Judge: Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85M in ex-lawyer’s suit
By AMANDA LEE MYERS and MICHAEL BALSAMO
Tuesday, October 23
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Porn actress Stormy Daniels’ lawyer Michael Avenatti must pay $4.85 million to an attorney who worked at his former law firm, a California judge ruled Monday in an order that holds the potential presidential candidate personally liable in a lawsuit over back pay.
The Los Angeles judge ordered the payout the same day a separate ruling came down evicting Eagan Avenatti LLC from its office space in Southern California after four months of unpaid rent.
In the case over back pay, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Landin ruled that Avenatti personally guaranteed a settlement with attorney Jason Frank, who said Eagan Avenatti misstated its profits and that he was owed millions of dollars.
Avenatti, who is best known for representing Daniels in her lawsuit against President Donald Trump following an alleged 2006 affair, did not appear at Monday’s hearing and never filed arguments in the case.
He told The Associated Press that Frank owes him and the firm $12 million “for his fraud.” He did not provide details and declined to comment further. It’s unclear whether Avenatti has filed any litigation in the matter against Frank, whose attorney said Frank doesn’t owe Avenatti a dime and that saying so is defamatory.
Avenatti, who is toying with a possible 2020 presidential run, can appeal the ruling but since he never filed arguments about why he shouldn’t have to pay the $4.85 million, any such effort would be “dead in the water,” said Frank’s attorney, Eric George.
“He’s managed to delay this for ages,” George said. “At the end of the day, this is money that’s owed. No matter how you try to spin it, it comes back to the fact that he took money, it wasn’t his and now there’s a judgment saying it’s owed to my client.”
Frank had worked at Avenatti’s former firm under an independent contractor agreement and was supposed to collect 25 percent of its annual profits, along with 20 percent of fees his clients paid, court documents say.
“It’ll be important to keep an eye on him and sources of money that are coming in, see what his assets are, and take it from there,” George said.
Meanwhile, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Moss issued an order Monday terminating Eagan Avenatti’s lease from office space in Newport Beach and ordering the law firm to pay $154,000 for four months of back rent. No one appeared in court on behalf of the firm.
Monday’s developments came five months after a U.S. bankruptcy court judge ordered the firm to pay Frank $10 million. The $4.85 million for which Avenatti is now personally liable is in addition to that judgment.
In July, the Justice Department accused Avenatti of making misrepresentations in the bankruptcy case and said his former law firm owed more than $440,000 in unpaid federal taxes.
Avenatti’s lawyer said at the time that the matter had been resolved. The Justice Department insisted that settlement negotiations were continuing but the debt was still owed.
The ruling against Avenatti comes a week after a federal judge dismissed Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against Trump, saying the president made a “hyperbolic statement” against a political adversary when he tweeted about a composite sketch that Avenatti has released.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, sued Trump in April after he said a composite sketch of a man she said threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about an alleged affair was a “con job.” Avenatti has appealed the ruling.
The defamation claim is separate from another lawsuit that Daniels filed against Trump, which is ongoing. Daniels was paid $130,000 as part of a nondisclosure agreement signed days before the 2016 election and is suing to dissolve that contract.
Balsamo reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Catherine Lucey contributed from Washington.
The Village Voice’s photographers captured change, turmoil unfolding on New York City’s streets
October 23, 2018
Authors: Tamar Carroll, Associate Professor of History; Joshua Meltzer, Assistant Professor of Photojournalism and Visual Storytelling, both Rochester Institute of Technology
Disclosure statement: The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Rochester Institute of Technology provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
When The Village Voice, the nation’s first alternative weekly, closed in late August, social justice movements lost one of their biggest cheerleaders.
Founded in 1955, the Voice aggressively covered civil rights, race relations, police brutality, gentrification, homelessness and reproductive rights. While a gay rights march may have received a short mention in The New York Times, that same demonstration would get front page treatment in the Voice.
