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Week In Review

By Seth Nguyen

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker


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

 

Entertainment


Spotify CEO Daniel Ek — Worth $4.7 Billion — Dragged on Social Media After Saying ‘Content’ Costs ‘Close to Zero’ to Create

       Spotify CEO Daniel Ek faced criticism from artists for suggesting that content creation costs are minimal. After the backlash, he clarified that he didn't intend to devalue creativity. The controversy comes amid Spotify's record profit and layoffs, in addition to its strategy with bundling music with audiobooks.


Copyright Case That Could Impact the Entire Reggaeton Genre Allowed to Proceed


       A lawsuit alleging copyright infringement in the reggaeton genre, naming artists like Bad Bunny and J Balvin as defendants, has been allowed to move forward. The claim centers on a drum pattern created by Jamaican producers Steely & Clevie in 1989, which has been allegedly used without permission in over 1,800 reggaeton tracks.



Woman Who Says She Inspired ‘Baby Reindeer’ Character Sues Netflix


       Fiona Harvey is suing Netflix, claiming defamation over the portrayal of a character named Martha in the series "Baby Reindeer." She alleges that the character falsely depicts her as a convicted stalker, thereby damaging her reputation. Despite efforts to conceal the character's identity, Harvey was publicly identified. Netflix plans to defend itself against the lawsuit, emphasizing the fictionalized elements of the show based on real events.



Sean Combs Sells Stake in Revolt, the Media Company He Founded


        Sean Combs has sold his majority stake in Revolt, the media company he founded, amid a wave of lawsuits. Revolt's largest shareholder group is now its employees.



The-Dream, Hitmaker for Beyoncé and Rihanna, Is Accused of Rape


       Chanaaz Mangroe has filed a lawsuit against Terius Gesteelde-Diamant, also known as The-Dream, accusing him of rape and sexual battery. Mangroe alleges that Gesteelde-Diamant manipulated her with promises to advance her career, leading to an abusive relationship where he forced her into sex and subjected her to physical abuse. Gesteelde-Diamant denies the allegations.



Arts

Philadelphia’s University of the Arts Announces Sudden Closing


       The University of the Arts in Philadelphia unexpectedly announced its closure due to financial struggles, leaving students and faculty shocked. Declining enrollments and revenue, coupled with unforeseen expenses, led to the decision. This reflects a broader trend of art school closures nationwide, highlighting financial challenges. The abrupt closure has raised concerns about labor rights and job prospects for faculty and staff.



Closure of Philadelphia Art School Spurs Review by State Attorney General


       The sudden closure of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia has sparked investigations by the Pennsylvania attorney general's office and state lawmakers. The shutdown left over 1,100 students and 700 employees uncertain about their future. Officials are seeking answers regarding the financial crisis that led to the closure. Students and faculty have filed class-action lawsuits, and there are concerns about the fate of the university's campus and properties.



Sports


Major League Baseball Bans Padres’ Tucupita Marcano Permanently for Betting on Baseball


       MLB banned Tucupita Marcano for life for betting on his team, the first such ban since Pete Rose in 1989. Marcano, injured at the time, placed 25 bets on the Pittsburgh Pirates and over $150,000 on baseball overall. Four other players received one-year suspensions for betting on MLB games not involving their teams. MLB stresses the importance of protecting game integrity amid the rise of sports gambling.



FIFA Extends Maternity and Adoption Rules


       FIFA has introduced new rules to support female players and coaches during pregnancy, extending maternity leave and encouraging national teams to facilitate contact with families during major tournaments. Clubs must now provide adoption leave for players and coaches, and players will retain full remuneration during pregnancy-related absences. Member associations are encouraged to allow players more contact with their families during national team events.



Media/Technology


U.S. Clears Way for Antitrust Inquiries of Nvidia, Microsoft, and OpenAI


       The Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission will be investigating Microsoft, OpenAI, and Nvidia for potential antitrust violations in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) industry. This reflects a growing concern about the dominant roles these companies play and their impact on various aspects of society. The investigations come amid increasing regulatory scrutiny over AI technology.



Google Not Commenting on a Potentially Massive Leak of Its Search Algorithm Documentation


      A leak of 2,500 internal Google documents reveals new insights into its search algorithm, challenging Google's transparency. Shared by SEO expert Rand Fishkin, the documents suggest that Google's data collection and ranking methods differ from its public claims, including the possible use of Chrome data and author bylines. This leak raises questions about Google's honesty and highlights the complexity and secrecy of its search algorithm. Google has not commented on the documents' authenticity.



