Results matching “File Managers”

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Johnston v Kroeger

The Western District of Texas denied a 12(b)(6) motion, finding that the similarities between the plaintiff's song and Nickelback's song "Rockstar" were sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss. Kirk Johnston alleges that a substantial amount of the song is copied from his original composition.

Nicki Minaj and Husband Kenneth Petty Sued, Accused of Harassing Sexual Assault Victim

Jennifer Hough says that the couple pressured her to recant her account of how Petty had raped her in 1994. Petty was arrested in 1994 and served four and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted rape. He was arrested last year for failing to register as a sex offender in California. Hough alleges that people connected to Minaj and Petty began harassing and intimidating her and even offering her $20,000 in exchange for signing a statement recanting the accusation.

Britney Spears' Father Agrees to Step Down from Conservatorship

Spears' father filed his response to the singer's petition for his suspension, announcing that he would cooperate with the court on a transition. His response did not include a timetable for his resignation. Spears' lawyer says that he intends to investigate her father's conduct over the past 13 years.

A Timeline of the Allegations as R. Kelly's Racketeering Trial Begins

The R&B singer is "charged with racketeering based on sexual exploitation of children, kidnapping, forced labor and Mann Act violations." The article looks back at the nature of allegations he has faced since 1996.

Movie and TV Crews Return to New York Streets Again

Production trucks and crews are back on New York City streets as filming picks up again.

Whiplash for the Concert Business as the Delta Variant Rages On

As Delta spread accelerated in recent weeks, artists are having to weigh the risks and benefits of getting back on the road, with some cancelling tours and festival appearances.

Hollywood Foreign Press Association Revises Bylaws

The new bylaws diversify the association's membership and ban gifts from people associated with movies and television programs. Existing members of the association will need to reply to remain in the organization and will have to sign a new code of conduct.


San Francisco's Cyclists Welcome Golden Gate Park Ban on Cars

While the move was welcomed news for pedestrians and cyclists, museums "fear that the loss of a major access road" will deter visitors, especially as they try to draw people back post-pandemic, including those with disabilities and small children.


Tokyo Olympics Come to a Close

The article discusses the biggest news-making stories of the Tokyo Olympics in the backdrop of the pandemic.

Paralympians Ask for Support, But Receive Little

U.S. Olympic officials are being criticized for not providing personal assistants to some competitors, a long-standing issue exacerbated by more recent restrictions on who can travel to Tokyo with athletes given the pandemic.

New COVID-19 Guidance for Fall Sports Released

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has released guidance for fall training and competition, which include testing, quarantine and isolation considerations for high-exposure Tier 1 individuals.

National Football League to Crack Down on Taunting

The National Football League (NFL) has instructed its officials to strictly enforce taunting rules. Players who accrue two taunting penalties in a game face automatic ejection and, depending on the severity of the language or gesture, can also be fined, suspended, or both.

NCAA Criticized for Its Inability to Punish Baylor for Sexual Assault Scandal

The NCAA described the environment in the school's football program as "egregious," but could not determine if Baylor violated any rules in failing to report accusations against players. The decision comes "five years after Baylor's efforts to cover up sexual assaults became public."

The law firm investigating the matter had found that program leaders "sometimes 'affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence to the appropriate authorities and that team officials had moved to 'divert cases from the student conduct or criminal processes.'" The NCAA ultimately decided that the "university had a 'campus-wide culture of sexual violence' that had gone 'unaddressed due to ignorance and leadership failings across campus'" and that the missteps were not limited to student-athletes.

Baylor University Public Infractions Decision:

Clemson Quarterback Signs First-of-its-kind Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) Deal

Quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has landed a spot in Dr. Pepper's Fansville campaign. The company is the first household brand to partner with a major college football player.

High School Football Stars Looking to Profit from NIL Deals

High school athletes are seeking their own deals since college stars began profiting from their NIL. The article profiles several high school athletes who have signed with management and marketing companies to secure endorsement deals.

How Facebook Failed to Stem Racist Abuse of England's Soccer Team

The article describes a meeting between Facebook and the organizing bodies of English soccer to try to stem racist abuse toward soccer players on the platform. The outcome was an athlete safety guide provided by Facebook that showed players how to shield themselves from abuse on the network, which put the onus on players to protect themselves online.

Facing Outrage Over Bikini Rule, Handball Federation Signals Change is Likely

The International Handball Federation (IHF) signaled that new rules around dress code were very likely to be established. This came after Norway's women's beach handball team was fined for wearing shorts instead of bikini bottoms, as the IHF requires.


Google Infringed on Sonos' Patents

In a preliminary ruling this week, a U.S. International Trade Commission judge found that Google had infringed on five patents relating to smart speakers. Sonos sued Google in 2020, alleging that it "stole technology it had access to as part of a partnership between the two companies" and "used that tech in its own products." Sonos is asking for a sales ban on Google hardware like Nest Hubs, Chromecasts, and Pixel phones.

Watchdog to Scrutinize Fox News Host's Claim That the National Security Agency Spied on Him

The office of the National Security Agency's (NSA) inspector general will investigate Tucker Carlson's claims that the agency monitored his electronic communications with foreign officials and planned to leak them so as to undermine his show and force him off the air. While denying the allegation, the NSA's rare public statement on the issue "left open the possibility that the agency may have incidentally swept up some communications of or about Carlson as it conducted surveillance of foreigners for intelligence purposes, without intentionally targeting him."

Pro-Trump Media Outlets Sued for Defamation

The article argues that a wave of defamation lawsuits by election technology companies have curbed "the flow of misinformation in right-wing media," pointing to the recent cancellation of Lou Dobbs' show and the appearance of "fact-checking segments to debunk anchors' false claims about electoral fraud."

Google to Increase Privacy for Teenagers on Search Engine and YouTube

The company plans to add additional privacy measures, including turning off location history, making videos uploaded by teenagers private by default, and allowing users to designate who can see their content.

Chris Cuomo Said to Have Counseled Brother to Resign

Chris Cuomo is said to have advised his brother to resign, even as CNN barred its host "from engaging in strategy sessions with the governor's aides."

Russia Will Expel BBC Journalist Based in Moscow

The New York Times describes the move as part of "an escalating confrontation with the Western news media and a crackdown on domestic dissent." Russia says it is a "symmetric response" to discrimination by Britain against Russian reporters working for RT and Sputnik.

Mexico's President Defends News Anchor After Cartel Threat

President Obrador defended news anchor Azucena Uresti after she received a death threat for her critical coverage of a drug cartel.

Alibaba Fires Employee After Rape Accusation

The company's chief executive announced that a male employee will be fired after a woman "published an essay on the company's internal website" alleging rape by her boss. Two senior managers have also resigned "for failing to respond appropriately" to the woman's disclosure.

General News

Senate Passes $3.5 Trillion Budget Plan in Expansion of Social Safety Net

The plan would fund health care, child care, family leave, and public education expansion and is funded by tax increases on the wealth and corporations.

Supreme Court Blocks Part of New York's Eviction Moratorium

The Court's order applied only to a provision that barred evictions of tenants that filed a form declaring economic hardship due to the pandemic (therefore, not impacting those that provide evidence in court). There are still other state and federal protections in place that could protect these tenants, including the CDC eviction moratorium that covers most of New York.

Judge Permits Biden's Replacement Evictions Ban to Stay in Place

A federal judge of the District of Columbia said she lacked authority to block Biden's emergency policy, which "replaced an expired, nationwide moratorium" imposed in September 2020. The new federal ban on evictions is narrower in that it applies only where transmission rates are high.

Supreme Court Won't Block Indiana University's Vaccine Mandate

The lawsuit was brought by eight students who said that the university's requirement that all students be vaccinated violated their constitutional rights to "bodily integrity, autonomy and medical choice." In ruling on the emergency application, Justice Amy Coney Barrett turned down the request for emergency relief without comment.

Filing Says Biden Administration Violating Decree on Migrant Children

The Biden administration is being accused of violating the Flores settlement that requires certain protections for migrant children in government custody. The plaintiffs described deplorable conditions at two Texas emergency shelters that house children caught crossing the border.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Resigns

Governor Cuomo's resignation comes a week after a report from the New York State attorney general concluded that he sexually harassed nearly a dozen women, including current and former government workers, by engaging in unwanted touching and making inappropriate comments.

Cuomo Will No Longer Face Impeachment

Speaker Carl Heastie said that the New York State Assembly would suspend its impeachment investigation of Governor Cuomo given his resignation earlier this week. Heastie also took the position that lawmakers no longer have the constitutional authority to impeach a governor when the latter is are no longer in power.

Kathy Hochul to Become New York's First Female Governor

Lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul will be sworn in when Governor Cuomo leaves office. In her first public remarks, Hochul vowed to transform the workplace culture in the governor's office, including by ousting staffers who acted unethically. Hochul grew up in a town outside Buffalo and is a graduate of Syracuse University and Catholic University of America. She served in the House of Representatives in 2011-2012 and was Cuomo's running mate in 2014.

Prominent Lawyer with Ties to Governor Cuomo Resigns from Time's Up

Roberta Kaplan, the "chairwoman of Time's Up and the co-founder of its legal defense fund" has resigned after a report found her to be "involved in an effort to discredit one of Cuomo's alleged victims."

Cuomo Aide Who Accused Him of Groping Comes Forward

The woman who filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo spoke publicly for the first time this week, rebutting Cuomo's "claims that she initiated or welcomed physical contact between them." Brittany Commisso maintains that Cuomo groped her and grabbed her breast last year.

U.S. Grew More Diverse Over Past Decade

The census shows sharp population growth of multicultural Americans, with a rise in Hispanic and Asian population.

Afghan President Flees Country; U.S. Sends 3,000 Troops Back to Afghanistan to Aid Evacuation

In a sharply deteriorating situation, Taliban forces entered Kabul and President Ghani relinquished power to an interim government led by a Taliban commander. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is moving 3,000 Marines and soldiers to Afghanistan and another 4,000 tops to the region to evacuate most of the American Embassy and U.S. citizens in Kabul.

UN Climate Report Says a Hotter Future is Now Inevitable

The report finds that some of the devastating impacts of global warming, like blistering heat waves and wildfires, are now inevitable, and there is a small window to prevent the most serious consequences.

Capitol Riot Defendants and the Constitutional Right to Speedy Trials

Individuals arrested on January 6th charges are sitting in jail as prosecutors continue to gather evidence in the cases, with the amount of discovery material only growing as time passes. "Several judges have questioned prosecutors about speedy trial concerns" and warned of consequences if delays persist.

Jeffrey Epstein Victims Fund Paid Out $121 Million

The fund's administrator confirmed that more than 135 people have received compensation from the restitution fund. They include individuals who had reached settlements with Epstein after his 2008 conviction for soliciting prostitution from an underage girl.

Epstein Accuser Files Lawsuit Accusing Prince Andrew of Rape

Virginia Giuffre alleges that Prince Andrew sexually abused her when she was a teenager. Giuffre has maintained that Epstein offered her to Prince Andrew for sex multiple times. She is asking for damages to be determined by the court.

Coronavirus Update

Virus Cases in U.S. Hit Highest Level Since February

CDC Urges Pregnant Women to Take COVID-19 Vaccine

Ohio Judges Ordering Vaccination as Part of Probation

At least two Ohio judges have attached vaccination conditions for those released on probation, with some facing jail time if they do not comply within a certain amount of time. There is anecdotal evidence that judges in other states are setting similar conditions.

California Requires Teachers to be Vaccinated or Tested

Facebook Removes Russian-Based Vaccine Misinformation Network

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Ariana Sarfarazi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Second Circuit Decision in Shull v. Sorkin

The Second Circuit has affirmed the district court's grant of defendants' motion to dismiss copyright claims that had alleged that the show "Billions" infringed Plaintiff's book and character. The Plaintiff, well-known performance coach and psychological expert on human decision-making, Denise K. Shull, brought suit against Showtime, the network's corporate parent CBS, "Billions" creators Brian Koppelman, David Levien, and Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Showtime executive David Neviens, alleging copyright infringement and claiming that the show is an unauthorized derivative work based on key elements of her 2012 book, Market Mind Games. Shull further alleged that the show's portrayal of the character Dr. Wendy Rhoades is substantially similar in manner as Shull portrays the fictional characterization of herself in her book. The Second Circuit found that the district court properly concluded that "Billions" and Market Mind Games are not substantially similar because the plot of the book is wholly dissimilar to that of "Billions", the total concept and feel of Market Mind Games are quite different from "Billions", and that other aspects of the character, namely the gender and occupation, are generalized and non-protectible. The Second Circuit further found that any copying between the two works is de minimis, and that any stock similarities between Dr. Rhoades and the fictional version of Shull cannot support a plausible infringement claim.

Shull v Sorkin.pdf

Weinstein Sent to California to Face Sex Crime Charges

Authorities transported Harvey Weinstein, disgraced movie producer, from prison in Erie County, New York to Los Angeles where he will stand trial again for several counts of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and other sex crimes, in incidents involving five different women that took place between 2004 and 2013. Weinstein was previously sentenced to 23 years in prison in New York after more than 90 women have accused him of misconduct or assault. If convicted again in Los Angeles, he would serve the sentence in California after completing his prison term in New York.

California Sues Activision, Citing 'Frat Boy' Work Culture

The State of California has sued Activision Blizzard, a video game maker that produces the game "Call of Duty", over claims of sexual harassment and discrimination. After a two-year investigation, the State claims that Activision has fostered a "frat boy work culture" where executives sexually harass women, male employees openly joke about rape, and where male employees openly drink alcohol while engaging in inappropriate behavior toward women. The lawsuit alleges that, in addition to being subject to sexual harassment and needing to continually fend off unwanted sexual advances by male co-workers, women at the company were also routinely paid less than men for similar work and were less likely to be promoted.

Hollywood Studios Can Require Vaccines for Everyone on Set

Hollywood's major unions have agreed to a short-term plan that allows studios to require everyone a production set to be vaccinated. The agreement will be in effect through the end of September and will allow studios to relax pandemic protocols on production sets, even as the Delta variant climbs and Los Angeles increases safety measures, such as by decreasing the rate of regular coronavirus testing and loosening mask mandates in outdoor settings.

Testing Britney Spears: Restoring Rights Can Be Rare

After 13 years, Britney Spears has asked to be released from her California conservatorship without undergoing a psychological evaluation, which experts say is unlikely to be granted, because mental health assessments generally serve as the key piece of evidence that a judge considers in deciding whether to restore independence. As the evaluation process to determine whether an individual subject to the conservatorship has "restored to capacity" is often convoluted and sometimes subjective, exits from conservatorships are extremely rare. Key evaluation criteria, such as what constitutes "capacity", who performs the psychological assessment, who chooses the evaluator, impacts of a mental health diagnosis, whether a judge must accept the evaluator's findings, the legal standard a judge applies to reach a decision, and whether a less restrictive approach than a conservatorship will be considered all vary across states.

Judge Orders Leader of Cultlike Group to Pay $3.4 Million to His Victims

A federal judge has ordered Keith Raniere, the leader of the cultlike group Nxivm, to pay $3.4 million in compensation to 21 victims. This restitution includes payments to remove brandings of Raniere's initials that were seared into some women's skin and intended to serve as permanent pledges of loyalty to Nxivm and a secret sect within it called the Vow, or D.O.S. Raniere was convicted in 2019 of sex trafficking and racketeering after ordering D.O.S. members known as "slaves" to perform sexual acts on other members of the cult, and was sentenced to 120 years in prison.

One of China's Big Stars Faces #MeToo Trouble and Brands are Fleeing

At least 11 companies, including the luxury brands Louis Vuitton, Bulgari, and Porsche, have suspended or terminated contracts with Chinese-Canadian singer Kris Wu after an 18-year-old has accused him of targeting and pressuring her for sex. Wu, who rose to fame as a member of the K-pop band EXO and who has a huge following on social media, is accused of targeting young women by inviting them to his house to assist with their career aspirations, then pressuring them to drink cocktails until unconscious and having sex with him. Wu has denied all allegations and has threatened to sue the accuser, a University student in Beijing, for defamation.


Initiatives for Disabled Artists Is Expanded

The Ford and Mellon Foundations are expanding the Disability Futures Initiative, a fellowship established last fall to support disabled artists, and the foundations will now commit an additional $5 million to support the initiative through 2025, which will support two additional cohorts of 20 fellows. The fellowship is an 18-month initiative that will provide 20 disabled artists, filmmakers, and journalists selected from the across the United States with $50,000 grants.

Rules for Audiences Can Spin Heads

In New York City, different venues have taken different approaches to balancing lingering coronavirus concerns with business plans for reopening, leading to a confusing and frustrating summer for consumers where vaccination and mask requirements all vary by venue. Although the State of New York does not mandate that a venue check a person's vaccination status, both large and intimate venues, such as Madison Square Garden, Radio City, Little Island, and Feinstein's/54 Below have taken this approach. Other venues, such as The Public Theater, have arranged for both full capacity/vaccinated and socially distanced sections. For other venues where proof of vaccination is not required, unvaccinated patrons must show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test and must wear masks. Rules are subject to change as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Klan Bust at Tennessee Capitol Removed

The bust of a Nathan Bedford Forrest, a slave trader, Confederate general, and early Ku Klux Klan leader, and two U.S. Navy admirals were moved from the Tennessee Capitol and installed at the Tennessee State Museum. The move comes after the Tennessee State Building Commission voted in favor of relocating the busts after years of protests, and the removal of the two admirals was intended to avoid singling out the Confederate general.

The Complex Reality of Virtual Art

British artist Damien Hirst's use of NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, which rely on blockchain technology to designate an official copy of a piece of digital media that would otherwise be cheap or free, raises questions about the risks and rewards of investing in digital art forms. For Damien's works, after a certain period of time, collectors of the NFTs will be required to decide whether to keep the NFT or the physical painting and whichever they don't choose will be destroyed. This new practice raises the question of whether it is better to keep the NFT or the physical artwork and which will be a more valuable investment. Investors of NFTs therefore need to understand the substantial risks of investing in the new art form.

Asians in Music: Heard, but Not Seen?

Despite the fact that artists of Chinese, Japanese, South Korean, and other Asian descent are well represented in classical music (with Asian musicians making up the majority of many orchestras and conservatories in the world), and despite the world-wide success of many Asian star musicians, such as cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Midori, and pianist Lang Lang, many Asian musicians face routine racism and discrimination in the industry. Stereotypes of Asian musicians as foreign, soulless, and mechanical are deep-rooted in classical music, many musicians are targets of harassment and racial tropes and slurs, and several describe losing career opportunities because they are not "white enough". While some Asian musicians say that they have rarely experienced overt racism, they nevertheless express feeling like an outsider in their own industry and have begun speaking out for change by speaking with leaders of cultural institutions, forming their own alliances of Asian artists, and taking to social media to challenge continued stereotypes.

Actors' Equity Expands Eligibility for Membership in Diversity and Inclusion Effort

Actors' Equity Association, the labor union for actors and stage managers, is expanding its membership to include any actor or stage manager who can demonstrate they have worked professionally in the United States. Under this new "Open Access" policy, union membership will no longer be limited to working for an Equity employer or to members of a sibling union. By expanding membership, this new policy is considered by the Union to be a pillar of its diversity and inclusion efforts. According to Equity, because the entertainment industry is disproportionately white, previously requirements for Equity membership contributed to the systemic inclusion exclusion of BIPOC artists by maintaining a system whereby mostly-white theatrical employers were effectively the gatekeepers of Equity membership.

U.S. Moves to Return Relic Said to Be Stolen From Cambodia

U.S. prosecutors in Manhattan are planning to return to Cambodia a 10th-century Khmer sacred sandstone statue known as "Skanda on a Peacock", said to have been plundered and sold by a collector who was accused of trafficking in stolen artifacts. The statute was taken in 1997 from an ancient Khmer temple and later sold to collector Douglas A.J. Latchford, who in 2019 was indicted on charges that included smuggling and conspiracy related to a scheme to sell looted Cambodian antiquities. Latchford has since died and his daughter has turned over her father's holdings of Khmer antiquities, valued by some at more than $50 million, to Cambodia. An unnamed person who inherited the statue has also voluntarily relinquished any claim to it.

Hitting Some Sour Notes with Brexit

With the U.K.'s exit from the European Union last year, touring Europe is now extremely complicated for U.K. bands and musicians, who now not only have to apply for visas, but must now also learn complicated new rules around trucking and exporting merchandise. For example, new rules mean that a British tour van carrying audio and lighting equipment or merchandise can only make three stops in Mainland Europe before it must return home. The new rules, which stem from a trade deal between the European Union and the British Government, are frustrating U.K. musicians and a new campaign know as Let the Music Move has been launched for the British government to compensate artists for the new extra costs and to renegotiate the tour rules.

Webber Delays 'Cinderella' Musical

Andrew Lloyd Webber has delayed the opening for his much-anticipated "Cinderella" musical, which was slated to open in London's West End this month, after a cast member tested positive for the coronavirus. Webber has been actively campaigning against Britain's coronavirus restrictions, such as only permitting theaters to seat audiences at 50% capacity, and requiring shows to cancel performances if one member of the cast came into contact with someone who tested positive. Webber subsequently announced that the production will not resume performances on August 18th.

Hong Kong Police Arrest Five Over Children's Books

Hong Kong police have arrested five members of a speech therapists' union for publishing a children's book, which police claim instills the hatred of the government in children. The book tells the story of fluffy white sheep who were constantly harassed by wolves, who tore down their houses, ate their food, and even spread poison gas, which led 12 sheep trying to defend their village to flee by boat before being captured and sent to prison. Hong Kong authorities say the sheep represent 12 activists who were arrested at sea while trying to escape to Taiwan and the wolves are the Hong Kong police. The move comes as Hong Kong authorities continue to crack down on political speech and stamp out dissent expressed during 2019 mass protests.


Michigan Football Players Are First to Monetize from Jersey Sales

Football players for the University of Michigan are now able to profit for their names, images, and likenesses when jerseys bearing their names are sold by The M Den, an officially licensed University of Michigan retailer with a big collection of merchandise. Michigan football players are the first in the nation to monetize off jersey sales pursuant to a direct agreement between The M Den and the players themselves (not the University of Michigan).

Federal Judge Dismisses Relevant Sports' Antitrust Claim vs. U.S. Soccer

A federal judge in Miami has dismissed an antitrust claim by Relevant Sports, a soccer match promoter, against the U.S. Soccer Federation for failing to sanction a proposed Spanish league match between Barcelona and Girona in Miami Gardens, Florida. The Court ordered Relevant to submit the dispute to the FIFA players' status committee for arbitration to resolve the matter, add FIFA to the lawsuit, or show that the court has jurisdiction over FIFA when the soccer's governing body is not a party to the suit.

National Football League Puts Stiff Penalties in Place for Unvaccinated, Jolting Teams

Although the National Football League (NFL) has stopped short of requiring that its players and other team personnel receive Covid-19 vaccinations, a new memo from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell details drastic penalties for team with unvaccinated personnel, stating that outbreaks traced to an unvaccinated player or staff member could warrant a game forfeiture for their team if a game cannot be rescheduled, which could result in players' not being paid. Additionally, if an unvaccinated player or staff member is shown to have caused an outbreak that forces a schedule change, the team experiencing the outbreak will be held financially responsible for the other team's expenses. If an outbreak occurs among vaccinated individuals in a "breakthrough" infection, the NFL will minimize and competitive and fiscal disruption for both teams. While the memo does not mandate vaccination, the NFL,for all intents and purposes, is requiring vaccinations for teams or risk significant penalty, and notable NFL players have publicly expressed their opposition to vaccination mandates. Additionally, unvaccinated players still face several restrictions, including daily testing, capacity limitations in weight rooms, and a requirement to travel on a separate plane.

Former Seton Hall Hoops Star Myles Powell Sues School, Says Staff Misled Him About Injury

Myles Powell, a former Seton Hall men's basketball star, is suing the university, claiming that his coach and the team's medical expert allowed him to play on a serious injury, a torn meniscus in his right knee, therefore worsening his condition and dashing his hopes of a National Basketball Association (NBA) career. Powell claims that he was told his injury is minor, but argues that such an injury should have kept him out for the remainder of the season to avoid exacerbating the injury.

New Law Allows Sports Uniform Modifications for Religious and Cultural Reasons

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a bill into law that allows high school-level student athletes to make their athletic uniforms more modest for religious and cultural reasons. The new law allows student athletes to consult with their school boards rather than having to file a complaint with the Illinois High School Association, which governs sports in the state.

Suffering After Delay of Olympics, Dentsu Faces Another Test

Dentsu, an advertising giant in Japan and the Games' exclusive advertising partner, stood to be Japan's biggest winner of the Games but expectations have fallen short as numerous advertising campaigns and promotional events have been cancelled or pared down as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Many of Dentsu's clients, including top-sponsor Toyota, have pulled ads in Japan for fear of backlash against them as 80% of the Japanese public opposes holding the Olympics amid a state of emergency in Tokyo.

Norwegian Handball Players Reject Bikini Bottoms, and Are Fined for It

Norway's women's beach handball team was fined by the European Handball Federation, with each player fined 150 euros, for wearing shorts rather than the mandatory bikini bottoms. The Norwegian Handball Federation, which has repeatedly complained about the bikini bottom requirement since 2006, will pay the fines. The International Handball Federation requires women to wear bikini bottoms, while men can wear shorts. Norway's team had been planning for weeks to wear shorts citing an unfair double standard, and according to the International Handball Foundation, the Norwegian team is the only team that has complained about the uniforms.

Olympians Take a Knee Against Racism, Under New Policy Allowing Protests

Players on the British women's soccer team took a knee on the first day of competition at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in protest against discrimination and racism, and their opponents from Chile joined them. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) previously eased its rules on "athlete expression", and under the new guidelines, athletes in Tokyo can take a knew or perform similar gestures as long as their actions do not target specific people or countries and are not disruptive.

Brisbane Wins Right to Host 2032 Olympic Games

Bristbane, Australia has been chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2032. Brisbane previously bid to host the 1992 Olympics, but lost to Barcelona. Australia has previously hosted the Olympics twice before - in Melbourne in 1956 and Sydney in 2000 --- and will become the first country after the United States to have hosted the Games in three different cities. Hosting the games in Brisbane is expected to cost $5 billion.

Tokyo Games Boasts Gender Participation for First Time

The IOC has added 18 new events to the Tokyo Games in a push towards gender equality for the first time in the history of the Games. There are now an equal number of men and women for every sport, excluding baseball and softball, because of differing roster sizes.

Games Strive for Gender Equity, But Equality Still Seems Far Off

As the Olympic Games nears gender parity for the first time ever in its history, a series of gaffes by IOC officials and persistent gaps in the makeup of the IOC reveal that the Games are not yet so gender equal. While almost 49% of the nearly 11,000 athletes competing in Tokyo are women, only 33.3% of the IOC's executive board and only 37.5% of the IOC's committee members are women. Additionally, IOC executives have wrestled with gender-related blunders, such as when the IOC vice president essentially ordered the premier of Queensland, Australia to attend the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games after she said she would not attend; the president of the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee was replaced after he publicly suggested that women speak too much in meetings; and the creative director for the opening ceremony stepped down after he called a plus-size fashion designer a "pig". Further, Olympic athletes who are new mothers have also complained about Covid-related restrictions in Tokyo that have prohibited them from bringing their young nursing babies to the Games, but the IOC reversed its decision in June, thereby allowing mothers to bring their infants.

Tokyo Olympics Open at Last, with Somber Air and No Fans

The Opening Ceremony of the 32nd Summer Olympics took place with no fans and virtually no cheering audience, with fewer than 1,000 dignitaries and invited guests attending in a stadium built to seat 68,000. The Ceremony marked the official start of the Olympics, with more than 11,000 athletes from 205 countries expected to participate in 33 sports over the next two weeks in Tokyo, an event that is widely opposed by the Japanese public.

Top Director of Ceremony Fired for Skit on Holocaust

The day before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Games, organizers of the Games dismissed the creative director of the ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, after video footage emerged of him making fun of the Holocaust in a comedic act in the 1990s where he joked about "massacring Jews". Kobayashi, who has since apologized for the routine, is the fourth major creative to be dismissed or forced to resign from the Games because of offensive remarks. Keigo Oyamada, a composer who wrote music for the opening ceremony, resigned this week after footage of him confessing to severe bullying and abuse of disabled classmates from the 1990s surfaced on social media. In March, Hiroshi Sasaki, the previous creative director of the opening ceremony, stepped down from his role after a magazine revealed that he called a popular comedian and plus-size fashion designer a "pig". Additionally, Yoshiro Mori, the former president of the Tokyo organizing committee, resigned earlier this year after making sexist comments about women.

