Guardian and The New York Times, have established initiatives to bring more attention to the climate crisis.


New Scandals Rock Government's Foreign Broadcasting Service

The United States Agency for Global Media, the government's foreign broadcast service, is being rocked by two new scandals that have raised further questions about its journalistic and financial management. In one, Tomás Regalado Jr., a reporter for TV Martí, which broadcasts into Cuba, and a cameraman for the network, Rodolfo Hernandez, were suspended amid allegations that they faked a mortar attack on Regalado during a broadcast from Managua, Nicaragua, last year. That incident surfaced only days after Haroon Ullah, the former chief strategy officer at the global media agency, which operates Martí and foreign-language networks around the world, pleaded guilty on June 27th in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, to stealing government property. Although the two incidents are unrelated, the scandals have brought intensified scrutiny and criticism to the agency, which was created to be an objective, trusted source of information in nations where freedom of the press is under attack.


What Speech Goes Too Far on Twitter??

After a year of debate and criticism, an effort to add to a policy on banned speech led to a narrower restriction that applies only when religious groups are targeted. Last August, Twitter's top executives gathered at the company's headquarters to discuss how to make the site safer for its users. Two attendees proposed banning all speech that could be considered "dehumanizing". The company has now narrowed its policymaking to focus only on banning speech that is insulting and unacceptable if directed at religious groups.


Ex-Vanity Fair Writer Says Editor Stopped Her from Exposing Epstein in 2003

Journalist Vicky Ward appeared on "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" just days after Jeffrey Epstein was arrested and charged with sex trafficking by federal prosecutors and she revealed that she had wrote about Epstein in a March 2003 Vanity Fair issue, but the article was "toned down". As part of her reporting for the article, Ward said she had collected separate on-the-record accusations against Epstein from three women, two of whom said they were victims. Those accusations did not make it into the published version. The Vanity Fair profile was published five years before Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to charges of soliciting a minor for prostitution. He ended up serving 13 months of an 18-month sentence. The plea deal in that case is now under Justice Department scrutiny.


Press Group Urges Saudis to Release Jailed Journalists

Press advocate group Reporters Without Borders is urging Saudi Arabia to free 30 journalists currently detained in the country and to relax its heavy suppression of the news media and of dissenting voices.


Journalists in Australia Feel "Under Attack" After Journalist's Travel Records Are Leaked

Journalists in Australia are concerned about their privacy rights after the Australian federal police obtained the personal travel records of a journalist from Qantas Airways. A document obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald showed that the police approached the airline in March seeking travel records for a journalist who wrote a 2017 article alleging that the Australian military had committed possible war crimes against Afghan citizens. A Qantas officer then searched for details of two flights in 2016 at the request of the police, and "captured and printed" details of the trips. This has drawn sharp criticism from media groups and raised questions about press freedoms in the country.



House Votes to Extend 9/11 Fund

The House approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the September 11th attacks never runs out of money. The bill, which would authorize $10.2 billion for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, will replenish a depleted federal fund to compensate emergency workers and others who became ill as a result of their work in the ruins of the World Trade Center, extending it for the lifetime of those who were at Ground Zero. The bipartisan 402-12 vote sends the bill to the Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has agreed to call a vote before Congress goes on its August recess.


Federal Election Commission to Allow Security Company to Help 2020 Candidates Defend Campaigns

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has decided that a Silicon Valley security company could immediately start helping 2020 presidential candidates defend their campaigns from the kinds of malicious email attacks that Russian hackers exploited in the 2016 election. The FEC made its advisory opinion one month after lawyers for the commission advised it to block a request by the company, Area 1 Security, which had sought to provide services to 2020 presidential candidates at a discount.


Iran Announces Plan to Breach Nuclear Deal Limits

Iran announced that it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon. The move inches Iran closer to where it was before the accord, on the path to being able to produce an atomic bomb. This comes just a year after the Trump administration withdrew the United States from the accord and just a few weeks after Trump implemented sanctions intended to cut off Iran's oil sales anywhere in the world.


Judge Blocks Trump's Drug Prices Disclosure Mandate

Judge Amit P. Mehta, of the United States District Court in the District of Columbia, ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services exceeded its regulatory authority by seeking to require all drug makers to include in their television commercials the list price of any drug that costs more than $35 a month. Drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson began disclosing its list price in TV ads, but three other drug manufacturers sued the government to avoid such disclosures. The rule was to take effect this week. In response, Trump said he would be issuing an executive order on drug pricing, but the breadth of the order remained unclear. His administration has proposed other moves, including allowing older adults to more directly benefit from drug rebates in Medicare, and tying the cost of some drugs to their prices in other countries. Republicans and Democrats in Congress have also put forward a range of legislation that would address the issue, from limiting out-of-pocket costs for people covered by Medicare to allowing the federal government to directly negotiate the price of drugs.


U.K. Ambassador to U.S. Calls Trump Administration 'Inept' and 'Clumsy' in Leaked Docs

In a series of leaked documents, Kim Darroch, Britain's ambassador to the United States, described Trump as "radiating insecurity" and his administration as diplomatically "clumsy and inept". The documents were intended as an update on the new Trump administration for a narrow audience of top British officials.


Leaked British Cables Critical of Trump Lead to Diplomatic Uproar

Following the leak of several confidential documents, Trump said that the White House would no longer deal with Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the United States, after the cables described the Trump administration as "clumsy and inept". Trump also harshly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May's handling of Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union. Trump tweeted his criticisms, which were a rude farewell to May and a British leadership that is likely to be replaced in the coming weeks by harder-line, pro-Brexit forces more to his liking. In his rebuke of the ambassador, Trump came close to declaring Darroch persona non grata -- an extraordinary breach between the United States and one of its closest allies.


Disdain for Trump Runs Among Ambassadors

Following the leak of the cables that Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador who resigned last week, wrote to London describing the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump administration, several other ambassadors were asked about the cables and their response is uniform: We wrote the same stuff. Gérard Araud, who retired this spring as the French ambassador, said of his own missives from Washington that everyone feels the same way, "but fortunately I knew that nothing would remain secret, so I sent them (documents) in a most confidential manner." It would have been stranger, his diplomatic colleagues said, if Darroch had been writing cables describing the Trump White House as a smooth-running machine.


Judge Rejects Request to Change Lawyers on Census Case

United States District Judge Jesse M. Furman has denied the Justice Department's request to switch its legal team in a case challenging the Trump administration's effort to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Last week, the Justice Department said it was replacing the legal team defending the citizenship question - but it offered no explanation for the change, which came in the middle of a prolonged clash. As a new team of lawyers began to notify the court of its appearance in the case, Judge Furman barred the old lawyers from leaving until they met a legal requirement to satisfactorily explain their departure and show that it would not impede the case.


Trump Says He Will Get Citizenship Data Anyway

After a court held that Trump could not include a citizenship question on the upcoming 2020 census, Trump instructed the government to compile citizenship data from existing federal records instead. "We are not backing down on our effort to determine the citizenship status of the United States population," Trump said. Rather than carry on the fight over the census, he said that he was issuing an executive order instructing federal departments and agencies to provide the Census Bureau with citizenship data from their "vast" databases immediately.



Immigration and Customs Enforcement Using Facial Recognition to Locate Undocumented Immigrants

In at least three states that offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, searching the photos for matches. Privacy experts, like Harrison Rudolph, an associate at the Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology, have said that this practice should be shut down. Experts have also complained of the potential for "widespread abuse". Alvaro Bedoya, the center's director, said: "States asked undocumented people to come out of the shadows to get licenses. Then ICE turns around and uses that to find them."



Debate Ensues Over Racial Bias as Facial Recognition Spreads

Back in 2016, lawmakers in Detroit created "Project Green Light" - deploying surveillance cameras across the city that stream 24-hour videos from cameras stationed at gas stations, restaurants, mini-marts, apartment buildings, churches, and schools into the Police Department's downtown headquarters. The surveillance program, which was created to deter crime, is being scrutinized as studies of the facial recognition software that the program requires have shown that the software can return more false matches for African-Americans than for white people - a sign of what experts call "algorithmic bias". Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology reported in January that facial recognition software marketed by Amazon misidentified darker-skinned women as men 31% of the time. Others have shown that algorithms used in facial recognition return false matches at a higher rate for African-Americans than white people unless explicitly recalibrated for a black population -- in which case their failure rate at finding positive matches for white people climbs. That study, posted in May by computer scientists at the Florida Institute of Technology and the University of Notre Dame, suggests that a single algorithm cannot be applied to both groups with equal accuracy.


Trump Dismisses Reports of Poor Care of Detained Migrant Children

The Trump administration dismissed reports of migrant children crying and having diseases in the federal detention facilities in which they are being held as "unsubstantiated". Accounts of disease, hunger, and overcrowding have multiplied in recent days, but Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of homeland security, and Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the acting director of United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, maintained that the facilities were safe.


New Human Rights Panel Raises Fears of a Narrowing U.S. Advocacy

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that he was installing a human rights advisory panel in the State Department, and named a conservative law professor as its chairwoman, to review and tighten the agency's definition of human rights and ensure that it is grounded in the "nation's founding principles" and a 1948 United Nations declaration. Although the State Department already houses an internal bureau that oversees human rights issues, the new panel will examine "the role of human rights in American foreign policy", will not be managed by the bureau, and was created without substantial input from its experts and officials. The panel raises concerns among human rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers that Pompeo is moving to curtail State Department advocacy for some rights, particularly ones related to women's health and reproduction and gay and transgender issues.


Justice Department Seeks to Halt Democrats' Suit Over Trump's Profits in Office

The Justice Department asked a federal appeals court to issue an emergency order halting a lawsuit by congressional Democrats, which alleges that Trump has illegally profited from his family business while in office. the department's lawyers asserted that Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia had committed a series of "clear and indisputable" legal errors in allowing the lawsuit to proceed, including holding that Congress had legal standing to sue. If the appeals court refuses to intervene, they argued, the case will proceed into the evidence-gathering phase, in which Trump will be forced to reveal details of his financial affairs.


Appeals Court Blocks 'Emoluments' Suit Against Trump

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (based in Virginia) has issued a set of decisions instructing a lower court judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed against Trump in June 2017 by the Democratic attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia, holding that the attorneys general lacked standing to bring the suit. The court said that the District of Columbia and Maryland's interest "in enforcing the Emoluments Clauses is so attenuated and abstract that their prosecution of this case readily provokes the question of whether this action against the President is an appropriate use of the courts, which were created to resolve real cases and controversies."


Justice Department Urges Mueller Deputies Not to Testify

The Justice Department is seeking to discourage Robert S. Mueller III's deputies from testifying before Congress, potentially jeopardizing an agreement for two of the former prosecutors to answer lawmakers' questions in private. The department told the House Intelligence and Judiciary Committees that it was opposed to the testimony and had communicated its view to the two former members of Mueller's team, Aaron Zebley and James L. Quarles III. It is unclear what effect the Justice Department's intervention will have on the men's eventual appearances, but it raises the prospect that a deal lawmakers thought they had struck last month for testimony from Mueller, the former special counsel, and the two prosecutors, could still unravel.


