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Week In Review

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

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:


Taylor Swift Escalates Battle With Scooter Braun and Big Machine

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

India's Soundtrack of Hate, With a Pop Sheen

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


Marciano Art Foundation Is Accused of Unfair Labor Practices

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

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

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

Mexican Village's Embroidery Designs Are Admired and Appropriated Globally

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


The Real Cost of Diversifying College Rosters

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

Woman Told to Remove Hijab Before Denver Nuggets Game

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

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

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

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

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


District Court in Florida Rules on Netflix Series Narcos Infringement

The District Court in the Southern District of Florida granted summary judgment for defendants in a copyright action in which Colombian journalist Virginia Vallejo had claimed that the Netflix series Narcos infringed her rights to her memoir.

Facebook's New Role as News Publisher Brings Additional Scrutiny

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

Student Journalists Face Blowback on Campuses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turkish President Visits White House

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

General News

The Impeachment Hearings Begin in the House

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

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

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

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

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

Stephen Miller Pushed White Nationalist Theories Before Joining Trump Administration

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

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

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

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

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

Supreme Court Appears Ready to Let Trump End DACA Program

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

Supreme Court Hears Racial Discrimination Case Against Comcast

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

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

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

Climate Change Poses Threats to Children's Health Worldwide

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

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

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

Amazon Protesting Pentagon's $10 Billion JEDI Contract

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

We Teach Artificial Intelligence Systems Everything, Including Our Biases

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

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

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

Trump Clears Three Service Members in War Crimes Cases

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

Jeffrey Epstein Estate Contemplates Victim Compensation Fund

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

Judge Reduces Opioid Fine After Mistaking Thousands for Millions

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

Representative Peter King Announces That He Will Retire

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

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

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

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

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

Myanmar Genocide Lawsuit Filed at United Nations Court

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

Venice Flooding Brings City "to Its Knees"

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

Hong Kong Colleges Are Besieged Citadels as Police Close In

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

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

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

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