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Week In Review

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


The Truth? This Could Hurt Lizzo

Chart-topping recording artist Lizzo is currently facing plagiarism accusations, as a producer comes forward demanding credit for her hit song "Truth Hurts". Justin Raisen and his brother Jeremiah are demanding partial credit for the most celebrated verse on the track. He claims that they were working with Lizzo on another song and this lyric was subsequently used in the song in question, without their being contacted about being credited for the use of the parts of "Healthy" (melody, lyrics, and chords). He claims that they tried to sort the issue out quietly for the last two years and were asking for 5% each, but were shut down. He also states that the lyric in question was actually inspired by another singer, Mina Lioness, in her tweet from February 2017, using the same line.


Law Firm Sues Netflix Over 'The Laundromat'

A Panama-based law firm that was the source of the Panama Papers has sued Netflix over its depiction in Steven Soderbergh's new film "The Laundromat". In 2016, a German newspaper journalist obtained 11.5 million documents from the law firm, Mossack Fonseca, exposing how some of the world's most prominent leaders and celebrities used offshore bank accounts and shell companies to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes. A lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, in which the law firm and its partners objected to their portrayal in the film as "ruthless, uncaring and unethical lawyers" who engaged in money laundering, tax evasion, and other criminal activities to benefit the wealthy. Netflix has since filed a motion to dismiss.


Actor Faces a New Case, and a Dozen Other claims of Unwanted Advances

Cuba Gooding Jr pleaded not guilty to groping two women as prosecutors revealed that a dozen others had accused the Oscar winner of sexual misconduct. He is currently charged with one count of forcible touching and one count of sexual abuse, which are misdemeanors. Prosecutors said at a hearing in Manhattan Supreme Court that they hope to establish a pattern of behavior at Gooding's trial using testimony from 12 additional women who have said they were subjected to unwanted touching and advances by the actor in bars and clubs. No criminal charges have been brought in connection with those women. Gooding had been scheduled to go to trial on the original charges last Thursday, but the additional charges mean the trial will be delayed. No new trial date has been set.


Five Rappers Have Been Pulled From New York Music Festival Lineup

At the request of police, five rappers (22Gz, Casanova, Pop Smoke, Sheff G, and Don Q) have been dropped from the Rolling Loud Music Festival (RLMF) lineup. A traveling festival with a stop in Queens and featuring the likes of Wu-Tang Clan and Meek Mill, RLMF dropped the artists after receiving a letter from police citing safety concerns as the the rappers were "affiliated with recent acts of violence." The rapper Don Q said in an Instagram post that this was all "misinformation."


A Weinstein is Returning to Hollywood

Bob Weinstein, the former Weinstein Co. co-chairman, has formed a new production company, Watch This, that will focus on family films, comedies, and upscale adult thrillers. Embarking on the endeavor without his brother, this new company will not be a distributor like he Weinstein Company, but will instead focus on producing up to three movies annually. This will be the first time that Bob Weinstein will be in business without his brother, Harvey, and it will be in a new role as seller instead of a buyer. As a full producer, Bob Weinstein has prior credits on 2000's "Reindeer Games", 1986's "Playing For Keeps", and 1997's "Mimic".


Push for Gender Inclusiveness in Awards

Actor Asia Kate Dillion (of "Billions") and others in the industry are calling for the Television Academy to eliminate gendered categories in the Academy Awards show, but the organization and others have no plans to change them anytime soon. The Grammys did away with separate male and female awards in 2012 and the MTV Video Music Awards and its Movies & TV Awards did the same in 2017. Other awards, like the Nobel and Pulitzer, are not allocated separately by gender. Yet all the major acting awards still are, and there are no signs of changing even though there are greater numbers of artists identifying as nonbinary.



Thief Strolls into Gallery and Walks Out with Etching by Dali Listed for $20,000

A man in a blue t-shirt and cap walked into a San Francisco art gallery and walked out with a $20,000 etching by Salvador Dali. It only took 32 seconds and was captured on surveillance cameras. The "Burning Giraffe" etching was on an easel at the front of the store at the Dennis Rae Fine Art gallery. The piece, part of a larger collection of the Spanish surrealist's work, was created between 1966 and 67 and is a very well-known piece inspired by Picasso. According to the video, the suspect had a female accomplice. Anyone with information is asked to contact the San Francisco police.



