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Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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

Entertainment

The Obamas Want What She Won't Let Go

The Obama's new production company, Higher Ground Productions, wants to trademark "Higher Ground", but computer training company Higher Ground Enterprises beat them to the punch and the US Patent and Trademark Office deemed the marks too similar. The Obama lawyers have successfully found resolutions with other similar trademark owners. Higher Ground Enterprises offered to sell the mark in exchange for "significant demands", including appearances in the Obamas' productions. The production company didn't agree to the demands and filed a "petition to cancel" a few weeks ago.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/arts/television/the-obamas-want-higher-ground-someone-got-there-first.html

Actress Gets 14-Day Sentence in College Admissions Fraud Scandal

Felicity Huffman received a 14-day sentence in the college admissions case that raised questions of race and class. The is the first of a group of accused parents to face consequences in this case. The college admissions conspiracy included 34 wealthy and mostly white parents who are alleged to have paid thousands of dollars to inflate their children's credentials during the college application process. The investigation accused some 50 people, including coaches, test administrators, and others. Huffman was arrested in March and charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services fraud. She pleaded guilty. In addition to her 14-day sentence, Huffman must also pay a $30,000 fine and serve 250 hours of community service.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/us/felicity-huffman-sentencing.html

New Weinstein Book Names Previously Unknown Sources

The new book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, by New York Times writers Jodi Kantor and Meghan Twohey, has named key sources in the Weinstein case. The sources include company officials, Hollywood stars, and other victims, and describes the extent of alleged transgressions and secret settlements. The book also reveals that 2 years before the allegations, Weinstein's brother and business partner Bob Weinstein confronted him. In addition, former top executive Irwin Reiter also raised concerns, along with accuser and former Miramax assistant Roweina Chiu. The book also chronicles how the reporting came together and the scandalous involvement of Gloria Allred and Lisa Bloom.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/new-book-she-said-names-previously-unnamed-sources-harvey-weinstein-reporting-1238110

MoviePass Ends Run: Attracted Film Buffs, But Maybe Too Many

After 2 years, millions of signups and a net loss of $150.8 million in 2017, MoviePass is shutting down. In response to major losses, MoviePass began reducing the number of movies that subscribers could see and restricting the films that could be watched. This was not an altogether unexpected ending for the service in which film buffs could see as many films as they wanted for $10 a month.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/business/moviepass-ending.html

Arts

Billionaire Tied to Epstein Speaks of Being Betrayed

Les Wexner, CEO of L Brands (a retail and fashion empire) was Epstein's biggest client. Since the Epstein scandal broke, a Wexner spokesman has said that he "severed ties" with Epstein more than a decade ago and Wexner doesn't appreciate the negative media attention. Wexner recently said in a speech that he was deceived and betrayed by Epstein, after his brand shares plummeted.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/business/les-wexner-jeffrey-epstein-l-brands.htm

Yoga Instructors Are Warned 'Don't' On Union

Most YogaWorks (one of the Nation's largest yoga chains) teachers are hybrids, classified as employees but given only part-time work with little or no job security. Some of the YogaWorks employees asked the private equity firm that owns the company to recognize their union, which would be the first in the $16 billion industry. The company then emailed its employees asking them not to sign on the union card. Recently there has been a lot of union talk in the gig economy, with Lyft and Uber drivers gearing up for a union drive.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/nyregion/yoga-instructor-union.html

Comic Book with Men's Kiss Survives Brazil Mayor's Raid

The Mayor of Rio De Janeiro recently ordered Avengers: The Children's Crusade comic book, published in 2010, to be removed from a biennial book festival. After the failed attempt, the book completely sold out at the festival and one of Rio's biggest newspapers decided to put it on the front page to "shed light on the threats of censorship." The mayor's demand sparked backlash and the book fair responded by filing a preventative injunction with Rio's Court of Justice to "ensure full operation of the event and the rights of the exhibitors."

