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November 5, 2019

Week In Review

By Lisa Ornest
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


No Touching!

We're not talking about rape, or even sexual blackmail here, but men (as well as grandmothers, cousins, and aunties), have to learn to keep their hands to themselves, and I guess this is a part of the lesson. Fourteen women over 20 years are accusing Cuba Gooding of "forcible touching" and "third-degree sexual abuse." Maximum of a year potential sentence.


Bite Me

Apple launched its new streaming TV service, Apple TV Plus, with a premier at Lincoln Center of its morning show hosted by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Oprah is coming to the new channel, as are Steven Spielberg and M. Night Shyamalan, among others. The service will cost $5 a month or is free with a new Apple device. Apple will air all new original programming, so there is no back-up "library" of shows like at those other places. Apple admits it knows nothing about television, but promises oral sex in "Dickinson" (Emily), and a lot of swearing from Rachel and Jill. I'm curious to see what the product placements will be.


Orchestra Cancels Tour

The Eastman School of Music Philharmonia had to cancel its planned tour of China because China would not issue visas to three South Korean members of the orchestra. Originally the tour was going to go anyway, but there was "outcry" from students and alums, who accused the school of "bowing" to China (the student body is apparently one quarter international), and the school cancelled the tour altogether. Some believe that China's position has to do with punishing the U.S. for selling missiles to South Korea. China denies it and claims that more than four million South Koreans visited China last year.


Netflix Must Self-Censor Overseas

Netflix has 1.5 million subscribers in Turkey, which is probably a nice bit of change. Previously, all streaming services in that country were allowed to operate outside of the government's censorship rules, which are of course so broad that they can be made to include anything the government desires. However, there has been a big crackdown on "dissent," and now the content on Netflix and other streaming services will have to comply if they want the markets. For example, no cigarette smoking and no same-sex kissing (or anything else) are allowed. In India there are also problems, with certain members of the populace insisting that streaming content be regulated in the same way as movie theaters. Some of the extremists claim that this is to protect children. In these countries, the interests of religious extremists frequently prevail politically. In Saudi Arabia, Netflix was made to censor criticism of the crown prince. Oh, but nothing like that could ever happen here . . .


Let Me Entertain You

The BBC paid Samira Ahmed, who had a much larger audience and did exactly the same type of show, well, really perhaps something a bit more difficult, one-sixth of what the man in the analogous job was paid. BBC claimed that the man's show is a household word and is entertainment, while her show is not and is a news show. Yet even in other BBC work, Ahmed was paid between a third to a half less than men doing the same work on the same projects. The BBC gave her some back pay. She is now suing for more, and is not the only one.



Cultural Affairs Commissioner Steps Down

The Commissioner of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Tom Finkelpearl, who has served in the post since 2014, has resigned. This article suggests that it had something to do with which artist was going to be chosen to create a work to replace the monument of J. Marion Sims, a 19th century "doctor" who performed medical experiments on black women slaves without anesthesia, but that's just speculation. Under Finkelpearl's leadership, the Department launched "Create NYC," which allowed city residents to attend museums for less, although some artists claimed that the plan was really about helping developers. Prior to this position, Finkelpearl was the director of the Queens Museum, where he oversaw a large budget and encouraged diversity.


A Girl's Best Friend

This is about a 34.65 carat diamond, about the size of a Cerignola olive, cut from the Golconda mines in India, nicknamed "Princie." It first appeared in the 1700s and was bought by an Italian Senator, Signor Angiolillo, in 1960, from Van Cleef & Arpels. Then it starts getting into family law, which is always tedious. The Senator gave it to his wife, but what happened to it when she died? Maybe the step-brother, Signor Milella, knows something. The Italian police found a bunch of loot at his house; but not Princie. Apparently Milella sold it to a Swiss gem dealer named David Gol for nearly $20 million. Then Gol worked with Christie's to auction it off. Gol's lawyer says that there is no evidence Angiolillo ever owned the diamond. A member of the Qatari royal family, a sheikh, bought it for $39.3 million. The case is in New York Supreme, where it will be adjudicated pursuant to New York law, not Swiss, which would apparently be more helpful to Gol. Christie's said it only took in $1 million on the sale, and that the issue is primarily an inheritance dispute between family members. Nothing to look at here.


Fanny Hill

The author of the anonymous New York Times op-ed printed on September 5, 2018 will be turning her or his essay into a full length book with lots of juicy details. The New York Times claims to have vetted the deep throat before it ran the op-ed, so I guess this is legitimate and not just an agent provocateur misdirection. In fact, the writer sounds like a good Republican who is simply appalled by the behavior in the Oval Office.


No Bail-Out for Barneys

Barneys filed for bankruptcy in August. There was hope for another buyer, someone who would keep the family together, but Authentic Brands is buying the name (which is its raison d'etre, buying distressed intellectual property, licensing it, and taking royalties), which will be licensed to Saks, and B. Riley, a liquidation firm, will sell what's left of the merchandise in private sales to the store's former "most loyal" shoppers, and 660 Madison will be turned into a "pop-up" emporium. The first bankruptcy was in 1996. Some people think the store never recovered after that.



Full Employment for Divorce Lawyers

Harry Macklowe, worth about $2.5 billion, is 82, and his ex-wife, Linda, is a year younger. They managed to keep it together for 50 years, and their divorce was only finalized in 2018. Macklowe then married his 60-ish girlfriend, Patricia Landeau, and had their photographs plastered on the side of his building on Billionaire's Row, where, by the way, it is apparently a buyer's market, although Sting just bought a $65.7 million penthouse there. Anyway, now the former couple are fighting over the art, including a $50 million Warhol "Marilyn." Linda Macklowe got the apartment in the Plaza Hotel and $39 million of the art, but the Warhol, and the rest, will have to be separated and sold. Like Barneys. Let's not forget that in 1985, Macklowe tore down SROs on 44th Street in the middle of the night, without turning off the electricity, gas or water, or building scaffolding (although apparently the buildings were empty), to beat a demolition moratorium that was about to take effect. He paid $2 million to settle that suit and had to wait 4 years before he could build again, but it doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice now. Vendettas are expensive to maintain. When money is no object, the wars can go on forever.



Friday Night Lights Out

These stories are in the news every month now, about the cumulative dangers of playing football, especially for young kids, and specifically the danger of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma. It is often found posthumously in football players, and in fact can only be diagnosed posthumously. This particular subject played in high school and college, and then became an ob/gyn. When he was 35 he began losing his temper, memory (like in the middle of surgeries), and judgment. The diagnosis was neurodegenerative dementia. Now he's crusading to ban football for anyone younger than twelve.


Bears in the Woods

This has been going on for a while. Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) gave the Russians 3 weeks to explain the discrepancies between the data received from a whistle blower regarding athlete drug tests and the data received from Russian officials. Where were the failed tests? The Russians claimed that its dog (or maybe bear) ate it (more or less). As a result, the Russians were banned from the 2018 Winter Olympics. Now, Microsoft claims that the Russian state-run hacking group, "Fancy Bear," has attacked the computer networks of 16 national and international sports and antidoping organizations. Fancy Bear is one of 2 groups responsible for the 2016 U.S. election interference. Apparently exposés and indictments just make Fancy Bear more determined. The fact is that the Russians cheated, and now they are causing discord in an attempt what, to cover their tracks? To frighten everyone into letting them play anyway? To show they don't care? Russia has always produced great artists and athletes. It doesn't need to juice.



Want Beer!

Alma mater branded beer. It's really just the equivalent of Girl Scout cookies, right? Especially since education funding does not seem to be much of a priority in certain parts of these United States. To be fair, they're also doing it with hamburger buns, coffee, and wine. Maybe at Oxford and Cambridge it'll be tea. I guess one problem is that it's not exactly a great role model for preventing students from selling out to Nike. Some people call it simply good old Cajun ingenuity. Ragin' Cajun, they say, is a great beer that tastes like Southwest Louisiana.



You Can't Scare Me

NBC digital journalists think a union will protect them when/if they need to criticize management. Among other things, they also want equal pay for women and minorities, and a better idea of the long-term plans for the digital division. Mostly, they want the freedom to discuss publicly things in the company that are in the headlines elsewhere. This all came to a head with the publication of Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill and his interview about it on Rachel Maddow, where he explained that NBC "interfered" with his Harvey Weinstein investigation (by telling him to stop reporting it after 7 months), and "mishandled" the allegations against Matt Lauer. Nevertheless, it seems like NBC may try to fire those currently seeking the union and hire a bunch of other people. It's a rough climate for principles these days. Usually it's just the technical staff that is unionized. The writers circulated an anonymous spreadsheet disclosing salaries and job scheduling and security. It showed deep disparities with regard to women and people of color.


All Chiefs

Here's the backstory: Terry G. Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan) sued Gawker Media in an invasion of privacy lawsuit "secretly" funded by the billionaire Peter Theil. Gawker became subject to a $140 million judgment and had to file for bankruptcy. Deadspin was part of Gawker. Great Hill Partners bought Deadspin and a few other properties in the fire sale. Great Hill put the properties together under the name G/O Media and installed a Mr. Spanfeller, formerly a Forbes exec, as CEO. Then, in August, Deadspin posted a story critical of G/O and Spanfeller. Three weeks after that, Deadspin's editor, Megal Greenwell, resigned. Then, on Monday, 10/28, the G/O editorial director sent a memo saying, "stick to sports," more or less. For example, he wasn't perturbed about the reporting of the vocal disapprobation of President Trump at the World Series. Nevertheless, the staff felt that their autonomy and the quality of their product was at issue, and on Tuesday they published exclusively non-sports related material. The interim editor was then fired, and the rest of the staff eventually voluntarily followed. Spanfeller claims that it was not the intent to "quash" the "distinctive Deadspin voice." Lawyer much? Senator B. Sanders tweeted his support of the writers, while others decried the influx of private equity into media companies. Yet wasn't it always like that?


Anything Goes

The U.S. president's campaign circulated an ad on Facebook (FB) that made false claims about Joe Biden. When Biden asked for it to be removed, FB refused. So to see how far things would go, Elizabeth Warren's campaign ran an ad stating that Zuckerberg supported Trump for president (which he apparently doesn't). Claiming freedom of expression, Zuckerberg has decided that FB is not going to censor, and the ads will run whether they are lying or not, even paid political ads that include claims that have been debunked. See the problem? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did. She grilled him on it. Even 250 of FB's (admittedly 35,000 plus) employees have signed an open letter and posted it on FB's internal communication network asking Zuckerberg to change his mind. He's impervious. I guess he's decided that money is speech. However, contrary to the current law of this land, money is not speech. As a matter of fact, federal law prohibits networks from censoring political ads of candidates running for office. So I guess you have to take them as they are or not at all. I wasn't aware that FB has had relatively few employee "uprisings," compared to Google and Amazon, but the letter says: "This is still our company."