The Voice played a particularly important role in promoting and publishing social documentary photography.
Just as the photographs of Lewis Hine and Jacob Riis communicated the horrors of child labor and tenement overcrowding in the early 20th century, Voice photojournalists such as Donna Binder, Ricky Flores, Lisa Kahane, T.L. Litt, Thomas McGovern, Brian Palmer, Joseph Rodriguez, and Linda Rosier conveyed the fears, rage and struggles of the city’s marginalized communities.
In issue after issue, these photographers captured the despair and anger of the HIV/AIDS epidemic; the anguish of black and Latino New Yorkers whose friends and family members had died at the hands of white mobs or the police; and battles over access to affordable housing.
Their work is included in “Whose Streets? Our Streets!,” a traveling exhibition that we co-curated with Meg Handler and Michael Kamber and that features photojournalists who covered struggles for social justice on the streets of New York City from 1980 to 2000.
We spoke with Handler, a former photo editor for the Voice, and three photographers whose work regularly appeared in the publication to discuss the significance of the Voice’s approach to photography.
An unabashedly activist approach
Founded in 1955, The Village Voice quickly became a popular outlet for progressive photojournalists.
To Handler, a former photo editor of the Voice in the early 1990s, there were three key points of attraction:
“One, there was never any ambiguity about the politics of the paper. It was, from its infancy, what longtime Voice photo editor and photographer Fred W. McDarrah famously called a ‘commie, hippie, pinko rag.’ Two, the paper hired a fair amount of freelancers and so there was the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people to cover subjects that they were personally committed to. And three, it was a ‘photographer’s paper,’ meaning images would retain their integrity, they wouldn’t be cropped, their subjects wouldn’t be misrepresented.”
Photographer Tom McGovern worked at the Voice from 1988 to 1995, and credited the publication with giving him the freedom to make the photographs he wanted to make in order to educate others about the AIDS epidemic.
McGovern, whose photographs of the AIDS crisis would eventually be published in his 1999 book, “Bearing Witness (To AIDS),” told us that he was motivated by a simple impulse: to “challenge the negative stereotypes about who has AIDS and what is this disease.”
“It was not traditional journalism,” he said. “I never saw myself as being completely objective. I was certainly a supporter of the cause.”
In his photographs, McGovern highlighted the work of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, or ACT UP New York, which used direct action and spectacular street theater to call attention to the ineffective government response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
“[ACT UP] knew how to stage events,” McGovern said. He explained that the organization’s members would plan demonstrations for late afternoon, when the lighting is best for snapping photographs. They also created these “beautiful posters that were made to be photographed great.”
In this way, AIDS activists collaborated with photojournalists to promote support for AIDS research and to challenge the stigma of the disease.
The eyes of the neighborhood
Social documentary photographers are committed to showcasing perspectives of marginalized groups. Dorothea Lange famously told the story of the Great Depression through the faces of destitute farming families, not wealthy bankers.
Sometimes, those best suited to tell the stories of marginalized groups came from those groups themselves.
The Village Voice, more than mainstream news outlets, valued publishing work by photographers from diverse backgrounds.
Ricky Flores, whose photographs document race relations and police brutality, was raised in the South Bronx. According to Flores, his own background and community ties were essential to the pictures he made for the Voice and other progressive outlets.
Other photographers aren’t “going to see it the way I see it,” Flores said. “They’re not a South Bronx Puerto Rican who actually is living under the very weight of the oppression that was being focused on our community.”
In addition to photographing the South Bronx and Puerto Rican activism, Flores is known for his coverage of race relations and police brutality.
He photographed the civil rights marches led by Rev. Al Sharpton in the late 1980s and early 1990s after white youth killed a young African-American man in Howard Beach. He also covered the unrest in Washington Heights in July 1992 following the police killing of Jose “Kiko” Garcia in a drug sweep.
In an interview, Flores said that through his work, he hoped to show “why people are demonstrating,” by documenting “the injustices that were taking place.”