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/07/americas/brazil-rio-de-janeiro-book-fair-comic-scli-intl/index.html

Sports

California Law Would Let College Athletes Get Paid, But Challenges Await

The new "Fair Pay to Play Act" is now on California Governor Newsom's desk, but the logistical reality of enacting the law looms large. This is the latest attack on the NCAA's amateurism rules. Under the new law, college athletes would get paid for their names, images, and likenesses through endorsement deals, sponsorships (with limits on signing with brands that would conflict with school contracts), and autograph signings, among other things, creating an Olympic-style income model in California. The new law drew social media support from professional athletes and others. The NCAA argues that the law would lead to the end of college sports as we know it and create unfair recruiting advantages. The law will go into effect on January 1, 2023.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/sports/college-athlete-pay-california.html

Ex-Trainer Accuses Brown of Sexual Assault

Newly signed New England Patriot Antonio Brown has been accused of multiple incidents of rape and sexual assault by a former trainer. Brown denies the allegations and says that any sexual interaction was entirely consensual and this is just a financial ploy now that Brown is the highest paid wide receiver in the National Football League (NFL). Brown can be disciplined under the NFL's personal conduct policy even though not formally charged.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/sports/football/antonio-brown-sexual-asssault-patriots.html

Justify Failed Drug Test Before Triple Crown Run

Triple Crown winner Justify failed a drug test just weeks before the 2018 Kentucky Derby. Given the sport's rules, Justify should have been disqualified and unable to enter the race, thus not winning the Triple Crown. Justify's trainer denies the drug use allegations. The California Horse Racing Board took over one month to confirm the results and then dropped the case. Justify was just the 13th Triple Crown winner and retired shortly thereafter.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/sports/horse-racing/justify-drug-test-triple-crown-kentucky-derby.html

Trainer's Lawyer Blames 'Environmental Contamination' in Justify's Drug Test

The Hall of Fame trainer blamed the results on contaminated food that Justify ate. Before the 2018 Kentucky Derby, Justify tested positive for a "minuscule" amount Scopolamine. The trainer said that it was obvious environmental contamination, a known problem in California, that comes from wild Jimson weeds. Seven horses from 4 different trainers also had some level of Scopolamine in their systems when tested.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/horseracing/2019/09/12/baffert-lawyer-justify-positive-test-from-contaminated-food/40137951/

Big Brother...The Crimson Tide is Watching

In an attempt to solve the problem of a deserted student section at Bryant-Denny stadium, the University of Alabama is taking an extraordinary step in using location-tracking technology downloaded onto students' phones to see who stays and who skips out on games. In a move that is likened to that of "Big Brother," students would earn loyalty points for attending home games and pick up a few extra points by staying until the fourth quarter, all while Alabama prompts concerns from students and privacy advocates.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/sports/alabama-tracking-app.html

The Power Gap in the Power Five

In the top, most powerful and richest college sports conferences, there are only a handful of women leading those athletic departments, while 50% of college athletes are female. There has only been begrudging progress in elevating women to top posts in the executive suites of American sports. The Power Five is the most male dominated sports sector, but women are making progress outside of that. Gender parity is at the forefront of any conversation, with the approach of the 50th Anniversary of Title IX.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/sports/countable-on-one-hand-the-women-leading-power-five-athletic-departments.html

Jailed for Sneaking Into a Soccer Game, She Died a Cause CĂ©lebre

Iran's "Blue Girl," who became a hashtag trend across social media after gaining international attention, has died. Sahar Khodayari, 29, sneaked into Azadi Stadium, Tehran's main sporting venue, dressed as a man and was arrested and sentence to 6 months in prison. After her arrest, she sat herself on fire in front of a courthouse on September 2nd. Khodayari snuck into the stadium in defiance of a social custom that prohibits women from entering sporting venues, a ban that has been in place since 1979 under a hard-liner interpretation of Islamic law. FIFA has been working with Iranian authorities to overcome the ban before it hosts the World Cup Qualifier on October 10th.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/world/middleeast/iran-women-sports-sahar-khodayari.html

Media

Top Official in Virginia Sues CBS for Defamation

In a $400 million lawsuit, Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax claims that the network smeared his name and helped to cost him his partnership at Morrison & Foerster. Fairfax also asserts that senior in-house lawyers knew that the network was airing allegedly false sexual assault claims against him, with reckless disregard. CBS stands by its reporting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/business/media/justin-fairfax-virginia-cbs-defamation.html

Ex-Fox News Host's Business is Under FBI Investigation

Former Fox News host Clayton Morris' real estate advisory business has left a trail of angry customers and is currently being investigated by Indiana and New Jersey. The business is under investigation for alleged real estate fraud and a Ponzi scheme that used fake leases. Investors in the real estate business said that they didn't realize that something was wrong until they started receiving code violations and condemnation notices. Morris and his family have since moved to Portugal while investigations are ongoing.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/business/clayton-morris-indianapolis-fox-news.html

