Week In Review
By Angela Peco Edited by Elissa D. Hecker
Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Media, and General News
Register Karyn A. Temple Announces Departure from the Copyright Office
Register of Copyrights Karyn Temple announced that she will be leaving the Copyright Office on January 3, 2020, to accept a new position with the Motion Picture Association. Temple has worked at the Copyright Office since 2011, first in the Office of Policy and International Affairs where she advised Congress on important copyright law and policy issues and was involved in several treaty negotiations, including the successful Marrakesh treaty that Congress implemented last year. She served as Acting Register of Copyrights from October 2016 until March 2019, when she was appointed Register. During her tenure, she spearheaded modernization efforts, oversaw improvements such as new public outreach mechanisms, the elimination of the registration backlog, and reduced registration processing times. Temple noted, "I have been continuously inspired by the excellent staff of the Copyright Office. They have served the American people well and are dedicated to the administration of the Copyright Act. It has been an honor for me to work at the Copyright Office, and, while I am looking forward to the next chapter, I will greatly miss all of the talented staff of the Copyright Office. I am truly grateful for the support and friendship of the entire Copyright Office staff during my tenure here."
Weinstein Reaches Tentative $25 Million Settlement with His Accusers
The deal would not require Weinstein to admit wrongdoing or pay anything to his accusers personally. With preliminary approval from the major parties involved, it would still require court approval and final signoff by more than 30 actresses and former employees who accuse Weinstein of offenses ranging from sexual harassment to rape. The agreement would be part of a larger, $47 million settlement intended to close out his film studio's obligations.
Weinstein's Bail Doubled Over Handling of Ankle Monitor ]
Prosecutors asked for Weinstein's bail to be increased from $1 million to $5 million after Weinstein left the house without part of his ankle monitor on multiple occasions and allowed its battery to expire several times.
Bill Cosby Loses Appeal of Sexual Assault Conviction
A Pennsylvania appellate court has unanimously rejected Bill Cosby's appeal of his 2018 sexual assault conviction, upholding the verdict. Cosby argued that he had been denied a fair trial after testimony regarding prior alleged crimes was introduced, saying the acts recounted by the women were too disparate to represent a pattern. The three-judge panel found instead that the women's accounts established a "distinct, signature pattern," in which Cosby acted as a mentor to gain their trust and then used drugs to sexually assault them. Cosby is currently serving a three-to-10-year prison sentence.
Cuba Gooding Jr. Faces More Accusations of Unwanted Touching
Prosecutors indicated in a court filing that there are 19 additional women accusing the actor of unwanted sexual touching. They ask for these women to be able to testify, testimony which will help show a "pattern of behavior". The decision is expected in January. Gooding Jr. faces charged of groping three women in 2018 and 2019.
Television Show "Survivor" Failed Its #MeToo Test
The article examines just how evasively and ineptly the show handled sexual misconduct allegations on its set, by downplaying female contestants' complaints and letting a male contestant off with a warning. The more recent episode ended with an announcement that the same male contestant, Dan Spilo, was ejected from the show. Newspapers have since reported that he was accused of inappropriate touching of a crew member.
Hollywood Award Season Low on Female Nominees
Despite both critical and commercial success, many projects with female talent at the helm were largely sidelined when the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nominations were announced this season. Most notable was the lack of women in the best director category, and how most Oscar contenders this year are male-driven stories.
Billboard Album Chart Will Now Count YouTube Streams
Starting January 3, 2020, music video streams will be counted toward Billboard's weekly album charts, including the Billboard 200. YouTube, Apple Music, and Tidal streams will all be considered. 1,250 clicks from a paying subscriber from any of those platforms, or 3,750 clicks from a non-paying user, will be the equivalent of one album sale.
Beetlejuice Being Forced Out of Theater
Though unusual to "evict" a well-performing show, the Shubert Organization has ordered "Beetlejuice" to vacate the Winter Garden Theater by next June in order to make way for "The Music Man," starring Hugh Jackman. The Shubert Organization is relying on a "stop clause" that allows it to oust a show whose grosses fall below a certain amount, even though recently the show was doing significantly better.
U.S. Sanctions Art Collector with Ties to Hezbollah
Treasury officials say the diamond dealer and art collector, Nazem Said Ahmad, used his art gallery in Beirut to hide assets and launder money used to finance Hezbollah. The U.S. says that Ahmad provided funds personally to the secretary-general of the Hezbollah, who the U.S. says helped instigate anti-government protests in Lebanon.