Sexual Abuse Cases Call U.S.A. Swimming's Oversight Into Question

There is a trial starting in California, involving a California girl who was abused by her club coach, that is expected to focus on U.S.A. Swimming's handling of sexual abuse cases. Tim Hinchney III took over as chief executive of the national governing body in 2017 and said that he is unfamiliar with the details of the case and the young lady involved. He also said that he was not aware of any way of verifying that coaches, parents or children had been trained to deal with sexual abuse issues, even though his organization certifies coaches and oversees the sport at nearly every level. The lawsuit will subject U.S.A. Swimming's governance to intense and possibly discomfiting scrutiny at a time when numerous sexual abuse lawsuits involving Olympic sports -- such as gymnastics, figure skating, and taekwondo -- are winding through the courts. The governing bodies can no longer afford to be indifferent to leaving children vulnerable to predators.


Hardball Wins as U.S. Titans Bend to China

The National Basketball Association (NBA) is the latest entertainment giant to incite nationalist anger in China. Today, China poses a more formidable yet lucrative challenge for some of the most famous icons of American culture, like Apple, Disney, and the NBA. Selling the best of American creativity and talent increasingly demands submissions to the views of the Communist Party as the price of admission. The most recent fervor began with a single tweet in support of the Hong Kong protest that was posted by an NBA executive. The incident has underscored the consequences of China's willingness to use its vast economic clout to police any political values that threaten the party's legitimacy or its policies. U.S. cultural companies have had to increasingly bend to China's political will under its leader Xi Jinping. To continue to have access to Chinese customers, there is an issue as to whether American credibility as a beacon of free speech has to be eroded.


Robot Judges That See Everything Provide a New Twist

The gymnastics world championships in Germany, the biggest gymnastics meet outside the Olympics, for the first time used an artificial intelligence (AI) system to evaluate athletes' performance by measuring and analyzing skeletal positions, speed, and angles via three-dimensional laser sensors. At the championships, the AI system was in place to help human judges confirm scores when gymnasts formally contested them or when judges scores deviated significantly. The use of the AI systems brings in the question privacy concerns, but officials say all data will be disposed of at a predetermined expiration date.


Biles Set Record With 25th Medal at Worlds

Twenty-two-year-old American gymnast Simone Biles has set the all-time record for medals at the world championships by winning her 24th and 25th medals on the balance beam and floor exercise this past Sunday. Eighteen of the 24 medals in world championship competition have been golds. Biles also won five gold medals during the world championships in Stuttgart. The feat was made all the more remarkable considering the gymnast took a hiatus in 2017 and didn't compete after winning 4 Olympic golds in Rio in 2016.


Nike Puts a Spring in Runners' Steps. Is it Too Much?

Superfast Nike running shoes are creating a problem for people who oversee track and field and are making them give serious thought to how much running-shoe technology is too much. Last weekend's extraordinary marathon performances have focused attention on whether or not the International Association of Athletics Federations needs (IAAF) a more stringent rule to define legal running shoes. The current running-shoe debate could affect everything from stock prices of global footwear companies to who wins the Olympic marathon in Japan next summer. Current IAAF rules state only that shoes may not confer an 'unfair advantage' and must be 'reasonably available' to all. The rule doesn't explain how to measure these two factors.


Russia Altered Thousands of Tests, Drug Chief Admits

The head of Russia's own antidoping agency has confirmed suspicions of global officials who are considering severe penalties against Russian sports programs. The drug chief admitted that Russia made thousands of changes to the drug-test results of an unspecified number of its athletes. Yuri Ganus suggested in an interview that the data had been concealed or altered to protect the reputations and positions of former star athletes who now have roles in government or who function as senior sports administrators in Russia. His comments could complicate the country's efforts to avoid new punishments from global antidoping officials. The Russians were already barred from international sporting events, including the 2018 Winter Olympics, after discovery of a broad, state-sponsored doping program in 2015.