Abortion Rates Show Steady Decline - But Not Among Poor Women

The overall abortion rate in the United States has declined by nearly 40% since the mid-1990s. However, the U.S. still has a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy than many other developed countries, and a growing share of women who respond by having an abortion are impoverished. There are a number of possible reasons for why this is happening. One is purely demographic: The population of women living below the federal poverty level -- around $25,750 for a family of four in 2019 -- has grown faster than it has among women living above it. Another is that women with higher incomes may have better access to highly effective contraception than before. Another possible reason is that there are more financial resources for low-income women to pay for abortion, particularly since Medicaid expanded in several states under the Affordable Care Act, increasing coverage for poor women, and in turn, coverage of abortion in states that allow their Medicaid programs to pay for it.


Epstein Indicted on Sex Charges as Trove of Nude Photos Is Discovered

Jeffrey Epstein, a well-known financier, was arrested and charged with sex trafficking after a trove of lewd photographs of girls was discovered in a safe inside of his Manhattan mansion. Back in 2008, Epstein avoided the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence, largely because of a secret agreement his lawyers struck with federal prosecutors in Miami, which shielded him from federal prosecution. The Manhattan charges deal an implicit rebuke to that plea agreement, which was overseen by Alexander Acosta, then the United States attorney in Miami and now Trump's labor secretary and has renewed accusations about whether the case was improperly handled in the first place.


Acosta Pressed to Quit Amidst Backlash Over Epstein Plea Deal

Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta faced calls to resign over his role in brokering a lenient plea deal over sex crimes for the New York financier Jeffrey Epstein during his time as a federal prosecutor in Miami more than a decade ago. Acosta said that the plea agreement, in which Epstein served 13 months in jail after being accused of sexually abusing dozens of young women and girls, was the toughest deal available in a complex and difficult case, and the prosecution would have stood a far better chance of succeeding in the state courts. He also wrote on Twitter that he is "pleased that NY prosecutors are moving forward with a case based on new evidence."


Acosta Defends Epstein Plea Deal

Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta held a news conference to defend his actions as a United States attorney in Jeffrey Epstein's plea deal a decade ago in a sex crimes case. While condemning Epstein's "horrific" crimes, Acosta offered no apologies; instead, he offered a clinical explanation of the 2008 plea deal, arguing that he overrode state authorities to ensure that Epstein would face jail time and that holding out for a stiffer sentence by going to trial would have been "a roll of the dice."


Acosta Resigns After Renewed Outrage Over Epstein Plea Deal

Trump announced Labor Secretary R. Alexander Acosta's resignation following continuing questions about his handling of a sex crimes case involving the financier Jeffrey Epstein when Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida. Acosta's decision came only two days after he held a news conference to defend his handling of the 2008 sex crimes prosecution of Epstein. Trump named Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, to serve as acting secretary of labor when Acosta's resignation becomes effective on July 19th.


Manhattan District Attorney's Office Sought Reduced Sex-Offender Status for Epstein

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. claims that he was unaware of an assistant's attempt to reduce Epstein's sex offender status. During a hearing in 2011, a seasoned sex-crimes prosecutor from Vance's office argued forcefully in court that Epstein, who had been convicted in Florida of soliciting an underage prostitute, should not be registered as a top-level sex offender in New York. Instead, the prosecutor, Jennifer Gaffney, asked a judge to reduce Epstein's sex-offender status to the lowest possible classification, which would have limited the personal information available to the public, and would have kept him from being listed on a registry of sex offenders for life.


Prosecutors Say Epstein Tried to Bribe Possible Witnesses

The United States attorney's office in Manhattan alleges that Jeffrey Epstein wired $350,000 to two people close to him to try to buy the silence of possible witnesses against him after a newspaper exposé last November drew new attention to his predatory behavior toward young women. Prosecutors are now asking that Epstein be denied bail while he awaits trial, saying the payments were evidence that he might try to influence witnesses if he were not detained.


Governor Cuomo Signs a Bill to Allow Release of Trump's State Tax Returns

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an amendment to a tax law that will allow three congressional committees to access the president's state tax returns. The new law requires state tax officials to release the president's state returns for any "specified and legitimate legislative purpose" on the request of the chair of one of either the House Ways and Means Committee, the Senate Finance Committee or the Joint Committee on Taxation. It is effective immediately, however, and the Trump administration is predicted to challenge it.


Judge Receives Threats After Saying Teenager in Rape Case Was From 'Good Family'

New Jersey Judge James G. Troiano has faced death threats in recent days as fierce public backlash mounts against his comments and decision to be lenient with a 16-year old accused of rape. The decision concerned a 2017 case in which prosecutors said a visibly intoxicated 16-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by the drunken 16-year-old boy who recorded the act, and sent the video to his friends, along with a text that said: "When your first time is rape." Judge Troiano refused to prosecute the boy as an adult, despite prosecutors' requests, because he said that the boy "had good grades and potential to attend a good college" and came from a "good family". While family court proceedings are normally sealed, the transcript (and therefore some of the judge's comments) were revealed when an appeals court decision was made public. The judge's decision is emblematic, critics have said, of judicial inequity that time and again treats juveniles from privileged backgrounds, particularly white defendants, with leniency, while coming down hard on poor, minority offenders for similar crimes.


Alaska's University System Pleads for a Lifeline After Budget Cuts

After last month's budget cut saw Alaska lawmakers agreeing to cut $5 million in support for the state's universities, Governor Mike J. Dunleavy shocked the state by using a veto to cut $130 million more from the system. The governor's slashing of state funding left university leaders blindsided and in turmoil. The university's supporters have embarked on a desperate scramble to persuade lawmakers to override the governor's line-item veto, which would reduce the operating funds the university system gets from the state by 41%. University officials have announced restrictions on hiring, travel, and procurement, and have sent furlough notices to all employees, in case the legislature fails to override the governor's budget cuts.


Principal Who Tried to Stay 'Politically Neutral' About Holocaust Is Removed

Principal William Latson of Spanish River Community High School in Boca Raton, Florida, has been removed from his position at the Boca Raton school to a district office job because of the outcry over his email to an unidentified parent who inquired last year whether the school's students study the Holocaust. The emails came to light last week in a story published by The Palm Beach Post. Latson faces backlash over his refusal to state that the Holocaust was a factual historical event, saying that he had to stay "politically neutral" about the World War II-era genocide of six million Jews. In an email exchange with the parent in April 2018, Latson wrote that: "Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened". He also said that although the school offered an assembly and courses on the Holocaust, they were optional and could not be "forced upon" all students. Lawmakers had called for Latson to be fired.



Trump Administration Will Allow Some Companies to Sell to Huawei

The Trump administration is following through with plans to allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment giant, just weeks after placing the company on a Commerce Department blacklist. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the administration will issue licenses for American companies that want to do business with Huawei "where there is no threat to national security." This comes after Trump's surprise announcement last month, after a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, that the United States would relax restrictions on Huawei as part of an effort to restart stalled trade talks with China.


24 Governors Call for Halt to Emissions Rollback

24 governors, including three Republicans, urged Trump to abandon his plan to weaken pollution standards for automobiles nationwide. The two dozen governors include the leaders of four states -- North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Montana -- that voted for Trump in 2016, helping propel him into the White House. The Trump administration's rule changes, which are expected to land later this year, would weaken Obama-era rules that would have doubled the fuel economy requirement for new passenger vehicles by 2025 as part of President Obama's signature effort to fight global warming.


Taliban and Afghan Representatives Agree to Peace Road Map but Negotiations Will Not Proceed Until U.S. Plans for Troop Withdrawal

After two days of unprecedented discussions in Doha, Qatar, Taliban and Afghan representatives agreed to a basic road map for negotiating the country's political future, a major step that could help propel peace efforts to end the 18-year-old war. However, the Taliban have said that direct negotiations with other Afghans would start only after the United States announces a timeline for the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan. Sher Mohammad Abas Stanekzai, the most senior member of the Taliban delegation and its chief negotiator said, "when we finalize our negotiations with the Americans and get a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, then we will enter direct negotiations with the Afghan side for the internal matters of our country".


"The Terminator" of Congo Is Convicted of War Crimes by the International Criminal Court

Congolese warlord, Bosco Ntaganda - known as "the Terminator" - was convicted by a three-judge panel on 13 counts of war crimes and five counts of crimes against humanity, committed in the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict between Lendu and Hema in Congo's Ituri region. The charges include murder, rape, sexual slavery, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, and conscripting children into an armed group. Although he has not yet been sentenced, and has 30 days to appeal, he could face life in prison, which analysts say sends a strong warning to other abusive commanders.


Europe Puts Its Foot Down on Tech Taxes

Several countries are moving to impose new taxes on technology companies, like Facebook and Google, that have large presences in their citizens' daily lives but pay those countries little tax on the profits they earn there. France moved to become the first country to impose a so-called digital tax of 3% on the revenue companies earn from providing digital services to French users. It would apply to large companies, numbering more than two dozen, with robust annual sales in France, including United States-based Facebook, Google, and Amazon. British leaders also detailed plans to impose a similar tax, of 2%, on tech giants, and the European Union has also been mulling a digital tax.


Hong Kong Leader Says That Extradition Bill is 'Dead'

Hong Kong's chief executive, Carrie Lam, during a news conference in Hong Kong said that an unpopular bill that would allow extraditions to mainland China "is dead". Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets in recent weeks to oppose the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to mainland China. The bill, which was suspended by Lam, drew concerns that the government would revive it later. However, Lam told reporters "There is no such plan...the bill is dead."


China Annoyed as Taiwan Set to Receive $2 Billion in U.S. Arms

The United States has tentatively approved the sale of $2 billion in military hardware to Taiwan, demonstrating support for its unofficial ally in a move likely to exacerbate deteriorating ties between Washington and Beijing. The tentative approvals come as relations between the United States and China are already being tested by a trade war and the decoupling of technology supply chains. The armaments would provide Taiwan with greater deterrence capabilities against the growing military threat from China


U.S. Missiles Found in Libyan Rebel Camp Were First Sold to France

A cache of powerful American missiles ended up in the hands of rebel fighters - loyal to General Khalifa Hifter seeking to overthrow the United Nations-backed government in Tripoli - after being sold to France. The four Javelin anti-tank missiles, which cost more than $170,000 each and are usually sold only to close American allies, were recovered last month by Libyan government forces during a raid on a rebel camp in Gheryan, a town in the mountains south of Tripoli. Following the discovery, the State Department investigated the origins of the missiles, using their serial numbers and other information, and concluded that they had originally been sold to France, which has been a strong supporter of General Hifter. A French military adviser denied on Tuesday that the weapons were transferred to General Hifter, which would violate the sales agreement with the United States as well as a United Nations arms embargo.


U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Hezbollah Officials

The Trump administration imposed sanctions on three senior Hezbollah officials - Wafiq Safa, Muhammad Hasan Ra'd, and Amin Sherri - after accusing them of having a "malign agenda" to support the Iranian government. The United States considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though members of the group have embedded into legitimate parts of the Lebanese government. Sigal Mandelker, the Treasury Department's secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that "Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon's Parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group's financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran's malign activities."


German Chancellor Seen Shaking Again, Renewing Concerns for Her Health

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was seen trembling for the third time in less than a month, despite insistence that she was "well" and capable of fulfilling her job. Her aides attributed the initial shaking to dehydration, a problem that has plagued the chancellor in the past. Merkel said that the most recent incidence of shaking was part of the psychological trauma she suffered after experiencing uncontrolled trembling under similar circumstances on June 18th, the second incidence.


