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February 3, 2020

Week In Review

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below are last week's topics of interest broken down into Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News


Accusers Recount How Weinstein Told Them, "This Is How the Industry Works"

Two women who accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault testified against him last week. Both were aspiring actresses when they met Weinstein in the mid 2000s. Dawn Dunning recounted how he suggested that she agree to a threesome with him to advance her career, telling her, "This is how the Industry Works." Miriam Haley, another woman testifying at the trial, recounted how Weinstein lunged at her and forcibly performed sexual acts on her in 2006. Weinstein has not been criminally charged in connected with the allegations of these two women, but they were allowed to testify to show what prosecutors allege is a pattern of behavior on Weinstein's part. He is accused of a total of five felony counts for his alleged behavior.




Hollywood Takes Steps to Curb Sexual Exploitation in the Industry

Revelations from Weinstein's case are leading to new rules on where and how to hold meetings and precipitating legal changes that make it easier to sue for sexual harassment. Actors are being encouraged to avoid one-on-one meetings in private settings, avoid hotel rooms, using hotel lobbies instead, and negotiating detailed, scene- and episode-specific "nudity riders" into their contracts.


New York Times Report Calls Victoria's Secret a "Culture of Misogyny"

The New York Times reports that L-Brands' chief marketing officer had a slew of complaints made against him over alleged inappropriate comments, behaviour, and touching of lingerie models, which he denies. Based on interview with 30 employees and court documents, the investigation also found widespread bullying and harassment of employees.


Aretha Franklin's Estate Still Unsettled After Niece Resigns as Executor

The executor announced her intent to resign because of disputes between family members. The family believed that Franklin had died without a will, which meant that her assets would be divided equally among her four sons, as is the rule under Michigan law. However, last May, a hand-written document was found under sofa cushions that appeared to be a will. Her sons are preparing for a possible trial this fall.


Grammy Awards Tinged by Grief Over Death of Kobe Bryant

Last weekend's Grammy Awards were marked by extreme sadness as performer after performer paid tribute to Kobe Bryant in their songs, while the host for the night, Alicia Keys, opened the show with poignant remarks on the loss of Kobe Bryant.


Iranian Rapper Detained in Turkey Faces Deportation

Turkish police acted on an Interpol red notice to detain Amir Tataloo in Istanbul. The rapper faces deportation to Iran, whose clerics have long censored the lifestyle of rappers and the wearing of tattoos. Tataloo previously spent four months in prison two years ago and was frequently detained over his tattoos. Known for making bold political and social statements through his music, fans questioned whether his more recent support for hardline conservative candidates had been genuine or simply an opportunity to get permits to perform.



Philadelphia Museum of Art Executive Apologizes to Sexual Harassment Complainants

Timothy Rub, director and C.E.O. of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, apologized to hundreds of employees for the mistakes the institution had made in dealing with complaints of sexual harassment against Joshua Helmer, one of the museum's former managers. Rub delivered his remarks at a full staff meeting. The Board of Directors had previously announced that it would lead a "cultural assessment," including staff interviews, to examine what went wrong. Some staff saw it as an inadequate response to the problem, arguing instead that mandatory harassment training and an anonymous reporting system should be set up.


Author E. Jean Carroll Seeks Trump's DNA

E. Jean Carroll maintains that President Trump assaulted her in the 1990s. She is now asking that he provide a DNA sample that she can then test against genetic material that is on the dress she was wearing at the time of the incident.


Hamilton Song Makes a Cameo in Trump Impeachment Trial

The title of John Bolton's forthcoming book is nearly the same as a song from Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, titled "The Room Where It Happens." The song is sung by Hamilton's rival, Aaron Burr, and is performed while Hamilton, Jefferson, and Madison reach a compromise over the location of the American capital and the federal tax system.


Former Belgian King Acknowledges Daughter After Paternity Test

King Albert II, who abdicated in 2013, has acknowledged his daughter following the results of a court-ordered DNA test. Delphine Boel, an artist, had long held that she was the biological daughter of Albert and Baroness Longchamp, following their affair in the 1960s. Albert's lawyers said he has "taken note" of the results, adding that there are legal arguments for why "a legal paternity is not necessarily the reflection of a biological paternity," but that the king had decided not to raise them.



Sports World Mourns the Loss of Basketball Legend Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people who died following a helicopter crash near Calabasas, California. Bryant leaves behind his wife and three daughters. A shooting guard, Bryant entered the National Basketball Association (NBA) directly from high school, and soon went on to become one of the sport's biggest stars, playing all of his 20 seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was also an author, producer, and actor. In recent days, the NBA community and the sports world at large honored Kobe's memory and his achievements on and off the court. He was 41.


Kobe Bryant's Death Exposed Once Again the Pitfalls for Big Brands

Some companies with tenuous ties to a celebrity have been accused of exploiting celebrity deaths to promote their products by releasing opportunistic ads touting their connection to the star. This time around, blockchain company Tron Foundation sent a tweet calling Kobe Bryant a member of the Tron Family, even though Bryant's only public interaction with the company was a speaking engagement in 2019. Nike used a more tactful approach in Bryant's case, citing his "immeasurable impact" and making no reference to any of his products. Marketing professionals call for sensitivity at a time like this and for companies to question how their brands fit into these situations.


USA Gymnastics Files $215 Million Settlement Offer to Nassar Victims

Under the proposed plan, survivors of Larry Nassar's sexual abuse would be asked to vote on whether they accept the $215 settlement. This is the amount that USA Gymnastics' insurers are willing to pay to resolve claims that the governing body failed to protect its athletes. The arrangement that most of the survivors accept would then apply to all of them. The lawyer representing nearly 200 of the 500 litigants has already rejected the plan.


SafeSport Suspends Coach Alberto Salazar After Accusations of Verbal Abuse

The U.S. Center for SafeSport has temporarily banned Alberto Salazar and placed his name on the centralized database of people facing disciplinary action. SafeSport investigated allegations of verbal use against Salazar after female athletes said that he harangued them about their weight and humiliated them in public. The coach has already been barred from track and field for four years due to doping violations, including trafficking in testosterone.


Major and Minor League Baseball Representatives Spar Publicly Over Proposed Overhaul of the Minor Leagues

A group of U.S. Representatives introduced a bipartisan resolution imploring Major League Baseball (MLB) to "abandon its proposal to strip major league affiliations from 42 minor league teams across the country." In urging MLB to sustain its minor-league system, the resolution also reminded MLB of the exemptions it enjoys from federal antitrust laws. The MLB wants to replace the affiliates with "independent teams" that would not include any players under contract with major league teams. Both sides have taken public positions and have held several negotiation sessions, with the next one scheduled for February 20th.


Football Leaks Reveal Information About Finances of Africa's Richest Woman

The 31-year-old Portuguese man behind Football Leaks, a platform that exposed soccer's questionable practices, also obtained information about how Isabel Dos Santos amassed her $2 billion fortune. The daughter of Angola's former president is being investigated for plundering Angola's state petroleum company and other state institutions to bankroll her various business, and could soon face charges of embezzlement.



White House Granted Right-Wing Christian Site Press Credentials for President's Davos Trip, Despite Site's History of Anti-Semitic Remarks

Five employees at media outlet TruNews received credentials to cover the president's trip to Davos. TruNews' founder, a pastor named Rick Wiles, recently described the president's impeachment as "a Jew coup" planned by "a Jewish cabal." Civil rights groups criticized the move, saying it serves as a validation of their work, "as the White House being on their side."


State Department Will Not Allow National Public Radio Diplomatic Correspondent on Secretary's Plane

It is not clear how long the ban might last. The association of journalists covering the State Department criticized the move as improper retaliation for an interview that Mary Louise Kelly did with Secretary Pompeo, where she questioned him about his role in the Ukraine controversy. Following the interview, Kelly recounted a tense exchange with Secretary Pompeo, who accused Kelly of lying to him about the terms of the interview in asking about Ukraine.


Chicago Tribune Reporters Calling for Investors to Stave Off Influence of New Majority Shareholder

Journalists are appealing to wealthy Chicagoans to invest in the paper after Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund, acquired the largest stake in the paper's parent company, Tribune Publishing. Concerns over its management strategy can be traced back to Alden's past practice of enacting deep staff cuts at the Denver Post in 2018.


The Guardian Newspaper Bans Advertising From Fossil Fuel Firms

British newspaper The Guardian announced that it will immediately stop taking advertising from oil and gas companies as part of efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and increase reporting on climate change.


General News

Republican Senators Vote 51 to 49 to Block Impeachment Witnesses

In a push to bring the impeachment proceedings to a close, and to a virtually certain acquittal, Republican senators voted to block new witnesses and documents. One of the critical swing votes on the issue, Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, said that it was inappropriate to deprive voters of their ability to re-elect the president over a "merely inappropriate telephone call or action," with the election fewer than 10 months away. Closing arguments were scheduled for Monday, with the vote on the verdict on Wednesday.





Revelations in John Bolton's Book Fueled Push for Impeachment Witnesses

Details from the former national security adviser's upcoming book appear to corroborate the claim that President Trump conditioned military aid for Ukraine on that country's willingness to investigate his political rivals. The news prompted some Republican senators to openly consider calling witnesses, like Bolton, to testify at the impeachment trial.

The president's defense, however, is centered on the argument that the Constitution calls for impeachment for "criminal-like behavior," and that the Founders did not intend vague terms like "abuse of power" and "obstruction of Congress," which are neither enumerated nor defined criteria, to be grounds for impeachment.


White House Assumed Disgruntled Bolton Would Write a Critical Book

The White House acknowledged that National Security Council staff reviewed John Bolton's book manuscript and briefed White House counsel, one of whom is now an impeachment defense lawyer. The president's defense lawyers, however, insisted this week that they had no knowledge of the revelations in Bolton's book, including those that are central to the claim that the president made aid to Ukraine contingent on Ukraine investigating his political rivals. There is still no definitive answer on whether Bolton can publish his book as is, or whether he must wait for government officials to censor any classified information in it.


War of Words Escalates Between Adam Schiff and President Trump

Representative Adam Schiff called the president "wrathful and vindictive," responding to a tweet that the president sent out where he said that Schiff, the lead House impeachment manager, has not yet paid the price "for what he has done to our country." Schiff interpreted the president's words as a threat. He had previously come under fire for his own choice language, after he mentioned a news report that alleged the White House would put Republicans' heads "on a pike" if they voted to convict."