On the Other Hand

Twitter has decided to ban all political ads. That will include, for example, ads about climate change. But advertising is insidious. Are you sure you really know it when you see it? Anyway, Google is in between, with a review policy.



Tik-Tok began as an American company with a "short-form" video app for making videos and memes using an "endless scroll of clips." Then it was acquired by a Chinese company called ByteDance, which owns Muisical.ly, a similar type of app. ByteDance said that it would not merge the two, but it did, and together the companies have become a "global cultural phenomenon," with over 750 million downloads in the past year, more than FB, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat. However, the acquisition is being reviewed by the federal Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS). There have already been problems about Tik-Tok and the security of personal information about children. Now there's a claim that the app is sending data to China (although the app itself is not available in China). Certain Chinese tech firms are have been blocked from purchasing certain American products, and Singapore was prevented from purchasing Qualcomm. In addition, both apps apparently censor political material.


Propaganda Are Us

This was also in the news last month. Russia apparently has a huge disinformation industry, which it treats like any other industry, testing samples before rolling out the big production. The product consists of FB campaigns. FB says that it has recently removed 3 Russian-backed "influence networks" that were aimed at Mozambique, Cameroon, Sudan, and Libya. These campaigns were apparently financed by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian oligarch indicted by the U.S. and accused of interfering in the 2016 elections, and his agency, Russia's Internet Research Agency. Some of the sites criticize French and American policies in Africa; some promote Russian policies. Some pages "masquerade" as news but just repost articles from Sputnik (!!) "News" Service. Apparently this latest effort is much bigger than anything that happened in 2016. How can this be stopped? Who can be relied upon to police this? In Tampa (I heard on FB), the local political board just cut library funding for New York Times digital subscriptions because, it claims, the newspaper is "fake news." Finally, one can't be certain that the claim to have nipped things in the bud is even itself accurate.


Imposter Local Sites that Promote Ideological Agendas Becoming More Common

The Russian Internet Research Agency (as discussed above) has apparently opened Twitter accounts that direct readers where it wants them to go. However, it's not just a foreign bogey that is doing this; the Kochs and their ilk fund this type of activity, too. It is cheaper and more effective than pouring money into candidates. (Read Dark Money.)


General News

A Day in Hollywood . . .

It was John A. Eisenberg (JAE), a lawyer for the National Security Council, who ordered that "The Transcript" of "The Call" be placed in the Council's "Intelligence Collaboration Environment," or NICE, system, that is, the really "secure" server, which made it extremely difficult to edit the document and fill in the blanks, like about the Bidens and Burisma. That was what Lieutenant Colonel Alexander S. Vindman, a 20-year purple heart Iraq war veteran and "top" Ukraine expert, was supposed to do. However, upon reading "The Transcript" of "The Call," Lieutenant Colonel Vindman became concerned about a number of things, like the effect on national security of executive self-dealing. So then the National Security Council, in the person of JAE, confiscated the transcript away from the Lieutenant Colonel and stopped inviting him to meetings. The Lieutenant Colonel contends that he is not the actual whistle blower, but that he can corroborate and "flesh out" the whistle blower's report.

The entire statement is included.

Extra bonus: Fox News and its ilk are accusing the Lieutenant Colonel of espionage.







Impeachment Round Up

Why "bitterly" divided? It went along party lines, with a few moving from the Democrat side, specifically, Jeff Van Drew of N.J. and Collin Peterson of Minnesota. The Republicans stayed loyal.


Separation of Powers

This administration argues that the House can never take the Executive to court. However, there are prior rulings during Bush II and Obama that show that Congress can file lawsuits and that presidential aides must show up. This would include Donald F. McGahn II and Charles Kupperman, the latter of whom is suing Trump as well as Congress, and John Bolton, who will probably also file the same type of case.



All White Boys

The Democratic candidates were originally extremely racially diverse. Now it's 4 white people, although at least one is a woman.


I'm Sorry, Dave

I heard this story right from the beginning, that one of the companies manufactured a new super energy efficient engine, but it didn't quite fit in the 737s. So both hardware and software modifications had to be made, to make the engines fit. One part of the software modifications was a new automatic stability system to keep the nose of the plane from popping up, about which the company neglected to inform the pilots. Ultimately, this little communications glitch didn't really matter, because there was no manual override, so even if they had known, there was nothing the pilots could have done. The automated system overcorrected, and you know what happened next. Twice.


Google to Buy Fitbit

And they won't tell anyone anything they find out about you and your body, will they? You know, when we watched Star Trek it was never with the idea that our communicators would have a direct link to multi-national corporations and law enforcement. They say "you will always be in control of your data," they will never sell your info, yeah yeah, blah blah. Until it becomes convenient for them to do so. I guess it's the same for Apple Watch, and without Google, Fitbit won't be able to compete. However, some say that Google is just not that good at consumer products and should stop trying.


It Could Happen to You

383,000 gallons into rural wetlands. This happened just "hours" after an environmental assessment hearing regarding another pipeline to be built by the same company. This Keystone pipeline has a "history" of oil spills, nearly a dozen in its first year 2010, 16,800 galls in 2016, and 276,864 in 2017, both in South Dakota. Now they want to build a second one in Montana.


A Vote for Smog

Apparently these same companies (GM, Fiat, Chrysler, and Toyota) tried this same tactic in 2004 and lost. Of course the Supreme Court is very different now, but it will be interesting to see how far the state's rights arguments go in this regard. The list also includes Mazda, Nissan, Kia, and Subaru. Subaru? For shame. The Obama rules call for fuel efficiency of 46.7 mpg. Trump wants 37.




Paging Loretta Lynn

We're also rolling back on heavy metal pollution controls, like from arsenic, lead, and mercury into water supplies, and the ash of coal-fired power plants! All this to pretend to bring back the coal industry, which is just not going to happen.


Kurds Away

Apparently the Kurds were instrumental in helping to find Abu Bakr-al-Baghdadi, risking their lives; and then the American president betrayed them by withdrawing support and also by pretending they had nothing to do with it.

Further, Trump claims to have heard the crying and screaming of al-Baghdadi in the final minutes before his death, but he's the only one. Neither the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, nor the regional commander who oversaw the operation says they have any idea of what the president is talking about. Four other Defense Department officials spoke anonymously to say they had seen no "after-action" or situation reports to corroborate the president's claims. The surveillance drone everyone watched had no live audio. Even Peter Wehner, a former adviser to George W. called the President a "serial liar." He says, "without truth, a free society cannot operate."




No Vaccines for You

This Administration is shutting down a scientific program called "Predict," which funds scientists to study animal viruses that might potentially infect humans, like Asian bird flu, in order to possibly head off epidemics before they start. The scientists do laboratory as well as field work, collecting samples from wild rodents, catching bats, and collecting gorilla feces. The program was supported by Bush II and Obama. It discovered a new strain of Ebola. It also worked on things like transporting samples without refrigeration and using DNA testing to scan for whole viral families. It's cheaper to fight things in the beginning than after they've already taken hold. It's science.


Intergenerational Mobility

It turns out that the children of economically challenged immigrants have greater "intergenerational mobility" than the children of similarly situated native-born families, no matter their race. In fact, maybe Norwegians do less well than immigrants from Latin America. On the other hand, there may be a skew in the data because sometimes certain immigrants have artificially low incomes. For example, a doctor in Latin America may have to drive a cab here, but the family is better educated in general. Furthermore, the legacy of slavery may prevent
native-born African Americans from having higher mobility. The point is, stop scapegoating immigrants.


No Hiding in the Sunshine State

One of the rumors is that Trump wants to change his domicile because Florida allows bankrupts to keep their homestead up to any amount of money, but maybe that's a little cynical. Maybe it is just because of the income tax, and because New York in general is not a fax. However, New York conducts an average of 3,024 nonresidency audits a year, and if one has big business contacts, well, one might still have to file IT-203.


Google Worried about Protecting its Data

Ha! 48 States have signed on to the antitrust suit in Texas. Google is petitioning for protection of its "sensitive business documents." It's a normal strategic move for any company involved in litigation, but oh! the irony. The Texas Attorney General complains that he was caught "off-guard" by the petition, but that sounds a little disingenuous.


Don't You Dare Blame Both Sides

The Charlottesville rally, which ended in homicide, was organized, ostensibly, to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee from a public park. No problem. The groups who organized the rally discussed things like which weapons to bring, including not carrying long flag poles because they are not effective to bludgeon people with. Another question was whether it was legal to run over protesters blocking roadways? No, Mr. Fields, it isn't. Homicide is not protected by the First Amendment, and planning a homicide isn't either. The case is called Sines v. Kessler. The plaintiffs are a "cross-section" of Virginia residents who claim that the Charlottesville conspiracy denied them their civil rights. The defendants are 14 individuals and 10 organizations, including white nationalists, neo-Nazis, and Ku Klux Klan members (paging Blazing Saddles). The defendants are not always cooperating with their lawyers. The plaintiffs' attorneys are attempting to resurrect a thing called the Ku Klux Klan Act, which makes it illegal to re-enslave African Americans. The Act was an attempt to give private protections, not just the protections against government action in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments.


Right Back at You

Unbelievably, a North Carolina State court rejected the state's congressional district map, saying that it represented "unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering in favor of the Republicans." The judges were serious, saying that they were willing to postpone primary elections if necessary to further litigate. The Republican map "all but guaranteed" the party's control of 10 of the state's 13 house districts, even though, apparently, voters' political preferences are evenly split. That situation had been going on for nearly a decade. This was the case the Supremes refused to adjudicate.


Abortion Still Legal for the Moment

Justice Myron H. Thompson, U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, ruled that the attempted abortion ban (even in cases of rape or incest and giving 99-year prison sentences to doctors who perform abortions, among other things) violates "Supreme Court precedent," and "defies" the Constitution. He joins judges in 6 other states who have blocked the laws and in 2 other states who temporarily blocked the laws. However, this was what all those "legislatures" wanted, a chance to go to the Supremes. Republican lawmakers from Alabama call the ruling "judicial activism." The governor claims "every life is precious," but Alabama has the highest rate of prison suicide in the country.


November 11, 2019

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres Sue Websites for False Advertising and Unauthorized Use of Their Name and Likeness

The stars filed a lawsuit against internet companies that sell beauty products with fake celebrity endorsements. This so-called endorsement theft exploits a growing area of advertising called affiliate marketing, which involves a seller who pays a publisher (like a YouTube influencer or a review site) "to create ads or links that drive consumers to point-of-sale websites. Each click that results in a sale earns the publisher a commission." Different websites are set up that link to other sites selling the celebrity-endorsed product.