E.U.'s New Digital Czar Expands Her Portfolio

The E.U.'s Margrete Vestager is now the most powerful regulator of big tech. As the E.U.'s Competition Commissioner, her new role combines digital regulation and antitrust enforcement. Vestager has levied billions in fines and initiated investigations against Google, Apple, and Facebook for violating antitrust laws and harming consumers. In this new role, Vestager has unmatched regulatory reach and can even propose legislation on issues from privacy and data management to disinformation. The E.U. wants to become the activist tech regulator in the world, but there are concerns over a concentration of power. President Trump says that Vestager hates the U.S. and that is why she targets the big tech platforms and companies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/world/europe/margrethe-vestager-european-union-tech-regulation.html

Google to Put Originators of News at the Top

In a sign of willingness to work with publishers, Google is battling baseless content in favor of trustworthy reporting by changing its algorithm to highlight "original reporting." Digital news has obliterated the "daylong exclusive" enjoyed by publishers in the print era. The new changes to the company's search guidelines would help it "better recognize original reporting and make it more visual." Google and other major tech platforms have been under scrutiny lately because of their influence over the digital news industry.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/business/media/google-algorithm-original-reporting.html

Australia Threatens Jail Time for Violent Content Online, Link By Link

New sweeping legislation in Australia threatens huge fines for social media companies and jail time for their executives if they fail to rapidly remove "abhorrent violent content." Australia is moving to identify and block entire websites that hold even a single piece of illegal content, denying terrorists the opportunity to glorify their crimes. Even though there is no First Amendment-type protections in Australia, there are still limits to this approach.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/world/australia/internet-extremist-violence-christchurch.html

A Mission to Bolster Authoritarians, With Hashtags as Weapons

An Egyptian company that is run by a former military officer and self-described expert on "internet warfare" has been engaged in a covert social media campaign to boost military rulers. The company pays recruits $180 million and supplies them with hashtags and talking points to post in pro-military messages on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Telegram using fake accounts. Such campaigns have been used in Sudan after soldiers massacred pro-democracy demonstrators.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/06/world/middleeast/sudan-social-media.html

General News

Justices Permit U.S. to Exclude Asylum Claims

The Supreme Court has ruled to allow the government to curtail requests during the current legal battle over proposed asylum rules. In a 7-2 vote, the Trump administration can enforce the "Third-Country" requirement announced back in July. This ruling essentially reverses a lower court ruling imposing a nationwide injunction. The Court did not explain its reasoning, but Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg dissented.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/us/politics/supreme-court-trump-asylum.html

President Ousts Bolton Amid Rifts on Foreign Policy

Foreign policy hawk and hardliner on foreign policy challenges in North Korea, Iran, Afghanistan, and Russia, John Bolton has been fired by President Trump. Trump says that he disagreed strongly with many of Bolton's suggestions and was often at odds with Secretary of State Pompeo. Bolton ruffled feathers while in office, but says that he was not fired, rather that he resigned from his post. Bolton was Trump's third National Security Advisor.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/us/politics/john-bolton-national-security-adviser-trump.html

U.S. Appeals Court Reinstates Emoluments Case Against Trump

A New York federal appeals court reinstated a case filed by a D.C.-based watchdog group and restaurant and hotel owners alleging that President Trump is violating the Constitution and unfairly benefiting from visits by government officials to his private properties. The Emoluments Clauses prohibit the President from receiving gifts or payments from foreign or domestic governments without Congress' permission. The case was initially dismissed in 2017, as the court stated that the group and owners did not have legal standing to sue and that Congress would need file the lawsuit. The new ruling allows the case to continue with a vote of 2-1 in favor of returning the case to the lower court.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/us/politics/trump-emoluments-lawsuit.html

A Hopeful Perk Upon Check In: Trump's Favor

Ethics lawyers are up in arms over what seems to be a daily merging of Trump's official duties and his commercial interests. The latest instance involves individuals, companies, and organizations staying or hosting events at his hotel and the perceived possibility of getting something in return. Since taking office, there have been thousands of visits to his properties, not only by Trump but also foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, Cabinet members, and others with ties to the President. Critics say that this "reflects the normalization of corruption" and a degradation of ethical norms. The issue was brought to the forefront recently, as Vice President Pence stayed at a Trump property in Scotland and Trump himself suggested holding a G7 Summit at one of his properties. Democrats announced that they would begin an investigation into the merging of interests.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/us/politics/trump-hotel.html