Chief Justice Roberts Refuses to Ask Senator Rand Paul's Question, Which Named the Whistleblower

Chief Justice Roberts, who is presiding over the trial, has the task of reading senators' questions aloud. He refused to read this particular question, as it would have named the person whose complaint formed the basis for the charges against Trump. Rand's persistence was part of a broader effort to characterize the complaint as a ploy by the president's opponents to manufacture a basis for removing him. Despite Chief Justice Roberts' refusal, Senator Paul then read the name to reporters and posted it on Twitter.


World Health Organization Declares Global Emergency Over Wuhan Coronavirus

The announcement comes as over 10,000 cases have been reported worldwide, with clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. The declaration does not have the force of law but signals that the world's top health advisory body considers the situation as serious.


U.S. Government Restricts Entry into U.S. to Foreigners Travelling from China

The temporary restriction came after the secretary of health and human services declared a public health emergency and several airlines suspended air service between the U.S. and China. All foreign nationals who have been to China in the past 14 days are prohibited from entering the U.S. The restriction does not cover immediate family members of American citizens and permanent residents.


China Accused of Delaying Disclosure of Coronavirus Infections

In a show of aggression against the infection, China is building two new hospitals to house its coronavirus patients and Chinese authorities continue to have the epicenter of the virus cordoned off. However, the country is once again facing accusations that it put secrecy and order ahead of transparency, which "delayed a concerted public health offensive." Reports from China reveal that as part of the initial handling of the epidemic, a doctor tried to warn his medical school classmates of a mysterious illness in an online chat group, and authorities questioned why he had shared the information and compelled him to sign a statement that his conduct constituted illegal behaviour.


Markets Tumble as Fear Spreads Over Coronavirus

U.S. health officials say more than 100 people in 26 states are being evaluated for possible infection, with eight cases confirmed in the U.S. as of Sunday. The death toll in China has surpassed 300 people and infections have been confirmed in over 15 countries. Stocks tumbled last week, with shares of airlines and companies dependent on tourism from China hit particularly hard. The price of oil also dropped over fears that demand could fall. The S&P 500 suffered its worst loss since October, falling 1.8%.


Coronavirus Vaccine is Still Months, If Not a Year, Away

The Vaccine Research Center at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) urged Chinese officials to share the genetic makeup of the coronavirus that is spreading globally. After the complete genome was posted on a public database, the NIH team identified the genetic code they could use for the vaccine and several companies have already received grants to help develop it. Despite improved global coordination and advancements in genomics, it takes at least a year for a vaccine to undergo extensive testing and become available to the public.


Supreme Court Allows "Public Charge" Green Card Rule

In a 5 to 4 decision, the court lifted preliminary injunctions blocking a new program that allows officials to deny permanent legal status to immigrants who are likely to make use of public benefits. The rule broadened the types of public assistance that would disqualify someone on public-charge grounds. They now include noncash benefits like food stamps, Medicaid, and housing vouchers, used for 12 months in a 36-month period.


Testimony Reveals Details About the CIA's Post-9/11 Interrogation Program

A pretrial hearing to decide whether the defendants in the 9/11 case were tortured is revealing information on the role that doctors played in the CIA's overseas prison program. The defense lawyer for Khalid Shaikh Mohammed confronted former CIA psychologists over their enhanced interrogation techniques, putting before them various pieces of evidence collected at one of the CIA's overseas detention sites. Among the witnesses was James E. Mitchell, the person who helped devise the torture program. He testified that a board-certified physician was present for every session of waterboarding (nearly 183 instances of it in Mohammed's case). Other disturbing details are also being revealed, including the role of medical staff into practices like sleep deprivation, rectal rehydration and rectal feeding, and hooding and shackling of prisoners.




Trump Administration Announces States Can Now Cap A Portion of Medicaid Spending

In a major shift in Medicaid, the administration will test allowing state Medicaid programs to limit health benefits and prescription drug coverage for some. In return, it will change how the federal government makes contributions to the states. States have to opt in and they would be required to commit in advance to a per capita spending amount or to a total Medicaid spending amount in order to receive federal money. The current system has the federal government reimbursing states for a percentage of actual spending.


President Trump Signs Revised North American Free Trade Agreement

President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement into law last week, underscoring those aspects that reduce outsourcing and encourage auto manufacturing in North America. The trade deal also brings stronger protections for workers and expanded markets for American farmers.


House Votes to Repeal 2002 Law Authorizing Use of Force in Iraq

The purpose of the move was to try to reclaim Congressional war powers, and in doing so, to bar President Trump from using the 2002 law to authorize military action against Iran without the approval of Congress. The administration has threatened to veto the measure, arguing it would hinder the president's ability to defend American interests. Three successive presidents have used the law to justify strikes.


U.S. Interior Has Grounded Chinese-Made Drones

Allowing their use for emergency situations only, the U.S. Interior Department issued a temporary stop on the purchase and use of Chinese-made drones as it ensures that "cybersecurity, technology and domestic production concerns are adequately addressed." In May of this year, the Department of Homeland Security warned U.S. firms of the risks that these drones pose to company data.


Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban

Nigeria, Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan, Sudan, and Tanzania were added to the restricted travel list, adding to the seven countries already on it. Citizens from these countries will face stringent travel conditions. Immigrant visas will be banned for the first four countries. Immigrants from the other two will not be participate in the diversity visa lottery, which grants green cards to about 50,000 people a year.


Secretary of State Pompeo Call China's Communist Party "Central Threat of Our Times"

The comment came during a meeting with his British counterpart in the context of a broader discussion about a trade deal with Britain. While the administration has attempted to convince American allies of the risks of using equipment from Chinese technology companies for their telecommunications infrastructure, Britain has rebuffed the pressure to ban the company from systems like its 5G network.


U.S. Imposes New Sanctions on Iran

The new sanctions are aimed at preventing top Iranian officials from using the international banking system or any financial vehicles set up in Europe or elsewhere. The sanctions are largely symbolic, because Iranian officials are not likely to keep substantial assets in international banks. The U.S. is largely monitoring the impact of earlier sanctions that cut off all revenues from Iranian oil exports.


Iranian Students Describe Despicable Treatment at the Hands of Border Officials

At least 16 Iranian students have been turned away at American airports and have lost the chance to pursue post-secondary studies at American universities. In most cases, the State Department had already issued them visas, but the students were deemed "inadmissible" on arrival, at airports in Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago. Some were given a five-year ban on reapplying to return to the U.S. One student was placed in a holding cell and then transported in cuffs and chains to an immigrant detention facility to wait for the next flight to Iran. They describe their experiences as humiliating and dehumanizing, and see rising diplomatic tensions between the two countries as the reason why their futures have been compromised.


President Trump Releases Middle East Peace Plan

Palestinian leaders immediately rejected the proposal which does away with the decades-long goal of a two-state solution. Instead, the plan would guarantee Israel control of a unified Jerusalem, as its capital, and Israel would not be required to uproot any of its settlements in the West Bank. The proposal offered Palestine the possibility of a state with limited sovereignty and a promise of $50 billion in international investment to build the new Palestinian entity.


Special-Interest Access and Influence Alive and Well in Washington

The president's pledge to "drain the swamp" appears to have been undercut by the president's own practices. His critics point to various events where Trump has granted up-close access to deep-pocketed supporters and interest groups supporting his political cause, including a 2018 dinner for major donors to a super Political Action Committee supporting the president.


Rudy Giuliani Lobbied Ukrainian Official on Behalf of His Client

In a meeting with a top aide to Ukraine's president in the summer of 2019, Giuliani discussed the prospect of a White House meeting with the president. He also asked that Kyiv's mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, a long-time friend and client of Giuliani's, be able to keep his job.


New York Times Releases Video of Trump, Parnas and Fruman at 2018 Fundraiser

The recording confirms the presence of Lev Parnas and his business partner, Igor Fruman, at Mar-a-Lago, where President Trump hosted a fundraiser in 2018. Both men are charged with campaign finance violations.


Auschwitz Survivors Warn of Rise in Anti-Semitism

Survivors marked the 75th anniversary of the death camp's liberation, warning about the disturbing growth of brazen anti-Semitism, globally. The message that resounded from the words of some of the 200 survivors in attendance was to not be silent or complacent, even in the face of small indignities. United Nations Secretary-General Guterres also stressed the need for "solidarity in the face of hatred."


Native American Tribe in Montana Gains Federal Recognition

In December 2019, Congress passed a provision granted the Little Shell tribe federal recognition. Little Shell was left landless after another tribe signed an 1892 treaty on its behalf because it had no federal recognition. They were offered 10 cents an acre. Most of those families migrated to Montana, where the tribe's 5,300 members can now access federal assistance and have the ability to hold land as a tribe.


American Life Expectancy Rises for First Time in Four Years, Now at 78.7 Years

The slight rise of one month is the result of improvements in cancer mortality rates and lower drug overdoses. The decline in drug overdose deaths in 2018 was the first in nearly three decades and signals that expanded access to treatment and the availability of naloxone may be helping.


New York Non-Profit Tasked with Preparing Apartments for the Homeless is Being Investigated for Fraud

Federal authorities executed search warrants at the offices of the Childrens Community Services and its subcontractors, which are being investigated for fraudulent billing practices. The city has paid the non-profit about $500 million since 2017 to provide nearly 1,900 units of housing for homeless people. Authorities suspect that subcontractors did not provide the supplies and services for which the non-profit then billed the city.


New York Man Who Served 25 Years in Prison Formally Cleared

Following a hearing in State Supreme Court in Manhattan this week, Rafael Ruiz was formally exonerated after serving 25 years in prison for a rape that occurred in 1984. He maintained his innocence throughout this time. In 2019, the Innocence Project located the rape kit from the victim's case and compared samples of Ruiz's DNA with those from the kit, which did not match.


Facebook Will Settle Facial Recognition Lawsuit for $550 Million

The company will settle the Illinois class-action lawsuit that stemmed from its use of the Tag Suggestions, a service that used face-matching software to suggest the names of people that appears in users' photos. The plaintiffs argued that the practice violated a state biometric privacy law by harvesting facial data from photos without users' permission and without disclosing how long that data would be kept.


Scientists Alarmed by Water Temperatures at Antarctica Glacier

The unusually warm water beneath a Florida-sized glacier may support estimates that the glacier will deteriorate at a faster pace than initially thought possible. The Thwaites Glacier is critical because it acts as a brake on part of the much larger West Antarctic Ice Sheet. If the ice that this glacier holds back melts, oceans levels would rise by more than a meter over centuries, which would put many coastal cities underwater.