Ex-Champion, 27, Dies After Brain Injury

Boxer Patrick Day died after suffering a traumatic brain injury during a bout in Chicago. He was 27 years old. He was hospitalized and in "extremely critical condition" after he was knocked out by Charles Conwell in the 10th round of the USBA super welterweight title fight. He lapsed into a coma and never regained consciousness. A native of Freeport, New York, Day was 17-4-1 with six knockouts. The news left the Long Island boxing community in shock.


Fearing Heat, Tokyo Games Move Marathons

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) panel is currently consulting with sports governing bodies about concerns over heat. The fears mean that the Tokyo Olympic marathons might move to 'significantly' cooler Sapporo, 500 miles north to avoid the searing heat in the city. The Olympic Games and IOC want to ensure that the athletes have to conditions to give their best. An Olympic panel overseeing games preparation will discuss heat measures at its Oct. 30th - Nov. 1st meeting in Tokyo.


Racism of Bulgaria Fans presents Global Problem

Racism in Bulgaria's stands is not a new problem, as Bulgarian football has been plagued with the issue for years. The club has been fined numerous times over the years for racial abuse of players and a number of incidents involving fans displaying Nazi imagery or salutes. Although this is not an issue specific to only Bulgaria, it seems to be the worst offender. There are wider societal issues over why racism is still such a big issue with Bulgarian fans. Some believe that the behavior is not only driven by racist attitudes but also financial interests. Bulgaria has faced criticism for its efforts, or lack thereof, at combating racism in the stands. Many are now urging European football's governing body UEFA to "wage a war on the racists," but this is an issue that extends beyond the stands.



Fictitious Video of President Shooting Critics and Media Shown At His Resort

A video depicting Trump shooting, stabbing, and setting on fire critics and the media was shown during a 3-day pro-Trump group, American Priority, conference at his National Doral Miami resort. In the parody video, there are logos of various news organizations (CNN, The Washington Post, Politico and NPR) as well several political critics. White House Press Secretary said that Trump hadn't seen the video but condemns and detests it based on reports. The White House Correspondents' Association has called on Trump to denounce the video. American Priority said in a statement that the video was not approved or sanctioned by the group.


NBC News Blasts Farrow for Account in New Book

NBC News Chief Noah Oppenheim blasted Ronan Farrow's "efforts to defame" the network in a fiery email to the network's staff in response to Farrow's allegations that NBC shut down his reporting on disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein in 2017 as part of a "corporate cover-up." Oppenheim said that Farrow is not motivated by a pursuit of truth but, rather, has an ax to grind. He also took aim at Farrow's new book Catch and Kill, in which the author claims Weinstein knew about the sexual misconduct allegations against former NBC anchor Matt Lauer and used the knowledge as a pressure point to keep the network from investigating his own misdeeds. Oppenheim wrote that "the book is built on a series of distortions, confused timelines, and outright inaccuracies."


Zuckerberg Says that Facebook Won't Police Political Speech

In a speech at Georgetown University, Zuckerberg recently gave a defense of Facebook as a champion of free expression, refuting the idea that the social network needs to be an arbiter of speech as it has faced blowback for leaving up false political ads going into the 2020 presidential election. Zuckerberg contrasted Facebook's position with that of China, where Beijing controls and censors speech. He added that free speech is messy. The address was seen as an unusually public doubling down on free expression online as debate has ramped up. Last month, the company unveiled a sweeping policy that said it would not moderate politicians' speech or fact-check their political ads because such activity is newsworthy and in the public's interest.


Warren Pokes Facebook with Deliberately False Ad

Democratic Presidential Candidate Elizabeth Warren is upping her fight about big tech and Facebook in particular after trying to prove a point by running Facebook ads that purposefully included a lie about Mark Zuckerberg endorsing Trump's re-election for 2020. Warren did so in order to highlight what she considers negligence on the part of the company's handling of misinformation in political advertising. Later in the ad, it is noted that Zuckerberg had not really endorsed him. This comes as Warren's attacks against Facebook have escalated in recent weeks over what she claims is the platform's "illegal anticompetitive practices," fumbling the "responsibility to protect our democracy" and giving "Donald Trump free rein to lie on his platform." A Facebook spokesperson said that the company believes political speech should be protected. "If Senator Warren wants to say things she knows to be untrue, we believe Facebook should not be in the position of censoring that speech," the spokesperson said. In the fall of 2018, Facebook stated that political ads and politicians would not be subject to the third-party fact-checking the company is using to combat misinformation. The policy has received much pushback, especially from Democrats, after the events and allegations of the 2016 election.