Katy Perry Sued for Copyright Infringement Over a Backgrid USA Photo

Perry had posted the photo of herself in a Hillary Clinton costume on Instagram in October 2016. The photo was taken by the paparazzi outlet and posted without the company's permission. Backgrid claims that it discussed the issue with Perry, but she refused to license the photo. Backgrid has also sued Barstool Sports for posting its photos without permission.


Nigeria's Oscar Hopes Dashed Over English Dialogue in "Lionheart"

Under Academy rules, international entries vying for the foreign language award must predominantly be in a non-English language. The movie was disqualified for being shot in English, which is Nigeria's official language. Of note is that the category was recently renamed from "foreign language" to "international feature film".



Supreme Court Denies Writ of Certiorari to H&M in its Copyright Suit with Malibu Textiles

H&M had asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling in a copyright suit between the retailer and a textile company, arguing that the decision would make it "dramatically" easier to sue for infringement. Malibu sued H&M for illegally copying two of its lace designs that included floral motifs arranged in a specific pattern.


U.S. Education Department Cancels Loans for 1,500 Defrauded Students

Students who attended two art institutes will have their federal loans eliminated. The for-profit schools, owned by Dream Center Education Holdings, had lost their accreditation and were no longer eligible for the federal loans.


Under Armour is Subject to Federal Accounting Probe

Justice Department prosecutors are conducting a criminal inquiry in coordination with civil investigators at the Securities and Exchange
Commission. They are investigating the company's accounting practices to see "whether the sportswear maker shifted sales from quarter to quarter to appear healthier".


Stolen Artwork Turns Up Seven Years Later in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Police Department has recovered more than 1,300 signed prints by British artist and mystic Benjamin Creme, valued at over $800,000. The prints were stolen in 2012. A woman came forward saying that she inherited the items a few years ago and her family member was gifted the art, but did not know from whom.


Placido Domingo Withdraws from Tokyo 2020 Event

The opera star will no longer participate in a theatrical event for the Tokyo Olympics, citing the complexity of the project that will mix Western-style opera with a classical Japanese form of drama. There were also questions around previous allegations of inappropriate behavior.



U.S. Women's Soccer Team Granted Class Status in Equal Pay Lawsuit

A federal judge overseeing the women's national soccer team's gender discrimination lawsuit against U.S. Soccer granted the players class action status this week. The women argue that they were subjected to unequal working conditions and unequal pay, and that these conditions applied not only to the 28 named plaintiffs, but also to any woman who had played in a national team camp or game over the time in question.


Runner Mary Cain Accuses Oregon Project Coach of Emotional Abuse

In a video published by The New York Times this week, Mary Cain accuses the director of Nike's Oregon Project of emotional and physical abuse. She alleges that Salazar repeatedly urged her to lose weight to unhealthy levels and shamed her in front of other athletes when she did not reach the required weight targets. Salazar was suspended for giving athletes performance-enhancing drugs, and the Oregon Project has since shut down.


Memphis' James Wiseman Ruled Ineligible by the NCAA

James Wiseman, the projected number one pick in the 2020 NBA draft, was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Wiseman's current coach, Penny Hardaway, gave $11,500 to Wiseman's family to help them move to Memphis, where he began coaching Wiseman in high school. Hardaway's financial involvement with Wiseman is problematic for the NCAA, because even though it happened before he became Memphis' head coach, Hardaway was a Memphis alum and made a significant donation to the school, leading the NCAA to consider him a "booster."


The National Football League Continues to Enforce Dress Code

Both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry were compelled to change their cleats at halftime last week. The players were wearing special designs that were not sanctioned by the National Football League (NFL) and were therefore in violation of its dress code. How does the NFL enforce the dress code? It deploys two representatives, one stationed on either sideline during the game. In this case, they had to ensure that players were wearing shoes that are "black, white or any constitutional team color" or any combination thereof.


Clippers Fined $50,000 For Sitting Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers were fined $50,000 by the National Basketball Association (NBA) following comments by coach Doc Rivers that Kawhi Leonard "feels great," contradicting medical information provided by the team that Leonard was injured when he sat out Wednesday's game against the Bucks. The Clippers tried the same "load-management" justification that allowed Leonard to sit out a quarter of last year's games in Toronto, but that approach seems to no longer be working in L.A.


New World Anti Doping Agency President Wants Sponsors to Help Finance Antidoping Efforts

Poland's sports minister will assume the presidency of the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) in the new year. He recently raised of a solidarity fund, financed by corporate sponsors, that would allow WADA to extend its reach into countries where testing is often nonexistent.


Deal Reached to Address Gender Pay Gap in Australian Soccer

The country's soccer governing body announced an agreement with the players' union to close the pay gap between the women's and men's national teams. The federation agreed to give both teams equal resources, upgrade the parental leave policy, and give players an increased portion of World Cup prize money.


China Sets Rules for Young Gamers

The regulations allow only 90 minutes a day and are aimed at curbing video game addiction among young people and the rising rates of nearsightedness and poor academic performance. Minors would be required to use real names and identification numbers when they log in to play, and the rules also limit how much young people under 18 can spend on purchases made through certain apps.


Police Officer is Charged with Murder of British Soccer Player

English Premier League star Dalian Atkinson died after being tasered during a confrontation at his father's house in England three years ago. The officer who shot the Taser gun is being charged with murder and with an alternative, lesser offense of "unlawful act manslaughter" for actions taken while carrying out duties on the job.



Justice Department Asks for Identifying Details on Anonymous Op-Ed Author

Last year, The New York Times published an op-ed written by a senior Trump administration official, in which the official said that he/she/they was/were working with like-minded colleagues to thwart part of the President's agenda and keep his worst inclinations in check. The unnamed writer is now reportedly releasing a book. The Justice Department is asking the publishing house and the official's agents for identifying information, claiming that the publication of the book could violate the official's legal obligations under non-disclosure agreements.


Facebook Removes Breitbart Articles Claiming to Name Ukraine Whistle-Blower

After removing the posts, Facebook said that it would continue to take down any mention of the whistle-blower's name, regardless of the source, because leaving the name violates Facebook's policy against content outing witnesses, informants or activists.


Technology Companies Are Failing at Identifying and Removing Online Child Sexual Abuse Material

The New York Times reports that major tech companies are failing to stop the recirculation of abuse imagery, even though they have the tools to do so. One such tool is to scan and then match newly detected images against databases of the material, much like what the software PhotoDNA does. Dropbox, Google, and Microsoft currently scan for illegal images but only when someone shares them, not when they've been uploaded. Further, Facebook recently announced that its Facebook Messenger, the main source of this imagery, will be encrypted, which will further limit detection.


California Sues Facebook Over Documents in Privacy Investigation

The state's attorney general said the company failed to cooperate with his investigation into its privacy practices by resisting or ignoring dozens of questions and requests for documents, including email correspondence between company executives.


Two Former Twitter Employees Charges with Spying for Saudi Arabia

The Justice Department is accusing two men of using their positions and access to Twitter's internal systems to help Saudi Arabia by obtaining information on American citizens and Saudi dissidents. One of the men is accused of spying on a friend of slain journalist Jamal Khashoggi.


BBC Defends Gender Pay Gap in Samira Ahmed's Case

The BBC continues to defend its pay practices at a hearing before the Central London Employment Tribunal. TV host Samira Ahmed is suing the BBC for paying her a fraction of what it paid a male TV host in an analogous job. The BBC's position is that her work and profile were not equal to her male colleague's. The publicly funded broadcaster argues that Ahmed she had a lower public profile and narrower focus of expertise. (She hosted a weekly show that discussed audience responses to BBC news coverage. Her colleague, Jeremy Vine, hosted a show that allowed viewers to do the same over entertainment programs on the network.)


General News

The Patent and Trademark Office is Requesting Comment on Copyright Issues

The Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) is seeking comments on a variety of issues related to copyright and artificial intelligence (AI), including whether copyright protections should extend to AI-created works and what human involvement would be required for those works to qualify for copyright protection.


President Celebrates Leaving His Mark on the Federal Judiciary

President Trump held an event at the White House to celebrate the Senate's judicial confirmations and his role in reshaping the federal courts. About a quarter of all judges on U.S. appeals courts are Trump nominees, in addition to 2 Supreme Court justices confirmed since he took office.


Attorney General Declined Trump Request to Declare Nothing Illegal in Ukraine Call

The President reportedly asked Attorney General Barr to declare publicly that the former broke no laws in his July 25th phone call with
Ukrainian President Zelensky. Barr reportedly declined to hold a news conference. Instead, the Justice Department released a statement that said, "no further action was warranted" after it had evaluated the transcript and the whistleblower complaint about the call.


House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry

House committees sent acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney a letter requesting that he appear for a private deposition. They cited evidence that he may have been "directly involved" in the President's actions on Ukraine. Mulvaney inserted himself in this conversation when he admitted at a news conference that the White House did withhold nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine to further the President's political interest.


John Bolton Says He Has Key Information on Ukraine; Will Not Testify Unless Subpoenaed

In a letter to the chief House lawyer, Bolton's lawyer says that his client knows about "many relevant meetings and conversations" related to the pressure campaign on Ukraine, but he will not testify unless committees obtain a court order compelling his testimony. According to testimony made public on Friday, Rudy Giuliani spearheaded efforts to bend Ukraine policy to the President's political advantage, and pitted Bolton, who resisted his plans, against Mulvaney, who may have played a central role.


Ukraine Policy Thrusts White House Lawyer into Center of Crisis

John Eisenberg, the National Security Council's top lawyer, has emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry. Though he did not appear for a scheduled deposition with House investigators last week, his name continues to come up in transcripts. It was Eisenberg who first received complaints that one of the president's political appointees (Ambassador Sondland) was pressuring Ukraine in order to advance the President's personal/political interests. When Eisenberg shared the complaints with White House counsel, he was told to raise them with the President, but instead he concluded that Sondland's efforts were not criminal.


U.S. Ambassador Sondland Describes the Ukraine Quid Pro Quo

In a sworn statement released this week, the U.S. ambassador to the European Union confirmed his role in laying out a quid pro quo to Ukraine that made the release of security assistance contingent on Ukraine's willingness to say it was investigating Joe Biden's son and other Democrats. That admission contradicts his earlier statements to investigators and to Congress, in which he frequently said that he could not recall key details and events on issues related to the impeachment inquiry.


State Department Official Complained That Trump Politicized Ukraine Policy

A top official in the Bureau of European and Eurasian affairs testified that he saw the President's demands for Ukraine to "initiate politically motivated prosecutions" against his opponents as corrupt.


Giuliani's Associate Talks with Impeachment Investigators

Lev Parnas, one of four Giuliani associates accused of campaign finance violations, has reportedly initiated talks with impeachment investigators. He says he will comply with any congressional subpoenas for documents and testimony. The President has repeatedly denied knowing him. Parnas and Giuliani were connected after Parnas secured a $500,000 payment from a Long Island lawyer and Republic donor. The lawyer became an investor in Parnas' personal data-security company that Giuliani would be a spokesman for. Parnas reportedly became involved in Giuliani's efforts to obtain damaging information about Trump's political opponents.