European Parliament Approves Brexit Agreement

Members of the European Parliament voted 621-49, consenting to the terms of the withdrawal agreement. The United Kingdom officially left the European Union (E.U.) on Friday. The President of the European Commission urged both sides to join forces on issues like climate change. Despite the formal end of the relationship, many issues are still unresolved - Britain still needs to negotiate its future trade relations with the E.U. The E.U., for its part, is expected to extract pledges from Britain not to dilute its environmental, labor or antitrust rules, which could make Britain a less-regulated competitor.



Duterte Orders Cabinet Not to Visit the U.S.

The Philippine president issued the order after a former national police chief implicated in the country's drug war was denied a visa. He coupled the order with warnings of reduced cooperation between the two countries' armed forces.


Kenya's High Court Suspends National Biometric Identity Program

The court temporarily suspended the program, citing concerns over the lack of privacy laws to protect the security of the data and laws safeguarding minorities from discrimination. The program was put in place so that every Kenyan citizen and foreign resident could be issued a government ID to access services.


February 10, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Weinstein Trial Continues With His Attorneys Questioning Accusers' Credibility

The lawyers for Harvey Weinstein have begun their defense in the trial in Manhattan and are seeking to discredit the prosecution's strongest witnesses. So far, they have argued that memories can be false and unreliable after having heard three weeks of testimony from over 20 witnesses, including six women who have accused Weinstein of raping or sexually assaulting them.






Movies Starring Women and People of Color Continue to Surge

Studies published by the University of Southern California's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the University of California Los Angeles' Institute for Research on Labor and Employment have shown that women and people of color figured "more prominently in popular films in 2019 than in any other year measured." The figures that the studies released have doubled the numbers from just over a decade prior, but nominations by major award organizations remains lagging behind that trend.


Taylor Swift's Next Big Deal Is for Her Songwriting

Taylor Swift is leaving Sony/ATV, which has been the "home of her music publishing rights since age 14," as she has entered into a new agreement with Universal. This move comes as the artist, now 30 years old, "sees being a songwriter as a primary part of her artistic identity, writes all her own material, alone or with collaborators."


After Oprah's Departure, Film About Simmons Accusers Finds New Home

HBO Max is set to carry the documentary called "On the Record," which features several women who have accused Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct. Originally, Oprah Winfrey and Apple's streaming service were set to feature the film, but both purportedly dropped the film in January after a "pressure campaign by the hip-hop mogul." It is set for release on HBO Max in May.



MAGA War on Architectural Diversity Weaponizes Greek Columns

The Trump administration is weighing imposing a "classical style on new federal buildings," which takes aim "at the heart of modernism and diversity." One target of the administration's ire is the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, which "is the most successful new public building in Washington." The proposed order would also change the method of selecting plans for buildings, taking it away from the peer review system that has led to more modern designs and instead require "traditional or classical architectural styles."


Top L Brands Executive Complained of Harassment and Then Was Locked Out

The #MeToo movement has not come to an end; it has in fact moved into corporate governance: The holding company for Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, L Brands, has come under fire for its lack of diversity and allegations of mishandling of claims of "gender discrimination and sexual misconduct." It is expected that there will be more revelations as there has been a shakeup by one of the leading female executives, Monica Mitro, in making public the allegations.


Banksy Cannot Control His Legacy

It is well known in the art community that Banksy is a "master of manipulating the news media and the art market," but there remain questions about whether his legacy will be long-lasting and the legacy that he wants. He began 15 years ago as a street artist who smuggled "his works into museums as pranks," but now when he has a stunt, like having a work just sold at auction be put halfway through a shredder, the reaction is almost entirely positive. The question has remained whether his popularity will endure and whether he will ultimately be considered a "historically significant artist." Banksy once shunned copyright protection and now strongly controls both his copyrights and trademarks.


Disney CEO Apologizes to PTA Asked to Pay After 'Lion King' Screening

An elementary school in Berkeley, California screened "The Lion King" at a fundraiser organized by students' parents, and contact from Disney was forthcoming, asking for a $250 licensing fee for the screening of their material. Quickly following was a post on Twitter from Disney's CEO, Robert Iger, apologizing to the school's PTA and a vow to "personally donate to their fund raising initiative."


Miuccia Prada Will Be Getting Sensitivity Training

Based on a settlement between Prada and the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Prada will begin sensitivity training with its employees. The genesis for the action being filed with the Commission was a set of figurines in Prada's SoHo store's window that some took to resemble "monkeys in blackface." Additionally, other brands, such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, are likely to receive similar training after having respectively created a "blackface sweater" and "caricatured Chinese culture."


Royal Ballet Suspends Choreographer Over Sexual Misconduct Claims

The Royal Ballet suspended the choreographer and artist-in-residence Liam Scarlett after accusations of sexual misconduct at the Royal Ballet School emerged. The company immediately suspended him after receiving word of accusations and launched an investigation into the alleged misconduct, which included encouraging male students at the school to send him nude photos.


In Iraq, Art Flowers Amid Protests

Throughout Baghdad, protests have been commonplace as discontent with the government grows, and accompanying those protests are artists including painters, sculptors, and musicians. The capital is now "overflowing with political art", such as "banners with messages to the government", such as a building that has been painted to look "like a ship about to set sail with the slogans written on white cloth ballooning in the wind."



Fantasy Sports Contests Are Illegal Gambling: New York Appeals Court

The Appellate Division has ruled that a law "that authorized fantasy sports in the state" is not constitutional in a blow to companies such as FanDuel and DraftKings. Governor Andrew Cuomo had signed the bill into law in August 2016, and the law declared that fantasy sports were not gambling, but four residents sued, claiming that they had been harmed by gambling and that the State Constitution prohibited gambling other than that which takes place at horse tracks and casinos. The Appellate Division found that the law was not only unconstitutional but that daily fantasy sports "could not be exempted from the penal code."


Major League Soccer Reaches Deal With Its Players

Major League Soccer (MLS) and its players have announced "an agreement in principle on Thursday for a five-year collective bargaining agreement that raises pay and improves working conditions." The agreement raises the salary cap, which is a concept foreign to every other top league, to $11.6 million from $8.5 million. As MLS seeks to rival the top leagues of the world, it still struggles to attract the top soccer talent, as many top players earn more in annual salaries than an MLS club may pay to an entire roster.


Media and Technology

Ex-CIA Analyst Faces Trial for Agency's Biggest Leak

The Vault 7 leak was "the largest disclosure of classified CIA information" in the agency's history and caused "catastrophic" damage to national security as WikiLeaks published thousands of pages of documents "about how the CIA hacks into overseas targets, revealing its ability to compromise smartphones and turn certain televisions into listening devices." A 31-year-old computer engineer, Joshua Schulte, is now beginning trial in federal court in Manhattan "to defend against charges that he was the leaker" responsible for the documents being sent to WikiLeaks.


Fox News Denies Editing Interview at Trump's Request

In December 2016, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace interviewed Donald Trump for several hours in preparation for airing an interview on "Fox News Sunday," and one question about Michael Flynn, the son of the national security adviser, did not make the cut. Stephen Bannon, the former campaign manager, told the special counsel's office that "Fox agreed to cut out that part of the interview" because it was deemed "embarrassing for Trump," but Wallace and Fox News have denied the accusation, with Wallace saying it was "utter foolishness and completely misleading."


Twitter Moves to Target Fake Videos and Photos

Facing pressure from users, Twitter announced that "it would more aggressively scrutinize fake or altered photos and videos." Starting in March, it will begin adding "labels or take down tweets carrying manipulated images and videos," which is short of an outright ban and comes one day after "YouTube also said it planned to remove misleading election-related content on its site."


Johnson and BBC Trade Jabs, as War on the Press Flares

The British "government is questioning the BBC's public funding and even picking fights with papers that have backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson with gusto." Johnson's ministers have boycotted a popular BBC radio show, and Johnson, a one-time journalist, has taken to attacking "the British press corps, including journalists from newspapers that backed his Brexit campaign." The rancor has "drawn comparisons to President Trump's clashes with the White House news media," even though Johnson has avoided "Trump's inflammatory language."


The Epoch Times Gets New Megaphone on YouTube

The Epoch Times, one of the more "mysterious fixtures of the pro-Trump media universe," is a print newspaper created 20 years ago "by practitioners of Falun Gong, the persecuted Chinese spiritual practice," and in recent years, it has made a shift to posting ads on YouTube. The ads have come after it spent over $1 million to promote its content on Facebook but was caught "trying to evade its advertising transparency rules and barred it from taking out more ads."


Child-Welfare Activists Attack Facebook Over Encryption Plans

Facebook is "facing criticism for how encryption can allow child exploitation to flourish undetected on its services" as it moves forward with a plan to encrypt all of its messaging platforms. Advocates say that doing so would "allow child predators to operate with impunity across the company's apps", which include WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger.


IBM, Marriott, and Mickey Mouse Take on Tech's Favorite Law

Powerful companies and industries "are fighting to weaken Big Tech by limiting the reach of one of its most sacred laws." Section 230, the law that "makes it nearly impossible to sue platforms like Facebook or Google for the words, images, and videos posted by their users," is facing attack from companies as powerful as IBM, Marriott, and Disney as they lobby Congress to amend the law.


Facial Recognition App Is Identifying Child Victims of Abuse

Clearview AI, a secretive facial recognition company "with a database of three billion images," is being used in many law enforcement agencies to "identify children who are victims of sexual abuse." While it is a powerful tool for those agencies, the database raises questions about accuracy and the handling of the data in the database. While some have objected to it being used, others have called it "the biggest breakthrough in the last decade" in terms of solving child sexual abuse crimes.


Bezos Sued by His Girlfriend's Brother

Michael Sanchez, a Hollywood talent manager and brother of Jeff Bezos' girlfriend Lauren Sanchez, has filed a lawsuit against Bezos claiming that Bezos and his security consultant defamed Sanchez "in connection with a 2019 National Enquirer story revealing Bezos' extramarital affair." The action, filed in state court in California, alleges that Bezos and his consultant "falsely told journalists that he had leaked 'graphic nude photographs' of Bezos to The Enquirer."


Brazil Drops Charges Against Glenn Greenwald, a Journalist

A federal judge in Brazil has ruled that Glenn Greenwald, an American journalist, "should not stand trial for his role in bringing to light hacked cellphone messages." Experts in criminal law "were critical of the decision to charge Greenwald", as the charges "did not clearly implicate the journalist in criminal conduct."


General News

Senate Votes to Acquit Trump Day After Emboldened President Delivers State of the Union

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Donald Trump of the charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Requiring a two-thirds majority to convict, only one Republican--former Republican candidate for President Mitt Romney--voted to convict. Those who voted to convict faced promises of reprisal from President Trump, and already, two witnesses who testified, Gordon Sondland and Alexander Vindman, were fired from their posts.