A Trump-Like Quandary Over Racism and Sports Roils Johnson in Britain

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under fire for failing to condemn crowds who booed England's national soccer team for kneeling to protest racial injustice during the European Championship. Political experts say there are alarming parallels between Britain and the United States, including both countries seeing the rise of a conservative populist leader refusing to defend the free speech rights of national sports teams (with former President Donald Trump speaking out against NFL players taking a knee in the United States).


Justice Department Outlines New Limits on Seizures of Reporters' Records

U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland has issued a broad ban on federal prosecutors using subpoenas, warrants, or court orders to seize reporters' records from their employers or from communications firms in an effort to uncover their confidential sources in leak investigations. By issuing this new practice, "the Department of Justice will no longer use compulsory legal process for the purpose of obtaining information from or records of members of the news media acting within the scope of news-gathering activities." However, certain exceptions apply, such as if a reporter is under investigation for an unrelated crime; if a reporter is suspected of committing a crime like "breaking and entering" to gather information; if the department is seeking to authenticate already published information -- a situation that arises sometimes in television news broadcasts of footage that can be evidence of a crime; or if reporters themselves have been deemed to be agents of foreign power or members of foreign terrorist groups.

U.S. and Key Allies Accuse China in String of Global Cyberattacks

The Biden Administration has accused the Chinese government of breaching Microsoft email systems used around the world, in the process detailing the relationship between Chinese intelligence and criminal hacking groups that operate from Chinese territory, and has organized a broad coalition of nations, including the European Union and all NATO members, to condemn the cyberattacks. However, the U.S.-led coalition has stopped short of taking concrete steps to punish China. The U.S. has criminally charged individual Chinese hackers for the attacks but has not yet issued sanctions or taken diplomatic action against China because of China's ability to retaliate.

How China Turned Into Cyber Threat To America

China, which has long been one of the biggest digital threats to the United States, was once condemned by the United States for online espionage, the bulk of which was conducted by the People's Liberation Army using low-level phishing emails against American companies to steal intellectual property. China has since, however, transformed into a mature digital adversary, with attacks now carried out by an elite satellite network of contractors at front companies and universities that work at the direction of China's Ministry of State Security. Now, in addition to phishing attacks, the espionage attacks employ sophisticated techniques like exploiting security holes in Microsoft's Exchange email servers and VPN security devices, which are harder to defend against, and that allow Chinese hackers to remain undetected for longer periods of time.

U.S. Details China's Role in Hacking of Pipelines

The United States claims that China has issued numerous state-sponsored cyberattacks that have breached dozens of oil and gas pipeline companies in the past decade and is warning pipeline owners to increase the security of their systems to protect against future attacks on U.S. pipeline infrastructure. This warning comes as the federal government tries to revitalize the pipeline industry after a Russian-based ransomware group attacked the business operations and forced the shutdown of a pipeline network that provides nearly half of the oil and gas supply to the East Coast thereby causing long gas lines and shortages.

Reporter Sues Washington Post, Claiming Discrimination

Felicia Sonmez, a Washington Post reporter covering breaking political news, has filed a $2 million discrimination suit against the newspaper and some of its top high-level editors, claiming that they discriminated against her by barring her from covering stories regarding sexual assault after she herself went public as a victim of assault. The lawsuit argues that she had been subjected to a hostile work environment after she publicly stated that she was assaulted by a fellow journalist while living in Beijing, with editors retaliating against her by banning her from covering sexual-assault related stories, such as Christine Blaséy Ford's sexual misconduct allegations against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh. She also alleges that the newspaper suspended her after she tweeted a link to a news article detailing sexual assault allegations against Kobe Bryant shortly after his death and failed to provide her with security after she was inundated with rape and death threats.

Twitter Penalizes Lawmakers for Virus Inadequacies

Twitter suspended Republican lawmaker Marjorie Taylor Greene for 12 hours for posting coronavirus misinformation, which violates Twitter's policy against sharing misleading information about the coronavirus. Greene had tweeted that Covid-19 was not dangerous for people unless they were obese or over age 65 and said vaccines should not be required. As the White House has called on social media to do more to combat the spread of misinformation on their platforms, Greene claimed that Big Tech companies are working with the White House to attack free speech and to restrict any message that is not "state-approved."

New Plea to Vaccinate on Fox News

After months of relaying to viewers that Covid-19 vaccines are dangerous and that Americans are justified in refusing them, Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Steve Doocy are now encouraging viewers to get the Covid-19 vaccine as the Delta variant spreads. It is not immediately clear what has prompted the change in messaging, and although the White House has expressed concern over Fox News's messaging, there have been no high-level conversations between Fox News Media and the White House regarding its coverage.

Fourth Arrest in Hack of Twitter That Led to Short Shutdown

A 22-year old British man was arrested in Spain in connection with the hacking of more than 100 Twitter accounts in July 2020, which led to a temporary shutdown of the social media service, as well as cyberattacks on popular TikTok and Snapchat accounts. The arrestee is the fourth individual charged in the Twitter hack and faces charges in the United States of hacking, extortion, and cyberstalking. A group of hackers is accused of breaking into Twitter's systems by tricking employees into providing login information and using an administrative tool to take over the accounts belonging to key political figures and celebrities including former President Barack Obama, Kanye West, and Elon Musk, and using the accounts to conduct a Bitcoin scam.

National Basketball Association Studio Host at the Center of Interoffice Friction is Leaving ESPN

Maria Taylor, a popular studio host and ESPN reporter, has left ESPN after disparaging remarks were made about her by a colleague became public. In a conversation that ESPN reporter Rachel Nichols did not know was being recorded, Nicholas (who is white) said that Taylor (who is Black) got the role of hosting the NBA finals instead of her because ESPN executives were "feeling pressure" on diversity. Taylor's departure from ESPN was expected after a year of internal tension boiling among ESPN employees who cover the NBA, who grew frustrated by ESPN's handling of the situation. Many ESPN employees believed that the network was protecting Nicholas after ESPN took considerable time to respond internally to the controversy, though the network did eventually pull Nicholas from her duties as the NBA Finals' sideline reporter and issued a memo that Taylor was selected to host "NBA Countdown" for the finals on merit alone. Taylor's move comes after her contract with ESPN expired, and ESPN executives were unable to work out a deal for Taylor to stay with the company.

The Contest Over Our Data After We Die

Recent use of Anthony Bourdain's digitally regenerated voice in a new documentary about his life is the latest example of a celebrity being digitally reincarnated. In recent years, we have seen numerous people digitally resurrected as 2-D projections, 3-D holograms, C.G.I. renderings, and A.I. chat bots. We have also seen other more affordable forms of digital reincarnation, such as the animation of family photos of relatives long dead, and creation of other deepfakes. Uses of such forms of digital reincarnation has sparked debate about what should happen to someone's personal data when they die and raises important questions like who does our personal data (such as social media posts) belong to after we die? Further, does digital reincarnation of a deceased celebrity or public figure violate their posthumous right to privacy? While U.S. law does not currently recognize the deceased's right to privacy, we are starting to see people attempting to assert agency over their digital legacies, and such technology is opening doors for us to consider these ethical questions through a new lens.

Over $1 Billion in Ads on the Line in the Olympics

The Olympics have long been an ideal forum for companies to promote themselves, but this year advertisers are anxious about the more than $1 Billion they have collectively spent to run ads on NBC and its Peacock streaming platform after calls to cancel the Olympic Games have intensified as more athletes test positive for Covid-19. The event, which is taking place in empty arenas in the midst of a deadly pandemic, is deeply unpopular with Japanese citizens and many public health experts who fear a superspreader event, and sponsors/advertisers are concerned about public backlash. Some companies, such as Toyota, one of Japan's most influential companies, has since abandoned its plans to run Olympics-themed TV commercials in Japan for fear of backlash. In the United States, however, for companies like NBCUniversal, which has paid billions of dollars for the exclusive rights to broadcast the Olympics in the United States through 2032, marketing plans are moving ahead as usual. Although the situation is "not ideal", many companies claim that skipping that the Olympics is "not an option", given the worldwide reach of the Games.

Activist Loses Libel Case to a Refugee In the U.K.

A British far-right activist, Tommy Robinson, lost a libel case brought by a teenage refugee from Syria who was filmed being attacked at his school after Robinson falsely claimed the Syrian teen had himself violently attacked classmates. Robinson will be required to pay around $137,000 in damages and was ordered to pay the teen's legal costs. Robinson is the founder of the English Defense League, a nationalist group known for anti-Islam and anti-immigration stances, and has become a prominent figure internationally for supporters of similar fringe ideologies, including the far right in Europe and the United States.


Biden Brings in Antitrust Team to Test Titans

President Biden has assembled an aggressive antitrust team to lead the Justice Department's antitrust division, signaling the administration's willingness to clash with corporate America to promote competition across the economy. The appointments of top antitrust lawyers like Jonathan Kanter, Lina Khan, and Tim Wu demonstrates the Biden Administration's growing concern that the concentration of corporate power in technology as well as other industries, such as pharmaceuticals, agriculture, healthcare, and finance has hurt consumers and stunted economic growth and follows a recent executive order containing 72 initiatives meant to stoke competition in a variety of industries, increase scrutiny of mergers, and restrict the widespread practice of forcing workers to sign noncompete agreements.

Amazon Ends Arbitration for Customer Disputes

Amazon will no longer require customers to resolve their legal complaints against the company through a private and secretive arbitration process, but instead would have to pursue disputes with the company in federal court. Amazon has not announced its reason for dropping the arbitration requirement, but such a shift signals a significant retreat from a previous dispute resolution strategy that put consumers at a huge disadvantage and often helped the company avoid liability.

Walmart Loses Suit on Firing of Employee with Disability

A former Walmart employee who sued the company for discrimination on the basis of disability has been awarded $125 million by a jury, which will be reduced to $300,000, the maximum amount allowed under federal law for compensatory and punitive damages. The employee, who has Down Syndrome, worked at Walmart with the same routine schedule for 16 years and received raises and positive performance reviews during that time, was fired after Walmart instituted a computerized scheduling system that modified her work schedule. The abrupt change in schedule resulted in significant hardship for the employee, who thrives on routine. Walmart had refused to switch her back to her old schedule and fired her for excessive absenteeism. The jury found that Walmart failed to provide the employee with reasonable accommodation, even though she needed one because she has Down Syndrome and it would not have posed a hardship to the company.

Records Show the Summers are Hotter Than They Used to Be

The summer of 2021 is on pace to be the hottest summer on record, with summers in the Northeastern U.S. now hotter than in the deep South not so long ago. July in particular has been brutally hot in many places, with temperatures reaching 116 degrees in Oregon and 130 degrees in Death Valley, matching the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth. Numbers aside, the extreme heat is not just unpleasant but dangerous, fueling wildfires across the United States, such as the Bootleg fire in southern Oregon, which is creating its own weather system by spawning lightening and generating a fire whirl or a vortex of air and flame that looks like a fiery tornado. Climate researchers have concluded that this level of extreme heat would have been "virtually impossible without climate change."

Scientists Have Finally Filled in All the Gaps in the Human Genome

After two decades, a team of 99 scientists has deciphered the entire human genome. In the process of completing the full draft sequence, scientists have uncovered more than 100 new genes that may be functional and identified millions of genetic variations between people, which likely play a role in diseases. The project will enable scientists to explore the human genome in much greater detail, particularly given that large chunks of the genome had previously been blank but are now decipherable.

Regulators Prepare Response to Surge in Stablecoin Use

Top U.S. financial regulators have met to discuss stablecoins, asset-backed digital cryptocurrencies that derive their value from underlying currency or basket of assets and that are exploding in popularity so much so that economic officials see them as a risk to financial stability. U.S. regulators discussed the rapid growth of stablecoins, potential uses of stablecoins as a means of payment, and potential risks to end-users, the financial system, and national security. The Treasury Department plans to issue recommendations for stablecoins in the coming months.

Alzheimer Drug Approved Despite Doubts It Worked

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has greenlighted the use of Biogen's Aduhelm or aducanumab, a controversial new Alzheimer's drug and first new drug for Alzheimer's patients in 18 years, despite longstanding concerns among FDA officials that the drug doesn't actually work. Alzheimer's experts and other scientists are calling for investigations into how the agency approved the treatment with so little evidence that it actually helps patients. An investigation by the New York Times found that the process leading to the drug's approval took several unusual turns, including a decision for the FDA to work far more closely with Biogen than is typical in a regulatory review.

$26 Billion Deal Reached to Drop Opioid Lawsuits

Three major drug distributors (Cardinal health, AmerisourceBergen, and McKesson) as well as Johnson & Johnson, a pharmaceutical giant, have reached a $26 billion agreement with states that will release them from all civil liability related to the opioid epidemic. The agreement comes amidst a decades-long public health crisis that has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and lays the framework for billions of dollars to begin flowing into communities for addiction treatment, prevention services, and other expenses related to the epidemic. If the agreement is finalized, thousands of local governments and states will drop lawsuits against the companies and will pledge not to bring any future action. The distributors have been accused of turning a blind eye as pharmacies ordered millions of pills for their communities, despite being required by law to monitor quantities of prescription drug shipments. Johnson & Johnson, which supplied opioid materials to other companies and made its own fentanyl patches, is accused of downplaying the products' addictive properties to doctors and patients.

In New York, Settlement In Suit Tops $1 Billion

New York will receive more than $1 Billion as part of a pending $26 billion settlement deal intended to resolve thousands of lawsuits by states and local governments against drug companies involved in the opioid crisis. If the settlement deal is approved by enough states and municipalities, the payout to New York by drug distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., and AmerisourceBergen, as well as drug maker Johnson & Johnson will take place over the next 17 years to help communities pay for addiction prevention and treatment services to mitigate the harm caused by the opioid crisis. The settlement comes in the wake of more than 3,000 lawsuits against the pharmaceutical industry for its contribution to the epidemic and after thousands of New Yorkers have been killed by opioids in both their street and prescribed forms.

Labor Relations Board Says Inflatable Rats Are Allowed

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has ruled that unions can position large synthetic inflatable rats, used to communicate displeasure over employment practices, near a work site even when the targeted company is not directly involved in a labor dispute. While picketing companies involved in labor disputes (known as a secondary boycott) is illegal under U.S. labor law, the Board ruled that the use of oversized inflatable rats is not a picket, but rather a permissible effort to persuade bystanders, thus dismissing claims that the rat's use was illegal coercion and finding that the rat is a protected form of expression.

U.S. Drops Pursuit of the Death Penalty in Seven Cases

The Department of Justice has declined to pursue the death penalty in seven cases, signaling a shift in the federal government's use of capital punishment at the federal level. Under former President Donald Trump, federal prosecutors were previously directed to seek the death penalty in all cases in which they won convictions, and the federal government executed 13 inmates in the last six months of Trump's administration, including three in his last day, after a previous two-decade hiatus in federal executions. The Biden Administration has, however, in addition to declining to seek the death penalty in cases where it had already been authorized, announced a moratorium on federal executions and has ordered a review of the way that death sentences are carried out.

Democrats Push for Voting Rights in Georgia

Senate Democrats are pushing in Georgia for a new voting rights law, seeking to make the case for a federal elections overhaul in Congress from the example of a state at the heart of the voting rights battle. At a Georgia state hearing, state lawmakers warned the Senate Rules Committee that Georgia's new restrictive, newly enacted voting law is a deliberate attempt by Republicans to disenfranchise Black voters, cause chaos at the ballot box, and consolidate their grip on power and demanded that Congress intervene. However, Senate Republicans have blocked voting rights legislation that Senate Democrats have previously proposed at the federal level, and not only dismissed the hearing in Georgia, but even boycotted it.

Mississippi Asks Supreme Court to Reject Roe v. Wade

In its petition for review, the Mississippi Attorney General urged the Supreme Court to overturn its "egregiously wrong" decision in Roe v. Wade, to do away with the constitutional right to abortion, and to sustain the state's new law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in the fall after lower courts blocked the Mississippi statute for being squarely at odds with Supreme Court precedent. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, asks the justices to decide "whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional", and will give the expanded conservative majority on the Court the chance to confront whether the Constitution protects the right to end pregnancies.

Judge Blocks Stringent Law on Abortions In Arkansas

A federal judge has temporarily blocked Arkansas from enforcing its strict new abortion law that would ban nearly all abortions in the state except to save the life of a pregnant woman in a medical emergency, finding that the law would cause "imminent irreparable harm" to doctors and their patients. Arkansas is one of several states that have passed abortion restrictions in a challenge to the constitutional right to the procedure established in Roe v. Wade, and judges have temporarily blocked similar restrictions in Ohio, Alabama, and Texas.

Lost Lives, Lost Culture: The Brutal Legacy of Indigenous Schools

The recent discoveries of unmarked graves at government-run schools for indigenous children in Canada have led to the resurfacing of parallel memories in the United States. In the century and a half that the U.S. government ran boarding schools for Native Americans, hundreds of thousands of children were housed and educated in a network of institutions created to "civilize the savage", with at one time in the 1920s nearly 83% of Native American school-age children attending such schools. Thousands of Native American children were products of this experiment of forcibly removing children from their families and culture in order to "assimilate" them, and thousands died while attending these schools in the U.S. Survivors living today are reckoning with lost culture, since they were not even permitted to speak their language at school as children, but are now reclaiming their identities.

Struggle to Prosecute Rape Endures Despite #MeToo

Statistics and accounts from victims show that prosecutors in New York City still struggle to prove sexual assault allegations, even though the MeToo movement led to a greater awareness about the prevalence of rape, an increase in reports to the police, a new hope that people accused would be more frequently held accountable. Most NYC prosecutors' offices rejected a greater percentage of sex crime cases in 2019 than they did a decade before, and in Manhattan, prosecutors dropped 49% of sexual assault cases that same year and increase from 37% in 2017. The low prosecution rate reflects the inherent challenges of prosecuting sexual assault, often where the attacker is not a stranger, where drugs/alcohol are involved, and where they are no third-party witnesses to the event. Critics argue that the high drop rate reflects prosecutors' unwillingness to tackle these challenges, with the city's district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., who has since declined to run for re-election, facing harsh criticism over his office's handling of sex crimes.

Federal Aviation Administration Clears Path for Link From Subway to La Guardia

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved a plan by New York Governor Cuomo to build a $2.1 billion AirTran linking midtown Manhattan to La Guardia Airport in just 30 minutes, and construction on the elevated rail link could begin as early as this summer. The federal approval came over the objections of environmentalists and other elected officials, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have raised questions as to why the AirTrain was the only plan for getting travelers to and from the airport. Port Authority officials have defended the route for the AirTrain as being the least disruptive to the neighborhoods that surround the airport.

Inquiry Into Kavanaugh By FBI Draws New Ire

Nearly three years after Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh's tumultuous confirmation to the Supreme Court, the FBI has disclosed in a letter to Senate Democrats that the agency referred to White House lawyers the most "relevant" of the 4,500 tips the agency received during its investigation into Kavanaugh, but what happened to such referrals remains unclear. This disclosure has sparked concern from Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who question the thoroughness of the vetting by the Trump White House.

Republicans Boycott Riot Investigations in Clash with Pelosi

Speaker Nancy Pelosi moved to bar two Republican Representatives, who are former President Trump's most ardent loyalists and most vociferous Republican defenders in Congress, from joining a select committee to investigate the January 6 Capitol riot. In a rare move, Pelosi announced that Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana and Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, both of whom amplified Trump's false claims of election fraud, could not be trusted to participate in the investigation. The decision angered some Republican Representatives, including minority leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who claimed that the investigation was nothing more than a political exercise to hurt the GOP and has announced that Republicans will boycott the investigation panel altogether.

Suspect Tries to Compare Capitol Attack to 2020's Violence in Portland

A Dallas man charged with storming the Capitol and facing off with officers inside has raised a selective prosecution defense, claiming that he has been charged with violent crimes because of his conservative beliefs while leftist activists in Portland, Oregon had similar charges stemming from last year's violence either reduced or dismissed. The comparison between the violence in Oregon and at the Capitol has long been a staple argument among right-wing media figures and Republican politicians, but this is the first time that a federal court has been asked to consider the merits of that argument. While selective prosecution defenses rarely succeed, the government has acknowledged the unrest in Portland as "serious" but has justified its charging in the Capitol riot cases because the defendants threatened not only the safety of the Capitol, but also "democracy itself."

Man Gets Prison for Role in January 6th Riot

A Capitol rioter who was the first to be charged with a felony after breaching the Senate floor and who plead guilty to storming the Capitol on January 6 with the intention of stopping the certification of the Electoral College vote was sentenced to 8 months in federal prison. His penalty could be a guidepost for the sentences of scores of similar defendants, though this defendant in particular was a first-time offender who had pleaded guilty and was therefore given some leniency in sentencing, which may not be applicable to other defendants facing similar charges.

Bezos Reaches Space but Sees It As a Small Step

Jeff Bezos, founder and former chief executive of Amazon and the richest human in the world, briefly launched into space from West Texas in a spacecraft that was built by his own rocket company, Blue Origin. Blue Origin, which was founded by Bezos more than 20 years ago, seeks to be a leader of space travel beyond short flights for space tourists, and has already tried to win contracts for a moon lander for NASA astronauts and launching satellites for the Department of Defense on large reusable rockets. However, Blue Origin has simply failed to upend the space industry the way that Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, already has, which regularly takes NASA astronauts and cargo to the International Space Station, has already deployed more than 1500 satellites to provide internet service everywhere, and its developing a rocket called Starship for missions to Mars and elsewhere.

U.S. Accuses Trump Insider of Hidden Ties

Thomas Barrack, a top Trump fundraiser, close friend of the former president, and the chairman of Trump's inaugural committee, has been indicted on lobbying charges after failing to register as a foreign lobbyist for the United Arab Emirates (UAE), as well as other federal charges, including obstruction of justice and lying to investigators. The indictment accuses him of using his access to then-President Trump to advance foreign policy goals of the UAE, including inviting UAE officials to give him a "wish list" of foreign policy moves they wanted the U.S. to undertake, then repeatedly misleading federal agents about his activities. Barrack joins a long line of former-Trump officials and associates facing criminal charges.

Her Political Signs Offend. Is It Protected Speech?

Andrea Dick, a die-hard supporter of former President Donald J. Trump, has covered her New Jersey home in pro-Trump, anti-Biden political banners signs, some of which use the "f" word, and to which Dick's neighbors and community members object as crude. The town's mayor has received numerous complaints about the signs, and while local officials have asked Dick to take down several signs for violation of a local anti-obscenity ordinance, she refuses to on the ground of her First Amendment right of free speech. A municipal court judge has given the property owner, Dick's mother, a week to remove the banners or face fines of $250 a day, finding that free speech is not an absolute right. Dick, however, has vowed to fight it in court on free speech grounds, which some experts say Dick will likely win, given current constitutional standards.

Free Speech Is Put to the Test in South Korea

Conspiracy theories about South Korea's history are spreading online, and the South Korean government is pushing criminal penalties to crack down on "historical distortions" and misinformation, a test of the country's commitment to free speech. For example, the 1980 uprising in Gwangju known in textbooks as the "Gwangju Democratization Movement", where citizens took to the streets to protest a military dictatorship and were shot down by security forces, is being recharacterized by right-wing extremists not as a heroic sacrifice for democracy, but a "riot" instigated by North Korean communists who had infiltrated the protest movement. In response, South Korea's government has rolled out new legislation aimed at cracking down on misinformation and mandating prison sentences for people who spread "falsehoods" about historical events. Free speech advocates and conservative critics have accused the South Korean president of using censorship of history as a political weapon.

Pressed to Act, Haiti Announces New Government

Claude Joseph, the prime minister who took control of Haiti's government immediately after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise on July 7th, is stepping down in an effort to join a new unity government intended to keep Haiti stable. Ariel Henry, a neurosurgeon and politician, will be Haiti's new prime minister. Some Haitians say the move is being influenced and even directed by foreign countries, including the United States, and the move was met with anger by some Haitian activists, who lamented that the government did not consider what the people wanted before announcing itself.

Leftist Political Outsider Wins Presidency of Peru in Repudiation of Elites

Pedro Castillo, a leftist political outsider, has won the presidency in Peru by a landslide after defeating Keiko Fujimori, the daughter of a right-wing former president and towering symbol of the Peruvian elite. Castillo, the son of peasant farmers who never learned to read, burst onto Peru's national political scene as an anti-establishment candidate, despite having no political experience and never having held office, and is vowing to overhaul the political and economic systems to address poverty and inequality. Castillo will become Peru's first left-wing president in more than a generation and his election is the clearest repudiation of the country's existing establishment in 30 years. However, critics claim that Castillo is unlikely to have the support of the Peruvian Congress, military, media, and the elite in promoting his ambitious socialist reforms.


Biden Predicts FDA Will Give Final Approval for Virus Vaccines by the Fall

President Biden says that he expects the FDA to give final approval for coronavirus vaccines by the fall, which are currently authorized for emergency use. Biden also stated that he expects children younger than 12, who are not currently eligible to receive the vaccine, to be cleared for emergency use. Biden did not give any specific reasons for his statements.

Biden Advisers Expect Booster Will Be Needed

The Biden Administration expect vulnerable populations (people who are 65 and older or who have compromised immune systems) to need a third Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech booster shot after research data from Israel suggests that the vaccines, particularly Pfizer, are less effective after about six months. This statement is a sharp shift from just a few weeks prior, when the administration announced there was not enough evidence yet to back the need for boosters.

Facebook Says Biden is Scapegoating Over Vaccine Falsehoods

Facebook is pushing back after Biden officials denounced the social media giant for spreading misinformation about the Covid-19 vaccines, with President Biden himself making remarks that the social media platforms were "killing people." In a blog post, Facebook called on the administration to stop "finger-pointing" and blaming a handful of American social media companies, and argued that it has actually taken measures to contribute to vaccine acceptance among Facebook users in the United States, such as by prohibiting anti-vaccination ads and removing posts with misstatements about the vaccines.

Total Covid-19 Cases Rise to 71 at Tokyo Olympics

As of July 20, 2021, organizers of the Olympic Games in Tokyo announced that 71 people tested positive for Covid-19, including an American gymnast. Those who tested positive went into a 14-day quarantine.

Stocks Tumble as Virus Fears Revisit Wall Street

After stocks rose 14% from January through June as investors seemingly expected a smooth rebound from the Covid crisis, fear of continued crisis has again jolted financial markets amidst news of outbreaks of the highly contagious Delta variant all over the world.

Biden Legal Team Decides Inmates Must Return to Prison After Covid Emergency

The Biden Administration's legal team has decided that about 4,000 nonviolent inmates who were released to home confinement to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19 will be required to return to prison a month after the official state of emergency for the pandemic ends. The Biden Administration has based this assessment on interpretation of federal law, not policy preference. Given this announcement, to avoid returning to prison for those whose sentences last beyond the pandemic emergency period, Congress would have to enact a law to expand the Justice Department's authority to keep the inmates in home confinement beyond the emergency period, or President Biden could use his clemency powers to commute their sentences to home confinement.

Indiana University Can Require Vaccine, U.S. Judge Rules, but Appeal Is Looming

A federal judge has upheld a mandate by Indiana University requiring that students and staff members on campus be vaccinated against the coronavirus this fall, but an appeal is underway as mandates remain divisive across the country. Proponents of the mandate cite the outweighing of individual freedom by public health concerns, whereas the students challenging the mandate argue the case turns on the right to bodily integrity and autonomy. Other universities, including those in Indiana, have declined to issue mandates, but instead require that students who are not vaccinated undergo regular testing.

New York Mayor Urges Employees to Require Shots

Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging New York City's private businesses to require their workers to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, signaling that he would introduce similar measures for municipal employees. The move is a departure from previous city policy shying away from such a mandate, but reflects growing concern that New York is on the verge of another pandemic with the continued spread of the Delta variant.

Virus Surge Complicates Return-to-Office Plans

A wave of the contagious Delta variant is causing businesses to reconsider when they will require employees to return to the office, and what health requirements should be in place when they do. With the rise of the Delta variant, companies are grappling with whether to push back return-to-office dates, whether to require vaccines for all employees, and whether to require masks while indoors.

