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Week In Review

Updated: Mar 13, 2023

By Leah Gaydos

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


Entertainment

Gov. Ron DeSantis Clears a Way to Revoke Disney’s Special District in Florida

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis leads the way to revoking the "Disney World" special district, which allows the company to establish its own government-like powers over the theme park's property.


Warner Bros. Discovery Sues Paramount in South Park Streaming Fight In February 2023, the creators of the TV show "South Park" were sued by Warner Bros. and Discovery, alleging that they had breached their $500 million contract by moving the show from the HBO Max streaming service to Paramount+ (for $900 million). The move was part of a broader deal between Warner Bros. and Discovery that saw the two companies merge and form a new media giant. The lawsuit highlights the complex and sometimes contentious nature of the media industry as companies try to adapt to changing consumer preferences and technological advancements.


When Clothes Fly Off, This Intimacy Coordinator Steps In

The role of intimacy coordinators in the film and television industry is becoming increasingly prominent, as more productions seek to ensure the safety and comfort of actors and crew members during sex scenes and other intimate moments. Intimacy coordinators work with actors and directors to choreograph and oversee these scenes, and are also responsible for advocating for actors' rights and ensuring that they are not subjected to harassment or abuse. The rise of intimacy coordinators reflects a growing awareness of the need for better workplace protections and more inclusive and equitable practices in the entertainment industry.


When Songs Sound Similar, Courts Look for Musical DNA

In a high-profile copyright case, Ed Sheeran has been ordered to pay $100 million in damages to the estate of Marvin Gaye, after a jury found that his song "Thinking Out Loud" copied parts of Gaye's "Let's Get It On." The case is part of a larger trend in the music industry, with lawsuits over copyright infringement becoming increasingly common.


The Attention a Celebrity Doesn’t Want: Bullying Accusations

A tragic suicide has prompted a recent controversy surrounding the bullying allegations against An Woo-jin, a former member of a K-pop boy band. The incident has sparked a national conversation about bullying and the K-pop industry's culture, leading to calls for change and accountability in entertainment and sports.


Arts

Newspapers Drop ‘Dilbert’ After Creator’s Rant About Black ‘Hate Group’

In February 2023, the creator of the popular comic strip "Dilbert" faced criticism and backlash after a series of his old strips containing racist and offensive content were re-published in newspapers across the United States. The controversy has sparked a broader conversation about the role of satire and humor in addressing social and political issues, and the need for greater sensitivity and awareness when it comes to issues of race and discrimination. Some have called for the strip to be canceled or for the creator to issue a public apology, while others argue that the controversy is an overreaction and that the strips should be viewed in their historical context.


Why Warhol Images Are Making Museums Nervous

The Warhol/Goldberg case before the Supreme Court raises questions about the use of images in contemporary art, particularly when they involve famous figures who are no longer alive.


Why Some Black Playwrights Are Saying Their Shows Must Not Go On

A growing number of playwrights in the United States are choosing to cancel or postpone their productions due to concerns over representation. The cancellations have highlighted the financial and logistical challenges facing the theater industry, which has been hard hit by the pandemic. Some industry experts are calling for increased government support for theaters and playwrights, while others are exploring new models for producing and distributing theater content in a post-pandemic world, namely, with more BIPOC and female playwrights.


If Big Brands Copied Their Work, What Are Artists to Do?

The rise of digital art has raised concerns about copyright protection in the art world, particularly in relation to the ownership and reproduction of digital files. With the increased popularity of non-fungible tokens, which provide proof of ownership for digital files, the issue of copyright is becoming even more complex. The article examines several recent legal cases involving digital art, including disputes between Marvel Comics and Italian publisher Panini, and between a collector and a digital artist who created a piece based on a Harry Potter book cover.


Were These Photographs Voyeurism, or Art?

The photographer Arne Svenson is facing legal action by a woman he photographed without her consent through a window in a New York apartment building. The lawsuit alleged that Svenson’s actions violated the woman’s privacy and constituted an act of trespassing, and sought damages and an injunction to prevent the photographer from displaying or selling the photographs. Svenson’s work has previously been the subject of controversy over his practice of photographing his neighbors through their windows without their knowledge or consent, leading to a debate over the limits of artistic expression and the rights of individuals to privacy.


