University of Virginia Investigates Fraternity and Sorority For “Cultural Appropriation” Offenses

According to The Cavalier Daily, the University of Virginia is proceeding against a fraternity and sorority for “engag[ing] in alleged cultural appropriation” during chapter-sponsored activities. The violations involved students at the Kappa Sigma fraternity dressed as American Indians and members of the Zeta Tau Alpha “wearing sombreros and holding maracas.”

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No [Chunky] Soup For You: Campbell Seeks To Trademark Term “Chunky” [Updated]

We recently discussed an absurd effort to trademark a hashtag. Now, the Campbell Soup Company has trademarked the word “chunky” in an application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Campbell is using pop culture references (including Saturday Night Live skits and Simpson episodes) to support its claim over this common term. It is just another example of the utter lunacy that Congress has created in our copyright and trademark laws.

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Washington Post: Warren Listed Herself As “American Indian” On Texas Bar Registration

The controversy over the past claims of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren being a native American continued this week with a report in the Washington Post.  The Post reported that Warren claimed to be an “American Indian” on her Texas bar registration. Warren has denied claiming the status in her legal career despite being listed or referenced as a minority at a couple of law schools. This is a notable incident because it is a claim written in her own handwriting and was entirely unnecessary for registration in Texas.

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Trump Associate: “Our boy can become president of the USA and we can engineer it.”

A new set of emails has become public that shows the extent of the effort to secure a Trump Tower deal in Moscow during the election. The most notable emails are between two of Trump’s associates: Michael Cohen and Felix Sater. Sater’s boasting about Trump and Putin was previously known but now the emails have been disclosed. In one email, Sater (who seems to rival Cohen in competition for the most seedy Trump associations) brags about his close contacts with Putin and how he can get the Tower approved. He then adds “I will get Putin on this program and we will get Donald elected.” He also that it would be “pretty cool to get a USA President elected” and, if successful, wanted to be the ambassador to the Bahamas: “That my friend is the home run I want out of this.” With the Mueller report now reportedly coming within the month, the emails could be used to show a strong business interest in Moscow — an interest that continued during the campaign.

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Wild Pitch: Bar Owner Fails In Bid To Trademark #MAGICNUBMER108

The Chicago Cubs is starting out 2019 with a win, though removed from the ballpark. The Cubs prevailed in a trademark dispute with Grant DePorter, CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group, after DePorter sought to claim ownership to “#MagicNumber108.” DePorter sought to cash in with the rest in claiming commonly used phrases so that he could force others to pay him for their use. On this occasion, logic prevailed over greed. The trademark examiner and now the Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board ruled that the hashtag could not be claimed as a mark. So, for all of my fellow Cubs fans, here is to #MagicNumber108.

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College Student Thinks She Has A Ghost . . . Instead Finds Homeless Man In Her Closet In Her Clothes

A University of North Carolina college student in Greensboro thought she had a ghost in her apartment. Clothes were disappearing and she would hear movement or knocks. However, when she finally summoned the courage to look inside, she found a man in her closet, dressed in her clothes.

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GW Panel To Discuss The Need To Drop “The Colonials” as School Mascot

We previously discussed the move by some students to drop the long-standing name “Colonials” for George Washington University. The moniker has been associated with GWU for roughly a 100 years. However, this week a panel at GW will discuss the concerns over the use of the name and the possible need to adopt an alternative nickname, including one based on the hippo mascot. Before we embrace GW “hippocrites” or some other nickname, I would like to again voice my support for The Colonials.

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A Bill Comes Due: New York Faces Massive Tax Shortfall With Elimination Of Federal Deduction

One of the aspects of the new federal tax plan that made sense to me was the elimination of much of the deduction for state and local taxes. While the move cost those of us in higher tax states, it finally forced states to stop using the federal tax laws to effectively subsidize its high tax policies. Now that bill has come due in New York where taxpayers will no longer be able to write off their high state taxes. The result is not only a shortfall of $2.8 billion but droves of wealthy taxpayers leaving the state.

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Professor Suspended After Reading Literary Work Using N-Word

We have previously discussed protests over professors using the n-word in hypotheticals or as part of a course on hate speech. Professors are being denied basic academic freedom over such content to courses. The most recent such action was taken against Professor Phil Adamo of Minneapolis’s Augsburg University. He has been suspended for using the n-word during a classroom discussion about a James Baldwin book which uses the word.

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Is The Criminal Collusion Theory Dead?

Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper exploring the current evidence supporting a criminal collusion case against President Donald Trump or his campaign. While clearly not popular to raise, the evidence released to date is rather underwhelming. Indeed, the basis for a criminal collusion prosecution is weaker today than it was a year ago. That does not mean that new evidence cannot be released but this is an attempt at an objective review of past filings and disclosures from the Special Counsel, Congress, and witnesses. That evidence strengthens the case against collusion and certainly supplies ample foundation for a defense against the charge of a criminal conspiracy with the Russians in hacking computer systems. Once again, the column only addresses the basis for a criminal charge based on collusion by Trump or his campaign. The prosecution of Russians for hacking is strong and the fact that Russians wanted to help Trump seems unassailable. The narrative supporting a criminal conspiracy however seems increasing incomplete and incoherent.

Here is the column:

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Amusement Park Sued Over Trauma Caused During Halloween Event

Every year we discuss new tort actions tied to Halloween as part of our “Spooky Torts” tradition. A new case was just filed by Shannon Sacco and her daughter over their visit to the Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom in Pennsylvania. The park, owned by Cedar Fair, included costumed employees as part of a Halloween attraction. Sacco claims that the costumes were too scary and caused trauma worth more than $150,000.

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ABA Rejects Proposal To Require Minimum Bar Passage Rate For Accreditation

The American Bar Association has been trying to crack down on schools that allow students to rack up huge debt but show low bar passage or employment rates. At the same time, the ABA has fought for greater diversity in the bar. Those two policies collided this week over a proposal to require at least 75 percent of law students at accredited schools to pass the bar exam no later than two years after their graduations. That would seem a modest and reasonable condition. However, the proposal was rejected because it was viewed as ‘unfair to institutions that serve minority students,” according to Inside Higher Education.

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Women Go To Barber For Cosmetic Surgery . . . Well You Know The Rest

Barbershop owner Young Hwan Choi, 72, allegedly had a side business of doing cosmetic surgery and the results were as predictable as their were criminal. Various women suffered facial scars from the laser surgery. What is striking is that the police released images of his barbershop, suggesting that the women may have actually gone to the barbershop for the surgery as opposed to some fraudulent surgery center. If true, the bizarre decision of these victims could factor into any tort damages as plaintiff’s conduct questions.

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Report: Blocked Caller Connected To Trump Jr. Was Not President Trump

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For over a year, many of the theories of Russian collusion have highlighted a mysterious call to an unpublished number by Donald Trump Jr. in the critical period of the infamous meeting with Russians in Trump Tower. Democratic members apparently received the disappointing news this week that the number has been tracked down and did not belong to President Donald Trump but business associates of his son.

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