Faulty Iowa App Was Part of Push to Restore Democrats' Digital Edge

The results in the Democratic caucus in Iowa remains unclear, but what is clear is that it will be either Pete Buttigieg or Bernie Sanders who claims victory. Former Vice President Joe Biden appears to have finished in a disappointing fourth behind Senator Elizabeth Warren and just ahead of Senator Amy Klobuchar, but the final results are far from clear, as an app that the Democratic Party had implemented to gain a digital edge has been plagued with errors that may lead to a re-canvass of votes where inconsistencies have been found.



Coronavirus Spreads, Killing the Doctor Who Reported Its Dangers as China Shuts Itself Off

The coronavirus crisis continues to grow as China refuses aid from global organizations, such as the World Health Organization. The economic impact and death toll of the virus surpasses that of SARS. The handling of the virus by the Chinese government has come under scrutiny as President Xi Jinping has not been publicly speaking on the subject. Global organizations, such as the World Health Organization, have complained of being refused help in fighting the virus and having to combat a significant amount of misinformation on social media about the virus.






Senate Report Criticizes Response to Russian Meddling and Blames Partisanship

A Republican-led committee has released a report saying that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been "skeptical about a more forceful American response to Russian interference in the 2016 elections." The Intelligence Committee has found that "partisan divisions and Republican congressional leaders' reluctance to publicly acknowledge Russian election interference in 2016 contributed to a delayed response by the Obama administration in the midst of the presidential campaign." McConnell is said to have been concerned "in part that a big public announcement could in effect aid the Russian effort" to interfere in the election.


Court Dismisses Emoluments Case Brought Against Trump

A federal appeals court ruled on Friday that an action brought by "215 Democratic members of Congress accusing President Trump of illegally accepting benefits from foreign governments" was dismissed because "individual lawmakers cannot sue the president on behalf of the entire Congress." Legal experts "had widely considered the suit to be the weakest of three lawsuits accusing the president of violating the Constitution's emoluments clauses. The court ruled that because the 29 senators and 186 representatives did not constitute a majority of either legislative body, they were "powerless to approve or deny the president's acceptance of foreign emoluments."


Trump Gives Venezuela's Guaido the Embrace He Wanted

President Trump has met with Venezuela's opposition leader, Juan Guaido, which has been a meeting that Guaido has long hoped for to "demonstrate the United States' support for his claim to being the country's rightful president." His meeting with Guaido on Wednesday at the White House came just after Guaido was recognized at the State of the Union address on Tuesday night as "the true and legitimate president of Venezuela."


160 Nations Ban These Weapons, and the U.S. Now Embraces Them

The Trump administration has approved use of "cluster bombs and antipersonnel land mines, deadly explosives known for maiming and killing civilians long after the fighting ended," which have been banned by more than 160 countries. The new policies are part of a "military strategy that named Russia and China as the United States' great power rivals" as both powers have "significant ground forces, and mines historically have been used to deny an adversary's troops the ability to advance on the battlefield."


Trump Administration Freezes Global Entry Program

It is expected in the coming days that New York State will sue the federal government based on the Department of Homeland Security's move to "block New Yorkers from participating in 'trusted traveler programs' in retribution for a new state law that could hinder federal immigration enforcement." Governor Andrew Cuomo has called the move "an abuse of power" and "extortion." The conflict began in December when a state law took effect allowing New Yorkers to apply for driver's licenses without having to prove that they are in the United States legally.




Trump Opens National Monument Land to Energy Exploration

On Thursday, the Trump administration "finalized plans to allow mining and energy drilling on nearly a million acres of land in southern Utah that had once been protected as part of a major national monument." The Interior Department released a blueprint allowing approximately 861,974 acres of land to be opened for oil, gas, and coal companies to "complete the legal process for leasing mines and wells" on the land that had once been part of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.


Justice Department Drops Antitrust Probe Against Automakers That Sided With California on Emissions

The Justice Department, after approximately five months of investigation, has dropped "its antitrust inquiry into four automakers that had sided with California in its dispute with the Trump administration over reducing climate-warming vehicle pollution, deciding that the companies had violated no laws." The four automakers, Ford Motor Company, Volkswagen of America, Honda, and BMW, had defied Trump's "planned rollback of national fuel economy standards."


Puerto Ricans Are Left With $1.6 Billion in Unpaid Insurance Claims

In Puerto Rico, "homeowners and cities say they are getting pennies on the dollar" for the insurance claims they have filed in relation to Hurricane Maria. Even though the hurricane came in 2018, insurers "still have not paid long-pending claims that would allow the cities to install new warning equipment," even as hundreds of earthquakes have come in recent weeks. Thus, rather than rehabilitate the earthquake alert sirens, Puerto Ricans have become accustomed to using whistles.


After a Dozen Deaths, Justice Department Investigates Mississippi Prisons

Prisons in Mississippi have been the site of over a dozen deaths in recent weeks, and there have been smuggled cellphones documenting the deteriorating conditions. The Justice Department has announced that it will be launching a "civil rights investigation to explore whether prison officials have done enough to protect inmates from one another and the quality of mental health care and suicide prevention efforts." While officials have said that the disorder is owing to "warring gangs," others have said that the overcrowded and understaffed system has caused the chaos.


Federal Hate Crime Charges Filed in El Paso Shooting

The man who opened fire at a Walmart killing 22 people in El Paso is now facing federal hate crime charges. A federal grand jury indicted the suspect, Patrick Crusius, for targeting Hispanics in the "racially motivated massacre that left 22 people dead." The indictment now includes 90 counts with 22 being hate crimes resulting in death, 23 counts of hate crimes with attempted murder, and 45 counts of discharging a firearm in the commission of a hate crime.


Number of Homeless Students Rises to New High

A new report from the National Center for Homeless Education has found that over 1.5 million public school students "were homeless at some point during the 2017-18 school year." It is the highest number in over 10 years and "reflected a growing problem that could negatively affect children's academic performance health."


Fireflies Have A Mating Problem: The Lights Are Always On

A study in the journal BioScience has announced that bright lights have made light pollution an issue to such an extent that fireflies are having increasing difficulty reproducing, as that pollution outshines "their mating signals." While male fireflies "light up to signal availability and females respond with patterned flashes to show that they're in the mood," lights from advertisements or homes have begun "interfering and blocking potential firefly couples from pairing up," according to the study authored by researchers from Tufts University and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


How a Health Aide Won Ex-Client's $283-A-Month Apartment

A novel case has come from a New York State court: A home health aide who had cared for a woman for many years "won the right to the rent-controlled apartment" where the elderly woman had "lived for about 60 years before she died." New York State law requires that an immediate family member or one with an intertwined relationship, such as a spouse or child, may take over the rent-regulated apartment upon the owner's death, but this decision appears to expand who may qualify for that.


Bernie Madoff Says He Is Dying and Seeks Early Prison Release

Bernard Madoff has said that he has less than 18 months to live given the fact that he has entered "the final stages of kidney disease," and he is requesting release from prison. He admitted in 2009 to "running a scheme that bilked thousands of investors out of their cash, wiping out his victims' savings and destroying lives."


Former Pimco CEO Gets 9 Months in Prison in College Admissions Case

Douglas Hodge, the "retired chief executive of the bond giant Pimco," paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to get four of his seven children into elite schools, and on Friday, a federal judge sentenced him to nine months in prison for "money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud." To date, it is the most severe punishment of any parent in relation to the "college admissions scandal," even though it fell short of the two years that prosecutors sought.


China's Lavish Funds Lured U.S. Scientists, But What Did It Get in Return?

China's "Thousand Talents recruitment plan attracted US scientists with its grants," but investigators are now saying that "China used the program to steal sensitive technology." The Senate has declared that the recruitment programs are "a threat to American interests", as scientists may have intentionally or unintentionally been providing to the Chinese government research directly from American laboratories. One expert in the field asked, "One question would be, is this a bug, or a feature of these programs, to have a link to espionage?"


Audio Captured Iran Plane Downing

The transcript of air traffic communications relating to Iran's downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet were leaked to a Ukrainian news site, and Iran has since halted its cooperation "with Ukraine's inquiry into the downing of the Ukrainian plane." It is clear from the transcript that there were flares emanating from the missile prior to its striking the plane, which killed all 176 people on the plane at a time when there were high tensions between Iran and the United States and raised fears of escalating violence.


New Travel Ban Shuts Door on Africa's Biggest Economy, Nigeria

The federal government has announced an expansion to its travel ban: Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, Eritrea, Myanmar, and Kyrgyzstan are now subject to the travel ban. It is an expansion of the travel ban put in place in 2017, which restricted travel from Muslim-majority countries and was sold to the public as a move to keep out "radical Islamic terrorists." This latest move has left Nigerians "somewhat blindsided," and its top diplomat has received an assurance "by American officials that visa restrictions could soon be lifted."



February 17, 2020

Joint Venture Between Jennifer Lopez and DSW to Boost Sales of Shoes and Bags

By David Raymond P. Leys

Designer Brands Inc. (DSW), American footwear retailer of designer and name brand shoes and fashion accessories, announced its partnership with renowned Jennifer Lopez (JLO).

JLO will have her own line of footwear and bags with DSW. She will design shoes and bags that will be exclusively sold at DSW stores and website. JLO explained that she is attracted by the high-quality products and accessible pricing of DSW.

DSW aims at improving its profitability and increase its market share by boosting its online presence. Last year, the stocks of DWS decreased by 36%. This bad result was due to tariffs on footwear and massive promotions on shoe brands in the U.S. This joint venture enhances the chances of DSW to attract new customers who are unfamiliar with the brand, especially as JLO has more than 200 million followers on social media.

This partnership demonstrates how celebrities can reinvent their businesses beyond typical licensing deals.

DSW and JLO have not shared more information about the content of their agreement. We can assume that both parties took all precautions to avoid any litigation in the future.

First, the formation of a joint venture requires to determine the type of structure. It can either be a corporation, a limited liability company or a contractual relationship. Parties choose the type of structure according to tax treatment and goals of the business. In this case, it seems that the partnership is an ongoing process and not a one-shot deal. DSW and JLO may have formed a limited liability company so they are flexible regarding ownership, profit/loss distributions, voting, and management.

The joint venture between DSW and JLO allows the production and sale of shoes and bags under JLO's name/brand and with JLO's endorsement. It makes sense that they hold their ownership interests through another entity instead of personally. It is essential for the protection of the assets of both DSW and JLO.