Australia Could Almost Eradicate H.I.V. Transmissions

Nearly four decades into the H.I.V. crisis, Australian researchers say that the country is on a path toward making transmissions of the virus vanishingly rare. In the past five years, the number of new infections with the virus has dropped by almost a quarter in Australia, with higher declines among gay and bisexual men, according to a report released last week by the Kirby Institute, an infectious disease research center in the state of New South Wales. The most recent advance in Australia's battle against the virus, which is seen as a model around the world, is the rapid adoption of a drug regimen known as PrEP. Under the regimen, patients typically take a daily pill, which -- even without the use of condoms -- is close to 100% effective at preventing contraction of H.I.V., experts say. "Provided we don't take our foot off the pedal, we stand a chance of eliminating H.I.V. by 2030" in Australia, said Andrew Grulich, an author of the Kirby Institute report and a professor of epidemiology at the University of New South Wales.


22 Countries Issue Plea to Beijing Regarding Xinjiang Repression

A group of 22 countries has issued a statement urging China to stop the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in its western Xinjiang region. In a letter to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the states told China to uphold its own laws and international obligations, and stop arbitrary incarceration of Uighurs and other Muslim and minority communities, and permit freedom of religion.


China Gets Praise from Russia and Saudi Arabia

After 22 countries joined together and urged China to stop the mass detention of ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims in its western Xinjiang region, ambassadors of 37 states from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America jointly signed a letter to the president of the United Nations Human Rights Council praising China's "contribution to the international human rights cause." The states, including prominent members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, said China had faced terrorism, separatism and religious extremism in Xinjiang, the vast northwest region that is mainly Muslim. But through counterterrorism measures and vocational training, these states said, China had restored peace and security there.


Turkey Defies U.S. by Getting Shipment of Russian Missile System

Turkey began receiving the first shipment of a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system against objections from the U.S. - a step certain to test the country's uneasy place in the NATO alliance. The system, called the S-400, includes advanced radar to detect aircraft and other targets and it puts Russian technology inside the territory of a key NATO ally -- one from which strikes into Syria have been staged. The Russian engineers who will be required to set up the system, American officials fear, will have an opportunity to learn much about the American-made fighter jets that are also part of Turkey's arsenal. In response, the Trump administration has already moved to block the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, one of the United States' most advanced aircraft, to Turkey, and has suspended the training of its pilots, who were learning how to fly it.


July 22, 2019

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


Package Deals

In April, on orders from their union, more than 7,000 stage and screen writers fired their agents who would not sign a "revised code of conduct", primarily in regard to "packaging". A package deal is one where the agency bundles together a group of the agency's artists, like a writer, a director, and an actor, to work on a project. Then the agency itself collects a fee for the package, over and above the salaries of the artists. Writers in particular feel aggrieved by this. The "Big Four" agencies (WME, UTA, CAA, and ICM) wouldn't sign, and the Writers Guild sued them over the package fees. WME, UTA, and CAA counter-sued, claiming antitrust violations. Then the agencies offered to settle with a 2% back-end revenue sharing deal, but the Writers Guild rejected that. Meanwhile, some writers feel that they can't wait and just want to work. Therefore, the elections at the Writers Guild will be closely watched.


Blackout Bruises Broadway Box Office
The recent blackout at 6:47 p.m. cost Broadway about $3.5 million in revenues. Twenty-six out of 30 shows were cancelled. The last time this occurred was 2016, when there was almost 27 inches of snow; before that, Hurricanes Sandy (2012) and Irene (2011). Sad to miss a show you came to New York to see, but hey, NYC blackout!


They Keep Pulling Me Back In

Nipsy Hussle is being lionized, but he was also being investigated. Hussle always admitted to having been in a gang, but now he was trying to bring his former colleagues into the real world, give them jobs and paychecks. Maybe it's not possible. The type of investigation was called an abatement or nuisance probe -- a targeting of the "physical territories" where gang members hang out or otherwise exert control. The police were also trying to get Hussle's landlord to evict him. Instead, Hussle bought the building. Hah. The guy was trying. Somebody resented him for it, and he was shot.


You Can't Go Back to the Garden

Nobody will give Woodstock 50 a permit; not Watkins Glen, and not Vernon, which found too many problems with the permit application and no real plan for public safety. In April, the Japanese financial investor pulled out, although the court ruled that it didn't have the right to cancel the event unilaterally. Unfortunately, the acts, including Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus, have already been paid, to the tune of about $32 million.


Mouse Equity

Fifty-nine-year-old Abigail Disney is a documentary filmmaker who has recently begun work on a "possible" documentary about income inequality. She is also a Disney empire heiress, although the Disney family no longer runs the Disney empire. Abigail Disney says that she thinks Disney employees aren't paid a living wage. Disney representatives claim that it's not true, and anyway the employees have a "wide range" of benefits. My guess is that it's probably worse than Walmart, where at least employees aren't sweating inside heavy costumes. BTW, Abigail Disney is also founder of a company that backs media projects by women and people of color.


Kevin Spacey Off the Hook, for Now

First a phone to be used as evidence disappeared, and then the accuser, an 18-year-old man who that said Spacey fondled him in a Nantucket restaurant, dropped his case. That was after the alleged victim pleaded the fifth, and kept pleading the fifth, about possibly deleting phone evidence. Apparently there were many complaints about Spacey, from 20 people at the Old Vic, when he was the artistic director.


R. Kelly Update

The underage girl upon whom Kelly perpetrated video sex and also urinated, originally wouldn't testify, but now she will. If convicted, he could get a maximum of 195 years in jail. There also appear to be more underage victims than the original 12 girls who accused him.



The guy was in a fight at a music festival in Stockholm, but it's unclear if he himself started it or how violent he was. He has been in jail since the beginning of July. People like Jada Pinkett Smith and Nicki Minaj, as well as various members of the Kardashian menage, have asked Trump to intervene. Melania says, "We're working with the State Department, and we hope to get him home soon." Huh? Stockholm's own deadline to complete its investigation is July 25th.


Noise Pollution By Any Other Name

Playing obnoxious children's jingles like "Baby Shark" very loudly all night long to prevent homeless people from sleeping in the park in West Palm Beach is torture to them and those who just want to have a peaceful walk in the park. The songwriter is looking to see if he has any legal claim to stop the use of his music.


At Least It Wasn't Philadelphia

I don't get this. Is this scam being perpetrated by some insane government official trying to drum up tourism? The financial losses seem to be in regard to airline tickets, hotels, and maybe a driver, but the driver can't be that much. If the driver is really a kidnapper, well, it doesn't seem to be working. Maybe it's like those spam emails you get where even if you click on the link it doesn't work, because the crooks are ultimately incompetent, and what about the people who went multiple times? Why would anyone do that? I supposed it's possible that these specific people are being removed for some reason, but there just aren't enough facts to tell.



Hitler and Art

Nazi troops "confiscated" the valuable belongings, especially artwork, of their victims, and stored it. When the Americans finally arrived, and Hitler was a day away from killing himself, crowds stormed the Fűhrerbau, the Fűhrer's building, and stole everything, like food, but also the art, at least 700 of the 1,500 possible stored works. Now the Central Institute for Art History in Munich, a government body, has investigated the sources and fate of those works. It is trying to find the approximately 400 still-lost works. So far, it has found "traces" of about three dozen of the missing works, one of which is at the Fisher Museum of Art at the University of Southern California. However, the law in Germany is that a good faith purchaser who acquires an art work and possesses it for 10 years becomes the rightful owner. Therefore, the question of restitution is complicated.


More Stolen Art

A Manhattan art dealer, Subhash Kapoor, apparently one of the world's largest smugglers of antiquities, was charged this week in Manhattan for running an international crime ring involving $145 million worth of stolen objects, over 30 years. About $36 million worth are still missing. He kept his loot in storage in Manhattan and Queens. He was known for offering unique and interesting items for sale, and he donated to museums. Now Kapoor is 70 years old, and is currently in jail in India, although he was initially arrested in Germany in 2011. It's unclear why he has been held in India for so long without trial. He and his 7 partners hired gangs of thieves to steal antiquities from India, Nepal, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Pakistan, and Thailand. Who knows, maybe he saved some works from destruction, although there was at least one Indian religious statue that they just stole outright from a temple. Kapoor would doctor provenance; he had restorers who worked with him to "enhance" the value of the pieces.


Detention Camp Art

There is an exhibit at the University of Texas at El Paso through October 5th, of artworks made by children held in a detention camp at Tornillo, Texas. The artworks are made of things like bottle caps and popsicle sticks. There is something perverse and obscene about this. Thank goodness that these children have some creative outlet, but let's just get them out of there. Tornillo was actually closed in January, due to "health and safety concerns," but they are building a new one, and there are others that are still open. In addition, it is highly unlikely that the children being compensated for the exhibition of their art, or if they're even aware of the exhibit.


Telling the Truth about the President

The statue outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York is of Theodore Roosevelt on a horse, flanked by a Native American man on one side and an African man on the other. Certainly it's a legacy of colonialism and racial hierarchy, and in 2017, a city commission convened to discuss what to do about it (and a few other embarrassing monuments), but it was split, so the statue remains. However, the museum has added context, in the form of an exhibit about the man and his times. Erasing history is never a good idea, no matter who does it or for what reason, as we don't know how our ideas will change, and without the negative, we won't know what not to do again. On the other hand, there is such a thing as bad taste. We need to practice maintaining the social fabric, not zero tolerance, which is ultimately unsustainable. If Roosevelt was alive now, would he be a racist? Would he continue to trophy hunt? Would he still say it was "more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about [the president] than about anyone else"?


What's in a Name?

The Louvre removed the Sackler name from its walls, the first major museum actually to do so. Not only that, but in March, the National Portrait Gallery turned down a $1.3 million donation from the family, which prompted other museums, like the Tate group and the Guggenheim, to announce that they would also not accept further donations from the family. Other museums said they would "respect past philanthropy" and not change anything. It's true that some donations came from before OxyContin was even invented, and some contracts simply require the name to be displayed. The photographer Nan Goldin believes that it was the protests of her activist group PAIN that brought about the change. On the other hand, the Victoria and Albert Museum says that it is proud to be supported by the Sacklers.


When Tear Gas Gets in Your Eyes

Seven artists have asked that their works be withdrawn from the Whitney biennial because the museum refuses to throw Warren B. Kanders off its board. Kanders owns a company that manufactures and distributes law enforcement equipment, the Safariland Group (which makes it sound like, and of course is intended to make it sound like, a theme park). Safariland produces fun things like tear gas. The Whitney was understanding of the artists but seems to have no intention to oust Kander (or his money). However, it is including a 10 minute video about the tear gas, which seems to be used more against people trying to express their civil and human rights than against violent criminals. Kanders says that his company "plays no role in deciding how its products are used."


Wake Up and Buy Your Espresso in a Cafe

Backpackers took out their camp stove on Venice's Rialto Bridge, proceeded to make their morning coffee, and were arrested, fined, and escorted to the door, pursuant to laws passed in May regarding public behavior in and on this glorious floating monument. Tourism is a necessary evil, but enough is enough, they say.



