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Week in Review

By La-Vaughnda Taylor

Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Amid Tech Advances, U.S. Moves to End Rules on Movie Distribution

The U.S. Justice Department has moved to end the longstanding consent decrees, known as the so-called Paramount decrees, which lay out the rules for the distribution and exhibition of motion pictures. The decrees have governed Hollywood since the 1948 and broke up Hollywood's monopoly on production, distribution, and exhibition. Some smaller theater chains and mom-and-pop movie houses, already dealing with a changing film market, are worried that this move will make things even more difficult. The antitrust division will soon ask the court to toss the decrees, except for a two-year sunset period on bans of certain practices. Many hope that the termination of the decrees will clear the way for consumer-friendly innovation.

They're Young Diverse and Nominated

This year, the 62nd annual Grammy nominees contain new, diverse artists making names for themselves, breaking records, and shattering top charts; and many of them are women running the show. 2020 is already proving to be a big year for women in the music industry. Newcomers Lizzo and Billie Eilish are breaking records; Lizzo has eight nominations and Eilish is now the youngest person to ever be nominated in all four major categories, at just 17 years old. This year, female artists are expected to sweep the award show.

Diversity Gains Found in Directing for TV

The latest Directors Guild of America study has found that women and directors of color have made substantial gains; for the first time, half of all TV episodes were helmed by women or directors of color in the 2018-19 season. That is up from 21% five years ago. The percentage of episodes directed by women grew to 31%, more than doubling in the past five years, while the percentage helmed by directors of color increased more than 40% over the same time period. Both numbers are new highs.

Quantas Backs Crew Member Called Racist

Musician of the Black Eyed Peas took to Twitter to call a Qantas Airways' flight attendant racist and posted her name and photograph. The Australian airline has said that it will support its flight attendant if she chooses to sue the musician. Some Twitter uses took exception to naming the flight attendant publicly and accused him of intimidation. The musician said that he was just using the same tool that others would have used had they encountered a similar situation.

"Sesame Street" in Arabic Tackles Trauma Faced by Refugee Children

The global "Sesame Street" family is getting three new members who will lead a new Arabic-language, locally produced show set to tackle the trauma facing refugee children in the Middle East. The show is created by Sesame Workshop in conjunction with the International Rescue Committee. It aims to bring laughter and learning to children affected by displacement in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. Approximately 50% of all registered Syrian refugees are under the age of 18 and the crisis is robbing them of an education while leaving them to suffer from "toxic stress."

Polanski May Lose Support of French Film Industry

The director's latest film "J'accuse (An Officer and a Spy)" is topping the French box office, but the French directors' guild is looking to suspend Polanski's membership after his latest rape allegations. This could be a sign that the French film industry's support for Polanski is starting to wane. Screening of the film were cancelled in northern France and Paris after protests. At least 12 women, most of whom were children at the time, have now accused Polanski of sexual assault. Activist groups are calling for a boycott of the director's work, while the film is being praised by critics.


No More Excuses for Gauguin

Gaugin has a troubled history filled with sexual relations with young girls and racist rhetoric, leading museums and visitors reassessing the legacy of this artist and questioning whether it's time to stop looking at him altogether. In the international art museum world, Gauguin is a box-office hit, but in today's age of heightened public sensitivity to gender, race, and colonialism issues, museums are revisiting considering how to move forward. Everything is now viewed in a much more nuanced context. Some museum professionals are concerned that re-examining the lives of past artists from a 21st-century lens is risky and could lead to the boycott of great art.

Guggenheim Hires First Full-Time Black Curator

The Guggenheim Museum has hired Ashley James, its first full-time black curator. This move comes at a time when museums all over the country are trying to increase the diversity of their staffs, boards, and exhibition spaces. Most recently an assistant curator of contemporary art at the Brooklyn Museum, James is now the Guggenheim's associate curator of contemporary art. A spokesperson for the museum said that James complements the mission of the museum, which is to present the art of today. James was the driving force behind the Brooklyn Museum's acclaimed exhibit, "Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power."