Potential tension may exist between DSW and JLO about control. It is understandable that JLO wants to keep significant control over the protection of her name, image, and brand. She will be involved in design and marketing, whereas DSW will run most of the operations of the business, such as sourcing, manufacturing, selling, and distributing the products.

In addition, the parties must agree on additional corporate issues: if it is indeed an LLC, then the issues would include veto power, admission of new members, adoption of the budget, and material changes to accounting policies.

DSW and JLO must also deal with intellectual property issues, namely the celebrity's name and likeness, the brand name of the product line, the product designs and formulas, and social networking accounts and domain names. On the one hand, DSW and JLO will probably each license their intellectual property to the joint venture, for the use and benefit of the venture. On the other hand, JLO will most certainly license her name and likeness and the manufacturer may license an existing brand name. In this context, DSW will likely require that JLO refrains from marketing any competitive goods. This is essential for the goodwill associated with JLO's name. Both parties must identify industry specific details as early as possible to avoid misunderstandings. They must also determine what happens if the relationship ends.

To sum up, the joint venture between DSW and JLO seems to be a win-win situation. Nonetheless, this first impression needs to be supported by solid legal provisions ensuring a clear understanding of the roles and responsibilities of both parties. Any potential conflict must be spotted before they arise in practice. This will ensure the viability of the joint venture between DSW and JLO on the long-term.



February 18, 2020

Week In Review

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

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


Two Dispute Testimony of Weinstein's Accusers

A Brazilian actress and Mexican model testified on behalf of accused rapist Harvey Weinstein, with both women disputing key elements of the sexual assault claims made by prosecution witnesses. The defense team put them on the stand to rebut the narratives of Jessica Mann and Lauren Young. Weinstein has pleaded not guilty to two counts of rape, two counts of predatory sexual assault and one count of criminal sexual act. If convicted he faces a maximum of life in prison.


Actor is Indicted Over Attack Police Called a Hoax

Actor Jussie Smollett has been indicted on six new charges of disorderly conduct, accusing him of filing false police reports claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic attack last year. Smollett is due in court on February 24th. Cook County prosecutors last year dropped 16 disorderly conduct charges against Smollett, just over a month after Chicago police had accused him of orchestrating a hoax because he was upset with his salary on the TV show "Empire".


She Created a Dance, But Doesn't Get Credit

Jalaiah Harmon is the 14-year-old behind the viral "Renegade" dance. One of Jalaiah's choreographed dances became wildly popular and made a major viral impact. The dance became viral after a popular TikTok personality with over 26 million followers named Charli D'Amelio posted the dance on the app and did not credit Jalaiah. These viral dances after often created by young black talent, called "Dubsmashers," on smaller platforms and then are copied by users on TikTok, with usually no credit given. Rapper K-Camp has tried to reverse the tides by giving the original creator her due.


"Parasite" Win Makes History at the Oscars

The South Korean film "Parasite" made Oscar history last week by winning 4 Oscars, including Best Picture, Directing, International Feature Film, and Writing (Original Screenplay). Directed by Bong Joon-ho, "Parasite" gave South Korea its first Oscar and earned the distinction of being the first film not in English to win Best Picture.


Board Resigns Weeks Before France's Oscars

With just about two weeks to go before France's equivalent of the Oscars, the entire board of the C├ęsar Academy, which organizes the awards, resigned after around 400 of the country's leading filmmakers and actors said in an open letter that its leadership was dysfunctional. This moved has plunged France's biggest film awards into crisis. The petition called for a complete overhaul of the system. The announcement arrived shortly after this year's nominations were announced and Roman Polanski lead the pack. Though Polanski, who pleaded guilty in 1977 for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl, has been rejected by the U.S. film industry in the wake of the #MeToo movement, certain prestigious corners of France's film industry have embraced the controversial director. There have also been clashes over the French academy's lack of transparency over its voting process, in addition to a general lack of inclusivity.



Amazon Quiets Nazis, Book by Unsold Book

Over the past 18 months, Amazon has removed two books by David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, as well as several titles by the founder of the American Nazi Party. While few may lament the disappearance of these hate-filled books, the increasing number of banished titles has set off concern among some of the third-party booksellers who stock Amazon's vast virtual shelves, saying that Amazon is operating under vague or nonexistent rules. Previously, Amazon largely escaped the controversies that pit freedom of speech against offensive content, unlike Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, but that may be reaching its end. The Nazi-themed items are removed under its policy on "offensive and controversial materials" and Amazon is becoming proactive in removing the material.


Rihanna's Lingerie Line Accused of Deceptive Marketing

Rihanna's inclusive underwear brand is being accused of "deceptive marketing" and luring shoppers into paying hefty monthly fees. Rihanna's Savage x Fenty brand is accused of luring customers into an expensive membership program "without clearly" disclosing all the terms and conditions. A complaint has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission and the California District Attorney's office for Santa Cruz County by the non-profit watchdog group Truth in Advertising. The complaint alleges that Savage x Fenty has been duping customers by promoting discounts that can only be used once they sign up for the $49.95-a-month VIP subscription.


Jury Convicts Avenatti in Nike Extortion Case

A jury has convicted Michael Avenatti of attempted Nike extortion. A federal jury in New York convicted the disgraced attorney of attempting to extort as much as $25 million from Nike over threats that he would expose misdeeds in the apparel company's grassroots basketball division.


Painful Theme, and Back Story, of Met Painting

In Gallery 634 of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there is a stunning painting depicting a moment of sexual violence between Tarquin and Lucretia from Roman legend. More recently, the 17th-century work has been described as a portrayal of the rape of Tamar from the Old Testament. There is new evidence that suggests the painting, purchased by the Met in 1984, is likely the same one a Jewish art dealer, Siegfried Aram, left behind when he fled Germany when Hitler took power in 1933. The dealer tried unsuccessfully to reclaim the painting for a decade after the war.


Toppled, but Silent Sam Still Looms Over University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

The fate of the Silent Sam Confederate monument, which stood on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus for 105 years, is still undecided a year after it was toppled to the ground by protestors.


Trial of Avowed Pedophile Will Also Judge the French Elite

A French writer who openly promoted pedophilia and was protected by France's elite was charged in a Paris court for promotion of child sex abuse. Gabriel Matzneff wrote about pedophilia for decades and a case has been filed accusing him of defending and justifying pedophilia through his books and public appearances. Three of Matzneff's publishers dropped him following the publication of Vanessa Springora's Consent, the first account of the abuse by one of his underage victims. A cascade of elite French abandoned Matzneff as the scandal broke. The trial will begin in September 2021, where Matzneff's actions and those of French elite in his orbit will be scrutinized.



Profits by Athletes: Where the Fight Stands

The NCAA and its membership have been mired in fights behind closed doors in statehouses and on Capitol Hill over whether or not and the way student-athletes ought to be allowed to earn revenue off their renown. Currently, the NCAA's Division I handbook, Article 12 bars a student-athlete from accepting compensation in trade for permitting "his or her identity or image to promote, advocate or promote immediately the sale or use of a business services or products of any sort." The bylaws forbid sponsorships, money for autograph signings or monetizing social media channels. California has thrown a wrench in this rule by accrediting laws that challenged the NCAA's bans on brokers and endorsement offers. Although the measure is not scheduled to impact unil 2023, it has inspired lawmakers in a dozen different states to contemplate payments of their very own, and many have drawn bipartisan backing, some of which would come into play far sooner than California's legislation.


Ex-Coach Guilty of Lying in Nassar Case

A jury has convicted Kathie Klages, a former Michigan State University gymnastics coach, of lying to police when she denied that two teen athletes told her about sexual abuse by sports doctor Larry Nassar in 1997, nearly 20 years before he was charged.


League Expects to Lose Hundreds of Millions' of Dollars from China Rift, Silver Says

Commissioner Adam Silver said that the business loss from not being on the air games in China was "substantial," but that the National Basketball Association (NBA) accepted the consequences of its values. The precise numbers are still a little bit uncertain, but projected to be less than $400 million. Fortunately, the NBA does not foresee permanent damage to its business. The Chinese government shut the NBA out in October, after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey shared an image on Twitter that supported pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Morey later deleted the tweet, but controversy had already begun and would quickly snowball.


Russia May Lose Its Sochi Win

Russia is set to lose a biathlon gold medal from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics following a new doping ban for a leading athlete. When confirmed by the International Olympic Committee, it will knock Russia off the top spot in the Sochi medal table in term of golds.


France's Ice Sports Chief Resigns in Abuse Scandal

Amid a widening scandal, the long-serving head of France's ice skating federation resigned last week. Under Didier Gailhaguet, pressure has been mounting as there have been increasing accusations of rape and sexual abuse against skating coach Gilles Beyer. Beyer has admitted to inappropriate relations with 10-time French skating champion Sarah Abitbol. Multiple skaters have accused two other coaches of sexual abuse and harassment as well. Gailhaguet accused France's sports minister, Roxana Maracineanu, of making him a "sacrificial victim." Gailhaguet has denied knowledge of the allegations against Beyer and blames the sports ministry for allowing him to continue working in the skating world.



A Former Owner of Newsweek Pleads Guilty

Etienne Uzac, a former co-owner of IBT Media and Newsweek Media Group, pleaded guilty to money laundering in the second degree and scheme to defraud in the first degree. William Anderson, the former CEO of Christian Media Corporation (CMC), pleaded guilty to the same charges. CMC and IBT Media were charged in late 2018 with a $35 million scheme to obtain loans and defraud lenders. The charges included money laundering, falsifying business records, and conspiracy. Uzac will be sentenced to "probation and possibly community service" when he is formally sentenced on April 20th. He will not face jail time.


Internet Delusion Oozes Offline into Real World

What began online more than two years ago as an intricate, if baseless, conspiracy theory that quickly attracted thousands of followers has since found footholds in the offline world. QAnon has surfaced in political campaigns, criminal cases, merchandising, and at least one college class. Most recently, the botched Iowa Democratic caucuses and the coronavirus outbreak have provided fodder for conspiracy mongering. About a dozen candidates for public office in the U.S. have promoted or dabbled in QAnon and its adherents have been arrested in at least seven episodes. The FBI cited QAnon in an intelligence bulletin last May about the potential for violence motivated by "fringe political conspiracy theories."