Alex Jones Seeks to Liquidate His Assets to Pay Damages to Sandy Hook Families


       Alex Jones seeks to liquidate his assets to pay the Sandy Hook families, owed over $1.4 billion in damages for his false claims about the 2012 shooting. His assets are worth only $10-12 million, far less than the awarded amount. This move might silence Jones and dismantle Infowars, but families are unlikely to receive significant compensation. His earlier $55 million settlement offer was rejected and liquidation efforts follow failed negotiations.



OpenAI Insiders Warn of a ‘Reckless’ Race for Dominance


       Current and former OpenAI employees are speaking out against the company's culture of secrecy and recklessness in developing advanced AI systems. They're calling for more transparency, protection for whistle-blowers, and industry regulation to ensure responsible AI development.



Google Scales Back 'AI Overviews,' Admits the AI Has Been Getting Things Wrong


       Google's "AI Overview" system, meant to offer quick answers to search queries, has been found spreading misinformation. Following reports of inaccuracies, Google admits to scaling back the system and reevaluating certain queries. This is another misstep for Google in AI, following criticism earlier this year for its chatbot generating fictitious images.



It Looked Like a Reliable News Site. It Was an AI Chop Shop.


        BNN Breaking, using AI, published false stories, including one implicating a DJ. It misrepresented facts and fabricated quotes, raising concerns about AI's impact on journalism. Founded by Gurbaksh Chahal, BNN Breaking employed freelancers to feed articles into AI tools for paraphrasing, targeting clicks. Facing criticism and legal action, it shut down and later reemerged as TrimFeed, which also closed.



Clash Over Phone Hacking Article Preceded Exit of Washington Post Editor


       Sally Buzbee, The Washington Post's executive editor, clashed with CEO Will Lewis over publishing an article about Lewis's involvement in a phone hacking case. Buzbee eventually resigned amid tensions over restructuring plans. Lewis faced staff criticism over financial losses and strategy changes.



Fake News Reports and Videos Seek to Undermine the Paris Olympics


        Russian propagandists are targeting the Paris 2024 Olympic Games  (Games) with disinformation campaigns, spreading fake warnings about terrorist attacks to scare people away. Banned from competing under its flag, Russia has shifted its focus to undermine the Games and host nation. French and American officials are monitoring these efforts, which could also impact elections in Europe and the U.S. The campaign aims to exploit fear and provoke fact-checkers to amplify the disinformation.



As China’s Internet Disappears, ‘We Lose Parts of Our Collective Memory’


       The Chinese internet is shrinking as websites vanish and posts are censored, raising concerns about the erasure of online history. Political pressure and censorship are driving this trend, with millions of websites disappearing and individuals finding their online presence erased. Efforts to preserve online content are underway, but many fear that the loss of online memory may be irreversible.



Arrest Threatens Nepal’s Standing as South Asia’s Model for Free Speech


        The arrest of media executive Kailash Sirohiya, following critical reports about Home Minister Rabi Lamichhane, raises fears about Nepal's survival of free speech. Sirohiya's detention is seen as retaliation, suggesting that Nepal may be sliding toward authoritarianism.



Vietnam Arrests Prominent Journalist for Facebook Posts


       Truong Huy San, a prominent Vietnamese journalist, was arrested for posting articles on Facebook deemed to violate "democratic freedoms." His case reflects the broader crackdown on dissenting voices in Vietnam, drawing condemnation from human rights groups globally.



Epoch Times Executive Accused of Laundering $67 Million


       Weidong Guan, a top executive at The Epoch Times, faces charges for allegedly laundering $67 million in stolen funds through company accounts to boost revenue. The Justice Department accuses him of using prepaid debit cards loaded with illegally obtained money. The Epoch Times denies involvement and has suspended Guan pending investigation. Despite its right-wing media prominence, the organization faces scrutiny over its alleged role in the scandal.



General News


In Shift, Biden Issues Order Allowing Temporary Border Closure to Migrants


        Biden's executive order restricts asylum for migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border during surges, aiming to manage immigration pressure. Facing legal challenges, he defends it as necessary for border security while promising broader immigration reform.



Georgia Appeals Court Stays Most Proceedings in Trump Election Case


       The Georgia Court of Appeals has halted the criminal case against Trump until the appellate panel resolves the question of whether the Fulton County district attorney should be disqualified. The stay effectively freezes any progress in the trial until after the appellate process, delaying potential trial dates. Critics argue that the delay benefits Trump.



