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›  Who's To Say The Word 'Slants' Offends Asians? The Supreme Court, That's Who.

WASHINGTON ? The Supreme Court tends to take a skeptical view whenever the government polices speech it doesn’t like. But what if the government simply denies a trademark that it deems offensive to a racial or ethnic group?

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office did exactly that when it rejected a trademark application from The Slants, an Asian-American band that aims to promote its name and music to tear down racial stereotypes — and maybe even stick it to a certain Washington football team the band’s leader is not very fond of.

But to offend fellow Asian-Americans? Perish the thought.

The justices on Wednesday wrestled with whether a provision of trademark law that tells the federal trademark office to not give its seal of approval to names that “may disparage” others is consistent with the First Amendment. An appeals court that specializes in trademark disputes concluded that it doesn’t, and it struck down the provision as unconstitutional “viewpoint discrimination.”

The issue is a fascinating one, in part because of the scores of advocates on both sides of this controversy who are throwing their hats in the ring. Native American groups, for one, support the government, which in 2014 also canceled a little football trademark that now finds its owner, Daniel Snyder, rooting for The Slants. The band’s case may save or doom the team’s chances at keeping “Redskins.”

The Obama administration, on its last day of legal arguments before the next regime takes over, said nothing in the trademark provision prevents The Slants from using the name, let alone impede its music or message. Instead, the government’s lawyer said, the anti-disparagement provision “places a reasonable limit on access to a government program” that “does not violate the First Amendment.”

But some of the justices didn’t seem so convinced, or at least seemed to be playing devil’s advocate. Chief Justice John Roberts called the government’s argument “circular,” and Justice Stephen Breyer had questions about the “purpose” of a law that tells the powers that be what’s good and what isn’t.

“I can think probably of ... perhaps 50,000 examples of instances where the space the trademark provides is used for very distracting messages,” Breyer said, later adding, “What business does Congress have picking out this one but letting all the other distractions exist?”

Justice Elena Kagan, one of the more active questioners on the bench, took issue with what appears to be the government’s censorious view on trademarks it deems negative but not with those it deems positive.

The law “precludes disparagement of Democrats and Republicans alike, and so forth and so on,” Kagan said, “but it makes a very important distinction, which is that you can say good things about some person or group but you can’t say bad things about some person or group.”

“The point is that I can say good things about something, but I can’t say bad things about something,” she added. “And I would have thought that that was a fairly classic case of viewpoint discrimination.”

If the Supreme Court were to find that the trademark office is engaging in such discrimination — and a bevy of free-speech and business advocates suggest that it is — then the law violates the First Amendment.

But does it? Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested that The Slants’ music and message “are not being burdened in any traditional way” because they can still do everything a band does — even sue another band for appropriating its name — except without a trademark.

“No one is stopping your client from calling itself The Slants,” she told the Portland, Oregon, band’s lawyer, John Connell. “No one is stopping them from advertising themselves that way, or signing contracts that way or engaging in any activity, except that stopping someone else from using the same trademark.”

Asked by Breyer whether the government could deny a trademark calling someone a name or a food product lethal, Connell took a hard-line approach and said no. But that exposed a limit to The Slants’ argument.

“Oh, my goodness,” Breyer exclaimed. “There are laws all over the place that stop you from saying that a competitor … has bad products. It’s called product disparagement. There are laws all over the place that stop you from saying Joe Jones is a jerk or something more specific. They’re called libel laws or slander laws. But you’re saying the government couldn’t do that?”

If the Supreme Court decides that a trademark shouldn’t be treated like “speech in a public park,” as Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested, and instead is just a government program that may freely avoid certain racial and ethnic slurs, then The Slants would lose.

But in other ways, The Slants will have already won.

With or without the trademark, it would not be a stretch to say that the indie band has garnered more press for what it stands for than many others in its field. And it even has a song to show for it.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  "A Dog's Purpose" Is Not To Be Abused in a Movie
As someone with great fondness for dogs and all other animals, I was looking forward to seeing the new Universal Pictures and Amblin Partners movie A Dog's Purpose. Now, not so much.

My big chill is a result of viewing this disturbing video released by TMZ Wednesday showing a clearly terrified German Shepherd named Hercules being forced against his will into a body of wildly churning water-- then going under until a couple of people jump in and rescue the distressed animal.

Reportedly, the dog was provided by Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) , and someone from The American Humane Association (AAH) was on the set at the time of the abuse. Prudence prevents me from commenting further on BAU of AAH-- "Ouch, ouch, ouch!" (That's me biting my tongue). But I do encourage readers to research both entities online and draw their own conclusions about their respective reputations.

Amblin reportedly released the following statement:
Amblin production team followed rigorous protocols to foster an ethical and safe environment for the animals. While we continue to review the circumstances shown in the edited footage, Amblin is confident that great care and concern was shown for the German Shepherd Hercules, as well as for all of the other dogs featured throughout the production of the film. There were several days of rehearsal of the water scenes to ensure Hercules was comfortable with all of the stunts. On the day of the shoot, ?Hercules did not want to perform the stunt portrayed on the tape so the Amblin production team did not proceed with filming that shot. Hercules is happy and healthy.