President Trump Awarded Medals for Arts and Humanities

President Trump has awarded his first round of National Medal of Arts and National Medal of Humanities recipients. The eight recipients included 27-time Grammy Award-winning musician Alison Krauss, best-selling novelist James Patterson, and Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight. Voight is an outspoken Trump supporter and Patterson is a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago golf club. Both were both referred to by Trump as "his friends." The medals have typically been awarded on an annual basis, but this will be the first time Trump has awarded the medals since taking office in 2017.

Chinese-American Artist Falls Afoul of Censors

The city of Beijing has canceled a survey of the work of 71-year-old Chinese-American artist Hung Liu. The show was scheduled to open at the UCCA Center for Contemporary Art on December 6th and run through March 2020. As China has ramped up its censorship of the arts in recent months, the Beijing government has declined to approved the show. The decision comes as there have been increased tension between Hung's native and adopted countries of China and the U.S. All exhibitions mounted in Beijing must be formally approved by the city's Municipal Bureau of Culture, which reviews images of proposed works and issues documentation that can be submitted to Beijing Customs for an import permit. The Ullens Center's request was declined less than a month before the show's opening. Liu is known for her expressionistic painted portraits of working class Chinese citizens and has exhibited numerous times in Beijing and elsewhere in China.

An Exhibit Best Viewed from Across the Street

Médina, a poor and working class neighborhood near downtown Dakar, has welcomed street artists from all over the world to practice their craft in what the founder of the project calls the open sky museum. Dozens of wall paintings add to the flourishing international art scene in Dakar. Artists from Senegal, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Morocco, Congo, France, and Italy have come to paint on these walls, and in turn have brought art lovers and tourists into a neighborhood in which they may not otherwise go. The project is meant to bring people together.


Coaching Legend Barred for Life After Sexual Misconduct Inquiry

George Morris, an equestrian legend now 81, is permanently barred from the sport after accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor. Morris is a 1960 U.S. Olympic silver medalist and considered to be one of the founding fathers of equestrian sport. The U.S. Center for SafeSport announced the lifetime ban after two people accused Morris of misconduct during his coaching career in the 1960s and 70s, saying that nobody is above accountability. The U.S. Equestrian Federation had previously barred Morris in August, but made his suspension permanent after an appeal.

Female Reporter Accuses Barkley of Violent Threat

Alexi McCammond, a political reporter for Axios, has accused NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley of threatening her with violence during an interview. McCammond revealed the threat on Twitter. Turner Sports public relations released a statement on behalf of Barkley, saying that, "[it was] inappropriate and was an attempted joke that wasn't funny at all."

Seven Russians Suspended for Obstructing Investigation, Deepening Crisis

Dmitry Shlyakhtin, president of the Russian track and field federation, resigned two days after he was accused of obstructing an anti-doping investigation involving fake medical documents. He is one of seven people charged following an investigation into the medical files presented as an alibi by high jumper Danil Lysenko last year. Shlyakhtin took office in January 2016 pledging to overturn Russia's suspension from international track events due to widespread doping. Four years later, that suspension is still in place and Russia could be expelled altogether following the new charges against Shlyakhtin and senior officials.


Two Writers Who Lodged Complaints Leave CBS

Two writers for "Carol's Second Act" quit the CBS show after one filed a misconduct complaint against executive producer David Hunt. Hunt is the husband of the show's star and executive producer Patricia Heaton. This was the first big test of CBS's brand-new approach to sexual harassment complaints, established in the wake of an investigation into former CEO Les Moonves' alleged sexual misconduct. The company is still investigating the complaints.

Conservative Talk Host is Fired Mid-show

A conservative radio host in Colorado says that he was fired on-air after criticizing Trump. The radio station is disputing the claims. The incident underscores the growing isolation of conservatives whose viewpoints reflect anything but unwavering support of the president. The general manager of the station says that Craig Silverman was not fired, but taken off air, because of his decision to move forward with appearing on a competing station over management's objections. The station went on to say that "[their] hosts have the freedom to express their opinions on current events based on their own personal conviction." Silverman said his future with KNUS remains unclear. Silverman has hosted his weekly show since 2014.