Workers at City-Run Hospitals to Need Vaccine or Test

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a new policy requiring that all employees of city-run hospitals and health clinics be vaccinated against the coronavirus or tested on a weekly basis. While 60% of the workforce has been vaccinated, nearly two million adult New Yorkers remain unvaccinated. New York City, which has been reluctant to make vaccinations mandatory for anyone, has stopped short of issuing mandates seen in other cities, like San Francisco, where all municipal employees are required to get vaccinated.

Canada Says It Will Reopen the U.S. Border

Beginning on August 9th, Canada will allow fully vaccinated travelers back into the country after over a year of strict controls at the border. Canada is permitting citizens and permanent residents of the United States to enter Canada as long as they have been fully vaccinated by approved companies (Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson) for at least 14 days before travel and provide proof of vaccination upon entry. Canada hopes to allow visitors from other countries beginning on September 7th, a date that could change depending on pandemic conditions.

India Deaths From Covid May Exceed Three Million

In a comprehensive examination of the true death toll of the pandemic in India, the Center for Global Development (CGD), a Washington research institute, estimates that the number of people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic in India so far is likely to exceed three million, nearly 10 times the official Covid-19 death toll. CGD attempted to quantify excess deaths from all causes during the pandemic based on state data, international estimates, serological studies, and household surveys. Experts have long expressed concerns that the Indian government is widely underreporting the death toll, and official government numbers have been called into question repeatedly.

Italy Orders Proof of Vaccination or Negative Test to Go Out

The Italian government has announced that will require people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to participate in social activities, including indoor dining, visiting museums, and attending shows. The move comes after a similar announcement was made by the French government. The expanded use of Italy's "health pass", which Italian authorities refer to as the "green certification" is meant to encourage further vaccination and to combat the spread of the Delta variant.

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Ariana Sarfarazi
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Brooks v Dash

The Second Circuit has ruled that music mogul Damon Dash must pay damages to author E.W. Brooks for copyright infringement after Dash marketed and sold "Mafietta", a film about Brooks's female crime boss character, without her consent. In Brooks v. Dash, the Second Circuit affirmed the District Court's finding in favor of Brooks, ordered Dash to pay $300,000 in damages, and enjoined Dash from marketing, advertising, promoting, distributing, selling, or copying the film without Brooks's consent. Dash defended the copyright infringement suit by arguing that the film was a "joint work", meaning that he as "co-author" co-owned the copyright to the film that thus could not be liable for copyright infringement. Under federal copyright law, however, a co-authorship claimant must show that each of the co-authors fully intended to be co-authors. In this case, the District Court found, and the Second Circuit affirmed, that Brooks did not intend to be co-authors because (1) Dash was employed under the doctrine of work for hire to provide directing and marketing services for the film in return for a royalty of 50% and (2) because Brooks, as producer, retained the right to make all final decisions with respect to the film and its release. The Second Circuit also rejected Dash's argument on appeal that the parties orally agreed to a 50/50 split in ownership, finding that Dash's substantial contributions to the film did not evince a mutual intent of co-authorship, but rather reflected the provision of services for which Brooks offered to split the film's profits 50/50 with Dash. As to damages, the Second Circuit rejected Dash's argument that the District Court's award of $300,000 in damages was clearly erroneous, finding that when courts are confronted with imprecision in calculating damages, they "should err on the side of guaranteeing the plaintiff a full recovery."

Brooks v Dash.pdf

Spears's Lawyer Asks to Step Down from Court-Appointed Role

Samuel D. Ingham III, a veteran of the California probate system who has represented Britney Spears for 13 years, has asked the court to resign after Spears called the conservatorship "abusive" at a hearing last month. Ingham was assigned to represent Spears in 2008, when a Los Angeles court granted conservatorship powers to her father and an estate lawyer amid concerns about her mental health and substance abuse. At a June 23rd hearing, Spears told the court that she had been forced to perform, take debilitating medication and remain on birth control, and also testified that she had been unaware of how to terminate the conservatorship arrangement (claiming that Ingham told her to keep her concerns about the conservatorship to herself) and that she wishes to hire a lawyer of her own. In his request to resign, Ingham asked the court to assign a new lawyer to Spears, but did not elaborate on his reasons for withdrawing from the case.

Spears's Case Calls Attention to Wider Questions on Guardianship

Recent revelations to the public about Britney Spears's wish to end the California conservatorship that has bound her decision-making and finances since 2008 has drawn attention to the legal mechanisms that are intended to support those with severe disabilities and who are incapacitated and incapable of making their own decisions. Under guardianships or conservatorships, which affect about 1.3 million people in America, those subject to them often lose control over their finances as well as other aspects of their lives, such as the right to marry, vote, drive, or seek and retain unemployment. Advocates for people with disabilities, however, say that guardianships have been used too broadly for those with disabilities who do not require such intense or continuous oversight, and are imposed without considering other options, such as supported decision-making or appointing a power of attorney. Once established, guardianships are often permanent, or at the very least are very difficult to undo despite state requirements that guardianships be reviewed annually, because the mechanisms that judges rely upon to determine whether an individual should be placed in a guardianship (IQ tests, psychological evaluations or medical evaluations) are inherently flawed measurements of decision-making capability.

"Bachelor" Starts Received Pandemic Loans

Several former cast members of "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" have come under public scrutiny, with the public questioning why they received government loans during the Covid-19 pandemic. Several of the franchise's cast members were able to receive loans through the Paycheck Protection Program through their sole proprietorships (companies that employ no one other than the business's owner) after the Biden administration relaxed the requirement that sole proprietorships be profitable in order to qualify for the loan.


The Metropolitan Opera's Stagehands Settle on a Deal

The Metropolitan Opera (Met) has reached a tentative agreement for a new contract with Local One of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the union that represents its stagehands, therefore increasing the likelihood that the company will reopen in September after its longest-ever shutdown. The deal, the details of which have not been made public, comes after the Met's roughly 300 stagehands had been locked out last year due to a disagreement over how long and lasting the pandemic cuts would be. The Met has also reached an agreement with the American Guild of Musical Artists, which includes chorus members, soloists, and stage managers. Negotiations with the third major union that represents the orchestra are still pending.

Diversifying Stage Management

A study recently published by the Actors' Equity Association revealed that between 2016 and 2019, 76% of stage managers employed on theatrical productions across the country were white, and only 2.63% were black. As calls increase for greater diversity of representation on Broadway and in theaters across the country, multiple new initiatives have been formed that aim to broaden the pool of stage managers of color and to introduce antiracist practices into graduate training.

Did Nazis Coerce Art Sale?

Decades after the end of World War II, it is still a matter of debate as to whether a work of art that changed hands during the Nazi persecution of Jews should be returned to the heirs of the original owner. Dutch, Swiss, and German institutions have agreed to either return or pay compensation to the heirs of original Jewish owners for art sold during Nazi persecution that wound up in their collections, but other institutions in the United States (such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art) have repeatedly rejected heirs' claims, arguing that there is not enough evidence that such art was sold under duress. Unlike in Europe, where the government makes the final decision, in the United States all decisions regarding whether to return or compensate for artwork are private and museums are free to reject or fight claims with no U.S. governmental oversight.

Charlottesville Removes Statue at Center of 2017 White Nationalist Rally

Officials have finally removed a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, along with another nearby monument to Stonewall Jackson, 4 years after a woman was killed and dozens were injured when white nationalists protested the statue's planned removal at the "United the Right" rally in August 2017. Charlottesville's City Council moved quickly to remove the statues after the Virginia Supreme Court ruled in April that the city could remove them, thereby reversing a 2019 lower court ruling, which had found that the statues could not be removed because they were protected by state law.

How 'Musical Chairs' Can Help Clear the Air

A new study has found that rearranging orchestral musicians, particularly players of "super spreader" wind instruments that aerosolize respiratory droplets, significantly reduces the health hazards imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The study found that moving wind instruments, such as trumpets, to the very back of the stage right next to air-return vents could significantly limit aerosol build up on stage, therefore allowing musicians to safely return to performance during the pandemic.

Pastor's Borrowed Words Expose Shortcut in the Preaching Life

The new leader of the Southern Baptist Convention has caused controversy for delivering sermons that contain passages from his predecessor. The controversy, known as "Sermongate", reveals a little-known reality that many pastors borrow sermons from one another. The norms around plagiarizing at the pulpit are not well-defined, with some religious leaders finding this to be an issue of morality and of Christian virtue, and others freely allowing carte blanche to borrow liberally from their works, saying that personal glory should never be the point of preaching. This may also raise issues relating to copyright.


As Games Approach, U.S. Officials and International Olympic Committee Are at Odds Over Protests

With the July 23rd opening of the Tokyo Games nearing and with a number of athletes signaling the possibility of some kind of protesting, including American hammer throw athlete Gwen Berry, American and International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials are in dispute as to where to draw the line for protests by athletes to promote social and political causes. Whereas leaders of the U.S. Olympic Committee have announced that they will not punish American athletes who exercise free speech rights at the Olympic Games as long as they do not express hatred toward or attack any person or group, the IOC has forbidden all demonstrations on the medals podium, on the field of playing during the competition, and at the opening and closing ceremonies. However, athletes have long been free to express political views during news conferences, on social media, or in the "mixed zone" where they speak with the news media after composition. While it remains unclear how the IOC will enforce its rules regarding protests, the U.S. has taken the position that, whatever the IOC does, it will not punish or reprimand athletes who make political statements.

Avenatti Sentenced to Prison in Nike Extortion Case

Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who once represented pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against former President Trump, was found guilty in February 2020 of trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike for himself and has now been sentenced to two and a half years in prison. At his trial last year, prosecutors said that Avenatti told Nike he had evidence of scandal from his client (a youth basketball coach), demanded that Nike pay him $22.5 million to resolve the potential claims, and threatened to hold a news conference and reveal his claims to the public if Nike did not comply.

The Liberty Pushed for Social Justice Back When It Got Them Fined

The Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has risen as the leader in activism among professional sports leagues largely due to activism by players on the Liberty team. Five years ago, the Liberty players were fined by the WNBA for wearing unapproved shirts as part of a protest against gun violence and the fatal shootings of Black men, but did not cease protesting despite the fine. The WNBA eventually rescinded the penalties, and began embracing its players' desire to speak out against social injustices, even in defiance of then-existing league norms.

Comments Cost Reporter Sideline Spot on Broadcast

In an attempt to quell a yearlong scandal regarding ESPN's handling of internal conflicts centered around race, sideline reporter Rachael Nichols was removed from covering the National Basketball Association (NBA) finals this year in wake of disparaging comments she made last year about a Black colleague, Maria Taylor. Nichols's comments came during a private phone conversation that was caught on video and uploaded to the server at ESPN's headquarters, saying that Taylor was picked to host NBA finals coverage last season because ESPN was "feeling pressure" about diversity.

In Reversal, Pentagon Lets Navy Cornerback Delay Service for N.F.L.

Cameron Kinley, a team captain and class president at the U.S. Naval Academy, had previously applied to delay his 5-year service commitment after graduating and signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent. The U.S. Navy initially denied Kinley's request to push back his military commitment so that he could pursue a pro football career, but reversed its decision and approved Kinley's request. Kinley will be enlisted in the Inactive Ready Service and is expected to serve in the Navy after his time in the National Football League ends.

China Uses Tech to Limit Teenage Gamers

China has taken a number of measures to restrict video game usage among underage players and to limit screen time and keep internet addiction in check, including imposing a cybercurfew that bars those under 18 from playing video games between 10:00 pm and 8:00 am and requiring users to use their real names and identification numbers. To prevent children and teenagers from circumventing these restrictions by using their parents' devices, the Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent will now deploy facial recognition technology in its video games, thus sparking privacy concerns about the Chinese government's increasingly paternalistic control over the internet.


App Fees Prompt States to File Suit Against Google

A group of 36 states and the District of Columbia have sued Google over antirust claims that its app store abuses market power by forcing aggressive terms on software developers, such as forcing them to use Google's own system for payments inside their products, and taking a large cut of financial transactions in their apps, such as by charging a 30% commission on top of many transactions which developers say forces them to charge higher prices for their services. Google has called the lawsuit "meritless" and has questioned why attorneys are going after Google for monopolistic practices instead of its rival, Apple.

American Tech Giant Hits Back at Hong Kong Doxxing Law

A trade group representing the largest American internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, and others, is challenging broad new rules in Hong Kong created to curb doxxing, the targeted disclosure of individuals' private information. Since Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2019, doxxing has been used to identify both police officers and protesters during the protests, and Hong Kong authorities have used its national security law to curb this practice. Under the new rules, websites can be taken down and anyone posting personal information intended to harass, threaten, or intimidate could face jail time and hefty fines. A trade group representing American tech companies has penned a letter to Hong Kong's government, stating that such data-protection laws could impact the companies' ability to provide services in the city, arguing that the new rules would "result in grave impact on due process and risks for freedom of expression and communication", and could give police the power to impose fines and arrest local employees if the tech companies are not responsive to the new doxxing rules.

Pentagon Cancels Deal It Awarded to Microsoft

The Defense Department will not go forward with a lucrative $10 billion cloud-computing contract with Microsoft that had been the subject of a contentious legal battle amid claims that President Trump interfered in the process that awarded the contract to Microsoft over its tech rival, Amazon. Although the Pentagon has determined that the previous contract for cloud-computing services to the federal government "no longer meets its needs", thus eliminating need for lengthy litigation, the federal government says that it will solicit bids from Amazon and Microsoft on future cloud-computing contracts.

Tennis Star Shows Power Shift in Sports Journalism

With tennis giant superstar Naomi Osaka recently declining to speak to the press at a required news conference at the French Open (and choosing to pay a hefty fine instead), guest-editing Racquet magazine, and penning a cover essay directly for Time Magazine, she has ignited a powerplay between athletes and sports journalists and has disrupted the status quo between athletes and traditional sports journalism that has existed for decades. While the media was once the main way that athletes found fame and lucrative endorsements, with the rise of social media and the ability to control one's own platform, as well as the increasingly direct access of athletes to a widening array of new media outlets, athletes like Osaka are paving the way for a new era of independent sports journalism.

Ransomware Salvo Hits 800 to 1,500 Businesses

Between 800 and 1500 businesses around the world were compromised by a cyberattack, which was the largest attack in history using ransomware, in which hackers shut down systems until a ransom is paid. A Russian-based cybercriminal organization known as REvil claimed responsibility for the attack against Kaseya, a Miami-based software maker that provides technology services to tens of thousands of organizations around the world. While the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the White House works to address the issue, the White House advised against companies paying ransomware and announced that American national security officials are in touch with Russian government officials over the attack.

Twin Hackings Tied to Russia, In Test of Biden

Two major cyberattacks by Russian hackers have occurred recently, including the hacking of a Republican National Committee contractor by Russia's S.V.R. intelligence agency (the same group that hacked the Democratic National Committee 6 years ago), and the largest global ransomware attack on record which was perpetrated by REvil, a Russian-based cybercriminal organization. The 2 attacks come only weeks after President Biden demanded that President Putin rein in Russia's cyber activities against the United States at a U.S.-Russian summit last month.

Biden Cautions Putin to Control Cybercriminals

In a call to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden conveyed that if Putin continues to harbor cybercriminals on Russian soil issuing cyberattacks on the United States, then the attacks would be treated as national security threats, even if such attacks are not sponsored by the Russian state, thus provoking a far more severe response from the United States. Biden has stated that United States might attack the servers that Russian cybercriminals have used to hijack American networks (therefore knocking them offline), thus escalating a Cold War-like series of confrontations between the United States and Russia now fought in cyberspace.

Trump Sues Tech Giants over Bans On His Posts

Trump sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google and the companies' chief executives after the platforms took steps to ban him or block him from posting. Trump's legal team argued that the tech companies are state actors subject to the First Amendment and accused them of wrongful censorship in violation of Trump's right to free speech. Legal experts said that the lawsuit appears to be a major publicity stunt that has no chance of succeeding because under current law, social media companies are protected by Section 230, a federal provision that exempts them from liability for what is posted on their platforms. In the lawsuit, Trump asked the court to declare Section 230 unconstitutional and to restore his access to the sites, and even started a fundraising campaign for legal fees in the process.

New York City's Law Department Still Hobbled by Fallout From Computer Attack

After New York City's Law Department was hacked over a month ago by an intruder who used an employee's stolen password to gain unauthorized access to the agency's computer system, almost all of the agency's 1,000+ lawyers still do not have access to electronic case files, thus delaying lawsuits. While the Law Department's spokesperson claims its attorneys have resumed in person work to ensure there is minimal disruption to cases, recent court records show that the city's attorneys still regularly seek postponement in their cases, saying that they are without access to their electronic files. The Law Department hack was enabled by the Law Department's failure to comply with an April 2019 directive by the city's Cyber Command that all agencies implement multifactor authentication to improve security. After admonishment by the Mayor and reassignment of the Law Department's Chief IT Officer, a city official confirms that employees have now been given multifactor authentication.

Bezos' Exit Is Just One of Several at Amazon

In addition to Jeff Bezos's departure from Amazon this month, many of the company's vice presidents are also leaving for top jobs at public companies or high-growth start-ups, thus marking an usual level of disruption inside the business, where for years Amazon's leaders have been considered lifers.

Reining in Tech, China Reasserts That It Is in Charge

Days after the initial public offering of Didi, China's leading ride-hailing platform on the New York Stock Exchange, Chinese regulators have ordered the company to stop signing up new users, and have pulled the app from Chinese app stores over national security and data privacy concerns. Beijing's move sends a stark message to Chinese businesses about the government's authority over them, even if they operate globally and trade stock overseas, and reminds international investors in Chinese companies, including those on Wall Street, about the regulatory curveballs they may face.

For China's Big Tech Companies, There's No Escaping the Pull of Beijing's Politics

Despite the longstanding widespread belief among China's private sector that businesspeople should steer clear of politics, with the fallout from Beijing's crackdown on the U.S.-listed Chinese ride-hailing app Didi, steering clear of politics is no longer an option for China's business elites. The crackdown on Didi will have a deep impact on Chinese businesses seeking international investment, as it is a strong signal that the Chinese government will take action to discourage listings of Chinese tech companies in the United States as the countries battle for tech supremacy.

French Court Convicts 11 in Harassment of Teenager for Anti-Islam Rant in Video

Eleven men and women were found guilty in France of online harassment and issuing death threats after responding to a teenager's viral anti-Islamic rant on social media, which previously fueled fierce debates in France over free speech and religion. The case was a major test for French legislation passed in 2018 that broadened what is considered online harassment, and those convicted only posted a single tweet or sent the teenager one single message.


Biden Defends Afghan Pullout in Blunt Tones

President Biden has vigorously defended his decision to end the United States's 20-year war in Afghanistan, insisting that the U.S. has done more than enough to empower the Afghan police and military to secure the future of their own people, and asserting that the United States can no longer afford the human cost or strategic distraction of a conflict that had strayed far from its initial mission. The United States will formally end its military mission in Afghanistan at the end of August.

Biden Steps Up Mission to Rein In Big Business

President Biden has signed a sweeping executive order intended to increase competition within the economy and to limit corporate dominance, factors that have led to higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. The order reflects the administration's growing embrace of warnings by economists that declining competition is hobbling the economy's vitality.

U.S. Intelligence Agencies Turn to Scientists for Help

U.S. intelligence agencies are looking to increase their expertise in range of scientific disciplines as they struggle to answer unexplained questions, such as regarding the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, potential U.F.O.s observed by Navy pilots, and a mysterious health ailment affecting spies and diplomats worldwide known as the Havana syndrome. To this end, agencies have created new positions and panels specifically to study these questions, which, according to the White House, reflects "a broader priority on science and technology" within the federal government.

White House Details Plan to Fight Voter Suppression

Facing an onslaught of state-level ballot restrictions and gridlock in Congress over federal voting-rights legislation after Republicans recently blocked the most ambitious voting rights bill, the White House announced a new plan for the Democratic National Committee to invest $25 million in voter outreach and litigation.

Biden Fires Trump Appointee as Head of the Social Security Administration

Biden has fired Andrew Saul, the Trump-appointed head of the Social Security Administration, who refused to resign as requested by the President and has vowed to fight the firing as illegal. While heads of independent executive agencies, such as the Social Security Administration, have historically enjoyed a high degree of insultation from political dismissals, such deference has eroded since the Trump Administration. Democrats have sought the ouster of Saul for months after he wanted to issue regulations meant to reduce access to Social Security disability benefits, including denying benefits to recipients who do not speak English fluently, as well as terminated a telework policy at the agency and alienated federal employee unions over work force safety planning amid the pandemic.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement Won't Detain Pregnant or Postpartum Undocumented Immigrants

Under a new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICA) officers generally will not detain or arrest undocumented people who are pregnant or nursing or who are postpartum (defined as having had a baby within the previous year). The new policy comes after advocacy groups have sued both the Department of Homeland Security, ICE's parent agency, and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for their treatment of pregnant immigrants in U.S. government custody detained in 2020. The new policy does not apply to pregnant, postpartum or nursing migrants in the custody of CBP, which typically hold migrants only for a few days before transferring them to ICE custody.

Justice Department Adds Little About Rights of Detainees

The Biden Administration has pulled back from a Trump-era claim that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay prison have no due process rights under the Constitution, but has stopped short of declaring that noncitizens held there are covered by such legal protections. The question of whether the Constitution's guarantee of due process applies to non-American detainees at Guantanamo has been raised since the Bush administration in 2002 and has never been resolved. In a much-anticipated brief filed under seal before the D.C. Court of Appeals, the Justice Department has taken no position the question of whether Guantanamo detainees have any due process rights following internal debate among the Biden legal team.

Rare Heat Seen as Proof Earth is Warming Up

A rapid analysis has found that the record-breaking heat in the Western United States and Canada is directly linked to climate change. A recent study found that the recent extraordinary heatwave, with temperatures reaching a record 116 degrees in Oregon and 121 in Canada, would have been virtually impossible without the influence of human-caused climate change.

Water Gives Little Shelter As Tide Pools Turn to Stew

The combination of extraordinary heat and drought that hit the Pacific Northwest and Canada has killed hundreds of millions of marine animals and continues to threaten freshwater species, a scene that some marine scientists say is reminiscent of "postapocalyptic movies".

The Food and Drug Administration Reversal Will Limit Drug for Alzheimer's

Previously under fire for approving a questionable drug for all Alzheimer's patients, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reversed course and now recommends that the drug be given only to those with mild symptoms. The approval of Aduhelm, the first new drug to treat the disease in 18 years, was one of the most contentious FDA decisions in years, with many scientists, as well as the FDA's independent advisory committee, saying that there is not enough convincing evidence that the drug actually works.

States Open Inquiries into Recurring Donation Tactics

Four state attorneys general in New York, Minnesota, Maryland, and Connecticut have begun investigating the fundraising practices of both political parties. The attorneys general have sent letters to WinRed, which processes online donations for Republicans, and ActBlue, which processes online donations for Democrats, seeking documents related to the use of prechecked boxes to enroll contributors to recurring donation programs that spurred a wave of fraud complaints and demands for refunds in the past year.

15 States Sign on to Deal for $4.5 Billion Settlement with Major Opioid Maker

Fifteen states, including New York and Massachusetts, have reached an agreement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of the prescription painkiller OxyContin, that would facilitate settlements in thousands of pending opioid cases. The states agree to drop their opposition to Purdue's bankruptcy reorganization plan in exchange for a release of some 33 million documents and an additional $50 million from the Sackler family, the company's owners. The settlement is now being voted on by over 3,000 plaintiffs who have sought to hold Purdue and its owners responsible for their roles in the opioid epidemic, throughout which more than 500,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses.

Cuomo Declares Emergency over Gun Violence in New York, a First for a State

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a new state of emergency around gun violence and has committed almost $139 million to reverse the trend of rising shootings and murders across the state. The emergency disaster declaration is the first by any state to address gun violence and will allow state officials to more quickly coordinate resources and to provide for community-led efforts to prevent and respond to shootings.

Texas Republicans Proposes Broad Limits on Voting

In their second attempt to pass a sweeping elections overhaul which failed in the last legislative session after the Democrats staged a late-night walkout, Texas Republicans fully unveiled their plans to overhaul the state's election apparatus. The GOP bills in the State Senate and House propose many new changes and restrictions to the state's electoral process, such as banning 24-hour voting and drive-through voting, prohibiting election officials from proactively sending out absentee ballot applications to voters who have not requested them, adding new voter identification requirements for voting by mail, limiting third-party ballot collection, increasing the criminal penalties for election workers who run afoul of regulations, limiting what assistance can be provided to voters, and greatly expanding the authority and autonomy of partisan poll watchers.

Texas Governor Pushes State Further to the Right on Voting Rights and Race

Governor Greg Abbott of Texas formally announced a special session of the Legislature in which he and fellow Republicans will try to push Texas further to the right on issues like elections and voting, transgender rights, and how schools teach about racism. This special session follows an ultraconservative legislation session last spring when the Texas legislature passed a near ban on abortion and a law permitting the carrying of handguns without permits. Texas Republicans are now seeking to pass a sweeping election overhaul bill that failed to pass last session but would be one of the most restrictive voting laws in the country. Abbot has also called for the Legislature to combat perceived censorship on social media platforms, ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools, further limit abortions, put new border security policies in place, and restrict transgender athletes from competing in school sports.

Texas Gives Citizens Authority to Enforce Its Law on Abortion

In a new anti-abortion law set to take effect in Texas on September 1st, Texas, like other states, has banned abortion after a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat (typically at about 6 weeks of pregnancy). Unlike any other state, however, Texas law deputizes ordinary citizens, including those outside of Texas, to sue clinics and others who violate the law and therefore people across the country may soon be able to sue abortion clinics, providers, and anyone aiding abortion in Texas.

Montana Puts Miles Between Its Tribes and the Ballot Box

The Republican-led Montana state legislature has passed a new law, H.B. 530, which includes new voting restrictions, such as ballot collection bans, earlier registration deadlines, and stricter voter ID laws and more, that will make it disproportionately more difficult for Native Americans to vote. In sprawling, sparsely populated states like Montana, where Native Americans have a history of playing decisive roles in close elections, Native Americans are disproportionately likely to use measures such as ballot collections to vote because geography, poverty, lack of transportation, and limited infrastructure create obstacles for them to vote in person.

Far-Right Extremists Find Ally in Congressman from Arizona

Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, a 5-term Republican, is closely associated with the leader of American First in Congress, a group that aims to preserve white, Christian identity and culture. Gosar's unapologetic and rarely scrutinized association with racist and similar far-right fringe organizations and activists is a vivid example of the Republican Party's growing acceptance of extremism, as more Republican lawmakers espouse and amplify the far-right ideologies of fringe groups.

In Surprise Move, Chief Guantanamo Prosecutor Is Retiring before 9/11 Trial

Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, the Army general who had led war crimes prosecutions at Guantanamo Bay for a decade under the Obama and Trump administrations, is retiring and handing off the trial of 5 men accused of conspiring in the 9/11 attacks, which is set to take place in September 2021, to a not-yet-chosen successor. His decision to step down on Sept. 30th has come as a surprise, since he had obtained an extension to serve in the post until 2023. General Martins has, however, repeatedly butted heads with Biden administration lawyers in recent months over positions that he has taken on applicable international law standards, including the Convention Against Torture.

In the Rubble, Entire Branches of the Family Tree

Entire families have been lost in the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. As the disaster happened in the middle of the night, many parents, children, and grandparents living together in multigenerational households were killed together.

G20 Endorses Proposal Aimed at Tax Havens

Global leaders have agreed to move forward with the most significant overhaul of the international tax system in decades, with finance ministers from the world's 20 largest economies backing a proposal that would crack down on tax havens and impose new levies on large, profitable multinational companies. The approach marks a reversal of years of economic policies that embraced low taxes as a way for countries to attract investment and fuel growth. Though the plan may reshape the global economy, altering where corporations choose to operate, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at the G20 summit that the United States is hopeful that the new regime will be "fair for all of our citizens."

Crisis Grips Haiti as Attackers Kill President in Home

Haiti's President Jovenel Moise was assassinated by a group of assailants in a nighttime raid on his home on July 7, 2021, months after protesters had taken to the streets to demand that he step down, therefore further shaking an already fragile nation. In response, Haiti's interim prime minister, Claude Joseph, announced that he and his fellow ministers had declared a "state of siege", therefore placing Haiti under a form of martial law, and announced himself as the new head of Haiti's government in control of the country. However, with a new prime minister scheduled to replace Joseph this week, the country is in total confusion with 2 prime ministers, and experts warn that the political vacuum left by the assassination has weakened an already weak state and could fuel a renewed cycle of violence.