Charges Against Dealer Yves Bouvier Dropped
The charges stemmed from Bouvier's business with Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev, who claimed that Bouvier had overcharged him by about $1 billion. Monaco authorities dropped the charged of fraud and money laundering after finding that the investigation had been conducted in a biased way. Bouvier, for his part, wants Rybolovlev investigated for corruption in his dealings with Monaco law enforcement.
Indonesian Cave Paintings May Be World's Oldest Figurative Artwork
Discovered by archaeologist Hamrullah, the artwork was found in the limestone cave system of an Indonesian island and depicts eight figures approaching wild pigs. It dates back around 44,000 years and is considered the "oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world".
World Anti-Doping Association Bans Russia From Global Competition for Four Years Over Doping Violations
The country was handed a four-year ban from international competition for tampering with a Moscow laboratory database and hiding hundreds of potential doping cases. While the country's flag, name and anthem will not appear at the Tokyo Olympics, its athletes will still be able to compete if they can show they are not implicated in positive doping tests.
The men's soccer team, expected to participate in World Cup competition, will keep its name in qualifying matches but will then play under a neutral name if it qualifies for the 2022 Cup. In terms of UEFA play, because the World Anti-Doping Association does not recognize UEFA as a major sporting organization, Russia remains eligible to compete under its flag and host the European competition.
Critics point out that the ban still allows Russia to compete in all of the biggest events, albeit without its flag and anthem, and that a similar ban in Pyeongchang did not dissuade Russia from cheating.
USA Gymnastics Hearing on Coach Maggie Haney Rescheduled to January
Witnesses were scheduled to appear via video conference before a three-member panel hearing allegations of verbal and emotional abuse against New Jersey-based coach Maggie Haney, who has trained multiple Olympic and world champion gymnasts. The governing body is also investigating whether the coach threatened to retaliate against athletes if they came forward with allegations.
Major League Baseball and Union Agree to New Policy on Opioids, Marijuana Use
Major League Baseball (MLB) and the player's union announced a new drug policy that would add opioid testing for major leaguers and would not punish marijuana use in the major or minor leagues. On the opioid front, the new rules call for treatment rather than suspension. Marijuana use would be permitted for pain relief.
National Hockey League Commissioner: The League "Will Not Tolerate" Abusive Behavior
Speaking after the Board of Governors meeting this week, National Hockey League (NHL) Commissioner Gary Bettman relayed the NHL's four-point plan of action, which includes establishing an anonymous hotline for players and team personnel to report inappropriate conduct, as well as mandatory annual training on inclusion and harassment. Thought the NHL has signaled that engaging in this conduct or failure to report such conduct will be basis for discipline, the range of punishment is not yet clear.
Former National Football League Players Face Health Care Fraud Charges
Ten former Former National Football League (NFL) players are accused of defrauding one of the NFL's benefit plans for retired players by making $3.4 million in fake claims. Most claims involved medical equipment that was either never prescribed or never ordered. Once they were reimbursed, the players would send kickbacks to whoever was orchestrating the scheme.
West Point Removes Racist Motto From its Football Team Flag
The military academy used a flag bearing the letters "G.F.B.D." on the upper lip of a skull with cross-bones. The slogan stands for "God Forgives, Brothers Don't" and was originally used to emphasize teamwork, but school officials recently learned that the motto was associated with white supremacy.
400 Nike Employees March to Protest Support for Alberto Salazar
The demonstration on Nike's Oregon campus was fueled by the company recently rededicating a building to track coach Alberto Salazar, who has been accused by several athletes of bullying and body-shaming them. Salazar was also banned for four years for anti-doping violations by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
France to Investigate Qatar's Successful Bid for 2022 World Cup
Several high-profile names are part of a French investigation into how Qatar won the right to host the World Cup. They include the Qatari prime minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Michel Platini, the former head of European soccer, and a soccer star in his own right. Over half of FIFA's executive committee members who voted on the 2022 bid have been accused of or prosecuted for corruption.
Melania Trump Stays Silent Following the President's Comments Toward Greta Thunberg
Many find it puzzling and ironic that Melania Trump, whose focus while in the White House has been an anti-cyberbullying campaign, has stayed quiet following the president's online attacks of environmentalist teenager Greta Thunberg.
Atlanta Newspaper Threatens Legal Action Against Warner Brothers Over "Richard Jewell"
The movie tells the story of a security guard, Richard Jewell, who discovered the bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics and was then wrongly suspected of planting it. The newspaper takes issue with the movie's depiction of its reporting on the bombing, including the inclusion of a fabricated detail about a reporter offering sex to a federal agent in exchange for a story.