Sports

Vanessa Bryant Settles Helicopter Crash Photos Lawsuit for $28.85 Million

Vanessa Bryant, the widow of basketball legend Kobe Bryant settled a lawsuit with the helicopter company and pilot responsible for the crash that killed her husband and daughter in January 2020. The lawsuit alleged that the pilot was negligent and failed to take necessary safety precautions, and that the company should have had better safety procedures and protocols in place. The tragedy has raised broader questions about helicopter safety and the risks associated with air travel, particularly for high-profile individuals and their families.


Brian Flores’s Discrimination Case Against the National Football League Can Move to Court

Former National Football League (NFL) head coach Brian Flores spoke out about his experiences with discrimination and racial bias within the league. Flores cited instances of being passed over for coaching positions and feeling marginalized and excluded within the NFL community. His comments have sparked a wider conversation about diversity and inclusion in professional sports, particularly in leadership positions. Some are calling for greater efforts to address systemic bias and racism within the NFL, while others argue that progress has been made, but that more work needs to be done.


A Common Sight on U.S. Campuses: The Rest of the World’s Female Olympians

In February 2023, the United States Olympic Committee, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and other sports organizations announced their support for the reinstatement of Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibited sex-based discrimination in education and athletics. The organizations pledged to work together to promote gender equity in sports and address issues such as pay disparities and sexual harassment. However, some critics argue that more needs to be done to ensure that female athletes are truly given equal opportunities and support.


Black Equestrians Want to Be Safe. But They Can’t Find Helmets.

Historically, equestrian sport has had a diversity problem, and Black riders in particular have faced many barriers to entry. There is also a growing concern over the safety of riders and specifically the quality of helmets used in the sport. Simply put, manufacturers of these helmets have completely forgotten about Black hair and its putting Black riders at risk. As one rider put it, trying to stuff a head into a helmet that doesn’t fit presents a safety risk, not unlike “trying to fit a baby into a car seat that doesn’t fit them. The helmet just would not do what it was supposed to do.”


A Boardwalk Basketball Grift Conjured Out of Thin Air

A group of people in New Jersey were charged with operating a rigged basketball game on a boardwalk, where it was virtually impossible to win. The operators would allegedly manipulate the rims, use smaller balls, and add obstructions to prevent customers from winning the prizes, leading to over $1 million in profits.


Technology/Media

As Artificial Intelligence Booms, Lawmakers Struggle to Understand the Technology

The U.S. Congress is taking steps to regulate artificial intelligence (AI) in order to protect consumers and prevent the misuse of the technology. The bill would require companies to disclose the use of AI in their products, and to make sure that the technology is not used to discriminate against certain groups or to engage in harmful behavior. The bill would also create a new regulatory agency to oversee AI and ensure that it is used in a responsible manner.


New Biden Cybersecurity Strategy Assigns Responsibility to Tech Firms

The Biden administration released a new cybersecurity strategy aimed at strengthening the country's defenses against cyberattacks and online threats. The strategy focuses on several key areas, including improving coordination and information sharing among government agencies, working with the private sector to secure critical infrastructure, and investing in research and development to stay ahead of emerging threats. The release of the strategy comes amid growing concerns about cyberattacks targeting U.S. businesses and government agencies, and highlights the need for a comprehensive and coordinated approach to cybersecurity at all levels.


Murdoch Acknowledges That Fox News Hosts Endorsed Election Fraud Falsehoods

Dominion Voting Systems filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, News Corp, over the network's coverage of the 2020 presidential election. The lawsuit alleges that Fox News and several of its hosts spread false and misleading information about Dominion's voting machines, which contributed to the company being targeted with harassment and death threats. The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges facing Fox News and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, over the network's coverage of the election and its aftermath. The lawsuit highlights the growing scrutiny of media companies and their responsibility to report accurate and factual information.


Conservative Media Pay Little Attention to Revelations About Fox News

In a defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News, the conservative news network's lawyers argued in court that their coverage of the 2020 U.S. presidential election was "not necessarily accurate" and "not necessarily true," and that the network's hosts had a right to express their opinions on the election results. This is a significant departure from their previous stance of insisting that their coverage was accurate and truthful.