Military Judge Rules That Prosecutors Misrepresented Evidence from CIA Sites

The ruling relates to the case of Abd al Rahim as Nashiri, a Saudi man who was accused of organizing the 2000 bombing of warship Cole, off Yemen. The ruling says that prosecutors misrepresented evidence provided to the accused's defense lawyers. They did so by summarizing or redacting information that related to his detention in a CIA black site in such a self-serving way that it impacted its reliability and usability.


Funding for Minority Colleges is Being Held Up in the Senate

A stalemate in the Senate has left minority-serving colleges waiting on federal funding that helps bolster science, technology, engineering, and math programs. Democratic senators wanted to advance the funding in a stand-alone bill last week, while their Republican counterparts want it passed as part of a broader overhaul of federal higher education law.


Bill Would Erase Deadline for States to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

Congressional Democrats are pushing a bill that would remove a now-expired deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). Removing the deadline would allow the Democrat-controlled legislature of Virginia to ratify the amendment. If that occurs, Virginia will become the 38th state to do so, opening the door for the ERA to go into effect as a constitutional amendment. The ERA would bar discrimination on the basis of sex.


"Conscience Rule" for Healthcare Workers is Struck Down

A federal judge has blocked the "conscience rule" for abortions. The rule allowed health care workers to opt out of the procedure on religious and moral grounds. Hospitals, governments or insurance companies that violated their employees' rights under the rule stood to lose federal funding. The judge said "the administrative record reflects a yawning evidentiary gap" because the justification that the Department of Health and Human Services stated for the rule (that there was a significant increase in civilian complaints relating to the conscience provisions) was factually untrue.


Federal Ruling Holds U.S. Accountable for Border Separations; Government Must Provide Mental Health Services

A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to make mental health treatment immediately available to migrant families who were separated at the border. The ruling applied the "state-created danger" doctrine and referred to previous cases that held governments liable for placing people in dangerous situations when acting with "deliberate indifference".


Supreme Court Considers Hearing Case Against Gun Industry

The Supreme Court will consider whether to hear a case against Remington, the maker of the AR-15-style rifle. The lawsuit is brought by Sandy Hook families who challenge a 2005 law that protects gun manufacturers from legal liability when their weapons are used in crimes. The plaintiffs say that Remington recklessly marketed the rifle through problematic advertising and product placement in video games, in violation of Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act.


Recent Filing in Copyright Suit Between Rimini Street and Oracle

In 2016, Rimini Street was ordered to pay nearly $100 million to Oracle after a jury found that Rimini had infringed 93 Oracle copyrights. Rimini has filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court, seeking to avoid an injunction in the copyright case. The issue on appeal is whether a permanent injunction can be issued where the jury found that the infringement was "innocent," but then the district court found the petitioner acted in "conscious disregard" of respondents' copyrights.


Lawyer Who Shaped a Previous Partial Forgiveness Loan Policy is Nominated to Appeals Court

Steven Menashi helped devise (and defend) a plan to use Social Security income data to deny debt relief to students cheated by for-profit colleges, which a federal judge ruled violated the federal Privacy Act. Menashi has now been nominated to the United States Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit and senators have expressed concern over Menashi's reluctance to answer questions about his contribution to and influence on specific education policies.


Federal Prosecutors Charge Aventura Over Military Equipment Made in China

Prosecutors accuse Aventura Technologies of lying to American customers about the origins of its products after the Commack, New York, company sold equipment to the U.S. military that was packaged in "Made in USA" labels but was made in China. They say the equipment was vulnerable to hacking and raised concerns that China could have installed software and used it for spying.


The Trade Gap Keeps Growing, Despite the President's Efforts and Rhetoric

According to Commerce Department data on the first three quarters of 2019, the trade deficit grew by 5.4% (about $481.3 billion) from the same period last year. American exports fell by $7 billion, as compared to 2018, while imports grew by $17.8 billion. While President Trump has long argued that the trade deficit (i.e. when the value of a country's imports exceeds its exports), some economists argue that the trade deficit is a poor metric for measuring economic well-being. Rather, they see that number as the result of the U.S. growing faster than other countries, which leads to more purchases of foreign products by Americans.


Legislators Call on the Federal Aviation Administration to Explain Why it Overruled 737 Experts

Representatives on the House Transportation Committee are asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to explain why its managers overruled the FAA's safety experts and decided against requiring Boeing to change parts of a rudder system that helps control the 737 Max. The cables in question are part of a rudder system that is separated from the automated software that contributed to the 737 crashes.


Environmental Protection Agency Weakens Rules Governing Water Pollution from Coal Plants

The new measures lower pollution limits from the ash of coal burning power plants and extend the deadline for power plants to comply with new technologies, which exempt many coal plants altogether.


The Federal Reserve Signaling It Is Ready to Consider Climate Change

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco held the system's first-ever climate research conference, signaling that it is ready to start
considering emerging challenges related to climate in order to deliver on its mandate of promoting economic stability. It is also considering participating in a network of about 40 global central banks promoting discussion on climate-related financial and macroeconomic issues.


Centers for Disease Control Calls Vitamin E Acetate "Strong Culprit" in Vaping Crisis

The Center for Disease Control says that the toxin has been found in fluid samples taken from the lungs of 29 patients. The additive is frequently found in bootleg THC products linked to vaping-related illnesses and deaths.


Texas Plans to Execute Death Row Inmate Rodney Reed, Despite New Evidence

Reed was convicted in the 1996 rape and murder of Stacey Stites, after his DNA was connected to her. He initially told authorities that he did not know the victim, but later admitted to having had a consensual relationship with her. Reed's defense team says that Stites' fiancée is behind the killing and has found witnesses who say her fiancée expressed anger and threats over her seeking a black man behind his back. A bipartisan group of 16 Texas state senators are urging the governor to grant a reprieve to Reed before the November 20th execution date.


Houston Prosecutor Fired After Asking About a Crime Victim's Immigration Status Before Deciding Whether to File Charges

The prosecutor has been fired for refusing to file sexual assault charges. He reportedly asked police if the complainant was "illegal," adding "because if he's illegal, I'm not taking the charge."


Democrats Win Control of Virginia Legislature and Claim Narrow Victory in Kentucky

Democrats took both the state House and Senate for the first time in over two decades. Kentucky Democrat Andy Beshear won the governor's race against Republican incumbent Matt Bevin.


President Trump Ordered to Pay $2 Million to Charities for Misuse of Foundation

It will be part of a settlement with the New York State Attorney General's Office to resolve a lawsuit alleging that Trump's foundation coordinated with his presidential campaign. The state judge found that Trump breached his fiduciary duty to the foundation and allowed money raised in a televised fundraiser to be used to further his political campaign.


Federal Appeals Court Says President's Accountants Must Turn Over Eight Years of Tax Returns

The ruling says that President Trump's accounting firm, not the President himself, is responsible for providing eight years of personal and corporate tax returns to Manhattan prosecutors investigating alleged hush-money payments made to women just before the 2016 election.


Woman Accusing Donald Trump of Rape Sues Him for Defamation

The author E. Jean Carroll says the president hurt her reputation and career when he called a liar and said she was intent on selling her book after she alleged that Trump had raped her in the dressing room of a New York City department store in 1995 or 1996.


Trump's Phone Records Link Him to a Woman Accusing Him of Sexual Assault

A former "Apprentice" contestant, Summer Zervos, says phone records show an outgoing call to her from Trump's phone on the same day she alleges that Trump subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping. Her lawyers say the phone calls support that she is telling the truth. Trump's attorneys maintain that Zervos' claims are not corroborated by any documents.


Roger Stone's Trial Links Trump More Closely to 2016 Effort to Obtain Stolen Emails

Newly revealed calls between Roger Stone and President Trump suggest that the latter was more personally involved in efforts to obtain emails stolen by Russian operatives in 2016. Prosecutors are focusing on the timing of those calls, saying that the two spoke repeatedly during a time when Stone was aggressively seeking to obtain stolen emails from Julian Assange, and that the timing dovetails with other key developments related to the theft and release of those emails. Another witness in the trial testified that Stone, a former Trump campaign aide, deliberately lied to House committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.



White Supremacist Group Films Video at Till Memorial

Security camera footage captured eight members of the white supremacist group League of the South filming propaganda around the memorial. The video shows them fleeing after a security alarm goes off. The memorial marks where Emmett Till's disfigured body was found after the 14-year-old boy was abducted and lynched in 1955.


Mastercard Will Offer Cards Aimed at Transgender and Nonbinary People

Banks issuing cards under the True Name initiative will let customers use their chosen names. The move reflects a growing awareness of the needs of transgender and nonbinary people and is meant to avoid potential bias or discrimination when a person uses a name that conflicts with his/her/their appearance.


U.S. Envoy in Syria Criticized Administration Over Turkish Attack

In an internal memo, a senior American diplomat in Northern Syria said that not enough was done to deter Turkey from invading northern Syria last month, adding that the Turkish-backed forces committed war crimes and ethnic cleansing.


Bosco Ntaganda, Nicknamed "Terminator," is Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison

Ntaganda was convicted on 18 counts, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, and using child soldiers. The International Criminal Court sentenced him to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


Italian Public Schools Will Require Environmental Education

Italy will require climate change lessons for students in all grades. The issue will first be addressed in civics courses, and then it will start "infiltrating" other courses, like math and physics.


November 17, 2019

Week In Review

Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Taylor Swift Escalates Battle With Scooter Braun and Big Machine

Taylor Swift has called on her "fervent army of fans" to speak out about her fight with some of the most influential figures in the music industry. In a note that she posed to Tumblr, she detailed that she has been "blocked from performing her old songs at an awards show," and her story brought the hashtag #IStandWithTaylor to be the top trend on Twitter.


India's Soundtrack of Hate, With a Pop Sheen

There is a growing movement in India of Hindutva, which is a word "describing a devout Hindu culture and way of life," and it has come to define the era under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Muslims and minorities are fearful that Modi's supporters "are damaging the country's secular foundation and making life dangerous for any who do not display extreme patriotism or Hindu religious fervor."



Marciano Art Foundation Is Accused of Unfair Labor Practices

The Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles is facing accusations that it violated federal law when it dismissed dozens of employees who had announced that they wished to form a union at the museum. The National Labor Relations Board has received a charge from the union organizers accusing the foundation of having "illegally discriminated against its employees by laying off employees en masse and/or closing its facility."