It's No Secret

Proctor & Gamble (Always, Bounty, Crest, Dawn, Downy, Febreze, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Olay, Pampers, Pantene, Tide, Secret Deodorant, Vicks, et al. -- but no monopoly here!) took out a Sunday Times ad to urge equal pay for the women pro soccer players who just beat the Netherlands in the World Cup Final. The fight over equal pay in this sport has been going on for a while, first as an EEOC proceeding and then in federal court. Proctor & Gamble also donated a little over $500,000 to the cause (chump change to the company, but at least it's something). Proctor & Gamble is a big soccer sponsor. Meanwhile, Luna Bar actually gave each player a bonus equal to the difference between the women's pay and the men's pay.


Keep Your Eye on the Ball

This is a long story. James Dolan is CEO of the Madison Square Garden (MSG) Company, a holding company that owns the Knicks, the Garden, and the Forum (in Inglewood, California), where the Lakers used to play. A while back, the Knicks was fined by the National basketball Association (NBA) for barring the Daily News from a news conference. A few weeks later, the newspaper published an article about a real estate development project in Inglewood and a lawsuit by Dolan. The project involves Inglewood entering into an agreement with Steve Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, for a new basketball arena. Ballmer wants to move the Clippers out of the Staples Center, which they share with the Lakers, and into a building he owns. Dolan sued, claiming that Inglewood's mayor tricked the MSG Company into giving up land for a song that could now be used as part of Ballmer's arena. Dolan also seems opposed to the Clipper's moving. The newspaper was critical of the lawsuit. MSG Company accused the Daily News of animus, saying that Dolan once fired Timothy P. Knight, who is now the head of Tribune Publishing, which owns the publication, when Knight was publishing Newsday, which the Dolan family also owns. Knight says no, he quit. The truth is, I think, that the Knicks are just having a bad year. Yawn.



Secret Decoder Ring Department

The House passed a new intelligence bill. It provides for things like assessing the wealth of Vladmir V. Putin, the power of foreign influence campaigns, and Chinese efforts to influence Taiwan politics, as well as our own efforts to disrupt Beijing. There are classified parts to the bill that are not available publicly and can only be reviewed in a "secure room". The House version seeks to create a Climate Security Advisory Council, and conservatives tried to strip that portion. The Senate version does not include that. There is expansion of the number of intelligence officials protected, and it makes it a crime to reveal them, which is a possible booby trap for journalists and whistle blowers.


Colorado Police Subject to 17 USC § 101 et seq.

Apparently the Aurora, Colorado police published a photo of an ICE demonstrator without permission from the Denver Post, Colorado's "second largest" newspaper, where it was originally published. The police department published the photo in a "wanted" release. The newspaper sent a cease and desist notice, and the photo was removed.


It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations. That's $5 billion out of approximately $56 billion in revenue annually, which is slightly more than 10%. However, although everything is relative, you don't need an algorithm; simple arithmetic will do: taking away $5 billion still leaves $51 billion. Europe seems to be working harder to curb the excess of what it calls the "digital gangsters", specifically in regard to privacy invasions, but also in regard to "hate" speech. Of course, while it claims to be "open to regulation", Facebook (as well as Microsoft, Google, and Apple) fights all of this tooth and nail.


Another Judgment Against Anglin

This is a social fabric problem. There are too many people growing up in vacuums, with no real secular education, parents letting their kids be babysat by the internet and otherwise ignoring them, leaving them the victims of negative emotion, at best, and fundamentalist-type vengeance, at worst. These extremists have always been there, but now there are just so many more of them, and the internet has given them a forum. Andrew Anglin thinks that it's o.k. to indulge his bad manners and paranoia by publicly and verbally terrorizing individuals. It doesn't matter why. There are excuses, but no reasons; he's a bully. This is the second multi-million dollar judgment, which is unfortunately probably not collectible, against him.


Dig Out Your Rabbit Ears

You can watch broadcast CBS, but AT&T (Direct TV) says that CBS wants too much money, and it don't want to carry it anymore. It's not, however, likely to refund anyone's money. There is no hint in the article that there was anything political going on here. Formerly, CBS was getting a little over $2 per subscriber per month, and now it wants $3 (multiplied by 90 million). CBS broadcasts the NFL. It has lost Leslie Moonves and may merge with Viacom. AT&T acquired Time Warner, so it now has HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros. It may try to compete with Netflix and Hulu. However, AT&T has net debt exceeding $169 million. Although CBS has lost viewers, it is still "the most-watched network", for whatever that's worth.


General News

First Step Act

The bipartisan "First Step Act", signed into law in December, provides for increased sentence reductions for good behavior for federal prisoners. It's an attempt to rectify the draconian mandatory minimums. However, it took time for the Justice Department to create a "tool" to gauge risk factors before they could know who to pick, or at least said Jeff Sessions, who opposed the bill. He is a big private prison investor. Some may have state sentences to serve or need to appear for immigration proceedings, but it's a start.


Ecommerce and The First Law of Thermodynamics

Pop Quiz: Do the methods that Amazon, Facebook, and Google use to collect and "hoard" data give them an unfair advantage in the marketplace? By allowing independent sellers to sell on its platform, is Amazon really eliminating them as competitors, at the very least by pricing more competitively and at the most by offering its own version of the products at lower prices? Amazon says that it will cooperate fully with EU investigations. As we speak, I am simultaneously shopping for a new pair of cat nail clippers, and with only a click they will arrive tomorrow. However, as we also should know, the amount of energy in the universe is constant, and make no mistake, shortcuts always cost someone or something somewhere somehow.


Alexa and the Pentagon

Amazon is seeking a $10 billion Pentagon cloud computing contract. Trump is butting his nose in, possibly because of a vendetta against Jeff Bezos, who owns the Washington Post, which occasionally criticizes the president. Trump says that he's "getting tremendous complaints" from Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM, allegedly, that the contract wasn't competitively bid. He is also getting others, like Marco Rubio, to carry on the fight for him. Oracle is a big contributor to Rubio. Of course Democrats don't like Amazon either, but for different reasons. On another note, Alexa's 24/7 surveillance and the military. What could go wrong?


Get Back

I say we should encourage him. Let's get this all out in the open. Let him keep talking. Either eventually the sheep will rebel, or they won't. But at least it will be known. At the very least, this is not civil discourse. Shockingly so. Someone needs to be very ashamed.


Trump Skips the Middle Man

He just speaks directly to the cesspool of his virulent supporters' minds, and they slaver over it.


House Condemns

The House condemns the statements, saying that Trump has "brought the high office of the president of the United States in contempt, ridicule, disgrace, and disrepute, has sown seeds of discord among the people of the United States, has demonstrated that he is unfit to be president and has betrayed his trust . . ." Unfortunately, neither he nor his dedicated followers could care less.


No Impeachment Today

Ninety-five for, 137 against. I guess it is better not to do it than to try and fail. Then Trump can go out and foster more divisiveness by saying that the Democrats are "hate-filled extremists who are constantly trying to tear our country down" and that they want the "destruction of the country." Corrupt people and bullies do this. They just blame others for what they themselves do.



If you're going to keep the masses behind you, you need to unite them against a scapegoat. This is atrociously bad faith totalitarian bs. You can tell it's bs, because they didn't bother to get warrants. Meanwhile, the population in detention camps grows.


No Room at the Inn

This is the second way that Trump has tried to limit, not just immigration, but asylum seekers. The first one was a bar if the asylum seeker entered "illegally". The Ninth Circuit disagreed, and the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay of the ruling during the appeals process. This one says that there is no asylum if the seeker traveled through another country to get here and didn't apply for asylum in that country first. Yet it seems clear that that was never the lawmakers' intent. Aggressive remedies are being pursued by the ACLU, among others.



The Dark Underbelly

It's amazing how people can look like adults on the outside, and you have no idea how undeveloped they are, mentally and emotionally; and not just boys, it appears. The female Border Patrol Chief, Carla Provost, was in on it too. Out of one side of his mouth Customs and Border Patrol assistant commissioner Matthew Kleins says that professionalism doesn't end at the end of the shift, but on the other hand, mere membership in the group is not enough for punishment. Of course what they all really need to do is to grow up.



Barr and Ross

Even Trump's Supreme Court doubted his professed rationale (upholding the Voting Rights Act) for adding the citizenship question to the Census. Barr and Ross refused to provide discovery. They begged Pelosi for a reprieve, but she held steady.


What's Your Ethnicity?

The White House counseled Kellyanne Conway to ignore a subpoena from the House Oversight and Reform Committee regarding her alleged "egregious, repeated and very public violations" of the Hatch Act, which prohibits electioneering while at work. She's claiming "absolute immunity", but we all know that's not what absolute immunity means. She is joining Barr and Wilbur Ross and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the contempt corner. The executive branch contempt for the legal process of the country it oversees is really quite shocking.


One for the Polluter Backers

The Government Accountability Office found that the Trump administration, in the form of Scott Pruitt, failed to follow ethics rules last year when it dismissed academic members of EPA advisory boards and replaced them with industry shills. The EPA also didn't base the appointments on recommendations from career staff. Moreoever, the financial disclosure forms for the new hirees were incomplete. Senator Whitehouse from Rhode Island states that "the Trump administration rigged influential advisory boards to favor its polluter backers."



What Wars?

The Senate Armed Services Committee failed to ask Trump's new nominee for head of the Pentagon a single question about the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Instead, its members talked about Iran, China, and Russia, and how Esper was such a great lobbyist for military contracting. While it is true that he did graduate from West Point (and was classmate of Mike Pompeo) and served in the Persian Gulf war, Senator Warren thinks that he might have a conflict because of his lobbying job. She is concerned that Esper already asked for an "exception" to the ethics rules. When she challenged him he got defensive about his service, and how dare anyone challenge him, and in that way avoided responding to the question. He agrees about not selling F-35s to Turkey (see below).


Deputy Labor Secretary

Pizzella was the front man for lobbyists seeking to avoid federal minimum wage and immigration laws. He flew lawmakers first class to some tiny island near Guam in the South Pacific where they stayed at a beachfront Hyatt. He has always fought regulation; he believes union representatives are like the mob bosses in "On the Waterfront". Now he's being hired to protect worker's rights. As an undergraduate, in his column in the school paper, he compared George McGovern to Hitler.


Labor Secretary

Trump is naming Eugene Scalia, the infamous anti-union labor lawyer and member of the Federalist Society (along with Kavanaugh and Gorsuch), to be in charge of the American work force. Scalia opposed the "ergonomics" rule, which seeks to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries. He doesn't believe in carpal tunnel syndrome.


Sexual Degradation in Illinois Prisons

Two hundred female inmates were woken up, handcuffed, taken to a public area where they could be seen by men in the nearby gym, forced to strip, remove their tampons, "raise their breasts, bend over, spread their buttocks," etc. They were insulted, degraded, and sworn at. They were not told why. The two Republicans of the three-person Seventh Circuit panel said that "training purposes" was a legitimate reason for this gross breach of human decency, and not an invasion of privacy. Let's see what the Supremes have to say.