Fox Leaders Wanted to Break From Trump but Struggled to Make It Happen

Reports have emerged that former President Donald Trump and Fox News have ended their long-standing alliance, with Trump reportedly refusing to appear on the network and criticizing its coverage of his administration. The break marks a significant shift in the relationship between Trump and Fox News, which had previously been seen as one of the president's most loyal and influential media allies. Some have speculated that the rift could signal a broader shift in conservative media, as newer outlets and personalities compete for influence and attention in the post-Trump era.


‘Crying Indian’ Ad That Targeted Pollution to Be Retired

In February 2023, a controversial advertisement produced by the fossil fuel industry featuring a actor playing a Native American has sparked criticism and accusations of racism. The ad, which depicts the actor thanking oil and gas companies for providing jobs and economic opportunities for Native communities, has been condemned by many Indigenous activists and environmentalists, who argue that it promotes harmful and exploitative practices that disproportionately affect Native populations. The controversy highlights the ongoing tensions between the fossil fuel industry and Indigenous communities, and the need for greater accountability and transparency in the energy sector.


Defending Its Rankings, U.S. News Takes Aim at Top Law Schools

The controversy surrounding the U.S. News & World Report law school rankings centers around the rankings' methodology and influence on law schools' decisions. Some critics argue that the rankings are flawed and do not accurately reflect the quality of law schools, while others claim that the rankings perpetuate a culture of competition and elitism in legal education.


Third Top FTX Executive Pleads Guilty in Fraud Investigation

In February 2023, FTX, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and market manipulation. The charges, which were brought by the U.S. Department of Justice, alleged that FTX had engaged in a scheme to manipulate the price of certain cryptocurrencies in order to benefit the exchange and its executives. As part of the plea deal, FTX agreed to pay a $500 million fine and to implement new measures to prevent future fraud and market manipulation. The case is one of the most high-profile examples of legal action against a cryptocurrency exchange, and it underscores the ongoing challenges of regulating the rapidly evolving world of digital assets.


General News

Supreme Court to Take Up Case on Fate of Consumer Watchdog

The Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency created in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis to protect consumers from predatory lending and other abuses. The case, brought by a Texas-based mortgage lender, argues that the structure of the CFPB, which is headed by a single director who can only be removed by the president for cause, violates the separation of powers under the Constitution. Supporters of the CFPB argue that its unique structure is necessary to insulate it from political interference and ensure its independence in enforcing consumer protection laws. The case could have significant implications for the future of the CFPB and other independent agencies.


Supreme Court Appears Skeptical of Biden’s Student Loan Forgiveness Plan

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case challenging the Biden administration's decision to cancel $10,000 in federal student loan debt for certain borrowers. The case, brought by a group of conservative states, argues that the administration does not have the authority to cancel the debt without congressional approval. Supporters of the debt cancellation argue that it is a necessary step to provide relief to borrowers burdened with high levels of student loan debt. Supporters of the plan have also been discussing the glaring concern that the plaintiffs in the suit do not have standing, due to their insufficient lack of harm. The case could have significant implications for the future of student loan debt relief efforts and the scope of executive authority.


Low-Income Families Brace for End of Extra Food Stamp Benefits

In February 2023, millions of Americans who rely on food stamp benefits saw a decrease in their monthly assistance as a result of a change in the way benefits are calculated. The change, which was implemented as part of the 2022 Farm Bill, is expected to result in a roughly 7% reduction in benefits for the average participating household. While some advocates for the change argue that it will help to ensure that benefits are targeted to those who need them most, others warn that it could leave vulnerable families struggling to put food on the table. The decrease in food stamp benefits comes as many Americans continue to struggle with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is likely to fuel ongoing debates about the best ways to support families in need.


Garland Faces Heated Questions in Senate Hearing

Attorney General Merrick Garland testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, where he faced questions about the Justice Department's handling of cases involving both the Trump and Biden administrations. Garland defended the department's decisions to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election and to prosecute individuals involved in the January 6th attack on the Capitol, while also expressing support for efforts to strengthen voting rights and combat domestic terrorism. The hearing highlighted ongoing debates about the role of the Justice Department in protecting democracy and upholding the rule of law, and it underscored the challenges facing the Biden administration as it seeks to balance these competing priorities.