Haiti Asks U.S. to Send Troops as Crisis Brews

After 24 hours of gun battles with 20 non-Haitians arrested in the assassination of the Haitian president, Haitian authorities are calling on the United States to send troops and other military assistance to help protect the country's fragile infrastructure. While the White House announced that FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials will assess how to help Haiti "as soon as possible", a senior Biden official has said that "there are no plans to provide U.S. military assistance at this time."

E.U. Fines Volkswagen and BMW More than $1 Billion for Emissions Collusion

European antitrust authorities announced that Germany's 3 largest carmakers colluded illegally to limit the effectiveness of their emissions technology, therefore leading to higher levels of harmful diesel pollution. As part of a settlement with the European Commission, Volkswagen and its Porsche and Audi divisions must pay $590 Million and BMW must pay $442 Million. Daimler, however, avoided a fine because it blew the whistle on the plot. Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler have all been tainted by emissions scandals in the past, and were found by the European Commission to have illegally agreed to deploy emissions technology that met minimum legal standards, but that was not as good as it could have been.


Biden Resists Call to Support Vaccine Edicts

In response to a steep decline in vaccination rates, Biden said the White House will send people door to door, set up clinics at workplaces, and urge employers to offer paid time off as part of a renewed push to reach millions of unvaccinated Americans. However, Biden continues to resist pushes by top health experts to coax people to get vaccinated, such as by encouraging states, employers, colleges and universities to require vaccinations. In response, some public health officials are worried that the Biden administration is not being aggressive enough to protect against continued spread of the coronavirus.

World's Official Covid-19 Death Toll Passes 4 Million Amid Vaccine Inequities

The world's known coronavirus death toll has passed 4 million, according to Johns Hopkins University. This figure only includes officially reported figures, which are widely believed to undercount pandemic-related deaths. The continued pandemic-related deaths are compounded by inequity in access to vaccines across the world, and by fast-moving virus variants.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advocates Fully Reopening Schools in the Fall

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidance urging schools to fully open in the fall, even if they cannot take all of the steps the agency recommends to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and recommending that unvaccinated students and staff continue to keep wearing masks. This guidance, which acknowledges the suffering that many students have endured from months of virtual learning and recognizes the importance of children's socialization, is a departure from the CDC's previous recommendations for schools.

As Covid Spikes in Tokyo, Spectators Are Barred for Most Events

Although organizers of the Tokyo Olympics had announced in June that spectators would be permitted to attend the Olympic Games, with a sudden rise in coronavirus cases in Tokyo, spectators are now barred from attending. The decision to ban fans follows a declaration of a new state of emergency in Tokyo in response to a sudden spike in coronavirus cases, thought to be due at least in part to circulation of the more contagious Delta variant.

Comptroller Files Lawsuit Seeking to Restore Limits to de Blasio's Spending Power

New York City's comptroller, Scott Stringer, has filed a lawsuit against the city and Mayor de Blasio to end the Mayor's pandemic spending powers. In an effort to regain oversight of the city's pandemic spending, Stringer is seeking to restore the city's pre-pandemic procurement rules, claiming that during the pandemic the city has spent more than $6.9 billion in taxpayer money without proper supervision, leading to "widespread procurement failures, including overpayment and overpurchasing."

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Angela Peco
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Harvey Weinstein to be Extradited to Los Angeles to Face Rape Changes

A New York judge ruled that Weinstein can be transferred to California to face rape and sexual assault charges. Weinstein is serving a 23-year sentence in a New York prison.

Grammy Officials Oppose an Open Hearing on CEO's Ouster

The former chief executive of the Recording Academy is requesting an open arbitration hearing to publicly discuss her dismissal after five months on the job. The organization behind the Grammys had reportedly agreed to waive the confidentiality provision of the arbitration clause but explained that the provision covered the "disclosure of the existence, content or result of an arbitration" and that a full public hearing "would expose other confidential information and cause further emotional distress to witnesses."

Report Paints Bleak Picture of Diversity in the Music Industry

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found almost 20% of executives at major and independent music companies were from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Women made up around 35% of the total.

Nielsen Tool May Solve a Streaming Mystery

Nielsen, the company that measures television ratings, says that it has a new metric to allow it to compare streaming versus traditional cable numbers. While streaming has gained ground, Neilsen found that viewers still spend more time watching cable and network TV.


Worried by Dirty Money, U.S. Examines the Secrecy of Art Sales

Lawmakers are looking at lifting the veil on art sales to improve oversight of the market and expose purchases that launder illicit proceeds.

Design Basics v Kerstiens Homes & Designs

In a recent decision from the Seventh Circuit, the Court affirmed a grant of summary judgment for the defendant, finding that the plaintiff had only a thin copyright in its home floor plans and that it was an "intellectual property troll", trying to enforce copyright not to protect expression but to extract payment through litigation. Design Basics had a thin copyright, because its plans "consist largely of standard features found in homes across America."

Justice Department Ends Criminal Inquiry and Lawsuit on John Bolton's Memoir

The Department of Justice dropped a lawsuit aimed at recouping profits from the book. The criminal investigation had focused on whether national security adviser John Bolton had illegally disclosed classified information in his memoir about his time in the Trump White House.

Study Finds That Control of New York's Stages Remains in White Hands

A study by the Asian American Performers Action Coalition found that 100% of artistic directors and 88% of board members at 18 major nonprofit theaters were white. 94% of Broadway producers and 100% of general managers were white. The study's findings extended to the makeup of acting and creative teams and illustrated the lack of diversity within the theatre industry.

Actors' Union and Procedures Aim to Resume Touring Shows

Broadway producers and the union representing stage actors reached an agreement on health protocols that would require members of a travelling company to be fully vaccinated and have no interaction with audience members, among other conditions.

Victoria's Secret Attempting Brand Turnaround

The fashion company brought on board seven women to try to change its image after drawing criticism for its "misogynistic corporate culture that trafficked in sexism, sizeism and ageism."

Officials Remove Tile Viewed as Offensive from Museum-Sponsored Mural

The tile appeared in a mural sponsored by the Detroit Institute of Arts. It depicted a skull logo from a Marvel comic book character and elements of the "Thin Blue Line" flag intended to honor police officers. Officials of the Detroit suburb where the mural was installed said that the tile "contained imagery that some associate with a rebuke of racial justice."

Racist Mural Puts Tate Galleries in a Bind

Activists are calling for the removal of problematic sections of a work painted on Tate Britain's walls. The mural lines the walls of a restaurant and contains racist and violent imagery showing a "white woman dragging a struggling Black boy by a rope" and the boy tethered by a collar around his neck, running to keep up with a horse-drawn cart in another. The museum says that it cannot alter the mural, since it is an artwork in its care and the building is protected under British heritage laws.


Trainer Bob Baffert Sues New York Racing Over Ban from Entering Horses at Three Tracks

Baffert sued the New York Racing Association for banning him from competition, arguing that the ban will effectively put him out of business in New York State. Baffert was barred from the State's racetracks after his Kentucky Derby winner failed two post-race drug tests. Baffert will appear before racing officials, whose decision he can appeal to the full commission, before there is an outcome on whether he'll be disqualified.

Olympic Runner Shelby Houlihan Found Guilty of Anti-Doping Rule Violation by Court of Arbitration for Sport

A panel of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) banned the U.S. runner for four years starting January 14, 2021. Houlihan tested positive for nandrolone, an anabolic steroid. The panel unanimously found that Houlihan failed to establish the source of the prohibited substance, which she argued was the result of ingesting a tainted burrito.

Olivia Moultrie Wins Preliminary Injunction in Fight Against Soccer League's Age Rule

A judge granted the 15-year-old a preliminary injunction in her antitrust lawsuit against the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL). Moultrie is challenging NWSL's rule requiring players to be at least 18 years old to sign a contract. The injunction prohibits NWSL from enforcing the age rule and Moultrie will be eligible to play once she signs a contract with the league.

Hope Fades for Federal Deal on College Athletes

While a number of name, image, and likeness (NIL) state laws take effect July 1st, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Congress will pass federal legislation on college sports. A recent Senate hearing further highlighted the rift between Democrats and Republicans on student-athlete rights, with some senators supporting the ability of college athletes to earn money while in school but also pushing to expand the scope of the bill to ensure athletes' rights to health care, for example.

Agent Scott Boras Wants More Transparency from Major League Baseball on Substance Rules

Baseball agent Scott Boras is demanding answers from Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Rob Manfred over the enforcement of a rule that says pitchers can no longer use a foreign substance, like rosin or pine tar, to assist their grip. Players caught violating the policy will automatically receive a 10-game suspension. Boras is calling on MLB to certify a gripping agent/substance and provide guidance to MLB umpires in enforcing the new rule.

Notion in Sport Grows that Nike is Curtailing Its Financial Supports

As track and field athletes observe "a series of cancelled or reduced sponsorship agreements, executive shuffling and internal responses to scandals," many are left wondering where the sport stands with Nike. Though it isn't clear if the moves are connected with a broader strategy, agents, athletes, and executives say that the company's enthusiasm for track and field is waning.

Long Overlooked, Wyomia Tyus's Gesture at the 1968 Olympics Is Part of Rich History of Athlete Protest

The article describes a video of Tyus's brief dance before her 100-meter sprint in Mexico City as "part of Olympic lore," also drawing attention to the dark-colored shorts she wore "distinct from the official white shorts" of her two American teammates. Tyus speaks to The New York Times about what her move meant at the time, shedding light on another example of sporting activism by a Black female athlete.

NASCAR Exploring the Idea of an All-Electric Racing Series

NASCAR is said to be considering an all-electric companion series in the future, with some form of hybrid technology/alternative power model being introduced in the next couple of years.

Utah High School Issues Apology After Girl with Disability is Left Out of Cheer Squad Yearbook Photo

The school's cheerleaders had taken two nearly identical photos, using only the one without the student with disabilities on its yearbook and social media accounts.

European Soccer's Governing Body Reminds Teams of Sponsorship Obligations After Ronaldo Coca-Cola Case

UEFA has reminded teams of their contractual obligations towards tournament sponsors following a press conference in which Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo removed two Coke bottles from the podium and held up a bottle of water and said "Agua". France's Paul Pogba also removed a Heineken beer bottle from his press table a day later. UEFA has not taken any disciplinary action against the players and an executive distinguished between the two situations, saying that there was an understanding that some players could take action for religious reasons (like Pogba).

Naomi Osaka and Rafael Nadal Withdraw from Wimbledon

Osaka will be taking personal time off but will play in the Tokyo Olympics. Nadal will skip both to allow time for his body to recover.

Crisis of Abuse Grows in International Women's Sports

The sexual abuse scandal in Mali basketball is yet another example of how sports organizations "are failing to curb the mistreatment of women," often at the hands of the officials and coaches that are supposed to protect them.

International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Chief Steps Aside Amid Claims He Ignored Abuse

Hamane Niang, the president of basketball's world governing body, has stepped aside "during an investigation into alleged systemic sexual abuse of women players at his home federation" in Mali, which he led from 1999 to 2007. He denies the allegations. Reports of the investigation say that around 12 coaches and officials are implicated and over 100 players impacted.

Inside the Exhausting World of E-Sports in South Korea

The article describes the extent to which thousands of young South Koreans go to compete in pro e-sports teams. Those wanting to pursue professional gaming careers attend classes at e-sports academies, which serve as their training grounds.


Consumer Groups Support Amendment to Journalism Competition and Preservation Act

A number of consumer advocacy groups, including Public Knowledge, have submitted a letter to the Senate's antitrust subcommittee, supporting an amendment to the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act. The letter raises concerns a bill that would give journalism outlets limited antitrust immunity to team up to bargain with big tech companies could implicitly extend copyright protection to links and headlines.

Apple Turned Over Data on Donald McGahn to Justice Department

The Justice Department subpoenaed Apple for Donald McGahn's account information three years ago. McGahn was Trump's White House counsel at the time. Apple notified McGahn of the subpoena last month and had been barred from telling him about it at the time.

Justice Department Will Toughen Rules for Seizing Lawmakers' Data

Attorney General Garland announced the Justice Department will "tighten its rules for when law enforcement officials may seize information about members of Congress and their aides," "amid a backlash to the disclosure of a 2018 subpoena" that forced Apple to disclose account data of Democratic lawmakers and staff.

The New Yorker Union Reaches Deal with Conde Nast After Threatening to Strike

The parent company agreed to a minimum salary of $60,000 by April 2023. It covers employees at three publications, including The New Yorker and Pitchfork.

Hong Kong Police Arrest Pro-Democracy Paper Executives

Police arrested the top editors of Apple Daily and froze its assets in the latest media crackdown under the national security law imposed last year by Beijing.

Slovenia's Prime Minister Takes Aim at Media

The article describes Jansa's early reliance on platforms like Twitter and, more broadly, his government's attitude toward the press. The government recently suspended funding for the country's principal provider of local and national news.

Nicaragua Denies Entry to New York Times Journalist

The move came amid a nationwide crackdown on journalists, dissidents, and civil society groups in the lead-up to the general elections on November 7th. The journalist worked with the newspaper's Mexico City bureau and had his airline ticket cancelled by Nicaraguan authorities.

Zimbabwe Releases Local Reporter Working for the New York Times

The government did not oppose bail for a freelance journalist arrested on charges that he "improperly helped two Times journalists make a reporting trip to the country."

General News

Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare

In a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, concluding that the 18 states and two individuals who brought the case "had not suffered the sort of direct injury that gave them standing to sue." The challengers argued that without the penalty for failing to obtain coverage (which was part of the original law but was eliminated in 2017), the individual mandate could no longer be justified as a tax. The majority decision focused on the issue of standing, finding that the individuals suffered no harm from a toothless provision that urged them to obtain health insurance. The Court sidestepped the larger question of whether the law could stand without the penalty.

Supreme Court Rejects Sentence Reductions for Minor Crack Offenses

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Step Act, the 2018 criminal justice reform law, did not require new sentences for low-level drug offenders. Central to the discussion was a 1986 law that had subjected drug dealers selling crack cocaine to the same sentences as those selling 100 times as much powder cocaine. In her concurring decision, Justice Sotomayor acknowledged the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine and the disproportionate impact it had on Black offenders.

At issue in this case was whether the petitioner, convicted of a specific crack-related offense in 2008, could benefit from the application of the First Step Act, which made some prisoners eligible for reduced sentences and made other 2010 sentencing changes retroactive. The decision clarified that a crack offender is eligible for a sentence reduction under the First Step Act only if convicted of an offense that triggered a mandatory minimum sentence. The petitioner was not entitled to relief.

Supreme Court Supports Catholic Agency in Case on Gay Rights and Foster Care

The unanimous ruling focused on the terms of Philadelphia's contract with foster care agencies, finding that the contract allows city officials to make exceptions. The exception in this case was available for (and ultimately favorable toward) a Catholic social services agency that refused to place children in foster homes of same-sex couples.

Supreme Court Limits Human Rights Suits Against U.S. Corporations

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of two American corporations that had been sued by six citizens of Mali who accused the companies of complicity in child slavery and of profiting from the practice of forced child labor. The majority decision noted that the companies' activities (namely, buying cocoa from the Ivory Coast farms, providing them with technical and financial resources but not operating them) were not sufficiently tied to the asserted abuses.

President Biden's First Two Judicial Picks Are Confirmed with Modest Republican Support

Julien Xavier Neals and Regina Rodriguez were confirmed as district court judges in New Jersey and Colorado, respectively. Both had modest Republican support.

Federal Judge Blocks Biden's Pause of New Gas Leases">Federal Judge Blocks Biden's Pause of New Gas Leases

A federal judge in Louisiana blocked the Biden administration's suspension of new oil and gas leases on federal lands. In granting the
preliminary injunction, Judge Doughty said that the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases "lies solely with Congress" as the legislative branch that originally made federal lands available for leasing.

Department of Education Says That Title IX Protections Extend to Transgender Students

In a reversal of a Trump-era position, the department said that discrimination against transgender students is prohibited under the law. The decision is "rooted in a Supreme Court ruling ... that determined that protections in the Civil Rights Act against discrimination in the workplace extended to gay and transgender people."

Biden Signs Bill Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

June 19th marks the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. Juneteenth remembers the day when General Granger informed enslaved African-Americans in Galveston, Texas of their freedom.

White House Unveils Strategy to Combat Domestic Extremism

Shifting focus from foreign terrorism, the plan outlines steps to hire more intelligence analysists, screen government employees for ties to hate groups, improve information-sharing among law enforcement agencies, and investigate long-standing drivers of domestic terrorism.

U.S. Ends Policy Limiting Asylum for Survivors of Violence or Abuse

Marking a break with the previous administration, the Justice Department will permit asylum applications from those with credible fears of domestic abuse or gang violence, impacting tens of thousands of cases moving through immigration courts.

Biden and Putin Joust Even as They Seek to Ease Relations

The article describes President Biden's efforts to forge a working relationship with the Russian leader.

Republican Bills Rattle Disabled Voters

Disabled voters are concerned that recent bills proposing restrictions on voting methods and accommodations will disproportionately impact them and undermine their ability to vote. As an example, a Texas bill that Republicans plan to revive in a special session, allows poll watchers to record videos of voters. Disability rights advocates say that poll watchers will misinterpret legal accommodations as fraud.

Trump Pressed Justice Department on False Election Claims

Emails indicate that Trump pressured acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein to back claims of election fraud that had already been thrown out in court.

Couple Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor Charge in Capitol Attack

The convictions will reveal possible sentencing ranges for groups of defendants charged with offenses stemming from the January 6th Capitol riot.

Albany Session Ends with Challenge to Governor Cuomo

The New York State Legislature passed several progressive initiatives (gun laws, absentee voting, and criminal justice reform), but lawmakers clashed with Governor Cuomo over his "proposal to restructure the leadership of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority," with no agreement reached on the issue.

Colorado Baker Fined for Refusing to Make Cake for Transgender Woman

A state judge found that the baker's refusal to create a cake that symbolized a woman's transition violated the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. He was fined $500 for the violation. During the trial, Jack Phillips argued that "his Christian beliefs prevented him for creating custom cakes that would 'violate his religious convictions.'"

Missouri the Latest State to Limit Reach of Federal Gun Laws

A new law "threatens a penalty of $50,000 against any local police agency that enforces certain federal gun laws and regulations," which the state considers infringements of Second Amendment rights.

How New York City's Law Department Got Hacked

Hackers used a single employee's login credentials to hack into the Law Department's network, disrupting court proceedings in the process. Multifactor authentication had not been enabled, even though the City began requiring it over two years ago. Officials have not determined the full scope of the attack.

Scholarly Groups Condemn Laws Limiting Teaching on Race

After several states introduced legislation restricting lessons on racism, a coalition of scholarly and educational groups are calling the laws "an infringement on the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn and a broader threat to civic life."

Women and Minorities Underrepresented in Corporate Boardrooms

A multiyear analysis of Fortune 100 and 500 companies has found that little has changed in corporate boardrooms, which continue to be predominantly male and white.

G7 Nations Take Aggressive Climate Action but Hold Back on Coal

G7 leaders failed to set an end date on burning coal, a primary contribution to global warming. They did agree that there would be no international funding for coal projects that "lacked technology to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions" by next year.

United Nations General Assembly Demands That Myanmar Junta End Coup

In a resolution adopted by the General Assembly, the United Nations body condemned the February coup in Myanmar, emphasized the need to stop the crackdown on opponents, and requested unimpeded humanitarian access.

Three Chinese Astronauts Take Up Posts on Spacecraft

They successfully arrived at China's space station, one of the two populated outposts in orbit and an expected rival to the International Space Station.

Coronavirus Update

New York and California Lift Most Coronavirus Restrictions

The announcements came after both states reported that over 70% of their adult populations have received one dose of the vaccine.

Vaccine Maker Earned Record Profits Despite Millions on Contaminated Doses

Emergent BioSolutions was "awarded a $628 million federal contract with no competitive bidding" and its top executives were rewarded handsomely "while factories sat mostly idle and tens of millions of Covid-19 doses were thrown away."

As Pandemic Recedes, Calls Grow for an Investigative Commission

While bills to create a bipartisan panel have been introduced in both houses of Congress, a leader of the September 11th Commission believes that a nonpartisan effort would have more success in examining the pandemic, including the origins of the virus.

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Travis Marmara
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Activision Facing Jury Trial In 'Call of Duty' Copyright Case

In Huffman v. Activision Publishing, Inc., former wrestler, Booker T, sued the video game studio over similarities between the video game character, David "Prophet" Wilkes, which was used in the popular video game, "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4", and a character that Booker T developed named "G.I. Bro." Activision requested to strike a demand for a jury trial in the case. Magistrate Judge Roy S. Payne rejected the request, paving the way for a jury trial later this month. Judge Payne rejected Activision's argument that Booker T was not afforded a statutory right to a trial by jury because he was seeking profits rather than actual or statutory damages.

Roblox Responds to Music Publishers $200 Million Copyright-Infringement Lawsuit

The National Music Publishers Association sued popular online-game company Roblox for $200 million, alleging that the site lacks protective measures to police the unlicensed use of songs on its platform and fails to pay songwriters and copyright holders. Roblox released a statement denying any wrongdoing and stated that it values intellectual property rights and requires users to abide by internal policies.

New York City Plans a Central Park Mega-Concert to Celebrate Reopening

In an attempt to show that New York City is back from the pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio has called on legendary music producer Clive Davis to put together an epic concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park. Taking place on August 21st, the show will have "eight 'iconic' stars to perform a three-hour show for 60,000 attendees and a worldwide television audience." Live Nation will also be involved in the production of the concert and the majority of tickets will be free.

Headliners and Headdresses Return to Las Vegas. Will Tourists Follow?

In a city powered by tourism, Las Vegas is finally returning to the days of yonder, when shows were packed and the strip was bustling. On June 1st, governor Steve Sisolak lifted Covid-19 restrictions, allowing shows to reopen at full capacity. Shows generate much of the revenue for casinos, as patrons must weave through the menagerie of gaming machines, bars, and restaurants to reach the theater and are seen as a vital component to the overall operation.

China's Censorship Widens to Hong Kong's Vaunted Film Industry, With Global Implications

In a further push for mainland Chinese to exercise control over Hong Kong, the city government of Hong Kong announced that it will begin screening and stopping the distribution of films that are determined to be a threat to national security. Hong Kong is known as a locale where "government-protected freedoms of expression and an irreverent local culture had imbued the city with a cultural vibrancy that set it apart from mainland megacities." Movies now will be censored not only for their content alone, but also will be looked through the lens of the viewer to assess whether there is a threat to national security.

Drake and Other Canadian Artists Sign Letter Requesting Changes to Copyright Law

The Songwriters Association of Canada is petitioning Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to alter Canada's copyright law. Joining the effort are popular Canadian artists Drake and Celine Dion. The artists are calling on a change to Section 14(1) of the Copyright Act to allow for artists to regain copyright ownership 25 years after the initial transfer instead of 25 years after their death, as it is currently codified in the act. The change would provide copyrights to artists who assigned their rights earlier in their careers.

Kim Jong-un Calls K-Pop a 'Vicious Cancer' in the New Culture War

With an economy that is flailing and a decrease in diplomacy with the United States after the departure of former President Donald Trump, North Korea is now addressing what it sees as an existential threat to its country: South Korean pop culture. Its presence was considered so alarming that in December 2020, the country enacted a new law that punished individuals for "five to 15 years in labor camps for people who watch or possess South Korean entertainment." Subsequently, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un issued edicts ordering all towns, provinces, and cities to root out Western ideologies found in anything possessed by citizens in their localities.


Parties Settle in Legal Fight Over Robert Indiana's Legacy

Famed artist Robert Indiana was known for famous sculptures, such as "LOVE", which can be found across various cities in the United States. After his death, the Morgan Art Foundation, a for-profit entity that holds the rights to product some of Indiana's most famous works, sued Indiana's former caretaker, Jamie L. Thomas, alleging that Thomas and a New York art publisher created unauthorized works of Indiana's. The estate, in turn, countersued the Morgan Art Foundation, stating that the entity did not pay out the appropriate amount of royalties to it. In the settlement a partnership will be created between the Morgan Art Foundation and the Star of Hope foundation, the latter a nonprofit the artist created to execute his wishes in the will, which include converting his house off the coast of Maine into a museum to honor his legacy.

Biden Justice Department Seeks to Defend Trump in Suit Over Rape Denial

In 2019, E. Jean Carroll, a columnist for Elle magazine sued then-President Trump for defamation. Carroll wrote an excerpt in New York Magazine detailing an alleged rape that occurred decades ago in a Bergdorf Goodman department store. Trump denied ever knowing Carroll and mentioned that he could not have raped her because she wasn't his '"type."' In a surprise filing, the Justice Department adopted Trump's position, "arguing that he could not be sued for defamation because he had made the supposedly offending statements as part of his official duties as president."

Museum's Role in Police Mural Outside Detroit Draws Criticism

A mural titled "To Serve and Protect" was initially unveiled with much fanfare in Sterling Heights, Michigan, a predominately black neighborhood near Detroit, in 2018. The mural, which depicts police officers holding hands and bowing in front of the American flag, however, has caused outrage in the community, members of whom say that the art is untimely, as calls for police reform and attention to police brutality grow in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, amongst others. Others in the community argue, however, that the mural is a tribute to 3 deceased officers and shows unity, inclusion, and a sense of service and community.

Was This Picasso Lost Because of the Nazis? Heirs and Bavaria Disagree.

A Picasso painting, "Portrait of Madame Soler", is the subject of debate. The painting is "one of five Picasso works the Mendelssohn-Bartholdy family sold to the Berlin art dealer Justin K. Thannhauser in 1934 and 1935." The Bavarian State Painting Collections then bought the painting from the art dealer in 1964. The purchasing entity argued that the selling of the portrait was not subject to Nazi persecution, which the family contests. Under tradition, on the occasion where there is dispute over ownership, the 2 parties usually agree to refer the case to a national commission to investigate proper ownership. The Bavarian State Painting Collections, however, has refused to send the case to the commission, creating a stalemate for who properly owns the painting.


Judge Denies Request to Return Major League Baseball All-Star Game to Atlanta

In April, Major League Baseball (MLB) decided to move the All-Star game from Atlanta to Denver after news of Georgia's ratification of voter restriction bills. Subsequently, a conservative small business advocacy group, Job Creators Network (JCN), sued MLB and requested an injunction to prevent the decision to move the game. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni denied the advocacy group's request for the injunction, reasoning that "JCN '"lacks standing"' to seek an injunction and '"has failed to demonstrate that it is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of an injunction."'

Baseball's Sticky Situation

Baseball, which has a long, storied past with cheating scandals, including steroids, sign-stealing, and illegal gambling, is facing a new scandal: doctored baseballs. Now widespread is the use of various ointments, gels, and other types of products that allow pitchers to get a better grip on the ball. This allows them to spin the ball faster and cause movement to the baseball that would not otherwise be seen, making the pitch more difficult to hit, with the statistics backing up this fact. Batters are currently striking out "8.98 times per team per game, the highest in history, and six no-hitters had already been thrown -- only one fewer than the modern record for a full season." In response, MLB is expected to issue new guidance for the purpose of enforcing rules in the existing collective bargaining agreement around the use of foreign substances.

Both Are Abuse Survivors, But One Can Sue and One Can't

The New York State Senate passed the Adult Survivors Act, which would establish a one-year '"look-back window"' for adult victims of sexual assault to file civil claims, even if the statute of limitations ran out. The spurning of the act stems from 2 individuals who were abused by a graduate school gymnast at Syracuse University. Despite being born only 230 days apart, and the events occurring at the same loading dock behind the school and involving the same predator, the victim who was 17 at the time was allowed to sue but the victim who had just turned 18 at the time when the abuse happened could not.

Connecticut and Missouri Lawmakers Clear Way For College Athletes To Sign Endorsement Deals

Connecticut and Missouri became the latest states to pass legislation allowing for student athletes to profit from their names, images, and likenesses. The legislation now allows athletes to make money off "endorsements, content on social media, sponsorship deals, signatures, and personal appearances." The 2 states joins 17 others that have passed similar laws. The NCAA is yet to issue its own rules on name, image, and likeness issues and how they impact amateur eligibility within collegiate sports.