Twitter Keeps Trump's Account Open as His Tweets Draw Fire

Twitter grants "world leaders" special exemptions from its "code of conduct". However, Twitter has come under fire from critics for failing to take enforcement action against Trump, who has a history of making personal attacks on the platform. Twitter defended its decision by saying that these posts are in the "public interest," even if they violate the regular rules. Twitter announced that these tweets that would normally have been deleted will come with a warning message that users must click through in order to view the tweet. However, it has since clarified that certain tweets of Trump could be blocked. In a blog post, Twitter (without citing Trump by name) outlined specific areas that could lead to political figures having their tweets or accounts deleted. Those include promoting terrorism; making "clear and direct threats of violence" against an individual; posting someone's private info; or engaging in activities related to child porn. Critics believe that Trump's account should be deleted due to a matter of safety and corporate responsibility. There are now 6 areas that will result in enforcement action against any account now.


General News

When a Steady Paycheck is Good Medicine

There is a new initiative within the American medical industry to broaden the idea of how to keep a community healthy. A coalition of 41 nonprofit medical systems across the U.S. and 4 government providers have formed Healthcare Anchor Network, which is investing in the notion that ample paychecks, stable housing, and nutritious food are no less critical to well-being than doctors, medical equipment, and pharmacies. Its mission is to do more business with local companies in the communities it serves, mostly major American cities, like Chicago and Los Angeles. The Network is also directing its reserve funds towards so-called impact investments: loans to nonprofits that buy homes to spare low-income people from eviction; capital for minority-owned businesses; and child care for the working poor. Over the last 2 years, members have pledged more than $300 million towards local investments. These improved communities help health care companies' bottom lines, because more people can afford medical plans, which spreads health care costs across larger populations.


From the President's Gut Comes a Gut Punch

President Trump's reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State. Trump's acquiescing to Turkey's move to send troops inside Syrian territory has turned into a bloody carnage in less than a week. This was the forced abandonment of a successful 5-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border and it has given an unanticipated victory to 4 American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government, and the Islamic State. Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests.


Trump Imposes Sanctions on Turkey for Syria Attack

The U.S. has sanctioned 3 Turkish ministers, along with their department of defense and ministry of energy, after the country's incursion into northern Syria. President Trump has called for an immediate ceasefire as Turkish troops move further into Syria. Trump signed an executive order authorizing the sanctions and directed Vice President Pence to lead a delegation to Turkey to begin negotiating a resolution between the Turks and Kurds. Trump has also ordered a hike on steel tariffs and immediately canceled negotiations over a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey. The executive order authorizes the treasury secretary to sanction Turkish officials for "actions or policies that further threaten the peace, security, stability or territorial integrity of Syria." The move represents the administration's first concrete effort to punish Turkey, a NATO ally, for its incursion into areas held by Kurdish allies of the U.S. after a hasty removal of U.S. troops last week.


As U.S. Troops Depart, Kurds Forge an Alliance with Syrian Authorities

To deal with the intensifying Turkish assault in northern Syria, Kurdish forces have struck a deal with Assad's army. In this deal, the Syrian army would deploy troops along the Syrian-Turkish border in order to assist Kurdish forces and help liberate areas held by Turkish-backed Syrian rebel groups. The Turkish assault comes just days after President Trump announced he would be pulling out US troops still stationed in the area.