Top Philippine Broadcaster Faces Possible Shutdown

The Philippine government has taken steps that could effectively shut down one of the country's largest media organizations, drawing protests from press-freedom and democracy advocates. Solicitor General Jose C. Calida filed a petition in the Supreme Court last week to revoke the operating franchise of broadcast company ABS-CBN, citing a number of alleged offenses, such as foreign ownership, which is in violation of the Philippine Constitution. Protestors say that it is a fresh attack on press freedom under President Rodrigo Duterte. The move comes as the broadcaster was working publicly and privately to convince lawmakers to renew its franchise, which expires March 30th. ABS-CBN, whose news and entertainment shows reach tens of millions of Filipinos online and via TV and radio, says that it has done nothing wrong.


Britain Empowers Watchdog to Push for Policing of Internet Content

Britain is creating a media watchdog that would become an internet authority to push Google, Facebook, and other internet giants to police their own platforms. The watchdog Ofcom is to be given the power to regulate social media companies, holding them to account for harmful content, such as violence or child abuse. The digital media and culture secretary is introducing several measures based on a government White Paper launched in April last year. It called for fines, site blocks, and the prosecution of senior management for companies that fail to protect their users.


Two Video Bloggers, Posting Virus Reports, Go Missing

A second Chinese citizen journalist who had been covering China's deadly coronavirus outbreak from its epicenter in Wuhan has gone missing just days after the disappearance of Chen Qiushi, a former civil rights lawyer, who was video blogging from the city. Fang Bin, a Wuhan businessman who had been posting videos filmed form city hospitals, was allegedly arrested. In China, citizen journalists are rare because they can't obtain the official certificate required for reporting news, as they don't work for a registered outlet. However, amid increased public anger against the authorities, some have taken on the risk of offering the outside world a first-hand glimpse of the situation in Wuhan.


General News

64.9 Degrees: 'Balmy Antarctica' Isn't Oxymoronic

Antarctica recorded its hottest temperature on record last week. The previous record of 63.5 degrees was set in 2015. The record appears to be likely associated (in the short term) with what is called a regional "foehn" event over the area (a rapid warming of air coming down a slope/mountain). It is currently summer in the southern hemisphere, but the temperatures don't usually get much higher than 50 degrees. The polar regions are heating up faster than the rest. The Antarctic Peninsula has warmed by 5.4 degrees in just the last 50 years.


Swearing Off the Financing of Dirty Oil Production

Some of the world's largest financial institutions have stopped putting their money behind oil production in the Canadian province of Alberta, home to one of the world's most extensive, and also dirtiest, oil reserves.


Calculating Pollution's Toll, Across State Lines

In most states, about half of the premature deaths caused by poor air quality are linked to pollutants that blow in from other states, according to a new study. The study investigated the sources and affects of two major pollutants that result from fuel burning that harm humans in the Lower 48 states from 2005 to 2018: ozone and fine airborne particles. The study found that in New York, for example, nearly 2/3 of premature deaths are attributable to pollution from sources in other states, making it the largest "net importer" of early deaths. The analysis could have implications for policymakers looking for ways to reduce air pollution and premature mortality, by regulating cross-state emissions. So far, only emissions from electric power generation are regulated in this way.


Reports of Online Videos of Child Sexual Abuse Climb by Millions

The number of reported photos, videos, and other materials related to online child sexual abuse grew by more than 50% last year, with videos outnumbering photos for the first time. Many of the world's biggest technology platforms remain infested with the illegal content. Nearly 70 million images and videos were reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The videos are now more readily detected by some companies. Facebook reported nearly 60 million photos and videos, more than 85% of the total. The platforms say that they will continue to develop the best solution to keep more children safe.


Trump Budget: Cut Safety Net, Add to Military

The White House has cut funds on Medicare and Medicaid to boost funds for military and veterans and aims to reduce deficits by $4.6 trillion over a decade. This budget charts a path for a potential second term by proposing steep reductions in social safety-net programs and foreign aid. The plan would increase military spending 0.3% to $740.5 billion for fiscal year 2021 and lower nondefense spending by 5% to $590 billion.


Justice Dept. Acts to Ease Sentence for a Trump Ally

NBC News reported that Attorney General William Barr has taken direct action in legal matters that are of personal interest to the president in order to ease sentences for Trump allies. Most recently, he intervened in the case against Trump surrogate Roger Stone, after prosecutors requested a sentence of 7 to 9 years for witness tampering and lying to Congress. Senior Department of Justice officials pushed for less prison time, which resulted in four prosecutors withdrawing from the case. The president ultimately may not need his attorney general to follow through on apparent plans to ease sentencing on his allies who have remained loyal to him. Trump has floated the idea of pardoning Roger Stone and Michael Flynn.


Barr Says Attacks from Trump Make Work "Impossible"

Attorney General Barr delivered an extraordinary rebuke of Trump, saying that the president's attacks on the Justice Department had made it "impossible for me to do my job" and that "I'm not going to be bullied or influenced by anybody." Barr has been among the president's most loyal allies, but has now publicly challenged Trump. Barr's remarks were aimed at containing the fallout from the department's botched handling of its sentencing recommendation for Trump's longtime friend Roger Stone.


House Moves to Revive Equal Rights Amendment

Lawmakers voted 232-183 to pass legislation that would repeal the 1982 deadline for states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It was a mostly party-line vote, in which only 5 Republicans joined with 227 Democrats in favor of the bill. No Democrats opposed it. The ERA resurfaced last month when Virginia voted to ratify it, pushing the amendment past the required 38-state threshold. Republicans remain opposed to the amendment on the grounds that it might compel the federal government to pay for abortions - a claim disputed by some legal experts. In a rebuke to ERA supporters who accuse critics of the amendment of misogyny, it was mostly women GOP lawmakers who led debate against the bill.


Senate Passes Iran War Powers Measure, a Bipartisan Bid to Curb Trump

In a final vote of 55-45, the Senate passed a bipartisan war powers resolution aimed at reining in President Trump's ability to use military action against Iran without prior Congressional approval. Eight Republican senators supported the resolution despite pushback from Trump and Republican leaders on Capitol Hill. All 47 Democrats also backed the resolution. This resolution sends the message that "we don't support starting a war with Iran unless Congress votes that military action is necessary." Senator Kaine introduced the resolution last month after a drone strike, authorized by Trump, killed Iranian Gen.Qassem Soleimani.


Judge Allows Deal by T-Mobile and Sprint, Latest in a String of Mergers

A U.S. District judge ruled in favor of Sprint's $26 billion deal to merge with T-Mobile. The ruling clears one of the final hurdles for the deal, which can't close until the California Public Utilities Commission approves the transaction. Shares of both companies soared after the ruling. Attorney generals from several states brought a lawsuit to block the deal following approval from the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission, arguing that it would limit competition and result in higher prices for consumers. The court rejected the states' arguments. Both companies agreed to certain concessions to the government, including deploying a 5G network covering 97% of the U.S. population within three years of the closing deal. Sprint also agreed to sell its prepaid phone businesses as well as some of its wireless spectrum to Dish for $5 billion.


Justice Dept. Charges Four Chinese in Equifax Hack

The Department of Justice has charged four members of China's military for allegedly hacking into Equifax and stealing the personal information of millions of Americans in 2017, which was one of the largest data breaches in history. Allegedly, the hackers obtained the names, birth dates, and Social Security numbers of nearly 145 million Americans and the drivers' licenses of at least 10 million. All four charged are members of the 54th Research Institute, a component of China's People's Liberation Army. A federal grand jury returned the 9-count indictment on charges of computer fraud, economic espionage, and wire fraud. The men are considered wanted by the FBI.


Bad App Was Just a Link in Iowa's Chain of Failure

Weak oversight and rushed planning crippled the Democratic Caucuses in Iowa. The failure of the IowaReporterApp set off a chain reaction that resulted in the delay of the official results and just may end Iowa's prized place as the first primary contest. This debacle represents one of the most stunning failures of information security, ever. Voters will be paying close attention to how party leaders ensure that votes going forward have clear contingency plans in place, not just to protect against hackers, but from all types of technology failures.


An Algorithm That Grants Freedom or Takes It Away

Across the U.S. and Europe, software is making probation decisions and predicting whether teens will commit crime. Opponents want more human oversight.


Ransonware Hits Are on the Rise

Targeted ransomware attacks on governmental agencies and citizens in the U.S. are on the rise, crippling cities and businesses. This in turn has cybersecurity insurance rates increasing. Hackers are locking people out of their networks and demanding big payments to get back in. In 2019, 205,280 organizations submitted files that had been hacked in a ransomware attack, a 41% increase from the year before. The average payment to release files spiked to $84,116 in the last quarter of 2019, more than double what it was the previous quarter. Security experts say that even these numbers underestimate the true cost of ransomware attacks.


World Health Organization Heads to China as Coronavirus Deaths Surpass Those in SARS Outbreak

The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has now surpassed that of the SARS epidemic.


Virus's Effect on Commerce Ripples Out

Experts expect disruptions for nations trading with China and for manufacturers dependent on it for components for electronics, consumer products, and pharmaceuticals. With plans to quarantine workers, delayed plant openings, store shutdowns, travel disruptions, and ongoing uncertainty among citizens and businesses prevailed, as the spreading coronavirus continued to wreak havoc in many industries.


Amazon Asks to Depose Trump in Contract Suit

Amazon is asking a federal judge for permission to depose President Trump and Defense Department officials to that prove bias and personal animus led the Pentagon to award a lucrative cloud contract to rival Microsoft. This is just another notch in the multi-year, high stakes quarrel between Amazon and Trump. The contract in question was a $10 billion, 10-year contract to build the Pentagon's war cloud. Both Amazon and Microsoft are battling for the reputation of the top cloud computing company. Amazon also seeks to depose former Defense Secretary Mattis, current Defense Secretary Esper, and the Department of Defense's information chief. The awarding of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to Microsoft came as a surprise to many, as Amazon was long seen as the front-runner. Less than two weeks after Microsoft won the contract, Amazon filed its lawsuit.


Report Finds That White Supremacist Groups Expanded Propaganda Efforts

Incidents of white supremacist propaganda jumped by more than 120% in the U.S. last year, according to research. The distribution of such propaganda on college and university campuses nearly doubled last year, to 630 reported incidents from 320 in 2018.


Juul Aimed Ads at Youths, Suit Says

Juul targeted children and illegally marketed its e-cigarettes to underage consumers with ads on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, a lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit claims that the e-cigarette maker rejected a campaign proposal targeting adults.