Four Candidates Join Push for a Review of NBC's Workplace

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and Cory Booker, Democratic presidential candidates, penned a letter calling out NBC News and MSNBC for creating a culture that "enabled abusers and silenced survivors." The special letter was addressed to Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez prior to the debate that aired on November 20th on NBC, the fifth debate's co-host. These concerns follow a slew of sexual abuse allegations recently perpetuated by reporter Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill, which investigates and sheds light on how the company handled allegations and sexual harassment claims within the network. It also details the efforts taken by management to stifle the reporting of Harvey Weinstein's case. The letter demands that parent company Comcast conduct a sexual misconduct probe.

White Nationalists' Website Influenced Miller, Emails Show

Stephen Miller's affinity for white nationalism has been revealed in leaked emails. Miller, the White House aide who is the driving force behind President Trump's immigration policies, cites anti-immigration and white nationalist websites as his resources. In the run-up to the 2016 election, the White House senior policy adviser promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories, and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's rampage, according to leaked emails Miller sent to conservative website Breitbart News. The source material that Miller laid out in his emails included white nationalist websites, a "white-genocide"-themed novel, xenophobic conspiracy theories, and eugenics-era immigration laws lauded by Hitler in Mein Kampf.

Media Workers Call Out Pay Gaps in Crowdsourced Records

As income inequality has become a focus of the current presidential candidates, workers in journalism, advertising, and book publishing have crowdsourced salary information, showing sharp disparities between genders, races, and experience. People are contributing to the lists during a wave of unionization in digital media. The crowdsourced spreadsheet was inspired by a 2017 spreadsheet in which media workers published allegations of sexual misconduct against men in the industry. Crowdsourced data allows for vast amounts of information to be collected, but it is a challenge to fact-check.

Google Limits 'Microtargeting' Of Audiences for Political Ads

Google is joining Twitter in revising its political ad rules ahead of election season. Twitter banned political advertising altogether, while Google is mainly limiting the ability to target political demographics and promises to take action against "demonstrably false claims." The tech company is changing the limitation of targeting terms that can be used for political advertising buys that appear in search, on display ads, and on YouTube. Starting in December, if an ad is political in nature, it will only be able to be targeted to age, general, and postal code. The move is seen as a step in the right direction. It is already against Google's policies for advertisers to make false claims, but Goggle has made an effort to put more of a finer point on those rules.

To Counter Testimony, the President Calls "Fox and Friends"

"Fox & Friends" is the morning show that President Trump counts on for the benefit of the doubt. Last week, Trump called in a 53-minute telephone interview in which he discussed the impeachment investigation, Ukraine, how the Democrats were out to sabotage his campaign, and his love and appreciation for the show and its hosts. However, the hosts pushed back on some of Trump's unfounded claims, which led to incoherent ramblings from the president.

Big Ratings as Hearings Beat "NCIS"

America's impeachment drama is drawing "Monday Night Football"- level viewership and its ratings have topped popular procedurals like "NCIS." The average live TV viewership for impeachment has been roughly 12 million people, and this has led to superlative number for cable news. In today's viewing climate, politics is driving television and has upended networks' daytime schedules. The viewership of the big cable news networks on impeachment days has been nearly double the average from a year ago. Partisan talk shows are doing particularly well. One group, however, appears to have suffered from the fatigue brought on by the all-day political coverage - the cadre of Democrats running for president. The debate followed roughly 11 hours of live testimony and featured 10 candidates, a test for even the most dedicated TV political junkie.

Twitter Scolds British Party After Account Is Rebranded

Twitter has issued a warning to a UK political party, after a rebrand of the party's press account as a fact-checking service attempted to mislead the public. The party has been accused of misleading people by changing its official press Twitter profile into a type of fact-checker during a televised leadership debate. It changed the account to "factcheckUK" with a new logo that showed no indication of its political associations and began posting supposedly "fact-checked" tweets, which only targeted Labour. Fact-checking services have become vital for verification in the age of misinformation during elections. Twitter says that "corrective action" would be taken in the event that something like this occurs again.

Egypt Arrests Editor of News Outlet Known for Investigative Work

Plain-clothed police arrested Mada Masr editor Shady Zalat from his home in Cairo. Mada Masr is a prominent investigative media outlet and one of the few independent news websites in Egypt. This is the latest arrest amid a wider crackdown on dissent in the country. The news outlet has been unable to confirm where Zalat is being held, and demanded his release. Last week, the outlet published an article that gave details about the country's security agencies at a time when press freedoms in Egypt are shrinking. Egypt has arrested at least 4,000 people since September amid a sweeping crackdown following rare anti-government protests. Egypt jails more journalists than any other country after China and Turkey, according to watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists.