Hunter and the Corps

Duncan Hunter, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), is using the official USMC Eagle, Glove, and Anchor emblem in his campaign materials. The USMC sent him a cease and desist regarding his use of its registered trademark. He also uses photos of Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar and calls them "radical Democrats" and "family" terrorists. Additionally, Hunter is facing 60 federal charges of campaign finance violations, falsifying records, wire fraud, and conspiracy. He and his wife are accused of spending more than $250,000 in campaign funds on trips, shopping sprees, private school tuition, and "airfare for their pet rabbit." There is an approved "Marine Veteran" emblem he is allowed to use.


No Bail for You!

Piles of cash and a fake passport in his home safe. Google ads could probably find him anywhere, but I guess the judge wants to be sure.


Transparency, Not Regulation, They Say

Betsy DeVos is repealing the Obama regulations that crack down on for-profit scam colleges that do nothing but mire students in student loan debt and do not increase their career or salary opportunities. Instead, DeVos is expanding a database called "College Scorecord", which provides information on student debt and income for ALL colleges. However, there will also no longer be any sanctions, in the form of restriction of federal student aid, to these for-profit mills that promise much and deliver nothing. Might this lead to, or re-introduce, "manipulative recruiting and poor quality training"? She's also removing debt relief for the students who have already been scammed. Since Obama's 2010 rule, nearly half of these "schools" have closed, but they may open up again.


House Votes to Repeal "Cadillac" Tax

This was a tax on employers who provide "high-cost, generous" health insurance plans. It was supposed to help pay for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) benefits. Some say repeal will result in a ballooning deficit. Others say since health care costs are already "decelerating," it isn't necessary. Whose health care costs are decelerating? Still others say that the Democrats were coerced by the organized labor constituency.


Collyer, not Rosenberg

A National Security Agency (NSA) Contractor apparently spent 20 years hoarding stuff from work in his house, car, and garden shed. This is not treason; it's mental illness. He has nothing to do with the "Shadow Brokers", who sell NSA-type documents on ebay, or somewhere. Yet he was given nine years, probably out of embarrassment regarding their own ineptitude in allowing it to happen, and also as a deterrent to others. Yet what will happen when he comes out? He won't have a job anymore, that's for sure.


New Charges in Stormy Daniels Case Unlikely

The old ones are enough, and in fact, the new documents seem to contradict Trump's statements that he knew nothing. However, from prison, Michael Cohen criticized the decision to end the inquiry.


The Hunt for the Drone

The U.S. shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz last Thursday. Trump calls it self-defense. The claim is that it came within 1,000 yards of a U.S. ship, but it's not clear if it was armed. Iran says it has no information about having lost a drone. Paging Tom Clancy. We're still wrangling with Iran about sanctions and missiles. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says, "We will survive we will prosper, long after President Trump is gone." I only hope the same is true for us.


Tax Treaties

Apparently bipartisan treaties negotiated by the Obama administration with Spain, Switzerland, Japan, and Luxembourg (where Amazon has its European headquarters), have finally been ratified. Rand Paul and Mike Lee (Utah) voted against it/them, and Paul has allegedly been "stalling" on this "for years". McConnell is pushing it. McConnell cites a Kentucky-based subsidiary of a Spanish company that he asserts would have made a greater investment in American operations, in Kentucky, but didn't because of the delay on this treaty. The treaty of course reduces corporate tax burdens. Paul objects on the basis that the treaty allows for more sharing on "individual and corporate taxpayers between countries," but it's not clear from the article about whose tax info they are discussing.


"Puerto Rico's in America!"

It's clear that the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo A. Rossello, needs to learn to stop being a jerk. From where could he learn better manners? Ricky Martin, one of the people mocked by Rosello (for Martin's homosexulity) and other musicians are joining the protests to call for the governor's resignation. Rapper Residente, his sister, iLe, and artist Bad Bunny produced a protest song called "Afilando los Cuchillos" ("Sharpening the Knives"), with 2.5 million viewers on YouTube. It accuses the governor of hereditary corruption.



Planned Parenthood Changes Its Leadership

Planned Parenthood removed its president, Dr. Leana Wen, the first physician to be president in "decades", after eight months. Wen's position was that abortion was a health care issue, not a political one, and that it was just one part of a general package of reproductive rights. She also wanted Planed Parenthood to give more information regarding general non-reproductive health issues. The organization's Board apparently thought that things needed to be more aggressive and specific. Nevertheless, apparently Wen was not removed with much finesse.



What's Happening Across the River

One judge has resigned, and another is being removed, and this is just the tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg. Of course I don't believe in threats of violence, which apparently Troiano and his family were receiving. He was already retired, only working part-time, and
will retain his pension. In addition, a family court judge, Marcia Silva, said recently in open court that except for losing her virginity, a 12-year-old girl hadn't suffered any further injuries, which also seems a bit medieval. New Jersey is going to institute training.


Vigilante Justice for Selling Loose Cigarettes

The whole country is turning into Staten Island. You can find out about the entrenched racism of some police officers by talking to the wives or the people on "Old Brooklyn" groups on Facebook.


Wind in the Willows

Wind farms will be built of the coast of Long Island. Last year, wind farms provided about 7% of all electricity in the U.S., up from 2% in 2010. The project should be ready to operate within the next 5 years, provided that it clears permitting and environmental hurdles, and despite Trump making it more difficult for states to reduce emissions.


The Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act of 2019

Forget everything you thought you knew about summary proceedings, the RPAPL, and even the RPL. Time limits have been expanded; no more vacancy hikes; no more vacancy or income limit deregulation; strong limits on capital improvement raises; municipalities outside of NYC may institute rent stabilization laws. They left a few things out, like right at this moment it doesn't seem possible ever to evict a month-to-month tenant upstate, but those things will be rectified. No doubt this is a backlash, but it wasn't entirely unnecessary. Cuomo signed.


Justice Stevens Dies at 99

Stevens was born in Chicago in 1920. His grandfather owned the LaSalle Hotel (which is now the Hilton). At the end of the Depression, his grandfather, father, and uncle were indicted on charges of looting the family's insurance business to keep the hotel running. Justice Stevens's father was convicted in 1933 of embezzling $1.3 million, but the conviction was overturned the next year. Stevens served on the Supreme Court for 35 years, beginning as a Republican anti-trust lawyer and ending as a liberal, not just to balance the right-leaning of the Court, but because his own views evolved over time. For example, in 1976, in Gregg v. Georgia, Stevens voted to allow the resumption of capital punishment. However, in 2008, he apparently expressly renounced it. Stevens said that his views had changed because he had learned on the job. He was the second oldest and the second longest serving justice. At a time when questions of individual liberty versus national security came before the court, Stevens found himself taking the liberal side. He wrote upholding the rule of law against the Bush administration. He wrote the opinion in Arkins v. Virginia, ruling that it was unconstitutional to execute the mentally disabled (in which Scalia dissented, stating that the majority had "enshrined" its own view). Stevens also led the dissent in Bush v. Gore. Last year he stated in a speech that Brett Kavanaugh was unqualified for the Supreme Court.



Robert Morganthau Also Dies at 99

Born in Manhattan July 31, 1919, to a real estate tycoon's family, he grew up with other privileged families like the Kennedys, graduated from Yale Law in 1948, worked in corporate law, and in 1961 began 9 years as U.S. attorney for the Southern District, a "reward" for his help on the Kennedy campaigns. He was NYC District Attorney for 35 years, from January 1, 1975 to December 31, 2009, a liberal Democrat elected 9 times in a row, "usually by landslides and with the endorsement of virtually all the political parties." Over the years, he supervised about 3.5 million cases, from the garden variety local crimes to the trials of Bernard Goetz, Robert Chambers, Joel Steinberg, and Mark David Chapman. Morgenthau also zealously pursued white collar crimes, all the way to Paraguay, Iran, the Cayman Islands, and Belgium. On the other hand, he was accused of not responding quickly enough to an "epidemic" of police corruption in the 80's. The 6 officers who killed Michael Stewart were acquitted, and it was believed that Morgenthau mishandled the prosecutions. He was also accused of not going after Bernhard Goetz sufficiently zealously, because his victims were young black men. Morgenthau was in office when the young man were wrongly convicted in the Central Park Jogger case. After the confession by Matias Reyes, Morgenthau ordered DNA tests. He said he wished they'd had DNA testing then. Barry Scheck actually said that he thought it was Morgenthau's finest hour. Morgenthau created the first sex crimes and consumer affairs units. He pursued career criminals, drug dealers, child pornographers, and landlords who harassed tenants. He opposed the death penalty. He was with Bobby Kennedy on November 22, 1963, when they got the call from J. Edgar Hoover about what happened in Dallas. After Morgenthau left the District Attorney's office, he was given office at Wachtell. Margenthau is survived by his 7 children, 6 grandchildren, and 3 great-grandchildren. He liked to say that in 1944, when his ship was torpedoed by Nazi warplanes, and went down, he promised the "Almighty" that he would "try to do something useful" with his life.


India to the Moon?

Fifty years ago, through the dedicated efforts of privately hardworking but publicly humble individuals, (hu)mankind took a giant leap. It was a great achievement, and it made many think that even if we had made mistakes in the past we knew better now and could focus on higher goals. It seems today, however, that not only do the old lessons constantly need to be re-learned, but that increasingly large segments of the population couldn't care less about individual, much less general human improvement. Maybe India will do better with it. Maybe the wave of great civilizations didn't end here and will take another trip around the globe. There was a technical glitch, maybe a leak, so they put it off, but they can try it again.


No F-35s for You

Although Turkey is a NATO ally, its F-35 order is being canceled because it also ordered Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems (instead of U.S. Patriot missiles). The claim is that the S-400 missiles are "smart" enough to learn about the "advanced capabilities" of the F-35, which would be a security breach. Apparently, the NATO allies have also agreed to "move away" from Russian products. It's interesting how certain taboos seem to remain despite the possibly deep financial interdependence of Trump and Putin. Therefore, is all a pretext, and Trump is trying to antagonize Turkey on purpose? Turkey seems to be offended that Trump won't waive the sanctions. Trump says that it's Obama's fault for not selling the Patriot missiles before, and then it also turns out that the "900 mechanical parts" of the F-35 would have in fact been made in Turkey. Now they will be made in the U.S. and all the pilots in training programs there will have to go home. Therefore, it turns out to be an economic reason. As a deal couldn't be reached on selling the Patriots, Turkey instead bought the S-400s. Now the U.S. is annoyed and won't sell them F-35s.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/17/world/euro pe/us-turkey-russia-missiles.html

No Guns for You, Maybe.

The House is sick of the president selling $8.1 BILLION worth of arms to the Saudis, and sidestepping the Constitution to do it, on trumped-up excuses like an Iran "emergency." Although a few Republicans joined the vote, there probably isn't enough support in the Senate to override a veto. This is different from 1984, when Ronald Reagan asked for help for the Saudis because Iraq attacked Iranian oil facilities, and Congress was so opposed that Reagan withdrew the request. Of course he asked again later, and when it wasn't granted, he vetoed.


No Shopping for You

Ostensibly because of the stirring up of ethnic scapegoating, which has resulted in genocide and other atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims, four Myanmar generals and their immediate family members are barred from entering the U.S. Of course, it's not clear that they ever came here before or would want to in the future, so the punishment seems pretty academic, a gesture in the direction of making it look like the U.S. cares about "gross violations of human rights," when it really doesn't.