In Struggle Over Parthenon Marbles, Greece Gets China as Unexpected Ally

Greece and Britain have fought for nearly two centuries for the Parthenon Marbles, which are on display at the British Museum in London and are the "crowning prize of timeless beauty and ancient civilization taken from Athens." China's President Xi Jinping announced his support for the return of the works to Greece, which comes after a "growing affinity between" Greece and China. This was underscored by a two-day visit from Xi to Greece during which the countries signed 16 new agreements that will bring additional Chinese investments into Greece.


Mexican Village's Embroidery Designs Are Admired and Appropriated Globally

Artisans in the Mexican town of San Nicolas have turned a craft of embroidering in elaborate and elegant designs into an industry. The pieces are called tenangos and have developed a worldwide market, but now, "major international brands have advertised products decorated" virtually identical to the tenangos without mentioning the source of inspiration. Several artisans have started to register their designs under Mexican copyright law, and the country's culture minister has sent letters to the major international brands.



The Real Cost of Diversifying College Rosters

For nearly all youth sports, there is a model that "radically skews college athletic opportunities toward high-income families" and results in college rosters that "are exceedingly white, especially when the major-college revenue sports like football and basketball are excluded." The NCAA has conducted one survey that found nearly 70% of its athletes competing outside football and basketball were white, and the disparity became even more glaring at small colleges.


Woman Told to Remove Hijab Before Denver Nuggets Game

A woman in Colorado, Gazella Bensreiti, has alleged that she was the subject of discrimination when she entered the Pepsi Center for a Denver Nuggets game on November 5th. A female employee of the arena "put her hand to my face and told me that I would have to 'take that thing off' of my head." She was attending the game to "watch her 8-year-old daughter perform the national anthem with her school's choir." The arena's spokeswoman said that the security agent "didn't recognize that Ms. Bensreiti was wearing a hijab" and then allowed Bensreiti to enter after a supervisor intervened.


Don Cherry, a Hockey Institution in Canada, Is Fired After Divisive Comments

The colorfully dressed Don Cherry is known in Canada for being on "Hockey Night in Canada," and he has been fired for "on-air comments that were widely viewed as a racist attack on the patriotism of immigrants." He lamented that in downtown Toronto "nobody wears a poppy" for the commemoration of Remembrance Day, observed in countries with historic ties to the United Kingdom. He continued, adding: "you people love--that come here, whatever it is--you love our way of life, you love our milk and honey, at least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada, these guys paid the biggest price."


Tucked in the World Anti-Doping Agency's Rules, a Ticking Bomb for European Soccer

Buried in the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) procedural document published last year is a paragraph that may have a substantial effect on 2020's European soccer championship. It is expected that the rule will force changing the hosting requirements, "because of the continuing fallout of a Russian doping scandal," and 2020's championship is set to take place in St. Petersburg. However, WADA's executive body is going to make a final decision as to Russia's potential punishment when it convenes on December 9th.



District Court in Florida Rules on Netflix Series Narcos Infringement

"Consequently, under the terms of the Agreement, Plaintiff retained all rights in her memoir and copyrights until the Purchaser exercised the option and Plaintiff has standing to sue Defendants for infringement occurring from the time Narcos was released until the time the Purchaser exercised the option. Finally, Plaintiff's failure to plead the limited time period for her infringement claim does not effect whether Plaintiff has standing to bring the instant action and the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, it is ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction [DE 100] is DENIED. DONE and ORDERED in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, this 28th day of October, 2019." -update contributed by Anne Dalton


Facebook's New Role as News Publisher Brings Additional Scrutiny

With Facebook announcing its news initiative, it is facing scrutiny and accusations of bias. The news executive at Facebook, Campbell Brown, has published several articles critiquing presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren, and calling her "the second coming of Karl Marx." Facebook News will be a separate module on its mobile app and include reporting from BuzzFeed, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.


Student Journalists Face Blowback on Campuses

Student journalists are having to grapple with increasing scrutiny from outside their campuses, as was clear on Northwestern University last week. Student protesters pushed through a back door of the building, and a journalist took a photograph of a woman who was sprawled on the floor and was being shoved and pushed. She wrote on Twitter, "You don't have to intervene but you also didn't have to put a camera in front of me top down." The picture was deleted, but the dean of the journalism school released a statement: "The Daily had an obligation to capture the event, both for the benefit of its current audience as well as for posterity." The controversy is just the latest example of "shifting sensibilities and heightened criticism of the media have made the environment thornier for student journalists."


Financial Times Names First Woman as Top Editor in Its 131 Years

After 131 years of publishing its newspaper, The Financial Times has its first woman at the top: Roula Khalaf. She is a 24-year veteran of the newspaper who has been deputy editor for four years and was born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon.


After Merger, Gannett Will be the Largest Newspaper Publisher in the U.S.

Since 2004, approximately one in four newspapers has closed, and now, over 260 daily newspapers will be controlled by Gannett. It is set to merge with GateHouse Media and create the largest newspaper publisher in the country. The move is also likely to lead to "thousands of layoffs," but shareholders of both companies approved the merger, and it is expected that it will be formally completed in the coming days.


How Laws Against Child Sexual Abuse Imagery Can Make it Harder to Detect

While tech companies have struggled to keep images of child sexual abuse off their websites, their software has not been entirely effective in automatically removing the, content. The industry has privacy policies in place that leave "their platforms rife with gaps that criminals regularly exploit," according to The New York Times. While known images can be flagged and removed easily, new content that goes into systems is more difficult to detect and remove.


Turkish President Visits White House

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, visited President Trump this week and handed him back the letter that President Trump had sent him warning him to not "be a fool" and launch a military operation against the Kurdish fighters in Syria (a letter which Erdogan ignored to praise from the media in Turkey). Meanwhile, one of the prominent journalists in Turkey was detained, signaling that the government was going to continue cracking down on dissent, which began in earnest after the attempted coup in 2016.





General News

The Impeachment Hearings Begin in the House

The public impeachment hearings began with diplomats William Taylor and George Kent and concluded with Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine. Damning testimony emerged and raised questions about whether any other members of the administration would comply with the congressional subpoenas that brought Taylor, Kent, and Yovanovitch into the public hearings. During Yovanovitch's hearing, President Trump posted on Twitter that everywhere she went turned out worse than when she arrived in what amounted to Yovanovitch as an attempt at intimidate her and other witnesses who may publicly testify. Republicans called for the name and identity of the whistleblower to be revealed and accused the Committee's chairman, Adam Schiff, of having met with the whistleblower, which Schiff unequivocally denied.











How the Trump Administration Eroded Its Own Legal Case on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Elaine Duke, the acting secretary of homeland security in 2017, had "balked at" the demand by President Trump's team that "she issue a memo ending Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program known as DACA." She relented after "intense pressure," but "her refusal to cite their policy objections to the program" has emerged as a "major weakness in the government's case defending the termination of the program," which was argued before the Supreme Court last week.


Roger Stone Is Convicted of Impeding Investigators in Bid to Protect Trump

Roger Stone has been convicted of seven felonies "for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath, and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies" after jurors deliberated for approximately seven hours. Together, the charges have a maximum sentence of 50 years, but there remains an outstanding question as to whether President Trump may pardon Stone.


Stephen Miller Pushed White Nationalist Theories Before Joining Trump Administration

Senior advisor to President Trump Stephen Miller has been revealed to have "promoted theories popular with white nationalist groups to an editor" at Breitbart News from March 2015 to June 2016. He sent over 900 messages to Breitbart News during that time,0 espousing theories such as one that "people of color are trying to engage in 'white genocide.'" Miller has declined to comment regarding the revelations.



Court Rejects Trump's Appeal in Fight Over Financial Records, and Trump Asks Supreme Court to Bar Release of Tax Returns

A federal appeals court has rejected President Trump's appeal of a ruling that "his accounting firm must turn over financial records to Congress." His attorney, Jay Sekulow, has argued that the appeals court made a grave error, and in the petition urging the Supreme Court to hear the appeal, saying that a president is "immune from all criminal proceedings and investigations so long as he remained in office."



Supreme Court to Decide Whether it Is a Crime to Encourage Unauthorized Immigration

The Supreme Court is set to hear an appeal coming from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals as to whether a 1986 federal law creates a crime for encouraging unauthorized immigrants to come to or stay in the United States. The case touches on not only immigration, but also First Amendment rights, and the Trump administration in its appeal has argued that the Ninth Circuit went too far in ruling that the law was unconstitutional.


Supreme Court Appears Ready to Let Trump End DACA Program

During oral arguments this week, it appeared that justices were likely to find that the Trump administration's decision to shut down the DACA program would be upheld. While Justice Sotomayor and Justice Ginsburg emphasized the consequences of ending the program, it was unclear whether any of the justices not on the liberal wing of the Court would join their colleagues in upholding the program.


Supreme Court Hears Racial Discrimination Case Against Comcast

Cautiously, the Supreme Court "seemed to be looking for a narrow way to rule in a racial discrimination case against Comcast," which was brought by a black entrepreneur "who contends his race played a role in the company's decision not to carry programming from his network. In its brief, Comcast argued that it used ordinary business calculations, such as "bandwidth constraints, a preference for sports and news programming" and insufficient demand, rather than race.


Judge Rules That Blueprints for 3-D Printed Guns Cannot Be Posted

In Santa Clarita, a student opened fire at Saugus High School, killing two students and himself. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court cleared the way for relatives of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School to sue the Remington Arms Company, the maker of the rifle used in the shooting. A federal judge in Washington State then "blocked the Trump administration from allowing blueprints for making plastic guns on 3-D printers to be posted on the internet, ruling that the move violated federal procedures."




Climate Change Poses Threats to Children's Health Worldwide

A new report in the medical journal The Lancet has been released and concludes that the "health effects of climate change will be unevenly distributed and children will be among those especially harmed." The report went on to find "that failing to limit emissions would lead to health problems caused by infectious diseases, worsening air pollution, rising temperatures, and malnutrition." Additionally, the physiology of children puts them into a more vulnerable position than adults, even if there was no reduction in global temperatures.


Environmental Protection Agency to Limit Science Used to Write Public Health Rules

The Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new draft that "would require that scientists disclose all of their raw data, including confidential medical records, before the agency could consider an academic study's conclusions." The officials within the EPA have called the plan a "step toward transparency and said the disclosure of raw data would allow conclusions to be verified independently." The goal of the initiative is to "significantly limit the scientific and medical research that the government can use to determine public health regulations, overriding protests from scientists and physicians who say the new rule would undermine the scientific underpinnings of government policymaking."


Amazon Protesting Pentagon's $10 Billion JEDI Contract

Amazon has announced that it will challenge "the Pentagon's surprise decision last month to award a $10 billion cloud-computing contract to Microsoft, setting off another legal battle over the lucrative, decade-long project." The contract is known as the JEDI project, or Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure project, and Amazon's spokesman said: "Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors and unmistakable bias--and it's important that these matters be examined and rectified."