General News

Aide Disclosed Bolton Meeting About Ukraine

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton met privately with President Trump in August to try and persuade him to release $391 million in security assistance to Ukraine, a senior National Security Council aide told House impeachment investigators. It was a one-on-one meeting in which Bolton and other advisors tried to convince the president that it was in the U.S.'s best interest to unfreeze the funds to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia. However, the president was not ready to approve the release. The aide also described conversations had with Sondland about Ukraine matters. Morrison's testimony tied Trump more closely to the central charge from Democrats pursuing impeachment: that there was a quid pro quo. His testimony also contradicted much of what Sondland told congressional investigators.

Two Top Officials Testify That Call Was Inappropriate; One "Couldn't Believe" It

Two White House national security officials testified before the House's impeachment inquiry on Tuesday that President Trump's request to Ukraine's president to investigate Democratic rivals was inappropriate. Two more witnesses were more careful with their course, but also said under oath that the president's requests were not in line with American national security goals. These testimonies go to the heart of the Democrats' growing case they see as the centerpiece of an abuse of power by Trump of using his office to try to obtain a political advantage from a foreign power. House Republicans moved aggressively to try to undercut the lead witness.

Open Phones Made U.S. An Open Book to Russia

Many in the government are surprised and have expressed concern over the operational security of Trump's first informal "cybersecurity advisor" Rudy Giuliani and other member of the "irregular channel" who seem to have little concern about revealing their conversations to Moscow. Many of Giuliani's conversations happen over an unclassified cellphone and unclassified media. The behavior is highly problematic and indicative of someone who doesn't really understand how national security processes are run.

House Striving to See If Trump Lied to Mueller

The House of Representatives is investigating whether President Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation. There is a new focus on this matter following public revelations at Roger Stone's trial this month. Congress is now trying to obtain the redacted materials. There is a court case that revolves around what federal investigative information the House should be able to access during impeachment proceedings and what federal courts may do in a dispute between the House and the executive branch.

Trump Can Temporarily Withhold Tax Records

Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed a law, aimed at the president, to try and force Trump's hand in releasing his tax returns. Lawmakers approved a bill to require presidential candidates to disclose five years of tax returns in order to appear on the state's primary ballot. It was the first law of its kind in the nation, but it didn't last even six months. This month, California's highest court decided that the legislature went too far and determined that the state's own Constitution barred such a condition. The decision by the seven-member court of majority Democrat-appointed justices was unanimous.

Intense Lobbying by FedEx Slashed Its Tax Bill to $0

The company lobbied hard for the Trump administration's tax cut, which lowered the company's tax bill from $1.5 billion in 2017 to $0 the next year. FedEx's founder and CEO repeatedly took to the airwaves to champion the power of tax cuts, and months later, President Trump signed into law the $1.5 trillion tax cut that became his signature legislative achievement. The company reaped big savings, bringing its effective tax rate from 34% to less than zero. Nearly two years after the tax law passed, the windfall to corporations like FedEx is becoming clear. The companies that received the biggest tax cuts increased their capital investments by less, on average, than companies that smaller cuts.

Man Flees ICE, and His Judge Faces a Trial and Time in Jail

A Mexican man has fled south of the border to avoid being tried on manslaughter charges after being released by police in Portland, Oregon, despite federal immigration officers asking that he be held. ICE claims that the Washington County Sheriff's Department ignored its request to hold Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez until its officers could take him into federal custody. ICE's Enforcement and Removal Operations believe that "the decision to continue to cite misguided sanctuary laws that allow dangerous criminals back on the irresponsible and jeopardizes public safety." Maldonado-Hernandez was street racing at the time of the death. He was released by the Washington County jail on August 8th and ICE has since issued a wanted flyer for Maldonado-Hernandez, believing that he is in Mexico.

Court Awards $2 Million to Planned Parenthood

A federal jury in San Francisco awarded Planned Parenthood $2.2 million in damages after ruling that an anti-abortion activist had broken federal and state laws while secretly recording workers at the organization. The man accused recorded the video in 2015 in an effort to show that the organization was illegally selling fetal tissue, a conservative hot topic. Planned Parenthood has denied the claims and the video led to numerous congressional and state investigations.