Moscow Picks Up Reins as the U.S. Departs Syria

President Trumps removal of U.S. forces from Syria has created an opening for Moscow to expand its influence in the region. Analysts said it was clear that Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin were emerging as the winners of the geopolitical puzzle, and the Kurds and the U.S. as the losers. It also looks like ISIS will benefit and may be able to re-surge as stability eludes the region. Russia is now the undisputed power broker in the region, with Iran also benefiting. America's leverage and influence have disappeared and there are risks of a wider confrontation among Turkey, Syria, and perhaps even Russia.


Justices Are Asked: Can Electors Go Rogue?

Colorado is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower federal court ruling that allows members of its Electoral College to vote for whomever they want in presidential elections without consequence. These electors could help swing a close race in 2020. Most states require electors to vote for the candidate who wins that state's popular vote. Colorado mandated that as well until a recent lower court ruling. The ruling stems from the 2016 election in which Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 5%, but Colorado had a "faithless elector" who tried to vote for Gov. John Kasich, violating a state law. The so-called "Hamilton Electors" later sued the state for violating what they said were their rights to vote their consciences. The ruling has broader implications for the state's efforts to elect presidents based on a national popular vote.


Court Considers Limits for Juvenile Offenders in Case of D.C. Sniper

The Supreme Court is wrestling with whether one of the killers who terrorized the Washington, D.C. region more than 15 years ago should be re-sentenced in light of recent decisions barring life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders. Lee Boyd Malvo has spent roughly half his life behind bars for his role in the killing spree, but he is now asking the Supreme Court to rule that the court's prior ruling in Miller v. Alabama and Montgomery v. Louisiana require him to receive new sentencing hearings because he was a minor at he time of his crimes. The justices seemed split on re-sentencing. In 2005, the high court prohibited the death penalty for juveniles and in 2010 barred life without parole for minors who commit non-homicidal crimes. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Malvo and says that he should be re-sentenced, it is still unlikely he will ever walk free, because he was also sentenced for 6 killings in Maryland in addition to the 4 life sentences he received in Virginia.


Plan to Cut School Lunch for One Million Children Reopens to Public Comment

Under the Trump administration proposal, nearly one million children could lose their automatic eligibility for free school lunches. The proposal would also reduce the number of people who get food stamps. Around 40,000 of the 982,000 children affected would need to pay the full price for lunch and breakfast under the new plan. 445,000 would have to apply to qualify for the free meals. Advocacy groups are saying that the application to qualify could be a barrier for some families. Many school districts are dealing with the prevalence of school lunch debt, which shows that even small amounts of money can add up over time and become a burden to struggling families. The USDA said that its proposal could cut $90 million a year from the cost of its school lunch and breakfast programs.


Settlement of $117 Million for Pelvic Mesh

Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay about $117 million to settle U.S. states' mesh probe to resolve allegations that it deceptively marketed transvaginal surgical mesh devices. The settlement resolves a multistate investigation and found that Johnson & Johnson violated consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the safety and effectiveness of its devices and failed to disclose risks. The settlement resolves claims with 41 states and the District of Columbia.


Epstein's Estate Takes Up Fight Against His Accusers

The federal criminal case against Jeffrey Epstein ended 2 months ago with his death, but the legal battles by his estate are expected to go on for months. A half-dozen lawsuits have been filed by some of the financier's alleged victims. Epstein's assets were estimated at more than $577 million and it is not unusual for legal maneuvering when wealthy estates are involved. Epstein's other enterprises are still up and running. He signed his will 2 days before committing suicide and put his estate into a trust, which would most likely cloak the eventual disbursements in secrecy.


Pioneers in Easing Poverty Receive Nobel Honors

MIT economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee will share the prize with Michael Kremer of Harvard University for their breakthrough antipoverty work that has helped transform relief efforts. Their work has been highly innovative in the area of development economics, emphasizing the use of field experiments in research in order to realize the benefits of laboratory-style randomized, controlled trials. They have applied these new precisions while studying a wide range of topics implicated in global poverty, including health care, education, agriculture, and gender issues, while developing new antipoverty programs based on their research. The pair also co-founded MIT's Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) in 2003, which is a global network of antipoverty researchers who conduct field experiments and has become a major center of research, facilitating work across the world. Duflo, 46, is the second woman and the youngest person ever to receive the Nobel in economic sciences.