U.S. Charges That Huawei Tried to Steal Trade Secrets

The U.S. government filed racketeering charges against Huawei and its CFO, accusing the Chinese telecom giant of conspiring to steal trade secrets from 6 tech companies. The Department of Justice has charged them with conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The Trump administration has pursued charges against Huawei for close to a year, as the geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China grows. Huawei is also charged with "making repeated misstatements to U.S. officials, including FBI agents and representatives from the U.S. House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence." It is also alleged that the company concealed its involvement with business and technology projects in Iran and North Korea using the code names "A2" and "A9." Huawei denies the allegations.


Voting Rights Victory for North Dakota Tribes

Native American tribes in North Dakota secured a major victory when they settled a pair of lawsuits challenging the state's restrictive voter identification requirements. The lawsuits were brought by the Spirit Lake Nation, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, and several individual voters contesting the state law mandating that voters present identification that includes their residential street address. The plaintiffs and voting rights advocates argued that the law placed undue hardships on residents living on reservations, because many don't have street addresses. The agreement also included a pending court-ordered Consent Decree that "will ensure all Native Americans who are qualified electors can vote." The agreement comes a week after North Dakota Governor Doug Bergum formally approved emergency rules that recognize various forms of tribal identification.


Pentagon Tells Congress That It Will Divert $3.8 Billion to Fund Southern Border Wall

The Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department's budget to build the border wall. This is in addition to more than $11 billion that has already been identified to construct more than 500 miles of new barriers along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. That includes money that Congress haD appropriated and funding that was previously diverted from military construction and counternarcotic operations.


Cuomo Suggests Compromise to Trump on Global Entry Applicants

Gocernor Cuomo said that he would seek to give federal officials access to New York state driving records for applicants to Global Entry and other federal programs that allow travelers to quickly pass through airports and borders. The announcement came days after federal officials banned New York residents from applying to and re-enrolling in the Trusted Traveler Program. Cuomo added that he would meet with President Trump to discuss the programs and access to the driving records. Administration officials stressed that the potential change would not result in carte-blanche access to State Department of Motor Vehicle records. Cuomo also suggested again that the Trump administration was extorting the state and using it as leverage to find information on undocumented immigrants.


$2.6 Million Earmarked for Puerto Rico's Pension Fund Went to Hackers Instead

A forged message tricked government workers into wiring money to the wrong back account. Similar attacks known as business email compromises, have grown increasingly common across the country in recent years, often targeting municipalities. The online scam targeted more than $4M amid crisis, deepening concerns about the management of local government finances during an economic crisis. Authorities have frozen at least $2.9 million. Legislators have seen demanded a probe.


Puerto Rico Reaches Deal with Creditors to Settle $35 Billion in Debt

Puerto Rico has reached a deal with creditors who hold $35 billion in its general obligation bonds, passing an important milestone as it tries to resolve its $129 billion debt crisis. Under the new agreement, the debt would be settled for $10.7 billion, with $3.8 billion up front. The agreement reduces the debt repayment timeline by 10 years. It still needs to be approved by the bankruptcy judge overseeing the process.


Appeals Court Rejects Work Requirements for Medicaid Recipients in Arkansas

A federal appeals court rejected the Trump administration's approval of Medicaid work requirements in Arkansas, saying that the administration had neglected to consider the coverage loss people would suffer as a result. A three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously upheld a lower court ruling striking down the work requirements, ruling that the Department of Health & Human Services does not have authority to require some people covered by Medicaid to work, attend job training, volunteer, or attend school. More than 18,000 Arkansas residents lost their healthcare coverage when the work requirements went into effect before a lower court struck them down. Republican Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said that he hopes the case will reach the Supreme Court, saying that the work requirements were intended to help recipients get job opportunities while they received benefits.


Oklahoma to Resume Executions by Injection

The state of Oklahoma is set to resume executions 5 years after a pair of botched lethal injections forced officials to put a hold on all death sentences. No one has been executed in the state since January 2015.


Border Patrol is Sending Elite Tactical Teams to Many Sanctuary Cities

The Trump administration said that it is preparing to deploy elite Border Patrol tactical units to the interior of the United states to assist U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement teams in "sanctuary cities" and other jurisdictions where authorities are seeking to boost arrests and deportations.


Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty to Torching Black Churches

The son of a Louisiana deputy pleaded guilty to setting fire to three black churches. Holden Matthews, 22, admitted in court to setting fire to the Baptist churches in the heart of south central Louisiana's Cajun and Creole country, during a span of 10 days in 2019. He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act and to one count of using fire to commit a federal felony. Matthews admitted to setting the blazes in order to raise his profile as a "Black Metal" musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s. Matthews had expressed disgust with Baptist beliefs on Facebook.


Ex-Clerk Says Prominent Judge Harassed Her

A former law clerk said that she was repeatedly sexually harassed by the prominent federal judge, the late Judge Stephen Reinhardt, for whom she worked, and that the judiciary's new system for reporting misconduct remains inadequate. The woman said that the judge repeatedly insulted her over her appearance, made vulgar comments, and disparaged other women who had leveled allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Judge Reinhardt was one of the nation's most-renowned appeals court judges. He was a Jimmy Carter appointee long viewed as the leading liberal stalwart in the nation's largest judicial circuit who died in 2018 at age 87.


Virus Lockdown Stifles Economy in a Wary China

As the death toll passes 1000, officials are demanding detailed health plans before Chinese factories and offices can reopen. It has been weeks since China locked down a major city to stop a dangerous viral outbreak, and one of the world's largest economies remains largely idle. Each city now has its own checks and crosschecks. Authorities have a long way to go before the outbreak can be tamed. Chinese officials have been criticized for their slow initial response and suppression of early warnings.


U.S. Bars Sri Lankan Chief Accused of War Atrocities

The U.S. has blacklisted Sri Lanka's army chief, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, over accusations of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings during the country's civil war. He is no longer allowed to enter the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that "the U.S. will not waver in its pursuit of accountability for those who commit war crimes and violate human rights." The allegations of gross human rights violations against Silva had been documented by the United Nations and other organizations. The U.S. sanctions bar both Silva and his immediate family members from entering the U.S. Sri Lanka's Ministry of Foreign Relations urged Washington to review its decision.


Swiss Vote to Penalize Acts of Public Homophobia

Swiss voters agreed last week to penalize public homophobia, greenlighting an amendment that extends Switzerland's anti-racism laws to cover sexual orientation. The country, unlike many of its western European neighbors, does not yet have laws that specifically protect lesbians, gays, and bisexuals from discrimination. Preliminary figures showed that 60.5% voted in favor of widening existing laws against discrimination of incitement to hatred on ethnic or religious grounds to include sexual orientation.


February 23, 2020

Week In Review

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Weinstein Jury Continues Deliberation

The judge in Harvey Weinstein's trial received a note on Friday indicating that the jury was "deadlocked on the most serious charges in the indictment, but also that they might have reached a verdict on three other counts." In addition, the jury inquired whether a partial verdict may be accepted, which Weinstein's counsel indicated they would accept; however, the judge and prosecutors refused to accept a partial verdict.



A TV Star's Suicide Prompts Blame Game in Britain

The former host of the popular British television show "Love Island," Caroline Flack, has died in an apparent suicide. Social media in Britain has been flooded with tributes followed by calls for a law to stop "Britain's tabloid newspapers from publishing stories that relentlessly dive into celebrities' private lives," as Flack had been a fixture in those tabloids for romances with Prince Harry and Harry Styles.


For Harry and Meghan, No More 'Royal' in Their Brand

Following negotiations between Buckingham Palace and Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, it has been announced that the couple will not use the word "royal" in any of their commercial or philanthropic activities. They had planned to use SussexRoyal as an "umbrella brand for their charitable foundation and social media accounts" and as their servicemark.



Six Cooper Hewitt Trustees Resign After Director's Removal

There is disruption at the Cooper Hewitt: 6 trustees have resigned from the board to protest the removal of Caroline Baumann, the director, after an investigation that included her 2018 wedding. The inspector general of the Smithsonian found an apparent conflict of interest with Baumann's acquiring of her "dress and the venue for" her wedding ceremony, which board members found not to be deserving of such punishment.


Victoria's Secret Sale Caps End of Wexner's Retail Empire

With the sale of Victoria's Secret, one of the companies under the L Brands umbrella that Leslie Wexner managed, Wexner has begun to see the consequences of his questionable relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and leadership decisions that had brought Victoria's Secret from a runaway success to a more modest retailer. He has announced that he would step down from L Brands and sell his controlling stake in Victoria's Secret, and the departure of the "Merlin of the mall" comes after questions were raised about how women were treated at L Brands.


Forensic Architecture Founder Says U.S. Prevented His Visit

The director of an investigative group Forensic Architecture, Eyal Weizman, has announced that a United States embassy official in London told him that "an algorithm had identified a security threat that was related to him" and thus prevented his visit to the country. He noted that he previously had visited the United States on numerous occasions without incident, and the basis for his denial to visit on this occasion has not been revealed.


Trump Denounces Oscar Winner 'Parasite'

At a rally in Colorado, President Trump criticized the selection of the film "Parasite," a South Korean film, as winner of the best picture award at the Oscars. He addressed the crowd: "And the winner is a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about?" He continued, "Can we get 'Gone With the Wind' back, please?"


Notre-Dame Crypt and Square May Reopen in Spring

Officials in Paris have announced that, despite previous delays in reopening parts of the Notre Dame Cathedral, it is expected that the crypt and the square in front of the cathedral is likely to reopen in the next several months. President Emmanuel Macron of France has made a promise to reopen the cathedral within the next 5 years as extensive repairs continue to be made to the structure.



U.S. Women's Soccer Team Sets Price for Ending Lawsuit: $67 Million

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and the women's national team have filed respective motions asking to end the lawsuit: while the USSF is seeking to dismiss the claims, the women's players are asking for a pretrial decision in the amount of nearly $67 million. The motions are pending in the Central District of California, and the results may inform the result of the action.


Players' Union Pushes Back on Major League Baseball's Portrayal of Astros Investigation

The head of the Major League Baseball (MLB) players' union, Tony Clark, has said that the MLB, when it learned of the investigation into the Astros, did not intend to punish any Astros players for their roles, which directly contradicts the statement previously made by Commissioner Rob Manfred. Many have criticized MLB's response, as it has become clear that the 2017 Astros illegally stole "signs electronically on its way to a World Series title."


Report Reveals Insider Dealing at Russia's Antidoping Agency

Consultants at Baker Tilly have authored a report finding that the antidoping agency in Russia has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to companies "linked to former senior executives at the agency." The agency, known as Rusada, also was found to be paying "as much as 50 percent more than market rates for the purchases."