Son of Bo Schembechler Says He Was Abused by Team Doctor at Michigan

About a month ago, the University of Michigan commissioned a report into Robert E. Anderson, a former team physician, who was accused of dozens of sexual assaults spanning his decades at the University. Once of his alleged victims was Matt Schembechler, the adopted son of Bo Schembechler, a legendary coach at the university who coached the Wolverine football program to 194 wins and 13 Big Ten Conference championships. In a recent interview, however, Matt Schemberchler recalled how he told his father of the abuse by Anderson and how the latter became irate, siding with the doctor so as not to cause a distraction to the football team. Bo Schemberchler, Dr. Anderson, and others involved in the affair have since died.

Brazil's Supreme Court Rejects Bids to Block Hosting of Copa America

"Last week, the South American Football Confederation unexpectedly relocated the [Copa America] tournament after Colombia was dropped because of civil unrest and Argentina withdrew after a surge in coronavirus infections." Opposition parties and the national metalworking industry labor union then filed a suit in Brazilian court requesting injunctions to prevent the tournament from being held in Brazil, citing coronavirus concerns. Justice Carmen Lucia denied the requests, opining that holding the tournament in the country would not exempt authorities from enforcing public health measures.

Premier League Clubs Who Plotted Super League Hit With Fine

In April, several English Premier League clubs, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham Hotspur, announced that they, amongst others, were forming a 12-team Super League. After much public backlash, the 6 English clubs withdrew their involvement, effectively disbanding the league. As a result, as part of a settlement with the Premier League, the English clubs have agreed to pay a combined fee of £22 million. They also agreed that they would pay £25 million in individual club fines and would be deducted 30 points in the league if they decided to engage in a similar stunt in the future. In a companion move, UEFA's Appeals body has also suspended the probe it opened against Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus that was initiated on May 25st, which looked into those clubs' participation in the Super League.


Biden Revokes and Replaces Trump Order That Banned TikTok

In September 2020, the Trump administration issued an executive order that banned the operations of TikTok and WeChat, citing national security concerns. The order was immediately challenged in court. Last week, the Biden administration revoked the ban on the companies, instead replacing the order with one that will use a broader scope to assess the national security concerns of companies owned outside of the United States. The new blueprint will '"use a criteria-based decision framework and rigorous, evidence-based analysis"' to examine software applications designed, manufactured or developed by a "foreign adversary."'

Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Bill to Bolster Competitiveness With China

In a move to bolster domestic production capacity, the Senate passed a bipartisan technology bill to reduce the country's dependence on China. The bill, which included support from 19 Republicans, was rooted in Coronavirus-related shutdowns that led to a shortage of a wide swath of critical products. The 2,400 page bill would provide hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency subsidies to semiconductor makers and would pump billions of dollars into scientific research, creating "grants and foster[ing] agreements between private companies and research universities to encourage breakthroughs in new technology."

New York Times Requests Disclosure of Court Filings Seeking Reporters' Email Data and Gag Order

In January 2021, the Justice Department secretly seized the email records of 4 New York Times reporters in connection with concerns that news organizations, including the New York Times, CNN, and the Washington Post, were involved in prosecutor leaks in investigations. The seizure came as a result of a court order, which imposed a gag order on New York Times lawyers and executives, who were told of the matter in March, and prevented them from discussing the issue with others in the organization. Biden vowed to prevent the Justice Department from obtaining source information for reporters during his administration. The New York Times requested that the court unseal the legal filings by the Justice Department in connection with the case.

Similarly, a report indicates that prosecutors in the Justice Department during the Trump administration investigated the sources of leaks to the media that connected Trump associates with Russia. Around 2017 and 2018, prosecutors subpoenaed Apple for the accounts of Democratic leaders on the House Intelligence Committee, including Adam B. Schiff and Eric Swalwell of California. Similarly, the Justice Department secured a gag order on Apple that prevented internal or external discussions of the subpoena. In response, the Justice Department's independent inspector general has opened a formal investigation, and Senate Democrats are demanding that former attorneys general Jeff Sessions and William P. Barr testify before Congress.

Google Seeks to Break Vicious Cycle of Online Slander

Those who are victims of revenge porn and slanderous content are also victims to a cottage industry where '"reputation managers"' charge the victims for the removal of content from search results. There is a way to do this for free, but search engines such as Google are inundated with such requests and are often untimely in addressing the issue. In response to a troubling report by the New York Times highlighting this issue, Google announced plans to change its algorithm to prevent certain sites from appearing on the list of results when users searches their names. Google also created a concept called "known victims", wherein it will suppress sites when victims report to the company that they have been attacked on sites that charge to take down the content.

MoviePass Deceived Users So They Would Use It Less, According to the Federal Trade Commission

MoviePass began in 2011 and allowed its 3 million users unlimited movies in theaters for $9.95 a month. The company, however, was under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for nefarious activities that deceived its users and deliberately made using the service more difficult. The FTC report noted that "top MoviePass executives were not only aware of efforts to keep users from going to the movies, but led the execution of schemes they knew to be deceptive." The app also experienced a data breach in 2019, which divulged credit card numbers and personal and financial information of more than 28,000 users.

U.S. Seizes Share of Ransom From Hackers in Colonial Pipeline Attack

In response to a ransomware hack that had disabled computer systems of Colonial Pipeline--an event that caused major fuel shortages from the Midwest to the East coast--the company paid $4 million in Bitcoin last month to get back online. The Justice Department recently announced that it had seized 63.7 Bitcoins back from the hackers (valued at roughly $2.3 million). "Federal investigators tracked the ransom as it moved through a maze of at least 23 different electronic accounts belonging to DarkSide, the hacking group, before landing in one that a federal judge allowed them to break into."

In similar news, the FBI is investigating a cyberattack on the New York City Law Department. It marks the most recent attack, which includes a meat processing plant, a police department in Washington D.C., and the above-mentioned pipeline, among others. Mayor Bill de Blasio said that none of the New York City Law Department's information has been comprised, but noted that the situation is still developing.

The Criminals Thought the Devices Were Secure. But the Seller Was the FBI

Last week, "global law enforcement officials revealed the unprecedented scope of the three-year operation, saying they had intercepted over 20 million messages in 45 languages, and arrested at least 800 people, most of them in the past two days, in more than a dozen countries." The operation, also known as "Trojan Shield", has allowed authorities to open investigations into drug trafficking rings, the trafficking of arms, and planned executions. Law enforcement controlled the entire encrypted network, which operated using a calculator app on black market cellphones that allowed criminals to send messages and photos.

Google to Pay $270 Million to Settle Antitrust Charges in France

French antitrust regulators argued that Google "used its position as the world's largest internet advertising company to hurt news publishers and other sellers of internet ads. Authorities said a service owned by the Silicon Valley giant and used by others to sell ads across the internet gave Google's business an advantage, undercutting competition." Google agreed to a settlement for $270 million. As part of the settlement, the company also agreed to stop giving preferential treatment for the use of its services and would provide for more transparency of its advertising system to coordinate better with other services.

General News

Supreme Court Cases

Under the Military Selective Service Act, women are not required to register with the Selective Service System. Recently, however, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter noted that the Pentagon would open all Pentagon combat jobs to women. In response, there was a challenge to the Act that previously only allowed men to register. The Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge, citing deference to Congress with respect to issues of national defense and the military. In a petition for 2 men who were required to register with the Selective Service System, The American Civil Liberties Union argued that the unequal treatment "imposes selective burdens on men, reinforces the notion that women are not full and equal citizens, and perpetuates stereotypes about men's and women's capabilities."

In a separate case, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, No. 20-315 that immigrants in the United States as a result of temporary, humanitarian reasons, such as natural disasters, are not allowed to apply for green cards if they entered the country illegally. In such cases, their temporary protected status prevents removal and allows them to work for as long as the temporary protected status lasts.

In Borden v. United States, the Court addressed the scope of the Armed Career Criminal Act, which imposes a 15-year sentence for individuals if they are convicted of possessing a firearm and they previously had been found guilty of 3 violent felonies. In a 5-4 ruling, the Court ruled that violent felonies committed recklessly do not count as a violent felony, and in the case of Borden, the 15-year sentence was inappropriate.

Manchin Vows to Block Democratic Voting Rights Bill and Preserve Filibuster

The For the People Act is a far-reaching federal bill that would combat voter suppression laws that have been passed in state legislatures that, amongst others, limited early voting and mail-in voting and provided poll watchers with more power. While this Act has been supported by every other Senate Democrat, Joe Manchin III, a Democrat from West Virginia, wrote in The Charleston Gazette-Mail that he would not vote for the For the People Act and would not end the filibuster, claiming that '"partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy."' Instead, Senator Manchin said that he would support the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would implement federal oversight over changes to state voting laws that was stripped away by the Supreme Court in 2013.

Meanwhile, Arizona, one of the states that recently passed voter restriction laws, is undergoing a review of 2.1 million votes cast in Maricopa county regarding the 2020 presidential election. Despite the results being certified in the Arizona, the inquiry has encouraged other states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, to promote their own plans for an investigation.

Senate Report Details Security Failures in Jan. 6th Capitol Riot

A 127-page report by 2 Senate committees found that intelligence officials failed to adequately warn local law enforcement of plans made by Trump supporters prior to the January 6th insurrection. Similarly, law enforcement officials failed to take seriously threats of violence to them in the lead-up to the riot. The report also lays out fundamental failures of the Capitol Police unit to handle civil disturbances, including not being allowed to wear protective equipment at the beginning of their shifts and not being authorized to use their most powerful non-lethal weapons to quell the violence.

Senate Confirms First Biden Judges, Beginning Push to Rebalance Courts

In an effort to fill more than 100 vacancies on the federal bench, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Julien Xavier Neals as a district judge in New Jersey and Regina Rodriquez to serve on the Federal District Court bench in Colorado. By contrast, "Republicans led by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky used their majority to help President Donald J. Trump confirm more than 220 federal judges over four years, including more than 50 to influential appeals court posts and three Supreme Court justices."

Biden Ends Infrastructure Talks With Republicans, Falling Short of a Deal

In a policy divide too large to overcome, the White House has scrapped its plans for an infrastructure bill. In an effort to compromise, the Biden administration lowered the total value of the bill from $2.3 trillion to $1 trillion in infrastructure spending, but Republicans were only willing to offer a quarter of the lower amount. The Biden administration has since asked Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, to start working on a new budget path, which would allow Democrats to use a process known as reconciliation to avoid a filibuster and pass the bill without Republican support.

Garland Pledges Renewed Efforts to Protect Voting Rights

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland "laid out an expansive plan on Friday for protecting voting rights, announcing that the Justice Department would double enforcement staff on the issue, scrutinize new state laws that seek to curb voter access and take action if it sees a violation of federal law." The news marks a stark change in policy from the previous administration, which did not file any case under the Voting Rights Act until May 2020 and shied away from voting rights enforcement.

Democrats' Improbable New Federal Election Commission Strategy: More Deadlock Than Ever

Democrats are using the Federal Election Commission (FEC), whose bipartisan nature often results in 3-3 votes, to further stymie enforcement efforts. "First, the Democrats are declining to formally close some cases after the Republicans vote against enforcement. That leaves investigations officially sealed in secrecy and legal limbo. Then the Democrats are blocking the FEC from defending itself in court when advocates sue the commission for failing to do its job." Effectively, this allows other parties, like advocacy groups, to directly sue campaigns in federal court, where the judges' ruling is the final.

Eighty Years Later, Biden and Johnson Revise the Atlantic Charter for a New Era

As the G7 summit convenes, President Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed a new version of the 80-year old "Atlantic Charter," which highlights "a grand vision for global relationships in the 21st century, just as the original, first drafted by Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt, was a declaration of a Western commitment to democracy and territorial integrity just months before the United States entered World War II." The newest version focuses on climate change, '"emerging technologies,"' '"cyberspace"' and '"sustainable global development."'

Biden Administration to Restore Clean-Water Protections Ended by Trump

In a reversal of Trump-era policy, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it was reinstating protections that would increase the number of bodies of water that would be subject to the 1972 Clean Water Act. The Obama-era expansion of the 1972 act was previously eroded by the Trump administration, but Biden's EPA will be establishing a long-standing definition of "waters of the United States" within the act. Republicans criticized the move, saying that onerous cleanup demands would ultimately harm the much-needed farming community.

The Keystone XL Pipeline Project Has Been Terminated.

TC Energy, the company behind the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, announced that it was terminating the project to build a 1,179-mile pipeline that would have carried 800,000 barrels a day of petroleum from Canada to Nebraska. Prior to the news, the Biden administration had previously rescinded the construction permit necessary for the implementation of the pipeline. Republicans opposed the move, arguing that losing the pipeline would cost thousands of potential good-paying jobs, while environmental groups applauded the action.

Biden Plans to Restore Alaskan Forest Protections Stripped Under Trump

The White House announced that it is repealing or replacing a Trump-era rule that opened 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska to logging and road construction projects. The Tongass has over "400 species of wildlife, fish and shellfish, including nesting bald eagles, moose and the world's highest concentration of black bears." The forest also stores millions of tons of carbon dioxide through its trees and soil absorption.

As Warming Fuels Disasters, Relief Often Favors White People

According to federal data, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is responsible for providing aid to Americans during natural disasters, shows that the agency often "helps white disaster victims more than people of color, even when the amount of damage is the same. Not only do individual white Americans often receive more aid from FEMA; so do the communities in which they live." FEMA is searching for reasons, which may stem from systemic issues such as the value of homes in differing neighborhoods or the lack of resources in communities to navigate the bureaucratic process needed to file claims.

Medical Journals Blind to Racism as Health Crisis, Critics Say

On a recent podcast, Dr. Edward Livingston, an editor of medical journal JAMA suggested '"taking racism out of the conversation"' about societal inequities and said that '"structural racism is an unfortunate term to describe a very real problem."' Communities of color were held back not by racism, he said, but by socioeconomic factors and a lack of opportunity." Outcry from the comments prompted Dr. Livingston to resign and prompted an investigation by the American Medical Association, which oversees JAMA. A petition, which has been signed by more than 9,000 people, requested that the journal hire more people of color and to hold town hall conversations with patients of color.

Wealthiest Executives Paid Little to Nothing in Federal Income Taxes, Report Says

In an report by ProPublica using Internal Revenue Service tax data, the news organization stated that the country's richest executives paid $13.6 billion in federal income taxes from 2014 to 2018, when their total net worth increased by $401 billion. The executives, whose wealth lie in homes, investments, shares of stock, and yachts, are not considered taxable income, and the tax code uses taxable income as a basis for taxes rather than total net worth. The Biden administration has proposed increasing the marginal tax rate for top earners from 37% to 39.6% and would reverse the Trump-era tax cuts from 2017. Economists note that this would be a modest change and some advocate for more aggressive measures, including a wealth tax. Additional beneficiaries of tax loopholes include leading private equity firms, whose army of lobbyists and complex structures provide avenues for lower tax burdens for the ultra-rich and could cost the United States $130 billion in unrecouped taxes over the next decade.

Once a Bastion of Free Speech, the American Civil Liberties Union Faces an Identity Crisis

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded as a '"content-neutral defender of free speech"', irrespective of how offensive the speech and the identity of those speaking. The organization, however, now finds itself rife with internal divisions, who see the absolute defense of the right as a roadblock to progressive agendas in voting, reparations, transgender rights, and defunding the police, amongst others. Staffing within the organization also support this fundamental shift: "Since Mr. Trump's election, the A.C.L.U. budget has nearly tripled to more than $300 million as its corps of lawyers doubled. The same number of lawyers -- four -- specialize in free speech as a decade ago."

Three Federal Drug Administration Advisers Resign Over Agency's Approval of Alzheimer's Drug

Three members of a committee advising the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) in its review of an Alzheimer's medication have resigned in protest. Their decisions stem from the FDA's approval of Aduhelm, a monthly intravenous drug that costs $56,000, stating that '"there's no good evidence that the drug works"' and was in contravention of the committee's overwhelming recommendation not to approve the drug due to clinical trial data. Beyond the underlying price tag, recipients will also need to receive recurring brain scans, as known side effects include brain swelling and bleeding, adding to the overall costs.

It's Hard to Sue Gun Makers. New York Is Set to Change That.

The Democratic-controlled New York State Legislature passed a bill that would allow for civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers, an opportunity not afforded under federal law. The bill is the "first of its kind in the nation to specifically classify the illegal or improper marketing or sale of guns as a nuisance -- a technical classification that state lawmakers say would open the gun industry to civil liability suits in New York."

State Senate Confirms Court of Appeals Nominees

The New York State Senate has confirmed the governor's nominations of Madeline Singas and Judge Anthony Cannataro. Cannataro is the second LGBTQ+ judge on the Court of Appeals. He has served as an administrative judge in the Civil Court of the City of New York since 2018. Singas previously served as chief assistant district attorney of Nassau County and assistant district attorney in the Queens County District Attorney's office.

Women's Prison Plagued by Sexual Violence Will Close, Governor Says

Governor Philip Murphy announced that Edna Mahan Correctional Facility, New Jersey's sole prison for women, will permanently close. Some are hailing the closure as an opportunity to lower the prison population of women, while others are reticent of the move, asking where the prisoners will go. The move was sparked by incidents where women were routinely sexually assaulted and a recent midnight raid in January that resulted in one woman being punched in the face 28 times.

Texas Attorney General Is Being Investigated by State Bar Association

After Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas filed a lawsuit asking the Supreme Court to "extend a deadline for the certification of presidential electors, arguing that election irregularities in four other states -- Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin -- warranted further investigation." The case was rejected. Subsequently, a former Houston Chronicle reporter filed a grievance with the Texas State Bar, stating that Paxton knew the lawsuit was frivolous. The Board of Disciplinary Appeals announced that the grievance illustrated several violations of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Misconduct and will now undergo a formal investigation into Paxton.

Dartmouth Medical School Drops Online Cheating Cases Against Students

Earlier this year, "Dartmouth charged 17 students with cheating based on a review of certain online activity data on Canvas -- a popular learning management system where professors post assignments and students submit their work -- during remote exams." After quickly dropping 7 of the cases, the school has now done the same with the remaining matters. The decision by the medical school resulted in part to a news story that found that "students' devices could automatically generate Canvas activity data even when no one was using them."

U.N. Security Council Recommends António Guterres for a Second Term

The United Nations Security Council "recommended the re-election of António Guterres as secretary general, assuring a second term for the Portuguese statesman that will keep him in office until 2027." No other candidate received a formal endorsement needed to be recognized for consideration. Guterres came to the office in 2016 and previously led the United Nations refugee agency for 10 years.

With a Ban on Navalny's Group, Putin Sends Clear Message to Biden

In a recent order, a Russian court deemed the political movement of Aleksei A. Navalny, a noted political opponent to Vladimir Putin, as an extremist network. The ruling opens the door for those involved with the movement to face prosecution. Last year, Navalny was poisoned by Russian agents, and upon his return to Russia, was arrested. In the meantime, thousands of Russian protesters have been detained and political leaders have been jailed. The Kremlin has denied any involvement and points to the independence of the judiciary, which made its ruling, a fact that many contend is disingenuous, especially in politically-motivated cases.

Ratko Mladic Loses Final Appeal in Genocide Conviction

In 2017, former Bosnian Serb general, Ratko Mladic, was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. That verdict was affirmed this week by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. Based on events from 1995, Mladic was convicted of "attacking and murdering civilians during the 43-month siege on the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo. He was also found guilty of genocide for directing the notorious mass executions of 8,000 Muslim men and boys, after Mr. Mladic's forces overran the United Nations-protected enclave of Srebrenica."


For Asian Americans Wary of Attacks, Reopening Is Not an Option

Even after many states have opened up and returned to relative normalcy, many Asian Americans remain in fear, not of getting sick but of getting attacked due to racial animus. What was previously a directive to stand 6 feet apart to slow the spread of the virus is now being repurposed in the Asian community to prevent unwanted attacks from strangers. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of organizations, reported that from March 2020 to March 2021, there were more than 6,600 attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. and "while nearly three-fifths of white fourth graders are now back in class, just 18 percent of their Asian American peers have returned to in-person learning, according to federal surveys."

FDA Tells Johnson & Johnson That 60 Million Vaccine Doses Cannot Be Used

The Food and Drug Administration announced that, due to a possible contamination at a Baltimore factory used to produce the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, 60 million doses will go unused. The news comes after governments in Europe refused to administer the vaccine due to possible links to a rare clotting disorder. The federal government agreed to pay the manufacturer $200 million to produce the vaccine, but regulators have not cleared a single dose of the vaccine that had been produced by the factory.

Biden to Send 500 Million Doses of Pfizer Vaccine to 100 Countries Over a Year

According to sources familiar with the plan, the Biden administration will purchase "500 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and donate them among about 100 countries over the next year." The first 200 million doses are planned to be distributed by the end of 2021 with the remaining doses set to be distributed by this time next year and will be purchased at a '"not for profit"' price. The pledge adds to the plan to distribute "25 million doses this month to countries in the Caribbean and Latin America; South and Southeast Asia; Africa; and the Palestinian territories, Gaza and the West Bank."

Goldman Sachs Requires its U.S. Employees to Report Their Vaccination Status.

Last week, Goldman Sachs distributed an internal memo requiring employees in the United States to inform the company whether or not they have been vaccinated. The news comes after the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provided guidance that said that employers are allowed to ask for this information if they keep the medical records confidential.

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Travis Marmara
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Karen Olivo Won't Return to 'Moulin Rouge!'

In a 5-minute Instagram video, Karen Olivo, star of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical", announced that she would not be returning to the cast when the play resumes. Citing a Hollywood Reporter story detailing the culture of abusive behavior to staffers by producer Scott Rudin, who was not a producer for "Moulin Rouge!", and the silence of the industry that implicitly condoned such behavior, Olivo stated that '"Broadway is not the place I want to be."'

In related news, Rudin apologized for '"troubling interactions with colleagues'" and said he would not have '"active participation"' in his ongoing shows, which include "The Book of Mormon", "To Kill a Mockingbird", and "West Side Story". Among the allegations against Rudin include throwing a baked potato at an assistant's head and smashing a computer monitor on the hand of a different assistant.

Did the Music Industry Change? A Race 'Report Card' Is on the Way

The Black Music Action Coalition, which comprises managers, lawyers, and others in the music industry, was created in the summer of 2020 with the purpose of accounting for how the industry as a whole is addressing social justice issues. In June, the coalition will issue a report that will indicate the "steps the companies have taken toward racial parity, and track whether and where promised donations have been made. It will also examine the number of Black executives at the leading music companies and the power they hold, and how many Black people sit on their boards."

The Healing Power of Music

Beyond aesthetic pleasure, researchers are finding that music has a profound clinical impact on treating patients with asthma, autism, depression, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and strokes. In conjunction with other treatment, music has shown the ability to help patients "cope with their stress and mobilize their body's own capacity to heal." Further, a "review of 400 research papers .... in 2013 concluded that '"listening to music was more effective than prescription drugs in reducing anxiety prior to surgery."' Similarly, reading and writing poetry has shown to have therapeutic effects, especially those suffering grief or anxiety due to the pandemic, and has enabled those to "process difficult feelings like loss, sadness, anger, [and] lack of hope."


Art Institute of Chicago Names Its Next Board Chief

Denise Gardner has been picked to be the chairwoman of the Art Institute of Chicago, becoming the first Black woman to hold the position. In her past, Gardner has supported Black artists and provided resources to underrepresented communities in the arts. Gardner also serves on the steering committee of the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, which assists in making museums more diverse through the hiring of Black trustees, artists, and curators.

Nonfungible Tokens Are Shaking Up the Art World. They May Be Warming the Planet, Too

Nonfungible tokens, also known as "NFTs", are taking the art world by storm. An NFT is ultimately a piece of artwork "stamped with a unique string of code and stored on a virtual ledger called a blockchain." When an artist uploads the piece, it starts a process known as "mining," which involves mathematical calculations that requires lots of computing power and harnessing of energy. New light has been shed on the ecological toll of such actions. According to some estimates, "the creation of an average NFT has a stunning environmental footprint of over 200 kilograms of planet-warming carbon, equivalent to driving 500 miles in a typical American gasoline-powered car." This has led some to question the technology and even pull artwork that utilizes blockchain technology.

Book by Officer Who Shot Breonna Taylor Is a New Test for Publishers

Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly, infamously known for his role in the shooting of Breonna Taylor, had agreed to book deal with small, independent publisher, Post Hill Press. Simon & Schuster was set to distribute the book, but after news of its release made its way onto the internet, Simon & Schuster quickly did an about face, announcing that it would not distribute the book. Distributors typically are not allowed to select which titles they ship, and it is exceedingly rare that they take such action.

His Fence Says 'Black Lives Matter.' His City Says Paint Over It

In West St. Paul, a small community outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota, a 75-foot fence was painted on depicting Kimetha Johnson, the city's first Black mayoral candidate, and "Black Lives Matter" written in large, bold print. Ryan Weyandt, who owned the fence and the house it borders, received a notice from West St. Paul officials in November informing him that he was violating the city's sign ordinance. The city cited the local ordinance, which bans signs '"painted, attached or in any other manner affixed to fences, roofs, trees, rocks or other similar natural surfaces."' While the city says that its restrictions are not based on the content of the mural, others in the town of 20,000, where only 5% are African-American, disagree. The news comes amidst the trial of Derick Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged with killing George Floyd.

A Clash of Wills Keeps a Leonardo Masterpiece Hidden

In connection with a planned show commemorating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death, the Louvre planned to hang "Salvator Mundi," which fetched over $450 million at a recent auction. The anonymous bidder -- many of whom believe to be Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia -- withheld the painting from being shown. Some believe that the Saudis were never serious about including the painting in the French show, as they wanted the paining to hang next to the "Mona Lisa". In turn, the French never publicly acknowledged the authenticity of the "Salvator Mundi", leading some to question whether the paining was a da Vinci. As a result of the standoff, the painting remains out of sight for the planned exhibition.

Turkey Fights for Return of a Work It Says Was Looted

A dispute has arisen over the possession of famed art sculpture, "The Guennol Stargazer", which was carved roughly 6,000 years ago and depicts the female form abstractly. The Turkish government, citing the 1906 Ottoman Decree, claims broad ownership over antiquities found in the country. Christie's, which held an audition that fetched $14.4 million for the piece (before the buyer rescinded) has kept it in a vault. A civil trial in the Southern District of New York will now determine the rightful ownership of the piece.


NCAA Responds, Tentatively, to Transgender Athlete Bans

In at least 30 states, bills have emerged that would consider barring transgender athletes from competing in sports competitions. In response, the NCAA released a statement saying that it is '"committed to ensuring that NCAA championships are open for all who earn the right to compete in them."' The statement, however, falls short of pulling championships from states considering such legislation, an action taken by the NCAA in 2016 after North Carolina passed a law restricting bathroom access for those who identify as transgender.

U.S. Women's Team Clears Hurdle to Reviving Equal Pay Fight

Judge R. Gary Klausner, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, approved a partial-settlement agreement
between U.S. Soccer and the Women's National team on working conditions that was reached last year. Rejecting the main argument of equal pay, Judge Klausner allowed the Women's National team to continue to argue claims over unequal working conditions regarding team flights, hotels, venue selection, and staffing. Now that issues over working conditions have been resolved, the team is pursuing its appeal of Judge Klausner's ruling that dismissed their demands for equal pay.

NCAA Fines U.S.C. Men's Basketball Over Bribery Case

In 2019, former associate head coach of the University of Southern California's men's basketball team, Tony Bland, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery for his acceptance of a $4,100 bribe from a sports agent in exchange for directing future NBA eligible players to a Las Vegas management company. Last week, the NCAA disciplinary committee placed a 2-year probation on the basketball program and fined it $5,000, plus 1% of the program's budget, in response to Bland's actions. The NCAA's decision also prevents Bland from working in a college athletics program for 3 years.

Hideki Matsuyama Wins the Masters With a Groundbreaking Performance

THideki Matsuyama became the first Asian-born male golfer to win the Masters golf tournament. He finished 10 under par for the tournament and closed with a one shot lead over Will Zalatoris. Matsuyama's win comes at a time when violence against Asian-Americans has grown at an alarming pace.

Major League Baseball Pushes Incentives to Encourage Players to Get Vaccine

On March 29th, Major League Baseball (MLB) and the players' union sent the players a 3-page memorandum discussing how the strict health and safety protocols to curb the spread of the coronavirus would be relaxed for those who are vaccinated and for teams that reach an 85% threshold. Under the plan, vaccinated players can "gather on team planes, trains or buses again" and "virus testing can be reduced from every other day to twice a week." For teams, masks would no longer be required in the bullpen or dugout, and shared clubhouse activities, like card games and video games, could also return.