We Teach Artificial Intelligence Systems Everything, Including Our Biases

Scientists have been attempting to train artificial intelligence and mold it to uses in a variety of contexts, ranging from business software to the service industry, and scientists are still learning how "universal language models" works. However, scientists, in training the artificial intelligence, have found that where those models analyze "natural language and translation technology," they pick up the same biases that exist amongst humans.


Hate-Crime Violence Hits 16-Year High, FBI Reports

The FBI released a report finding that there was a "significant upswing in violence against Latinos outpacing a drop in assaults targeting Muslims and Arab-Americans." The number of hate crimes remained fairly flat, but physical assaults have gone up. While cities and local police forces are not required to report hate crimes to the FBI, the agency reports the instances of hate crimes of which it becomes aware in an effort "to increase awareness and response rates."


Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases

President Trump released a statement on Friday announcing that he was clearing three service members who had been either accused or convicted or war crimes and had become portrayed in conservative circles "as war heroes unfairly prosecuted for actions taken in the heat and confusion of battle." The clearance comes after military leaders had sought to punish the service members for their actions and signals that President Trump "intends to use his power as the ultimate arbiter of military justice in ways unlike any other president in modern times."


Jeffrey Epstein Estate Contemplates Victim Compensation Fund

The estate of Jeffrey Epstein asked a judge in the United States Virgin Islands "for permission to establish a voluntary resolution program for the late sex offender's accusers." The judge is overseeing the administration of Epstein's estate and will have to approve the program, which would provide Epstein's accusers with "the opportunity to obtain appropriate compensation and to be heard and treated with compassion, dignity, and respect."


Judge Reduces Opioid Fine After Mistaking Thousands for Millions

An Oklahoma judge acknowledged that he had mistaken thousands of dollars for millions when calculating the amount that "Johnson & Johnson should pay for its role in the state's opioids crisis." He announced that the fine will be reduced by approximately $107 million: from $572 million to $465 million. The lawyers for Johnson & Johnson checked the judge's math after receiving the verdict and moved to amend the amount based on the error in calculating.


Representative Peter King Announces That He Will Retire

Representative Peter King has announced that he will retire, joining many of his Republican colleagues who will not run for re-election in 2020. He noted in a statement that he was retiring so that he could end his weekly commute to Washington, but he conceded in an interview that the "toxic political environment in Washington" was also a factor.


United Nations's Query on Syria Hospital Bombings May Be Undermined by Russia Pressure

The United Nations has ordered an inquiry into bombings of hospitals in rebel areas of Syria, and it was hoped that evidence that Russians were involved in bombing the hospitals would stop additional bombings from occurring. However, there have been additional bombings of hospitals, and Russia's diplomats have attempted to suppress the results of the inquiry.


South Korea Resists U.S. Pressure to Improve Ties With Japan

On Friday, South Korea rejected the American request "to continue sharing military intelligence with Japan, as the two American allies remained locked in festering disputes over trade and history." South Korea is planning to abandon the agreement "unless Japan removed the export restrictions it had earlier imposed against South Korea."


Myanmar Genocide Lawsuit Filed at United Nations Court

Last Monday, Gambia filed a lawsuit against Myanmar, accusing it of genocide. The claim alleges that the Myanmar government and security forces purged "the country's Rohingya Muslim minority, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee a campaign of rape, arson, and killing." Gambia was chosen to file the suit "on "behalf of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which is also paying for the team of top international law experts handling the case."


Venice Flooding Brings City "to Its Knees"

The city of Venice is facing the most severe flooding it has experienced in 50 years and submerged much of the city under an "exceptionally high tide." The mayor has called for the "rapid completion of a long-delayed barrier system," as tourists and residents are having to wade through water to get to hotels, restaurants, and stores.


Hong Kong Colleges Are Besieged Citadels as Police Close In

Hong Kong's universities have served as the latest battleground between protesters and police. Students have been hurling "gasoline bombs," bricks, and "flaming arrows" at the riot police, and it is a sign of the violation of "another unspoken rule in the anti-government protests that have been convulsing Hong Kong for six months was shattered: the sanctity of educational campuses from the police."


Ethnic Rifts in Bolivia Burst Into View With Fall of Evo Morales

With the ousting of Bolivia's leader Evo Morales, who was the country's first Indigenous president, "deep ethnic tensions that have long divided the country have erupted, complicating efforts to move Bolivia out of political crisis." He has been replaced by an acting president of European ancestry, despite the fact that three-quarters of the country are either Indigenous or identify as members of Indigenous groups.


November 18, 2019

Private Equity Ventures Used to Boost Athlete Image and Likeness Revenues

By Michael A. Scott, Esq.

The National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA), Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and RedBird Capital Partners (RedBird) have teamed up on a unique venture, titled OneTeam Partners LLC (OneTeam), to help boost image and likeness revenues for athletes through private equity. The NFLPA and MLBPA are no stranger to deriving revenues from image and likeness, however, the OneTeam partnership looks to pool revenues and "invest in projects that expand opportunities" for licensing. The deal is the first of its kind, with RedBird purchasing a 40% stake in OneTeam, while the NFLPA and MLBPA take ownership of the remaining 60%. It should be noted that the players will still collect their licensing fees, as determined by their respective collective bargaining agreements, but any amount left for the leagues will not be reinvested. OneTeam is in talks with other unions and professional sports leagues, with the hopes of expanding in the near future.


SCOTUS Accepts Cert. in Long-Running Oracle v. Google Battle Over JAVA APIs

By Barry Werbin

On Friday, November 15th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the long-running Oracle v. Google case, which addresses whether software application program interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protection and if Google was otherwise entitled to a fair use defense for copying portions of Oracle's JAVA declaring code and the structure/sequence/organization (SSO) of Oracle's Java APIs. The JAVA language allows developers to write one set of code that works across different operating systems, and the APIs are the bridge to connect JAVA applications to different systems. Using JAVA, developers only have to "write once."

The case started back in 2012, in the Northern District of California, when Oracle sued Google for copyright (and patent) infringement over Google's copying of SSO attributes from 37 JAVA API packages and literal copying of 11,500 lines of declaring code for its open source Android system. ("Declaring code" is a code statement that establishes an identifier and associates attributes with it, without necessarily reserving its storage (for data) or providing the implementation methods. Google did not copy any JAVA implementation code and wrote its own.) Google argued that the declaring code and API SSO were not protectable, and that even if they were, it was entitled to a fair use defense.

In 2012, the District Court exonerated Google entirely, finding that the JAVA SSO attributes were not protectable as a functional system. The District Court also held that the declaring code wasn't protectable under the merger doctrine, and because that code consisted of merely short names or phrases. (F.Supp.2d 974 (N.D. Cal. 2012).)

In 2014, the Federal Circuit (which had sole jurisdiction because of the additional patent claims), reversed, holding that the declaring code and SSO of the API packages are entitled to copyright protection, and that Google infringed those copyrights. Google's fair use defense was remanded for further consideration. (750 F.3d 1339 (Fed. Cir. 2014)(applying 9th Cir. law).)

In May 2016, on remand, a jury found Google's re-implementation of the 37 Java APIs to be fair use under Section 107 of the Copyright Act. However, that too was short lived, as the Federal Circuit again reversed, holding that fair use did not apply because Google's use was not transformative as a matter of law, Google copied more than was necessary under Section 107, and the use was commercial (even though Android is free to license). (886 F. 3d 1179 (Fed. Cir. 2018).)

Google filed a petition for certiorari in January 2019. Numerous amici, including a group of 78 computer scientists, scholars (including David Nimmer), and other tech organizations like Mozilla, EFF, and Etsy, filed support for Google's petition, arguing in favor of APIs remaining an open standard for new code development. Other amici filed support for Oracle. Microsoft is supporting Google on fair use, although it previously supported Oracle on copyrightability.

Whether SCOTUS would accept the case was uncertain, particularly after the U.S .Solicitor General (at the request of SCOTUS) submitted a brief in September 2019, siding with Oracle and urging the Court not to grant certiorari.

The Court's decision in this case will have huge ramifications in the software and tech industries, and could likely be the most significant decision impacting computer programs since they first obtained express statutory protection under the Copyright Act in 1980.

Order attached granting cert., also granting the motion of 78 computer scientists to file an amicus brief:


1220000-1220465-20190124110509177_google cert petition.pdf

Oracle - Google Cert Order.pdf

November 25, 2019

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:


Amid Tech Advances, U.S. Moves to End Rules on Movie Distribution

The U.S. Justice Department has moved to end the longstanding consent decrees, known as the so-called Paramount decrees, which lay out the rules for the distribution and exhibition of motion pictures. The decrees have governed Hollywood since the 1948 and broke up Hollywood's monopoly on production, distribution, and exhibition. Some smaller theater chains and mom-and-pop movie houses, already dealing with a changing film market, are worried that this move will make things even more difficult. The antitrust division will soon ask the court to toss the decrees, except for a two-year sunset period on bans of certain practices. Many hope that the termination of the decrees will clear the way for consumer-friendly innovation.


They're Young Diverse and Nominated

This year, the 62nd annual Grammy nominees contain new, diverse artists making names for themselves, breaking records, and shattering top charts; and many of them are women running the show. 2020 is already proving to be a big year for women in the music industry. Newcomers Lizzo and Billie Eilish are breaking records; Lizzo has eight nominations and Eilish is now the youngest person to ever be nominated in all four major categories, at just 17 years old. This year, female artists are expected to sweep the award show.


Diversity Gains Found in Directing for TV

The latest Directors Guild of America study has found that women and directors of color have made substantial gains; for the first time, half of all TV episodes were helmed by women or directors of color in the 2018-19 season. That is up from 21% five years ago. The percentage of episodes directed by women grew to 31%, more than doubling in the past five years, while the percentage helmed by directors of color increased more than 40% over the same time period. Both numbers are new highs.


Quantas Backs Crew Member Called Racist

Musician Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas took to Twitter to call a Qantas Airways' flight attendant racist and posted her name and photograph. The Australian airline has said that it will support its flight attendant if she chooses to sue the musician. Some Twitter uses took exception to Will.i.am naming the flight attendant publicly and accused him of intimidation. The musician said that he was just using the same tool that others would have used had they encountered a similar situation.


"Sesame Street" in Arabic Tackles Trauma Faced by Refugee Children

The global "Sesame Street" family is getting three new members who will lead a new Arabic-language, locally produced show set to tackle the trauma facing refugee children in the Middle East. The show is created by Sesame Workshop in conjunction with the International Rescue Committee. It aims to bring laughter and learning to children affected by displacement in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Approximately 50% of all registered Syrian refugees are under the age of 18 and the crisis is robbing them of an education while leaving them to suffer from "toxic stress."