Fox Nation Host Britt McHenry Sues the Network, Alleging Sexual Harassment
McHenry is accusing her former co-host Tyrus of sexual harassment, adding that Fox News did not respond appropriately to her claims, in effect retaliating against her while giving him his own show.
YouTube Adopts New Policy to Curb Harassment on its Platform
The policy applies to video content and comments, in an attempt to restrict hate speech, extremist content and child exploitation. Enforcement will consist of hiring "raters" to screen flagged videos for prohibited content.
Bipartisan Bill Targets Online Spread of Child Sex Abuse Materials
The law would require companies to retain information about exploitative photos and videos found on their platforms for 180 days (doubling the current time requirement), and report on those images to a federal clearinghouse. Legislators are responding to an explosion in online child sexual abuse material and want to give investigators more time to gather evidence through these changes.
Attorney General Barr and Facebook Escalate Disagreement Over Encryption
In a letter addressed to Attorney General Barr ahead of a Senate hearing about encryption, Facebook executives reiterated their opposition to a so-called "backdoor" into their messaging services for law enforcement. Facebook maintains that creating this access would make users vulnerable to hacking and real-life harm at the hands of criminals and repressive regimes.
China Displaces Turkey for Imprisoning the Most Journalists in 2019
The latest survey of the Committee to Protect Journalists found that of the 250 journalists imprisoned around the world, China had imprisoned 48. Saudi Arabia and Egypt were also among the worst offenders. Turkey's numbers fell after the country effectively shut down all independent reporting.
China Takes Issue with Criticism Over Xinjiang Camps
Chinese officials have launched an aggressive media campaign to counter a narrative that the government is detaining large numbers of the country's Muslim minority group in indoctrination camps. The chairman of Xinjiang government spoke out publicly against U.S. congressional efforts to place sanctions on Chinese officials, saying these are vocational training centers that people attend voluntarily.
India Charts its Own Path on Data Privacy
India will introduce legislation that restricts how companies can collect and use information from the country's residents, but it is also expected to allow the government to exempt itself from the rules. The bill creates rules that resemble the European model. Global internet companies would have to seek explicit permission from individuals for most uses of personal data and allow users to ask for their data to be erased. The government would be able to exempt any public entity from data protection rules for reasons related to national security of public order.
A Look at Disinformation Campaigns Ahead of UK Election
The article describes how Britain's political parties and candidates themselves are resorting to the spread of misleading information leading up to the election, including doctored videos and manipulated accounts.
Ethiopia's Leaders Critical Towards Social Media in His Nobel Speech
Abiy Ahmed warned in his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize that social media is being deployed to sow hate and division, and that this has the impact of undermining the country's political transition. Ahmed was being recognized for his effort in establishing diplomatic and trade relations with Eritrea after brokering an end to the two countries' long-running border dispute. He has also been known to shut down or use social media to his advantage.
House Judiciary Committee Approves Impeachment Articles
The House Judiciary Committee voted to advance two articles of impeachment accusing President Trump of abuse of power and obstruction of justice. The House vote is expected on Wednesday.
The charges stem from President Trump allegedly pressuring Ukraine to investigate Vice President Biden and his son's ties to the Ukraine and using security aid as leverage. The panel also stated that President Trump's efforts to stonewall the investigation undermined the separation of powers and limited his accountability.
Justice Department Releases Legal Opinions on Executive Privilege
The Office of Legal Counsel's legal opinions support the position that executive privilege bars "Congress from interviewing witnesses and collecting documents from the executive branch". The Justice Department relied on the opinions in Federal District Court when arguing why White House Don McGahn need not comply with a congressional subpoena issued in the House impeachment investigation.
Supreme Court to Rule on Release of Trump's Financial Records
The Court's ruling, expected in June, will give a definitive answer on whether the president must comply with three sets of subpoenas demanding that he release eight years of business and personal tax records. The subpoenas are connected to an investigation into candidate Trump's role, and the role of the Trump Organization, in making "hush-money payments" in the run-up to the 2016 election.
Trump Administration Moves to Expand Migrant Family Detention
The Administration intends to expand the system of facilities where families are detained. Last month, the Justice Department appealed a decision that upheld the 20-day time limit on family detentions. President Trump is reportedly still committed to ending the practice he calls "catch and release" and last year announced a plan to quintuple the number of family detention beds across the U.S.
Justice Department's Inspector General Report Accuses the FBI of Gross Incompetence but Debunks Anti-Trump Plot
The report concluded that the FBI had sufficient reason to start an investigation into links between President Trump and Russia in July 2016, but that the standard for this was extremely low. The inspector general also found that in conducting the investigation, the FBI handled many aspects of it very poorly, including a wiretap application. Ultimately, the report dismissed the theory that the investigation was politically motivated.