Paris St.-Germain President, Nasser al-Khelaifi, Charged in Soccer Scheme

Swiss authorities have accused the president of the Paris St.-Germain (PSG) soccer club, Nasser al-Khelaifi, with inciting a former top official of FIFA to commit a crime by accepting bribes and criminal mismanagement. The charges come against al-Khelaifi at a time when he is not only president of PSG, but also presides over broadcaster BeIN and sits on the boards of Europe's governing body, UEFA.



U.S. Designates China's Official Media as Operatives of Communist State

The Trump administration has continued its efforts to counter China's influence as it designates China's official media, including the Xinhua News Agency, as operatives of the Chinese state. The decision comes after years of debate for fear of "restricting the freedom of the press" but also as administration officials have "moved aggressively on multiple fronts to fight what officials describe as extensive Chinese influence and intelligence operations in the United States."


China Expels Three Wall Street Journal Reporters as Media Relations Sour

Tensions have risen inside the Wall Street Journal after China denounced 3 of the newspaper's journalists: 53 reporters and editors have asked executives to apologize and consider changing its headline, "China is the Real Sick Man of Asia," an opinion essay that detailed "economic repercussions of the coronavirus outbreak." This development shows the increasing influence that the Chinese government has in framing the media surrounding the country.



Unloved by Trump, National Public Radio Carries On

When the President recently said that it was "a very good question" why National Public Radio (NPR) continues to exist, NPR saw a spike in donations. The White House budget proposal seeks to eliminate federal funding for NPR by 2023, but Congress has typically stood in the way of that happening: for the 2020 budget, the White House had sought funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with $30 million, but Congress allocated $465 million. Notwithstanding the fact that NPR receives about 1% of its budget from federal funds, NPR is taking the threat seriously and seeking to secure donations and maintain its programming.


E. Jean Carroll Says That Elle Magazine Fired Her After Trump Rape Accusation

E. Jean Carroll, the longtime columnist for Elle magazine, has blamed President Trump for her recent departure from the magazine, "saying in a defamation lawsuit he had damaged her reputation by calling her a liar." She had accused him of sexually assaulting her over 20 years ago, which President Trump had repeatedly denied. As a result of the damage to her reputation and her career, she filed a defamation suit against him in November.


New Mexico Sues Google Over Children's Privacy Violations

The State of New Mexico has filed an action against Google, the "top tech brand in public schools," for its use of educational products in spying on students, according to New Mexico's attorney general. The data that Google collected about students included "data on their physical locations, websites they visited, YouTube videos they watched and their voice recordings."


General News

In Case on Wealth Test for Green Cards, a Scathing Sotomayor Dissent

On Friday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration may move forward with its plan to "deny green cards to immigrants who are thought to be likely to become 'public charges' by making even occasional and minor use of public benefits like Medicaid, food stamps, and housing vouchers." Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored a dissent that criticized the administration for its use of the Supreme Court "after interim losses in the lower courts": "Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each. And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow."


Roger Stone Sentenced to Over Three Years in Prison

The Republican political consultant and friend of President Trump, Roger Stone, has been sentenced to over 3 years in prison for his role in "obstructing a congressional inquiry," even as extraordinary upheaval took place at the Justice Department and a standoff took place between President Trump and Attorney General William Barr. It is unclear whether President Trump may pardon Stone.


Former Pentagon Analyst Pleads Guilty to Sharing Classified Information

Former Pentagon analyst Henry Kyle Frese has pleaded guilty to sharing classified information with 2 journalists, one of whom was his girlfriend. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and the case was prosecuted through the use of a wiretap on his phone, which is "perhaps the most intrusive tool in criminal investigators' arsenal" but justified as the leak created a threat to national security, according to the assistant attorney general for national security.


Pressure for Barr to Step Down as Justice Department and Trump Continue to Spar

This week saw a massive standoff between President Trump and the Justice Department. While Attorney General William Barr had complained that President Trump's tweets had made it difficult for him to fulfill his responsibilities, President Trump flexed his pardon power and pardoned a number of high profile individuals, including former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. President Trump had called for prosecutors to drop their case against Roger Stone even right before sentencing, and he has since said that he continues to be "draining the swamp."






Lawmakers Warned that Russia Is Meddling in 2020 Election Campaigns as Nevada Prepares for Caucus

As Nevada prepared to host the caucuses for the Democratic presidential nomination, word came from United States intelligence agencies that the Russian government is continuing to support President Trump's re-election efforts and to boost the campaign of Bernie Sanders. President Trump denounced the revelation and called it a "hoax" that Democrats have conjured up to hurt his campaign.




Trump Names Grenell Acting Head of Intelligence

The new acting director of national intelligence, Richard Grenell, has brought in his own aides and has asked to "see the facts underlying the finding that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and favors President Trump's re-election." He comes into the role as acting director with little relevant experience for the roll and has hired as an aide one who is rumored to have license to "clean house."




Top Defense Official Latest to Be Ousted After Impeachment Saga

With senior officials departing the administration, one of the litmus tests of those entering and remaining in the Trump administration are those who have demonstrated their support for the President. Those who testified or cooperated in the impeachment inquiry were the first to leave in recent weeks, but now those who remain have started to feel more unease as the efforts to remove the disloyal intensify.



Trump Effort to Keep U.S. Tech Out of China Alarms American Firms

President Trump, in a series of tweets, said that the United States would not restrict sales to China, showing a "sharp shift in administration policy." American firms had expressed concerns about the effort to keep technology out of China due to the affect it would have on commerce, and President Trump's remarks that the United States is "open for business" and that fears of national security being compromised were merely an "excuse."




Congress' Spending Power Weakens as Trump Seizes Wall Money

The Trump administration's "plan to divert more military funds to building a border wall is the latest example of the long-running erosion of Congress' power of the purse." The Pentagon's announcement this month that it would divert billions of dollars to constructing the border wall caused "bipartisan outrage" throughout Washington.


U.S. Imposes Sanctions on Russian Oil Company

The United States has imposed sanctions on Russian oil giant Rosneft Oil Company for its support of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The sanctions are part of a pressure campaign by the Trump administration for Maduro to "give up power, nearly two years after he was re-elected in a widely disputed vote."


Peace Talks Continue in Afghanistan

Despite an Afghan soldier killing 2 Americans, peace talks between the United States and Afghanistan continue. The war in Afghanistan has been a "bleeding stalemate in which even some Afghan soldiers turn their guns on American service members, viewing them as invaders instead of partners," and the question has become whether casualties can end in any other way other than bringing the U.S. presence in the country to an end.


Payout From National Opioids Settlement Won't Be as Big as Hoped

When lawsuits were filed against companies in the pharmaceutical industry, there were "expectations of a whopping payday," but lawyers have said that "companies will shell out far less" than expected. One research firm has predicted that the total may be between $75 billion and $85 billion, which falls far short of the settlement with tobacco companies in 1998 that resulted in payment of over $206 billion over 25 years.


Jeff Bezos Commits $10 Billion to Address Climate Change

Amidst news that oil and gas production may be emitting more carbon into the atmosphere than previously thought, Jeff Bezos, the chief executive of Amazon and the world's richest person, said that he was committing $10 billion to address the climate crisis. The initiative he is starting, Bezos Earth Fund, will "fund scientists, activists, and nongovernmental organizations" in fighting climate change, which he called "the biggest threat to our planet."



Boy Scouts Seeks Bankruptcy to Survive Deluge of Sex Abuse Claims

The Boy Scouts of America has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy after numerous sex abuse claims emerged in recent years. Thus, the nonprofit group has followed in the footsteps of Catholic dioceses and USA Gymnastics in filing bankruptcy "amid sex-abuse cases." The bankruptcy filing is not expected to affect the running of day-to-day programs, as those are managed through local councils.


Kickstarter Employees Vote to Unionize in a Big Step for Tech

In a remarkable first in the technology industry, the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter voted to unionize. The decision, which the National Labor Relations Board formalized, had a narrow margin, with 46% of employees voting for unionization and 37% opposing it. The debate "had been a source of tension at the company for many months" and is significant for the industry as "workers have become increasingly activist in recent years over issues as varied as sexual harassment and climate change."


New York Police Department to Remove DNA Profiles of Non-Criminals From Database

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has announced that it will begin "expunging some of the 82,000 people" in its DNA profile database "who have never been convicted of a crime." The database had faced scrutiny from civil liberties advocates, "who point out it is hard to get a profile erased once it is put in and argue it violates the privacy rights of many innocent people." The NYPD is set to audit its database and "flag for removal any samples more than two years old that have not been linked to an ongoing investigation or conviction."


New York Attorney General Accuses New York Ciy of Fraud Over Taxi Crisis

New York State Attorney General Letitia James has accused New York City of "committing fraud by artificially inflating the value of yellow taxi medallions, and she demanded $810 million from the city to compensate the thousands of cabdrivers who are now saddled with enormous debt." The Taxi and Limousine Commission had touted medallions as "a solid investment with steady growth" and then went on to reap "a profit from the sale of thousands of them at auction at exorbitant prices."


How China Tracked Detainees and Their Families

A leaked Chinese government document "shows how people were monitored and selected for internment camps in Xinjiang. A 137-page spreadsheet outlines the information that officials had gathered for the residents in Xinjiang, which includes "names and government identification numbers of more than 300 people held in indoctrination camps and information on hundreds of their relatives and neighbors." The document "shows the range of behaviors that the authorities see as problematic that would be normal elsewhere, such as giving up alcohol, wanting to go on a religious pilgrimage, or attending a funeral."


China Detains Activist Who Accused Xi of Coronavirus Cover-Up

A prominent Chinese legal activist, Xu Zhiyong, and his girlfriend, Li Qiaochu, a social activist, have been silent and missing. Zhiyong had accused China's leader Xi Jinping as "hungry for power" and had accused him of trying to "cover up the coronavirus outbreak in central China." Their detention over the weekend shows the "far-reaching efforts to limit dissent in China."


Copyright Office Adjusted Fees

By Shanti Sadtler Conway

On February 19th, the Copyright Office published a final rule establishing adjusted fees for its services. The new fee schedule reflects some increased and decreased fees, as well as some that have remained the same. For example, the online Standard Application registration will increase from $55 to $65; the fee to register a group of published or unpublished photographs will remain at $55. In addition to fees for registration and recordation, the rule establishes adjusted fees for special services and Licensing Division services.

Link to the regulation: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-02-19/pdf/2020-03268.pdf

About February 2020

This page contains all entries posted to The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog in February 2020. They are listed from oldest to newest.

January 2020 is the previous archive.

March 2020 is the next archive.

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