A Military Stopover At a Trump Resort Raises Ethical Questions

In 2014, President Trump made a deal with a Scottish airport to increase air traffic and boost tourism in the region that in turn sent flight crews to his resort. The Pentagon uses the airport to refuel Air Force flights and the local airport staff finds them accommodations. These two separate agreements now intersect and Trump's continued ownership of his businesses produces regular ethical questions. Although Trump claims that he had nothing to do with that deal, there are documents from the Scottish government agencies that show he in fact had a direct role in making it. Sending crews to Trump's property raises eyebrows because his property is on the list of preferred hotels, even though the resort is 20 miles away and more expensive than other accommodations in the area. The deals raise questions that the Defense Department needs to address. The Air Force is now reviewing its policies as well.

https://www.npr.org/2019/09/09/759025827/allowable-but-not-advisable-air-force-and-congress-review-stays-at-trump-resort

Seven Million People Fled From Disasters Tied to Weather in 6 Months

Climate disasters have displaced 7 million people this year, twice as many people as conflicts have displaced. This year has already been a record breaker for weather related incidents. More than 950 natural disasters (monsoon, cyclones, landslides, etc.) have plagued 102 different countries and territories in the first 6 months of 2019. India and Bangladesh have been hit the hardest, with over 1 million people forced to evacuate.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/climate/extreme-weather-displacement.html

Advisor Who Rejected Climate Science Is Said to Leave Post on Security Council

William Happer made a promise to serve 1 year in Trump's administration and then leave. He is making good on that promise after his plan to question climate science was shut down by the White House as a risk to re-election. His departure is celebrated by Democratic lawmakers, environmental groups, and climate policy think tanks. Happer was a Director on the National Security Council and his last day was September 13th.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/climate/william-happer-climate-change-white-house.html

U.S. Secretary Said to Coerce National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Leaders

According to reports, the Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts who contradicted Trump claims about the path of Hurricane Dorian. In an unusual, unsigned statement, full of anger and accusations, employees were threatened with termination. The National Weather Service is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a division of the Commerce Department, and there are concerns that it had been bent to political purposes, calling into question its scientific independence. The Commerce Department disputes the threats and some say that the Birmingham office was just motivated by a desire to threaten the President.

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/noaa-inspector-general-opens-probe-agency-statement-backing/story?id=65509894

Environmental Protection Agency Planning to Phase Out Chemical Testing on Animals

The current administration wants to eliminate almost all studies using mammals by 2035, but public health groups say that this is irresponsible and will make it more difficult to regulate chemicals. Proponents of plan say that it will improve the science. After 2035, requests for using mammals (rats, mice, guinea-pigs, and rabbits) will require approval from an EPA administrator. PETA applauds the new plan.

https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2019-09-10/trumps-epa-plans-to-phase-out-chemical-testing-on-animals

Beekeepers Sue Environmental Protection Agency for Approving Pesticide They Say is Harmful to Bees

In July, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expanded the allowed uses of Sulfoxaflor. Earth Justice argues that the EPA relied too heavily on industry-funded studies when expanding use. This is the second such suit, the first came from the Center for Biological Diversity back in August.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/science/bees-pesticide-lawsuit.html

Mnuchin Dismisses Data Showing Trade War Pain

Last week, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that Trump's tariffs on Chinese imports are having no impact on the U.S. economy, contrary to the gloomy economic data and industry surveys. The tariffs on $360 billion and another $160 billion come on December 15th and include furniture, televisions, and bikes. As a result of the tariffs, the Administration authorized a $28 billion bailout for struggling farmers hit by China's retaliation. The U.S. and China are expected to resume high-level trade talks next month, but the Administration sees no downside to continuing the trade war because "it's effecting China, not us."

https://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2146990/were-putting-trade-war-hold-steve-mnuchin-says-us

Vaping is Safe? Can't Say That, Juul is Warned

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that Juul's marketing of its e-cigarette device may have violated the law and Juul Labs Inc. has been warned by U.S. health officials. There have been 450 cases and 5 deaths of a mysterious lung ailment that is raising new questions about the health effects of vaping. Currently, vaping is marketed as "less risky than cigarettes" without the agency's approval and pitched as a way to quit cigarettes. It will be a tough road for Juul to gain FDA clearance to continue selling next year, as there is mounting security due to the surge in teenage vaping and recent deaths. Juul halted much of its social media marketing last year after criticisms.