Topps is Releasing Official NFT Baseball Cards on April 20th

Topps, the collectible card company, announced that it will be auctioning off its products as NFTs. The market for NFTs exploded through the National Basketball Association's (NBA) version called "Moments", which are purchasable video clips that have sold for up to $200,000. The Topps cards will start selling on "April 20th, with 50,000 standard packs (containing six cards for $5) and around 24,000 premium packs (offering 45 cards for $100) set to be sold in the first wave."


'Master', 'Slave', and the Fight Over Offensive Terms in Computing

The Internet Engineering Task Force is attempting to address antiquated and racist terms within engineering language, such as "master", "slave", "whitelist", and "blacklist". The group, which is composed of roughly 7,000 volunteers around the world, is organized to solve the internet's trickiest engineering issues to ensure uniformity of the internet. Yet a consensus has not been reached by the volunteer group on what terms to use instead, if any. Without such guidance, internet companies have tackled the issue on their own, creating their own terms such as "source" and "replica" to replace the offensive terms.

Smartmatic Says Disinformation on Fox News About the Election Was 'No Accident'

A recent lawsuit filed by election technology company Smartmatic alleges that unfounded conspiracy theories pushed by Fox News and Fox hosts, including Maria Bartiromo, Jeanine Pirro, and Lou Dobbs, destroyed the company's reputation and business. In its motion to dismiss, Fox News argued that it covered the 2020 election in a responsible way and that mentions of Smarmatic were merely part of the overall story that then-President Trump was not conceding the election. In the coming weeks, the presiding judge will determine whether Smartmatic's case will proceed.

Mark Zuckerberg is Urged to Scrap Plans for an Instagram for Children

In response to Instagram's plan to develop an Instagram for children under the age of 13, an international group of 35 children's and consumer groups demanded that the company halt its plans. While the application's goal of targeting a younger demographic was to curb bullying, protect them from sexual deviants, and prevent them from using the main site, the coalition said that '"it will likely increase the use of Instagram by young children who are particularly vulnerable to the platform's manipulative and exploitative features."'

Feeding Hate With Video: A Former Alt-Right YouTuber Explains His Methods

Many around the globe, including regulators, tech companies, and users, are struggling to understand the breadth and power that social media companies have in sowing hate and violence.

For those individuals who had a part in creating an environment of such hate on the internet, some are realizing their roles and have taken efforts to detail the actions they took to gain notoriety on the internet for fringe movements. This includes make strategic edits to videos, showing aggressors as victims, and seeking confrontations to help attract millions of views on YouTube and similar platforms. Algorithms on social media platforms then recommend other similar videos that are even more extreme, creating an echo chamber of views.

Reuters Names a New Editor in Chief

Reuters announced that Alessandra Galloni will become Editor-in-Chief of the news publication. The news marks the first time a woman has been appointed to the top editorial position in its 170-year history. Galloni had been the global managing editor of the publication since 2015 and had previously worked for 13 years as a reporter and editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Former Condé Nast Editor Plans a Vanity Fair for the Substack Era

Heat Media, the creation of Jon Kelly, formerly of Vanity Fair, is creating a new publication platform that would provide writers with equity and a percentage of the subscription revenue they would generate. The new media company, which is yet to be named, has already received venture capital money and is alleged to include a daily newsletter, a website, and access to events in its $100 per year subscription. To allocate money to the writers, "the publication would rely on an algorithm to gauge how many readers bought a subscription because of a specific writer."

Hong Kong Court Sentences Jimmy Lai and Other Pro-Democracy Leaders to Prison

A Hong Kong court sentenced Jimmy Lai, head of a tabloid-style publication that is often critical of Chinese government, to 12 months in prison for his participation in a peaceful demonstration addressing China's intrusion into Hong Kong's territory. Supporters of Lai say that the sentence marks the latest signal of Beijing's influence in turning Hong Kong from a epicenter of free speech to one that punishes those who openly oppose China.

General News

Beyond Pandemic's Upheaval, a Racial Wealth Gap Endures

While President Biden's executive orders and pandemic relief bill have taken steps to address racial inequality in areas covering health care, education, and infrastructure, some have pointed out that such efforts have not done enough to address the wealth gap between white and Black Americans. It has been shown that "for every dollar a typical white household has, a Black one has 12 cents, a divide that has grown over the last half-century." Economists estimate that the wealth gap has cost the United States economy "$1 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years, or 4 to 6 percent of the projected gross domestic product in 2028." In response, Vice President Kamala Harris and several Democratic senators have supported proposals that target the racial wealth gap, including a program to increase Black homeownership and creating trust accounts for newborns called "baby bonds".

Democrats' Supreme Court Expansion Plan Draws Resistance

House and Senate Democrats introduced legislation that would expand the Supreme Court from 9 justices to 13. Democrats view the legislation as a way to restore neutrality on the Court, after Mitch McConnell refused to allow a vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland during the Obama administration and rammed through the vote on Justice Amy Comey Barrett just days before the 2020 election. The bill faces steep opposition in the Senate, where the filibuster remains, and amongst Republicans, who see the measure as trying to "pack" the Court to gain a partisan advantage. The size of the Court is not set by the Constitution, but rather through legislation, and has not been changed since 1869.

Biden Wavers on Restricting Refugee Entry

In contravention to earlier promises to allow more than 60,000 individuals fleeing war and persecution into the United States, the Biden administration announced that it would limit the number of refugees to the 15,000 limit set by the Trump administration. President Biden cited concerns that lifting the cap would overwhelm and create chaos in an already strained refugee-processing system. In response to outcries by Democrats and human rights activists, the White House reversed course again and said that it promised to announced an increased number by May 15th.

U.S. Imposes Stiff Sanctions on Russia, Blaming It for Major Hacking Operation

The Biden administration announced sanctions on 32 entities and individuals for their part in effectuating the Kremlin's directive to sow confusion and misinformation in the 2020 election. In addition, "ten Russian diplomats, most of them identified as intelligence operatives, were expelled from the Russian Embassy in Washington. And the administration banned American banks from purchasing newly issued Russian government debt." In response, Russia promised retaliation at a yet-to-be-determined time.

Defying Republicans, Big Companies Keep the Focus on Voting Rights

In the wake of the state of Georgia passing restrictive voting rights legislation that limits the use of early voting and the presence of drop boxes, amongst other restrictions, a group of prominent businesses, including Google, Netflix, BlackRock, Ford, PayPal, and Twilio have created a coalition which purpose is to use its clout to oppose voter suppression legislation in Georgia and other states. Similarly, MLB recently announced that it was moving its 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver due to the passing of voter suppression laws. In addition, Apple's upcoming movie "Emancipation", starring Will Smith, who plays an enslaved man who emancipated himself from a Southern plantation and joined the Union Army, pulled out of filming in Georgia.

Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11th

According to President Biden, the military will withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11th, coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on American soil. The move goes against the Pentagon's advice to remain in Afghanistan until Afghan security forces can hold their own against the Taliban. The conflict in Afghanistan has cost the lives of nearly 2,400 troops and roughly $2 trillion. President Biden's plan has drawn praise from Democrats and those in the military, who saw no end to the costly war. Republicans and others in the military, however, note that such a move would put troops in danger and would create fertile ground for terrorist organizations to plan future attacks against the United States.

House Panel Advances Bill to Study Reparations in Historic Vote

In a vote by the House Judiciary Committee, members voted "to recommend for the first time the creation of a commission to consider providing Black Americans with reparations for slavery in the United States and a '"national apology"' for centuries of discrimination." The bill, however, faces an uphill battle for passage, as some Democrats and unified Republicans argue that Black Americans do not need government assistance of crimes committed years ago. Polling indicates that support is growing for such a plan, but has not yet become mainstream.

A Capitol Police Lieutenant Won't Face Charges in the Jan. 6th Shooting Death of a Rioter.

After a 3-month investigation, the Justice Department announced that it will not be pursuing criminal charges against a Capitol Police lieutenant who shot and killed Ashli Babbitt after she entered the Capitol on January 6th. Along with others, Babbitt had tried to access the floor of the House through the Speaker's Lobby. After an analysis of videos posted on social media, evidence from the scene of the shooting, witness statements, and Babitt's autopsy, the Justice Department found insufficient evidence to lead to a criminal prosecution.

How the Capitol Riot Suspects Are Challenging the Charges

After the FBI opened a probe into the events that led up to and including the riot at the Capitol on January 6th, over 400 people have been charged with crimes among the several hundred investigations that have taken place. With no underlying precedent for the events that took place, prosecutors and defendants are using creating arguments to bolster their position or weaken their opponents'. For example, "one prosecutor made a novel legal argument last week, suggesting in court that a rioter had '"corralled"' a segment of the crowd into storming the Capitol and thus had turned the mob itself into a weapon." Defense attorneys, on the other hand, have argued that their clients cannot receive a fair trial, as the "city's liberal electorate was barraged by media accounts describing rioters . . . as '"white supremacists"' who had
launched a '"domestic terror attack."'

Oath Keeper Pleads Guilty and Will Cooperate in Jan. 6th Riot Inquiry

Jon Ryan Schaffer, an Oath Keeper member who was charge in connection with the riot at the Capitol, has pleaded guilty to obstructing an official proceeding and entering a restricted building with a dangerous weapon and has agreed to cooperate with the government, opening up the opportunity to identify others of the far-right group who had a part in the insurrection. Currently, 12 other members of the organization have been charged for their participation in the event.

Capitol Police Told to Hold Back on Riot Response on Jan. 6th, Report Finds

In an internal report issued by Inspector General, Michael A. Bolton of the Capitol Police, the 104-page document outlined that the Capitol Police had advanced notice that "Congress itself [was] the target" and police officers were instructed by top leadership not to use their most aggressive tactics to subdue the mob. Part of the explanation for not using such tactics as sting balls and stun grenades, which are often used for crowd control, was that the officers were not adequately trained to use the equipment, and senior officials were afraid they would be used to injure or even kill people. In the wake of the riot, "three top security officials in charge that day resigned in disgrace, and they have since deflected responsibility for the intelligence failures, blaming other agencies, each other and at one point even a subordinate."

Justice Dept. Restores Use of Consent Decrees for Police Abuses

Attorney General Merrick Garland is restoring the use of consent decrees as one of the department's most important tools in combating police abuses and creating future change. Consent decrees are "court-approved deals between the Justice Department and local governmental agencies that create a road map for changes to the way they operate." The announcement comes amidst the backdrop of the ongoing case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd. The policy change reverses the prior administration's restrictions on the use of consent decrees that were imposed by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the end of his tenure.

Derek Chauvin Declines to Testify as His Defense Ends After 2 Days

Derek Chauvin, who is on trial for the infamous killing of George Floyd, which led to widespread, nationwide movements to raise awareness of social injustice initiatives, has declined to testify on his own behalf. The defense team for Chauvin has argued that Floyd's underlying health deficiencies and his use of drugs caused his death and that Chauvin's actions were reasonable considering Floyd's apparent resistance.

Police Officer Who Shot and Killed Daunte Wright Was Training Others

In Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Duante Wright, a 20-year-old Black man was shot and killed in his car after body camera footage showed he was attempting to avoid arrest. Officer Kimberly Porter, who shouted "Taser!" after Wright managed his way back into his car after his arrest, instead shot Wright in the chest once, killing him instantly. Porter, a 26-year veteran of the police force was in the midst of training junior officers that day. The incident has led to daily protests in Brooklyn Center. Porter has since resigned from the Brooklyn Center Police Force.

The incident, which involved a case of so-called "weapon confusion", however, is not entirely unique. What is consistent is that other cases of "weapon confusion" has infrequently led to prosecutions or arrests. In fact, "a New York Times review of 15 other cases of so-called weapon confusion over the past 20 years showed that only five of the officers were indicted. Only three, including the only two cases in which people were killed, were eventually found guilty." A difference to note is that in cases of "weapon confusion" qualified immunity rarely applies to the officer's actions, usually allowing cases to proceed.

Court Vindicates Black Officer Fired for Stopping Colleague's Chokehold

In 2006, a domestic dispute arose, leading to the arrest of a Black man. In response to a call by a colleague, Officer Kwiatkowski, who was asking for help, Officer Cariol Horne found Kwiatkowski in a rage and was repeatedly punching the arrestee in the face. After Kwiatkowski put the handcuffed man in a chokehold, who subsequently shouted that he could not breathe, Horne jumped on her colleague, forcibly removed him, and exchanged punches. Cariol was fired from her job, just one year shy of the 20 years needed to receive a pension, while Kwiatkowski received a promotion that same year. Fifteen years later, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the attention brought to chokeholds, and Cariol's law, named after Horne, which requires "officers to step in when one of their own used excessive force," a judge recently vacated an earlier ruling that affirmed her firing, allowing Horne to receive the back pay and benefits she had previously been denied.

Subpoenaing the Brookings Institution, Durham Focuses on Trump-Russia Dossier

Under the Trump administration, John H. Durham was appointed as special counsel to investigate the Trump-Russia inquiry that was opened by the FBI. One of the key avenues Durham has focused on is the so called "Steele Dossier", which included political opposition research that was used to obtain a court warrant to wiretap former Trump associates. Additionally, Durham has subpoenaed Igor Danchenko, a Russian researcher and former Bookings Institution staffer who helped gather rumors about Trump and Russia for the Steele Dossier, to provide documents. The Durham report was long heralded by the Trump administration to prove a deep-state conspiracy against him, but has not yet come to light, evoking sarcastic statements from Trump asking, "Where's Durham?", "Is he a living, breathing human being?", and "Will there ever be a Durham report?"

As New York Courts Seek to Root Out Racism, a Clerk Is Heard Using a Slur

At the end of a Family Court proceeding in Manhattan, a court clerk was overhead on Zoom calling a 15-year-old boy, who was being held in detention and who was subject of the proceeding, anti-Black slurs and epithets. The clerk has been suspended without pay and the court system's inspector general is opening an investigation into the matter. The incident comes after a report released last October that found that "court officers routinely used racial slurs without consequence, calling the fundamental fairness of the state's justice system into question."

Liberty University Sues Jerry Falwell Jr., Alleging Deception

Liberty University sued its former president, Jerry Falwell Jr., for more than $40 million, alleging breach of contract and fiduciary duty for withholding allegedly damaging information from the school's board of trustees. The charges stem from Falwell Jr. allegedly being blackmailed by a man who was having an affair with his wife. The complaint states that by keeping the extortion a secret from the school, Liberty's reputation was damaged. Falwell Jr. claims that the lawsuit is merely an attempt to defame him and is untruthful.


Johnson & Johnson Vaccinations Paused After Rare Clotting Cases Emerge

Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 have developed rare blood-clotting disorders within 1 to 3 weeks after receiving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Over 7 million people in the United States have received the company's vaccine thus far and over 10 million doses have already been shipped out across the country. Out of an abundance of caution, the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement recommending a nationwide pause in the vaccine's use to examine the rare, but significant complications associated with the company's vaccine.

As Covid Death Toll Passes 3 Million, a Weary World Takes Stock

On Saturday, the death toll from Covid-19 surpassed 3 million. The estimates exceed the populations of Berlin, Chicago, and Taipei. While industrialized nations have been successful in vaccinating its populations, hot spots have emerged in Eastern Europe and Latin America, where the virus is accelerating. Even in larger nations, such as France, which had its third national lockdown, there appears to be no end in sight, despite advances in vaccine distribution.

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

Below, for your browsing convenience, the categories are divided into: Entertainment, Arts, Sports, Technology/Media, and General News (including the Coronavirus):


'Chappelle's Show' Returns to Netflix After Its Star Gets Paid

Just over two months after it was pulled at his request, Dave Chappell has agreed to license and return the show to Netflix after being paid millions of dollars, for which he fought.

Nashville Urged to Address Racism Within Its Ranks

Following country star Morgan Wallen's use of a racial slur, other mainstream country artists have commented about the incident on social media, but many figured Nashville would do as it has almost always done when one of its stars is under fire: circle the wagons and shut up. However, following the incident, radio conglomerates iHeartMedia, Cumulus, Entercom, and others pulled Wallen's songs from rotation at hundreds of stations, and major streaming services removed him from playlists. CMT stopped running his videos. The Academy of Country Music declared him ineligible for its upcoming awards, while Wallen's second album topped the Billboard 200 chart for the third straight week. Female country artists like Mickey Guyton (the only Black woman signed to a major label), Maren Morris, Margo Price, and Amanda Shire,s amongst others, are pushing the country music business to begin confronting issues of racism and diversity that go beyond one artist's misdeeds.

Springsteen Was Arrested for Driving While Intoxicated in November & Jeep Pulls Ad After News of Charges

Bruce Springsteen was arrested at Gateway National Recreation Area in Sandy Hook, New Jersey on November 14th and charged with Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), reckless driving, and consuming alcohol in a closed area. A source close to the musician is sharing more information and says that the actual details raise doubts about the seriousness of the situation. A spokesperson for Jeep told CNN that the company would pause running its ad including Springsteen, which first debuted during the Super Bowl, in light of the charges. Springsteen is expected to have his first hearing on DWI charges "towards the end of February."


Metropolitan Museum Considers Selling Art to Pay Its Bills

Facing a potential shortfall of $150 million because of the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) has begun conversations with auction houses and its curators about selling some artworks to help pay for care of the collection. In the past, museums were permitted to use such funds only for future art purchases. Like many institutions, the Met is looking to take advantage of a two-year window in which the Association of Art Museum Directors -- a professional organization that guides its members' best practices -- has relaxed the guidelines that govern how proceeds from sales of works in a collection (known as deaccessioning) can be directed.

Publishers Steer Clear of MAGA

The Big Five publishing companies in New York, and even their dedicated conservative imprints, have become squeamish about the genre known as MAGA books, with its divisive politics and relaxed approach to facts. For example, Kate Harrison, the editorial director of the conservative Center Street imprint, was the one mainstream editor who would buy what no one else would -- and make a tidy profit for her employer. However, last month Hachette, who like other media companies had been torn in recent years between the politics of its staff and its historic commitment to publishing conservative speech, fired her. Hachette is hardly the only mainstream publisher steering away from MAGA books. Simon & Schuster invoked its "morals" clause to cancel the publication of a book by Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, after he objected to the results the November election and cheered the protests right before the violence broke out. Simon & Schuster will also stop publishing the right-wing activist Candace Owens. These tension are in part about free speech.

Fashion Adapts. Algorithms Lag.

The automated intelligence systems of Instagram and Facebook have repeatedly denied ads placed by small businesses that make stylish clothing for people with disabilities. Many times, these ads are rejected for violating policy -- specifically, the promotion of "medical and health care products and services including medical devices," even though they include no such products. This is a pattern that has been going on for at least two years: the algorithms that are the gatekeepers to the commercial side of Facebook and Instagram routinely misidentify adaptive fashion products and block them from their platforms. At least 7 brands have experience this problem -- one has been dealing with the issues on a weekly basis; another has had hundreds of products rejected. In each instance, the company has had to appeal on an item-by-item basis. The adaptive fashion struggle reflects a bigger issue: the implicit biases embedded in machine learning, and the way they impact marginalized communities.

With Suit, Poland Seeks to Push Its Version of Holocaust History

A Polish court has ordered two Holocaust historians to apologize to the niece of a dead village mayor, for having accused the deceased mayor of collaborating with the Nazis in WWII. Despite finding them guilty of defamation in a book, the Warsaw court did not order them to pay damages. The World Holocaust Remember Centre has called the case "a serious attack on free and open research." The two professors can appeal the civil case brought against them by 80-year old Filomena Leszcynska. Some 90% of Poland's pre-war Jewish community were killed. The book, Night Without End, quoted testimony from a Holocaust survivor who said the mayor, Edward Malinowski, had betrayed the whereabouts of a group of 22 Jews to German soldiers. The group was subsequently executed. Leszczynska said that the authors had omitted to say that a post-war trial had acquitted her uncle of the charge of collaboration with the Nazis. A controversial 2018 law in Poland makes it an offense to link the Polish nation to Nazi crimes. It was not invoked in this case, however.

Stonehenge May Have Moved to England from a Welsh Site

A team of archaeologists, led by Mike Parker Pearson of University College London, has unearthed Britain's third-largest stone circle in the Preseli Hills of western Wales that they believe was dismantled, moved 175 miles to England's Salisbury Plain and rebuilt as Stonehenge. Scholars have known for decades that most of Stonehenge's bluestones were carried, dragged or rolled to Salisbury Plain from the Preseli Hills.


10 Ways the NCAA Violates Core Values of Higher Education

In an amicus brief filed last week, eight states, including Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the NCAA's restraints of trade that prevent college athletes from earning compensation, arguing that the current system of college sports will "prepare student-athletes for success in all areas of life." While these eight states argue that college sports should be left to reform itself, the NCAA system, in earnest, is not about to reform without Court intervention. The NCAA and its college sports system represent the very antithesis of the reform-minded values that otherwise underlie higher education. Throughout the years, the college sports system, operating under the auspices of the NCAA, conflicts with the longstanding, progressive values that are preached throughout most other aspects of the higher education industry.

In the National Basketball Association, Money Speaks Louder Than Stars

With tens of millions of dollars at stake, the All-Star Game is unlikely to be derailed by pushback from the National Basketball Association's (NBA) biggest stars about the health risks or the need for a break. Lebron James, the NBA's biggest star, has blamed its plan to stuff three days' worth of All-Star events into a one-shot Turner Sports extravaganza on March 7th. League and players' union officials are nonetheless expected to soon announce that those plans have been scheduled. It is reminiscent of how the season started -- and another illustration of the louder-than-ever say held by the NBA's broadcast partners at such challenging financial times for the sport's various stakeholders.

NBA Says Its Teams Must Play the Anthem

The Dallas Mavericks have not been playing "The Star-Spangled Banner" before home games all season, but said that it would, going forward after the NBA declared that all teams were required to play the national anthem. The NBA's rules have required players to stand during the anthem, however NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has not enforced that rule in recent years, as players chose to kneel during the anthem in protests of police brutality and social injustice. The pregame national anthem is a staple of American sports at both the professional and collegiate level, but is far less commonplace at professional sporting events in other countries.

New York Will Permit Fans, But Not Many

In a bit of a surprise, New York State will permit a limited number of fans in stands at arenas and stadiums with 10,000 or more seats starting on February 23rd. This includes sports franchises like the Nets, Knicks, Rangers, Sabres, and Islanders, provided that seating is limited to 10% of each venue's capacity. In addition to limits on attendance, the state announced other restrictions, including negative tests for COVID-19 within 72 hours of a game and the state's Department of Health will have to approve each venue. Fans will also be required to remain socially distanced and wear face coverings at games.

Investigators Fault Pilot in Crash that Killed Bryant

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that pilot Ara Zobayan's poor decision-making is the likely cause of the helicopter crash that killed NBA star Kobe Bryant and eight others last year. The NTSB found that Zobayan was flying under visual flight rules, which means he had to be able to see where he was going, but decided to fly into thick clouds, where he became spatially disoriented. Investigators also attributed fault to the company that operated the flight, Island Express Helicopters, citing its "inadequate review and oversight of its safety management process." It noted, however, that the company's safety protocols -- while flawed -- were legal under current Federal Aviation Administration rules. The NTSB also said the air traffic controllers on duty that day did not contribute in any way to the crash. Those issues had become significant in federal and state courts, where the victims' families have filed a series of lawsuits against the helicopter company and, in some cases, Zobayan's estate. The helicopter company later countersued the air traffic controllers in what experts believe is an effort to spread liability.

In Japan, a Sexist Remark (Initially) Did Not Unseat Olympics Chief

Tokyo Olympics chief Yoshiro Mori apologized for making sexist remarks about women, saying he retracted the comments and would not resign, despite calls for him to step down on social media. The hashtag "Mori, please resign" was trending on Twitter in Japan and some users on the platform were calling on sponsors to pressure the Tokyo organizing committee into dropping Mori from the top post. Japan persistently trails its peers on promoting gender equality, ranking 121 out of 153 nations surveyed in the 2020 global gender gap report of the World Economic Forum. Since his outburst, more than half of the Japanese public agreed in a poll that he was "not qualified" to lead. Editorials in two of the country's largest newspapers called for him to resign. His imperviousness to the firestorm over his sexist remarks appeared to reflect the support of a Japanese power structure that is largely unaccountable to the public, works to preserve the old guard, and freezes out the critical voices of younger people. Mori finally resigned on Friday, following the backlash over his comments.

A Culture of Abuse Has Deep Roots

Soccer leagues and teams have urged Twitter and Facebook to address the unfiltered hatred spewed on their platforms. Yet the game indulges, and sometimes even directs, that same outrage. The incidents keep coming and it is abundant proof that following the same playbook is no longer enough. All of the club statements and official condemnations and well-meaning hashtags do nothing whatsoever to stanch the flow of abuse. A sense of soccer's powerlessness is slowly dawning on the sport. The game's authorities in England -- and across Europe -- have launched and relaunched various campaigns in recent months, in an attempt to demonstrate that this is an issue they are taking seriously. However, racism is not a social media problem, it is a societal one.

Coach Resigns From Jaguars After Outcry Over His Past

Chis Doyle's tenure as the Director of Sports Performance of the Jacksonville Jaguars lasted about 35 hours. The former Iowa strength and conditioning coach resigned from his post in Jacksonville a day after his hiring, which triggered an outcry due to his past behaviors at Iowa. Once the nation's highest-paid strength coach, Doyle came under fire after numerous Hawkeyes players singled him out for allegedly racist comments and other negative experiences while they were with the program. Doyle eventually parted ways with Iowa, receiving more than $1 million as part of a separation agreement. While accusations of racism and player hospitalizations would theoretically be a significant obstacle for landing an National Football League job, Doyle only had to wait months before Meyer and the Jaguars came calling. After announcing his hiring, Meyer vociferously defended the move, claiming that the Jaguars thoroughly vetted the coach before bringing him aboard.


Right-Wing Outlets Flinch as Lawsuits Roll Out

In just a few weeks, lawsuits and legal threats from a pair of election technology companies achieved what years of advertising boycotts, public pressure campaigns, and liberal outrage could not: Curbing the flow of misinformation in right-wing media. Fox Business canceled "Lou Dobbs Tonight", the networks' highest rated show, after its host was sued as part of a $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit. Fox News, which seldom bows to critics, also ran fact-checking segments to debunk its own anchors' false claims about electoral fraud. Conservatives outlets have rarely faced this level of direct assault on their economic lifeblood. Litigation represents a new front in the war against misinformation, a scourge that has reshaped American politics, deprived citizens of common facts, and paved the way for the deadly January 6th attack on the Capitol. The use of defamation suits also raised uneasy questions about how to police a news media that counts on First Amendment protections -- even as some conservative outlets advanced Trump's lies and eroded public faith in the democratic process.

Fox Seeks to Dismiss Election Lawsuit

Fox News is seeking a dismissal of Smartmatic's $2.7 billion defamation lawsuit, arguing that it was providing First Amendment protected newsworthy information in featuring Trump's surrogates and their false claims that the voting systems company was involved in election fraud. The network argued in a motion to dismiss that Smartmatic may have a defamation case against Trump's surrogates if they "fabricated evidence or told lies with actual malice," but not against "the media that covered their allegations and allowed them to try to substantiate them." The motion to dismiss was filed on behalf of Fox Corp. and Fox News, but not the other defendants named in the lawsuit. They include three Fox News Media personalities, Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, and two Trump surrogates who were guests on their shows, Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

Fox Anchors File Motions to Dismiss Lawsuit

Attorneys for Fox News filed individual motions last week to dismiss Smartmatic's defamation lawsuit on behalf of Lou Dobbs, Mario Bartiromo, and Jeanine Pirro, three anchors who were named in the matter in which the voting technology company is seeking a whopping $2.7 billion.

Before the Riot, Anger Crackled On Talk Radio

Talk radio is perhaps the most influential and under-chronicled part of right-wing media, where the voices of Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and other star hosts waft through the homes, workplaces, and commutes of tens of millions of listeners. Before the riot, they offered unrestrained forums for claims of rigged voting machines and a liberal conspiracy to steal the presidency for Biden. There is an often unguarded nature of talk radio, where hosts indulge in edgier fare than on TV networks, like Fox News, and listeners call in to say what they really think, insulated from the scrutiny of people with whom they disagree. The result is something of an id of American conservative thought. Hosts' intemperate remarks on race, immigration, and other subjects lend the shows a renegade feel and keep listeners loyal and emotionally invested. As Trump echoed the blunt language of talk radio, its hosts defended the president's acidic language and frequent falsehoods -- even when he claimed, without evidence, that the election had been stolen.