Plan to Shield Tech Draws Ire of Congress

There is currently a legal provision that grants tech companies broad immunity for content people post on its platforms. Now lawmakers are getting more ammunition in their fight to overhaul Silicon Valley's prized legal shield. In the latest, fair-housing advocates are accusing Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms of abusing the legal provision. They now want Congress to ensure that online rental services cannot ignore and profit from listings that violate state and local housing laws. They claim that these companies are knowingly facilitating and profiting from illegal listings while driving up cost and access to housing. The provision in question is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is focused on social media companies. There is a political divide on the law.


Air Pollution Linked to Risk of Miscarriages, Study Says

A new Chinese study has found a link between air pollution and miscarriage. Researchers followed a quarter of a million pregnant women between 2009 and 2017. The scientists concluded that the presence of 10 micrograms per cubic meter of sulfur dioxide in the air increased the risk of miscarriage by 41%. The findings of this research "uncovered potential opportunities to prevent or reduce harmful pregnancy outcomes by proactive measures before pregnancy."


Perry Says That He Will Resign as Secretary of Energy

President Trump has confirmed that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry plans to leave his post at the end of the year. Trump went on to say that Perry's resignation didn't come as a surprise and that Perry has considered leaving for 6 months. One of Trump's original Cabinet members, who has recently emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry, Perry was one of the 3 charged with managing the U.S.-Ukraine relationship after the White House removed the core of its Ukraine policy team last spring. Trump says that he already has a replacement for Perry.


Forth Defendant is Arrested in Giuliani Associates Case

A fourth man, a self-described former pro golfer from South Florida, was indicted on campaign finance charges and arrested by federal authorities. David Correia worked with Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas and will be arraigned before U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan federal court. He is one of 4 people who allegedly conspired to circumvent federal campaign finance laws to buy potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates' governments.


Joe Biden's Son Leaving Board of Chinese Company, Preempting Conflict of Interest Concerns

Hunter Biden will step down as board director for a Chinese language funding firm and has promised not to do any work for international corporations if his father is elected president. Hunter Biden's international work has turned into a serious subject within the presidential marketing campaign after the Ukraine incident. His lawyer said that Biden "intends to resign" from the firm's board by October 31st. The issue highlights the need for the U.S. to make disclosures by adult children of officials more transparent.


Fed Up with Poor Care, Tribes Seek to Control Their Hospitals

Indian Health Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, runs 24 hospitals nationwide, but these hospitals have numerous pitfalls. So far, 5 government investigations "have found that patients have died...from inadequate care, are often given wrong diagnoses and are treated by staff members who have not been screened for hepatitis and tuberculosis." One solution to the problem that is being suggested is that the American Indian Nations assume direct control of their healthcare, but a major challenge is cost. The change in management has allowed the tribal authority to develop a plan to reopen the inpatient hospital and the emergency room, recruit more qualified doctors and health care workers, and upgrade equipment. A key reason why the Indian Health Service often provides substandard care is because it is grossly underfunded. Changing ownership does not fix this. Despite resource challenges, American Indian nations who take control of their own health care systems have often seen improvements.


California Blackouts

Electric companies throughout California have been inducing blackouts throughout the week to prevent fires. This is the second phase of their safety plan to limit wildfires caused by weather conditions, such as extreme winds. Customers could be without power for several days. More than 600,000 people have been affected by the blackouts, in which many residents said they were unaware of the impending shut offs with an uncertain timeline. These blackouts have left residents without hot water, internet connections, and cell service in certain areas and could cost the state between $65 million and $2.5 billion.


Judge Blocks Florida Law on Felons' Voting Rights

A federal judge in Florida temporarily blocked a law that set conditions on a voter-approved constitutional amendment that restored voting rights to an estimated 1.4 million people with felony convictions. The dispute centers on whether Florida lawmakers were justified in requiring felons to pay off all their legal debts before they could become re-enfranchised. On Friday, those felons received a boost when a federal judge ruled that the state can't prevent felons from voting, even if they can't afford to pay court-ordered fines and fees.