Trump and Barr Escalate Attacks on the FBI Over Report on Russia Inquiry
Both the president and Attorney General Barr leveled harsh criticism against the work of the FBI, calling the FBI's actions a "clear abuse" of the wiretap application process that amounted to "spying". Barr has tapped the U.S. attorney in Connecticut to lead another investigation into the Russian inquiry, which will likely extend this debate as to the credibility and merits of the Mueller investigation.
House Democrats and White House Reach Agreement on NAFTA Successor
The revised US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes new enforcement provisions that include monitoring of labor practices in Mexico and penalties for non-compliance. All three countries' legislatures need to vote on the agreement.
Inspector General Concludes That Interior Department Official Broke Ethics Rules
The finding was based on information that the official met with his former employer, a conservative research organization, to discuss weakening endangered species protections, for which the organization was lobbying. Following a separate investigation, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt was cleared of charges that he tried to influence or delay a scientific paper on the impact of pesticides on endangered species.
Senate Health Committee Votes in Favor of Food and Drug Administration Trump Nominee
The Senate's Health Committee voted 18-5 to advance the president's nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Stephen Hahn. Pending a full Senate vote, one of the issues he'll be expected to manage is vaping regulation. Democratic Senators expressed concern that Hahn lacks commitment on the issue after he did not directly answer questions about the flavor ban (of which President Trump had originally been in favor) during his confirmation hearing.
Amazon Accuses Trump of Improper Pressure on Pentagon Contract
Amazon has filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims arguing that it lost a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon as a result of President Trump exerting "improper pressure" on the procurement process through personal attacks on Jeff Bezos.
Former Senior Manager at Boeing Testifies Before Congress; Federal Aviation Agency Defends Its Certification of the 737 Max
Ed Pierson, a former senior manager at a production facility, initially raised concerns about potential safety hazards with the 737 Max due to production problems. He also testified before Congress, saying that he believes production problems may have contributed to the deadly 737 crashes.
The head of the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) conceded that the agency made mistakes in handling the two crashes. The FAA's actions were especially problematic in light of an analysis it released following the Indonesian crash. That analysis determined that the model was likely to crash again if regulators did not act. Five months later, a second plane crash occurred under similar circumstances. It wasn't until a week after the second, Lion Air crash, that the agency directed pilots to use an emergency procedure to deal with the faulty software activation that was a factor in the crash.
U.S. Troops Could Soon Be Able to Sue the Military Over Medical Malpractice
The measure is included in a must-pass spending bill and would loosen the Feres Doctrine. The doctrine is invoked to deny active-duty members of the military a right to sue the government for injuries sustained on active duty (i.e., injuries "incident to service") and has survived five Supreme Court challenges. The provision added to the National Defense Authorization Act would allow troops to sue the military over medical malpractice, but the claims will be addressed through the Defense Department's adjudication agency and not the federal courts.
Internal Government Documents Reveal the Truth on War in Afghanistan
Documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal that U.S. officials provided misleading information to the public on the American war effort in Afghanistan. As U.S. focus shifted to Iraq following a quick but short-lived victory over the Taliban, American officials reassured the public that progress was being made, even in the face of a faltering strategy. Interviews with military and government officials show that metrics were being manipulated to show success when many knew the counterinsurgency strategy had little hope of succeeding.
Saudi Suspect in Pensacola Attack Probed for Terrorism Link
The FBI is conducting a terrorism investigation into the shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where a Saudi aviation student killed three U.S. Navy airmen. The Pentagon is suspending operational training for the 850 Saudi nationals in the U.S. but insists that it has no knowledge of a broader terrorism plot.
NATO Conference is Cancelled After U.S. Ambassador Bars a Trump Critic
A conference celebrating the 70th anniversary of NATO was cancelled after the U.S. Ambassador to Denmark, who would be hosting the event, barred a NATO expert from delivering the keynote speech because he had been critical of President Trump.
White House Blocks U.N. Meeting to Discuss North Korean Human Rights Abuses
The U.S. has killed off plans to convene a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to salvage any diplomatic progress it has made with North Korea. The meeting was intended to focus on North Korea's human rights record. Under U.N. rules, nine of the 15 Security Council members are required to schedule a meeting. After eight members agreed to sign a letter requesting the meeting, the U.S. held back its support.
Report Outlines Why Diversity and Inclusion Efforts Are Failing African-American Professionals
A study by the Center for Talent Innovation examines why the number of Black Americans in executive positions remains low despite efforts at increasing workplace diversity. The study argues that measures that achieved some success in addressing gender discrimination may not work on racial discrimination because challenges faced by black co-workers are not well understood. The report calls for an intervention to address issues like the sharp decline in diversity when reviewing middle management versus executive positions, as well as the issue of hierarchies among black employees.
