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Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, 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."


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 1, 2019 2:46 PM.

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