Facebook Dials Down the Politics for Users

After inflaming political discourse around the globe, Facebook is trying to turn down the temperature. The social network announced that it had started changing its algorithm to reduce the political feed. This will first be tested on a fraction of Facebook's users in Canada, Brazil, and Indonesia and will be expanded to the U.S. in the coming weeks. Political stories won't disappear form users' feeds altogether; content from official government agencies and services will be exempt form the algorithm change, as will information about COVID-19 from organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization. Users would also still be able to discuss politics inside private groups. Facebook has been under fire from lawmakers from both parties.

Twitter Blocks Accounts in India as Modi Pressures Social Media

Twitter said that it has permanently blocked over 500 accounts and moved an unspecified number of others from view within India after the government accused the users of making inflammatory remarks about Narendra Modi, the country's prime minister. Twitter said it had acted after the government issued a notice of noncompliance, a move that experts said could put the company's local employees in danger of spending up to seven years in custody. Twitter said that it was not taking any action on accounts that belonged to media organizations, journalists, activists or politicians, saying it did not believe the orders to block them "are consistent with Indian law."

Ruling Favors Prince Harry and Meghan Over Tabloid

Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has won a victory in her lawsuit against Associated Newspapers, the parent company of the Mail, with High Court Judge Mark Warby ruling that the newspaper did in fact breach her privacy and copyright when it published the letter she wrote to her father, Thomas Markle, before her wedding to Prince Harry in 2018. She has been granted summary judgement for breach of privacy and breach of copyright, which means the case has been struck out and will not go to a full trial in October.

Civil-Liberties Groups Ask U.S. to Drop Assange Case

A coalition of civil liberties and human rights groups urged the Biden administration to drop efforts to extradite the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from Britain and prosecute him, calling the Trump-era case against him "a grave threat to press freedom." The coalition sent a letter urging a change in course before a Friday deadline for the Justice Department to file a brief in a London court. American prosecutors are due to explain in detail their decision -- formally lodged on January 19th, the last full day of the Trump administration -- to appeal a ruling blocking their request to extradite Assange. The litigation deadline may force the new administration to confront a decision: whether to press on with the Trump-era approach or to instead drop the matter.

China Arrests Australian Journalist on Spy Charge

China has formally arrested a Chinese-born Australian journalist for CGTN, the English-language channel of China Central Television, on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas. The arrest of Cheng Lei starts an official criminal investigation and comes six months after she was detained. The Australian government has raised serious concerns about her detention, while China's Foreign Ministry confirmed Cheng's arrest and said her legal rights were being "fully guaranteed". The charges could result in a penalty of life in prison or even death, but are highly unusual for an employee of a media outlet tightly controlled by China's ruling Communist Party. The British media watchdog Ofcom last week stripped CGTN of its U.K. broadcasting license because of a lack of editorial control and is investigating complaints that it ran forced confessions by a suspect involved in political cases.

Myanmar Proposes Crackdown on Free Speech in Effort to Stifle Protests

The military government in Myanmar has increasingly used nighttime arrests, legal threats, a curfew and a ban on large gatherings to tame weeklong anti-coup protests that have spread from the cities to the countryside. Now, civil society groups fear that the military is preparing a new law that would further restrict online expression and limit the privacy rights of citizens. A coalition of 158 civil society organizations signed a statement raising concerns that the potential law would lead to the widespread arrest of government critics. Myanmar already has harsh laws restricting online speech, but opponents of the military say that the proposed law is so broad, it would allow the authorities to arrest anyone who criticized the government online and imprison the person for up to three years. Critics also said the proposed law would require telecommunications companies to cooperate with the government and provide information about their customers.

General News

Senate Acquits Trump in Capitol Riot: 7 Republicans Join in Vote to Convict

The Senate voted to acquit former President Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection despite significant Republican support for conviction, bringing an end to the fourth impeachment trial in U.S. history and the second for Trump. Seven Republicans voted to convict Trump for allegedly inciting the deadly January 6th riot at the Capitol, when a mob of pro-Trump supporters tried to disrupt the electoral vote count formalizing Biden's election win before a joint session of Congress. That is by far the most bipartisan support for conviction in impeachment history. The final vote was 57 to 43, 10 short of the 67 votes needed to secure a conviction. The vote means that the Senate cannot bar Trump from holding future federal offices.

Democrats Painted Trump as Danger in Years to Come

House impeachment managers wrapped up their emotionally charged incitement case against former President Trump by warning that he remains a clear and present danger to American democracy and could foment still more violence if not barred from running for office again.

Oath Keepers Plotting Before Rampage Awaited 'Direction' From Trump

The Justice Department is now making clear that a leader among the Oath Keepers paramilitary group -- who planned and led others in the U.S. Capitol siege -- believed that she was responding to the call from then-President Trump himself. This is the most direct language yet form federal prosecutors linking Trump's requests for support in Washington, D.C., to the most militant aspects of the insurrection. Previously, the Justice Department has somewhat held back on linking Trump's words so closely to the extremist group's actions during the riot. At least four defendants argued in court that they followed Trump's direction to go to the Capitol building on January 6th.

For Capitol Rioters Facing Charges, Will a 'Trump Made Me Do It' Defense Work?

The acquittal of Trump at his second impeachment trial will hardly be the last or decisive word on his level of culpability in the assault on the Capitol last month. Case files in the investigation have offered signs that many of the rioters believed, as impeachment managers have said, that they were answering Trump's call on January 6th. The inquiry has also offered evidence that some pro-Trump extremist groups, concerned about fraud in the election, may have conspired together to plan the insurrection. As the sprawling investigation goes on -- quite likely for months or even years -- and newly unearthed evidence brings continual reminders of the riot, Trump may suffer further harm to his battered reputation, complicating any post-presidential ventures. Already, about a dozen suspects have explicitly blamed him for their part in the rampage -- a number that will most likely rise as more arrests are made and legal strategies develop. Legal scholars have questioned the viability of faulting Trump in cases connected to the Capitol attack, nothing that defendants would have to prove not only that they believed he authorized their actions, but also that such a belief was reasonable. Yet even if trying to offload responsibility onto Trump may prove ineffective at a trial, legal experts have acknowledged it might ultimately help mitigate the punishment for some people convicted of a crime at the Capitol.

New Inquiry Over Trump Emerges in Georgia

The office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has started investigating former President Trump's attempts to overturn the state's election results, including a phone call that Trump made to Raffensperger. During the call, Trump pushed Raffensperger to "find" votes to overturn the election results after his loss to then-President-elect Biden. Raffensperger was adamant in defending the results of the presidential election as well as the integrity of the state's voting system.

Justice Dept. Directs Trump Appointed U.S. Attorneys to Step Down This Month

The Justice Department asked U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Trump to submit their resignations, a turnover that spares two top prosecutors in Delaware and Connecticut from overseeing two sensitive Trump-era investigations. The resignations will be in effect on February 28th. A number of acting U.S. attorneys who aren't Senate confirmed or who were appointed by the courts are expected to remain in their posts until Biden appointees are approved by the Senate.

Justice Dept. Stalled on Giuliani Search Warrant in 2020

New York federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani's activities in Ukraine raised the prospect of seeking a search warrant late last year for the lawyer's communications, but were met with resistance from Justice Department officials in Washington over the strength of their evidence. Justice Dept. officials in Washington said that a search warrant would be an extraordinary step to take against a lawyer (and also a Trump adviser) -- in an investigation into the possible violation of foreign lobbying laws. The matter remains open, and any decision rests with the Biden administration.

New York Prosecution of Manafort Derailed

Paul Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign chairman, will not face mortgage fraud charges in New York, after the state's highest court declined to revisit lower court decisions that barred prosecuting Manafort on double jeopardy grounds. The New York Court of Appeals decision closed the door on charges against Manafort in the matter and came less than two months after Trump pardoned him in a similar federal case. The decision of the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to charge Manafort was widely seen as a hedge against the possibility Trump would pardon him for federal crimes. Trump's pardon does not cover state offenses.

Cuomo Faces New Scrutiny of Death Data

Governor Andrew Cuomo's top aide says that Cuomo's administration delayed the release of data on Covid-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents because of concerns about a potential federal investigation. The now public data revealed thousands more confirmed and presumed Covid-19 deaths of long-term care facility residents than previously disclosed. A report released in late January from state Attorney General Letitia James found that the NYS Department of Health undercounted Covid-19 deaths among residents of nursing homes by approximately 50%.

Aunt Jemima's Makeover

PepsiCo, which owns the Quaker Oats brand, has announced the debut of Pearl Milling Company, the new name of the pancake mix and syrup varieties previously found under the Aunt Jemima brand. The new Pearl Milling Company-branded pancake mixes, syrups, cornmeal, flour, and grits will start landing on shelves in June 2021 and will have the same familiar red packaging previously found under the Aunt Jemima brand.

Glaciers' Rapid Shrinking Imperils Mountainous Areas

Shrinking and thinning of glaciers is one of the most documented signs of the effects of global warming caused by emissions of greenhouse gases, scientists say. Glacial retreat in mountains around the world has been measured, sometimes at a rate of 100 feet or more each year. In the Himalayas, the most glaciated mountain range and home to about 600 billion tons of ice, the rate of retreat has accelerated over the past four decades. Over the long term, there are concerns about what the loss of glaciers will mean for billions of people around the world who rely on them at least in part for water for drinking, industry and agriculture. The more acute fear is for the safety of the people who live near them.


Tighten Masks or Double Up, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Warns

Federal health officials have urged American to keep their masks on and take steps to make them fit more snugly -- or even to layer a cloth covering over a surgical mask -- saying that new research had shown that masks greatly reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Recent laboratory experiments found that viral transmission could be reduced by 96.5% if Americans wore snug surgical masks or cloth-and-surgical mask combination. Masking is now mandatory on federal property and on domestic and international transportation.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Offers Path to Reopening Nation's Schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged that K-12 schools be reopened as soon as possible, and it offered a step-by-step plan to get students back in classrooms and to resolve a debate dividing communities across the nation. The guidelines highlight growing evidence that schools can open safely if they use measures designed to slow the coronavirus's spread. The agency said that even in communities with high transmission rates, elementary-school students may receive at least some in-person instruction safely. Middle and high school students may attend in-person classes safely when the virus is less prevalent, but may need to switch to hybrid or remote learning in communities experiencing intense outbreaks.

The Food and Drug Administration Lets Moderna Put More Vaccine in Its Vials

The Food and Drug Administration has informed the drugmaker Moderna that it can put up to 40% more coronavirus vaccine into each of its vials, a simple and potentially rapid way to bolster strained supplies.

Amazon Files Suit to Block Charges Over Virus Safety

The company said that New York Attorney General Letitia James had overstepped her authority in investigating workplace safety. Amazon sued New York's attorney general in an attempt to stop her from bringing charges against the company over safety concerns at two of its warehouses in NYC. The company also asked the court to force James to declare that she does not have authority to regulate workplace safety during the Covid-19 pandemic or to investigate allegations of retaliation against employees who protest their working conditions.

   The House Managers filed their trial memorandum on Tuesday. See Trial Memorandum of the United States House of Representatives.


Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By Eric Lanter
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Hollywood's 'We're Not in Kansas Anymore' Moment

Hollywood has changed during the pandemic, and the clearest example of that is the release of "Wonder Woman 1984". The film "will be released in theaters and on HBO Max on Christmas Day," which is the "clearest sign that streaming is now central to the film industry's business model."

Latinos, Long Dismissed in Hollywood, Push to Make Voices Heard

For many Latinos in Hollywood, "every gain seems to be followed by a setback." For example, although one gets hired, that person becomes "otherized and marginalized" and then is "expected to be the culture negotiator and ambassador and defender of every culture, not just" his/hers/theirs. One such person, Tanya Saracho, and others have become involved in the Untitled Latinx Project, which seeks to change that culture in Hollywood.

Netflix Pulls 'Chappelle's Show' at Dave Chappelle's Request

Comedian Dave Chappelle stated that Netflix and HBO Max should not have been licensed to air his comedy show, "Chappelle's Show", and called for his supporters to boycott the airing of his show because he was not paid additional compensation and he felt that the original contract was unfair, especially as it didn't require his consent to license it. Netflix and HBO Max began streaming "Chappelle's Show" after ViacomCBS, the owner of Comedy Central, licensed the show to the two streaming services.

With a Kiss, Netflix Gets Tangled in India's Religious Tensions

Netflix is facing scrutiny for releasing a new show, "A Suitable Boy," which has scenes between a "Hindu and a Muslim" that nationalist leaders have decried "at a time of rising interfaith conflict and government efforts to control online content" in India. Many leaders of the Hindu nationalist party have "have called on Indians to boycott the streaming service," but experts say that Netflix is not "likely to face serious legal trouble."


The Metropolitain Opera Seeks Pay Cuts in Exchange for Pandemic Paychecks

The Metropolitan Opera "is offering many employees their first paycheck in months if their unions agree to long-term cuts." It is offering furloughed employees "up to $1,500 a week in exchange for new union contracts that include long-term pay cuts," and this move comes just "two months after announcing that the curtains would not part again until fall 2021."

Employees at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Vote to Unionize

At the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, employees "have voted to join the United Auto Workers, becoming one of the latest bargaining units within a leading American cultural institution." The move to unionize comes after the museum has "enacted a number of cost-saving measures over the summer after projecting a budget shortfall of about $14 million."

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Appoints Chief Diversity Officer

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that it will be appointing Lavita McMath Turner as its "first chief diversity officer." It began its search earlier this year after "a staff letter" urged the leaders in the museum to acknowledge "a deeply rooted logic of white supremacy and culture of systemic racism at our institution." Turner has worked in academia in various roles at the City University of New York and worked as a government relations officer at the Brooklyn Museum.

Penguin Random House to Buy Simon & Schuster

ViacomCBS, the owner of Simon & Schuster, agreed to sell the company to Penguin Random House, which was "the largest book publisher in the United States" and is owned by the "German media conglomerate Bertelsmann." The sale of Simon & Schuster would create "a combination that could trigger antitrust concerns."

Grave Is Found at Site of Historic Black Church in Colonial Williamsburg

An archaeological project in Colonial Williamsburg has unearthed a grave site "beneath a parking lot" which is also near "the foundations for a brick church built in 1856." Archaeologists have "uncovered one and possibly two graves and more than 12,000 artifacts, including an ink bottle, doll fragments, and coins."

Pedophile Scandal Can't Crack the Closed Circles of Literary France

The writer Gabriel Matzneff is a documented pedophile, and the scandal surrounding him has "opened a window on the entrenched and clubby nature of many of France's elite institutions." Although Matzneff, an award-winning French author, had been known to be a pedophile for decades and "brazenly defended" it, the lack of controversy in the French literary community surrounding Matzneff is evidence of the "insular world that dominates French literary life."


The College Athletes Who Are Allowed to Make Big Bucks: Cheerleaders

Although star football and basketball stars have been "forbidden to make money from their athletic fame beyond what the university provided to cover their attendance," cheerleaders have received "thousands of dollars through sponsorship deals with Crocs, L'Oreal, American Eagle, and Lokai." This has occurred because the NCAA "and its universities do not regulate cheerleading in the same ways they do other sports."

First Women Plays Football in a Power 5 Game

Sarah Fuller, "a goalkeeper for Vanderbilt's women's soccer team," played on the football team in its kicking unit "because other members of its kicking unit had close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus." She has become "the first women to play during a regular-season game in one of college football's Power 5 conferences by booting a kickoff."

National Basketball Association Players Meet With Pope Francis on Social Justice Efforts

A group of five National Basketball Association (NBA) players and officials "met privately with Pope Francis" at the Vatican to "discuss their efforts toward addressing social justice and economic inequality." The Vatican had extended the invitation to the NBA players' union, and that invitation was based on the Pope wanting "to learn more about their activities."

African Soccer Chief Is Barred for Five Years Over Ethics Violations

FIFA has "barred the top official in African soccer from" soccer for a period of five years after he "was found guilty of breaching four separate articles of the organization's ethics code", including "abuse of office, misappropriation of funds, and rules concerning the offering and acceptance of gifts." The ban disqualifies him "from standing for a new term early next year," but he received a shorter ban than another official in Africa who had violated "one of the same rules."

Black Goalkeepers, Big Clubs, and Europe's Uneven Playing Field

Soccer "still struggles for Black representation in leadership roles: There are few Black managers, and even fewer Black executives." This remains the case even after other sports have changed: "Black quarterbacks were once as rare in the NFL as Black entrants were at tennis championships and golf majors." In European soccer, there remains "a deep-rooted skepticism toward Black goalkeepers, one that has been allowed to fester through lack of analysis, lack of opportunity, and even lack of acknowledgement."

'The Queen's Gambit' Sends Chess Set Sales Soaring

The Netflix show, "The Queen's Gambit", has set off an unlikely phenomenon: chess set sales are now soaring. The show features a "chess prodigy" and has "reignited interest in the game and fueled demands for sets, accessories, and timers."


Fox News Reaches Settlement With Parents of Seth Rich

Joel and Mary Rich, the parents of Seth Rich, "a Democratic aide whose unsolved murder became fodder for right-wing conspiracy theories about the 2016 election," have settled a case they brought against Fox News based on its coverage of Rich's murder. They filed the lawsuit in 2018 and alleged "extreme and outrageous" conduct by Fox News "fueled damaging rumors about him." The settlement terms "were not disclosed."

'Tokenized': Inside Black Workers' Struggles at the King of Crypto Start-Ups

Coinbase, "the most valuable US cryptocurrency company, has faced many internal complaints about discriminatory treatment," and many of its Black employees have been fired or quit due to that treatment. Some have complained that they were excluded "from meetings and conversations" and made to "feel invisible," and many former employees have corroborated this treatment and said that the "start-up has long struggled with its management of Black employees."


With Transition Started and No Proof of Fraud Sticking, Trump Administration Shifts Its Plan

Although President Trump's team has sought any avenue available for changing the results of the election, they have not been successful. Amid rumors that he may announce his candidacy for the 2024 presidential election even as President-elect Biden is taking the oath of office on January 20, 2021, there still remains the business of each state's electors casting their votes and the certification of the election result. Trump has said that once the electors cast their votes, he will acknowledge the result. Nonetheless, Biden has moved forward with constructing his cabinet and preparing to take office which has gained steam after the federal government "ascertained" that he had indeed won the election. Trump has issued a pardon for his former aide, Michael Flynn, and is expected to issue additional pardons (potentially even one for him). Meanwhile, Biden and his team have been buoyed by the stock market's rise since the election result, but there remain significant questions about what level of cooperation Congressional Republicans may display once he takes office.

Midnight Ruling Exposes Rifts at a Supreme Court Transformed by Trump

The United States Supreme Court has now shown that it has changed from just months ago: in a 5-4 ruling, it "rejected restrictions on religious services in New York imposed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to combat the coronavirus, shoving the chief justice into dissent with the court's remaining liberals." Although Chief Justice Roberts has been known as one who is "fundamentally conservative," given the addition of Justice Barrett, Justice Kavanaugh, and Justice Gorsuch, many analysts see the latest ruling as the beginning of a new, more conservative pattern that observers can expect.

Purdue Pharma Pleads Guilty to Role in Opioid Crisis

Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty to "criminal charges involving OxyContin," and documents filed in the action have implicated the consulting firm McKinsey: McKinsey's consultants talked in 2017 of boosting Purdue's sales and even recommended that Purdue's distributors receive "a rebate for every OxyContin overdose attributable to pills they sold." There also was mention in documentation that McKinsey's employees thought to destroy records related to its work for Purdue, but it is not clear whether the consultants did in fact destroy any records.

U.S. Shutters Warehouse Where Migrants Were Kept in 'Cages'

The South Texas Customs and Border Protection facility that had been the site of "fetid, overcrowded conditions" and filled with "chain-link pens" containing "migrant families and unaccompanied children" has now closed for renovations. The facility is scheduled to undergo improvements and reopen in 2022, and the renovations are set to add room partitions that will "afford modest housing accommodations" and "modern processing areas." It is estimated that the facility once housed "about 2,000 migrants, many of them young mothers with children and young people who crossed the border without their parents."

Illegal Tampering by Diesel Pickup Owners Is Worsening Pollution, Environmental Protection Agency Says

A new federal report has concluded that the "owners and operators of more than half a million diesel pickup trucks have been illegally disabling their vehicles' emissions control technology over the past decade, allowing excess emissions equivalent to 9 million extra trucks on the road." The practice is similar to that in the "Volkswagen scandal of 2015, when the automaker was found to have illegally installed devices in millions of diesel passenger cars worldwide" in an effort to "trick emissions control monitors."

New Rule Would Allow U.S. to Use More Methods for Executions

The Justice Department has created a new regulation that "would permit methods including firing squads and electrocution" in executions at a time when the Trump administration has sought to rush executions of five more prisoners. The new rule is just one "of a spate of moves and rule-making processes before" Trump leaves office, but "the practical effect of the rule remains unclear." Nonetheless, Biden may choose to rescind the rule upon taking office.

U.S. Border Agency Settles With Two Americans Detained for Speaking Spanish

Two women were detained in 2018 by a Border Patrol agent because the officer "heard them speaking Spanish at a convenience store," and they brought suit against the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The case has settled, according to the ACLU of Montana, between the two women, one born in El Paso, Texas and the other born in El Centro, California, and they have expressed hope that the lawsuit will push U.S. Customs and Border Protection "to reassess its conduct."

Democrats Claim Veto-Proof Majority in New York Senate, Pressuring Cuomo

The New York State Senate has changed: Democrats now have a veto-proof majority. The Democrats "bucked the national trend on down-ballot races," and some analysts expect that the Senate will "pursue progressive initiatives without fear of a veto", which will put Governor Cuomo in a position where he may struggle to navigate his own party's politics.

Unemployment Scam Using Inmates' Names Costs California Hundreds of Millions

A task force in California has submitted a request to Governor Gavin Newsome for "significant resources" to combat "what appears to be the most significant fraud on taxpayer funds" in the state's history. The law enforcement task force detailed a "rash of fraudulent pandemic unemployment claims under the names of jail and prison inmates, including more than 100 on death row," which has "bilked California out of hundreds of millions of dollars." With only 17 fraud investigators at the state's unemployment office, there has been fraud throughout the state since the pandemic started, and with the pressure to issue unemployment checks as quickly as possible to those in need, catching and stopping the fraud has proved to be a difficult task thus far.

Wildfire Smoke Is Poisoning California's Kids. Some Pay a Higher Price

The fires that have burned "millions of acres in California aren't just incinerating trees and houses"; the smoke from those fires have filled "the lungs of California's children" and there may be "grave effects over the course of" those children's lives. For those children with access to an air purifier or the ability to move out of the area "when ash rains down from the sky," it is expected that the effects of the smoke will be significantly reduced.

Saudi Activist Who Fought For Women's Right to Drive Is Sent to Terrorism Court

One of Saudi Arabia's "more prominent prisoners," Loujain al-Hathloul, "has been accused of harming the kingdom's security" and has had her case transferred to a terrorism court in the country. She has been detained "since spring 2018 and charged with crimes that include seeking to change the kingdom's political system, campaigning for women's rights, and communicating with foreign journalists, diplomats, and human rights organizations."

Tackling 'Period Poverty,' Scotland Is First Nation to Make Sanitary Products Free

Scotland's Parliament "voted unanimously" to make it "the first country in the world to make period products freely available to all who need them." The policy is meant to end "period poverty" which is the "prohibitive expense that have left many without access to sanitary products when they need them." Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called the new policy an "important policy for women and girls."

European Union Border Agency Accused of Covering Up Migrant Pushback in Greece

The European Union (E.U.) border agency, known as Frontex, "is under fire for letting Greece illegally repel migrants as the agency expands to play a more central role at the bloc's external borders." There is mounting evidence that Frontex was helping cover up violations, and some analysts see this development as "an erosion of the rule of law at the E.U. borders which is willful."

Gunmen Assassinate Iran's Top Nuclear Scientist in Ambush, Provoking New Crisis

The top nuclear scientist in Iran, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, "was shot and killed Friday in what the Iranian media called a roadside ambush as he and his bodyguards traveled outside Tehran." Iran has "expressed fury over the killing" and has blamed "it on Israel and the United States." The death of Fakhrizadeh "may complicate President-elect Biden's intention to restore the Iranian nuclear deal."


The Coronavirus Continues Its Ascent as Vaccines Near

News that multiple vaccines have achieved over 90% effectiveness in clinical trials has brought many experts to say that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the coronavirus pandemic. However, the negative effects of the virus continues: there has been an uptick in unemployment claims (even as some employers, like Amazon, have hired a record number of employees after online retail has surged at the expense of brick-and-mortar). In some parts of the United States, hospitals have approached their capacity, and surges in the virus have taken place in states that had the fewest restrictions in the preceding weeks and months. Experts have warned that, with Thanksgiving weekend seeing significant travel by Americans, there is a high probability of an increase in rates, and with vaccines weeks or months still away from widespread distribution, there is much more hardship before the end of the pandemic.

Week In Review - The Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Blog

By La-Vaughnda A. Taylor
Edited by Elissa D. Hecker

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


Charles v. Seinfeld

The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's application of the limitations period in 17 U.S.C. 507(b) to dismiss plaintiff Christian Charles's claims of copyright infringement and joint ownership of the pilot episode of the television series "Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee." Within days of the Second Circuit's affirmation, the Sixth Circuit decided Everly v. Everly, 958 F.3d 442 (6th Cir. 2020), which held, in direct conflict with the Second Circuit, that only a repudiation of copyright authorship could cause accrual of an authorship claim, and that "[a] person's authorship of a work can be legally called into question only if it is challenged by another person who herself claims authorship of the work in question."

SAG-AFTRA and Actors' Equity Association Resolve Jurisdictional Dispute Over Taping of Live Theatre

A unanimous agreement has been reached in respect to the broadcast and streaming of live performances during the pandemic. The agreement preserves SAG-AFTRA's historic jurisdiction while creating an important accommodation that serves performers. Actors' Equity Association (AEA) has jurisdiction over live theatre actors and stage managers, but SAG-AFTRA has long held that the taping of live shows falls within its jurisdiction. SAG offered AEA a waiver to help out its fellow actors during the coronavirus shutdown of live theaters across the country, but AEA rejected it. SAG has agreed that AEA will cover recording and/or streaming productions to a remote audience during the pandemic period with a term concluding December 31, 2021, subject to certain limitations including distribution platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, etc.

Never Ever Letting Go Quietly

For the second time in a year and a half, the recording rights to Taylor Swift's first six albums - LPs that include megahits like "Love Story," "Shake It Off", and "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" - have traded hands, and in response Swift has dragged private equity investors into the rough-and-tumble public conflict of celebrity social media. Last summer, the music manager Scooter Braun made a deal, estimated at $300 million to $350 million, to buy the Big Machine Label Group, the Nashville label that signed Swift when she was a teenager. That led to a dramatic public clash, when Swift called the deal her "worst-case scenario."

Lil Wayne Charged in a Gun Possession Case

Rapper Lil Wayne was charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. The charge, handed to him on Tuesday in Florida, relates to an incident in December 2019. The 38-year old was found to be carrying a gun and bullets when police searched a private plane in Miami. He is facing 10 years in prison for the offense, if convicted.

Universal and Cinemark to Speed Films to Homes

The third largest cinema chain in the U.S., Cinemark Theatres, and Universal Pictures have reached an agreement to allow early home video releases for the studio's movies, marking the latest crack in the traditional theatrical window during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Texas-based exhibitor and the Comcast-owned studio announced a multi-year deal that would give Universal significantly more flexibility in how it releases its films. The deal follows a similar agreement that Universal previously made with AMC Theatres, the world's biggest movie house circuit, in a move that drew criticism from other exhibitors. Under the deal, all of Universal's theatrical films will stay in theatres exclusively for at least 17 days after their premieres before they become available on video-on-demand services.

Jazz Ripples Through Hard Seasons

Musicians are playing al fresco all over New York City to earn money and boost morale. For many New Yorkers in late spring, hearing musicians performing outside again was a welcome sign of hope and resilience. Throughout the summer and into the fall, jazz in particular, has become a near-constant presence across parks, stoops and sidewalks. Virtually all of the city's 2,400 indoor performance venues have closed since the coronavirus outbreak, at the same time that concert tours have been canceled, putting countless musicians out of work.