https://www.detroitnews.com/story/business/2019/09/09/juul-warned-fda-claims-vaping-devices-safe/40102691/

Bloomberg Pledges $160 Million Over 3 Years to Fight Vaping

Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg wants a ban on vaping products as health officials struggle to control an epidemic among young people. E-cigarettes threaten to reverse the decline in youth smoking by using the same tactics that lured kids to cigarettes. Bloomberg wants to use the money to help at least 20 states and cities pass laws banning the products and aims to fully remove the popular flavored products from stores and online since the government has failed to do so.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/michael-bloomberg-vaping-e-cigarettes_n_5d784043e4b09342507b2fcf

Does Apple Tip the Scale in Favor of Its Own Apps?

Apple is one of the largest competitors on a platform it controls and appears at the top of search results. This has led to antitrust complaints in the U.S., Europe, and Russia. Apple claims that its apps appear at the top of the results due to its popularity and use of generic names, but Apple executives have acknowledged its ranking advantage while denying that it was intentional. Apple claims to have now adjusted the algorithm, but there is still a lack of oversight in the process. There is now regulatory scrutiny from both major political parties.

https://m.bdnews24.com/en/detail/technology/1663897

Gap Between Rich and Poor Gets Bigger

The widening gulf in incomes and wealth is not only an economic issue, but it also affects health, as the rich are leading longer lives and the life expectancy of the poor is shrinking. Poverty is a life-threatening issue for millions. The Government Accountability Office reports that greater levels of income and wealth were associated with greater longevity. The income gap will be a major talking point this election cycle.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/us/politics/gao-income-gap-rich-poor.html

Opioid Moguls Poised to Settle Over Epidemic

Purdue Pharma and the Sackler Family, the makers of Oxycotin, may now pay billions of dollars in a landmark proposal. The tentative settlement involves more than 2,000 lawsuits. In the proposal, Purdue will file for bankruptcy and effectively dissolve, then a new company will form and continue selling, with sales revenue going to the plaintiffs. Purdue will also donate drugs for addiction treatment and overdoes. The deal is expected to be worth $10-12 billion (as of 2016, the company made more than $31 billion in revenue from Oxycotin).

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/health/purdue-pharma-opioids-settlement.html

Opioid Defendants Seek to Disqualify Judge

The attorneys for the 8 drug distributors, pharmacies, and retailers facing trial for their alleged roles in the opioid crisis want to disqualify the federal judge overseeing the case over a perceived bias in his effort to obtain a multibillion dollar global settlement. The judicial code requires judges to recuse themselves when there is an appearance of prejudice or bias. The attorneys state that Judge Polster has made comments during hearings, media interviews and public forums, that when taken as a whole and viewed objectively demonstrate that recusal is necessary.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/14/health/ohio-opioid-lawsuit-judge.html

In a 'Gesture of Good Will,' Trump Delays China Tariffs

The Trump administration has agreed to delay the latest round of China tariffs by 2 weeks. The new $250 billion tariffs will go into effect on October 15th instead of October 1st. Trump said the postponement comes at the request of the Vice Premier of China, Liu He, due to the 70th Anniversary of the People's Republic of China. U.S. stock futures jumped more than 0.5% after the announcement of the delay.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/us/politics/trump-counterfeit-drugs-china.html

Google Settles Over Claims That It Stifled Worker's Dissent

Google settled with the National Labor Relations Board after complaints from multiple employees who say that it stymied dissent. As part of the settlement, Google plans to explain to employees the rights they have as workers under the federal law and that Google won't retaliate. The complaints stemmed from accusations of political bias at the major tech company and has been a powerful rallying call among conservatives.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/technology/google-settlement-nlrb.html

House Inquiry Targets Heads of Tech Giants

Bipartisan lawmakers seek information and emails from Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple in a new front in the government's antitrust probe. The requests from House Judiciary Committee leaders from both parties set up potential conflicts between tech leaders protective of their business tactics and lawmakers who want to scour their corporate records. The Committee is requesting executive communications and financial statements as well as information about competitors, market share, mergers, and key business decisions. The tech giants are likely to resist such carte blanche access.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/technology/amazon-apple-facebook-google-antitrust.html