To this day, “there’s a lot of mistrust” of the police in minority communities, Flores continued. “They feel that cops can get away with murdering citizens with impunity.”
A ‘mandate’ to capture and make sense of it all
With its focus on local issues and its tradition of muckraking journalism, the Voice gave social justice movements more coverage – and more sympathetic coverage – than mainstream papers like The New York Times.
As a student activist at New York University in the 1980s, Victoria Wolcott recalled how, after a protest, “you would go and get the Village Voice the next day. We wanted to know what the Village Voice was reporting, because they were progressive and they had really great photographs.”
The Voice’s coverage of the 1988 Tompkins Square Park riots – in which police charged a crowd of homeless people, activists and journalists protesting the city’s implementation of a curfew in the park – helped participants make sense of what they were seeing unfolding on the streets.
Wolcott, now a professor of history at the University of Buffalo, explained how “there would be a photograph of somebody getting beat up [by the police] with blood [gushing] from their head, so that was another way that photographs help to legitimize … your experience.”
Voice photographer Linda Rosier told us that in those years, before the rise of smart phones, social media and so-called citizen journalism, she had a “mandate” to photograph, “since we were the ones out there seeing it and being the eyes of the city really.”
Today, McGovern adds, “Newspapers and magazines don’t have the power they used to have. It’s not like you’re waiting for The Village Voice to come out on Wednesday or The New York Times the next morning to be able to see these pictures; now it’s on social media.”
The problem now is not a dearth of images, but rather a lack of context.
Part of a photograph’s power can come from the way experienced journalists and editors position it in the text, or use it to complement a reported article. Social documentary photographers also spent years immersing themselves in the community they were covering and cultivating ties to activists. They possessed a deep knowledge of their subject.
The tactics and spirit of the Voice might live on in the amateur photographers covering modern social movements like Black Lives Matter and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
But something will be lost with the folding of a periodical that featured images by the neighborhood, about the neighborhood and for the neighborhood.
E-cigarettes and a new threat: How to dispose of them
October 23, 2018
Author: Yogi H. Hendlin, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Public Health Policy, University of California, San Francisco
Disclosure statement: Yogi H. Hendlin does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: University of California provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
The two largest global brands of capsule coffee, Nespresso and Keurig, are regarded by many as environmental nightmares. Billions of the throwaway nonrecyclable plastic products currently clutter waste dumps, waterways and city streets. Both inventor of the “K-cups” John Sylvan and former Nespresso CEO Jean-Paul Gaillard have publicly bemoaned the environmental consequences of the products they once championed. Sylvan has stated that the disposable (but not biodegradable) coffee capsule is “like a cigarette for coffee, a single-serve delivery mechanism for an addictive substance.”
The comparison between cigarette butts and capsule coffee is surprisingly fitting. Both butts and capsules are intentionally designed to be convenient, single-use products. Both are also nonbiodegradable and unrecyclable. As pervasive and polluting as cigarette butts are, however, the e-waste from e-cigarettes presents an even more apt comparison.
As a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco with a background in environmental philosophy and public health, I became curious how the waste stream of e-cigarettes has passed completely outside the regulatory radar.
A smoking gun?
San Francisco’s Pax Labs, maker of the market-leading electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) Juul, thinks of its product as a “Nespresso machine, if Nespresso still made great coffee.” It also describes its e-cigarette as a “gun.”
The product has soared in popularity, particularly among teenagers, leading Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, in September 2018 to call Juul smoking among teens an epidemic.
While the health outcomes for e-cigarette vapor versus an inveterate capsule coffee drinker vary greatly, both “disruptive” products present lingering harms to the environment greater than the products they replace.
The legacy of cigarette butts imparts a dark story. An estimated two-thirds of cigarette butts are littered, clogging sewer drains, blighting city parks and contributing to estimated cleanup costs of US$11 billion yearly for U.S. litter alone. Cigarettes are environmentally irresponsible by design, and yet e-cigarettes pose an environmental threat of considerable proportions. Instead of merely being thrown away, these complex devices present simultaneously a biohazard risk with potential high quantities of leftover or residual nicotine and an environmental health threat as littered electronic waste.