Fighter Revered by Democrats as a "North Star"

Longtime Congressman from Baltimore, Elijah Cummings, died Thursday after a series of health issues in recent years. Cummings was seen as a force within Congress and politics at large and he represented his Baltimore community in the House of Representatives for more than 20 years. Cummings built a powerful political legacy as a defender of civil and voting rights. Politicians on both sides of the aisle issued statements of remembrance and condolences.


Justice Dept. Indicts Turkish Bank for Aiding Iran

The Department of Justice announced that TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S., aka "Halkbank," was charged in a 6-count indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank's participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States's sanctions on dealing with Iran by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars' worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. The bank's audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.


Global Firms Face Hostile Hong Kong

Sales in stores have plummeted 90% in recent months, thanks in large part to the evaporation of tourists from mainland China who have been staying away since anti-government protests began in June. Hoteliers, salesclerks, restaurateurs, and tour guides across Hong Kong have all taken a hit since footage of the clashes between riot police officers and protesters have been broadcast around the world, scaring off potential visitors. An unmistakable sense of alarm is spreading among both small business owners and corporate executives who see no way out of the impasse. The tourism industry is a major driver of Hong Kong's economy, but the overall number of tourists arriving in this semiautonomous territory has plummeted, falling nearly 40% since the same time last year. For now, international finance and real estate, other pillars of the Hong Kong economy, have been largely unscathed.


Favors and Largess Eased Deutsche Bank into China

Confidential documents have shown that the German lender, Deutsche Bank, used gifts and political maneuvers for over 15 years to become a major player in China. Millions of dollars were paid to Chinese consultants with access to politicians and more than 100 relatives of high-level Communist Party members were hired for jobs at the bank without meeting qualifications. Deutsche Bank's effort to win favor in China have worked, because by 2011, the German company would be ranked by Bloomberg as the top bank for managing initial public offerings in China and elsewhere in Asia, outside Japan. The bank's top leadership was warned about the activity, but did nothing to stop it. The bank paid $16 million in August to settle accusations by the Securities and Exchange Commission of misconduct in China and Russia.


Thai Judge Rebukes Pressure to Punish Muslims, Then Shoots Himself

A Thai judge shot himself in a courtroom after delivering a rare speech railing against the country's justice system. Kanakorn Pianchana acquitted 5 Muslim men of murder on Friday before calling for a fairer judiciary. He then recited a legal oath, pulled out a pistol, and shot himself in the chest. Luckily, the judge survived and is recovering from his injuries. A statement believed to have been written by the judge before giving his ruling suggests that his suicide attempt could have been related to alleged interference in the case, claiming he was pressured to find the men guilty despite a lack of evidence. In his speech, Pianchana said, "the judicial process needs to be transparent and credible... punishing the wrong people makes them scapegoats." Suriyan Hongvilai, the spokesman of the Office of the Judiciary, told the AFP news agency he shot himself due to "personal stress."


Kashmiris Rush to Phones as India Restores Service

Two months ago, the Indian government imposed a complete communications blackout in the Kashmir Valley; last week, they partially restored cellphone service in the region, home to about 8 million people. The region's cell service was shut off in the hours before the Hindu nationalist government of India's prime minister Narendra Modi announced the revocation of a constitutional provision that gave partial autonomy to Kashmir on August 5th. The region has been caught in a longstanding and often brutal territorial dispute between India and Pakistan and the elimination of cell service was part of India's continuing crackdown in the region. As soon as service was restored, people made the calls they had been yearning to place for months.


Spain Punishes Leaders of Catalan Independence Bid

Spain's Supreme Court has handed down sentences for 9, including former Catalonian vice president Oriol Junqueras, over a bid for independence. The sentencing of 9 of the 12 accused Catalan separatist leaders has led to protests in north-eastern Spain. The accused separatists were sentenced to between 9 and 13 years in prison for sedition over their roles in the region's 2017 failed independence bid. The 3 other defendants were found guilty only of disobedience and not sentenced to prison. All defendants were acquitted of the most severe charge, rebellion. The separatist leaders' failed attempt to secede from the European nation had sparked the worst political crisis in decades.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on October 22, 2019 10:48 AM.

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