Chief Executives Join Hands to Demand Action on Guns

CEOs and executives from 145 companies have signed a letter urging the Senate to take action on gun control. CEOs from Twitter to AirBnb and Reddit signed on. They want the Senate to support common sense gun laws, including background checks and nationwide "Red Flag" laws, that could prevent tragedies.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/business/dealbook/gun-background-checks-business.html

Seminary Creates $1.7 Million Fund to Pay Slavery Reparations

Virginia Theological Seminary used slave labor and now is the first school to create a reparations fund. In the past several months, reparations have been at the forefront of national conversation and the school set up a task force to determine how it would handle the issue. The purpose of the fund is to "repair the material consequences of our sins in the past" and will be used to address the "particular needs" of the descendants, to create programs that promote justice and inclusion, and to elevate the work and voices of African-American alumni and clergy within the Episcopal church.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/us/virginia-seminary-reparations.html

Inquiry Clears Carson Over $31,000 Expense

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), has been cleared of misconduct over ordering a $31,000 dining set for his office in 2017. HUD investigators found no evidence that he acted improperly. However, the Inspector General did determine that Carson did not follow federal laws that prohibit expenditures of more than $5,000 on furniture without Congressional approval. In its 14-page report, blame was plplaced on department officials who should have known better, and not Carson.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/12/us/politics/furniture-ben-carson.html

For Children Allergic to Peanuts, Food and Drug Administration is on Track to Approve a New Treatment

The drug Palforzia is designed to minimize the incidence and severity of allergic reactions in people from ages 4 to 17 with peanut allergies. The FDA will make its final approval by January, and if approved, the drug will become the first FDA approved treatment for peanut allergy. More than 3 million Americans are allergic to peanuts and tree nut allergies, with 2.5% of American children being allergic. Palforzia works by exposing children to controlled dosages of peanut protein until they reach a maintenance level. Nine percent of children dosed with Palforzia during the trial had to stop because of severe allergic reactions.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/health/peanut-allergy-children.html

Police Officer is Fired After KKK Application Is Found in His House

A Michigan police officer was fired after KKK memorabilia and Confederate flags were found in his home. Officer Charles Anderson was fired after a disciplinary hearing and the Muskegon Fraternal Order of Police called this an "unfortunate situation." Anderson was on administrative leave since August when potential homebuyers saw the flags and framed KKK application while touring his home. Anderson's wife has stated that her husband is not a Klan member.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/13/us/officer-charles-anderson-ku-klux-klan.html

Users in Illinois Can Sue Facebook Over Use of Private Data

Users in Illinois can now sue Facebook over facial recognition and its use of users' private data. A new ruling gives users a foothold to dig into data-sharing practices. In its defense, Facebook argues that users can't expect privacy, but a District Judge doesn't agree, and says that Facebook failed to safeguard users' personal data and deceived users into allowing their data to be harvested. The San Francisco judge says that when one shares sensitive data with a limited audience, especially when it has been made clear of an intention to share with a limited audience, one retains privacy rights and can sue for violation of such. Facebook will have to pay damages and rewrite its policies for handling personal information. In July, it agreed to pay $5 billion to resolve a U.S. Federal Trade Commission investigation. The current lawsuit targets Facebook's relationships with its business partners and the parents' access to users' information and that of their friends. The plaintiffs argue that users did not consent to such sharing, while Facebook claims that its usage was disclosed in its user agreements.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-09/facebook-users-gain-leverage-in-cambridge-analytica-privacy-suit

Price of Activism, and Maybe of Free Speech, is $4 Million

Seventy-eight year old Florida activist and sister of former attorney general Janet Reno, Maggy Hurchalla has devoted her life to protecting the untamed Florida wilderness. Currently, she has been fighting a losing public battle with a rock-mining company. Last year, a jury decided that she should pay $4.4 million in damages to Lake Point Restoration, a limestone mining company along Treasure Coast. Lake Point sued for her interference with a contract in which county commissioners backed out of a water deal with the company. Hurchalla argued that she was only exercising her First Amendment rights. A state appeals court upheld the verdict with a precedent that could chill citizens' abilities to question their leaders and alarming environmental and free speech organizations.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/us/maggy-hurchala-florida-mining.html

Virginia Suit Asks Why Should Couples Have to List Their Race to Marry?