Their endocrine-disrupting plastics, lithium ion batteries and electronic circuit boards require disassembly, sorting and proper further recycling and disposal. Their instructions do not say anything about disposal. Electronic waste (e-waste) already presents a daunting environmental quandary and is notoriously difficult to recycle. When littered, broken devices can leach metals, battery acid and nicotine into the local environment and urban landscape.
A preventable environmental health disaster
A main question public health regulators must face is: How are these new devices being disposed of? Are e-cigarettes being thrown away carelessly, like cigarette butts? Or disposed of in special electronic waste facilities, like smartphones? Preliminary results from litter pickups give mixed results. Juul pods are found routinely littered, especially where young people congregate. But because of the double-bind of e-cigarette waste being both electronic waste due to the components and hazardous waste due to the nicotine liquid residue, currently there is no legal way to recycle them in the U.S. The Office on Smoking and Health and the EPA need to coordinate their regulations to allow for the safe recycling and waste minimization of these products.
More than 58 million e-cigarette products were sold in the U.S. (not including those sold in vape shops or online) in 2015, 19.2 million of which were disposable e-cigarettes. A 2014 study found that none of the surveyed e-cigarette packages contained disposal instructions.
The major transnational tobacco companies so far primarily sell throwaway, one-use “closed” system products. Vuse and MarkTen, owned by Reynolds American and Altria, respectively, are two leading U.S. e-cigarettes, and both are closed systems. While these products may prevent nicotine poisoning in small children, their environmental health harms may be significantly larger due to their expendable design.
Most independent vaporizer manufacturers sell open, or reusable, systems, which are more popular with longer-term users and possibly more effective to quit than traditional cigarettes. In other markets, however, like the U.K. and Japan, transnational tobacco companies British American Tobacco (BAT) and Japan Tobacco International have begun to heavily market open systems.
BAT’s website on the disposal of their Vype e-cigarette warns “electrical waste and electronic equipment can contain hazardous substances which, if not treated properly, could lead to damage to the environment and human health.” So neither open nor closed systems are environmentally sustainable.
The World Health Organization, in its report Tobacco and Its Environmental Impact: An Overview, recently noted the “quieter but shockingly widespread impacts of tobacco from an environmental perspective.” Article 18 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control states that all signatory parties “agree to have due regard to the protection of the environment and the health of persons in relation to the environment in respect of tobacco cultivation and manufacture within their respective territories.” It is time to close the loop and pay increased attention to tobacco product disposal as well.
As regulatory agencies continue deciding how to regulate e-cigarettes, not only should the immediate health effects and secondhand effects of the products be taken into account, but I believe the environmental effects of these products should be too.
The mounting environmental impact of the single-use nonrecyclable coffee fad has left coffee capsule Keurig inventor John Sylvan regretting his invention. Will apocryphal e-cigarette inventor Hon Lik ever have a similar reckoning regarding the mountains of e-cigarette e-waste? Let’s hope it never gets to that point.
Clergy members allege discrimination in police division
Monday, October 22
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Clergy members in Ohio’s capital city alleging discrimination in its police department are seeking changes.
The Columbus Dispatch reports more than 30 clergy members sent a letter recently to Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther asking for several changes. Their proposals include taking complaints and investigations into discrimination and racism away from the police Internal Affairs Bureau and improving working conditions for minority officers. They asked Ginther for a meeting within the next 30 days to discuss the recommendations.
The mayor said in a statement issued after the group’s requests that officials look forward to “continued conversations with these faith leaders to address their expectations.” He also said a safety advisory commission is reviewing police training, policies and procedures and an independent consultant will assist the commission with recommendations to him.
Information from: The Columbus Dispatch, http://www.dispatch.com