Dance Studios Fear a Loss of Possibilities

Across New York City, dance studio owners are struggling to keep their businesses afloat as the coronavirus pandemic stretches on. Studios have found themselves in precarious positions, frustrated by a lack of clear reopening guidance from the city and state. It's an uphill battle, but they are pressing forward: raising money, joining forces to strategize and, in some cases, forging ahead with reopening as safely as they can. Dance studios are integral to the city's performing arts ecosystem: their survival has implications beyond the walls of any one business.

A Jacob's Pillow Theater Is Destroyed by Fire

A theater at Jacob's Pillow, a destination for dance performance in Becket, Massachusetts, was destroyed by fire. The theatre was lost, but the fire was contained to the one building at the performing arts campus. The cause is not yet known.

Museums on Financial Edge from Pandemic Fallout

An industry group says that the financial state of the country's museums "is moving from bad to worse." At institutions across the country, exhibition halls remain dark, atriums are empty, and frontline employees are furloughed. A survey by the American Alliance of Museums makes clear that nearly one in three museums in the U.S. remains closed because of the pandemic, and most of those have never reopened since the initial shutdown in March. Of the 850 museum directors who responded to the survey, just over half said that their institutions had six months or less of their financial operating reserve remaining. 82% said that they had 12 months or less.

Virus Surge Shutters Smithsonian Again

As coronavirus cases increase across the country, the Smithsonian will once again temporarily close eight of its Washington area institutions. "[T]he Institution's top priority is to protect the health and safety of its visitors and staff," the Smithsonian said in a statement.

A Second Epstein Inquiry at Victoria's Secret

It has been more than a year since L Brands, the owner of Victoria's Secret, said it was hiring a law firm to investigate its billionaire founder Leslie H. Wexner's close ties to the convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. There is now a new law firm on the case. A second inquiry has begun at the company after a shareholder lawsuit filed in May suggested that previous firm, David Polk, was too close to L Brands to be truly independent.

Egypt Unearths Over 100 New Coffins and Mummies Dating Back 2,500 Years

In the largest discovery there this year, more than 100 painted wooden coffins, many with bodies, were found in the necropolis of Saqqara. There have been several recent finds at the site. The sealed, wooden coffins, some containing mummies, dates as far back as 2,500 years and are "in perfect condition of preservation." The fine quality of the coffins meant that they were probably the final resting places for the wealthiest citizens.


Ex-Harvard Fencing Coach Accused of Taking $1.5 Million in Bribes

A former Harvard fencing coach was arrested and charged with bribery last week for allegedly accepting $1.5 million from a businessman in exchange for recruiting the latter's two sons to the fencing team. The U.S. Attorney's Office said that Peter Brand and the father, Jie "Jack" Zhao, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery, which is punishable for up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

FIFA Proposes Mandatory Maternity Leave For Women Players

FIFA is introducing new regulations to protect the rights of women players, including mandatory maternity leave. The proposed rules include a mandatory maternity leave of 14 weeks, at a minimum of two thirds of the player's contracted salary, and a guarantee that "no female player should suffer a disadvantage as a result of becoming a pregnant." The reforms have been put forward by FIFA's Football Stakeholders Committee and will go to FIFA's Council next month for approval.

As Major League Soccer Playoffs Open, Black Players Press for Progress

What began as solemn group gestures have in some locations transitioned into simply one other field to tick on the listing of pregame rituals. For a more and more activist cohort of Black athletes, what comes subsequent is paramount. Behind the scenes, players have been pushing to transform their protest into tangible, lasting change. The playoffs now provide an even bigger stage and a brand new alternative.

A Walk-On Opted Out. Then Came a $24,000 Bill.

According to a New York Times story, Cal offensive lineman Henry Bazakas, who arrived at Cal as a walk-on but was granted a one-year scholarship for last season, opted out of the 2020 season this past June, starting a contentious episode regarding scholarship payments. Cal claims the confusion about scholarship payments resulted from its reliance on a campus class calendar that stated summer classes started in July, which would have been after the decision was made not to give Bazakas a scholarship for 2020-21. However, Bazakas had begun classes in May, which means that he should still have been on scholarship through the summer. When Cal realized the error, the scholarship money was provided.

Lawyers Step Back and Athletes Step Up to Fight Russia's Ban

Russia's attempt to overturn its four-year ban from international sports this month turned to a familiar courtroom weapon: Emotion. At a private hearing held over four days, Russian sports officals set aside their denials and their phalanx of laywers pushed back from their papers, allowing six Russian athletes to take a starring role. The athletes spoke not of what Russia had done in pursuit of victory, but about what they stood to lose, and they all had the same message: Please do not punish us for something in which we had no part. The emotional pleas to the panel of three arbitrators at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, appeared to be an effort to humanize the consequences of a worldwide ban on Russian sports that the World Anti-Doping Agency imposed last year.

FIFA Lifts Suspension of Trinidad and Tobago football Association After Legal Action Halted

FIFA has lifted its suspension of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), giving the national governing body full membership rights and allowing its teams to return to international competition. It comes after the TTFA last month voted to stop court action being taken against FIFA and recognize a normalization committee appointed by football's world governing body in March to run the TTFA's affairs.

Emboldened Head of African Soccer Faces a New Ethics Inquiry

FIFA ethics investigators have asked the top soccer official in Africa to explain why he agreed to revise a television contract in a way that appeared to benefit a commercial partner over his own organization -- the latest ethical concern for a governing body that was subject to direct FIFA oversight as recently as February. The new investigation is just the latest problem for Ahmad Ahmad, who was briefly detained last year by French authorities investigating allegations of embezzlement and who faces a separate FIFA ethics probe involving complaints of sexual harassment by several female employees and consultants. It also comes at a pivotal time for African soccer, which has lurched from crisis to crisis under his leadership: Ahmad is seeking a new four-year term early next year, and sanctions related to any of the open cases could disqualify him from running.

Bill Expands U.S. Power to Charge Cheats. International Groups Hate It.

The Rodchenkov Act, awaiting President Trump's signature, would allow American law enforcement authorties to go after the people who facilitate doping. The World Anti-Doping Agency says that it will cause confusion.


On YouTube, Fox News Loses Conservative Viewers Flocking to the Fringe

Disinformation about election fraud is thriving on YouTube, and right-wing outlets that most aggressively push false information are gaining new, conservative viewers on the video service, according to new research. Data from an independent research project called Transparency Tube found that fringe, right-wing news channels aggressively pushing unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud are gaining a larger share of views among conservative YouTube channels than before the election. Fox News, which has been more reserved in promoting unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election, has seen its share among a conservative audience decline on YouTube even though it is one of YouTube's promoted, authoritative sources.

A Popular Political Site Made a Sharp Right Turn. What Steered It?

Real Clear Politics pitches itself as a "trusted, go-to source" for unbiased polling. It is well known as a clearinghouse of elections data and analysis with a large following among the political and media establishment, regularly cited by national publications and cable news networks. Less well known, however, is how Real Clear Politics and its affiliated websites have taken a rightward, aggressively pro-Trump turn over the last four years, as donations to its affiliated nonprofit have soared. Large quantities of those funds came through two entities that wealthy conservatives use to give money without revealing their identities. Its evolution traces a similar path as other right-leaning political news outlets that have adapted to the upheaval of the Trump era by aligning themselves with the president and his large following, its writers taking on his battles and raging against the left.

Why Did Facebook Mute Philanthropic Businesses?

Small enterprises that support homeless people, orphans, and refugees are seeing their ads pulled as part of the social media platform's ban on political advertising. Their ads fell into a category of "social issues, elections or politics" that were being blocked by the site. The social media giant announced last week that it was extending a ban imposed on certain ads during the election to prevent the dissemination of false information. The prohibition has ensnared a number of socially driven businesses with no direct connection to partisan politics. Companies connected to issues like hunger, the environment, and immigration, many of which rely heavily on social media to draw customers to their websites, have seen their access abruptly cut off.

Ringer Writer Says They Were Second String

The head coach of the Golden State Warriors. C.C. Sabathia and Rachel Lindsay, were among the roughly 25 outside contributors to host or co-host new podcasts this year at The Ringer, the digital media company founded and run by the former ESPN personality Bill Simmons. The influx of star podcasters being brought on as contractors looms over a dispute between the union and managers at the Spotify-owned digital media company. It has raised concerns among many full-time employees, who say it may close off their opportunities for advancement and weaken the company union.

Apple Halves Some App Store Fees

Apples has announced that it will cut the amount of commission it charges app developers as part of a new Small Business Program. Developers earning less than $1 million a year will now pay 15% on all transactions, half the current rate of 30%.

General News

Plea to Americans: Stay Home on Thanksgiving

With coronavirus surging out of control, the nation's top public health agency pleaded with Americans last week not to travel for Thanksgiving and not to spend the holiday with people outside their households. It was some of the firmest guidance yet from the government on curtailing traditional gatherings to fight the outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has cited more than 1 million new cases in the U.S. over the past week as the reason for the new guidance.

Tension Rise As Trump Denies Election Result

The president's refusal to concede has entered a more dangerous phase as he blocks his successor's transition, withholding intelligence briefings, pandemic information, and access to the government. This continues as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system. Some former top advisers to Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise.

Election Security Experts Push Back Against Trump's Voter Fraud Claims

Trump fired Chris Krebs, a top U.S. election official who pushed back against the President's claims of voter fraud. Krebs, the head of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said last week he expected to be fired. A committee within CISA, which worked on protecting U.S. voting systems in 2020 election, released a statement calling the November 3rd elections "the most secure in American history" and contradicting any claims of widespread voter fraud.

Parties Hunting for a Message After a Split-Decision Election

Voters delivered a convincing victory for Joe Biden, but a split decision for the two parties. Now Democrats and Republicans face perhaps the most up-for-grabs electoral landscape in a generation. America's two major parties had hoped the presidential election would render a decisive judgment on the country's political trajectory. Yet after a race that broke record voter turnout and campaign spending, neither Democrats nor Republicans have achieved a dominant upper hand. The election has narrowed the Democratic majority in the House and perhaps preserved the Republican majority in the Senate.

The Trump Campaign Has Filed 16 Lawsuits Contesting the Election

The Trump campaign has sued to contest vote counts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, Nevada, and Georgia in the days after the presidential election. Trump and Republicans have filed lawsuits in five battleground states to contest the race Trump lost to Democratic challenger and former VP Joe Biden. Judges have dismissed some of the suits but others remain, and more are possible in the coming days, including challenges to the legality of ballots or requests for recounts. Voters in a few states independently filed their own lawsuits in support of Trump. Some of those suits have been dropped.

Graham Goes All In on Reversing Election

With unsubstantiated claims of vote-counting errors and calls to officials in several states, the South Carolina senator seems bent on reversing Joe Biden's clear victory over President Trump. In 2016, Senator Graham praised the integrity of the nation's elections system, criticizing claims by Trump that the vote was "rigged". Graham has transformed during that time to become of Trump's most loyal allies, he now seems determined to reverse the election's outcome on the president's behalf.

Biden Takes a "Whole-Government Approach" to Fight Climate Change

President-elect Joe Biden, eager to elevate climate changes issues throughout his administration, is already drafting orders to reduce planet-warming pollution and seeking nominees who will embed climate policy not only in environmental agencies, but also in departments from Defense to Treasury to Transportation. Top candidates for senior cabinet posts, such as Michéle Flournoy for defense secretary and Lael Brainard for Treasury, have long supported aggressive policies to curb climate change. Biden's inner circle routinely asks, "is the person climate-ambitious?" of candidates even for lower profile positions, like the White House budget and regulatory offices, according to a person advising the transition.

Climate Change is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous, Study Says

A new study has found that cold-weather drownings are increasing sharply in warmer parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Trump Administration Plans to Sell Artic Oil Leases Despite Legal Hurdles

If lease sales happen in the final days of the Trump administration, they may face disputes in court or could be reversed by the Biden administration. Under new leadership, several federal agencies could reject the leases, which even if purchased at an auction a few days before Inauguration Day would be subject to review, a process that usually takes several months. Biden vowed during the campaign to oppose oil and gas development in the refuge, a vast expanse of virtually untouched land in northeast Alaska that is home to polar bears, caribou, and other wildlife.

Hand Recount Reaffirms Biden Won Georgia, Defeating Trump by 12,284 Votes

A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia is complete, and the results affirm Biden's lead. Biden went into the recount with a margin of 13,558 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count reduced the margin to 12,284 votes. The hand recount of nearly five million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law, not from any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request.

Census Bureau Can't Meet Trump's Deadline for Count

In a blow to the Trump administration's efforts to strip unauthorized immigrants from the census totals used for reapportionment, Census Bureau officials concluded that they could not produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after Trump leaves office in January.

'Public Health' Expulsions of Children Halted

A federal judge ruled last week that a public health emergency decree did not give the Trump administration authority to expel unaccompanied children before they could request asylum. Judge Emmet G. Sullivan of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said that while the emergency rule allows the authorities to prevent the "introduction" of foreigners into the U.S., it did not give border authorities the ability to turn away children who would normally be placed in shelters and provided an opportunity to have a claim for refuge heard. The order applies across the country.

Overhauling Homeland Security Will Be One of Biden's Early Priorities

Biden has said that one of his priorities will be rolling back his predecessor's restrictive immigration policies. To do it, he may have to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has been bent to President Trump's will over the past four years. The DHS has helped enforce some of Trump's most divisive polices, like separating families at the border, banning travel from Muslim-majority countries and building his border wall. Interviews with 16 current and former homeland security officials and advisers involved with Biden's transition, and a review of his platform, suggest an agenda that aims to incorporate climate change in department policy, fill vacant posts, and bolster responsibilities that Trump neglected, including disaster response and cybersecurity.

Trump's Push to Overturn Defeat Strains Cogs of Electoral Process

Confrontations have escalated in swing states, with elections officials in both parties facing threats of violence, as the president and other Republicans try to subvert the country's voting system. In courtrooms, statehouses, and elections board meetings across the country, the president is increasingly seeking to force the voting system to bend to his false vision of the elect ion, while also using the weight of the executive office to deliver his message to lower-level election workers, hoping they buckle.

Hate Crimes At Highest Since 2008, FBI Reports

Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade as federal officials also recorded the highest number of hate-motivated killings since the FBI began collecting that data in the early 1990s, according to an FBI report released last week. There were 51 hate crime murders in 2019, which includes 22 people who were killed in a shooting that targeted Mexicans at a Walmart in the border city of El Paso, Texas, the report said. There were 7,314 hate crimes last year, up from 7,120 the year before - and approaching the 7,783 of 2008. The FBI's annual report defines hate crimes as those motivated by bias based on a person's race, religion or sexual orientation, among other categories. The data also shows there was a nearly 7% increase in religion-based hate crimes. The FBI said that the number of hate crimes against African Americans dropped slightly to 1,930 from 1,943.

Rocket Lifts Four Astronauts Into New Era of Spaceflight

A SpaceX spacecraft carrying four astronauts soared into outer space from Cape Canaveral on last Sunday evening, in the first fully operational mission for the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The crew spent some 27 hours in a capsule built by the private company before it docked with the space station. This was a momentous step toward making space travel commonplace and mundane. In the future, instead of relying on government-operated spacecraft, NASA astronauts and anyone else with enough money can buy a ticket on a commercial rocket.

More Than 82,000 File Sexual-Abuse Claims Against Boy Scouts

The New York Times has reported that more than 82,000 people have filed sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. Victims' lawyers say the claims far outnumber the accusations against the U.S. Catholic Church. This far exceeds the initial projections of lawyers across the U.S. who have been signing up clients since the Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Many of the lawsuits allege decades-old sex abuse. The proceedings in federal bankruptcy court will lead to the creation of a compensation fund for survivors whose claims are upheld. The potential size of the fund is not yet known and will be the subject of complex negotiations.

Boeing 737 Max Is Deemed Safe to Fly by Federal Aviation Administration

The Boeing 737 Max is cleared by the Federal Aviation Administration to fly again. The U.S. agency said that changes in software, design, and training had made the plane safe to operate after two fatal crashes and 20 months out of service.

Mexico Threatened U.S. Over Ex-Official's Arrest

Mexico threatened to toss out U.S. agents after weeks of anger at the surprise arrest of a former defense minister. The gambit appeared to have worked - the changes were dropped. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda was arrested after a multiyear inquiry that investigators called Operation Padrino or Godfather - a reference to what they claim was his nickname in the underworld. The Mexican government saw his arrest as an egregious breach of trust between allies because it was kept in the dark about the case.

Trump's Legal Team Sets a Precedent for Lowering the Bar

The president's overriding goal seems to be simply throw out as many claims as possible, no matter how outlandish or baseless, in an effort to sow public doubt about Biden's victory; but this approach has limits in court.

Mnuchin Cites Principles As Democrats See Politics

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin broke sharply with the Federal Reserve, choosing to end a variety of programs aimed at helping markets, businesses, and municipalities weather the pandemic and asking the Central Bank to return the funds earmarked to support those efforts. Mnuchin said that his decision was driven by a reference to what he believed was Congress's intent when it allocated the funding, a desire to repurpose the money toward better uses, and a belief that markets no longer needed them. However, this is a view he only expressed after the vote count in the presidential election.

President Moves to Hem Biden in on U.S. Policies

At a wide range of departments and agencies, Trump's political appointees are going to extraordinary lengths to try to prevent Biden from rolling back the president's legacy. On issues of war, the environment, criminal justice, trade, the economy, and more, Trump and top administration officials are doing what they can to make changing direction more difficult.

U.S. Plans to Execute Three, Including Rare Woman, Before Biden is Sworn In

The Trump administration is continuing to carry out capital punishment for federal crimes even though President-elect Joe Biden has signaled he will reverse the policy. Since July, when it resumed carrying out the death penalty after a 17-year hiatus, the Trump administration has executed seven federal inmates. Weeks before Biden is sworn in, the three inmates face the prospect of being the last federal prisoners to die by capital punishment for at least as long as Biden is in office. Orlando Cordia Hall, 49, convicted in the brutal death of a teenage girl, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday. Two other prisoners are to be executed in December, including Lisa M. Montgomery, the only woman on federal death row. Biden has pledged to eliminate the death penalty.

Citing Risks, Michigan Shuts Down Oil Pipeline

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said the state would shut down a line between her state and Ontario that has been operating since the 1950s. It's an unusual move, in which she cited environmental concerns for shutting down the underwater pipeline that carries oil to refineries in her state and Canada. Pipeline operations normally fall under federal jurisdiction. Whitmer, a Democrat, is acting under the state's public trust doctrine, which requires state authorities to protect the Great Lakes. The decisions requires the pipeline operator Enbridge to cease operations on a specific section of Line 5 by May 2021, but it will have the effect of curtailing the entire pipeline, which runs between Superior, Wisconsin, and Sarnia, Ontario.

Trump Targeting Michigan in Ploy to Subvert Vote

Trump accelerated his efforts to interfere in the nation's electoral process, taking the extraordinary step of reaching out directly to Republican state Legislators from Michigan and inviting them to the White House for discussions as the state prepares to certify President-elect Joe Biden the winner there. For Trump and his Republican allies, Michigan has become the prime target in their campaign to subvert the will of voters backing Biden in the recent election. Trumps allies appear to be pursuing a highly dubious legal they that if the results are not certified, Republican legislatures could intervene and appoint pro-Trump electors in states Biden won who would support the president when the Electoral College meets on December 14. The Republican effort to undo the popular vote is all but certain to fail.

Most Charges From Protests Are Dropped

More than five months after the Louisville protests as thousands finally land in courts across the U.S., a vast majority of cases against protesters are being dismissed. Only cases involving more substantial charges like property destruction or other violence remains. Prosecutors called the scale of both the mass arrests and mass dismissals within a few short months unrivaled, at least since the civil rights protests of the early 1960s. With the police detaining hundreds of people in major cities, the arrests this year ended up colliding with the limitations of the court system. Prosecutors declined to pursue many of the cases, because they concluded that the protesters were exercising their basic civil rights. There was also the recognition that law enforcement officers often use mass arrests as a technique to help clear the streets, not to confront illegal behavior.

New York Fraud investigations Expand to Trump Tax Write-Offs

Those investigating the Trump organization have expanded their inquiries to include tax write-offs involving millions of dollars in consulting fees. Investigators with the Manhattan district attorney's office and the New York attorney general's office have subpoenaed the Trump Organization seeking records relating to the consulting fees. The subpoenas were in response to a New York Times investigation into Trump's tax returns that first disclosed that he took $26 million in write-offs that came from fees he paid to consultants, including an apparent $747,000 fee that matched a payment disclosed by Ivanka Trump.

Asylum Seeker Faces Charges in Son's Death at Sea

The man, Ayoubi Nadir, a 25-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, has been charged with endangering the life of a child, and is accused of abandoning his son after the boat bringing them and 22 other people to Greece capsized this month. Human rights advocates say that this may set a dangerous precedent.

Hungary and Poland Block European Union Stimulus Plan

The European Union's (EU) landmark stimulus plan to assist member states whose economies have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic is now in crisis, after Hungary and Poland blocked passage of the 2021-2027 EU budget. The two Eastern European countries say that they're vetoing the budget and coronavirus recovery plan over language in the measure that would dole out EU funds to member states on the condition that they uphold the bloc's rule-of-law standards. The 1.8 trillion euro ($2.1 trillion) EU budget must be approved by all 27 member states to be adopted.

Uganda Releases Opposition Leader After Deadly Clashes

At least 37 people have been killed in two days of violent clashes between Ugandan security forces and supporters of detained opposition leader Bobi Wine, police said last week, as tensions flared two months before a presidential election. The popstar-turned presidential candidate was released on bail on Friday after being charged with holding rallies likely to spread the coronavirus.

In Ardern's Second Term, New Zealand Seats Most Diverse Parliament Ever

When Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reelected in a landslide last month, she brought with her a diverse cast of politicians that make up what is - by some measures - the most inclusive parliament in the world. Almost half of New Zealand's newly sworn-in Parliament are women and 11% are openly LGTBQ. Both New Zealand's indigenous Maori and people with Pacific Island heritage are represented at a slightly higher rate than in the general population. Politicians from diverse backgrounds are also in key positions of power.


U.S. Hits Grim Milestone With 250,000 Deaths

Coronavirus case numbers are exploding across the country. The U.S. death toll from the virus reached 250,000, with a caseload of over 11.3 million.

At-Home Test That Delivers Rapid Results is Approved

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first COVID-19 diagnostic test for self-testing at home and that provides rapid results. The Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit is a molecular (real-time mediated amplification reaction) single use test that is intended to detect the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19.

Pfizer Says New Results Show Vaccine is Safe and 95% Effective

Last week, Pfizer said that its coronavirus vaccine was 95% effective and had no serious side effects - the first set of complete results from a late-stage vaccine trial as Covid-19 cases skyrocket around the globe. The data showed that the vaccine prevented mild and severe forms of Covid-19. It was 94% effective in older adults, who are more vulnerable to developing severe Covid-19 and who do not respond strongly to some types of vaccines. The trial results - less than a year after researchers began working on the vaccine - shattered all speed records for vaccine development, a process that usually takes years.

Another Vaccine Appears to Work Against the Virus

A second experimental COVID-19 vaccine, from Moderna Inc., yielded extraordinarily strong early results last week. Moderna says its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective according to preliminary data. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own vaccine looked 90% effective - news that put both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S. A vaccine can't come fast enough, as virus cases topped 11 million in the U.S. over the weekend - one million of them recorded in just the past week - and governors and mayors are ratcheting up restrictions ahead of Thanksgiving. The outbreak has killed more than 1.3 million people worldwide, over 246,000 of them in the U.S.

FDA Authorizes Use of Antibody Treatment President Took When Ill

Regeneron submitted an emergency use application in October after preclinical studies showed that the therapy, called REGN-COV2, reduced the amount of virus and associated damage in the lungs of nonhuman primates. The experimental therapy was given to President Trump when he contracted the coronavirus last month. Regeneron's therapy is part of a class of treatments known as monoclonal antibodies, which are made to act as immune cells that scientists hope can fight infections.

Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities May Heighten Risk of Death from Virus

People with intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders are three times more likely to die of Covid-19, compared with patients without the conditions, a new analysis found. The finding raises complex questions about how to allocate new vaccines as they become available in limited supplies. So far, guidelines for distributing vaccines have recommended prioritizing emergency workers, health care providers, and other essential workers, as well as people at heightened risk for severe disease, including some older adults and those with certain chronic illnesses.

Tourists May Love New York, But May Not be Back for Years

The pandemic triggered a free-fall in tourism to New York City, one of the world's most popular destinations. A new forecast predicts that the influx of tourists will not fully rebound for at least four years, a somber assessment that reflects one of the biggest challenges to the city's recovery. The surge in tourism in recent years has been a vital pillar of the city's economy, supporting hundreds of thousands of workers across a range of industries, from hotels to restaurants to Broadway.

Transition Delay Could Cost Lives, Biden Warns

Last week, Biden sharpened his criticism of Trump's refusal to cooperate in an orderly transition, warning that "more people may die" from the coronavirus if the president does not agree to coordinate planning for the mass distribution of a vaccine when it becomes available. It was a marked shift in tone for the president-elect, intended to pressure Trump after Biden and his team had played down the difficulty of setting up a new government without the departing administration's help. The new criticism came as the White House national security adviser all but conceded that Biden would be inaugurated and acknowledged the importance of a smooth federal handoff.

Recession's Toll on Women Points to a Lasting Setback

For millions of working women, the coronavirus pandemic has delivered a rare and ruinous one-two-the punch. First, the parts of the economy that were smacked hardest and earliest by job losses were ones where women dominate - restaurants, retail businesses, and health care. Then a second wave began taking out local and state government jobs, another area where women outnumber men. The third blow has, for many, been the knockout: the closing of child care centers and the shift to remote schooling. That has saddled working mothers, much more than fathers, with overwhelming household responsibilities. The impact on the economic and social landscape is both immediate and enduring.

Doctors Are Already Devising a Covid Attack Plan

When Biden takes office in January he will inherit a pandemic that has convulsed the country. His transition team last week announced a 13-member team of scientists and doctors who will advise on control of the coronavirus. In a wide-ranging conversation with New York Times, Dr. Céline Gounder, and infectious disease specialist at Bellevue Hospital Center, discussed plans to prioritize racial inequities, to keep schools open as long as possible, and to restore the CDC as the premier public health agency in the world. The incoming administration is contemplating state mask mandates, free testing for everyone, and invocation of the Defense Production Act to ramp up supplies of protective gear for health workers.

Grassley, 87, Tests Positive as the Virus Disrupts the Business of Governing

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa has tested positive for coronavirus. The lawmaker, who at 87 years old is considered at high risk for severe illness, tweeted Tuesday that he tested positive hours after he said he would isolate following exposure to the virus. Grassley, who is president pro tempore of the Senate, presided over the chamber during votes last Monday. He is high up in the presidential line of succession, behind Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. While isolating, Grassley missed the Tuesday vote on Judy Shelton's nomination to the Federal Reserve. Shelton's nomination failed after three other Republicans announced their opposition.

Officials Order New Restrictions as Covid-19 Surges Across the Country

At least 45 states have reported more new infections this past week compared to the previous week. It's not one or two hotspots, the entire country is a hotspot of coronavirus infection. Nationwide, more than 246,000 people have died. While some officials toughen their restrictions, some say changing behavior is more important than shutting down.

Dolly: Country Music Legend, Songwriter, Pandemic Hero

Dolly Parton donated $1 million to fund research for a coronavirus vaccine. After a promising announcement from a major drug maker, fans are crediting her with helping to save the world from the virus, amongst her many other accomplishments.

Hospitals Full, Iowa Governor Begins to See Value of Masks

Iowa's governor ordered that people wear masks while indoors, a reversal after months of saying that she did not support a mask mandate. For months, Governor Kim Reynolds saw little need to intervene in the choices of Iowans, who she insisted could make their own decisions about whether to wear a mask to protect against a dangerous pandemic. She previously dismissed the order as an unenforceable "feel-good" measure. However, as the virus ravaged her state and hospitals filled to the brim, she abruptly reversed herself this week. She joined a wave of Republican governors who are newly and at times reluctantly wielding the power of their offices as the coronavirus erupts to crisis levels across the U.S., with no end in sight.

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