Racism in the Banking Industry
The New York Times examines a series of recorded interactions with bank employees at JPMorgan branches in Phoenix. The report demonstrates just how widespread racism continues to be in that industry, targeting both clients and employees. Following the report, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said that the company needs to revisit its policies, procedures, and management practices, and do more to counter racism.
Executive Order Establishing Wider Definition of Judaism Sparks Concern Over Free Speech on College Campuses
President Trump signed an executive order that extends civil rights protections to Jewish persons, signaling that on a case by case basis, Judaism could be defined as a race or national origin, not just a religion, under the Civil Rights Act. The government could also withhold federal funding from universities that fail to combat anti-Semitism on campuses. Critics of the order say it will stifle debate on college campuses.
New York State Deepens Its Investigation into the National Rifle Association
A new subpoena has been issued eight months into the investigation, requesting records and information on campaign finance, payments to board members, and tax compliance. One of the subjects of the investigation is the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation, an affiliated charity suspected of being a back door for tax-deductible donations to the NRA itself.
New York's Climate Change Fraud Case Against Exxon is Dismissed
A New York state judge found that the Attorney General's office "failed to establish by a preponderance of the evidence" that Exxon Mobil violated the Martin Act. New York State had argued that the company engaged in fraud through its statements and was keeping two sets of books: one that accounted for the potential future costs of climate change regulation - released to the public, and another internal document disregarding those costs.
Officials Treating Jersey City Shooting as Domestic Terrorism
The attack that killed four people at a kosher market in New Jersey is being considered an act of domestic terrorism. Officials say the two gunmen were fueled by anti-Semitism and anti-law enforcement beliefs, giving the incident an element of hate crime bias.
Kentucky Abortion Ultrasound Law Takes Effect
The Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the law on First Amendment grounds. The law requires doctors who perform abortions to both display and explain to women images on their fetal ultrasounds. Another requirement is to make the fetal heartbeat audible when possible.
Kentucky Restores Voting Rights to Felons
Kentucky's Democratic governor signed an executive order restoring the vote to over 140,000 nonviolent felons with completed sentences. The move leaves Iowa as the only state that deprives all former felons of the right to vote.
University of California Sued Over Use of SAT and ACT in Admissions
The lawsuit argues that the standardized tests are unconstitutional because they are biased against poor and mainly black and Hispanic students and provide little meaningful information about a student's ability to succeed. The plaintiffs are a coalition of students, advocacy groups, and a California school district. They say the use of these test scores in admissions discriminates against applicants on the basis of race, wealth, and disability, denying them equal protection under the California Constitution.
University of Phoenix to Pay $191 Settlement to Settle Case Alleging Deceptive Ads
The settlement settles allegations of deceptive advertisement brought by the Federal Trade Commission, specifically that the school falsely claimed it had close ties to major U.S. companies that would create job opportunities for its students. The school also cancelled $141 million in student debt as part of the settlement.
The Vast, Invisible Climate Menace - Methane
The New York Times reports on the vast amounts of methane escaping from oil and gas sites in the U.S. Loosely regulated and very difficult to detect, methane is a major contributor to global warming. Next year, the Trump Administration is expected to move forward with a plan that would eliminate requirements that oil companies install technology to detect and fix methane leaks from their facilities.
Michael Cohen Asks for Leniency from Prison
In a letter to a federal judge this week, Cohen described himself as a broken man and asked to be permitted to serve the rest of his three-year sentence in house confinement.
Garcia Luna, Mexico's Top Crime Fighter, Charged with Bribery
Luna, a cabinet-level security official and a leading figure in Mexico's war against drug traffickers, is accused of accepting millions in bribes from the Sinaloa Cartel. Luna was arrested in Dallas a few hours after the indictment was unsealed in New York. While in office, Luna adopted a counternarcotics strategy that deployed the military to confront criminal groups and kill or capture their leaders.
Hong Kong Protest, Largest in Weeks, Stretches Several Miles
Thousands of people filled Hong Kong's streets in a march on Human Rights Day. Tensions have eased somewhat in recent weeks following the results of local elections in which pro-democracy advocates claimed victory.
Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi Defends Myanmar Against Genocide Accusations
The Nobel Peace laureate told a panel of 17 judges at the Hague that her country's security forces were responding to violence when they took action against the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. Defending the country against accusations of genocide, she conceded that disproportionate force may have been used or that the army did not distinguish clearly between rebels and civilians.