Paging Martin Brice

A 20-year-old hacker allegedly got into the Bulgarian national tax agency in June and breached info on approximately five million Bulgarians and other residents. He denies it. The Bulgarians arrested him, but should actually give him a job. Of course some say that the Russians did it, in retaliation for Bulgaria buying American fighter jets. Whoever did it, it's a problem. The article discusses various recent cyber -security disasters, including North Korea as the author of a "yearslong campaign" to place ransomware on computers around the world. It's a problem for governments as well as corporate entities, but it seems that most attacks are "financially motivated," thieves looking for payoffs and not world domination. The alleged perp's lawyer says that it was not a "white hat" attack, perpetrated to expose a vulnerable system, but who really knows?


Stranger in a Strange Land

This poor woman, but what was she thinking? No matter how great the sex, you have to know that religious fanaticism is basically just a really big will to power and that you are not immune, no matter how long you stay in downward dog. You have to know that underneath, and not too far underneath, with religious fanatics, there is nothing but the will to dominate and repress. Ah well, too late now. The article does not suggest that the U.S. should intervene, or that it would. Saudi Arabia seems to have carte blanche anyway. If we don't care about Jamal Khashoggi, why would we care about this woman and her child?


No Pregnant Women Need apply

Upon being hired for a new job, a woman in China was asked to sign an agreement that if she became pregnant in two years she could be fired without recourse. It sounds despicable when it's another country, but let's face it, we do very similar things here, even if not so blatantly. Gender discrimination is actually illegal in China, but the government seems now to want women to stay home and have children, so these types of behaviors are becoming more common. Maybe it's that women get 12 weeks paid pregnancy leave, and men only 2. Women used to make 80% of what men made. Now it's 67%. Women's entitlement to property on divorce has weakened. No more liberation of women from patriarchal oppression. So women are getting married less.


July 29, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are articles of interest in Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News:


New York Attorney General's Office Wants to Prevent Anna Sorokin from Profiting from Netflix Show

New York's attorney general filed a request in State Supreme Court to block a $70,000 payment that Anna Sorokin/Delvey is expected to receive for a deal she negotiated with Netflix. Netflix bought the rights to a New York magazine story about the fake heiress and plans to turn it into a television show. The attorney general's request invokes the "Son of Sam" law that prevents felons from profiting from their crimes (and from the publicity that surrounds their crimes). Sorokin was convicted of several grounds of grand larceny and sentenced to 4-12 years in prison.


Rapper Meek Mill Is Granted a New Trial

Meek Mill's decade-old conviction for drugs and firearm possession was thrown out after new evidence of alleged police corruption. Following that conviction, the rapper served 8 months in prison and was then placed on probation for 10 years. In 2017, following 2 other arrests that did not lead to convictions, he was sentenced to up to 4 years in prison for violating his parole. The sentence drew outcry and was ultimately challenged by his legal team, who argued that the judge had become overly involved in the case and was no longer impartial. His appeal for a new trial was also based on information that a former police officer who testified at his trial had resigned from the department after he was found to have committed theft (prior to Meek Mill's trial), which he then lied about during an internal affairs investigation.


A$AP Rocky is Charged with Assault in Sweden

The American rapper was charged with assault causing bodily harm following a street brawl in Stockholm last month. He has been in custody for a few weeks and maintains that he acted in self-defense. According to the Swedish Prosecution Authority, he could face a maximum of 2 years in prison, or a fine based on his daily earnings.


Rapper Tay-K Sentenced to 55 years in Prison for Murder

The 19-year-old, famous for his song "The Race", was found guilty of murder for his role in a 2016 armed robbery/home invasion.


Strip Club Dancers Are Fighting to Reform Labor Practices

The strip club industry brought in $7 million of revenue in 2018. The estimated 4,000 strip clubs that operate across the country are governed by laws that vary by state and city. A wave of dancers and their allies are challenging both the dancers' employment status and other labor practices in the industry to put an end to sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace.


Hollywood and the Frequency of On-Screen Abortions

Research from the University of California, San Francisco has tracked how abortion is characterized onscreen, noting that there are now more instances of matter-of-fact abortions on television. These portrayals depart from how abortion was depicted in 1980s and 1990s, where the procedure often led to psychological or physical problems, or death. The sociologist leading the research noted that, halfway through the year, there were about 2 dozen characters in streaming shows, movies, and television who have had or talked about having abortions. Nine of the 11 people credited with writing the relevant episodes were women.


Venice Film Festival Lineup Includes Roman Polanski's New Film, "J'accuse"

Polanski's new film about the Dreyfus affair will compete for the Golden Lion at this year's Venice Film Festival. The director fled the U.S. in 1978 while awaiting sentencing for statutory rape and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences last year.



Art Workers Are Unionizing and Fighting for Better Pay Across the Country

Museum workers are taking steps toward unionizing to challenge, among other things, their institutions' wage structures. Salary concerns at museums nationwide prompted the creation of a spreadsheet that employees are circulating among themselves to self-report their salaries and compare them to pay packages of museum leaders to highlight the pay gap between executive and staff pay.


Four Foundations Team Up to Buy Ebony's Photo Archive for $30 Million

The winning bid came from four major foundations that say they have agreed to donate the archive to major museums and to keep it in public view. Ebony's archive is considered the most significant collection of photography depicting African-American life in the 20th century. The auction was part of bankruptcy proceedings for Chicago-based Johnson Publishing, which founded both Ebony and Jet magazines in the 1940s and 1950s.


Removing Donors' Names from Museums is Fraught With Legal Risk

While the Louvre Museum took down the Sackler name following an outcry over the family's connection to the opioid crisis, the New York Times reports that other museums are unlikely to follow suit because of legal concerns. While several U.S. museums are no longer accepting donations from the family, the Sackler name remains on art wings, galleries, and buildings. That is partly because museums may be contractually obligated to keep the name, given that many granted naming rights in perpetuity, as is the case with the Smithsonian and its Sackler Gallery. Some museums are revising their gift policies to limit naming rights to 20 years or until the space undergoes significant renovation again. Inevitably, museums also look at what a particular move might signal to prospective donors, which is important for institutions that depend on fundraising.


Neil deGrasse Tyson Keeps Museum Post Following Investigation

The American Museum of National History, where Tyson heads the Hayden Planetarium, has closed an investigation into sexual misconduct accusations against the astrophysicist. Tyson was accused of behaving inappropriately with 2 women, the first a colleague, and the second his assistant on the television series "Cosmos".


Warren Kanders Resigns from the Whitney Museum's Board

The vice chairman stepped down after months of protests over his company Safariland's sale of tear gas and other law enforcement and military supplies. The campaign against him started following reports that linked his company to the tear gas grenades that were used against migrants at the United States-Mexico border. The protest was the latest in a wave of concerns over "toxic philanthropy" in the museum sector that also led to the departure of the CEO of the Serpentine in London.


Looted Painting "Vase of Flowers" Returns to Italy

The painting is the work of Jan van Huysum, a popular still-life artist in the 18th century. It returns to the Pitti Palace 75 years after having been stolen by a German soldier and shipped to Germany. The soldier's heirs made several overtures to Italian officials to sell the painting back, including a recent offer to the Uffizi, at which point Italian prosecutors opened an investigation on a charge of attempted extortion.



National Basketball Association Will Open Investigation Into Free-Agency Process and Potential Salary Cap Violations

The National Basketball Association's (NBA) investigation will focus on whether inappropriate inducements were offered to free agents to circumvent the salary cap. Players themselves had reportedly made unconventional requests as well, allegedly asking for houses and guaranteed sponsorship money. The NBA is also looking at ways it can better enforce its anti-tampering rules, which, among other things, prohibit a team from commenting about another play currently under contract with another team. Owners suspect that these rules were violated, given the flurry of deals completed and announced within hours of the start of free agency. Though the investigation may not lead to any formal punishments, it could trigger rule changes.


Nike Files Countersuit Against Kawhi Leonard Over the "Klaw" Logo

Nike has filed a countersuit against NBA star Kawhi Leonard in a dispute over a logo that Leonard says he created and that was used during his time as part of the Jordan brand. Nike shared Leonard's sketch of the logo alongside the final version that the company says its team of designers created, saying that Leonard is conflating the two. The suit goes on to point out that Leonard has continued to use and reproduce the Claw Design without Nike's authorization, on non-Nike apparel.



Tyreek Hill Will Not Face Suspension Following National Football League Investigation into Child Abuse Reports

Hill had been suspended since April, while the National Football League (NFL) conducted a 4-month investigation of child abuse reports relating to the player's 3-year-old son. An audio recording was released earlier this year of an argument between Hill and his fiancée, in which he denies causing injures to his son and threatens his fiancée. No criminal charges were filed in the case. Critics of NFL's personal conduct policy see this case as an illustration of inconsistent disciplinary responses on the part of the league, saying that any criticism that is leveled against the personal conduct policy should not be based on arguments that the policy is too harsh, or too soft, but rather that it is too arbitrary.


American Lilly King and USA Swimming Lose Disqualification Appeal

The sport's governing body, FINA, disqualified Lilly King for a "non-simultaneous touch" at the first turn of her heat at the world championships in South Korea. USA Swimming appealed the decision, but FINA upheld the disqualification shortly before the finals began.


Chicago White Sox Unveil Extended Protective Netting

A series of fan injuries caused by foul balls have prompted some Major League Baseball teams to install protective netting that, like in the case of the White Sox, extends from behind home plate to each foul pole. Research found that nearly 14,000 more foul balls were hit last season than 20 years ago, and that "the hardest hit balls are reaching seats that are not protected in most stadiums". The commissioner has left the decision to install extended netting to individual teams. The White Sox responded with both pole-to-pole netting and additional ground rules that umpires consider fairly straightforward: "treat the new netting like a wall; if a foul ball hits the net, the play is dead; if a fair ball hits it, the play is live."


The Pain of a Foul Tip to the Catcher's Mask

The New York Times reports about how vulnerable catchers and umpires are to head injuries caused by foul tips that strike their masks. Unlike other major league players who can leave the game for assessment and treatment before returning, there is no protocol in baseball that allows a catcher to leave the game for medical examination, with the option of returning to the field. The status quo is especially concerning when head trauma experts say that a player is exponentially more susceptible to a severe concussion and long-term injury after an initial blow. Perhaps a new free substitution rule for catchers is needed.


Swimmer Sun Yang Faces Protests at the Podium Over Alleged Doping

Six-time Olympic medalist Sun Yang of China just won the World championship in the 400-meter freestyle. His win, however, is marred by allegations of doping and the disdain of his fellow competitors. Also attracting attention was his refusal to provide a sample to antidoping test collectors last September (by smashing the vial of blood with a hammer) because the collectors had filed to provide the proper validation papers required to draw blood under the international standards governing the practice. His refusal to cooperate is now before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


UEFA Supported Paris St.-Germain in its Financial Fair-Play Case, Calling into Question the Governing Body's Ability and Willingness to Enforce Financial Fair-Play Rules

French soccer club Paris St.-Germain (PSG) came under investigation following exorbitant spending in the summer of 2017. To level the playing field, UEFA Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules require clubs to balance their spending with revenue. There was initially no evidence for how PSG had offset its high-profile signings that summer without sales of similar value or sponsorship revenue. The lead investigator, however, cleared PSG of any wrongdoing and closed the case.