Garland Rebukes Attacks on Justice Dept. and Defends Refusal to Turn Over Biden Tape


       Attorney General Merrick B. Garland condemned attacks by Trump and his allies on the Justice Department, denouncing them as baseless and dangerous. Facing a potential contempt vote in Congress, Garland rejected Republican demands for audio of a special counsel's interview with President Biden, citing executive privilege. The hearing also touched on GOP grievances with criminal proceedings against Trump, which Democrats dismissed as political theatrics.



Trump Asks Judge to Lift N.Y. Gag Order Following Conviction


       Trump's lawyers asked the judge to lift the gag order imposed on Trump after his criminal trial concluded. They argued that the trial's end nullified the need for the order, which restricted Trump's ability to criticize witnesses and others involved in the case. The defense contended that Trump's First Amendment rights should be restored, especially with the presidential campaign underway and an upcoming debate scheduled.



Trump Defends Vow to Prosecute Rivals, Saying ‘Sometimes Revenge Can Be Justified’


Trump has intensified his threats to prosecute political enemies if re-elected, defending his stance despite opportunities from interviewers like Dr. Phil and Sean Hannity to soften it. Trump claims that "revenge can be justified" and suggests Democrats' actions warrant retaliation. His comments frame his legal issues as a referendum on the justice system, with Republican allies also calling for retribution.




Clarence Thomas, in Financial Disclosure, Acknowledges 2019 Trips Paid by Harlan Crow


       Justice Clarence Thomas acknowledged additional luxury travel paid for by conservative billionaire Harlan Crow in an amended financial disclosure. Other justices disclosed gifts, travel, and book earnings. The Supreme Court's first ethics code, adopted in November, lacked specific restrictions on gifts, travel, or real estate deals, drawing criticism.



U.S. Tightens Car Mileage Rules, Part of Strategy to Fight Climate Change


       The Biden administration tightened fuel mileage standards, mandating automakers to achieve an average of 65 miles per gallon across all car models sold by 2031. This move aligns with efforts to transition towards electric vehicles and combat climate change, despite criticism from Republicans.



Ex-New Jersey Attorney General Describes Uneasy Meeting With Menendez


       Senator Menendez is accused of using his influence to intervene in an insurance fraud case for an ally. Testimony reveals a meeting with New Jersey's attorney general, where Menendez expressed displeasure with the case. Prosecutors allege that Menendez acted in exchange for bribes. The defense argues that Menendez did not pressure the attorney general and his actions were not official.



Businessman Tells Jury He Bribed Senator Menendez With a Mercedes-Benz


       Jose Uribe, a New Jersey businessman, testified that he bribed Senator Robert Menendez by giving his future wife a Mercedes-Benz in exchange for Menendez's influence to halt an insurance fraud investigation. Uribe, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with authorities, revealed that he arranged fundraisers and meetings to gain the senator's favor. Menendez and his co-defendants, charged with accepting various bribes, have pleaded not guilty.



A Mazda, a Gift Bag of $120,000 and a Dismissed Juror


       During a federal fraud trial in Minneapolis, a juror's relative intercepted a cash bribe intended for the juror, leading to an investigation. The trial involves defendants accused of stealing millions of dollars from federal food programs during the pandemic. Prosecutors sought to seize defendants' cellphones to investigate. The trial continues despite the incident, with heightened security measures in place.



‘Convergence of Anger’ Drives Disinformation Around E.U. Elections


       False narratives about climate change, immigration, and Ukraine are spreading through politicians and foreign operatives ahead of European elections. Disinformation, like claims about the EU banning animal breeding in Italy and government-caused droughts in Spain, is being circulated by far-right politicians and foreign actors; despite Europe's stronger measures against disinformation, enforcement remains inconsistent.



Another Milestone in Mexico: Its First Jewish President


      Claudia Sheinbaum has become Mexico's first Jewish president and the first woman to lead the country. Her election marks a significant moment in a predominantly Catholic nation. Despite facing xenophobic and antisemitic remarks, her leftist politics have garnered both support and skepticism within the Jewish community. Her stance on issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be closely monitored during her presidency.



Modi’s Party May Need Partners to Form a Government


       Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party is likely to need support from smaller allies to form a government, as election results show a dip in their electoral support compared to the last election. While still winning about 240 seats, less than the 303 seats they won previously, it's still enough for Modi to secure a third term. However, this shift may require greater reliance on junior partners within the alliance, some of whom don't share Modi's agenda.


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