Another Contender Backed by Trump Loses in a Red State

Voters recently reelected Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in Louisiana, a red state in which President Trump campaigned twice in the final 11 days and urged voters on Twitter to vote for Republican Eddie Rispone. In a rally in Louisiana, Trump told voters, "you really need to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington." Despite the Republican pedigree, Democrats were the winners for governor in Louisiana and Kentucky, both of which had giant Trump victory margins in 2016. Both races had strong local dynamics, so it would be a mistake to overstate the Trump effect. It would also be a mistake to understate, or discount, the meaning of the Democratic wins in red state elections the President and both GOP candidates for governor tried to nationalize.

Democratic Prosecutors Call for Abortion Rights

To win financial backing from Democratic Attorneys General Association, candidates will be required to publicly state their support of abortion rights. The association of Democratic state attorneys general will become the first national party committee to impose an explicit abortion litmus test on candidates after it announced that it will refuse to endorse anyone who does not support reproductive rights and expanding access to abortion services. The group recruits candidates and helps their campaigns with financial support, data analysis, messaging, and policy positions. The decision comes as a series of state legislatures have approved restrictive laws designed to provoke a renewed legal battle over abortion rights set to topple Roe v. Wade.

Ex-Prisoner of Iran Sues After U.S. Breaks Promise"

Marine Vet Amir Hekmati, 36, was imprisoned and abused by Iranian authorities on accusations he was a spy. He has recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, alleging that it failed to compensate him after agreeing he was eligible to receive millions of dollars. Hekmati alleges that the fund for victims of terrorism told him he was eligible to receive $20 million stemming from his time in an Iranian prison for more than four years from 2011 to 2016. He was released in January 2016 as part of a prisoner exchange with the U.S. tied to the Iranian nuclear deal. In December, he was notified of an initial payment worth $890,100, but the money never came. A spokesman for the Department of Justice declined comment. The U.S. government's fund for state-sponsored terrorism victims has paid out billions of dollars to victims. In October 2017, a federal judge in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. said Iran had to pay Hekmati $63.5 million for his suffering in Iranian custody.

Guards Napped by Epstein Cell, Indictment Says

The two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself have not squashed conspiracy theories about Epstein's death, even with ample evidence backing a medical examiner's determination that Epstein hung himself and video surveillance confirmation. Social media has been abuzz with memes fueled by Epstein's past associations with current and past presidents. Some people aren't believing that he's actually dead. The two corrections officers at the Metropolitan Correctional Center charged in connection with Epstein's August death are accused of the relatively mundane crime of falsifying prison logs. They were supposed to check on the prisoner every half-hour but prosecutors said they shirked that duty and were instead sleeping or surfing the internet while Epstein committed suicide overnight unobserved. The guards have pleaded not guilty and are out on bail.

At Syracuse, a Racist Manifesto From a Massacre

A spate of racist graffiti, racial slurs, and white supremacist threats on Syracuse University's campus has some students fearing the displays could turn violent. A white supremacist manifesto was posted on a campus forum and reportedly "air-dropped" to cellphones of some students at the school library. This led to a tightening of school security across the university as authorities raced to end the threats. This incident is the latest in a series of almost daily racist episodes that have sparked days of protests at 22,000-student university. Governor Andrew Cuomo has called on Syracuse leaders to allow an outside monitor to oversee the situation.

A $7 Million Payout For 23 Years in Prison

Derrick Hamilton, a 54-year old African American wrongfully imprisoned for 23 years, has been freed. He received a $7 million payout for his false imprisonment and has accused the police of fabricating evidence. His conviction was thrown out after a witness claimed she was pressured into making false statements. While in solitary confinement, Hamilton became a jailhouse lawyer, helping his fellow inmates appeal their convictions and has since become an activist for others wrongly convicted since being released.

Indiana University Admits Professor's Views Are Wrong and That It Can't Fire Him

While condemning "in the strongest terms," Indiana University's provost says that the university cannot fire professor Eric Rasmusen over his "racist, sexist, and homophobic views." The university does not agree or condone his views but that is not a reason to violate the Constitution by firing him.