The investigative report was sent to the chairman of a UEFA panel that enforces FFP rules. The chairman deemed the decision to close the investigation "manifestly erroneous" and rejected the accounting rules that allowed PSG to fall just within the ratio of UEFA's accepted losses. PSG took its case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. In what many see as a total capitulation, UEFA sided with PSG and asked to have the investigator's decision stand. Given the number of similar investigations that are underway, UEFA's position puts into question its ability and willingness to enforce its financial regulations.


Russian Boxer Maxim Dadashev Dies After Suffering Brain Injury in the Ring

The 28-year-old died after suffering several blows to the head during his fight against Subriel Matias in Maryland. The Russian Boxing
Federation says that it will investigate responsibility for his death.



Justice Department Approves Merger of T-Mobile and Sprint

T-Mobile will pay $26.5 billion in an all-stock transaction to acquire Sprint. As part of the agreement, which allows the merger of the third and fourth largest carriers in the U.S., T-Mobile will sell off some of Sprint's assets to satellite-TV provider Dish Network so that it can create a new wireless network.


Jeffrey Epstein Pitched a New Narrative and Mainstream Websites Published It

Flattering articles and news releases at National Review, Forbes.com, and HuffPost were part of an image-rehabilitation campaign following Epstein's 13 months in county jail in 2009. The articles describe Epstein as a forward-thinking philanthropist and a "science funder". It turns out that at least one of these articles was written by a public relations firm and attributed to a contributing writer at Forbes.com. HuffPost also explained that a 2017 article praising Epstein was published under a discontinued model that allowed outside writers to post freely, with no editorial review.


General News

Supreme Court Allows Trump Administration to Use Pentagon Money to Build Border Wall

In a 5-to-4 ruling, the court will allow the government to tap into $2.5 billion in Department of Defense money to begin construction of the border wall. A trial judge had initially ordered an injunction that blocked the transfer of military funds to wall construction. A second court heard the administration's appeal but refused to stay the trial judge's ruling while it considered the matter. The Supreme Court's decision now means that construction can proceed while litigation continues. In his dissent, Justice Breyer wrote that he would have allowed the administration to pursue preparatory work but not construction, which would be hard to undo if the appellate court rules against the government.


Justice Department to Resume Executions for Federal Inmates on Death Row

Attorney General Barr has directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to schedule the executions of five death row inmates. Barr announced that he has reinstated a 2-decades long dormant policy to resume the federal government's use of the death penalty. The federal government has only executed 3 inmates since it reinstated capital punishment in 1988. The last execution was in 2003. Along with this announcement comes a new protocol that replaces the 3-drug cocktail used in lethal injections with a single drug, pentobarbital.


Congress Passes Extension for 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund

The legislation ensures that the Fund is financially stable for the next 7 decades to cover medical claims from emergency personnel who worked in Lower Manhattan following the September 11th attacks. In the last 8 years, about 22,400 claims have been awarded, about 45% of which were granted for cancer-related treatment.


Trump Administration Expands Fast-Tracked Deportations for Undocumented Immigrants

The administration announced this week that it would speed up the deportation of undocumented immigrants who cannot prove they have been in the country for more than 2 years. These fast-track (i.e. without a hearing) deportations were previously carried out on individuals who had been in the U.S. for a few weeks and were still within 100 miles of the southwestern border.


Federal Judge Issues Preliminary Injunction Against Rule Banning Asylum Claims for Central American Migrants

Under the rule, Hondurans and Salvadorans would have to apply for, and be denied, asylum in the first safe country they arrive in, like Guatemala or Mexico. Only then would they be eligible to apply for asylum in the U.S. A district court judge in San Francisco issued the injunction and stated that the rule is inconsistent with existing asylum laws, describing the government's decision as "arbitrary and capricious". A federal judge in Washington heard a separate challenge to the rule but upheld it.


Top Border Official is Reassigned Amid Concerns About Conditions in Migrant Facilities

Aaron Hull, the highest-ranking immigration official in the El Paso region, will be transferred to Detroit to oversee the U.S.-Canada border. Customs and Border Protection attributes the move to a routine shuffle of multiple senior staff members, saying the assignment is temporary. The El Paso region, one of 9 enforcement areas for Border Patrol, saw the largest increase in unauthorized crossings in the past year and is home to the controversial Clint, Texas facilities where migrant children are being detained.


U.S. Senate Confirms Mark Esper as New Defense Secretary

Esper, a former Army infantryman, replaces Jim Mattis, who resigned last December, and takes control of the country's 1.2 million active duty troops. His confirmation ends the longest period that the Pentagon had been without a permanent leader.


Special Counsel Mueller Defends Inquiry and Warns of Russian Sabotage

The special counsel testified at a House hearing last week about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and warned lawmakers that Russia remains a threat to the 2020 election. Speaking about the decision not to subpoena the president, he stated that a battle over a presidential interview could have unnecessarily prolonged the investigation, adding that the president could still be charged with obstruction of justice after he leaves office.


Mueller Testimony Deepens Democratic Divide on the Issue of Impeachment

Democrats are still divided on whether they should seek President Trump's impeachment, with some lawmakers pushing to begin impeachment hearings soon. The latest impetus for their position - Mueller's 7-hour testimony, which they believe establishes presidential obstruction of justice. House Speaker Pelosi maintains her position that Democrats should continue with their "slow, methodical approach."


House Democrats Seek Mueller's Secret Grand Jury Evidence

In its court filing, the House Judiciary Committee says that it is seeking access to grand jury evidence collected by Robert Mueller because it is investigating whether to recommend impeaching the president. Given how divided the party is on this issue, signaling that the committee is conducting this inquiry might have staved off a House vote on whether to formally declare that it is opening an impeachment inquiry.


Senate Advances Bill to Make Election Hacking a Crime

The Justice Department would have the ability to investigate and prosecute those who seek to manipulate elections systems equipment under the Defending the Integrity of Voting Systems Act. The bipartisan bill seeks to secure U.S. cyberinfrastructure and moves to the House next for consideration.


House Passes 2-Year Budget Deal That Would Raise Spending by $320 Billion

The House voted 284-to-149 in favor of a budget deal that raises spending by $320 billion over existing caps and allows the government to keep borrowing to pay its debts.



Army Colonel Accuses Top Military Nominee of Sexual Assault

An Army colonel is accusing General John Hyten of sexual assault. Hyten is nominated to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He denies the allegations. The matter was previously investigated, and the court-martial convening authority determined there was insufficient evidence to support findings of misconduct.


Bill Wehrum, Former Environmental Protection Agency Air Quality Chief, Faces New Ethics Inquiry

The Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general will investigate allegations that Wehrum's efforts to weaken climate change and air pollution standards may have benefited former clients of his from his days as a lawyer and lobbyist for the oil, gas and coal industries.


Attorney General Barr Revives Encryption Debate, Calls on Tech Firms to Allow for Law Enforcement

Barr said end-to-end encryption turns devices into "law-free zones insulated from legitimate scrutiny," urging technology firms to help the government access information on electronic devices. The confrontation between law enforcement and tech companies was best illustrated by the 2016 conflict between the FBI and Apple, after investigators obtained a court order to force Apple to unlock an iPhone recovered after the San Bernardino mass shooting.


Justice Department Opens Antitrust Review of Big Tech Companies

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Facebook's business practices, while the Justice Department announced a broader scope of review that will look into potential anti-competitive behavior by the world's biggest technology companies. Though it did not name specific companies, the Justice Department said that it will look into concerns about search, social media, and retail services.



The FTC Fines Facebook $5 Billion for Privacy Violations

This latest settlement is the result of an investigation following reports that data mining firm Cambridge Analytica had gathered information on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission, access that was facilitated by Facebook's deceptive disclosures and settings. Under the terms of the settlement, Mark Zuckerberg will have to personally certify his company's compliance with privacy programs. False certifications could expose him to civil or criminal penalties.


Privacy Group Files Legal Challenge to Facebook's Settlement with the FTC

The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed a motion to intervene in the FTC case against Facebook. The public interest research group wants to block automatic approval of the $5 billion settlement, arguing that it fails to ensure consumer privacy because it grants Facebook immunity from thousands of outstanding consumer complaints on issues related to children's privacy, health privacy, and facial-recognition technology. If the court grants the hearing, a judge could require the FTC to review outstanding customer complaints and alter the terms of the proposed settlement.


Equifax to Pay $650 Million in Largest Data Breach Settlement

Settlement documents filed in federal court in Atlanta show the credit bureau agreeing to pay $275 million in fines to two federal agencies. The settlement also resolves investigations by 48 state attorneys general and covers every American consumer whose data was stolen in the 2017 breach.


Four Automakers Strike Deal with California, Rejection Environmental Protection Agency Pollution Rule

Ford, Volkswagen, BMW, and Honda have struck a deal with California regulators to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. In essence, they negotiated rules that are slightly less restrictive than the Obama-era standards, but that would apply to vehicles sold nationwide. Since the Trump administration is expected to eliminate the Obama-era regulations, and some states have vowed to keep enforcing the stricter rules, the agreement would enable the companies to meet both federal and state requirements with a single national fleet of cars.


President Trump Sues New York State and Congress to Shield His State Tax Returns

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington and seeks to prevent state officials and the House Ways and Means Committee from obtaining Trump's state tax returns under New York law. The administration previously rejected an argument that the IRS has an obligation to provide taxpayer information under the federal tax code.

The recently enacted New York law requires state tax officials to hand over tax returns to the chairman of one of three congressional committees. The test is whether the chairman has demonstrated a "specific and legitimate legislative purpose" for making the request. No committee chairman has yet requested state officials to hand over documents pursuant to the New York measure.


Puerto Rico's Governor Resigns Following Weeks of Protests

Ricardo Rossello announced his resignation after the Puerto Rican legislature made it clear it was ready to launch impeachment proceedings against him. The legislature alleged that he illicitly used public resources for partisan purposes and allowed government officials and contractors to misuse public funds. Members of his administration were hit with corruption charges before his resignation and Rossello himself was further discredited by leaked messages that showed him using homophobic and misogynist language.



Two Opposing Political Parties Sue New York State Leaders Over Fusion Voting

In separate, but parallel, lawsuits, two ideologically opposed parties allege that the state's Democratic leaders conspired to eliminate fusion voting through a special commission that can make binding recommendations. Fusion voting allows candidate to run and collect votes on multiple party lines. Any group that gets 50,000 votes in an election for governor is guaranteed a ballot line for the next 4 years.


Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas Abortion Law

The ruling temporarily blocked 3 new abortion restrictions in Arkansas, including a ban on the procedure after 18 weeks, and another that could threaten to close the state's only surgical abortion clinic. Judge Baker found that the record established that Arkansas women seeking abortion "face an imminent threat to their constitutional rights ... [and] will suffer irreparable harm without injunctive relief."


North Carolina Reaches Settlement on Bathroom Bill

A federal judge in North Carolina approved a settlement that prohibits the state government from banning transgender people from using bathrooms in state buildings that match their gender identity. The lawsuit was first launched after North Carolina passed House Bill 2, which required transgender people in government and public buildings to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender on their birth certificate. The issue of whether people can claim damages from earlier enforcement of House Bill 2 is on hold until the Supreme Court rules on whether a federal ban on sex discrimination protects gay and transgender people.