Three couples have filed a federal suit in the Eastern District of Virginia for being denied a marriage license after refusing to disclose their races on their application. They argue that the rule is "offensive and unconstitutional," "scientifically baseless" and "reflective of a racist past." Virginia is currently one of 8 states (including Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Minnesota) that requires this disclosure to get a license. The plaintiffs are seeking "reasonable costs," including attorney's fees, plus a reversal of the denial.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/couples-asked-to-tell-their-race-for-a-marriage-license-are-suing/ar-AAGX0if?li=BBnbfcN

A Call to Have Massachusetts's State Seal Lay Down Its Weapons

In a state that has gay rights, gay marriage, and voted against the death penalty is now in the middle of an effort gaining steam to change the state seal, a quest that started in the 1980s. Those in opposition to the seal believe that its image is insensitive in its depiction of a white, colonialist arm clutching a sword near an image of a Native American.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/07/us/massachusetts-flag-native-americans.html

2,500 Reported Missing in Bahamas After Storm

A government compiled list says that there are at least 2,500 people currently missing in the Bahamas after the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. The list is not checked against government records of people at shelters or those who were evacuated. Aid workers and residents say that the number of those missing is in the thousands after entire communities were decimated by the Category 5 storm. The volunteer-created platform DorianPeopleSearch.com allows individuals to search for their missing family and friends.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hurricane-dorian-2500-missing_n_5d79bd87e4b0a938a42ddc2f?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly93d3cuZ29vZ2xlLmNvbS8&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAMX18OJd2vk3fTzLFky2R5fHapjZekya0_rxWwRrII2XdtpF9srt0eXdJPdxYE7FN_tuupo-lIHTmeWWFuY1mw0Kp69qkhaXPtRu9set0v-t5dQnF9MhtQ3QGcyKuno5ZY3y2zx06PQzs2zWYkeM9ka7Q9_wOsVf49OX4e1yMmr0

After Dorian, Cruise Lines Step in With Meals, Aid, and Rides to Safety

A Bahamas Paradise Cruise line is transporting supplies, first responders, and evacuees while offering free rides to Bahamians stranded in Florida after Hurricane Dorian. Those stuck in the Bahamas can ride the ship to Florida for free if they are able to provide proof of residency. The Grand Celebration ship did something similar after Hurricane Irma. The cruise line is currently accepting donations of relief materials.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/10/travel/bahamas-hurricane-dorian-cruise-lines.html

Suspension of British Parliament Was Illegal, Top Scottish Court Rules

An Appeals Court says that the Prorogation Order is "void," but failed to issue an injunction for Members of Parliament to return. This ruling overturned an earlier one that said that courts didn't have the power to interfere in the Prime Minister's political decisions. Parliament is suspended for 5 weeks in breach of the Constitution and is designed to stifle parliamentary debate and halt action on Brexit.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/world/europe/uk-brexit-parliament-prorogue.html

Afghans Fear That Violence Will Surge After Trump Abandons Peace Talks

Afghanistan is bracing for a bloody prelude to its National Elections on September 28th, after the Trump administration abandoned peace talks. Trump blamed a Taliban attack, in which an American soldier died, for the cancellation of the Camp David talks, but the administration declined to rule out a withdrawal of American troops without a peace accord. Both sides have left open the door to resume negotiations even though each feels that it is being sabotaged by the other. Both sides increase their attacks to improve their negotiating leverage and the Taliban hoped a deal would delay the upcoming elections. There was also outrage in the Taliban being hosted at Camp David. Many questions still swirl around these peace talks.

https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-09-09/afghans-brace-for-fresh-violence-after-us-taliban-talks-halt

India Says That it Located Spacecraft on the Moon

After presumably crashing during a landing attempt, India claims that it has finally spotted the country's Vikram Lunar Lander. India has not made contact with the lander, but is hopeful that it still functions. The Vikram Lunar Lander is a key part of the Chandrayaan-2 Mission aimed at studying the moon's south pole in greater detail. Ninety to 95% of the mission is accomplished and if it had been successful, India would have become the forth nation in the world to put a vehicle intact on the lunar surface.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-nw-india-moon-mission-20190908-o5hothug55ejtftujr7ccjjxm4-story.html

Diverting Europe's Asylum Seekers, This Time to Rwanda

The European Union is preparing to pay Rwanda to take its asylum seekers, something that it has been doing with other countries for 3 years. This is not new, as Israel also sent some asylum seekers elsewhere for payment back in 2017. Europe, replete with populist and anti-migrant parties, has set up an arms-length network to deal with the migrant population seeking refuge.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/08/world/europe/migrants-africa-rwanda.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 16, 2019 11:04 AM.

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