Polanski May Lose Support of French Film Industry

The director's latest film "J'accuse (An Officer and a Spy)" is topping the French box office, but the French directors' guild is looking to suspend Polanski's membership after his latest rape allegations. This could be a sign that the French film industry's support for Polanski is starting to wane. Screening of the film were cancelled in northern France and Paris after protests. At least 12 women, most of whom were children at the time, have now accused Polanski of sexual assault. Activist groups are calling for a boycott of the director's work, while the film is being praised by critics.



No More Excuses for Gauguin

Gaugin has a troubled history filled with sexual relations with young girls and racist rhetoric, leading museums and visitors reassessing the legacy of this artist and questioning whether it's time to stop looking at him altogether. In the international art museum world, Gauguin is a box-office hit, but in today's age of heightened public sensitivity to gender, race, and colonialism issues, museums are revisiting considering how to move forward. Everything is now viewed in a much more nuanced context. Some museum professionals are concerned that re-examining the lives of past artists from a 21st-century lens is risky and could lead to the boycott of great art.


Guggenheim Hires First Full-Time Black Curator

The Guggenheim Museum has hired Ashley James, its first full-time black curator. This move comes at a time when museums all over the country are trying to increase the diversity of their staffs, boards, and exhibition spaces. Most recently an assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, James is now the Guggenheim's associate curator of contemporary art. A spokesperson for the museum said that James complements the mission of the museum, which is to present the art of today. James was the driving force behind the Brooklyn Museum's acclaimed exhibit, "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power."


President Trump Awarded Medals for Arts and Humanities

President Trump has awarded his first round of National Medal of Arts and National Medal of Humanities recipients. The eight recipients included 27-time Grammy Award-winning musician Alison Krauss, best-selling novelist James Patterson, and Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight. Voight is an outspoken Trump supporter and Patterson is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf club. Both were both referred to by Trump as "his friends." The medals have typically been awarded on an annual basis, but this will be the first time Trump has awarded the medals since taking office in 2017.


Chinese-American Artist Falls Afoul of Censors

The city of Beijing has canceled a survey of the work of 71-year-old Chinese-American artist Hung Liu. The show was scheduled to open at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art on December 6th and run through March 2020. As China has ramped up its censorship of the arts in recent months, the Beijing government has declined to approved the show. The decision comes as there have been increased tension between Hung's native and adopted countries of China and the U.S. All exhibitions mounted in Beijing must be formally approved by the city's Municipal Bureau of Culture, which reviews images of proposed works and issues documentation that can be submitted to Beijing Customs for an import permit. The Ullens Center's request was declined less than a month before the show's opening. Liu is known for her expressionistic painted portraits of working class Chinese citizens and has exhibited numerous times in Beijing and elsewhere in China.


An Exhibit Best Viewed from Across the Street

Médina, a poor and working class neighborhood near downtown Dakar, has welcomed street artists from all over the world to practice their craft in what the founder of the project calls the open sky museum. Dozens of wall paintings add to the flourishing international art scene in Dakar. Artists from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Morocco, Congo, France, and Italy have come to
paint on these walls, and in turn have brought art lovers and tourists into a neighborhood in which they may not otherwise go. The project is meant to bring people together.



Coaching Legend Barred for Life After Sexual Misconduct Inquiry

George Morris, an equestrian legend now 81, is permanently barred from the sport after accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Morris is a 1960 U.S. Olympic silver medalist and considered to be one of the founding fathers of equestrian sport. The U.S. Center for SafeSport announced the lifetime ban after two people accused Morris of misconduct during his coaching career in the 1960s and 70s, saying that nobody is above accountability. The U.S. Equestrian Federation had previously barred Morris in August, but made his suspension permanent after an appeal.


Female Reporter Accuses Barkley of Violent Threat

Alexi McCammond, a political reporter for Axios, has accused NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley of threatening her with violence during an interview. McCammond revealed the threat on Twitter. Turner Sports public relations released a statement on behalf of Barkley, saying that, "[it was] inappropriate and unacceptable...it was an attempted joke that wasn't funny at all."


Seven Russians Suspended for Obstructing Investigation, Deepening Crisis

Dmitry Shlyakhtin, president of the Russian track and field federation, resigned two days after he was accused of obstructing an anti-doping investigation involving fake medical documents. He is one of seven people charged following an investigation into the medical files presented as an alibi by high jumper Danil Lysenko last year. Shlyakhtin took office in January 2016 pledging to overturn Russia's suspension from international track events due to widespread doping. Four years later, that suspension is still in place and Russia could be expelled altogether following the new charges against Shlyakhtin and senior officials.



Two Writers Who Lodged Complaints Leave CBS

Two writers for "Carol's Second Act" quit the CBS show after one filed a misconduct complaint against executive producer David Hunt. Hunt is the husband of the show's star and executive producer Patricia Heaton. This was the first big test of CBS's brand-new approach to sexual harassment complaints, established in the wake of an investigation into former CEO Les Moonves' alleged sexual misconduct. The company is still investigating the complaints.


Conservative Talk Host is Fired Mid-show

A conservative radio host in Colorado says that he was fired on-air after criticizing Trump. The radio station is disputing the claims. The incident underscores the growing isolation of conservatives whose viewpoints reflect anything but unwavering support of the president. The general manager of the station says that Craig Silverman was not fired, but taken off air, because of his decision to move forward with appearing on a competing station over management's objections. The station went on to say that "[their] hosts have the freedom to express their opinions on current events based on their own personal conviction." Silverman said his future with KNUS remains unclear. Silverman has hosted his weekly show since 2014.


Four Candidates Join Push for a Review of NBC's Workplace

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, Democratic presidential candidates, penned a letter calling out NBC News and MSNBC for creating a culture that "enabled abusers and silenced survivors." The special letter was addressed to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez prior to the debate that aired on November 20th on NBC, the fifth debate's co-host. These concerns follow a slew of sexual abuse allegations recently perpetuated by reporter Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill, which investigates and sheds light on how the company handled allegations and sexual harassment claims within the network. It also details the efforts taken by management to stifle the reporting of Harvey Weinstein's case. The letter demands that parent company Comcast conduct a sexual misconduct probe.


White Nationalists' Website Influenced Miller, Emails Show

Stephen Miller's affinity for white nationalism has been revealed in leaked emails. Miller, the White House aide who is the driving force behind President Trump's immigration policies, cites anti-immigration and white nationalist websites as his resources. In the run-up to the 2016 election, the White House senior policy adviser promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories, and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's rampage, according to leaked emails Miller sent to conservative website Breitbart News. The source material that Miller laid out in his emails included white nationalist websites, a "white-genocide"-themed novel, xenophobic conspiracy theories, and eugenics-era immigration laws lauded by Hitler in Mein Kampf.


Media Workers Call Out Pay Gaps in Crowdsourced Records

As income inequality has become a focus of the current presidential candidates, workers in journalism, advertising, and book publishing have crowdsourced salary information, showing sharp disparities between genders, races, and experience. People are contributing to the lists during a wave of unionization in digital media. The crowdsourced spreadsheet was inspired by a 2017 spreadsheet in which media workers published allegations of sexual misconduct against men in the industry. Crowdsourced data allows for vast amounts of information to be collected, but it is a challenge to fact-check.


Google Limits 'Microtargeting' Of Audiences for Political Ads

Google is joining Twitter in revising its political ad rules ahead of election season. Twitter banned political advertising altogether, while Google is mainly limiting the ability to target political demographics and promises to take action against "demonstrably false claims." The tech company is changing the limitation of targeting terms that can be used for political advertising buys that appear in search, on display ads, and on YouTube. Starting in December, if an ad is political in nature, it will only be able to be targeted to age, general, and postal code. The move is seen as a step in the right direction. It is already against Google's policies for advertisers to make false claims, but Goggle has made an effort to put more of a finer point on those rules.


To Counter Testimony, the President Calls "Fox and Friends"

"Fox & Friends" is the morning show that President Trump counts on for the benefit of the doubt. Last week, Trump called in a 53-minute telephone interview in which he discussed the impeachment investigation, Ukraine, how the Democrats were out to sabotage his campaign, and his love and appreciation for the show and its hosts. However, the hosts pushed back on some of Trump's unfounded claims, which led to incoherent ramblings from the president.


Big Ratings as Hearings Beat "NCIS"

America's impeachment drama is drawing "Monday Night Football"- level viewership and its ratings have topped popular procedurals like "NCIS." The average live TV viewership for impeachment has been roughly 12 million people, and this has led to superlative number for cable news. In today's viewing climate, politics is driving television and has upended networks' daytime schedules. The viewership of the big cable news networks on impeachment days has been nearly double the average from a year ago. Partisan talk shows are doing particularly well. One group, however, appears to have suffered from the fatigue brought on by the all-day political coverage - the cadre of Democrats running for president. The debate followed roughly 11 hours of live testimony and featured 10 candidates, a test for even the most dedicated TV political junkie.


Twitter Scolds British Party After Account Is Rebranded

Twitter has issued a warning to a UK political party, after a rebrand of the party's press account as a fact-checking service attempted to mislead the public. The party has been accused of misleading people by changing its official press Twitter profile into a type of fact-checker during a televised leadership debate. It changed the account to "factcheckUK" with a new logo that showed no indication of its political associations and began posting supposedly "fact-checked" tweets, which only targeted Labour. Fact-checking services have become vital for verification in the age of misinformation during elections. Twitter says that "corrective action" would be taken in the event that something like this occurs again.


Egypt Arrests Editor of News Outlet Known for Investigative Work

Plain-clothed police arrested Mada Masr editor Shady Zalat from his home in Cairo. Mada Masr is a prominent investigative media outlet and one of the few independent news websites in Egypt. This is the latest arrest amid a wider crackdown on dissent in the country. The news outlet has been unable to confirm where Zalat is being held, and demanded his release. Last week, the outlet published an article that gave details about the country's security agencies at a time when press freedoms in Egypt are shrinking. Egypt has arrested at least 4,000 people since September amid a sweeping crackdown following rare anti-government protests. Egypt jails more journalists than any other country after China and Turkey, according to watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists.


General News

Aide Disclosed Bolton Meeting About Ukraine

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton met privately with President Trump in August to try and persuade him to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators. It was a one-on-one meeting in which Bolton and other advisors tried to convince the president that it was in the U.S.'s best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. However, the president was not ready to approve the release. The aide also described conversations had with Sondland about Ukraine matters. Morrison's testimony tied Trump more closely to the central charge from Democrats pursuing impeachment: that there was a quid pro quo. His testimony also contradicted much of what Sondland told congressional investigators.