Tulsi Gabbard Sues Google for $50 Million Over Alleged Censorship

The former Democratic presidential candidate alleges that Google suspended her campaign's advertising account, therefore obstructing its ability to fundraise and infringing on her free speech. Gabbard alleges that her campaign emails ended up in spam folders on Gmail at a "disproportionately high rate" when compared to those of other Democratic campaigns. The representative's arguments have found bipartisan support because they echo previous concerns raised about Google tilting search results against conservative viewpoints.


Michael Flynn's Associate is Found Guilty of Secretly Lobbying for Turkey

The former national security adviser's associate, Bijan Kian, was convicted of violating lobbying laws and failing to register as a foreign agent. Kian was also implicated in a scheme to influence the U.S. government and prompt the extradition of a Turkish dissident living in the U.S.


President Trump Welcomed Pakistani's Prime Minister in Washington

This was the first face-to-face meeting of the two leaders and part of a push to mend relations, with the President offering to mediate the Indian-Pakistani conflict in Kashmir. The U.S. is aiming to persuade Pakistan to pressure the Taliban into striking a peace deal with the Afghan government, which has the potential to expedite the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.


Trump Administration Wants China Stripped of Its "Developing Country" Status Under World Trade Organization Rules

President Trump's proclamation says that China should no longer be classified as a "developing nation", adding that the U.S. will use all available means to secure changes to a provision that allows countries to decide whether they qualify for a status that gives them preferential treatment in trade deals. The proclamation follows up on an American proposal submitted to the World Trade Organization earlier this year to exempt countries from "developing country" status if they are members of the OECD or are among the G20's most advanced economies.


Trade War Leads Chinese Spending in U.S. to Plunge

Reports say that Chinese investment in the U.S. has plummeted by nearly 90% since President Trump took office. The drop has been acutely felt by Silicon Valley start-ups, the Manhattan real estate market, and state governments. The decrease may also be attributed to stricter capital controls in China that have made it more difficult for Chinese investors to buy American, partly in retaliation against American tariffs on Chinese goods.


U.S. Sanctions Venezuelan Officials for Alleged Corruption Scheme

President Maduro is the subject of a new round of sanctions following allegations that he, acting alongside family members and business partners, siphoned off government money, mostly from the country's state-run food program, for his own profit. Under this arrangement, Venezuelan officials bought lower-quality food or less food than budgeted, and contracted business partners to launder money by importing food or packaging supplies.


Los Angeles Preacher, James Hart Stern, is Fighting to Control a Neo-Nazi Group

A strange leadership battle between a black former Baptist preacher and a long-time member of a neo-Nazi group has spurred both infighting and hope that the group will be rendered ineffective under new leadership. Stern made a prison "alliance" with an elderly KKK leader and left prison with power of attorney over that man's estate. Stern legally disbanded the KKK chapter that the man once led and intends to do the same with the National Socialist Movement. Stern's control of this second group, and its website domain, is being challenged by a long-time member that registered the group in Florida.


New Algorithm Can Identify Individuals Using Anonymous Data Sets

Computer scientists have developed a method to identify individuals from any anonymous data set using as few as 15 attributes. According to the scientists, the software code was posted online to alert data vendors and encourage them to secure future data sets that prevent people from being re-identified.


Neil Armstrong's Family Received $6 Million Secret Settlement

Armstrong's family alleged that incompetent post-surgical care at an Ohio hospital cost the astronaut his life. The alleged mistake was a decision to bring Armstrong to a catheterization lab, rather than an operating room, after complications with the removal of his pacemaker in 2012. News of the settlement comes on the 50th anniversary of Armstrong's walk on the moon.


Hong Kong Protesters Thwart Police Cameras and Facial Recognition Technologies

Demonstrators in Hong Kong have begun wearing masks in public gatherings to avoid being identified by police. They fear that Chinese-style surveillance, including facial recognition technology, is being deployed to identify and track them.


China Hints at Using Troops to Quell Hong Kong Unrest

Following weeks of protests over a proposed extradition law, China is signaling that it may be ready to mobilize its army to retain Beijing's control in the territory. A recently-released document outlining China's defense strategy and public comments by an army official have brought attention to a law that allows the Chinese military to intervene, when requested by Hong Kong's leaders, to maintain order.


Boris Johnson Succeeds Theresa May as U.K. Prime Minister

A former mayor of London, Boris Johnson also served as the Brussels correspondent for the Daily Telegraph in the early 1990s, where he was credited with creating an atmosphere of skepticism toward the European Union in Britain. He has maintained a hard-line stance on Brexit, stating that the U.K. will leave the E.U. with or without a deal on October 31st.


Tragedy in the Mediterranean: 150 Migrants Drown off the Coast of Libya

Up to 150 people are feared drowned after several boats capsized in the Mediterranean Sea. Some rescued migrants were transferred to a detention center near Tripoli, which the U.N. does not consider to be safe after it was hit by an air strike earlier this month.


Shinzo Abe Wins Another Term as Japan's Prime Minister

Shinzo Abe's conservative coalition won a majority of seats in the upper house of Parliament. Abe has been serving as prime minister since 2012.


India's Moon Launch Succeeds on Second Try

India's space agency successfully launched Chandrayaan-2, scheduled to touch down on the Moon in September.


July 31, 2019

Center for Art Law Case Law Digest

Below is the Center for Art Law's monthly case law digest. Please note that in September, the Center for Art Law will make its Case Law digests a subscription-based feature of its otherwise free newsletter - Art Law Blast (https://itsartlaw.org/newsletter/).

If you would like to continue receiving the case updates, please subscribe: https://itsartlaw.org/account/subscribe/. You can also support the Center for Art Law's efforts by making contributions directly: https://itsartlaw.org/donate/.

The Mayor Gallery Ltd. v. The Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné LLC, No. 655489/2016, 2019 WL 2902163 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. July 5, 2019). For the second time, London-based James Mayor Gallery attempted to sue Arne and Marc Glimcher, of Pace Gallery, as well as Tiffany Bell, the editor of the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/agnes-martin-catalogue-raisonne-lawsuit-1599712?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The Gallery alleged that the defendants "unlawfully" declared 13 authentic Agnes Martin works inauthentic, costing the Gallery over $7 million. In July, a New York Supreme Court Judge dismissed the suit, stating the claims were "vague" and "speculative", and alleged no new facts since the 2016 suit, which was dismissed in 2018. Counsel for the James Mayor Gallery has indicated that it intends to appeal the decision.

Reif v. Nagy, No. 161799/15, 2019 WL 2931960 (N.Y. App. Div. July 9, 2019). The First Department of New York's Appellate Division unanimously ruled that two Egon Schiele paintings belonged to the claimants, heirs of Austrian-Jewish cabaret performer, Fritz Grünbaum.(https://www.law.com/newyorklawjournal/2019/07/09/ny-appeals-court-explains-why-nazi-stolen-paintings-belong-with-jewish-collectors-heirs/?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8&slreturn=20190631144930) The decision revoked possession from London-based art dealer Richard Nagy, who had owned the paintings since 2013. The court found for the claimants on the basis that they had established a prima facie case of superior title over the defendant; the court also determined that the doctrine of laches did not bar the claim.

People of New York v. Sanjeeve Asokan et al., 2019 NY 022431 (N.Y. Crim. Ct. filed July 10, 2019). Infamous Indian antiquities dealer Subhash Kapoor was charged with 86 counts of grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and conspiracy to defraud, alongside seven other defendants in a 185-page criminal complaint filed by prosecutors on July 10th. (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/us-authorities-file-criminal-charges-against-antiquities-dealer-subhash-kapoor-and-seven-others?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The charges stem from a smuggling ring Kapoor allegedly ran for 30 years starting in 1986, and cover 2,600 looted artifacts worth a total of more than $145 million. Kapoor has been extradited to and held in India since his 2011 arrest in Germany.

Stuart Pivar v. John Mcfadden, 2019 NY 156970 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., filed July 16, 2019). Collector Stuart Pivar filed a lawsuit against attorney John McFadden after McFadden allegedly deceived Pivar into selling him a Constantin Brancusi bronze for $100,000, a fraction of its worth.(https://news.artnet.com/art-world/brancusi-lawsuit-1604065?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) McFadden had agreed to establish a family foundation for Stuart Pivar and assist in organizing the Pivar art collection. Pivar claims that McFadden had agreed to assist in selling the bronze, "Mlle. Pogany II", to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or Christie's, but that McFadden had no intention of doing so and aimed to obtain the Brancusi for himself. Pivar is demanding $200 million in damages for the fraud.

Goffman v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06733 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), Stein v. Sotheby's, No. 19-CV-06669 (S.D.N.Y., filed July 17, 2019), and Kent v. Sotheby's, No. 12-CV-01374 (D. Del., filed July 23, 2019). After the June 2019 announcement that Sotheby's Auction House would be sold for $3.7 billion to BidFair USA, owned by French-Israeli Businessman Patrick Drahi, three shareholders sued the Auction House and its board of directors. (https://www.artforum.com/news/sotheby-s-shareholders-file-lawsuits-to-halt-sale-of-auction-house-80365?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The complaints cite "materially incomplete and misleading information" as the basis for the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are seeking undisclosed damages and a preliminary injunction against the sale pending further disclosures. Sotheby's released a statement saying the lawsuits were "expected and routine," and the company does not believe that the lawsuits will affect the closing of the sale later this year.

Portland Museum of Art v. Annemarie Germain, 2019 ME 80, 208 A.3d 772 (Me. Super. Ct. Cumberland County Ct., July 22, 2019). The Portland Museum of Art was awarded $4.6 million in its lawsuit against the late art collector Eleanor G. Potter's caregiver Annemarie Germaine. (https://news.artnet.com/art-world/portland-museum-wins-elder-lawsuit-1607554?utm_source=Center%20for%20Art%20Law%20General%20List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) A longtime supporter and committee member to the museum, Potter named the museum as a benefactor to receive the entirety of her art collection and an estimated $3.3 million. Subsequently, her will was changed such that Potter's entire estate went to Germaine. The museum sued Germaine on the basis of elder abuse and coercion. On remand from the Supreme Court of Maine, the jury agreed and issued the award. Germaine intends to appeal the verdict.

Julian Rivera v. Walmart, Inc. et al, No. 2:19-cv-06550 (C.D. Cal. filed on July 29, 2019). Artist Julian Rivera, best known for his designs of a heart spelling the word "Love", has filed a copyright lawsuit against Walmart and Ellen DeGeneres, after the defendants collaborated on a clothing line with striking similarities to the plaintiff's work. (https://www.theartnewspaper.com/news/street-artist-sues-ellen-degeneres-and-walmart-for-copyright-infringement?utm_source=Center+for+Art+Law+General+List&utm_campaign=18a65188d6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_022731d685-18a65188d6-346773625&mc_cid=18a65188d6&mc_eid=8a2eda70d8) The complaint asserts that: "Defendants' exploitation [...] is particularly damaging because Rivera has carefully avoided any association with corporate culture or mass-market consumerism". He is seeking damages for copyright and trademark infringement, along with unfair business practices. The Complaint is available upon request.

About July 2019

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in July 2019. They are listed from oldest to newest.

June 2019 is the previous archive.

August 2019 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.