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Week In Review

By Lisa Ornest
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


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.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2019 4:42 PM.

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