Two Top Officials Testify That Call Was Inappropriate; One "Couldn't Believe" It

Two White House national security officials testified before the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday that President Trump's request to Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic rivals was inappropriate. Two more witnesses were more careful with their course, but also said under oath that the president's requests were not in line with American national security goals. These testimonies go to the heart of the Democrats' growing case they see as the centerpiece of an abuse of power by Trump of using his office to try to obtain a political advantage from a foreign power. House Republicans moved aggressively to try to undercut the lead witness.


Open Phones Made U.S. An Open Book to Russia

Many in the government are surprised and have expressed concern over the operational security of Trump's first informal "cybersecurity advisor" Rudy Giuliani and other member of the "irregular channel" who seem to have little concern about revealing their conversations to Moscow. Many of Giuliani's conversations happen over an unclassified cellphone and unclassified media. The behavior is highly problematic and indicative of someone who doesn't really understand how national security processes are run.


House Striving to See If Trump Lied to Mueller

The House of Representatives is investigating whether President Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation. There is a new focus on this matter following public revelations at Roger Stone's trial this month. Congress is now trying to obtain the redacted materials. There is a court case that revolves around what federal investigative information the House should be able to access during impeachment proceedings and what federal courts may do in a dispute between the House and the executive branch.


Trump Can Temporarily Withhold Tax Records

Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed a law, aimed at the president, to try and force Trump's hand in releasing his tax returns. Lawmakers approved a bill to require presidential candidates to disclose five years of tax returns in order to appear on the state's primary ballot. It was the first law of its kind in the nation, but it didn't last even six months. This month, California's highest court decided that the legislature went too far and determined that the state's own Constitution barred such a condition. The decision by the seven-member court of majority Democrat-appointed justices was unanimous.


Intense Lobbying by FedEx Slashed Its Tax Bill to $0

The company lobbied hard for the Trump administration's tax cut, which lowered the company's tax bill from $1.5 billion in 2017 to $0 the next year. FedEx's founder and CEO repeatedly took to the airwaves to champion the power of tax cuts, and months later, President Trump signed into law the $1.5 trillion tax cut that became his signature legislative achievement. The company reaped big savings, bringing its effective tax rate from 34% to less than zero. Nearly two years after the tax law passed, the windfall to corporations like FedEx is becoming clear. The companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investments by less, on average, than companies that smaller cuts.


Man Flees ICE, and His Judge Faces a Trial and Time in Jail

A Mexican man has fled south of the border to avoid being tried on manslaughter charges after being released by police in Portland, Oregon, despite federal immigration officers asking that he be held. ICE claims that the Washington County Sheriff's Department ignored its request to hold Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez until its officers could take him into federal custody. ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations believe that "the decision to continue to cite misguided sanctuary laws that allow dangerous criminals back on the streets...is irresponsible and jeopardizes public safety." Maldonado-Hernandez was street racing at the time of the death. He was released by the Washington County jail on August 8th and ICE has since issued a wanted flyer for Maldonado-Hernandez, believing that he is in Mexico.


Court Awards $2 Million to Planned Parenthood

A federal jury in San Francisco awarded Planned Parenthood $2.2 million in damages after ruling that an anti-abortion activist had broken federal and state laws while secretly recording workers at the organization. The man accused recorded the video in 2015 in an effort to show that the organization was illegally selling fetal tissue, a conservative hot topic. Planned Parenthood has denied the claims and the video led to numerous congressional and state investigations.


Another Contender Backed by Trump Loses in a Red State

Voters recently reelected Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in Louisiana, a red state in which President Trump campaigned twice in the final 11 days and urged voters on Twitter to vote for Republican Eddie Rispone. In a rally in Louisiana, Trump told voters, "you really need to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington." Despite the Republican pedigree, Democrats were the winners for governor in Louisiana and Kentucky, both of which had giant Trump victory margins in 2016. Both races had strong local dynamics, so it would be a mistake to overstate the Trump effect. It would also be a mistake to understate, or discount, the meaning of the Democratic wins in red state elections the President and both GOP candidates for governor tried to nationalize.


Democratic Prosecutors Call for Abortion Rights

To win financial backing from Democratic Attorneys General Association, candidates will be required to publicly state their support of abortion rights. The association of Democratic state attorneys general will become the first national party committee to impose an explicit abortion litmus test on candidates after it announced that it will refuse to endorse anyone who does not support reproductive rights and expanding access to abortion services. The group recruits candidates and helps their campaigns with financial support, data analysis, messaging, and policy positions. The decision comes as a series of state legislatures have approved restrictive laws designed to provoke a renewed legal battle over abortion rights set to topple Roe v. Wade.


Ex-Prisoner of Iran Sues After U.S. Breaks Promise"

Marine Vet Amir Hekmati, 36, was imprisoned and abused by Iranian authorities on accusations he was a spy. He has recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, alleging that it failed to compensate him after agreeing he was eligible to receive millions of dollars. Hekmati alleges that the fund for victims of terrorism told him he was eligible to receive $20 million stemming from his time in an Iranian prison for more than four years from 2011 to 2016. He was released in January 2016 as part of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. tied to the Iranian nuclear deal. In December, he was notified of an initial payment worth $890,100, but the money never came. A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined comment. The U.S. government's fund for state-sponsored terrorism victims has paid out billions of dollars to victims. In October 2017, a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. said Iran had to pay Hekmati $63.5 million for his suffering in Iranian custody.


Guards Napped by Epstein Cell, Indictment Says

The two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself have not squashed conspiracy theories about Epstein's death, even with ample evidence backing a medical examiner's determination that Epstein hung himself and video surveillance confirmation. Social media has been abuzz with memes fueled by Epstein's past associations with current and past presidents. Some people aren't believing that he's actually dead. The two corrections officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center charged in connection with Epstein's August death are accused of the relatively mundane crime of falsifying prison logs. They were supposed to check on the prisoner every half-hour but prosecutors said they shirked that duty and were instead sleeping or surfing the internet while Epstein committed suicide overnight unobserved. The guards have pleaded not guilty and are out on bail.


At Syracuse, a Racist Manifesto From a Massacre

A spate of racist graffiti, racial slurs, and white supremacist threats on Syracuse University's campus has some students fearing the displays could turn violent. A white supremacist manifesto was posted on a campus forum and reportedly "air-dropped" to cellphones of some students at the school library. This led to a tightening of school security across the university as authorities raced to end the threats. This incident is the latest in a series of almost daily racist episodes that have sparked days of protests at 22,000-student university. Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on Syracuse leaders to allow an outside monitor to oversee the situation.


A $7 Million Payout For 23 Years in Prison

Derrick Hamilton, a 54-year old African American wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years, has been freed. He received a $7 million payout for his false imprisonment and has accused the police of fabricating evidence. His conviction was thrown out after a witness claimed she was pressured into making false statements. While in solitary confinement, Hamilton became a jailhouse lawyer, helping his fellow inmates appeal their convictions and has since become an activist for others wrongly convicted since being released.


Indiana University Admits Professor's Views Are Wrong and That It Can't Fire Him

While condemning "in the strongest terms," Indiana University's provost says that the university cannot fire professor Eric Rasmusen over his "racist, sexist, and homophobic views." The university does not agree or condone his views but that is not a reason to violate the Constitution by firing him.


Former C.I.A. Officer Gets 19 Years in Espionage Case

A former CIA case agent was sentenced to 19 years in prison for an espionage conspiracy with China. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 55, was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, after filing a plea of guilty earlier this year. The case illustrates how aggressively China works to get its hands on U.S. secrets.


Top Navy Leaders Standing Ground Over Seal's Case

The secretary of the Navy and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if plans to expel a commando from the elite unit in a war crimes case are halted by President Trump. The threats by the Navy bass are a rare instance of pushback against Trump from members of the Defense Department. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was accused of shooting civilians, murdering a captive Islamic State fighter, and threatening to kill SEALs who reported him. His court-martial ended in acquittal, but the Navy ultimately demoted the chief who convicted of one charge. Trump reversed the demotion, angering officials, but they continued with their plans to expel Gallagher from the unit.


Leaving 'Shrill' Behind as More Women Become Voices of Authority

It has been said through the years that women's voices are shrill and not authoritative enough. This issue was raised around the 5th democratic presidential debate, where there were four female moderators and four female candidates on the debate stage. The moderator lineup is the second all-female panel for a major debate, where the visual optics of that lineup are important. Stereotypes still continue about what authority looks like, what power looks like, what credibility looks like, and sound is important too. "Sounding presidential" plays into how voters and viewers hear the substance of what the candidates are saying. A 2012 study found that both men and women prefer male and female leaders who have lower-pitched voices.


Forth Spy Unearthed in U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

The U.S. detonated the world's first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. Four years later, the Soviet Union detonated a nearly identical device in Central Asia, stunning the U.S. military and scientific communities, which did not believe the Soviets had the scientific and technical know-how to do so. By the 1950s it had become clear that the Soviets were aided by spies, two of whom were quickly identified. The third was disclosed in 1995, but never convicted of espionage. Two historians have now identified the fourth Soviet atomic spy as Oscar Seborer.


Leaked Intelligence Documents Show Tehran's Infiltration of Iraq

Hundreds of pages of purported Iranian intelligence documents have come to light that detail Iran's massive influence in neighboring Iraq. The unprecedented leak of 700 pages appears to show Tehran's efforts to embed itself in Iraq and co-opt the country's leaders and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq's political, economic, and religious life. News outlet "The Intercept" received the documents anonymously. The articles come amid growing anti-Iran sentiment expressed by Iraqi anti-government protesters who have been revolting in the streets since October 1.


As Protests Spread, Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet

The Iranian government has imposed an almost-total internet blackout across the country as deadly protests erupted in various cities. The protests were triggered by a government announcement that fuel prices would rise by at least 50% and possibly as much as 300%. At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, but the real death toll may be much higher. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei essentially approved the strategy used by regime security forces to put down the protests. Iran's economy has shrunk considerably due to U.S. sanctions, imposed in response to the country's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The financial strain, coupled with continued Iranian funding for Hezbollah, Hamas, and its military's operations in Syria, has led to popular resentment against the regime. The protests in Iran follow the massive demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq.


Afghan-Taliban Swap of Prisoners Releases Two Western Hostages

A prisoner swap could spur resumption of negotiations to end the 18-year Afghan war. Two Western hostages, one American and one Australian were freed by the Taliban in exchange for three Taliban members after more than three years in captivity in a prisoner exchange that could resume negotiations to end the 18-year war.


After Nine Years, Sweden Closes Its Rape Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder

A Swedish prosecutor has dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ending the near decade-old case that had sent the anti-secrecy campaigner into hiding in London's Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition. The decision can be appealed. Assange is now in jail fighting extradition to the U.S. on computer hacking and espionage charges. While Assange was in the embassy, the statute of limitations ran out on investigating all but one of several Swedish sex crime complaints.


About November 2019

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

October 2019 is the previous archive.

December 2019 is the next archive.

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