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Week In Review

By Angela Peco

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


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

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

Katy Perry Sued for Copyright Infringement Over a Backgrid USA Photo

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Under Armour is Subject to Federal Accounting Probe

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

Stolen Artwork Turns Up Seven Years Later in Los Angeles

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

Placido Domingo Withdraws from Tokyo 2020 Event

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


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

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

Runner Mary Cain Accuses Oregon Project Coach of Emotional Abuse

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

Memphis' James Wiseman Ruled Ineligible by the NCAA

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

The National Football League Continues to Enforce Dress Code

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

Clippers Fined $50,000 For Sitting Kawhi Leonard

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

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

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

Deal Reached to Address Gender Pay Gap in Australian Soccer

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

China Sets Rules for Young Gamers

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

Police Officer is Charged with Murder of British Soccer Player

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


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

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

Facebook Removes Breitbart Articles Claiming to Name Ukraine Whistle-Blower

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

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

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

California Sues Facebook Over Documents in Privacy Investigation

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

Two Former Twitter Employees Charges with Spying for Saudi Arabia

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

BBC Defends Gender Pay Gap in Samira Ahmed's Case

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

General News

The Patent and Trademark Office is Requesting Comment on Copyright Issues

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

President Celebrates Leaving His Mark on the Federal Judiciary

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

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

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

House Investigators Summon Mick Mulvaney to Testify in Impeachment Inquiry

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

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

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

Ukraine Policy Thrusts White House Lawyer into Center of Crisis

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

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

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

State Department Official Complained That Trump Politicized Ukraine Policy

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

Giuliani's Associate Talks with Impeachment Investigators

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

Military Judge Rules That Prosecutors Misrepresented Evidence from CIA Sites

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

Funding for Minority Colleges is Being Held Up in the Senate

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

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

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

"Conscience Rule" for Healthcare Workers is Struck Down

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

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

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

Supreme Court Considers Hearing Case Against Gun Industry

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

Recent Filing in Copyright Suit Between Rimini Street and Oracle

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

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

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

Federal Prosecutors Charge Aventura Over Military Equipment Made in China

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Protection Agency Weakens Rules Governing Water Pollution from Coal Plants

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

The Federal Reserve Signaling It Is Ready to Consider Climate Change

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Woman Accusing Donald Trump of Rape Sues Him for Defamation

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

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

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

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

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

White Supremacist Group Films Video at Till Memorial

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

Mastercard Will Offer Cards Aimed at Transgender and Nonbinary People

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

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

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

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

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

Italian Public Schools Will Require Environmental Education

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

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