House Ethics Committee Opens Inquiry Into George Santos

The House Ethics Committee announced that it had opened a broad investigation into Representative George Santos, the embattled Republican from New York under scrutiny for lies about his background and questions about his campaign finances. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/02/nyregion/george-santos-ethics-investigation.html?searchResultPosition=1


Lawmakers Clamor for Action on Child Migrant Labor as Outrage Grows

The U.S. lawmakers have introduced a bill that seeks to prevent the exploitation of migrant children in the agricultural industry. The bill would raise the minimum age for children to work in agriculture from 12 to 14 years and require parental consent and mandatory education for those aged 14 to 16. It would also prohibit children under 18 from working in direct contact with pesticides and limit their work hours to protect them from hazardous working conditions.


F.B.I. Queries for U.S. Messages Collected Without Warrants Are Said to Drop ‘Dramatically’

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has used warrants and subpoenas to collect phone and email records of journalists, lawmakers, and their staff in recent years as part of investigations into leaks of classified information, according to newly released government documents. The disclosure has alarmed civil liberties advocates, who argue that the practice undermines press freedom and constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Although the FBI has defended its use of such tools as necessary to protect national security and prevent unauthorized disclosures of classified information, the number of warrants dropped.


Congress Moves to Block Investment Rule, Setting Up Veto Fight

The House of Representatives passed a bill aimed at blocking a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rule that would limit ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investments in retirement plans. The bill, which was supported by Democrats and some Republicans, argued that the SEC rule would undermine investors' ability to make informed decisions and promote sustainable business practices. Supporters of the rule, however, have argued that it would help prevent "political" investments that prioritize social goals over financial returns. The passage of the bill highlights the ongoing debates about the role of ESG investments in promoting social and environmental goals, and the challenges facing regulators as they seek to balance these goals with the need for financial stability and market efficiency.


How Environmentally Conscious Investing Became a Target of Conservatives

There is a conservative backlash against environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. This type of investing has gained popularity in recent years, as investors seek to align their portfolios with their values and support companies that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility. Some critics argue that ESG investing is overly focused on short-term goals and may be undermining efforts to address the longer-term threats posed by climate change. Others have raised concerns about the lack of standardization and transparency in ESG reporting and the potential for "greenwashing," or the exaggeration of companies' environmental and social commitments. The debate over the merits of ESG investing is likely to continue as investors grapple with the complex challenges of balancing financial returns with social and environmental impact.


New York Will Pay Millions to Protesters Violently Corralled by Police

The New York City Police Department agreed to a $12.5 million settlement in a lawsuit over its use of a controversial crowd control tactic known as "kettling" during Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. The tactic, in which police officers encircle and corral protesters, has been criticized for its potential to trap peaceful demonstrators and escalate tensions between police and protesters. The settlement comes as police departments across the country face increased scrutiny over their use of force during protests and demonstrations, and it highlights ongoing debates about the appropriate balance between public safety and civil liberties.


Lawsuit Against Trump Over Capitol Attack Should Proceed, Justice Dept. Says

Trump has been sued by Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell and another Democratic House member over the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. The lawsuits accuse Trump of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act and a Reconstruction-era law known as the Enforcement Act, both of which were created to protect against conspiracies that sought to interfere with the constitutional rights of Black Americans.


Kellyanne Conway Meets With Prosecutors as Trump Inquiry Escalates

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has subpoenaed former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway as part of an investigation into whether former President Donald J. Trump committed financial crimes in his efforts to buy the silence of women who claimed to have had affairs with him. Conway, who served as Trump’s campaign manager during the 2016 election, has been asked to provide any documents or information related to payments Trump may have made to silence women, including Stephanie Clifford, the adult film actress who is also known as Stormy Daniels. https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/01/nyregion/kellyanne-conway-stormy-daniels-trump-inquiry.html?searchResultPosition=1


Alex Murdaugh Convicted of Murdering Wife and Son

Alex Murdaugh, a fourth-generation lawyer whose family held significant influence in South Carolina's Lowcountry, was found guilty of murdering his wife and son. The verdict followed a six-week trial, more than 20 months after the June 2021 fatal shootings. Murdaugh led a privileged and wealthy life, but it was found that he stole millions of dollars from clients and colleagues and also lived a secret life. The case was a reckoning for Murdaugh, who had avoided legal consequences for stealing and lying for years.

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