I have several issues with their statement, starting with the reference to this video as "edited footage." That sounds to me like they are attempting to discredit or undermine the video. They certainly should have unedited footage since the scene was being filmed. Perhaps they would like to share that with us? And where is there any expression of outrage or even disapproval of what the saw? In addition, one might ask who hired Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) and did they research them before doing so? And then there is the broader ethical issue of using animals as movie props at all.

Some associated with the film have expressed surprise, dismay, and disappointment about what they saw in the video. That reminds me a famous scene in another film, Casablanca.

PETA is calling for a boycott of the film, and I concur. If you really want to stop this type of animal abuse, hit them where it hurts the most-- in their wallets.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Trevor Noah Eviscerates Betsy DeVos Over Her Confirmation Hearing

Trevor Noah thinks Betsy DeVos’ terrible performance during her confirmation hearing is a sad representation of America’s education system.

“She’s going to get confirmed even though she failed everything. Every subject she got at the hearing. Failed. Failed. Failed. Failed ? except Donations 101,” he said on Wednesday’s “The Daily Show.”

Noah went on to say that having her as secretary of education would be like having an Amish guy as head of NASA.

“And that’s why I feel like this hearing was a perfect metaphor for the worst of the education system in America,” Noah said. “Here’s a student who’s clearly not proficient in the required subject matter, but because of the system, we know they’re still going to get pushed through.” 

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Nancy Sinatra Destroys Donald Trump With Her Kickass Tweets

Nancy Sinatra’s boots are made not just for walking but also for kicking Donald Trump to the curb.

The Hill is reporting that Trump and wife Melania will dance their first official dance as first couple to “My Way,” a song made famous by Sinatra’s dad, Frank Sinatra.

A woman named Liz Massi asked Nancy Sinatra on Twitter how she felt about the Sinatra standard being used as a sort-of coronation song for the Donald.

Her reaction was priceless:

For the record: The first line of “My Way” is “And now, the end is near.”

Based on her Twitter feed, it seems that Sinatra is no fan of Trump.

Earlier this week, she sent this message to him: 

The 76-year-old singer also made sure to tag Trump in a tweet sent by Bruce Springsteen’s guitarist Steven Van Zandt.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Atif Aslam Interrupts Concert After Seeing Sexual Harassment

A Pakistani pop star is gaining fans around the world after he stopped a concert mid-song to save a woman who was being sexually harassed in the audience.

Atif Aslam was performing at a concert in Karachi, Pakistan, on Saturday when he silenced his band and walked to the edge of the stage toward a group of men who appeared to be harassing the woman, as seen in the above video of the confrontation.

“Have you ever seen a girl before?” Aslam, 33, asked the men he confronted, according to a translation by The India Times. “Your mother or sister could have been here as well.”

Aslam then ordered concert staffers to bring the woman on stage, saying in English, “Rescue her. Rescue her. Rescue her.”

After the woman was removed from the audience, Aslam rebuked the men while people in the audience cheered for the singer.

“Enjoy the concert with discipline. It will be a long show, otherwise it will [finish] soon,” Aslam said to the harassers. 

“Try to act like a human being,” he added, before continuing on with the show.

That woman wasn’t the only one at the show who needed help.

Local reports say that many other females were victimized during the concert. According to Pakistani news site Images.com, the venue was crowded with trespassers and many women in attendance were harassed and molested by men throughout the show.

One witness at the concert told Pakistani news site MangoBaaz that Aslam had also told the bouncers to help several other women in the front row who were being harassed.

“Atif did the right thing, which any other human being would do,” the singer’s brother and manager told NBC News. “We don’t want this to be blown out of proportion and hope that folks continue to believe in Atif’s music.”

The incident highlights a larger problem in Pakistan that the country has been trying to manage: violence against women.

A 2011 poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation ranked Pakistan as the third most dangerous country in the world for women and it was only in 2016 that Pakistani lawmakers criminalized all forms of violence against women.

Aslam’s heroic rescue is bringing attention to the Karachi Eat Festival 2017 and its controversial “no stags” policy ? also known as a “family only” policy ? which restricts any single men from purchasing tickets to the event to protect women from harassment.

What’s really at stake in this conversation about policies at Karachi Eat or Atif Aslam’s intervention is patriarchy’s power,” Images.com chief editor Hamna Zubair wrote in an editorial Tuesday. 

“People in Pakistan view gender equality as a zero-sum game where universal protection for women enshrined in the law decreases the scope of unchecked male power,” she added. “And that, to them, is a problem.”

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  CAT AND DOG - Ep.69

Updated every Thursday

Copyright ? 2015 RollingStory Inc.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Teleprompters Are Not Having A Great 2017 So Far

A working theory for 2017: Teleprompters are trying to throw humans off their game to ultimately plot a robot world takeover. 

Here’s the proof so far — One conked out on Jimmy Fallon at the Golden Globes earlier in January. Now, on Wednesday night, another one cut out as Kristen Bell was presenting the Favorite Humanitarian Award to Tyler Perry at the People’s Choice Awards.