Former C.I.A. Officer Gets 19 Years in Espionage Case

A former CIA case agent was sentenced to 19 years in prison for an espionage conspiracy with China. Jerry Chun Shing Lee, 55, was sentenced in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, after filing a plea of guilty earlier this year. The case illustrates how aggressively China works to get its hands on U.S. secrets.

Top Navy Leaders Standing Ground Over Seal's Case

The secretary of the Navy and the admiral who leads the SEALs have threatened to resign or be fired if plans to expel a commando from the elite unit in a war crimes case are halted by President Trump. The threats by the Navy bass are a rare instance of pushback against Trump from members of the Defense Department. Chief Petty Officer Edward Gallagher was accused of shooting civilians, murdering a captive Islamic State fighter, and threatening to kill SEALs who reported him. His court-martial ended in acquittal, but the Navy ultimately demoted the chief who convicted of one charge. Trump reversed the demotion, angering officials, but they continued with their plans to expel Gallagher from the unit.

Leaving 'Shrill' Behind as More Women Become Voices of Authority

It has been said through the years that women's voices are shrill and not authoritative enough. This issue was raised around the 5th democratic presidential debate, where there were four female moderators and four female candidates on the debate stage. The moderator lineup is the second all-female panel for a major debate, where the visual optics of that lineup are important. Stereotypes still continue about what authority looks like, what power looks like, what credibility looks like, and sound is important too. "Sounding presidential" plays into how voters and viewers hear the substance of what the candidates are saying. A 2012 study found that both men and women prefer male and female leaders who have lower-pitched voices.

Forth Spy Unearthed in U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

The U.S. detonated the world's first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. Four years later, the Soviet Union detonated a nearly identical device in Central Asia, stunning the U.S. military and scientific communities, which did not believe the Soviets had the scientific and technical know-how to do so. By the 1950s it had become clear that the Soviets were aided by spies, two of whom were quickly identified. The third was disclosed in 1995, but never convicted of espionage. Two historians have now identified the fourth Soviet atomic spy as Oscar Seborer.

Leaked Intelligence Documents Show Tehran's Infiltration of Iraq

Hundreds of pages of purported Iranian intelligence documents have come to light that detail Iran's massive influence in neighboring Iraq. The unprecedented leak of 700 pages appears to show Tehran's efforts to embed itself in Iraq and co-opt the country's leaders and infiltrate every aspect of Iraq's political, economic, and religious life. News outlet "The Intercept" received the documents anonymously. The articles come amid growing anti-Iran sentiment expressed by Iraqi anti-government protesters who have been revolting in the streets since October 1.

As Protests Spread, Iran Blocks Nearly All Internet

The Iranian government has imposed an almost-total internet blackout across the country as deadly protests erupted in various cities. The protests were triggered by a government announcement that fuel prices would rise by at least 50% and possibly as much as 300%. At least 106 protesters in 21 cities have been killed, but the real death toll may be much higher. Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei essentially approved the strategy used by regime security forces to put down the protests. Iran's economy has shrunk considerably due to U.S. sanctions, imposed in response to the country's pursuit of nuclear weapons. The financial strain, coupled with continued Iranian funding for Hezbollah, Hamas, and its military's operations in Syria, has led to popular resentment against the regime. The protests in Iran follow the massive demonstrations in Lebanon and Iraq.

Afghan-Taliban Swap of Prisoners Releases Two Western Hostages

A prisoner swap could spur resumption of negotiations to end the 18-year Afghan war. Two Western hostages, one American and one Australian were freed by the Taliban in exchange for three Taliban members after more than three years in captivity in a prisoner exchange that could resume negotiations to end the 18-year war.

After Nine Years, Sweden Closes Its Rape Investigation of WikiLeaks Founder

A Swedish prosecutor has dropped a rape investigation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, ending the near decade-old case that had sent the anti-secrecy campaigner into hiding in London's Ecuadorian embassy to avoid extradition. The decision can be appealed. Assange is now in jail fighting extradition to the U.S. on computer hacking and espionage charges. While Assange was in the embassy, the statute of limitations ran out on investigating all but one of several Swedish sex crime complaints.

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