The actor, producer and director was being recognized for his charitable work with The Tyler Perry Foundation, generously donating to organizations like the NAACP, Charity Water and Feeding America. 

“With this guardian angel at our side ... the teleprompter has gone out,” Bell sheepishly told the audience while listing Perry’s accomplishments. Still, she managed to recover quickly. “But I suppose I can finish. With this guardian angel at our side, I think we’re all incredibly grateful to have someone like him that can teach us to grow and give back as the example.”

That was some Veronica Mars–level quick thinking. Bell later explained the snafu to the audience, saying that she wished she’d had her speech memorized.

Don’t worry, Kristen: It happens. And you didn’t even attempt a Chris Rock impression.

It looks like people on Twitter had her back, too.

Check out Perry’s acceptance speech below, and get inspired to help others — teleprompter or not.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Fifth Harmony Slays Their First Performance Sans Camila Cabello

Ever since Camila Cabello’s departure from Fifth Harmony, Harmonizers have been unsure what the future will hold for the group. 

Well, the ladies had a strong message for fans in their first performance without Cabello: “We ain’t worried ‘bout nothin’. We ain’t worried ‘bout nada.”

On Wednesday night, Fifth Harmony took the stage at the People’s Choice Awards, proving they can still slay as a quartet with their powerful performance of “Work From Home.”

The girls also took home the award for Favorite Group. What a time to be alive. 

 Fans showered the Fifth Harmony ladies with love and support on Twitter.

We can’t wait to see the remaining members of the group continue to kill it. And Cabello’s solo music career is already off to a solid start, too. This is all music to our ears.

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›  Watch Ellen DeGeneres Win More People's Choice Awards Than Anyone

Ellen DeGeneres really likes mashed potatoes. How much? Well, it was one of the first things she mentioned in her acceptance speech as she became the most decorated winner in People’s Choice Awards history.

What else are you going to talk about? DeGeneres has now won 20 People’s Choice Awards, including the awards for Favorite Daytime TV Host and Favorite Animated Movie Voice that she took home on Wednesday.

Eventually, you’re going to run out of topics. 

As she put it, “Seventeen, I get it. Eighteen, sure. Nineteen, I can see that, but 20 is outrageous.”

DeGeneres went on to give a very Ellen-like speech, thanking the people for choosing her and wishing animals had been able to vote for her as well.

Us too, Ellen. Congrats.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Cameron Dallas Snags People's Choice Award For Best Social Media Star (And Stud)

On Wednesday night, social media favorite Cameron Dallas won Best Social Media Star at the 2017 People’s Choice Awards.

The honor was the 22-year-old’s second nomination in the category and first win. According to the award show, Dallas has a combined 36 million social media followers — and a Netflix show to boot. Not too shabby.

It’s safe to say this win was well-deserved.

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-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  Blake Lively Says Her First People's Choice Award Is For 'Girl Power'

Blake Lively just wants everyone watching the People’s Choice Awards to spice up their life, OK?!

After winning the award for Favorite Dramatic Movie Actress, the “Café Society” star brought up an oft-overlooked source of inspiration: the Spice Girls.

“I was always an ambitious kid, so I set a goal for myself as a kid. I knew if I could accomplish this that I would be successful, and I could be happy, and that was ... to meet the Spice Girls,” she said to laughter from the crowd. “Still haven’t accomplished it.” The award was Lively’s first People’s Choice Awards win, and she’s received five nominations throughout her career.

“What was so neat about them was that they were all so distinctly different, and they were women, and they owned who they were. That was my first introduction to girl power,” Lively continued, later adding, “When you guys voted for this, you didn’t just vote for this, you didn’t just vote for this movie or me, but you voted for girl power ... And men voted for girl power, too! You guys are awesome for doing that, and thank you for sending a message to Hollywood that people want to hear stories about women.” 

Never let anyone tell you again that “Spice World” isn’t a total game-changer.

Watch Lively’s full speech below.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

›  CBS Tries To Cut Off The Rock Giving Kevin Hart The Middle Finger At People's Choice Awards

Despite CBS’ best efforts to hide it, Twitter smells what The Rock is cooking.

Kevin Hart had a lot to say after winning the award for Favorite Comedic Movie Actor at the 2017 People’s Choice Awards on Wednesday. That also included calling out his “Jumanji” and “Central Intelligence” co-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. 

During his speech, Hart thanked all his co-stars before adding, “Except The Rock, because he hasn’t helped me. He hasn’t helped me at all. You’ve actually lessened my talent. It went down since you’ve been in my life.”

But did you catch Johnson’s response? CBS tried to cut it off, but Twitter was quick to put its finger on it.

OK, yeah, it looks like he’s giving Hart the finger — but as one Twitter user notes, Johnson could just be telling Hart he’s No. 1! 

But The Rock wasn’t done.

Later, Johnson won his own award for Favorite Premium Series Actor. He started taking the high road, saying, “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

Then he forgot about that and just cussed Kevin Hart out. CBS censored it all, but it sounded something like this.

And that’s how you become The People’s Champ.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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